HC Deb 21 May 1968 vol 765 cc281-2
26. Mr. Hastings

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he is now able to report how many cases there have been over the last ten years in territories under British colonial administration, of executions having taken place one year or more after the accused had been condemned to death.

Mr. Whitlock

There was one such case in the dependent territories for which my right hon. Friend is responsible.

I shall write to the hon. Member when the details are available.

Mr. Hastings

Is the Minister aware that I am still waiting hopefully for this information? Is it not likely to disclose —certainly in the Far East—that it was the exception rather than the rule for a man to be; executed within a year of his conviction?

Mr. Whitlock

I cannot accept that. However long the delay between sentences and executions in former Colonial Territories may have been, the reasons for such delay had little in common with the recent cases in Rhodesia. In his Question on another occasion the hon. Member mentioned Singapore. I understand that those men were executed on 29th October, 1965, when Singapore was independent.

Dr. David Kerr

Will my hon. Friend confirm that whoever might have been executed over the past 10 years in Colonial Territories at least had access to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and Her Majesty's Prerogative of Mercy? What would the constitutional position have been had that ruling been ignored?

Mr. Whitlock

As my hon. Friend said, those people had access to the Prerogative of Mercy, and this was something which obviously Her Majesty's Government had to maintain.