He is not advising us that it would be more justifiable in itself to inflict this ultimate irrevocable penalty on this kind of murderer on grounds of moral obliquity than it would be in any other case. What he is saying is something quite different. He is saying, “Here you find one category of this infinitely various and variable crime in which the death penalty is a more uniquely effective deterrent than it is in any other aspect of murder. “That is the case which the hon. Baronet has invited us to consider. Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to say a few words about this matter at this juncture. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) moved in a very able and lucid speech is an attempt to deal with what is admittedly a very difficult problem indeed.
It would be mischievous, because it would punish the less guilty more severely than the more guilty. It would be ineffective in restraining the mischief which the hon. Member wishes to restrain, namely, the carrying of arms, because it would become effective not when the decision to carry a dangerous weapon was made, but only after it had been fatally used.
I am not supposing that this Amendment will be carried by a majority of the Committee, having regard to the fact that a previous Amendment on a much narrower point was lost, but I believe these things need to be said. I believe that, as this Bill goes on through its various stages, the public will realise some of the consequences that may follow from it, and that there will be a mounting public opinion which will express itself against the Bill going through in its present form. For these reasons, and particularly in regard to the matters which I have mentioned, I commend this Amendment to the Committee. is within the bounds of possibility. I would go further and say that if it can be done in the absence of the death penalty here that would be an added inducement to transfer that terrorism to this country.
He is then put upon trial for a second time, and he is now somebody who has been convicted of the first murder and, therefore, comes within the definition of the Amendment. That might be so if the public prosecutor were to adopt such a course, but I do not believe that any court would interpret that as the meaning of this Bill. Where the simplest words will express a meaning, those words are avoided for words of great ambiguity. There is also the case which was referred to on Second Reading by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon).
Some time ago, I came across this cartoon of a grumpy old man. The monks were extremely hospitable and, in Clervaux, they served us with plenty of beer which they had brewed in the monastery. That was my first surprise, and it also meant that I slept very soundly, in spite of having a small, fairly hard bed in the barest of tiny rooms.
He has argued that the death penalty must be a greater deterrent to the armed burglar than any possible sentence of imprisonment could be. I shall come back to that point in a moment, because it is a very important one in our discussions, but I want, first of all, to say a word or two about the case put forward by the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) in moving his Amendment.
Indeed, there is actually a past episode of this very podcast where all that remains of it is the final audio file that you listen to, because I pressed the wrong button and disappeared all of my research and recordings for it. The five find outers are drawn into this poison pen mystery after Gladys, the housemaid at Pip and Bets’s home, receives a letter revealing supposedly “shameful” information about her upbringing, which in turn causes her to resign from her job. Feeling that this is unfair, the five set out to track down who is sending nasty anonymous communications to the inhabitants of their village of Peterswood. A classic concealment job has been done on the posting of these letters by sending them from a nearby town, so the five focus their attention on the logistics of this in order to narrow down the suspects.
I would suggest that the reason it has not been done is that in such circumstances the prisoner could not expect to get away undetected, and in that case he has the death penalty facing him at present. It may be argued against the Amendment that there are other forms of punishment available; for example, solitary confinement, a bread and water diet, or even, as some hon. Of course, the Committee will appreciate that punishment by flogging would need an amendment of the law to make it possible in a number of the cases involved.
The statement of the Royal Commission to which the hon. Member referred dealt with the armed criminal and the armed criminal only. What the Royal Commission said in its conclusion was that it thought it likely that this type of criminal might find the death penalty a greater deterrent than others. It is, of course, a matter of opinion or conjecture.
Just think about the Good Samaritan, which I cite as possibly the most well-known of all parables, and the lessons one can draw from that. But in spite of her bad reputation, she is so empowered and convincing that people from that town “believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” and they urge him to stay – which he does. The well would have been the focal point of the village – and not just in biblical times – because it was the only source of fresh water.