Capital Punishment Abolition.

– in the House of Commons on 1st March 1922.

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Photo of Major Hon. Christopher Lowther Major Hon. Christopher Lowther , Cumberland Northern

I beg to move That leave be given to bring in a Bill to abolish in Great Britain the award of capital punishment for any crime or offence whatsoever. I feel too deeply in this matter to indulge in any flowery language. A Bill for the abolition of capital punishment is one which, if it does not induce the sympathy of the whole House, at any rate deserves serious reflection. How many persons, I wonder, who read in the sensational Press of some wretch condemned to die realise the terrible responsibility which they are taking upon themselves. All of us form a part, however small, of that community which is known as the State, and if a felon dies it is the State which kills him. It is very wicked of anyone to take human life. Is it not equally wrong for the State to take human life? If the State acts dishonestly, it is very properly reproved. It would surely be equally blameworthy to resort to the very act which is here so justly condemned in the individual. The death sentence is the only one which can be passed for the crime of murder. No allowance can be made for degree or for circumstance. The condemned man's only chance rests with the Home Secretary. For no other crime is there such rigidity of sentence. I beg the House not to think of me as a sickly sentimentalist. I realise most strongly the need for a deterrent for the most odious crime of murder, but I believe it is not beyond the wit of man to devise a sentence sufficiently severe to deter others, and yet not to take his life.

Leaving aside the condemned man himself, I beg the House for a moment to give thought to the penalty which the execution of an individual imposes upon his relatives and friends. There never was a truer saying that while there is life there is hope. If a man be imprisoned, his relatives and friends can always cherish the hope that the violence of his nature may be so changed as to make him, when free, once again the man they knew him to be at his best. Everyone has someone who cares for him. A judge when sentencing a man to death is sentencing that someone to an anguish of mind which must be well nigh intolerable.

In conclusion, there lingers in my memory a scene which I was unfortunate enough to witness at a Welsh Assize. A man was charged with the brutal murder of his wife. It was a brutal, sordid crime. But what made it infinitely more tragic was the fact that the principal witnesses against the man were his two small children. Can the House, in however an inattentive mood, pass over the thought that no more terrible, no more horrible start in life could be given to the poor little mites than the fact that they were the witnesses of their unfortunate mother's death, and that they were the direct instruments of sending their father to the gallows? I cannot, perhaps because I feel so strongly on this matter, put it in the words which will convince the. House, but I can assure it that so long as I can, in my miserable small way, have the power to do so, I shall struggle on that account alone to have this horrible, this ghastly, responsibility which we all take upon ourselves removed, and which

I consider is a blot upon any civilised nation

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

The right bon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) opposed the last Bill and then ran away. I give notice that I shall oppose this Bill, and that I shall divide the House.

Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to abolish in Great Britain the award of capital punishment for any crime or offence whatsoever."

The House divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 234.

Division No. 22.]AYES.[4.20 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteGrundy, T. W.Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeGuest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)Remer, J. R.
Astor, ViscountessHall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Rendall, Athelstan
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Halls, WalterRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Hartshorn, VernonRoberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Hayday, ArthurRobinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Barton, Sir William (Oldham)Hayward, EvanRoyce, William Stapleton
Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A (Widnes)Sexton, James
Birchall, J. DearmanHerbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)Shaw, Hon Alex. (Kilmarnock)
Broad, Thomas TuckerHinds, JohnShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hirst, G. H.Sutton, John Edward
Cairns, JohnHodge, Rt. Hon. JohnSwan, J. E.
Cape, ThomasIrving, DanSykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Casey, T. W.John, William (Rhondda, West)Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Johnstone, JosephThomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)
Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Kennedy, ThomasThorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kiley, James DanielWallace, J.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lindsay, William ArthurWedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Lunn, WilliamWilliams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Finney, SamuelMcMicking, Major GilbertWilliams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Gilbert, James DanielMalone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)Wilson, James (Dudley)
Gillis, WilliamMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Wintringham, Margaret
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Myers, ThomasWood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)Naylor, Thomas EllisYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)Newbould, Alfred Ernest
Greenwood, William (Stockport)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamParkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Major Christopher Lowther and Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Poison, Sir Thomas A.
NOES.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.Britton, G. B.Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.Brown, Major D. C.Dawson, Sir Philip
Adkins, Sir William Ryland DentBuchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.Dean, Commander P. T.
Ainsworth, Captain CharlesBuckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Dixon, Captain Herbert
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan HughesDoyle, N. Grattan
Armitage, RobertBurn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)Ednam, Viscount
Atkey, A. R.Butcher, Sir John GeorgeEdwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)
Bagley, Captain E. AshtonCampbell, J. D. G.Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)
Baird, Sir John LawrenceCarew, Charles Robert S.Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyCarr, W. TheodoreEyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City of Lon.)Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Cautley, Henry StrotherForrest, Walter
Barnston, Major HarryCecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot
Barrand, A. R.Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonFraser, Major Sir Keith
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertChamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)Galbraith, Samuel
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Cheyne, Sir William WatsonGange, E. Stanley
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Clough, Sir RobertGardiner, James
Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)Coats, Sir StuartGibbs, Colonel George Abraham
Bigland, AlfredCobb, Sir CyrilGilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Glanville, Harold James
Blake, Sir Francis DouglasColfox, Major Wm. PhillipsGlyn, Major Ralph
Borwick, Major G. O.Colvin, Brig.-General Richard BealeGrant, James Augustus
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Conway, Sir W. MartinGray, Major Ernest (Accrington)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasCraik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryGreene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.)
Brassey, H. L. C.Curzon, Captain ViscountGreenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar
Breese, Major Charles E.Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)Gregory, Holman
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveDavies, Thomas (Cirencester)Gretton, Colonel John
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.Maddocks, HenryRoundell, Colonel R. F.
Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.Magnus, Sir PhilipRutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)
Gwynne, Rupert S.Matthews, DavidSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)Molson, Major John EisdaleScott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)
Hamilton, Major C. G. C.Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred MoritzSeely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John
Hancock, John GeorgeMoore, Major-General Sir Newton J.Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.
Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)Moreing, Captain Algernon H.Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Harris, Sir Henry PercyMorrison, HughSimm, M. T.
Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.Smithers, Sir Alfred W.
Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Mount, Sir William ArthurSprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Munro, Rt. Hon. RobertStarkey, Captain John Ralph
Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel FrankMurchison, C. K.Steel, Major S. Strang
Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)Stewart, Gershom
Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardMurray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)Murray, John (Leeds, West)Sugden, W. H.
Hopkins, John W. W.Murray, William (Dumfries)Taylor, J.
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Nail, Major JosephThomas-Stanford, Charles
Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)Neal, ArthurThomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Houston, Sir Robert PattersonNicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)Tickler, Thomas George
Howard, Major S. G.Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)Townley, Maximilian G.
Hudson, R. M.Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir HenryTownshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers
Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)Oman, Sir Charles William C.Tryon, Major George Clement
Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald BO'Neill, Rt. Hon. HughTurton, Edmund Russborough
Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamVickers, Douglas
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertPain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. HacketWaddington, R.
Jephcott, A. R.Parker, JamesWard, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)Pearce, Sir WilliamWarner, Sir T. Courtenay T.
King, Captain Henry DouglasPeel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)Weston, Colonel John Wakefield
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementPennefather, De FonblanqueWheler, Col. Granville C. H.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. GeorgePercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Larmor, Sir JosephPerkins, Walter FrankWilley, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.
Lister, Sir R. AshtonPerring, William GeorgeWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Lloyd, George ButlerPhilipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald
Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.Pilditch, Sir PhilipWilloughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel CharlesWilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest MurrayWilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Lort-Williams, J.Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel AsshetonWilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Loseby, Captain C. E.Preston, W. R.Windsor, Viscount
Lowe, Sir Francis WilliamRaeburn, Sir William H.Winterton, Earl
Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Ratcliffe, Henry ButlerWolmer, Viscount
Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)Rawlinson, John Frederick PeelYate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John MurrayRees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)Remnant, Sir JamesYoung, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)Younger, Sir George
M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
McNeill Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.Rodger, A. K.Sir F. Banbury and Sir W. H. Cowan.
Macquisten, F. A.Rose, Frank H.