HC Deb 29 March 1956 vol 550 c2342
35. Mr. Benn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what restrictions there are to prevent a retired hangman from publicly revealing details of executions in which he has taken part; and what steps he has taken to bring these restrictions to the attention of retiring hangmen.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Major Gwilym Lloyd-George)

As the question of instituting criminal proceedings in relation to a recent publication of details of executions is now under consideration, it would, I think, be inadvisable for me now to say more lest I should inadvertently say something which might prejudice those proceedings.

Mr. Benn

Does not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman agree in principle that the public interest in these memoirs and other facts about hanging necessarily go with the system of hanging? Is that not so degrading in itself that it constitutes a case for abolition?

Major Lloyd-George

I am afraid I could not pursue that matter in question and answer. I would not agree with the first part of the supplementary question, but I do not think I could say anything more for the reasons given in my original reply.

Mr. Hyde

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that Mr. Pierrepoint's father was also a public hangman and published his memoirs about 35 years ago? There was no official complaint of any kind made at that time. In view of the public interest in the death penalty at present, would not my right hon. and gallant Friend agree that the full facts should be disclosed? Who is in a better position to disclose them than the gentleman who was described in the Report of the Royal Commission as the most experienced public executioner in the country?

Major Lloyd-George

Although I do not agree with what my hon. Friend has said, I do not think I should say more at this moment.