HC Deb 08 August 1844 vol 76 cc1930-1
Mr. Brotherton

wished to ask the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it were in the contemplation of Her Majesty's Government to introduce any Bill in the next Session of Parliament, either totally to abolish Capital Punishments or to extend the number of cases of exemption from that punishment? He was quite convinced that these public exhibitions had a very injurious effect on public morals, and the melancholy occurrence which had taken place at Nottingham was a full proof of that. If the House would permit him he would just read an extract from a letter which he had received. He really thought it was more worthy of the attention of the House than some subjects which were introduced in that House. The hon. Member read an extract from a letter relating to the accident which had just occurred on the occasion of an execution, in which thirteen persons lost then lives, and stud he wished to know whether it were the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce any measure to put an end to these disgraceful exhibitions, which, in his opinion, did not tend to prevent crime, but only to harden the minds of the people?

Sir J. Graham

had no hesitation whatever in telling the hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's Government had no intention to introduce any measure on that subject. His opinion was entirely the reverse of that expressed by the hon. Gentleman, as regarded the moral effect of executions in cases of murder. At the same time he must express his deep regret at the fatal occurrence which had taken place at Nottingham; though he must say, he had never heard an inference which appeared to him to have so little foundation as that this fatal catastrophe was at all to be ascribed to the bad moral effect of a public execution. The event might have occurred at a horse race, or even, through sudden panic, in a chapel. He repeated that he had no intention of proposing either the abolition or the remission in certain cases of capital punishments.