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House of Commons Could Debate Capital Punishment

Noose - 'Vote for Death PENALTY'The public is now allowed to set up internet petitions for any subject on a government website, and the House of Commons has to debate any issues that get over 100,000 backers. Right-wing campaigners could force MPs into debating if capital punishment should be restored to the justice system, as it’s expected they will flock to the government’s new e-petitions initiative. This comes as right-wing bloggers have been attaining signatures for many days in a call for the restoration of the death penalty, while the e-petition site already crashed repeatedly the first day due to the amount of people accessing it.

The scheme, which was part of the Coalition agreement, is intended to give regular people more say in government, as well as to reconnect voters with Parliament due to worries of diminishing trust in the political system after scandals – like the disclosure of government expenses. The issues that get enough attention will be considered by a committee of MPs who have power to set aside time in the Commons. However, there are concerns that the system may become a way for campaigners to promote popular controversial issues, like departing the European Union and restoring capital punishment.

House of Commons leader Sir George Young says that MPs can’t ignore the issues that the system raises. This could open the door for the first vote on the death penalty since 1998, while the last execution, a hanging, was held in Britain in 1964. In a letter to the Daily Mail, he questioned what else Parliament is for. People have strong opinions, he noted, and it’s not democratic to ignore them or pretend their opinions don’t exist.

Sir George says there are some who are concerned about some of the issues that could be brought to light. The last time capital punishment was debated was during the passage of the Human Right Act, when restoring the death penalty was rejected by 158 votes. However, if there are a lot of people who want Parliament to do something it refuses, then MPs will have to explain why to their voters.

The introduction of this e-petition system also comes following Conservative MP Andrew Turner claiming this week that capital punishment is proper for some serious crimes. The Isle of Wight MP says that a full Parliamentary debate is likely to take place over if the death penalty should be restored for those who kill police officers or children. His instinct is that some crimes are so ghastly that capital punishment is the proper punishment, he added.

He isn’t the only MP to support calls for the House of Commons to debate restoring the death penalty. Others include Philip Davies, for Shipley; David Nuttall, for Bury, North; and Priti Patel, for Witham, Essex.

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