Should the death penalty be brought back?
Last updated at 9:58 AM on 4th August 2011
MPs face being forced into a landmark vote on restoring the death penalty.
Capital punishment is expected to be the first subject debated by Parliament under an e-petitions scheme.
The initiative allows the public to help set the government agenda and means anyone can set up an internet petition on any subject. If it attracts more than 100,000 signatures, MPs must consider debating it in the Commons.
The scheme is officially launched today, but it has already backfired on the Coalition because Right-wing internet bloggers have been collecting signatures for the last few days.
The restoration of hanging for the murderers of children and policemen is by far the most popular serious issue.
Commons leader Sir George Young – writing in today’s Daily Mail – says Westminster cannot ignore this popular groundswell.
The intervention of Sir George, who is overseeing the e-petition scheme, paves the way for the first Commons vote on capital punishment since 1998. The last hangings in Britain were in 1964.
‘What else is Parliament for?’ he says. ‘People have strong opinions and it does not serve democracy well if we ignore them or pretend their views do not exist.’
Opponents say the e-petitions will allow the Commons to be hijacked by special-interest campaigns and will mean MPs spending precious Parliamentary time debating proposals which have little or no chance of becoming law.
But Sir George insists the petitions, details of which will be published by the Government today, will ‘revitalise public engagement’.
‘There have been some who have been concerned by some of the subjects that could end up being debated – for example, the restoration of capital punishment,’ Sir George writes.
‘The last time this was debated during the passage of the Human Rights Act in 1998, restoration was rejected by 158 votes.
'But if lots of people want Parliament to do something which it rejects, then it is up to MPs to explain the reasons to their constituents.’
Although there appears little or no chance of a Commons vote in favour of bringing back the death penalty, some Conservatives are signalling that they will vote Yes.
Priti Patel, MP for Witham in Essex, said: ‘Polls have consistently shown that people want a debate on this, which is quite frankly overdue.
‘It will provide a good opportunity to talk about the failings of our existing criminal justice system. So many victims of the most horrendous and heinous crimes have no sense of justice.
‘People aren’t happy with the current system. Without a doubt, I would favour restoring capital punishment for the most serious and significant crimes, like child murders. For me that would be unquestionable.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2022147/Capital-punishment-People-power-forces-MPs-vote-death-penalty.html#ixzz1U3CUMQ96