HL Deb 27 April 1948 vol 155 cc388-9

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, what is the number of convicted murderers whose sentence was reduced to imprisonment for life, and who have been released from imprisonment during the last ten years; and what is the average length of imprisonment which these convicts in fact served.]


My Lords, during the ten years from April 1, 1938, to March 31, 1948, there were released from prison 104 persons convicted of murder whose capital sentences had been commuted to penal servitude for life, and one who on conviction of murder had been sentenced to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure. As there were amongst the 105 one who had been detained for twenty years, two who had been detained for fifteen years and several who were released after a few months' detention—including, for example, survivors of suicide pacts—an average figure would be of no value. There were 24 who had been detained for periods of between ten and fifteen years, 52 whose periods of detention had been between five and ten years and 28 whose periods of detention varied from two or three months to five years. Amongst those released during this period there are a number who, owing to wartime conditions, were released at earlier dates than would otherwise have been authorised.


My Lords, while thanking the noble and learned Viscount for the answer which he has given, may I ask him, on those figures, whether the 24 who have been released within ten or fifteen years, and the 5 who have been released—if I followed him correctly—in under ten years, include any of the mercy releases of persons sentenced under suicide pacts or in cases where the individual killed was really in a hopeless condition?


My Lords, I am afraid that I have not the knowledge to go further than the information which was in my answer. I will certainly find out and let the noble and learned Viscount know.


My Lords, I do not wish to press the Lord Chancellor further at this stage, because I realise that the question I have put, although important, may have implications to which grave consideration needs to be applied. I merely note that the noble and learned Viscount has not been provided with an answer to my simple question as to what is the average length of imprisonment served by those who have been released after committing a murder in the last ten years. I will not ask him to say anything more now, but I would note the fact that that question has not been answered.