HC Deb 17 July 1989 vol 157 cc38-85

13. In this Order— allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government order of the day, provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day, or is set down for consideration on that day; the Bill" means the Football Spectators Bill [Lords]; Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee; Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House.

The House will be familiar with the aims of the Bill from our debate a few weeks ago. It has two major objectives—first, to provide the statutory framework for a national membership scheme for football spectators; and, secondly, to enable the courts to impose restriction orders on hooligans to prevent them from travelling to key matches abroad.

The Bill was introduced because powerful measures are needed to break the link between football and hooliganism. That was apparent when the decision to legislate was taken after the serious incidents at the European championships in 1988. It is still apparent now in the light of the events that spoiled the end of the 1988–89 football season—more than 100 arrests only a week after the Hillsborough tragedy and other serious incidents right up to the last weekend of the season when a pitch invasion at Crystal Palace resulted in 16 injuries, including a stabbing.

Against that background, it would be totally irresponsible for the Government to waste the progress that has been made on this Bill and to throw away, for another year, the opportunity to deal with hooliganism. That is why I am introducing this motion today, to ensure that there is proper consideration of the Bill, but also steady progress. We cannot neglect our responsibilities while serious incidents continue to disrupt matches, to drive potential spectators away and to harm the reputation of the game.

The tragic events at Hillsborough meant that we delayed consideration of the Bill. That was entirely seemly and proper. But acts of hooliganism and violence did not cease after Hillsborough and it would be totally irresponsible to go on delaying while we wait for further incidents to confirm the low regard in which English fans are held across Europe. The Government do not accept the argument that the Bill should be postponed until we have seen the findings of the Taylor inquiry. We fully recognise the importance of this inquiry into safety matters and we have, at all stages, promised to look with care at its recommendations, particularly any that may be relevant to the setting up of the football membership scheme.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

If Lord Justice Taylor says that a football membership scheme such as is proposed would have contributed to the events at Hillsborough or even made them worse, will the Government abandon the scheme?

Mr. Wakeham

It is not helpful to have a hypothetical discussion of such matters. We shall have a proper debate on them when we have the report to consider. As I have already said, we have promised to look with care at the Taylor inquiry recommendations, particularly any that may be relevant to the setting up of the football membership scheme. However, as has been explained before, the Bill does not implement the national membershiip scheme. It provides an enabling framework within which the football membershp scheme will be set up. The Government recognise that the Taylor inquiry's findings may be relevant to the scheme and that Parliament will want to be aware of them before final decisions are taken. There is no question of the Government rushing through the scheme before those findings have been considered, but Government amendments have been tabled to the Bill to meet the concerns about safety matters.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

The Minister has just said that the Government have no intention of rushing the scheme through without the House being given a chance to consider the Taylor report. Should the final report of the Taylor inquiry not be published until December, does that mean that the Government are willing to hold back on the Bill until such time?

Mr. Wakeham

No. We are proceeding with the Bill. What we are talking about is its implementation, and we have given an undertaking that the national membership scheme will not be set up until we have had a chance to consider the Taylor report. That does not mean that we shall hold up the Bill.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

I am obliged to the Leader of the House for giving way, as this is an important matter. What he is now saying is that the House will have no opportunity to write into the Bill any conclusions that we draw as a result of the Taylor proposals. What he is saying is that the Football Membership Authority, or the Secretary of State acting under the powers in the Bill, will have that opportunity, but not this House. That is thoroughly objectionable.

Mr. Wakeham

The important point is that the House will have the opportunity to approve or to reject such proposals. There will be two opportunities for full parliamentary consideration of the scheme after the inquiry's report—one before the FMA is appointed and one after the scheme has been submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.

We cannot afford to lose, for another year, the chance to deal with these important matters, especially with the approach of the world cup in 1990. I have therefore tabled this motion. It is, of course, not a matter for me how time in Committee is allocated, but I think that I have allowed reasonable time, given that there is substantial agreement about part II of the Bill. Having said that, it is important that we get on. The Committee has still to discuss some important matters in part I, in particular the role that the licensing authority might play in safety issues. The House agreed to the instruction allowing safety matters to be considered and the relevant Government amendments were tabled on Thursday. Given the great concern about safety, I should have thought that everyone would be anxious to reach that part of the debate. Some progress has been made, but it has been rather erratic.

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

If the Leader of the House has had a chance to look at the Hansard reports of the Committee stage, he will note that, in respect of clauses 2 and 3, his ministerial colleagues have told the Committee and given undertakings that they will consider suggestions made by the Opposition. Does he agree that this occurred only because of the lengthy discussions which took place and the evidence produced by Opposition Members? Bearing in mind the fact that the spirit of the Bill should produce co-operation between Front-Bench Members and others to ensure that we solve the problem of hooliganism and put forward suggestions which will benefit football and that Ministers have said that they will consider suggestions, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that to allow us more time in Committee would permit more suggestions to come forward that would help to make the Bill a constructive vehicle which ensured that football progressed?

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend the Minister of Sport said that he would consider a number of points raised, and certainly he will do so. The substance of my case is that there is plenty of time, both in the remaining Committee sessions and on Report, for answers to be given. There will be a Report stage and a Third reading and, in my judgment, that is adequate time.

After nine sittings over 37 hours the Committee has reached the first set of amendments to clause 5 of this 24-clause Bill. It is not even half time yet, which is not surprising since the first two sittings were largely repeats of the Second reading debate. I have already explained about the future opportunities to consider the Taylor recommendations, although it is difficult to understand why the Opposition are so keen to Implement a report that they have not seen, but not to push ahead with measures in line with the Popplewell report, which we have all had a chance to read and consider—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The measures are in line—[Interruption.] Keep calm.

The Popplewell report suggested that the clubs should consider a membership scheme. It was the clubs which said that they were not prepared to do so unless the scheme had statutory backing. Therefore, I stick to my point.

During the first two sittings of the Committee—

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)

Is it not the case that in an interim report—not the final report—Popplewell said that he recommended that urgent consideration be given by football clubs to introducing a membership system so as to exclude visiting fans? He recommended only consideration of a scheme, which is utterly different from the Government's recommendation.

Mr. Wakeham

Of course, the Popplewell scheme was not identical to the Government's. He was suggesting a voluntary scheme. It was the football clubs' failure to come up with one which led us to take action. These matters can and will be the subject of great debate. It does not mean that we need not get ahead and deal with these matters.

During the first two sittings of the Committee, the Opposition team was ruled offside on no fewer than 17 occasions and asked to remain within the scope of the debate. Events since then have made it difficult to know what to expect from the players in a team who seem unable to settle their team tactics from one sitting to the next.

On clause 1 there were 13 groups of Opposition amendments to consider, but after four of them were discussed, there was a change of heart. The remaining nine sets were withdrawn and the Committee went straight to the clause stand part debate. This encouraging progress continued on clause 2 where all the Opposition amendments were once more dropped. Clause 3 went to the other extreme, and a closure motion was needed to get on; and so it continues. I should like to think that, by introducing this motion, I am doing a favour to everyone on the Committee by focusing their minds on a reasonable timetable which will allow sensible and steady progress through the remaining stages of the Bill. Otherwise, I fear that we shall not be able to act in time for the 1994 world cup, let alone the 1990—

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

Despite the long list that the Leader of the House read out and the fact that there have been more than 30 hours of debate, does he accept that the Government Whip moved the closure only once in all that time—so how could there have been filibustering?

Mr. Wakeham

The hon. Gentleman is wrong: I gather that it was moved twice. I am not arguing that there has been filibustering. It has never been my case that there has been. My case is that we need a structured debate to achieve finality on this matter in a reasonable length of time.

As I am often reminded, I have introduced a number of timetable motions in my time as Leader of the House, so I have had the opportunity to explore the various philosophies on the use of the guillotine. I have often had cause to quote the distinguished expert on the subject, the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), who believes that guillotines are justified only towards the end of the Session to get Government measures through.

I have favoured an early introduction of timetable motions to allow proper time to be assigned to each part of the Bill. I have tended to rely on my judgment rather than on that of the right hon. Gentleman who, as he well knows, was the only Leader of the House since the war to lose a guillotine motion and to fail to pilot one of his guillotined Bills to Royal Assent. But on this occasion, the motion meets his test and mine, which convinces me that I am right to introduce it, and I look forward to his support.

The provisions of the motion are entirely adequate. Thirty-seven hours have already been spent on part I, which is the more contentious part of the legislation. This timetable allows at least 30 more hours to consider the rest of the Bill, depending on when the Committee chooses to sit. After that, there will be a full day for Report and Third Reading, when proceedings on Third Reading can continue until midnight.

I stress again that this will not be the last opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny of these measures. In all, I see this motion as a happy release for everyone. We can go off for the summer in the knowledge that we are well on the way to completing the necessary measures. For the first time, we shall have an effective way of keeping troublemakers out of football matches at home and abroad and to restore the reputation of the game. I therefore commend the motion to the House.

4.43 pm
Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)

There are three main reasons for today's guillotine motion to curtail debate on the Football Spectators Bill: first, the Government's business managers are no good at getting their legislation through the House; secondly, the Bill is a ludicrous measure; thirdly, the Government are so embarrassed by the way in which they are losing the argument that they want to bring debate to an end as soon as possible.

Let us look first at the record of the Government's business managers. In the first Session of this Parliament, we sat for 218 days, the fourth longest Session in history. The Government curtailed debate by use of the guillotine on no fewer than six Bills—the highest ever number of guillotines in one Session.

Despite all that, the Government got through only 49 Bills, the lowest total in the first Session of a Parliament in modern times. The average for a first Session is 70 Bills, and the record is 104. So far in this Session, the Government have introduced just 33 Bills which, if the final total, would be the lowest number in any Session not interrupted by a general election.

However, to get these 33 Bills through, the Government have had to limit debate by guillotining six of them. So almost one fifth of this year's business has had to be guillotined. Clearly, much of this low production results from the effectiveness of the Opposition. The only other explanation is the incompetence of Members on the Government Front Bench—in particular, the ineptitude of the Chief Whip and of the Leader of the House. That, presumably, is why, with a majority of 100 and having made so little progress, they feature so largely in all the rumours about a Cabinet reshuffle.

Let us examine the Bill itself. Despite objections from us, it was introduced first in the House of Lords. By custom, controversial measures are not first introduced in the Lords, but this one was. Surely that was not because their Lordships had any special experience of, knowledge of, or insight into what happens on the terraces or even in the stands of English and Welsh football grounds. In my time they have always been regarded as experts on "huntin', shootin' and fishin'"—certainly not on football.

Whatever the reason, it is a fact that the Bill introduced in the Lords related only to hooliganism at football matches and to no other problem. It recognised no danger to the safety of football spectators other than that posed by hooligans. Then came the Hillsborough disaster, at which point even the Government had to acknowledge that other factors affected the safety of football spectators, so they deferred consideration of the Bill.

At that point, we suggested that the Government should withdraw the Bill and await the outcome of the judicial inquiry into the disaster. We suggested that, once the country had the benefit of Lord Justice Taylor's report, football authorities, the police and representatives of the supporters, together with the Government and the Opposition, should sit down to work out practical proposals designed to reduce hooliganism and to make it safer for men, women, children and old and handicapped people to watch football matches in comfort and security.

We offered to help to formulate such proposals and we promised that we would help the Government to get the necessary legislation on the statute book as soon as possible. The Government refused point blank—

Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

Can the hon. Gentleman answer the reverse of the question put to my right hon. Friend by the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell)? If the report from Lord Justice Taylor says that a football membership scheme would help to defeat the hooligan, will the Opposition withdraw their objection to it?

Mr. Dobson

We shall consider it—[Interruption.]—and so should the Government. We shall consider any proposition from the Taylor inquiry, but as the Government continually say that Mr. Justice Popplewell recommended this scheme, and he did not, we should need to examine closely anything that they claimed emanated from the Taylor report.

After what they considered a decent interval, the Government pushed the original Bill through the Lords. When it arrived before this House, it was still so exclusively concerned with hooligans that amendments designed to deal with other aspects of safety would have been out of order, so the Government had to introduce a special procedural motion to empower the Committee to deal with any aspect of crowd safety. The Committee cannot do that properly, because Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster finished taking evidence only last Friday.

Instead, we are told that the Bill will leave everything on crowd safety to the discretion of the Secretary of State. The Bill will enable him, after Lord Justice Taylor reports, to look at the recommendations of the judicial inquiry, and will give the power to him alone to accept, reject or vary its recommendations in any way he chooses. He will then propose regulations relating to crowd safety. Any regulations that he comes up with will not be capable of amendment by the House. We know his track record on regulations and on safety, because on Wednesday this week—

Mr. Vaz

My hon. Friend mentioned the Secretary of State for the Environment. Has he had a chance to see the reply to my parliamentary question, in which I asked the Secretary of State to list the number of football matches that he had attended and the number of football grounds that he had visited over the past year? Is he aware that the Secretary of State has not visited a single football ground or attended a single match in the past year? Does he agree that it would be appropriate not to proceed with the Bill until the right hon. Gentleman has had a chance to attend one?

Mr. Dobson

The right hon. Gentleman is more familiar with the Eton wall game than with Britain's national sport. On Wednesday, he is asking the House to approve no fewer than 15 sets of regulations under the Water Act 1989. That Act is the brainchild of the Secretary of State and he has drawn up the regulations. The House will have just three hours in which to debate 15 sets of regulations. That is less than a quarter of an hour per set. At least the context of those water regulations should have been partly covered in the debates on the Water Bill, but that will not be the case for any regulations made by the Secretary of State based on the recommendations of the Hillsborough inquiry which, if the guillotine motion is passed, will not have been considered in Committee at all. Less than a day will be provided to consider them on Report. They will be the product of those who introduced this barmy Bill in the first place.

If his record is anything to go by, the Secretary of State will be more concerned with the control of ordinary citizens than their safety. He was previously Secretary of State for Transport. London Regional Transport was enjoined by law to secure the efficiency, economy and safety of its operations. The Secretary of State decided to spell out his priorities for LRT in a letter. In his 823-word letter he talked only about efficiency and economy, and about cutting costs and staff. It was not that he did not put safety first; he did not put it anywhere. The word "safety" was not mentioned once in his letter.

His record shows that when it comes to the safety of ordinary people the Secretary of State literally does not give a damn. That is why any safety measures to be implemented following the Hillsborough inquiry cannot be left to him. Nor can they be left to any other Ministers or to any of his successors because, as we know, they are just as bad. After all, his successors permitted the installation of the death-trap ticket barriers on the tube. The recommendations of the Hillsborough inquiry must be discussed in detail and decided in the House. The guillotine motion will deny us the opportunity to do that.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

That is pathetic.

Mr. Dobson

The right hon. Gentleman says that that is pathetic. It was pathetic of him to pay no attention to the safety of people on London transport, and it is just as pathetic to introduce a Bill that pays no attention to the safety of football spectators.

All those objections to the guillotine relate to what is left out of the Bill. What it includes is just as ludicrous. The greatest victims of hooligans in football grounds have been the rest of the spectators. They have suffered from what the hooligans do. The Government do not propose to deal with the minority of troublemakers. The Bill is not targeted on them. It proposes to inflict a form of collective punishment on the innocent victims, the law-abiding spectators. It will impose extra costs on them and interfere with their right to watch a football match. It will impose on them the inconvenience of having to obtain an identity card. It will erode their civil liberties by requiring compulsory selective identity cards in a country which does not require such cards to be carried by any comparable group.

Against all those costs to spectators, what would be the benefits? Most people in football, most of those who go to football matches and most of the police believe that the proposals will not improve matters, but make them worse. Set against that wealth of experience, we have a Prime Minister whose direct knowledge of football grounds seems to have commenced at a Wembley cup final which she saw from the royal box, an old Etonian Secretary of State who does not even claim that, and a Minister for Sport who would do anything if he thought that it would help him keep his job, even volunteering to be a target at a clay pigeon shoot.

Those are the people who insist, for example, that women should be included in the scheme. There is no evidence that women have been involved in violence at football matches. What do the Government fear? Apparently, they are frightened that hooligans will dress up as women or girls. If Ministers lived in the real world they would know that the average heavily tattooed skinhead does not look right in a frock. These Ministers do not know that, because they do not live in the real world.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

Many thousands of football supporters will be upset that the hon. Gentleman thinks that they are all heavily tattooed skinheads. Is he aware that at Newport some 40 men went to the local Oxfam shop, bought clothes and dressed up as women in order to get into the game? As such, many were arrested. That could happen again if women were exempted from the scheme. That is the problem with the hon. Gentleman's proposal.

Mr. Dobson

In response to the hon. Gentleman, who spends as much time representing Johannesburg, South as Luton, North, I would say that not all football supporters are skinheads—and, for that matter, not all skinheads are hooligans. I was talking about hooligans who, in the fantasies of the Government Front Bench and apparently the hon. Gentleman, might dress up as women. We should not pay any attention to what he said.

The Government also insist on pensioners having identity cards. The consequence of that will be rotten. What about the grandad who has not been to many matches in recent years, but who reminisces about Stanley Matthews or Jackie Milburn or, going further back, Dixie Dean? One fine Saturday or perhaps a Boxing day his children or grandchildren may say to him, "Come on then, it's a nice day, we'll take you in the car. We'll be able to get a seat. They're playing Wolves. See how you rate this new lad Steve Bull." The old man will perk up but then they will say, "Oh no, you haven't got a flaming ID card. We won't be able to go." That is what will happen in the real world inhabited by football spectators but not by the Government.

Mr. David Martin (Portsmouth, South)

If we assume that we have a scheme where people have to put a card through a machine, surely the more exemptions there are, the more bunching there will be, so the less safe it will be to arrive at the gates. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that danger is the more likely one?

Mr. Dobson

All sorts of provisions could be made for various types of spectators. There could be separate turnstiles, children's enclosures and family enclosures. All sorts of practical, targeted measures can be taken to reduce hooliganism so that non-hooligans who go to football matches feel safe. The whole preposterous scheme will not achieve that.

The final reason for the guillotine is the Government's embarrassment about losing all the arguments. They have lost the argument with the public, in the House of Lords and on Second Reading when my right hon. and hon. Friends, and, to be fair, some Conservative Members, ripped the Bill to shreds in a cracking series of speeches. The same has been happening in Committee. The Government have only one answer to the weight of the arguments—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) says, "Oh." On one occasion when I listened to the Committee he was talking about compulsory ID cards for pensioners. He said that pensioners would be encouraged to get involved with Bury football club by being forced to have an ID card. That is a peculiar form of encouragement.

Mr. Alistair Burt (Bury, North)

It is to his disadvantage that the hon. Gentleman did not stay longer. My point was that the violence has discouraged several pensioners in Bury and elsewhere from going to the game. My point was that there are already safe enclosures which are advertised as such, and many people take out membership of them. I argued that that concept should be extended to the whole ground. In that way, the whole ground would be safe, and pensioners would benefit.

Mr. Dobson

Why is the answer to make it compulsory for pensioners to have ID cards? If the scheme, in dealing with people below pensionable age, results in the grounds being safe, pensioners will be safe wherever they go in those grounds. The hon. Gentleman's arguments are just preposterous. We have this guillotine because the Government have lost the argument and are using the crude weight of their majority.

Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield)

My hon. Friend may not have had time to read the Official Report of last Thursday's sitting, which shows the statistical evidence about people aged over 65 who committed offences in the last season. Only three cases could be found. The first involved a pensioner who was arrested while trying to steal a car outside Chelsea football ground; the second was an over-65 person found illegally selling hot dogs outside Norwich; the third was a very elderly gentleman arrested outside Southampton ground late one afternoon in an inebriated condition and pretending to be Father Christmas. Charges have not been brought against that man.

Mr. Dobson

My hon. Friend, who so rightly and heartily speaks for Mansfield Town, has exposed the threadbare nature of the argument that pensioners should be forced to carry ID cards.

The Bill is like the Government: it ignores the things that it ought to do and fails to do the things that it claims to do. It is out of touch. It owes everything to the Prime Minister and nothing to common sense. Its only role is propaganda and publicity. It flies in the face of practical experience. It will create more problems that it resolves. It is not up to the job—it never has been and it never will be.

5.1 pm

Mr. David Evans (Welwyn Hatfield)

The Opposition object to the motion on two grounds—that it has come too early in the Committee proceedings and that we should wait for Lord Justice Taylor to produce his report on the Hillsborough tragedy. I reject both grounds.

On the first ground, my argument is that the motion should have come earlier. In 1985, the Procedure Committee recommended timetabling of Bills. The automatic timetabling of contentious Bills would make good sense. Under present procedures, when a Bill gets bogged down in Committee or looks as though it will, a guillotine motion is introduced. That happens under all Governments. Precious time on the Floor of the House is wasted discussing the motion. The Opposition, of whichever party, criticise the motion and the Government of the day defend it. It is all a load of nonsense.

A rational timetable aids sensible debate and ensures that all parts of the Bill receive consideration. It does not rob the Opposition of any of their rights. As the Procedure Committee recognised in 1985, the power of delay is a myth. Attempts at obstruction reduce rather than enhance the likelihood of the Government making concessions. In the interests of more rational debate, I support the motion and I hope that we can look forward to the automatic timetabling of Bills in the future, thus avoiding the need for motions such as this.

As for the Opposition's contention that we should not rush proceedings but wait until Lord Justice Taylor's report is to hand, I take the contrary view. The Bill is an enabling Bill and deals with an issue that is different from that being considered by the Taylor inquiry. To wait for the Taylor report would confuse rather than clarify the issue. The Bill is about separating the true football fans from the cowards, the bullies, the hooligans, the criminals and others of that type. Safety at football grounds, and at all sporting stadiums, is an important issue which needs careful consideration, free from the controversy that surrounds the subject of hooliganism and membership card schemes.

Contrary to what opponents of the Bill may like to think, nothing has changed as a result of the awful tragedy at Hillsborough. Hooliganism was ruining our national game and dragging this country's name through the gutters of Europe before Hillsborough and, unfortunately, it has continued to do so unabated since then. The need for action to tackle the problem of hooliganism is as strong now as it has ever been. The events of the last two months of the season bear this out. In the Littlewoods cup final at Wembley, when Luton played Nottingham Forest, mounted police had to separate rival fans who were fighting outside the ground. There were 66 arrests and 65 were subsequently charged. Not one was a Luton fan. The scheme had worked there.

On 22 April, just one week after the tragedy at Hillsborough, 94 people were arrested and 28 were ejected from the ground during a match between Chelsea and Leeds United. Arrests took place before, during and after the game. Something similar happened at the game between West Ham and Millwall, during which 24 people were arrested and 24 were ejected. On 13 May, the last Saturday of the season, trouble throughout the country culminated in over more than 200 arrests and dozens of injuries. After a pitch invasion by Birmingham fans at Crystal Palace, 16 people ended up in hospital, the game was held up for 26 minutes and 24 people were arrested. Some 200 Sheffield United fans went on the rampage in Weston-super-Mare after the team had lost to Bristol City, and 24 were arrested. Some 40 Leeds yobboes were arrested after fighting in a pub on their way back from a match with Shrewsbury. Chelsea fans celebrated promotion by causing thousands of pounds' worth of damage.

Mr. Wareing

Would the hon. Gentleman care to give the House the advantage of his experience and explain how 52 people from Luton in a coach coming back from a game with Ipswich Town managed to damage the coach, and spent some time in a local lock-up? Why did the Luton ID card scheme not prevent that from happening? The incident involved 52 arrests and was not the one mentioned by the Minister in a parliamentary answer.

Mr. Evans

Had the Government's scheme been in place, those 52—they were not members of Luton—would have been banned from football grounds for two years.

On 13 May, there was also trouble involving Plymouth, Bournemouth and Bristol Rovers fans—the latter were returning from Gigg lane, Bury—and on 27 May more than 150 were arrested after the England v. Scotland game at Hampden. Offences included a breach of the peace, spitting on shoppers, resisting arrest, fighting and swearing. One fan was charged with being in possession of a CS gas canister and discharging it into the crowd. This was all immediately after the Hillsborough disaster.

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)

Will the hon. Gentleman give a detailed list of the matches at which no people were arrested, or hardly anyone was arrested, or after which few were charged and no convictions followed? We need a full picture of what is happening. We cannot base our response on specific instances, although we want them to be dealt with.

Mr. Evans

I do not intend to go though all the matches at which there were no arrests. I am trying to explain to the House the seriousness of problems affecting the national game, and its possible demise if we are not careful. I am all for identifying the bullies and the hooligans, and stopping them attending football matches for two or three years afterwards, or perhaps for ever.

The Government are right to bring forward this enabling Bill, and it is right to proceed with it now and to try to get it on the statute book during this parliamentary session. Only then can we hope to salvage a dying game. Let us by all means address ourselves seriously to improving crowd safety when the Taylor report is published, but let us not confuse that with the need to do something now about the scourge of hooliganism. Once the Bill is passed and in place, it will be much easier to take action after considering any recommendations from the Taylor report. Let the Football Membership Authority, which will write the scheme, include them if it wishes. The guillotine motion is eminently reasonable, and I support it.

5.10 pm
Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

The Leader of the House has said that I am an expert on guillotines. I can tell him that I am a greater expert on watching football. I have probably watched more away games than most hon. Members put together. First, in 1934, I watched my team—Plymouth Argyle—taking two points from Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart lane on Christmas day. I have been watching away matches ever since, and I have seen some home games as well. I have had plenty of opportunity to see what really happens at away games.

I am bitterly opposed to the Bill because of the widespread injury that it will inflict on football, especially the small teams. There is not the slightest doubt that, if the proposed scheme is introduced, it will reduce the number of away supporters who attend matches, at least for a number of seasons. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) drew attention in Committee to the consequences. The numbers of casual supporters who decide on the afternoon that they will attend a match, or only a day or two before, will be seriously reduced. In addition, the paraphernalia of an identity card scheme will reduce numbers.

Many of the smaller teams, perhaps in the third and fourth divisions, will be driven out of business, but the Government seem not to give a damn that. What will happen in the towns and other places where young people have been reared to give allegiance to their clubs? It is a proper pursuit that many of us have followed over many years. In the places where clubs are knocked out, the increase in hooliganism will be incalculable. The Government do not understand the cause of the hooliganism that has increased so rapidly during their period of office. If clubs throughout the country are caused to close, the chances of many young people to attach themselves to a club and see it prosper will be swept away by a Government who do not give a damn what happens in football and have never taken the trouble to find out.

Anyone who examined the facts could see what was likely to happen outside football grounds. By pursuing the Bill, the Government will add to all the problems of bitterness, rows and arrests. Many more Hillsboroughs could be provoked by the scheme. That is the view of many police forces, but the Government do take no notice of what the police say on these matters. They are apparently not interested in what the police have to do outside the grounds. The risks and dangers will be enormously increased by the Bill. In effect, the Government are saying, "We are not even going to listen; notwithstanding what happened outside the ground at Hillsborough, we intend to go ahead with the scheme." There will be a far greater risk of roughhouses outside grounds. It is scandalous for the Government to proceed in such a way.

Mr. John Carlisle

The right hon. Gentleman has said, in effect, that the police have forecast trouble. I trust that he will acknowledge that the police were members of the original working party and that they have had a major input in the discussions on the proposed scheme. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman made some serious remarks about the Hillsborough disaster. I put it to him with all due respect that it is dangerous to allege that Hillsborough could happen again as a result of the introduction of the membership scheme. If a membership scheme had been in existence at Hillsborough, the police might have had a better facility by means of a filtering process to prevent many people from getting to the ground. First, they could have ensured that people had tickets. Secondly, they could have ensured that individuals had membership cards. In those circumstances, the police might have been able to prevent some of the trouble by ensuring that those without tickets did not get to the ground.

Mr. Foot

That was not a proper intervention. If the hon. Gentleman wants to make a speech, let him make one. I shall reply, however, to the issues that he has raised. It cannot be denied that the police have been opposed to the scheme from the beginning. The Government have used every method available to them to try to persuade the police to produce different evidence. Anyone who has studied the facts knows that when the Government first came forward with their cock-eyed scheme the football clubs were against it. Only a few supported it. I understand that Luton, for example, has a scheme designed to stop away supporters from attending matches. That is a scandalous interference with the individual's right to watch a football match. If such a scheme were applied throughout the country, football would be wrecked. What is football but a contest between two sides at which supporters can express their support from both sides? The Luton scheme would wreck British football, but the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) apparently supports it.

As I have said, the police were against the proposed membership scheme from the beginning, and I am sure that that is still their position. I am sure that, whatever differences of view emerge as a result of the evidence given about the Hillsborough disaster, the police will still be against the scheme, but the Government are not prepared to take any notice of that. I shall consider it an amazing event if the Taylor report comes out in favour of the scheme. Of course, it would be a great victory for the Government. If the Government do not bring pressure to bear on Lord Justice Taylor—I am sure that he would be able to resist it if they did—there is an overwhelming certainty that the report will only add to the arguments that those who know about football have advanced from the beginning. In other words, the Taylor report will fortify the arguments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath and many others.

The Government are wasting a great deal of parliamentary time. There may be a few obscure recommendations in the Taylor report which will be used by the Government to support their argument. I believe that the report will be written clearly and will not support the Government, but if the report blurs the issue, w hat will happen? It is monstrous for the Government to say that they will wait until the Taylor report is produced, consider what it recommends and then bring forward proposals which cannot be altered by amendment in the House. The Leader of the House should be in his place to respond to this. The Minister for Sport merely takes the orders of the Prime Minister. The Bill is clearly the Prime Minister's responsibility. If the Government had a real leader of the House, a real Minister for Sport and a real Cabinet, the Bill would never have been presented to the House. Unfortunately, Cabinet members are afraid to oppose the Prime Minister and simply agree with virtually everything she says.

That attitude should have changed over the past few months. The Prime Minister's authority has been greatly weakened following the elections. The atmosphere in the Cabinet, in Parliament and throughout the country is changing. Secondary Ministers who might have some interest in their future careers should have plucked up the courage to tell the Prime Minister that it is nonsense that a measure such as this Bill should be proceeding through the House. It is shameful that the Minister for Sport supports the Bill, and it is even more shameful that members of the Cabinet—many of whom will probably be shunted into other jobs when our discussions on the Bill come to an end in a few weeks' time—have lent their support to it.

The Minister for Sport has never been able to persuade the football authorities, the police or anyone else that the Bill has merit. One of the reasons for that is that, when he meets the clubs and others, he spends far too much time talking and scarcely listens to anything that others have to say. That applies even more to the Prime Minister. It would be best if we could finish off the Bill here and now, but if we cannot, let it be finished off soon. The Minister for Sport will go into obscurity as the Minister who tried to ram through a measure that will do nothing but injury to the greatest of British sports.

5.20 pm
Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

I follow the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) with some reluctance, not least because his reputation as a parliamentary speaker has no equal, but also because his knowledge of the guillotine probably makes him the world's greatest expert on it.

I support the motion because of the experience of my membership of the Standing Committee. At times I felt isolated and lonely because at every juncture when hon. Members on both sides felt obliged to speak, they prefaced their remarks by expressing their love, devotion, commitment and knowledge of the game of association football. After a time, I began to think that that commitment was a condition of membership of the House. Hon. Members combined that commitment with pointing an accusing finger at the guilty men—those who, especially in the eyes of the Opposition, know nothing about football.

I must make it clear that although I have attended the occasional match, I am not the world's greatest expert on football. I make no apology for that, for three main reasons. First, since coming to the House it has been my experience that lack of knowledge has never prevented hon. Members from making speeches either in this Chamber or in Committee. Secondly, in view of the state of association football, the declining gates, the conditions of the grounds and the way in which the game is perceived both here and abroad, I realise that those responsible for all that are people who know about the game. Perhaps it is time for those who do not know very much to have their say—

Mr. Denis Howell

If the football authorities are responsible for the malaise of the game, why are the Government proposing to put them in charge of the Football Membership Authority which will regulate this ludicrous Bill?

Mr. Sumberg

They are being involved simply because of force majeure. The right hon. Gentleman must remember that in Committee my hon. Friend the Minister made it clear that he is prepared to consider the involvement of other people and other bodies in the football membership scheme. I hope that he will do so.

Thirdly, I make no apology for supporting the motion because it gives me an opportunity to speak for the forgotten majority—not the majority of decent, honourable, peaceful football supporters, because powerful and influential voices already speak for them, but for the vast majority of the population who never go to a football match, and never want to go to one, but who foot the bill for the behaviour of the mindless few who create all the mayhem at football games. If it can be argued, as I believe it can, that law-abiding football supporters have had a raw deal from football, it can be argued that the millions of people who never go to the game have had an even greater raw deal.

Mr. Meale

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that about 32 million people in Britain support one sport or another? Is he further aware that hooliganism occurs across the whole spectrum of sport, including rowing, rugby union and cricket, to almost the same degree as in football? Why does he not argue that a similar scheme should be introduced for every sport?

Mr. Sumberg

I sometimes wonder what Labour Members do and where they have been. Of course there are outbreaks of violence at most sports, but the predominant problem is with the game of football. If the Opposition do not recognise that, we shall not make much progress. Every Saturday throughout the season, our cities and towns become almost semi-military encampments with masses of police patrolling the streets. The ordinary people have to think about changing their plans as they face the fact that there may be violence against themselves or their property. Above all, the cost of providing protection for them and their property falls on the ratepayers and taxpayers. They are entitled to be heard in this House.

Without the guillotine, the behaviour of some Opposition Members will continue unabated. There will be yet more hypnotic law lectures from the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz); we will hear yet again the same stories from the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) about his wartime RAF experiences and his distinguished service for the Crown on the railway stations of Britain; we will hear again about the wonderful moment in the career of the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) when he discovered, or so he thought, the fatal flaw in the Luton Town membership scheme. We have heard those stories time and again. Indeed, the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) retold, even today, the story of three old-age pensioners who apparently were arrested outside a football ground. Having heard those stories many times, I have a great deal of sympathy for Members' wives and husbands who have to listen to the old jokes and stories and smile politely each time we tell them at every meeting that we attend.

Another theme that came out in Committee is worthy of mention—the class war. Conservative Members thought that in the modern, chic, radical, cordless-telephone Labour party, the class war was dead and gone. I have news for the House—it is alive and kicking in Committee. "This is a working-class game," runs the Opposition argument, "and we do not want it interfered with by the public-school twits on the Conservative Benches." If it is a working-class game, the working classes have had a pretty raw deal from it. They stand on awful terraces supporting clubs that will spend £1 million on a player but not a penny on their grounds. They watch their favourite clubs being bought and sold in boardroom coups over which they have no control. They suffer violent attacks from the mindless hooligan minority.

Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe)

Although my hon. Friend may be right to suggest that some clubs do not do their best by their supporters, no one is compelled to attend a football match or to endure such conditions if he chooses not to do so. The only element of compulsion entering football is the introduction of the Bill, whereby one is not allowed to watch a football match unless one becomes a member under the Football Membership Authority scheme.

Mr. Sumberg

My hon. Friend's point goes to the fundamental principle of the Bill, but I happen to believe that it is not the greatest infringement of civil liberties to compel a person to hold a membership card to prevent the sort of behaviour to which I referred.

The party of the working class may think that the conditions that I mentioned are good enough for the working class, but we do not. Such conditions are not good enough for the working, middle, upper or any other class. That is why the Government mean to do something about them.

At the start of my remarks, I freely confessed to knowing little about association football—but because many of my constituents are interested in football, I thought that I should know more about it. I accepted an invitation from the chairman of Manchester United, Martin Edwards, whom I know, to visit that club's ground, together with one or two Opposition Members, to watch a match. During the interval, I met another guest, who was Asian. He told me that he was a keen football fan but did not regularly attend matches. I asked him why not. He answered, "Mr. Sumberg, if the colour of your skin was the same as mine, you would not go to football matches either. At best, you would receive taunts and jeers—at worst, a brick or bottle on the back of your head."

Mr. Vaz

That is nonsense. Absolute rubbish.

Mr. Sumberg

That is an appalling indictment of' the game. If the Government fail to do anything, it will be an appalling indictment of them. I do not pretend that the Bill is the whole answer to football violence, but it can play a vital part. It is time that football had a better deal, and time that the Bill became law.

5.33 pm
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

Such is the nature of the Government's majority in the House that I harbour no doubt that the motion will pass at the due moment. When it does, that will be eloquent testimony to the Government's obduracy and intransigence, because there is no need for the motion. To go beyond that, there are very good reasons why it should not pass.

Those right hon. and hon. Members who have participated in the Committee stage have known since it began that the passage of the legislation is much more important to the Government than its intrinsic merit. That belief is based on an ill-concealed, blind and insensitive determination on the Government's part to drive the legislation through. The less time the Bill spends in Committee, the less time there will be for the scrutiny which is required—and which would make it obvious that the Government have created expectations that they are unable to satisfy. The more detailed the examination. the more flawed the Bill has appeared.

The guillotine is not being introduced as an expression of the Government's frustration: it is provoked by their realisation of the extent to which the Bill exposes them to political and intellectual embarrassment. The guillotine is not justified by the nature of the legislation. Such legislation should in any case be non-partisan and ought to command the support of right hon and hon. Members in all parts of the House. Notwithstanding that, however, the Government are determined to press ahead.

The guillotine is also not justified by the views of many right hon. and hon. Members who, while they oppose the legislation, are as determined as any Conservative Member to find a solution to the problem of football hooliganism and to ensure, so far as they can, the speedy return of English clubs to continental competitions. Neither is the guillotine justified by the parallel inquiry of Lord Justice Taylor, whose preliminary report may be available by the end of this month. Instead, the guillotine will prevent the Standing Committee appointed by the House to consider the Bill from examining Lord Justice Taylor's proposals. That is why many right hon. and hon. Members find the introduction of the guillotine at this stage so objectionable.

In Committee, the mask has slipped on occasions—usually in the absence of the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones)—and reasonableness has made a brief appearance. From time to time, the Minister for Sport has conveyed a properly constructive attitude to matters brought to his attention in the context of safety. That is hardly surprising, because in the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) and the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), the Committee has two Members who were present on the occasion of the Hillsborough disaster, and who bring to the Committee's work not only considerable experience of and a deep love for football but an appreciation of at least some of the conditions which gave rise to that most tragic occurrence. That spirit of constructiveness could have been more effectively utilised if the Government had been willing to exercise greater sensitivity towards Opposition Members who, while opposed to the principle of the Bill, are none the less determined to ensure that the eventual legislation is the best possible.

If we must have a Bill, it should be the best Bill possible. That requires proper scrutiny of the terms of the legislation and adequate time for that scrutiny. If we must have a Bill, it should be based on the best available information—which requires consideration at least of Lord Justice Taylor's interim report. The guillotine will allow neither. For that reason, it ought to be opposed.

5.37 pm
Mr. Alistair Burt (Bury, North)

I follow the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) in his reminiscences, and I am pleased to be the first Conservative Member to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg). As the House may know, we share the same metropolitan borough and often find that we have both parallel and tandem interests. My hon. Friend confessed that he was speaking for a group of people who are not football supporters and who attend few matches, but who have a legitimate interest in the outcome of the Bill. I speak for a different group of people again—for those who were football supporters but who are no longer.

My credentials follow more those of the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent than those of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South. I spent my formative years as a football supporter following a small town club. I refer to my local team, Bury. My father has been a season ticket holder at that club for 40 years, which is a triumph of hope over experience. The club had occasional cup triumphs, with victories over West Bromwich Albion and over Middlesbrough, when they were a force in the first division. They have had good cup runs, poor seasons and good seasons, but Bury has always been a friendly club and I am grateful for the support and friendship that I have enjoyed from its chairman and directors—

Mr. Ashton

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely the debate should concern itself with the question of whether or not there is a need for a guillotine. It is not another Second Reading, or an opportunity to reminisce.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I have been listening carefully to the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt), but he has said nothing out of order. It is in order for a debate on a timetable motion to be fairly wide-ranging.

Mr. Burt

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) will seek to catch your eye when he has a chance, so that he can give his views.

The kind attention that the local club has paid to my work on the Bill is very welcome and I appreciate the attempts of the current chairman, Terry Robinson, and the other members of the board to develop the club over the past few years. There is no doubt, however, that the game has changed, as has its impact on local society. Years ago it had a positive image in Bury—people were interested in the club's affairs and results, and wanted to be involved—but that is no longer so. The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent properly drew attention to the fears among small clubs about the membership scheme as a result of declining attendances. I wonder where he has been for the past 30 years.

Mr. Steve Norris (Epping Forest)

He has been leader of the Labour party.

Mr. Burt

I missed that bit.

Over the past few years, as a result of the constant decline in attendances, my club and those of hon. Members on both sides of the House have been put into a precarious financial position, and they are now wondering what to do. They are worried less about what will happen in the future than about the damage that has already been done.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. How wide is "wide" in this debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have heard nothing from the hon. Member for Bury, North that is out of order.

Mr. Burt

I am answering a point made by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent. I cannot remember whether the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) was in the Chamber at the time, but he certainly arrived relatively recently.

Our reason for wanting a speedy enactment of the Bill is our concern about the decline in attendances, and the part that violence has played in removing spectators from the terraces. I have expressed that concern on behalf of sports clubs.

Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde)

The hon. Gentleman asked where my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) had been for the past 30 years. I must ask where the hon. Gentleman has been for the past three. Since closed-circuit television has been placed in every ground and segregation and policing have been better organised, gate takings have increased year by year, up to the past three years. That applies to the hon. Gentleman's own team. He must ensure that his information is up to date before bringing such charges against my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Burt

The past 30 years show a pattern of continuous decline, followed by a rise in the past two or three years. If the hon. Gentleman turns his attention to other spectator sports, he will observe that there has been a return to attendance at them as well. It is a general and common trend. Our argument is that the damage done to football, and to football clubs in particular, is peculiar to violent hooliganism and it is lasting damage which will take more than a small rise in attendance over the past two or three years to correct it.

Conservative Members need no lessons or diktats from the Opposition about the purpose of a guillotine. At the beginning of his speech, the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent was kind enough to say that he knew all about them—and so do Conservative Members. Five in a day is quite a record. Timetable motions happen—Governments of all persuasions use them, and ours is no exception. I am quite prepared to give the reasons why we need this Bill.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) made two points in particular which require answers. The first referred to the serious issue of safety: was it correct for the Bill to proceed without due reference to the findings of the Taylor report? I feel strongly that, although Hillsborough was a watershed in terms of safety in football grounds, it was not—sadly—a watershed in terms of dealing with violent spectator behaviour. That has been amply chronicled by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) who described what happened immediately post-Hillsborough. I say "imm—ediately post-Hillsborough" because, according to my recollection, within four days Blackpool and Bolton supporters had been reported for fighting. I accept that Hillsborough has made an enormous difference to the way in which we shall look at public safety in football grounds in the future, but it has not had the same impact on the way in which violent hooligan spectators are dealt with, which is the main point of the Bill.

The Government must consider carefully what Taylor has to say about every aspect of the problem. There will be some overlap, which I believe will be covered by the fact that the Bill will have to return to the House in the autumn, and also by the fact that the scheme cannot be put into effect without a further order of the House—long after the Taylor inquiry has reported. If, as is quite likely, major safety flaws are revealed, we should produce either separate orders relating to safety in grounds or a separate Bill. I feel that the point about safety made by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, although well meant, is wide of the mark.

Mr. Dobson

If the Government do not want the Bill to reflect the Taylor report, why did they move an instruction to enable safety to be dealt with in the Bill?

Mr. Burt

As I said earlier, there will be a degree of overlap between aspects of football hooliganism and violence and what the Taylor inquiry is considering. We know that the causes of the Hillsborough disaster were many and various, and that they do not relate to the substance of the Bill. I feel that it is perfectly sensible to allow a small overlap, but that it is far more important to wait for a Bill which will deal fully with public safety.

Secondly, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras questioned the benefits to spectators that would result from the Bill. Earlier I drew a distinction between two points of view. On Second Reading and in Committee, the hon. Gentleman and his friends took the side of committed present-day football supporters, and defended their right to the status quo above all else. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) described clearly what the present status quo in football means to many spectators—standing around in inadequate grounds, standing on the terraces in the open, or being handled with the most utmost rigour and control by security forces.

Let us consider the average Saturday afternoon spent by a group of away spectators visiting a large first-division ground. They may have committed no offence, and may intend to commit none. They arrive by train—free of drink, because they have been deemed not responsible enough to travel on a train providing it. Arriving at the railway station, they are met by policemen, often with dogs and horses if the game and the crowd are big enough. They are then marched to the ground, under guard, enclosed—imprisoned—in the appropriate section and physically segregated from other supporters, because they cannot be trusted to mix. During the ensuing 90 minutes they are watched constantly by means of closed-circuit television. At the end of the game they are detained, possibly against their will—no one says anything about civil liberties in such cases—until the other spectators have gone; then they are marched back to the station, under police protection, at great cost to the ratepayer and everyone else.

Mr. Lester

When those same people are members of the football membership scheme, will they be treated any differently?

Mr. Burt

If my hon. Friend will look into the future, he will see that that is possible. [Interruption.] Hon. Members on both sides of the House may scoff, but I am making a serious point. We live in what is all too often a cynical and defeatist world, and one of the problems is that over the past 20 to 30 years no one has successfully tackled the virus afflicting football. We have all believed in some form of gentle containment, but no one has stood out against the problem because we all assumed that it could not be beaten.

Opposition Members say that the Bill cannot tackle the problem because, in their heart of hearts, they do not believe that it is possible to change the attitudes on the terraces. I believe that it is indeed possible, as do other Conservative Members, because 30 or 40 years ago people attended football matches in large crowds and in greater safety without the abuse and the problems on the terraces which have contributed so much to the game's collapse. That is one reason why attendances have fallen so much and the game no longer has a positive image. That is why the casual supporter who used to take his children to football and may have been taken to matches by his father no longer goes to football. I genuinely believe that Opposition Members do not care whether those people come back to the terraces, but it is absolutely vital that they do.

The Bill at last tries to tackle the problem of attitude. If there is a changed attitude to the game, and if supporters change their approach, segregation can in time be broken. Most membership clubs and supporters' clubs throughout the country maintain good relations with opposing supporters' clubs. Often they will meet in the morning before the game, there are football matches between them, and that builds up a good spirit. I was taken to Manchester City and saw the Junior Blues. That is happening everywhere. Most supporters look forward to a time when supporters of different teams can mingle together at the ground.

I do not believe that the idea that the average football supporter can be herded around and filmed every moment he is at a football ground can go on for ever. If it does, we shall never attract back the people whom football needs to get the bums on the seats and the money rolling in. There must be a change in attitude. I believe that the problem can be broken down, and I believe that the Bill will help. The fundamental flaw in the argument put by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras was that he addressed himself solely to present-day football supporters, who have gradually dwindled in numbers over the past 20 or 30 years, rather than to those whom the game needs to attract.

In conclusion, I feel strongly that the failure of the game in the past 30 years to cope with the problems of modern competition has been exacerbated by its failure to deal with violent supporters. Various schemes have been tried in the past 20 years, sometimes when Labour Members were in government—and they were experts—but those measures have failed. We have not eradicated the cancer. The Bill is designed to change attitudes within the game. It will take time and it will be only part of a package designed to bring people back to the game. The casual supporter has been neglected for too long. He or she needs to be attracted back to football if the game is to survive the crisis and develop into the mass-supported activity that it once was.

5.52 pm
Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde)

You have said that the debate can be a wide one, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and we could not disagree with your ruling. The hon. Members for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) and for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) made our case for us. Whether or not we agreed with them, they made good Committee speeches. We should be listening to those speeches in Committee and not on a guillotine motion.

When the Leader of the House first announced that the Bill was to go through another place first, Opposition Members rightly objected. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) in particular pointed out that it was a contentious Bill and should begin its passage in this House. The response from the Government was that it was contentious on both sides of the House, and that somehow made it all right. That was partially true at the time, but it was before the Leader of the House and the Government Whips ensured that their placemen and political Josephines were on the Standing Committee—with one honourable exception, the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester).

Mr. Norris

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Pendry

No. I may refer to the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris) and he may well want to intervene then.

The hon. Member for Broxtowe understands football, came to the Committee with an independent mind and on occasion voted with the Opposition.

The disgrace of the Government is that they are hurrying through the measure instead of facing up to the new problems and issues that have arisen since the Hillsborough disaster. They have set out to impose ID cards upon all football supporters at any price. As we have argued in Committee, that is no solution; nor is the blinkered approach of the Government relevant to the difficulties experienced by our national game.

Admittedly, as has been said, the Government have decided to add safety to the remit of the Committee, but what is the use of that if the Committee is not to be allowed to scrutinise, analyse or debate safety issues? We have only reached clause 5 of a 24-clause Bill, without the Opposition in any way delaying the proceedings.

There are contentious issues in the Bill which need to be fully debated. Already much of the Bill has been endorsed by the other place without any discussion of its contents. I refer, of course, to part II. It is well known that the Opposition have a great deal of sympathy for its aims, but the details need proper discussion to ensure that they are fully relevant now and after 1992. The other place discussed part II for less than half an hour, after midnight, with just a few of their Lordships present. That is no way for legislation to reach the statute book—especially legislation which affects the civil liberties of hundreds of thousands of our countrymen and women.

One has only to look at what has happened so far in Committee to see that the timetable motion is a disgrace. During the fourth sitting, for example, we discussed how Wembley stadium and its special problems fitted in to the provisions of the Bill. It became quite clear that, even at this late stage of the legislative process, the Government do not know what they will do with our national stadium. Will it be included in the ID card scheme? Will it be excluded for internationals but included for club matches? Will foreign tourists have to buy ID cards, or, equally absurd, queue with their passports to seek entry? The Minister even let slip the fact that we could face the crazy situation that English fans would have to carry ID cards when Scotland visits Wembley, but Scottish fans would not, because, luckily for them, they are outside the scheme.

Will hooligans simply buy black market tickets for the Scottish end to cause trouble? At which end is a Scot who lives in London expected to be? Will an Englishman convicted of an offence face a five-year ban from football, while a Scottish fan gets a lesser sentence? All those are legitimate issues raised in Committee and left in the air as the Government have not thought the scheme through properly. That was in clause 1. We have now reached clause 5 and issues which are just as worrying.

The Government seem to think that pensioners and women are a serious threat to public order. We heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) about the number of pensioners who were caught who were not even inside the ground. The inclusion of women in the scheme does not make sense. The football authorities, and the Government have no record whatsoever of women having been arrested or ejected from grounds. Despite what the Prime Minister and others have said, for the first time women are being attracted to football, through voluntary membership schemes, family areas, creche facilities and so on. The ID scheme will set that back a long way.

Are those matters such a serious threat to public order that all pensioners must be forced to carry ID cards to matches? That is nonsense, and Conservative Members know it and are embarrassed about it. Should important debates on such matters as civil liberties be curtailed simply so that the Government can railroad the Bill on to the statute book at the earliest opportunity? What is the hurry? We must ask the Government that. The Minister has said repeatedly that he would not put the legislation in place until the technology was there, and everyone agrees that it is not there at present.

When one considers who has been delaying the Committee, the Government's tactics become clear. I cite the afternoon sitting of Thursday 6 July as a case in point. No fewer than 13 Conservative Members, including the Minister, spoke between 9 pm and the midnight Adjournment. The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris) spoke for more than 50 minutes and concentrated mainly on the relevance of the ferret to matches between Bolton and Preston. Progress may not have been made to the liking of the Leader of the House, and we know why.

The reasons I have given so far for opposing the timetable motion are reasons of detail. The matter of principle is that Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry has not yet reported and will not report while the Committee is sitting. The inquiry has examined the tragedy on 15 April in detail and from every angle, yet the inquiry's findings—in particular, the final report—will have no bearing on the Committee's discussions.

Just last Friday, as the inquiry finished, relatives of the 95 people who died decided to pursue criminal proceedings for manslaughter against the senior police officers involved in the incident. Senior police officers were criticised harshly for their actions and strategy on that fateful day, yet against that background, the Government proceed merrily with this irrelevant and possibly dangerous Bill.

The Government retort that the findings can be taken on board at a later stage; we have heard that again today. How late will that stage be? The Government have already started to table amendments and new clauses on safety matters, even though Lord Justice Taylor himself has not reached any conclusions. There will be virtually no opportunity to debate the Taylor report in relation to the Bill, as just one day has been allocated for Report and Third Reading. We shall have only one day to take on board any serious findings and recommendations from Lord Justice Taylor's interim report alone. Even when the Bill becomes law and the new Football Membership Authority sets up the scheme, perhaps incorporating some of the ideas of the Taylor inquiry, there will be no opportunity to amend the scheme in the House, but only to accept or reject it.

Lord Justice Taylor's sensible approach is already a contrast to the Government's. The Government want to force the Bill through come what may, because the Prime Minister wants to be seen to be acting. The Taylor inquiry, on the other hand, is thinking ahead and has already asked the Football League for details of all matches in August at which it expects capacity crowds. Clearly, safety rather than expediency is at the heart of Lord Justice Taylor's approach. It is a disgrace that we are even debating a timetable motion to guillotine the Committee today. If Conservative Members had any real interest in football, the Bill would have been shelved long ago. As it is, the match is being halted before we have even reached half-time.

6.2 pm

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), whose knowledge of football is well known in the House and whose views command respect here and in the all-party football committee. His contributions in Standing Committee were similar to the opinions he expressed today in the House. They have been somewhat shallow and based on the old, tired remedies. New remedies have been lacking from the Opposition. The reasons he put forward for objecting to the guillotine are as spurious as most of the arguments from the Opposition.

There is no doubt in the minds of my right hon. and hon. Friends—with one possible exception—who want the Bill to be passed, that the actions taken by Opposition Members have been such that the matters they have raised in Committee have been almost laughable in some cases. Their somewhat pious view that they represent the interests of football and the so-called "class" who go to watch football—again, a rather outdated notion—is totally refuted by Conservative Members, among whom are people with a deep knowledge of the game and an active interest in seeing it improved. That is why we have supported the Government consistently in this admirable measure. My hon. Friend the Minister for Sport is to be congratulated for his activity and the enormous amount of work he has undertaken in pushing the Bill forward and ensuring that it comes before the House at the earliest possible moment.

In the decade in which I have been in this place, I have perhaps found favour with the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) and his predecessor, Sir Phillip Holland, in that I have not been able to become a member of a Committee that has been cut short. I was somewhat bemused by the fact that Bills were brought before the Floor of the House to be guillotined. My own feelings were that such a procedure was unfortunate.

However, having sat through the proceedings of this Committee for almost 40 hours and heard the rantings, ravings and nonsense of the Opposition, I am going down the road of my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) on the basis that perhaps every Bill should be guillotined. There is no doubt in my mind, those of my hon. Friends and those of members of the public who come to listen to our proceedings and who will read about it in Hansard that the Opposition's tactics on the Bill have been nothing less than wrecking. They could not have been considered helpful, or in the best interests not only of football but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) said, of those who could not care a toss about the game itself. That is the tragedy of the Opposition's tactics on the Bill.

Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

I am in something of a dilemma. I too rather agree with my hon. Friend that most, if not all, Bills should be timetabled in some way. I came into the House today, therefore, happy to vote for the timetable motion. However, I have had to listen to the debate, and I am beginning to be a bit worried. I think that I shall still vote for the timetable motion, but I would not wish that to be interpreted as full-hearted support for the Bill. I voted for the Bill once out of loyalty and a desire for unity, rather than out of conviction. I am not sure that those emotions and feelings can be stretched too far on Third Reading.

Mr. Carlisle

If my hon. Friend waits and listens to my words of wisdom, and those of my hon. Friends, if they catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as well as the words of wisdom of my hon. Friend the Minister, he will remain wholly convinced that the Bill should be guillotined and put into practice as quickly as possible.

I want to deal with some of the points put, rightly, by the Opposition, which were also brought up in Standing Committee about why the Bill should not be guillotined. At the heart of the Opposition's arguments right the way through have been the natural arguments and emotions surrounding the Taylor report. As I said earlier to the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), he and his right hon. and hon. Friends seem to be treading on dangerous ground in pre-empting what Lord Justice Taylor will say. It is unfortunate that Opposition Members seem to assume that Lord Justice Taylor's conclusions will be what they believe and a solution to the problems in football.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) put the point cogently: what happened at Hillsborough will not necessarily be relevant to what has happened throughout the past decade and more in football. It must be taken into account, and that is why I fully support what the Government have done. I was one who urged some postponement of the discussion. The report must be taken into account and it is right that we should have a chance on the Floor of the House, when we return after the summer recess, to consider the interim report which, as most of us who take an interest in these matters will understand, will contain recommendations that could be included in the Bill if it is considered necessary.

However, it is dangerous for the Opposition to keep quoting what Lord Justice Taylor may say. I hope that he will almost ignore the proceedings on the Floor of the House this evening and the proceedings in Committee in drawing up his conclusions. Hillsborough is important to the Bill, but it is not an essential part of it.

The other basis to the Opposition's tactics has been reminiscence. Many of us who served on the Committee have enjoyed, indeed revelled in, the reminiscences of the hon. Members for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) and for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), both eloquent men. However, I wonder whether those comments are relevant to the modern world, which was seen in what happened in front of the pavilion at Lord's on Saturday. I was present and saw a gang of youths, intoxicated—having had a long and enjoyable day at that ground, just as I had and—incensed to such an extent that they started fighting among themselves. I found the comments of Colonel Stephenson, the secretary of the Marylebone cricket club, somewhat interesting when he said—I paraphrase—"We do not usually have trouble, other than at the Benson and Hedges game, because that is the only major game that is played outside the football season." His comments were particularly apt—[HON. MEMBERS: "He was wrong."]

Of course, those hooligans could well move from football into other sporting events. That is the essence of the Bill. I can never understand the Opposition's total antagonism to the Bill which, uniquely, says to football, "We will try to take the problem away from your game and where we put it is the Government's, society's or whoever else's problem. However, we will try to ensure that those who go to football matches can do so in peace and tranquillity and with the knowledge that their sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, nephews and nieces will return home without having been molested, subjected to obscenities and jostled in the crowd on the way to the ground."

Opposition Members who protest that the Bill infringes civil liberties and takes from individuals the chance to go to a game when they want to do so should remember those who live in and around our football grounds. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South has said, those Opposition Members should remember the millions of people who are not interested in whether or not football games take place.

Those are the reasons for the Bill, and that is why, purely because of the Opposition's tactics, the Government have had to table this timetable motion. As far as we can, all Conservative Members are anxious to see the measure through; hence our relative silence in Standing Committee. Conservative Members have a deep knowledge of the game and wanted to allow the Opposition the chance to advance their arguments.

Mr. Denis Howell

I refer to the "relative silence" of Conservative Members in Committee. So far, they have made 50 speeches and have intervened, in debates on the five clauses that we have covered so far, 286 times. The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris) spoke for 50 minutes in one debate, during which the Minister for Sport intervened 17 times. That shows how ludicrous the hon. Gentleman's case is.

Mr. Carlisle

How extraordinary for the Opposition to accuse Government Back Benchers, who are actively trying to discuss the Bill and to take up the points made by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends, of non-silence. That is an extraordinary attitude when so often Opposition Members have accused Conservative Members of saying nothing. I think that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) will recall the word "poodles" or "stooges". It is disgraceful that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) is now saying that we should not say anything.

Conservative Members have had their say and have disagreed with everything that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends have said. Perhaps that is what gripes the right hon. Gentleman. What gripes him even further must be the fact that the sense and good reason expressed by Conservative members on the Committee will be cut short by the guillotine motion. Indeed, Conservative Members are sorry that we will not be able to sit for 100, 200 or even 300 hours so that we could go through all the points and put our case to Opposition Members.

The most important reason why the Bill should proceed as swiftly as possible is that football is running out of time. That is the tragedy. As my hon. Friends have already said, even after the awful events of Hillsborough and the terrible events at Selhurst park and other grounds, we must ask when the so-called "football supporters" will learn that they should go to games to enjoy the game and not to enjoy a punch-up or to disrupt the match for the remainder who are attempting to see the match.

As I said in Committee and in the House on Second Reading, I was present at the Millwall v. Luton game and never want to see such actions again. However, Opposition Members have adopted the regrettable attitude of saying that the Bill should be thwarted and defeated on the basis that they are happy with the status quo. In nearly 40 hours of debate in Committee, we have heard absolutely no alternative from them. The Opposition are, inevitably, the status quo party. They are happy that things should go on as they are.

The Opposition have pointed to an increase in crowds. That has come about partly because there have been more games but also because, as one of my hon. Friends has said, this game in particular, and spectator sports in general, have been attracting more people. I refer to rugby league, rugby union and other sports.

Mr. Irvine Patnick (Sheffield, Hallam)

Does my hon. Friend remember the occasion when he tried to take the Committee through the night to ensure that the Bill was properly debated but the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) said that there were several elderly people among Opposition Members, so they could not go through the night—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Well, I am sure that my hon. Friend can remember the occasion when the Opposition moved that the debate be adjourned, but did not have the guts to carry it through.

Mr. Carlisle

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is no doubt—

Mr. Wareing


Mr. Carlisle

I shall give way in a moment

As the Bill proceeded, my hon. Friends seemed to get not a second or a third, but a fourth wind. We really got into the basics and—

Mr. Wareing


Mr. Carlisle

Yes, in a moment.

We are debating the importance of the Bill. We heard some admirable speeches; our conviction about how right the Government were grew minute by minute.

Mr. Wareing

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Patnick) was wrong to allege that I said that elderly people would not be willing to go through the night? What I cared about—and expressed a care for—was the fact that the health of hon. Members could be affected. No other legislature in the world would discuss a controversial issue such as this, which deserves positive and proper deliberation, at 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock or 4 o'clock in the morning.

Mr. Denis Howell

The Government moved the closure.

Mr. Carlisle

I have a great deal of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) has said. However, in his position as an Opposition Whip, he must ask himself why the first five hours of discussion in Committee were spent on the sittings motion. If he was so anxious to get on with the Bill and, as his hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde said, to get on with part II, in view of the tight timetable and the fact that there was time to return to the Bill after the summer recess, why did he encourage his right hon. and hon. Friends to argue spuriously about the time we should take instead of getting on with the guts of the Bill? If the House is to have any sympathy with the hon. Gentleman's argument, it must be on the basis of the record. The hon. Gentleman knows how far we got, and he knows the basis of the Opposition's tactics.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (Derbyshire, West)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) has just let the cat out of the bag? He has welcomed the timetable motion, which will ensure that the whole Bill is debated properly and timetabled and that the hon. Gentleman will know what time he can go home to bed every night.

Mr. Carlisle

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have great respect for Opposition Members, especially senior Opposition Members such as the right hon. Member for Small Heath. who is making his swan song. Obviously, we should like to give him the opportunity to speak in the House with great eloquence and at great length and the opportunity to make his mark with this Bill for the first time in the 30 years that he has been in the House.

The right hon. Member for Small Heath knows that I have the utmost respect for him. However, he must be aware that he will be soundly defeated, on the last major legislation in which he will be involved. The people of this country and his constituents will say to him in his dotage—hopefully, he will be in another place—that his one mistake was not to support this Bill.

Mr. Ashton

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I put it to you again that this is an abuse of the House. We are supposed to be debating the reasons for a guillotine on this Bill. We have heard from Conservative Members four Second Reading debate speeches which were full of jeers, scoffing and personal abuse. We have heard no arguments about the need for a guillotine. This is a very short debate. Can you bring Conservative Members to order?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was present earlier when I told the House that allocation of time motions lend themselves to fairly wide debates. I have heard nothing that is out of order.

Mr. Carlisle

I will conclude my remarks, because the House should have the opportunity to hear what Opposition Members have to say. Opposition Members have been an advantage to the Bill; the public will probably want to hear the Opposition's arguments to convince them that the Government are absolutely right.

It is sad that deliberation on this major and important Bill must be cut short because of the Opposition's tactics. However, the Opposition have this very much in their own court. They plead the interests of the small clubs, but they know in their hearts that when the Bill comes into effect and is successful the small clubs and not the larger clubs will be successful under the scheme. The Opposition plead that the Bill will do nothing to remove hooliganism inside or outside grounds. However, in their hearts they know that something had to be done because of the scourge of hooliganism and violence which has besmirched our national game for so many years.

The Government are right to say to the House that enough is enough. There is still ample time to discuss Taylor after the summer recess. There is still ample time in Committee, between now and the end of July, to discuss the important measures before us. At least now we will know that those measures and our discussions will be relevant to the Bill and not consist simply of rhetoric and emotion from Opposition Members.

6.22 pm
Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

All hon. Members must want to dissociate themselves from the disgraceful personal attacks made by the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle), who revealed one reason why the timetable motion had to be put before the House. His speech was similar to that made by the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg), who has also made personal attacks on hon. Members both in the Chamber and in Committee. On one occasion in Committee, the hon. Member for Luton, North used parliamentary privilege to defame someone in the Public Gallery and invent an incident which took place when the Committee had risen.

Mr. John Carlisle

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The incident to which the hon. Gentleman referred was not invented. It is recorded and evidence can be made available to the hon. Gentleman or the House on the basis of the allegations that I made. What the hon. Gentleman has said is certainly a slur on my character and the comments that I made in Committee.

Mr. Vaz

This is the most important Bill in the history of football and it deserves a great deal of parliamentary time to enable the Opposition to scrutinise its effects. My right hon. and hon. Friends are right to say that the Bill will have severe effects on civil liberties. Judging by the comments made by the hon. Member for Luton, North, the Government may be considering the possibility of imposing identity cards on cricket supporters and supporters of other sports. That is why it is extremely important that the House should devote a great deal of time to considering the Bill.

We need more parliamentary time to consider the possible effects of the Bill on hooliganism, although we believe that it will have no such effect. We need more time to consider the costs involved in clubs installing the proposed machinery and we need more time to consider the inconvenience involved for all those who have supported the game loyally for so many years. We need more time to consider the non-registration of casual supporters and the social effects of the Bill on families who want to watch matches. We need more time to debate the possibility of criminal offences involving the transfer of cards between holders and non-holders and to consider the various clauses restricting people's liberties.

As the Bill proceeds through the House and is reported in the national and local press, I—and, I am sure, other hon. Members—receive many letters from football supporters who are keen to know what is happening and to express their opposition to the Government's scheme. Last Saturday I met supporters from Leicester City football club. Mr. Gary Sikle, secretary of the Fox editorial board which circulates a local football newspaper in Leicester, was anxious to raise several points which had been referred to by the Minister and other Members in Committee. Supporters wish to raise those matters, but they can advise members of the Committee properly only if they have time to consider the various clauses as they come before the Committee.

I have also received a letter from my parish priest, Father Brown, who is a keen football supporter. Contrary to what the hon. Member for Luton, North said about my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), Father Brown wrote: Denis Howell is the only successful Minister for Sport in recent memory; as no Tory Minister has ever understood the problems involved, or even cared about his job or soccer supporters in general … Instead of improving safety and facilities, the government and the Press are obsessed with the problem of hooliganism. Yet the majority of hooligans are not football supporters … Root out them, and treat the 99.9 per cent. who arc law-abiding, as human beings. Father Brown has supported Derby County football club for more than 30 years. He wants an opportunity to put before the Committee his views about the effects of the Bill. As I said on Second Reading, I am the president of two local football clubs, Hillcroft football club and Thurnby Lodge football club, and I continue to receive representations from both clubs about the practical effects of the Bill.

I understand that the hon. Member for Bury, South is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney-General. I cannot understand why he and the Government do not want to wait for the outcome of the Taylor inquiry. As we are dealing with a major piece of legislation which will have severe consequences for football, it must be appropriate to await the outcome of a major inquiry commissioned by the Secretary of State for the Environment. Surely we should hear what the clubs have done in their schemes.

We have heard a great deal about the scheme at Luton. Two members of Luton Town's football supporters scheme visited me on Saturday. They brought me their membership cards and told me about the various tricks that certain supporters get up to in passing their cards to other people. Those supporters do not even live in Luton, but their cards are passed to other people who gain admission to the ground. That shows the flaws in the scheme proposed by the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans).

Mr. David Evans

Irrespective of whether there are holes in Luton Town's scheme, does the hon. Gentleman agree that for three consecutive seasons there has been only one arrest inside or outside Luton's ground? We are well aware that supporters of other clubs belong to Luton Town's scheme, but it is significant that they all stand together and enjoy the game as supporters used to 20 or 30 years ago without fear of being punched on the nose.

Mr. Vaz

The supporters who brought me the cards do not like the bureaucratic principles which operate at Luton. They have proved that it is possible to live elsewhere and to misuse cards produced by Luton Town football club. They produced persuasive arguments showing the tremendous increase in crime in the city centre. Such crime may not occur during the games, but it certainly occurs in the city centre. Crime has increased.

Mr. John Carlisle

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Vaz

No, the hon. Gentleman had a chance to put his arguments but he chose to spend his time engaging in personal attacks on hon. Members.

It is important for the Minister to look at the international evidence. I commend to him an article in World Soccer magazine this month which shows the effect that the experimental scheme is having in Holland. It says: The dangers of the card scheme have been touted for some time and predictably made an international impact at what is for all Dutch people the most emotive confrontation of all: the international match against West Germany. The experiment has been deemed a failure. That is new evidence, but we shall not have the time to discuss it, because the Bill is to be guillotined.

In addition, I discovered on Friday that the Secretary of State for the Environment, who has overall charge of the Bill, has not visited a football ground or attended a match in the last couple of years. I put down a question to the Secretary of State asking him to list the number of football matches that he had attended. Although the Minister for Sport says that he has attended about a dozen matches and that his hon. Friends in his Department have been to matches, the Secretary of State for the Environment has not even visited one.

We need to take evidence and to understand what the police are saying. Certainly the police in Leicester are convinced that the scheme will not work. They have managed to fashion a good relationship with the football club. They have bought video equipment, they ensure that supporters are segregated, and they have worked in partnership with those who run Leicester City football club. I wish that they could work more closely with the supporters, and I hope that one of the effects of our deliberations in Committee will be to encourage more clubs to work with supporters.

We need more time to expose the problems in the Bill, many of which have been accepted by the Minister. I referred to that in an intervention. Clause 2 creates an absolute offence in terms of the entry of supporters to grounds without cards. Because hon. Members on both sides of the Committee raised that issue and the serious nature of the offence to be created, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department decided to look again at the clause. On clause 3, in view of the nature of the Opposition amendments and the experience of my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath, the Minister decided to look again at some of those amendments. That is why we need additional time.

We need to debate in great detail the effects of the Bill and we must be able to bring to the attention of the Minister matters of which he may not be aware. His officials may not be aware of them either because they have been told to pursue the Bill with blind dogma. It is also necessary to debate matters at great length in order to expose problems. As has been said, clause 5 creates two new offences, one of them a very serious offence of supplying false information. Another clause gives enormous power to the Football Membership Authority in terms of its dealings with private citizens. We need to debate that at great length to show why it will be a major erosion of civil liberties.

I am not clear from the arguments of the Leader of the House as to why we have to proceed with such haste. No evidence was adduced by the Leader of the House or by the Minister in Committee to show why we should move so quickly. It is clear that the Government have something to hide and have to move quickly, that they are unaware of the consequences of the Bill or—this is the most likely explanation—they do not care at all about the future of the game. The Opposition care about the future of football. We know that the scheme has disastrous implications for the game, and we urge that more time should be given to discuss these serious and very important matters.

6.44 pm
Mr. Steve Norris (Epping Forest)

I have listened to the entire debate, including the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, and at this stage I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that I shall vote for the timetable motion.

In Committee I heard the clearest possible evidence from the Opposition that they are not interested in making progress on the Bill and never have been. A straightforward example of that is that they spent about five hours debating the sittings motion. As hon. Members will know, but as those who read Hansard may not, the sittings motion is merely to decide when and for how long a Committee will sit. It is usually decided that a Committee will sit on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it may sit mornings and afternoons. If both sides are prepared to get on with the business, the motion should detain the Committee for about 45 seconds. In this case it took longer because Opposition Members made a series of spurious points and did so with considerable repetition. That meant that we spent hour after hour simply debating whether to sit on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In view of that, it is beyond reason to imagine that the Opposition have taken a constructive attitude to the Bill.

The Opposition are not the slightest bit interested in making progress. That is because they and we have fundamentally opposed views about the Bill. The shadow Leader of the House, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), spoke about us losing the argument. He cannot have read his Committee Hansard very carefully, because it shows that the argument was lost by hon. Gentlemen—hon. Members—opposite. If I was their football manager I would say that I was as sick as a parrot because they have consistently managed to fumble the ball, and more often than not they kicked it into the back of their own net. Their fundamental assertion—we heard it again today—is that they do not think that football and violence are particularly linked. I could not believe my ears when I heard them say again today that there is violence in other games such as rugby, tiddleywinks and croquet. They must be blind and deaf.

When the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) was speaking, somebody was heard to ask where he had been. He has been the leader of the Labour party, but we all know that that is hardly a position from which one is likely to get a realistic view of the world. None the less, one would have assumed that hon. Gentlemen opposite would have seen enough of the sickening scenes on television to know what every man, woman and child knows: that there is an inextricable and sickening link between violence and football. The reasons for that are many and varied and there is no point in yet another sociological lecture such as those that we had for hour upon hour from the Gentlemen opposite. The link exists, and it is high time that something was done about it.

I agree on one matter with the Opposition. Hon. Members on both sides have tended to wring their hands rather too much and say, "Oh, isn't it awful? It is very difficult and has all sorts of sociological reasons which are somehow beyond our control and which we cannot do anything about." At last we have a Government who have said that they are sickened by what they have seen.

My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) spoke about the Crystal Palace game. I was at West Ham that week and, as hon. Members will know, at each Football League ground there was supposed to be a minute's silence for the Hillsborough victims. At that match between Millwall and West Ham, people could not keep quiet for even 60 seconds. They could not restrain themselves from shouting abuse at each other or from catcalling and arm waving in the hostile way that they do. It was revolting. I do not want to know about the history of this great and glorious working-class game of ours; I want to know what we must do to eradicate that sort of behaviour.

First, we have to take the issue seriously. The Government are to be commended for being the first to be prepared to put together a Bill and to say, "We shall do something about it."

Ms. Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman has made it clear that he agreed with absolutely everything I said in Committee, because he continually refers to hon. Gentlemen in Committee. Does that mean that he agrees that to link women in any way with football hooliganism or violence in or outside football grounds is disgraceful and that he is sorry that the Government and Conservative Members will not accept our amendment, which would exclude women from having to have identity cards?

Mr. Norris

I thought that I had corrected myself when, referring to the Committee's composition, I talked about hon. Gentlemen. It would have been remiss of us all not to recognise the constructive role that the hon. Lady has played in the Committee's deliberations, although she has been somewhat at odds with some of her more experienced colleagues.

The point that the hon. Lady raised is an important principle. The Bill, rightly or wrongly, is an enabling Bill. It creates a Football Membership Authority, which is charged with producing the details of the scheme. It is entirely consistent with that that we do not predetermine what the FMA will produce. We should allow it to consider all the issues and as much evidence as it can, and to bring forward a scheme which will tackle the problem in the round.

It is self-evident that neither women nor pensioners are particularly dangerous groups when it comes to football attendance. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister would be urged by me and by any sensible person to tell the FMA that, when it considers the issue, he will be sympathetic to that point of view. Although it is perfectly reasonable and straightforward to take that point of view, it is another matter to start to write the detail of the scheme, as Opposition Members are trying to do, before the FMA has had a chance to consider the issue. That is what seems to me to be so irredeemably stupid.

Mr. Denis Howell

The plain fact is that the exemptions for disabled persons and for children accompanied by adults were written into the Bill in the other place. The attempt there to get exemptions for women and pensioners was voted down at the instigation of the Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is detail."] It is not a detail that when Parliament seeks to put into the Bill the same exemptions as the Government have already allowed, they are beaten down.

Mr. Norris

I will not repeat myself, as others want to speak. This is a straightforward enabling Bill. It creates a Football Membership Authority which is charged with the preparation of a scheme and with presenting it to the Secretary of State. If one accepts that general principle—the scheme cannot come fast enough for me—it is most illogical to bind the hands of the FMA by laying down conditions.

It is perfectly reasonable to tell the FMA, "By all means consider the evidence that members of the Committee have adduced. By all means integrate it into the scheme and then present the scheme to the Secretary of State for him to consider and, we hope, approve".

Mr. David Evans

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Opposition, who want to exclude pensioners and women, may change their tune when they see the benefits that may accrue from holding such a card?

Mr. Norris

My hon. Friend will know that I made precisely that point in Committee. The need to possess a membership card is presented as an appalling affront to civil liberties, and it is forgotten that the greatest loss of civil liberties is that occasioned to the tens of thousands of people who live around football grounds and whose lives are made an absolute misery on Saturday afternoons. Opposition Members seem to regard it as a mark of Cain to hold a card when the principle of most clubs of which one wants to be a member is that one will carry the card with pride. Setting aside all that, we have the experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) in operating a scheme that is eminently successful in marketing terms—he has said that 32 companies are involved in it.

I have no doubt that the House will ultimately divide on this simple issue. We have had delay and obfuscation from Opposition Members, and no doubt that will continue. It is ironic that, during consideration of the Bill, Opposition Members have covered themselves in the most appalling tactical confusion. When, in response to their opinion that there was not enough time to debate the Bill, we said, "Fine, in that case we will sit Wednesdays as well," they said, "Oh no, please don't let us do that." When we said, "Please don't let us stop now, it is only 1 o'clock in the morning and after all you should not have taken this job if you could not take a joke and go through the night," Opposition Members said that they might get sick and had elderly Members to consider. I appreciate the point, but it is the quintessence of everything that we have known about the Opposition for the past 10 years—when push comes to shove, they have no bottle.

There are Opposition Members who have a vision of the game of football, which we have heard in colourful detail. I will not repeat them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] No, I promise no ferret or whippet stories. Some of us find that vision of the game of football amusing, if only because it is so rose-tinted that it completely ignores what, sadly, the game has become.

One's attitude to the Bill is dictated by one overriding consideration—

Mr. Wareing

No. 10.

Mr. Norris

There will be members who refuse, for whatever anarchic and quixotic reason, to have these cards and who will therefore deny a football club the opportunity to admit them and to be profitable as a result, and then there will be the dozens of people who will go along when the game is cleaned up and it is safe for women, children and families to go and watch. Those hundreds of thousands of potential supporters who are prepared to go to Luton because of the experience they have there, but who are not prepared to go to many other grounds in all four divisions of the football league, are the people at whom the Bill is aimed.

I am happy that the Bill that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has so skilfully piloted through Committee so far should be on the statute book at the earliest possible moment.

6.47 pm
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

The last 10 minutes of folly from the Conservative Benches have been a testament to the attitude taken by the Tory party, with the honourable exception of the rebels, to a Bill which affects millions of people in their pursuit of a decent national sport.

Let us get one or two facts straight. We did not debate the sittings motion for five hours. We debated it, as is the rule in the House it is almost a convention—for two and a half hours on the morning it was presented. When, in indecent haste, only two sittings later, the Government brought forward another sittings motion, proposing that we should meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, we debated that for only about five minutes.

This is called a guillotine motion, but in reality, the Bill has been guillotined from the outset. Our argument with the Government has been over the fact that they have been absolutely rigid about the Bill being out of Committee by 27 July. Why? Because the woman in 10 Downing street has decided. That all-wise all-powerful and all-knowledgeable Prime Minister, who never makes a mistake, must be obeyed. The date that the Government set was 27 July.

Our argument was that there was every reason in the world to extend that into the overflow Session in October, because by that time we may have—we cannot be certain—Lord Justice Taylor's interim report. I have asked the Leader of the House whether the Government would still go ahead with the Bill in October if Lord Justice Taylor showed that he was opposed to it or suggested that there might be a fault in the Bill—perhaps even a teeny-weeny mistake on the part of the Prime Minister. The Leader of the House replied that the Bill would go ahead, but he used the word "implemented".

If in the interim report in October there is a suggestion by Lord Justice Taylor that harm could be done and that it would not be in the interests of public safety to implement the Bill, when the Bill reaches the statute hook—unfortunately, the Government have the majority to enable them to get it there—will the Minister for Sport refuse to implement it? The whole world will be waiting for the answer. I say "the world", because in Committee on Thursday morning we were told that the scheme would be worldwide. We asked what would happen if an American tourist, when given the choice on a Saturday afternoon between the theatre, a cinema or a football match, chose to go to a football match. The Minister's answer was that he could not go unless he had had his photograph taken and his membership application had gone through the computer.

We then asked the Minister what would happen if English clubs get back into Europe—as we all hope they will, except, perhaps, the Minister, who has done all he can to stop them—and, for example, Arsenal is drawn at home against Ajax of Amsterdam and 10,000 Dutchmen come over to see the game. The answer was that every one of those 10,000 Dutchmen will have to fill in membership forms and have their photographs taken before they can watch the match.

Mr. David Martin

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Wareing

I am sorry, but I shall not give way, because there is not time.

When the Minister was asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) whether the scheme would apply Communitywide, he said that it would apply worldwide. We can imagine the position of someone leaving, for example, the Soviet Union to visit the United Kingdom. When he applies for a visa, he will have to ensure that he fills in an application for a football club membership card just in case he should decide, when in London to see Chelsea or Tottenham play. Everyone in the country, with the exception of the Prime Minister, knows that that is nonsense.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) asked us to imagine the situation at Wembley when the half of the fans who support England must have identity cards, but the half who support Scotland do not. However, suppose a Scotland fan lives in Manchester and travels to Wembley with his English friend, who is also from Manchester. When he gets to Wembley stadium, will he go into the Scottish end of the ground? Is the Scottish fan who comes from Manchester to be dealt with in a different way from the Scottish fan who supports Manchester United? There are a hundred and one different facets to the Bill. They all lead to one ludicrous conclusion. The Government have not done their homework, and they are acting on a whim—the whim of one woman, who knows as much about football as, these days, she appears to know about the British economy.

The hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) is continually telling us how crowd numbers are down. They may he down at Luton—that is what happens when one bans away supporters—but that is not true elsewhere. Clubs up and down the country are making a real attempt to improve attendances, with such things as closed circuit television, advantages to season ticket holders and family enclosure tickets. Everton football club, for example, can account for 24,000 people, which is three times the average gate at Luton Town—and that is before the season starts. That number represents the season tickets and other facilities that have been taken up by potential supporters. The picture is different from the one painted by the Government.

During the 1987–88 season, 99.996 per cent. of people attending football matches were not arrested. Of course, we do not know from the Government what percentage of that small percentage who were arrested were actually convicted.

Part II of the Bill, which needs to be properly debated, is at fault. When the Minister talks about the use of the Bill to deal with those convicted of offences abroad when they follow the England soccer team, we should ask the Minister how many people were convicted in, for example, West Germany. The answer would be none; it was a nil return. Even if the measure had applied last year. it would not have applied to any person attending football matches in West Germany.

The argument that England is unique or has the worst problem is wrong. One only has to look at the position elsewhere. The security officer of the Dutch Football Association almost had his home bombed. In October 1987, there were riots at the Olympic stadium in Athens. Police were called in and tear gas was used. In December 1988, at Tilburg in Holland, 82 Ajax supporters were arrested and one was found to be in possession of a home-made fragmentation grenade. At the Den Haag match at that time, three people were injured in an explosion near the ground. In Enschede in Holland, there were 30 arrests when Feyenoord lost 6:1. In March 1987, a match between Den Haag and Ajax was abandoned at half-time because of crowd trouble. We tend to take all the stick, as we did for the Heysel stadium incident Italians were involved in that incident, but not one Italian—some of them were flaunting Fascist banners—has faced the same consequences as Liverpool supporters.

It is a scandal that this country's name has been dragged through the gutter because of the way in which false criticism is aimed at people in this country because they invade football pitches. The only pitch that I saw invaded last year was the one at Seoul in South Korea, where the Minister for Sport could not contain himself when the England hockey team won a trophy. Perhaps he will understand the passion which is aroused in people with real red blood in their veins when they see our national sport being played. That is the reason for the excitement and why very often there is an invasion of the pitch. Who has heard of trouble when the Liverpool and Everton teams play? Why should the Liverpool and Everton fans be called upon to have identity cards when, at the last local Derby match at Anfield last December, there were only three arrests, and those were all outside the ground—two for attempting to break into cars and one for ticket touting? Of course, we know that the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) loves ticket touts, so they are not so important as real football fans.

There can be no doubt that there will be a breach of civil liberties. Conservative Members should ask themselves what would happen if they had to have identity cards to get into a cinema, a theatre or a race course. It would be an absolute scandal. That is what we are coming to as a result of the Government's antics. It is, however, one more nail in the coffin of a Government whose ignorance is outstripped only by their arrogance.

6.59 pm
Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

There are many compelling reasons for opposing the guillotine motion, and contempt for Parliament and its procedures is one of them. Throughout the Bill's passage in another place, on Second Reading and in Committee, the views or parliamentarians have been shown to be of no account. As Lord Hailsham said, that is one of the first proofs of an elective dictatorship.

The Bill was conceived in the depths of the Prime Minister's prejudices, which are considerable, and it has been brought to us by her political pageboy. Throughout the proceedings, he has dutifully carried out the bidding of his mistress.

Issue after issue has been properly raised, but they have been met not with rational argument, but with the brute force of a massive parliamentary majority. In Committee, although we have been told that there will be certain exemptions to the scheme, we have also been told—my intervention today reaffirmed it—that everyone within the European Community and in the rest of the world must register as a result of the Bill; otherwise, they will be under threat of being judged criminals for going to a football match here. No other civilised country in the world has adopted such a lunatic approach to such problems.

The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris)—he stirs now and again—told us that the Government had picked out this problem and decided to deal with it. They have, of course, because they told us that they would get rid of violence in society. They were elected in 1979 to get rid of violence in society, but it is worse now than it has ever been; the incidence of violence has increased every year. The Bill has nothing to do with football; it has everything to do with camouflaging the Government's failure to deal with that violence.

In Committee, the Government had sufficient logic to accept that accompanied children and the disabled should be exempt from the scheme. We have attempted to extend that exemption to women and pensioners. We had a song-and-dance act and we were told that women cannot be exempted because 40 male supporters might go to an Oxfam shop to buy women's clothes. What a basis for the great constitutional law of this country. Our exemption has been rejected because some people might turn up at an Oxfam shop to buy women's clothes. In Committee that argument has become known as the "doctrine of drag".

No one has ever heard of one pensioner taking out his pension book and hitting another pensioner with it at any football match in this country, but we have been told that pensioners cannot be exempted. There is no other entertainment, be it theatre, concerts, sport or the cinema, that does not make special arrangements for pensioners. It is perfectly proper to extend the concept of family-member enclosures to take account of the other desirable classes of people. The Government have turned that down. At one stroke, they have managed to insult 26 million women and 10.5 million pensioners.

The Government are not attacking the hooligan or the criminal. This is the only time in history that legislation will be enacted in which the innocent will be singled out. The Government intend to take away their civil liberties and to make impositions on their rights. That is absolutely disgraceful.

Morning, afternoon and night, the Government just churn it on in Committee. We have been told that we have been working morning, noon and night, and Committee members have become hallowed because of the hours that have been clocked up. In other words, the Government are not interested in the argument or in civil liberties: they are only interested in clocking up the hours. They have clocked up the hours to justify the guillotine motion. It has nothing to do with the merits of the case, and it is an absolute disgrace.

Given the Government's tremendous speed, it is interesting to look at the history of the case. The Leader of the House has told us that the Bill arose from the Popplewell report. The interim Popplewell report was issued four years ago and the final report was issued three and a half years ago. If the problems are such that they require desperate legislation, what on earth have the Government done in the four years since Popplewell? Why did they not introduce this Bill earlier? If the Government are right about the need for the Bill, they are guilty of criminal negligence because they allowed four years to go by before doing anything about the problem. Now the Government are trying to rush the Bill through in about four days, and that is ridiculous.

The Minister has already said that everyone in the world must register if they wish to attend a football match here. That is a classic case to consider. In other words, the 352 million people who make up the EC must register. Those people have rights, however, and if the Bill discriminated against them, as well it might, it could be unlawful under European law. We have had no opportunity to consider that possibility, but it is an important matter. Previously, we were told that overseas visitors would be allowed to produce their passports at the turnstile. The Minister has abandoned that; now, he tells us that they must all register.

We are producing a Bill that will last for about 50 years. What will happen if, as we all hope, English clubs get back into Europe? Imagine that Anderlecht or Real Madrid is drawn away to play at Liverpool or Everton. Such a match would take place three weeks after the draw and those clubs might well want to bring 10,000 supporters with them. There is no way that any club secretary in this country could register, photograph, computerise and process 10,000 European visitors in the space of three weeks. That proposition is a prescription for another disaster. When that happens, it will be on the head of the Minister and his friends.

During our discussions, the Government have said that the scheme is not negotiable. They have said that they know it all, and that they know best. They have said that they know better than the police, football supporters, the Opposition and everyone else. Therefore, the next disaster or the next public order disturbance will be the responsibility of those who know it all. Let there be no doubt about that; future problems have been accepted by the Government and their supporters.

Today we have heard a lot about Lord Justice Taylor. We have been told that we should leave it all to the FMA. The proposition that Parliament should allow any outside body to enact legislation that affects the civil liberties and the public safety of our people is absolutely monstrous. It is quite scandalous that we should allow that. The Opposition are certainly not prepared to do that. We are not prepared to say of the Football Membership Authority, even were it the repository of all wisdom—which even Conservative Members doubt—that Parliament has the right to pass legislative powers to such an outside body, over which it has no control. That is what Ministers are doing.

Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry was set up after the death of 96 people and the serious injury to several hundred others at Hillsborough. He has had the most harrowing experience of listening to that terrible evidence, and he now has to decide on the matters and make recommendations. Any intelligent parliamentarian would wish to take account of his findings and what he had to say.

Let us consider the list of issues to be considered. I told the Committee that I had identified 16 issues that Lord Justice Taylor—[Interruption.] I am sorry if the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) thinks that this is an opportunity for yet another of his cheap gibes.

I have been told by some of my police friends that I was 50 per cent. out, and that 31 or 32 issues had been raised. Let the House think for a moment about the seriousness of these issues, because it is now deciding to pass this Bill without considering them. The list includes the following: crowd control outside the game and the surges of masses of people in a short period; how one controls the entry of 30,000 or more people at the turnstile; who is in charge of a football match—the police officer on duty or the football authority promoting the match; whether the police need more powers.

The list includes the issue of the effect of alcoholic consumption in circumstances such as those at Hillsborough, the fences round the field and how many people were killed at the fences at Hillsborough because they could not escape on to the pitch. If the scheme becomes reality, we must consider the extra time needed to process the card at the turnstile.

In Committee the Minister told us that the additional time needed to process one of these cards was 0.06 of a second per person. Such ludicrous futility! I timed myself using the smart card which the Minister favoured. I came up to the machine, put the card down, waited for the light to shine, and picked up the card. That process took 20 seconds. If 20 seconds were added to the passage of every one of the thousand people standing in the queue, the additional time needed for the queue to pass through the turnstile would be about half an hour, which would add to the aggravation. We want to hear about that issue.

Other issues which should be considered include the video and loudspeaker systems and the total lack of co-ordination of the emergency services at Hillsborough. All these matters are of the greatest importance and require the judgment of Solomon. We are not even to be allowed to know the judgment of Lord Justice Taylor. That is the proposition which the Government put before us

We are proceeding with this Bill in a vacuum. These matters have been raised and Lord Justice Taylor finished hearing evidence only last Friday. We are told that we must proceed, the Government know best, and members of the Football Membership Authority—made up of football administrators who have been castigated by the Government and in Committee—are the very people to be charged with carrying out the football membership scheme. We are not prepared to accept that.

My hon. Friends who do not sit on the Committee, and even some who do, have not yet had the opportunity to consider amendment No. 50, which, I think, is the next to come up in Committee. The amendment proposes that the football membership scheme must include such provision in relation to the admission of spectators to the premises, as the Secretary of State may specify in writing". This Secretary of State—

Mr. Ashton

He might not be here tomorrow.

Mr. Howell

That may be true.

This Secretary of State has never been to a football match in his life, but is placing powers in the Bill so that he and his successors, without coming back to the House or Committee, can lay down the law about what has to be written into this scheme and this Bill.

The guillotine motion provides us with about another three or three and a half days of sitting twice a day in Committee. That means only one day for the scheme and licensing system, one day for the all-seater stadium—a subject which we have not yet even reached—and public safety, one day for part II of the Bill, which deals with offenders from overseas—which we have not discussed yet and which was hardly discussed in another place—and half a day for the rest of the business.

In the light of Hillsborough and the criminality which is called hooliganism, Parliament has one overriding duty in this matter, and that is to get the Bill right this time. By this guillotine motion, Her Majesty's Government deny that obligation to get it right. This is a high-risk policy of great irresponsibility, and we shall vote against it tonight.

7.16 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Colin Moynihan)

We have heard a succession of predictable speeches from Opposition Members. Parties favour timetable motions in appropriate cases when they are in power because they need them to get their business through. But, of course, they oppose them when in opposition. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said, the Labour party never hesitated to introduce timetable motions during those far-off days when it was in office.

There is no case for all the anger which we have witnessed about this motion. It is essential that we see the Bill on the statute book this Session—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] We must take steps now to tackle the continuing problem of hooliganism and violence which is ruining football—that is why. We must enable genuine supporters to go to game in safety and return home in safety—that is why. I do not want to be for ever talking about the need for 5,000 police officers on football duties every Saturday. We want to see the day when those living and working in the vicinity of the football ground no longer dread match days. In response to the interventions of Opposition Members, those are good reasons.

By enacting the legislation this Session we can ensure that the framework for a national membership scheme, and the means of preventing convicted hooligans from travelling to matches abroad, are in place. We can then move on rapidly with the scheme, if Parliament agrees that we should do so in the light of Lord Justice Taylor's report on the Hillsborough disaster. If the Bill is to reach the statute book this Session, we need to complete the Committee stage far faster than we will if we continue with our present progress. This timetable motion will enable us to do so and to proceed with the Bill in an orderly and sensible fashion.

We have heard much, just as we did on Second Reading and in Committee, about how wrong it would be to anticipate Lord Justice Taylor. I entirely agree. It would be wrong for me to speculate on the timing or the content of his report. His is an independent inquiry and his report is a matter for him. If he should comment on the national membership scheme, it is right that Parliament should decide whether to proceed with the scheme, in the light of his comments. The amendments that we made to the Bill in another place will provide Parliament with the opportunity to make that decision at the appropriate time—after we have seen his final report. Indeed, Parliament will have two such opportunities; the first before the Football Membership Authority is appointed and the second after the detailed technical scheme has been submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.

Much has been made of why we thought it important for the football authorities to be involved in the preparation of the scheme and appointed as a central part of the Football Membership Authority. We regard that as an important way forward. It is welcomed by the football authorities, which wrote to the Secretary of State requesting first refusal. It was right and proper in the proceedings of the Committee that hon. Members on both sides should point out that it may benefit the running of the scheme and the Football Membership Authority if it is strengthened by outsiders and possibly even by an independent chairman.

We agree with this proposal, which is why amendments have been tabled in Committee. But there is no case for delaying the Bill until we have Lord Justice Taylor's report. Part I provided a framework for the national membership scheme; it does not introduce the scheme. If we have that framework on the statute book and Parliament decides to proceed with the scheme when it has seen what Lord Justice Taylor has to say, we can have the scheme in place during the season that begins in August 1990.

If we were to delay, we would throw away the progress that we have made this Session. We might have a new Act of Parliament by August 1990, but it is unlikely that the scheme would be in place for another year after that.

Mr. Lester

If Lord Justice Taylor's report in any way questions the framework that we are rushing through the House, how will the Government react?

Mr. Moynihan

As I have told my hon. Friend on many occasions, rather than pontificate about hypothetical circumstances it is right and proper that the House should consider in detail what Lord Justice Taylor says. In that way it will be able to make a proper judgment of the arguments on which he reached his conclusions. To hypothesise about what he might say, when we have provided in the Bill that Parliament should decide on the merits of what he says before we ask for a Football Membership Authority to be established and to start work—let alone before we have a scheme to consider—cannot be right. So my hon. Friend's question is redundant.

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North)

Apart from the technical defects in the Minister's argument, does he realise that the failure to wait for the conclusions of the Taylor report will show the Government to be acting with stunning insensitivity, particularly on Merseyside?

Mr. Moynihan

I reject that view on the following grounds. It was because of the need to respond sensitively that the progress of the Bill was delayed. It was because of the same need that we proposed amendments in their Lordships' House to take full account of what Lord Justice Taylor states. It was because of that need that we now have a different Bill from the one that we had before Hillsborough. We shall have the opportunity when the full Taylor report is before the House to consider in detail whether we should establish a Football Membership Authority and set up a scheme—

Mr. Dobson

If, as the hon. Gentleman claims, the Government amended the Bill in the Lords so that safety considerations could be dealt with, why was it necessary for the Government to pass an instruction to the Committee to enable it to consider safety? Without it, safety would have been out of order.

Mr. Moynihan

The hon. Gentleman surprises me. When we were just discussing the national membership scheme—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) keeps saying, "No, no, no." He should listen to the point that I am making and learn that there is a clear distinction in the Bill between proposals for a national membership scheme and the separate and important measures on safety.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman welcomes our response to his suggestion that the Committee should be instructed to consider matters related to safety. If he carefully considers the amendments tabled last week he will find that they are enabling amendments to allow the Secretary of State and the Home Secretary to take account of any measures on safety that Lord Justice Taylor may recommend and with which the House agrees. The House will have the chance to consider whether it wants to use the enabling framework on safety and on the anti-hooligan measures—the national membership scheme—to implement recommendations. That must be the right way to proceed.

This way combines two important elements: first, the Government's deep desire to rid football of the hooligan element and to make sure that appropriate action is taken against the hooligans who have besmirched our national game; secondly, it ensures that we are capable of responding swiftly to the Taylor recommendations, whether on safety or on hooliganism, with which the House and their Lordships agree.

During the Committee's first two sittings Opposition Members spent most of their time on the same subject on which they had laboured on Second Reading—the timing of the Bill in relation to Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster. That is why I have spoken at length on this point. The Committee has now sat for 37 hours and reached clause 5. Its first sitting was on Tuesday 4 July, and it was entirely devoted to debating the sittings motion for two and a half hours. Two hours of the second sitting were taken up with the order of consideration, during which I made the only speech from the Government side. There were four and a half hours of debate before even the first amendment was reached. When we finally reached it, we heard a remarkable series of interventions by Opposition Members.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) made the same point that supporters of a club such as Tranmere might also want to attend matches in which Liverpool and Everton were playing—not once or twice, but four times. I hope that all Opposition Members realise that all that is required to visit any of the 92 grounds is one card.

The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) regaled the Committee at length with the history of his schooling, not once but twice. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), speaking to an amendment to restrict the scheme to divisions 1 and 2, spoke of the lack of a football club in Croydon, of the closure of Sheffield's nightclubs, of lager louts at the Notting Hill carnival, Trafalgar square and the coast, and of his experiences of dodging rail fares during national service.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) today displayed a staggering ignorance of the contents of the Bill and of the measures that the Government have already taken. He said that we had done nothing in the past four years, studiously ignoring the introduction of closed-circuit television—

Mr. Denis Howell


Mr. Moynihan

—and the important agreement between the FA, the League and the Government. It was written into the agreement reached in February 1987 and which we have had to push and push and push

Mr. Howell


Mr. Moynihan

—to ensure that football clubs up and down the country introduce it. The right hon. Gentleman ignores the fact that we had to sit down—

Mr. Howell


Mr. Moynihan

I have one minute left. The hon. Gentleman should consider the work done on closed-circuit television and on police segregation at the instigation of this Government. There is also better police co-ordination.

Mr. Howell


Mr. Moynihan

The right hon. Gentleman is blind to the steps that have been taken, and it is a great shame that he and his hon. Friends in Committee have not begun to address the issues that are relevant to the future of football. It is appalling that he has underestimated the vital work that is needed.

Question put

The House divided: Ayes 327, Noes 221.

Division No. 299] [7.28 pm
Adley, Robert Aspinwall, Jack
Aitken, Jonathan Atkins, Robert
Alexander, Richard Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Allason, Rupert Baldry, Tony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Amess, David Batiste, Spencer
Amos, Alan Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Arbuthnot, James Bellingham, Henry
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bendall, Vivian
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Ashby, David Bevan, David Gilroy
Biffen, Rt Hon John Glyn, Dr Alan
Blackburn, Dr John G. Goodhart, Sir Philip
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Body, Sir Richard Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gorst, John
Boswell, Tim Gow, Ian
Bottomley, Peter Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Gregory, Conal
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Ground, Patrick
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brazier, Julian Hague, William
Bright, Graham Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hampson, Dr Keith
Browne, John (Winchester) Hanley, Jeremy
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hannam, John
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Buck, Sir Antony Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Budgen, Nicholas Harris, David
Burns, Simon Haselhurst, Alan
Burt, Alistair Hawkins, Christopher
Butcher, John Hayes, Jerry
Butterfill, John Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hayward, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carrington, Matthew Heddle, John
Carttiss, Michael Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cash, William Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chapman, Sydney Hill, James
Chope, Christopher Hind, Kenneth
Churchill, Mr Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Holt, Richard
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hordern, Sir Peter
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Howard, Michael
Colvin, Michael Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Conway, Derek Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cope, Rt Hon John Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Cormack, Patrick Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Couchman, James Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cran, James Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Critchley, Julian Hunter, Andrew
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Curry, David Irvine, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Irving, Charles
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jack, Michael
Day, Stephen Jackson, Robert
Devlin, Tim Janman, Tim
Dorrell, Stephen Jessel, Toby
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dover, Den Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dykes, Hugh Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Eggar, Tim Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Emery, Sir Peter Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Key, Robert
Evennett, David King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Kirkhope, Timothy
Fallon, Michael Knapman, Roger
Farr, Sir John Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Favell, Tony Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knowles, Michael
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fishburn, John Dudley Lang, Ian
Fookes, Dame Janet Lawrence, Ivan
Forman, Nigel Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lee, John (Pendle)
Forth, Eric Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fox, Sir Marcus Lightbown, David
Franks, Cecil Lilley, Peter
Freeman, Roger Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
French, Douglas Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Gale, Roger Lord, Michael
Gardiner, George Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Garel-Jones, Tristan Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Gill, Christopher McCrindle, Robert
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Sainsbury, Hon Tim
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Sayeed, Jonathan
Maclean, David Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
McLoughlin, Patrick Shaw, David (Dover)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb)
Major, Rt Hon John Shelton, Sir William
Malins, Humfrey Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Mans, Keith Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maples, John Shersby, Michael
Marland, Paul Skeet, Sir Trevor
Marlow, Tony Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Speed, Keith
Mates, Michael Speller, Tony
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Squire, Robin
Mellor, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Miller, Sir Hal Steen, Anthony
Mills, Iain Stern, Michael
Miscampbell, Norman Stevens, Lewis
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mitchell, Sir David Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Monro, Sir Hector Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Stokes, Sir John
Moore, Rt Hon John Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Sumberg, David
Morrison, Sir Charles Tapsell, Sir Peter
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Moss, Malcolm Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Mudd, David Temple-Morris, Peter
Neale, Gerrard Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Needham, Richard Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Nelson, Anthony Thorne, Neil
Neubert, Michael Thornton, Malcolm
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thurnham, Peter
Nicholls, Patrick Townend, John (Bridlington)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Tracey, Richard
Norris, Steve Trippier, David
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Trotter, Neville
Oppenheim, Phillip Twinn, Dr Ian
Page, Richard Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Paice, James Viggers, Peter
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Waddington, Rt Hon David
Patnick, Irvine Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Patten, John (Oxford W) Waldegrave, Hon William
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Walden, George
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Waller, Gary
Porter, David (Waveney) Walters, Sir Dennis
Portillo, Michael Ward, John
Powell, William (Corby) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Price, Sir David Warren, Kenneth
Raffan, Keith Wells, Bowen
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wheeler, John
Rathbone, Tim Widdecombe, Ann
Redwood, John Wiggin, Jerry
Renton, Tim Wilkinson, John
Rhodes James, Robert Wilshire, David
Riddick, Graham Wolfson, Mark
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wood, Timothy
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Yeo, Tim
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Roe, Mrs Marion Younger, Rt Hon George
Rossi, Sir Hugh
Rost, Peter Tellers for the Ayes:
Rowe, Andrew Mr. Tony Durant and Mr. Tom Sackville.
Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Ryder, Richard
Abbott, Ms Diane Anderson, Donald
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Archer, Rt Hon Peter
Allen, Graham Armstrong, Hilary
Alton, David Ashley, Rt Hon Jack
Ashton, Joe Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Grocott, Bruce
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Hardy, Peter
Barron, Kevin Harman, Ms Harriet
Beckett, Margaret Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Heffer, Eric S.
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Hinchliffe, David
Bermingham, Gerald Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Bidwell, Sydney Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Blair, Tony Home Robertson, John
Blunkett, David Hood, Jimmy
Boateng, Paul Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Boyes, Roland Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Bradley, Keith Howells, Geraint
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hoyle, Doug
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Buckley, George J. Illsley, Eric
Caborn, Richard Ingram, Adam
Callaghan, Jim Janner, Greville
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Johnston, Sir Russell
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Canavan, Dennis Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Kennedy, Charles
Cartwright, John Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Kirkwood, Archy
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Lambie, David
Clay, Bob Lamond, James
Clelland, David Leadbitter, Ted
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Litherland, Robert
Cohen, Harry Livingstone, Ken
Coleman, Donald Livsey, Richard
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Loyden, Eddie
Corbyn, Jeremy McAllion, John
Cousins, Jim McAvoy, Thomas
Crowther, Stan Macdonald, Calum A.
Cryer, Bob McFall, John
Cummings, John McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Cunliffe, Lawrence McKelvey, William
Cunningham, Dr John McLeish, Henry
Dalyell, Tam Maclennan, Robert
Darling, Alistair McNamara, Kevin
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) McWilliam, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Madden, Max
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Dewar, Donald Marek, Dr John
Dixon, Don Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dobson, Frank Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Doran, Frank Martlew, Eric
Douglas, Dick Maxton, John
Duffy, A. E. P. Meacher, Michael
Dunnachie, Jimmy Meale, Alan
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Michael, Alun
Eadie, Alexander Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Fatchett, Derek Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Fisher, Mark Morgan, Rhodri
Flannery, Martin Morley, Elliott
Flynn, Paul Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mowlam, Marjorie
Foster, Derek Mullin, Chris
Fraser, John Nellist. Dave
Fyfe, Maria Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Galloway, George O'Brien, William
Garrett, John (Norwich South) O'Neill, Martin
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
George, Bruce Parry, Robert
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Patchett, Terry
Godman, Dr Norman A. Pendry, Tom
Gordon, Mildred Pike, Peter L.
Gould, Bryan Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Graham, Thomas Prescott, John
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Primarolo, Dawn
Quin, Ms Joyce Spearing, Nigel
Radice, Giles Steel, Rt Hon David
Randall, Stuart Steinberg, Gerry
Redmond, Martin Stott, Roger
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Straw, Jack
Richardson, Jo Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Robertson, George Turner, Dennis
Robinson, Geoffrey Vaz, Keith
Rogers, Allan Wallace, James
Rooker, Jeff Walley, Joan
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ross, William (Londonderry E) Wareing, Robert N.
Rowlands, Ted Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Ruddock, Joan Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Salmond, Alex Wigley, Dafydd
Sedgemore, Brian Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wilson, Brian
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Winnick, David
Short, Clare Wise, Mrs Audrey
Skinner, Dennis Worthington, Tony
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Wray, Jimmy
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Tellers for the Noes:
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Mr. Frank Haynes and Mrs. Llin Golding.
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill:—

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