HC Deb 28 June 1956 vol 555 cc713-9

  1. (1) Notwithstanding anything in any other enactment a person convicted of murder committed in the furtherance of any offence against sections twenty-three, twenty-five, twenty-six or twenty-seven of the Larceny Act, 1916, shall, if a male, be liable to be once privately whipped in addition to any other punishment to which he may by law be liable.
  2. (2) Where a sentence of whipping is imposed under this section—
    1. (a) in each case the court in its sentence shall specify the number of strokes to be inflicted and the instrument to be used;
    2. (b) such whipping shall not take place after the expiration of six months from the passing of the sentence; and
    3. (c) such whipping to be inflicted on any person sentenced to imprisonment for life shall be inflicted on him before he is removed to prison with a view to his undergoing his sentence of imprisonment for life.—[Mr. Arbuthnot.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.2 p.m.

Mr. John Arbuthnot (Dover)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

Perhaps I should start by saying that the fact that I find myself moving a new Clause, the purpose of which is to promote the whipping of murderers, in no way modifies my personal position as being an opponent of the principle behind the Death Penalty (Abolition) Bill. But as my hon. Friends and I see the situation if, as the Bill provides, the death penalty is to go, we as a House, ought to provide an alternative. I think that the promoter and supporters of the Bill must have had this point in mind when they drafted the Long Title of the Bill, which reads: To provide (subject to an exception regarding murders by persons already serving a sentence of imprisonment for life) for abolishing, or suspending for a period, the passing and execution of the death sentence on conviction of murder and to substitute an alternative penalty therefor. It is with that substitution of an alternative penalty, therefore, that my hon. Friends and I are particularly concerned in this proposed Clause.

It will be noted that several of my hon. Friends whose names are on the Notice Paper supporting this new Clause are themselves staunch abolitionists of the death penalty. While they want the death penalty to go, they none the less find themselves subscribing to this alternative penalty which the Clause would provide. It permits the flogging of men who commit crimes such as robbery with violence, armed robbery, housebreaking, burglary and armed burglary. It is permissive, not mandatory; that is to say, discretion as to whether the sentence is, in fact, one of whipping will be in the hands of the court.

In my view, far too much attention has been paid so far in the consideration of this Bill to the position of the murderer. Our attention has been focused on the miserable murderer and far too little attention has been paid to the victim and to the duty of this House to save the victim from his fate. This consideration, of course, is far more telling when the victim happens to be a woman or a defenceless child, or somebody who is elderly and is not able to protect himself or herself.

The anti-hangers have, so far, not claimed that hanging is not a deterrent. They have based all their arguments on the suggestion that hanging is not a unique deterrent. My hon. Friends and I suggest that if the House removes the one deterrent of hanging, we ought to put another deterrent in its place. There appeared in the Evening Standard last night a letter which, I thought, was very striking. It was under the heading, "Would the cat stop these crimes?" The letter was quite short and reads: Does it seem odd to anyone else that our 'representatives' who have abolished the 'cat', 'birch' and are well on the way to disposing of capital punishment are now blaming the Home Secretary and the Police for increasing crimes of violence? Is it possible that the statistics about the deterrent effect of the above remedies may have been wrong? Is it possible that the majority view of the British electorate concerning the abolition of these remedies may have been right? It is worth while to look for a moment at some of the statistics for violence against the person. In the last complete year before flogging was abolished by the Criminal Justice Act of 1948, that is, the year 1947, there were 2,504 crimes of violence against the person. Since that time they have steadily risen year by year until, in the last year for which statistics are available, 1954, the numbers of such crimes were 4,584, very nearly double the original figure before flogging was abolished.

I know that the case which will be brought against me will suggest that the Report of the Home Office Departmental Committee advised the abolition of flogging and that it is against its reintroduction, but I would say to those people who are anti-hangers that they have flouted Home Office advice throughout the Committee stage of this Bill, so they should not be too squeamish about doing so again now.

I have paid close attention to the contribution made during the Committee stage by the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) who, in columns 2089 and 2090 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, drew a comparison between the prisons of Peterhead and Barlinnie, and suggested that flogging had been given up at Peterhead as not being worth while. The simple and straightforward answer to the case put forward by the hon. Gentleman is that the best education that is still obtainable today is at schools where beating may take place, and where there is no question of a repercussion by parents taking out summonses against the headmaster. I cannot help feeling that if many of today's Teddy boys had been beaten at school, we would not be having trouble with them today.

There is nothing sadistic about this new Clause, neither does it embody the principle of an eye for an eye, but it does take account of the fact that most of the people with which it deals are cowards at heart. My hon. Friends and I believe that for those reasons flogging may be effective, and I hope that the House will accept the new Clause.

Mr. Geoffrey Stevens (Portsmouth, Langstone)

I beg to second the Motion.

Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)

I wonder whether the House is expected to take the Clause seriously, or whether this is merely an attempt to delay the time of the House. I can well appreciate the point of view of those hon. Members who have some doubts about the wisdom of abolishing the death penalty, but I cannot understand the point of view of anyone who brings forward a suggestion as childish as this.

I do not underestimate the point of view of those who have voted for the retention of the death penalty. As a matter of fact, it was only after a very long and anxious thought that I made up my mind on this matter and it was the fear that at some time there might be a miscarriage of justice and that in that case someone who was innocent might be hanged which decided me. I was once told by a Communist that I placed too much value on the importance of human life. Perhaps the same criticism has been brought against me by some hon. Members beside me.

Even if hon. Members wish to retain the death penalty, I can see no argument which could be brought forward by those who wish to do away with it to support the contention that people who have been convicted of these crimes shall be flogged. If it were possible, I should have liked to have moved an Amendment to the new Clause to the effect that if flogging were reintroduced, the person carrying out the flogging should be the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Arbuthnot). I hope that the House will not waste its time discussing the new Clause, but will quickly reject it.

Mr. Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)

It is with a certain amount of regret that I follow the arguments of the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn), with whom I thoroughly agree, and with greater regret in view of the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Arbuthnot). I feel like the Duke of Wellington who, when he reviewed his troops, said, "I do not know what effect they have on the enemy, but by God they frighten me."

Mr. Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)

It was not his troops, but his staff officers.

Mr. Rawlinson

His staff officers. I am obliged to that learned and distinguished historian who interjected for that correction.

Like the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde, I have looked with great care and a certain amount of passion at this subject. I voted for the retention of the death penalty, but I certainly would not vote for the new Clause. I voted for the retention of the death penalty only because I believed that it was a real and true deterrent and I know that some abolitionists have thought about that and have been concerned about whether or not it should be retained, because it was a great deterrent.

However, I cannot see the connection between a deterrent for the supreme crime of murder and this suggestion that whipping should be imposed, presumably a sentence purely as an act of vengeance by society, that because a man has sinned

in some way in the great measure society, therefore, should take its satisfaction and its vengeance by whipping him, and so to a certain extent, indulge its own passion for vengeance. Therefore, much as I regret it, and although I intend to vote against the Bill, I am certainly not in favour of a new Clause of this kind.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 58, Noes 187.

Division No. 246.] AYES [4.15 p.m.
Barter, John Glover, D. Mathew R.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Gough, C. F. H. Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Bossom, Sir A. C. Gresham Cooke, R. Nabarro, G. D. N.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Nairn, D. L. S.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Gurden, Harold Osborne, C.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Page, R. G.
Campbell, Sir David Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Chichester-Clark, R. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Crouch, R. F. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Dance, J. C. G. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Kerby, Capt. H. B. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Leavey, J. A. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Doughty, C. J. A. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Touche, Sir Gordon
Drayson, G. B. Longden, Gilbert Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. McKibbin, A. J. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Freeth, D. K. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Arbuthnot and Mr. Stevens.
Albu, A. H. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Janner, B.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Edelman, M. Jeger, George (Goole)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Astor, Hon. J. J. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)
Awbery, S. S. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham S.)
Balfour, A. Fernyhough, E. Keegan, D.
Balniel, Lord Forman, J. C. Kenyon, C.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Kershaw, J. A.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Benson, G. Garner-Evans, E. H. King, Dr. H. M.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Greenwood, Anthony Lawson, G. M.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Blackburn, F. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Lewis, Arthur
Blenkinsop, A. Grimond, J. Llewellyn, D. T.
Boothby, Sir Robert Hale, Leslie Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Hamilton, W. W. MacColl, J. E.
Bowles, F. G. Hannan, W. McGhee, H. G.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hastings, S. McGovern, J.
Brockway, A. F. Hayman, F. H. McInnes, J.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) McLeavy, Frank
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Herbison, Miss M. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hewitson, Capt. M. Maddan, Martin
Chapman, W. D. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Chetwynd, G. R. Holman, P. Markham, Major Sir Frank
Clunie, J. Holmes, Horace Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Coldrick, W. Holt, A. F. Mason, Roy
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Hornby, R. P. Maude, Angus
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Mayhew, C. P.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hoy, J. H. Messer, Sir F.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hubbard, T. F. Mikardo, Ian
Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Mitchison, G. R.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayreshire) Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Moyle, A.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Hunter, A. E. Mulley, F. W.
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hynd, H. (Accrington) Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Deer, G. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Delargy, H. J. Irving, S. (Dartford) Oliver, G. H.
Dodds, N. N. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Oram, A. E.
Orbach, M. Royle, C. Vickers, Miss J. H.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Wade, D. W.
Oswald, T. Shurmer, P. L. E. Warbey, W. N.
Owen, W. J. Silverman, Julius (Aston) Weitzman, D.
Paget, R. T. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Wheeldon, W. E.
Pargiter, G. A. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Parker, J. Sorensen, R. W. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Paton, John Steele, T. Wilkins, W. A.
Pitman, I. J. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Popplewell, E. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Proctor, W. T. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Pryde, D. J. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Ramsden, J. E. Swingler, S. T. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Randall, H. E. Sylvester, G. O. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Rankin, John Taylor, John (West Lothian) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Rawlinson, Peter Thomas, George (Cardiff) Zilliacus, K.
Reid, William Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Thornton, E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Turner-Samuels, M. Mr. Kenneth Robinson and
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Mr. Kirk.
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Usborne, H. C.