E-petitions urge MPs to debate return of death penalty


Sir George Young: "This is part of a strategy of making the Commons more relevant"

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The first "e-petitions" - which allow the public to prompt parliamentary debates if they get enough support - have been published by the government.

The return of the death penalty heads the list of demands, with dozens of separate campaigns calling for it.

However a petition opposing its return was the most popular one six hours after the site launched.

Other suggestions include keeping all Formula One races on terrestrial TV, leaving the EU and a lower voting age.

Petitions gaining more than 100,000 signatures could lead to a full debate in the House of Commons.

Ministers have warned MPs not to "ignore" the public's suggestions.

More than 40 of the first 200 or so petitions published called for the return of capital punishment, the most popular attracting more than 1,000 supporters by 1800 BST.

But the most popular petition was one opposed to the return of the death penalty, which had gained more than 2,700 signatures.

Several petitions call for all Formula One races to be shown live on terrestrial TV, following the announcement last week that the BBC will be sharing coverage with Sky Sports.

The most popular gained more than 1,000 signatories by 1800 BST.

Raised threshold?

One petition recommends the televising of court proceedings and another that the price of alcohol be increased.

One demands that prisoners' diets be restricted to bread and water, as in the "good old days", another that bodybuilding should be encouraged to improve the nation's health.

Paul Staines, who writes the Guido Fawkes blog, is campaigning for the re-introduction of the death penalty

Any petition signed by more than 100,000 UK citizens goes to the cross-party Commons backbench business committee, which will decide whether it is worthy of debate.

This does not mean any parliamentary bills will be tabled as a result, simply that the matter will be discussed.

Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, told BBC News the threshold for debating an e-petition could be raised if too many reached the signatures target.

He said: "We do want to monitor it to see if we've got the threshold either too high or too low.

"This is a new initiative and we've set 100,000 because we think that's roughly the right target, but if lots and lots of petitions sail through that barrier then we may need to see if it should be higher.

"If none of them are able to reach that target then we may need to lower it."

'Crazy ideas'

Since launching on Thursday, the e-petitions site has experienced problems, with about 1,000 people a minute logging on.

A government spokesman said: "We apologise for any inconvenience experienced as people try to access e-petitions - this is a result of greater-than-expected demand."

Neil Durkin from Amnesty International on debating the death penalty: "It is a relic of the past."

Any petition deemed to be libellous, offensive, duplicates of existing open petitions or not related to government will be rejected.

Moderators will also block any that concern honours and appointments.

But Labour have said the petitions could lead to debates on "crazy ideas".

The system replaces the previous e-petitions pages on the Downing Street website, set up when Tony Blair was PM.

The most popular of these, with more than 1.8 million people in support, opposed road pricing.

More than 70,000 backed the one-word suggestion that Gordon Brown should "resign".

And almost 50,000 signed up to the idea that TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson should become prime minister.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 908.

    It would not be a deterrant. The people who plan these things think they are not going to get caught.

    I am against capital punishment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 907.

    As usual, the e-petitions website is quite possibly the worst website in the world. If Google or the BBC ran a website that crashed as often as this then it would be out of business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 906.

    "514. Fwd079
    Death penalty should be allowed but only for rapists who confess."

    So they won't confess, meaning that we've gained nothing apart from making all the victims go through the ordeal of the trial, and many will drop the case to avoid reliving the experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 905.

    The reality, as contributers to the debate have already pointed out, is that whether or not the public want it is neither here nor there. It seems as though Majority matters when being voted in but not when deciding policies. I for one am divided by the issue as are many others,

  • rate this

    Comment number 904.


    "Fred & Rose West, The Yorkshire Ripper, etc etc - now, if the death penalty was still in place, some of these murders committed by the above, would not have taken place."

    Nonsense. And very insulting nonsense at that.

    The people you mentioned were jailed AFTER their horrible crimes were uncovered.


  • rate this

    Comment number 903.

    Anyone of sound mind who deliberately takes the life of another human being for personal gain is not worthy of sharing life with us. Such people will kill again and again because of the power it gives them, Deny them that power. Deny them the very life they would deny us. Rid the world of the burden of keeping such individuals. Listen to the plea of those oppressed by such people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 902.

    jay said:"All these people who say it should never be brought back would think different if it was a family member that was either killed or raped"

    Yes, I probably would, but it's not about me, is it? Criminal cases are brought by the State against the accused, not the victim against the accused. The purpose is to protect society, not to exact revenge for the victim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 901.

    An interesting experiment. I've just tried the first page for signing the petitions the links go to. Bring back the death penalty petitions - mostly badly spelt! return 'Something went wrong'. 'Don't bring back the death penalty' petitions I can get straight into - as it seems from the numbers stated as signing can many more. Seems to be a little bit of bias here thus negating anything on the site

  • rate this

    Comment number 900.

    @802, why do ppl say that the death penalty is the easy escape route?? escaping from what? a cushy cell with a playstation, tv and gym on site? 3 meals a day, roasts, gourmet stuff, clean clothes, exercise, phone calls, even drugs are easy to get hold of! I say execute them! they have ruined someone elses life, they knew what they were doing, theres so many people in the world, hang the bad ones!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 899.

    "494. vindicated
    i understand those people who say bring back the death penalty would be a big mistake due to errors of the past but that WAS THE PAST"


    And today, it's literally perfect, right? A mistake is 100% impossible?

    Make no mistake; we may laugh at methods in the past, but in the future they will laugh at our methods, and in THEIR future, they will laugh again at their methods.

  • rate this

    Comment number 898.

    I didn't realise that leaving the EU is connected to the death penalty.

    Does this mean that all supporters of the death penalty also want to leave the EU?

    Sounds like old codger Tory stuff to me. Disgusted Tunbridge Wells and other unsavoury elements. UKIP chaps etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 897.


    I don't care whether you're proud, protective, or a father - or all 3 as you seem to claim.

    I don't want your vested interest in revenge making up the law. That's why we vote for MPs - to get someone who doesn't react emotionally or take every case personally.

    "I'm a dad" is not an argument. No one cares.

  • rate this

    Comment number 896.

    "510. homelygirl68
    Although it must be very carefully considered, but with all the new DNA & such like nowadays there wouldn't be that many mistakes."


    What's the threshold that'd be acceptable, if there wouldn't be "that many" mistakes? 1 innocent person? 10?

    Unless you're daft enough to say you think our justice system is literally perfect, then you must accept innocents will be executed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 895.

    The last time I checked the UK population was 60 million, I think you need 59 million more votes. Talk about two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. No one should be able to take the life of another human being unless in self defence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 894.

    Quite simply, despite modern science, errors do occur.
    If the penalty were more severe - no pornography, hard work, no television and prison were just that, not a holiday camp, then mankind would be seen better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 893.

    part five
    I guess what I am trying to say is that the current “vox pop” or “Zeitgeist” called it what you will is so at odds with its self can it really be taken seriously or are the elected just shaking their heads and “tutting” all the way to the bank.

  • rate this

    Comment number 892.

    Yes, we should return the death penalty. It is much more of a deterrent than a few years in prison with always the hope of release. With all the modern tests DNA etc.it is less and less likely that the wrong person is convicted. However the main reason ought to be that God who made us "in his image" has said in the Bible that "whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed"(Genesis9v6)

  • rate this

    Comment number 891.

    There should be no death sentence. Nor should there be any prisons. All those belong in history. People are either in need of mental health treatment at a secure location or should be punished with sentences in the community. If someone steals a car punish him by making him wash cars. If someone steals to fund drugs do not punish them but help them get clean. Fighting - angry management etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 890.

    I dont agree with a death penalty, but it is our democratic right to have a debate on the subject. If there is public support for a debate and vote in parliment then our MP's should listen to what we want and then give it to us. I think rotting in a jail for the rest of a persons life is a better punishment, but if the majority want different, who am i to argue. In a democracy the majority rules.

  • rate this

    Comment number 889.

    trouble is extreme right wing views are disproportionately expressed on the internet, check the tea party spam on US blogs and the BNP anti-immigration posters in the UK


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