Capital Punishment - part 1

Return to list

Capital Punishment - part 1

Ll.G.

In last debate we rejected main recommns. of R. Commn.  but didn't exclude legn. sometime on minor recommns.  And now report of Heald's Cttee., which is likely to command much support, suggests tht. we shd. offer action on those lines in order to get a better chance of rejecting pressure for abolition.
The motion will have to give H/C. opportunity for clear vote for or against penalty.

J.S.

Diffy.  If we promise legn. we can't delay it until next Session.
In view of Ll.G.'s speech on 10/xi, this wd. be represented as a change of mind.  We can't plead Heald's report as our reason.
The real issue is "for or against" : will this offer really gain support for the answer "for".

K.

Ll.G. reserved right to legislate on these points.
Explann. for such an offer now – argument in Heald Rpt. : viz., in order to get clear decn. on main issue, better to clear away minor points wh. we can concede to abolitionists.
If Ll.G. speaks in debate w'out any positive suggns. his appeal will be much weaker.
On delay : we can plead tht. introdn. of diminished responsibility is so serious a step that we shdn't hurry it.

R.A.B.

Tactics.  Gt. pressure in H/C. for early debate, wh. was ½ promised.  Better that H/C. debate shd. come first.  For stiff line by H/L. wd. make H/C. even more determined to be soft.
     * H. shd. try, however, to persuade Chorley to p'pone debate in H/L.
 If that fails, H/C. will have to take it on 14/2.
General view that in H/C. there must be free vote.  That precludes strong Govt. motion.  An Oppn. motion wd. favour experimental abolition for 10 yrs.  Alternative : a Heald motion, wh. we cd. influence.
I suggest debate on motion by Heald favouring retention but offering the minor changes.

Att.G.

If Govt. is to have last speech before Divn. (v. important), it must not be on Opposn. motion.

Ll.G.

Free vote : but for back-benchers only.  Members of Govt. shd. be free only to abstain.  They shd not be free to vote against advice of responsible Minister.

R.A.B.

Believe Ll.G. will be able to take such a constructive line that it will not be diff. to vote in favour of retention.

H.M.

Favour debate on motion by Heald.  Less awkward for Govt. if beaten.

J.S.

I agree.
 Motion shd. be in such a form that legn. wdn't affect Scotland.
  Agreed  : Debate in H/C. before debate in H/L. but after    P.M.'s return.
    Motion to be tabled by Heald.
    Free vote but Members of Govt. shd. not vote    against advice of responsible Ministers.
Govt. Speakers : Ll.G. + another (to be
discussed withAtt.G. : shd. it be political or
legal.

Taken from C.M. 8(56) - Meeting held on 31 January 1956.