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Thursday, 13 September 1973
Page: 995

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - I move:

(4)   After clause 5, add the following new clause: " 6. This Act does not apply to or in relation to the offence of murder when committed -

(1)   for the purpose of, or in the course of, unlawfully taking or exercising control of an aircraft or while unlawfully exercising control of an aircraft; or {2) by an act or omission wilfully causing destruction of or serious damage to such aircraft in flight.".

There has been since time immemorial the offence of piracy for which the walking of the gangplank was the normal form of execution. In this day and age aircraft are the most popular form of vehicle by which people move from one corner of the globe to the other. There is, perhaps, no argument for distinguishing between one form of transport and another. Yet it is true that if anything is done to disrupt the capacity of an aircraft to remain under the flight control of the person in the front cabin the lives of every person aboard that aircraft are placed at risk. I think the very nature of flying means that there is a peculiar reason for aircraft to be distinguished from other forms of transport, be they ships, motor cars, trains, trams, buses, ferries or whatever.

As far as our society is concerned, one should consider the nature of hijackings and the peculiar way in which a number of dissident national groups are asserting their particular views. They seem to be concentrating increasingly on the control of aircraft and on placing at risk the lives of persons on board those aircraft. I think that aircraft form a very necessary adjunct to modern living. Whether we are better off with them or not is a philosophical area of discussion which perhaps all of us who use aircraft sometimes ponder upon. But aircraft are part and parcel of our society and as such I believe that it is necessary that we consider an exception, in abolishing capital punishment, with respect to crimes committed in a manner to which this amendment refers. I have in mind of course incidents relating to the Black September gang to which I referred in my remarks in this chamber last night and to those who in the last few years both in Asia and in the Middle East have sought to take control of aircraft and who by the manipulation of aircraft controls place at risk the lives of persons, frequently unknown and certainly in many cases unrelated to any particular cause with which these persons are concerned.

In these circumstances I find it very hard to see why we should not retain the death penalty with respect to these crimes. I see them as having a particular pertinence in this day and age. I regard them as particularly heinous. I regard them as unfortunately increasing in character and in frequency and for that reason I believe it is necessary that this exception be also included within this measure. Accordingly 1 submit for the consideration of this chamber the amendment which I have moved.

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