UK Politics

Northern Ireland MPs demand death penalty debate

The government is facing fresh demands to bring back the death penalty.

Five Democratic Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland have signed a motion calling for a full debate in the Commons on the matter.

More than 23,000 people have signed a government e-petition urging the return of capital punishment, but more than 30,000 have signed a counter-motion rejecting the idea.

The death penalty was last used in Britain in 1964.

Neither petition is close to the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger consideration for a Commons debate.

The motion has been signed by David Simpson, Sammy Wilson, Jim Shannon, Gregory Campbell and Jeffrey Donaldson.

They say the subject was last discussed in Parliament in 1998 and it is now time for the debate to be reopened.

Mr Donaldson said earlier this year he was in favour of capital punishment for convicted terrorists.

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

A number of Conservative backbenchers have also called for the issue to be discussed by MPs.

While those in favour of a reintroduction are in the minority in Parliament - and the death penalty is opposed by the European Union - Commons leader Sir George Young has warned that it would damage democracy to ignore strong opinions among members of the public "or pretend that their views do not exist".

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