11 JULY 1908, Page 1

On Friday week the French Chamber debated the abolition of

capital punishment. The Committee of the Chamber appointed to inquire into the question reported some time ago in favour of abolition, but recently, owing to a notable out- break of crime, it went back on its decision. More lately still, as we gather from a message of the Times correspondent, the Committee has agreed to a proposal of M. Briand that it should recommend solitary confinement for life. M. Joseph Reined], who is an ardent abolitionist, said in the debate that la grande criminalite is not increasing, but only the crimes of the riff-raff of cities, generally known as the apaches. M. Maurice Barr's spoke in favour of the British system of

conducting executions privately, and declared that capital punishment was a scientific method of removing anti-social elements. The debate was adjourned. In spite of the fact that the present French Government are mostly opposed to capital punishment, and that there has not been an execution in Paris for about ten years, public opinion is evidently inclined to insist upon the exaction of the supreme penalty. It is a pity that the statistics of crime in France are always so misleading owing to the arbitrary classification of murders. Crimes passionnels, for instance, are not regarded as what we call murders, and M. Reinach relied for his optimism chiefly on the distinctions between assassinate and meurtres. When the two are combined it certainly cannot be said that murder in France is decreasing.