HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc377-8
22. Mr. Gordon Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the number of murders committed in Scotland in 1969.

Mr. Ross

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Dewar) on 10th March. —[Vol. 797, c. 282.]

Mr. Campbell

Will the Secretary of State now consider a review of the anomalous situation that a prison sentence may be served for crimes other than murder for longer than the effective life sentence for murder?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Member should know from his own experience in the Scottish Office that that is not new. I thought that he would welcome the fact that the figures for which he asked show a reduction from 41 murders made known to the police in 1968 to 30 in 1969. Of course that is too high and we must do everything to ensure that it comes down.

Mr. Dewar

Will my right hon. Friend accept that there are many hon. Members who feel that it is essential to maintain a flexible attitude to the length of life sentences in view of the considerable success in releasing people after what some would regard as a short sentence? Does not the fact that they do not get into trouble justify maintaining this flexible position?

Mr. Ross

Yes, but that is an entirely different question.