HC Deb 21 March 1892 vol 2 c1324
MR. FURNESS(for Mr. HUNTER,) Aberdeen, N.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in view of the fact that cases exist in which a considerable portion of public opinion does not sanction the punishment of death, but which yet come within the legal definition of murder, he will, on an early day, introduce a Bill to amend the legal definition of murder?


Attempts to amend the definition of murder were made by a Committee of this House in 1874, and by the Royal Commission on Capital Punishments, which reported in 1866. Those attempts were pronounced by the Royal Commissioners who prepared a draft Criminal Code in 1879 to be unsatisfactory. In 1882 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) attempted to frame a Bill amending the definition of murder. He consulted the greatest living authorities, and devoted, much labour to the question; but ultimately, as he informed the House in 1886, he gave up the attempt, as he was satisfied that it could not be satisfactorily accomplished. Warned by these examples, I do not propose to introduce on an early day a Bill on this subject.