Belfast Telegraph

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson wants death penalty restored - do you agree?

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said he would be in favour of restoring the death penalty in cases of terrorism.

His comments were made as the Government yesterday launched its new 'e-petitions' website, where members of the public can submit demands and, if they can raise the support of 99,999 other like-minded individuals, see their point debated in the House of Commons.

The Lagan Valley MP said: "We have stated consistently that in cases of terrorist murder, we believe that there should be the death penalty.

"One of the reasons why I think it should be debated is because I want to hear the contrary arguments.

"We haven't as Parliamentarians debated this issue now for 30 years.

"A lot has happened in that time. Terrorism has become much more sophisticated, much more deadly, and I think it is time Parliament debated this issue again."

The site, epetitions.direct. gov.uk, crashed repeatedly under the weight of traffic - although the rush to reinstate the death penalty was hampered when proponents could not agree on the exact wording of their plan.

Other early front-runners included the legalisation of cannabis, the continued broadcast of Formula One on terrestrial television, the absolute right to self- defence within one's home, and an end to the ban on gay men giving blood.

Petitions launched yesterday also proposed policies such as restricting food for prisoners to just bread and water, the re-nationalisation of the railways and for Britons to be forced to drive on the right-hand side of the road.

By yesterday afternoon, a counter-petition to retain the ban on capital punishment was the most popular on the site, with more than 3,000 signatures.

The site will be monitored by civil servants in Whitehall, who will reject petitions deemed to be libellous, offensive, duplicates of existing open petitions or unrelated to Government business.

Any petition signed by more than 100,000 British citizens goes to the cross-party Commons backbench business committee, which will decide whether it is worthy of debate. Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, warned yesterday that this threshold may be raised if it was too easily reached.

The website is likely to be targeted by existing online lobbying communities such as Mumsnet - already credited with influencing Government policy - and the online campaign group 38 Degrees, which managed to reverse the proposed sale of forests and helped to delay reforms of the NHS.

Praising the new website, Sir George warned that ignoring strong opinions among the electorate damaged democracy and that MPs could not "pretend that their views do not exist".

Factfile

Leading e-petitions at 7pm yesterday:

  • Petition to retain the ban on Capital Punishment (3,241 signatures)
  • Keep Formula 1 Free To Air in the UK (1,501)
  • Restore capital punishment (1,421)
  • Legalise cannabis (577)
  • Absolute right to self-defence within ones [sic] home (380)
  • Return of Hanging for Serious Crimes (333)
  • Decriminalise recreational drugs (270)
  • Remove the ban on gay blood donation (233)


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