HC Deb 21 October 1971 vol 823 cc887-9
28. Mr. Redmond

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from members of the public urging reform of Great Britain's criminal laws and the enforcement of law and order; and what action he proposes to take to deal with the present unrest on the part of the public, having regard to the increase in all forms of vandalism and crime.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Mark Carlisle)

My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations from members of the public relating to crime and the penalties for it, in particular the penalty

Mr. Sharpies

They are going down.

Following is the information:

for murder. The best deterrent to crime is the likelihood of being caught, and my right hon. Friend is pressing ahead with measures to strengthen the police. He is satisfied that, in general, maximum penalties are adequate, but he hopes shortly to propose to Parliament a number of increases in the powers and facilities available to the courts. The Government do not propose to reopen the question of capital punishment for murder.

Mr. Redmond

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that reply and accept that his right hon. Friend has said that he does not consider that the matter of capital punishment should be reopened as opinion on it was expressed in the last Parliament, but would he accept that the opinion of this Parliament might be very different? Can we have an opportunity of expressing our opinion on this matter?

Mr. Carlisle

There are various ways in which the opinion of this House can be expressed, but I can only repeat that the Government have no intention of reopening this question.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Will the Minister say what the policy of his Department is towards senior members of the Metropolitan Police holding an off-the-record Press conference advocating stronger law enforcement?

Mr. Carlisle

I do not think that that arises out of this Question, but police officers have a professional involvement in all matters to do with crime and their views will always be listened to with respect.

Mr. Money

Returning to the original Question, will my hon. and learned Friend ask his right hon. Friend to take comfort from the fact that his predecessor in 1771 probably got as many letters about the restoration of hanging for many offences of theft and that his predecessor in 1871 probably got as many letters about the restoration of hangings in public?

Mr. Carlisle

I am not sure whether it would be accurate to say that as many letters were written in 1771 as are written in 1971, but I take note of what my hon. Friend has said.