Speech on Capital Punishment to the 1978 Conservative Party Conference
In moving this amendment I am the first to acknowledge that we would all probably prefer to do without capital punishment, to have fewer prisons and fewer people in those prisons. It is right that a civilised society should have those aspirations but they can only be realised as crime is reduced. We can not do without appropriate penalties as long as crime is rife.
It was right that in 1965 we tried to do without Capital Punishment but the effects of that experiment should have led us to restorenot abolish permanentlythe supreme penalty when the period of experimental abolition was over.
During those five years of so called experimental abolition the capital murder rate rose by a staggering 125%. This proves beyond all reasonable doubt that the death penalty acted as a deterrent and saved innocent life. During the same period there was a fourfold increase in murders involving shooting, thus demonstrating equally conclusively that the oft made claim that older criminals were wont to frisk younger ones to make sure they were not carrying firearms is fact not fiction. Similarly murder committed in the course of theft rose threefold.
These figures can not be ignored. They mean that the lifting of a serious deterrent has unleashed a huge increase not only in murder but in violent crime. My view is that we now have a duty to restore the death penalty. I would prefer that it should be available for all premeditated murder but if the problem of definition should prove too hard, then at least it must be applicable to the murder of prison officers, police officers, terrorist murders and all murder committed in the course of armed robbery.
I know that it is often contended that to hang a terrorist is to create a martyr but I take the view that every terrorist in prison is a focus for further outrage and atrocity.
I do not say bring back capital punishment for ever. There may well come a time when we want once more to try and do without it but the current experiment has failed. We should admit that and act accordingly.
The above is not a word for word transcript of Ann's speech. Sadly no such document exists but it is a distillation of her many speeches and comments on this issue and press reporting at the time.