HC Deb 23 July 1888 vol 329 cc190-1
MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been drawn to the occurrence from time to time of unfortunate and lamentable blunders in the execution of criminals; whether he is aware that, in the case of Robert Upton, executed at Oxford on the 17th instant, the responsible medical officer stated that the head of the culprit was nearly torn off owing to the length of the drop; whether his attention has been called to Dr. Marshall's contrivance for producing instantaneous death with a drop of only three feet; and, whether he can now state how soon the Report of the Committee on Capital Punishment will be printed and issued?


I am informed by the Prison Commissioners that, though these deplorable accidents do occur from time to time, they are by no means common, two only having occurred since 1878. Dr. Marshall's suggestion is known to the authorities; but it is not thought that its adoption would lead to the expected result. The Report of the Committee has been made, and I shall be happy to communicate it to my hon. Friend.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

asked, whether they could not depart from the barbarous and old-fashioned moans of execution, and consider whether the method successfully adopted in America of execution by electricity could not be resorted to in this country?


said, the subject was full of interest, and well deserving of consideration. He had already informed the House that a Departmental Committee had been appointed by his Predecessor, which went very minutely into the whole subject. Any alteration in the means of execution would require legislation. The present method had been carefully considered with the view of avoiding accidents. He was afraid the system which must be adopted could not be carried out without accidents occasionally occurring.

In reply to Mr. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.),


said, there would be no objection to lay the Report of the Departmental Committee upon the Table if hon. Members desired its production.