Orders of the Day — Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th March 1965.

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Considered in Committee.

[DR. HORACE KING in the Chair]

10.35 a.m.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

For the convenience of the Committee, I have placed in the "No" Lobby a list of the provisional selection and grouping of Amendments.

Photo of Sir Rolf Williams Sir Rolf Williams , Exeter

May I raise a point on that, Dr. King? I notice that in the list which you so kindly put in the "No" Lobby you propose to call first Amendment, No.1 in clause 1, page 1, line 5, after "murder", insert: except a person previously convicted of murder who shall murder again"— and that Amendment No.4 in clause 1, page 1, line 5, after "murder", insert: except an already convicted murderer who, in the course of life imprisonment, shall murder again"— should be discussed with it.

Of course, no one can question your Ruling and we shall have to accept it as your final decision. But, with the greatest respect, may I say that these two Amendments are quite different and I do not think that they can be said to be similar in any way. They refer to different cases of murder. Some hon. Members may well want to put forward a plea against Amendment No.1 and may well decide to support Amendment No.4, and vice versa. May I make a plea to you, Dr. King, that we should be allowed to discuss the two Amendments separately as we will certainly have different votes arising out of them?

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

In fact, the two Amendments are exactly the same. A person who is serving a life sentence is always undergoing that life sentence whether he be on licence or not. Therefore, Amendment No.4 is precisely the same as Amendment No.1.

Photo of Sir Rolf Williams Sir Rolf Williams , Exeter

With great respect, may I point out that Amendment No.1 is quite different from Amendment No.4. In the case of the first Amendment, a man may have committed murder and served his sentence and been released and then commit murder again. It is quite different from Amendment No.4.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will assume that the Chairman read the Amendments before he selected and grouped them. It will be possible for hon. Members, if they so wish, to vote on Amendment No. 4 when the time comes. I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if the course which I have suggested were adopted.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. I am willing to listen to points of order, but we have a very important Bill to discuss and I hope that we will not spend too much time on light points of order.

Photo of Mr William Van Straubenzee Mr William Van Straubenzee , Wokingham

This is a wholly separate point, Dr. King, and one which, I think, is of substance. I understand from the notice which is customarily put up in the Members' Lobby that Standing Committee C considering the Criminal Justice Bill is sitting at this moment. For the guidance of hon. Members who are on Standing Committees on Wednesdays, may I ask for guidance as to what arrangements have been made to notify the Chairman and Members of the Committee when and if there is a Division here so that they may be permitted to take part in that Division?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

That does not concern me at the moment, but the simple answer is—and I thought that the hon. Member knew it—that there are Division bells round the House and that Members of Standing Committees can hear a Division bell.