HC Deb 22 May 1958 vol 588 cc1478-9
21. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of murders known to the police in England and Wales for the six-month period ended February, 1958, and the average six-month figure for the five-year period ended 31st December, 1956.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The number of murders recorded as known to the police in England and Wales for the six-month period which ended on 28th February, 1958, was 85. The average figure for six months during the five years which ended on 31st December, 1956, was 85.1. Both figures include some cases that were, or may be, later found not to be murders.

Mr. Robinson

Without wishing to draw any final conclusions, do not these figures suggest that some of the apprehensions expressed at the time of the passage of the Homicide Bill—that it would result in a large increase in the number of murders—were hardly justified?

Mr. Butler

In so far as one can judge from statistics chosen in this way, I suppose that would be true, but I have always advised the House that it is very difficult to go entirely by statistics of this sort.

Mr. S. Silverman

While agreeing with the right hon. Gentleman—if I may respectfully do so—that it is far too early to form any useful conclusions as to the result of this change in the legislation, may I ask him if he will at any rate take special care to see that the figures which he has just given to the House are made known to the more sensational newspapers, and the Conservative Women's Conference?

Mr. Butler

It is a little late to send a message to the Albert Hall, unless I extract a pigeon from one of the pigeonholes to which the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) referred, and send it there; but I will try to do so.