15 FEBRUARY 1935, Page 19

[To the Editor of THE -SPECTATOR.] SIR,—There is one observation

which I think should be made on both the statistics cited by Sir Arnold Wilson in his article on Capital Punishment in your issue of February 1st, and the use made of certain of those figures in a leading article the following week. The figures for any single year may well be misleading. A detailed study of official returns will show that over the last fifty years, broadly speaking, the number of executions to reprieves stands in the pro- pertion—and that proportion has been singularly constant— of roughly two to one. This figure excludes the case of murders by women, for, as is well known, reprieves in thiS case are almost invariable. But even if women were included, it would still be the case that the executions considerably outnumber the reprieves. I am not discussing the desirability or otherwise of the abolition of capital punishment, but it is well that any argument on the subject should be based on the ascertained facts.—Yours, &c.,