HC Deb 27 June 1989 vol 155 cc844-936

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the motion for an instruction in the name of the Secretary of State and am prepared to allow it to be referred to during the Second Reading debate. Is the House agreeable to the two motions being debated together?

Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)


Mr. Speaker

In that case the motion for the instruction will be debated separately. However, I am still prepared to allow it to be referred to on Second Reading. I warn those who may be called to speak on the instruction that the scope of that debate is much narrower than that on Second Reading.

In view of the large number of right hon. and hon. Members who wish to speak in the debate, I propose to limit speeches to 10 minutes between 7 and 9 o'clock. I make a special appeal to those who may be called before that time to bear in mind that limit, because it would be inequitable if they spoke at greater length.

4.8 pm

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

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As the House will know, the Bill is addressed to the continuing problems of hooliganism associated with football, both in this country and abroad. Part I of the Bill provides a framework for a national membership scheme for spectators at designated football matches in England and Wales. Part II gives the courts powers to impose restriction orders on convicted hooligans to prevent them from travelling to English and Welsh matches abroad.

This Bill comes to us having completed its passage in another place. As the House is aware, the Government felt it right to delay the Bill for two months following the terrible events at Hillsborough stadium on Saturday 15 April. Before I go on to talk about the Bill, I should like to add my personal sympathy to those bereaved and injured at Hillsborough, and to the people of Liverpool as a whole. As my noble Friend Lord Hesketh said in another place on Third Reading of the Bill on 16 June, we must all share the hope that this, the latest in a long line of tragedies that British football has suffered in the past 40 years, will also be the last.

Following the Hillsborough disaster, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary invited Lord Justice Taylor to chair an inquiry into what happened there, and to make recommendations about the needs of crowd control and safety at sports grounds".—[Official Report, 17 April 1989; Vol. 151, c. 19.] His is an independent inquiry, and the content and timing of his report are entirely a matter for him. I stress, however, that the Bill was amended on Third Reading in the other place not to anticipate in anyway, but to allow Parliament to take account of Lord Justice Taylor's eventual report. Parliament will now have two opportunities to debate the national membership scheme following receipt of Lord Justice Taylor's final report: the first before a football membership authority is appointed, and the second after the scheme has been submitted, and approved by me.

Dr. Cunningham

Does that mean that the Secretary of State will bring to the House a scheme that will not be amendable in any way?

Mr. Ridley

The House can reject the scheme if it wishes. Furthermore, the original Bill is there not to enable a scheme to be debated in every detail by Parliament, but to allow football to have the authority of Parliament to introduce such a scheme. By proceeding with the Bill now, we can put the framework for the national membership scheme on the statute book and be ready to proceed rapidly if Parliament so decides in the light of any comments that Lord Justice Taylor may make. The final decision to implement the scheme will not, however, be made until it has been debated twice more.

Sir Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)

Would not my right hon. Friend very much increase support for part I if he gave an unequivocal undertaking now that if Lord Justice Taylor expressed serious doubts about, or opposition to, an identity card scheme he would not proceed with part I?

Mr. Ridley

I do not think that we can prejudge what Lord Justice Taylor may say. We have deliberately amended the Bill so that—on not one occasion but two—not only the Government but both Houses of Parliament will have the opportunity to give their views on whether the scheme as proposed by the Football Membership Authority should proceed. Surely my right hon. Friend would not want to fetter Parliament's decision on whether it wished to proceed with the scheme, whatever Lord Justice Taylor may or may not say. I am sure that he would not suggest that we should abnegate our responsibilities to someone whose report we have not yet seen.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Ridley

I can see that a number of hon. Members wish me to give way. I shall give way to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller), but after that I am sure that the House would prefer me to make a little progress, as many hon. Members wish to speak.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

The right hon. Gentleman said that the scheme would be debated in the House twice. Can he tell us when and at what time? Will it be in the middle of the night, or can we have a proper debate for some hours? Even at this late stage, will the right hon. Gentleman agree to the House being allowed to amend the scheme? It is ludicrous that the arrangements should be on a negative basis—that we should vote either for or against the scheme without any opportunity to amend it.

Mr. Ridley

The debate will not take place until Lord Justice Taylor has delivered his final report, but I shall invite the House to consider the proposal that 1 appoint the Football Membership Authority, which will then design the scheme. When it has done so, it will be for me to consent to it. There will then be another debate in which the House will have a further opportunity to give its views.

I think that, even in his absence, I can give an assurance on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that adequate time will be provided for the two debates, which will take place at times agreed between the usual channels. There is no question of our trying to confine them to the small hours or to a Friday morning.

Dr. Cunningham

Does not the Secretary of State see the hopeless position that he is portraying when the centrepiece of the legislation, the scheme that is supposed to deal with the problems, will never be debated in detail in Parliament, and Parliament will never have the chance to influence it?

Mr. Ridley

Does not the hon. Gentleman see the point that this is a highly technical scheme, which will be produced by the football industry and the people in it? It has never been proposed, and is not proposed now, that the details of the scheme should be amended according to the votes in Parliament.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) asked in business questions last Thursday whether the Bill's scope would allow for amendments on safety matters. In response to that question, I am proposing that the House should instruct the Standing Committee that will consider the Bill that it has the power to make provision in the Bill relating to any aspect of the safety of spectators at designated football matches.

The Government do not intend to bring forward wide-ranging amendments on new safety measures in this Bill. Under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975, as amended by the Fire Safety and Places of Sport Act 1987, the Home Secretary already has the powers to make orders that, for example, could contain a provision requiring local authorities to include certain terms and conditions in safety certificates for a sports ground. The existing legislation does not, however, give the Home Secretary any enforcement functions. We have it in mind to propose an amendment to this Bill to provide a power to give the Bill's licensing authority a monitoring and enforcement role, to back up the Home Secretary's existing powers under the safety of sports grounds legislation—although only in relation to designated football matches in England and Wales. This will add to the Bill powers to enable us to deal with safety matters, on receipt of Lord Justice Taylor's report.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

The Secretary of State will be aware that, immediately after the Hillsborough disaster, the Home Secretary drew attention to the need for all-seater stadiums. The Minister for Sport has made some statements about that which will no doubt be referred to in the debate. Will the proposals dealing with safety take that on board? How will the powers to enforce that be provided? What funds, if any, will he available if the Government go down that road?

Mr. Ridley

I am delighted to confirm what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said when he made the statement about the Hillsborough disaster. My hon. Friend the Minister for Sport has already had one meeting with the football authorities to discuss the possibility of all-seater stadiums. There is considerable support in the House for the concept, provided that it is adapted to the most suitable grounds and limited to those grounds where it is considered necessary. This matter will take some time to resolve, but it is right that the Bill and the instruction to the Committee should be wide enough to enable my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to use his powers to make any such provision if that is decided to be the right way forward. I cannot at this point commit the Government to providing finance for such hypothetical situations.

It seems to me desirable that the Committee should be enabled to consider amendments concerning safety generally. The intention is not to anticipate Lord Justice Taylor's report, but to enable us to deal with his recommendations, just as the amendments that we made in another place—to provide for parliamentary debates on the scheme after Royal Assent—allow the House to consider any comments that Lord Justice Taylor may make on the membership scheme in his final report.

The Hillsborough disaster and Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry are rightly very much on all our minds. That is why I have explained today how we have taken account of them. However, the Hillsborough tragedy does not remove the need for the anti-hooliganism measures provided for in parts I and II to proceed in this Session of Parliament.

Hooliganism has been a fact of football life for all too many years. Since the mid-1960s, it has deterred millions of genuine football supporters from attending matches. Attendances fell from 35 million in 1967–68 to 21 million in 1987–88. Football hooliganism has made life very unpleasant for those who live or trade near football grounds, and the behaviour of England football supporters abroad has brought only shame to this country.

However, the Opposition may tell us, and I have heard mumblings from the Opposition Front Bench already, that all this is changing, that attendances are beginning to rise —so they are, very slowly. We may be told that a number of valuable measures have been taken in the past few years to tackle the problem, and so they have—restrictions on the sale of alcohol at football grounds; powers for the courts to impose exclusion orders on convicted hooligans, all as a result of Government legislation; stronger police co-ordination both nationally and internationally; more co-operation between the police and football clubs; effective segregation of rival groups of supporters inside grounds and the introduction of closed-circuit television.

These measures have been worth while, I agree. They have been taken very largely as a result of pressure from the public and from Government rather than at the voluntary initiative of the football authorities. Unfortunately, although they have been worth while, the measures taken so far have not been enough. They have just about contained the problem. They have not cured it. We still need about 5,000 police to control football crowds every weekend of the football season—largely at the expense of the taxpayer and the ratepayer.

Violence continues. The 1987–88 domestic season ended with a number of serious incidents of violence and was followed by the disgraceful scenes involving English football followers in West Germany in June last year. The season which finished last month has seen regular outbreaks of trouble both at and away from football grounds, culminating in a number of serious incidents on 13 May, less than a month after Hillsborough.

On that day, there was a pitch invasion at Crystal Palace football ground by Birmingham City football supporters, in which 16 people were injured, including a stabbing. At the match between Bristol City and Sheffield United, fighting between rival groups of supporters spilled over on to the pitch and held up the game. There were disturbances up and down the country—in Sheffield, in Cheshire, at Southampton railway station and at the Toddington service station on the M1. In all, more than 300 people were arrested on the weekend of 13 May at or on their way to or from football matches.

The claim that football hooliganism has ceased to be a problem inside football grounds is simply not borne out by the facts.

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

Had this Bill been on the statute book at the time of the disturbances in West Germany which were attributed to British fans, how many of those British fans would have been subjected to restriction orders? Is it not the case that there was not one conviction then?

Mr. Ridley

If this Bill had been enacted and had been in force for a few years, a large number of hooligans would have been banned from membership schemes and we could have prevented them from travelling to the overseas matches. I do not claim that this would work in a very short time, because it is necessary to have the bans on those who would commit—

Mr. Denis Howell

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Ridley

I have already given way to the right hon. Gentleman once. If I give way now, it will be for the last time.

Mr. Howell

The Secretary of State is very generous. He is now considering a very important matter. It is not the practice of continental policy authorities to charge those offenders, as we saw during the competition in Germany. They keep the fans overnight and then get them out of the country as fast as they can. They are not brought before the courts in Europe. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) is right: in those circumstances, there will be no offence to proceed against in this country under the terms of this Bill.

Mr. Ridley

The right hon. Gentleman misses the point. If they were hooligans, they would have been brought before the British courts and would have had to report during major overseas matches under part II of the Bill.

Dr. Cunningham


Mr. Ridley

I am being interrupted by the hon. Gentleman who is about to make a speech. Could he not develop his points when it comes to his turn? However, I shall give way.

Dr. Cunningham

Will the Secretary of State explain in a little more detail exactly what he has just said? With what will those people who have been detained overnight in police cells in European countries before being returned to Britain be charged? Since they are not charged abroad, and will not be charged here, how can they be excluded from travelling in the future?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman holds the record for missing the point. He has done so during the past three years that he has been shadowing me, and today is no exception. The point is that those who are convicted of hooliganism in British courts will be required to report here and so will not be able to travel abroad. Does he not realise that the sooner that the Bill is on the statute book the sooner those people will be caught in the way that I have described? The longer that we delay, the more will be free to go to Europe to make a nuisance of themselves.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is remarkable that what he has accurately described—arrests, hooliganism and the peace and quiet of towns and cities being shattered—surrounds a game of sport? Is it not a fact that those in Britain who have no interest in football—the vast majority—are desperately seeking an assurance from the Government that something will be done, and the Bill is one way of correcting the terrible problems that Britain's towns and cities have suffered for many years?

Mr. Ridley

I never understand why the hooligans on the Opposition Benches associate themselves with the hooligans in the football grounds. They should be aware that public opinion polls show that some 80 per cent. of the population want the problem dealt with.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Ridley

I shall not give way.

When the Government bring forward measures to deal with the problem, the Opposition should be more—

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I have already told the House that a great number of hon. Members wish to participate in the debate, some of whom are rising now. It will be difficult to call them if the Secretary of State is not allowed to continue.

Mr. Ridley

I must comply with your request, Mr. Speaker, and make a little more progress.

The truth is that the measures in place so far are simply not enough to put a stop to football hooliganism. Even the chairman of the Football Association reacted to the events of 13 May by calling for a ban on all away supporters —a significantly more restrictive control than we have proposed. His own organisation promptly came up with another proposal for a membership scheme of a different kind.

Football has had many opportunities to put its own house in order. It has failed to take them. Before the decision to introduce the Bill was taken last year, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister asked the president of the Football League and the chairman of the Football Association, at a meeting on 6 July, if they would voluntarily introduce a national membership scheme. They said that they would not, and the Government subsequently introduced the Bill. The continuing incidence of football violence since then has demonstrated just how right we were.

Part I provides a statutory framework for a national membership scheme for football spectators and for the licensing of football grounds in relation to the scheme. It provides for me to designate the matches to which the scheme will apply, to appoint a Football Membership Authority to draw up the scheme and for the Football Membership Authority to submit it to me for approval. On each of those three key points, my powers are exercisable only by statutory instrument, subject to the negative resolution procedure. In each case, the House will be able to debate and vote on the issue. It is our intention, and that of the football authorities, that they should set up and run the FMA. As a result of an amendment moved in another place, both the FMA and I are required to consider the possibility of phasing the introduction of the scheme.

Clause 5 lays down requirements that the scheme must satisfy and others with which it may deal. Its contents have been expanded a little as a result of amendments made in another place to specify exemptions for disabled people and accompanied children in designated areas and to provide for temporary membership arrangements for the clubs to use. Those amendments meet the genuine concerns of clubs about the practical application of the scheme without weakening its basic purpose, which is to limit admission to spectators who are members of the scheme or who are authorised by it.

Clause 5 provides also for the Football Membership Authority to disqualify people from membership of the scheme at its discretion, and its powers to do so were clarified by amendments made in another place. The clause specifically provides that the full protection of the Data Protection Act 1984 will be available to applicants and to members of the scheme.

People who are convicted of an offence that is among those listed as relevant in the schedule to the Bill will be banned from membership of the scheme for a fixed period of either two or five years. It will be an offence to attend or to attempt to attend a designated football match for anyone who is not a member of or otherwise authorised by the scheme. It will also be an offence for a club or anyone else to admit spectators to a designated football match without a licence for the ground. The powers of the licensing authority are set out in clauses 8 to 11.

The licensing authority will be the Secretary of State or a body appointed by me.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

He is worse than Hitler.

Mr. Ridley

The authority's job will be to ensure that clubs have the equipment and are following the procedures required to enable the national membership scheme to work. If a club deliberately ignores the conditions of its licence it will run the risk of conviction for a criminal offence. If it is seriously or persistently in breach of its licence the Bill provides for the licence to be suspended or revoked.

A final decision to go ahead with the scheme will depend on parliamentary approval, when we have had the chance to consider Lord Justice Taylor's report. Even then it will, of course, take time to put the scheme in place. We shall not introduce it until we are confident that it will work effectively and safely. Subject to appropriate technology, we hope to see implementation achieved in the early months of the 1990–91 football season.

Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

If the right hon. Gentleman has followed previous debates, he will recall that one of the main criticisms of the plan as previously presented, and which the details that he has given today confirm, is that it will harm the position of many smaller clubs. Clubs will see the size of their crowds persistently reduced, which will put many of them out of business. What is the Government's best calculation of the number of clubs that will be injured by the scheme in that way?

Mr. Ridley

My present estimate is zero. Nothing could have done more damage to football than hooliganism, which has reduced the size of gates from 35 million people to 21 million. If football can regain only half those lost spectators that will transform not only the sport's finances but the fortunes of some smaller clubs. Would the right hon. Gentleman argue after a serious hotel fire that we should not introduce new regulations on hotel safety because that might bankrupt some smaller establishments? Is that the line that the right hon. Gentleman is taking?

Mr. Foot

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the question that I and many others have put? What is the Government's calculation, irrespective of other matters, of the harm done by the Bill to the number of people attending football matches? What will be its effect on many of the smaller clubs, and is it the Government's firm intention to proceed with a plan that will drive many of them out of business?

Mr. Ridley

I have already answered that question. My answer was zero.

Part II deals directly with the problem of football hooligans abroad. The behaviour of such people has been a national disgrace for years. I do not think that there is any argument about the need for these provisions.

Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Ridley

No, I really must get on.

Clauses 12 to 16 provide that when someone is convicted of a relevant offence, as defined in the Bill, the court may also impose a restriction order requiring him, or her, to report to an agency when certain matches take place abroad. Restriction orders will run for the same periods as automatic disqualification from membership of the scheme in this country—two years or five, depending on the severity of the sentence.

Mr. Dicks

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Ridley


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is clear that the Secretary of State does not intend to give way.

Mr. Ridley

The court must be satisfied that a restriction order would help to prevent or reduce violence or disorder at matches abroad.

Clauses 17 to 19 govern the operation of reporting agencies. The reporting agency will set the time at which someone subject to an order must report, so as to ensure that he cannot attend the match. Offenders will have rights of appeal against the court's decision to impose restriction orders, but once the order is made, failure to report when required will itself be a criminal offence.

Clause 20 allows for an application to be made for a restriction order in cases where someone resident here has been convicted of an offence outside England and Wales.

Mr. Dicks

As I understand my right hon. Friend, he has said that if the restriction on hooligans travelling abroad had been in operation two years ago, some of the offences that have been committed abroad would not have happened. Does my right hon. Friend know that I received a letter from the Home Secretary just over a year ago in which he told me that it was impossible to introduce any measure that would prevent people from going abroad? What has happened between then and now to alter the position?

Mr. Ridley

The question related to taking away people's passports, which my right hon. Friend could not possibly do. However, this measure will solve the problem to the satisfaction, I hope, of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks) and myself.

I recognise that there has been controversy about the Government's proposals, in the police service and in football itself. Of course, the police are rightly concerned that the national membership scheme should riot be introduced until the technology is ready. So are we. It is our intention that the Association of Chief Police Officers should continue to be consulted closely as the scheme is drawn up. The football authorities will be drawing up the scheme themselves. It will be their responsibility to produce a scheme that best suits the needs of football, within the framework of the Bill. If they and the clubs will take a positive rather than a negative approach to the scheme, they and their supporters will benefit from it. Individual clubs should see this as an opportunity to develop closer links with their supporters—as their members—not to put them off.

I began by referring to Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry. I will emphasise again now what I said at the beginning: Parliament will have not one but two opportunities to debate and vote on the national membership scheme after we have received the report and in the light of any comments that Justice Taylor may make on the scheme. By proceeding with the Bill now, we can put the framework for the scheme in place and make it possible to move on rapidly with the scheme, if Parliament agrees that we should do so when it has seen what Lord Justice Taylor has to say.

It would be irresponsible to throw away the progress that we have already made on this Bill by delaying it for one year. The case for both parts I and II remains conclusive. Events since Hillsborough have shown only too clearly that hooligans continues to infect football. The national membership scheme offers the prospect of removing that infection in the interests both of genuine football supporters and of others whose lives are damaged by the behaviour of football hooligans. We should not hesitate to put the framework for the scheme in place.

4.40 pm
Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

I agreed with the Secretary of State when he again reiterated on behalf of Government Members the sorrow that people felt about the tragedy at Hillsborough. We on the Opposition Benches shared his expressions at least on that, if on little else, in what seemed to be the speech of a team member bound for relegation.

The preparation and promotion of the Bill have all the familiar trademarks of the domineering attitudes of the Prime Minister. The Bill epitomises all that is wrong with the Government and with many Conservative Members. As with the poll tax and water privatisation, the Secretary of State promotes the Bill only because the Prime Minister says so. She is determined to impose a national membership scheme and identity cards on hundreds of thousands of law-abiding football supporters. She is determined to do that against the advice of soccer administrators and the Police Federation and against all the evidence that her scheme is irrelevant to the problems of hooliganism and violence which have grown dramatically under her Administration.

This is not simply the wrong Bill at the wrong time. It is the wrong Bill at any time. Every team has its strikers and its specialists for dead ball situations and corner kicks, and the Thatcher team is no exception. Today we heard from the Secretary of State, her special own goal specialist, and as with previous speeches of the right hon. Gentleman on many occasions, the majority of his colleagues in the Cabinet have an arranged away fixture, while he is at the Dispatch Box. The right hon. Gentleman reminds me of the old Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor song: Fitba' crazy, fitba' mad. It's the fitba' that's robbed him of the wee bit of sense he had. In January of this year, the Secretary of State said in a press release that the Bill would break the link between violence and football. He said that knowing—if he did not know, he should have been aware—that the majority of incidents of violence, hooliganism and arrests already take place outside football grounds. The tragedies at Bradford and Sheffield were not caused by violence or hooliganism.

The Popplewell report did not recommend the proposals in this measure, which is being unnecessarily pushed through Parliament in the middle of the Taylor inquiry, which is specifically charged with making recommendations about the needs of crowd control and safety at sports grounds. It simple does not bear examination for the Secretary of State to say that the House should proceed to reach conclusions on legislation before what should be, and almost certainly will be, a watershed report about the circumstances and situations in and near sports grounds in this country. It is, frankly, ridiculous to ask Parliament to legislate in advance of that vitally important investigation, and the conclusions that it will take many more months to formulate.

The overwhelming majority of spectators of course want better standards of behaviour on and off the pitch, and the Professional Footballers Association, fan clubs, the Football Association and the Football League all recognise the need to go on working to improve those standards. But requiring all football supporters—lawabiding citizens overwhelmingly—to carry identity cards is irrelevant to those aims and objectives.

There is a clear and urgent need for soccer stadium facilities to be fundamentally improved, but far from bringing extra financial resources and essential investment into football clubs, the Bill is likely to reduce attendances and income, redirect existing and often inadequate cash to the equipment and administration necessary to operate a compulsory national indentity card scheme and bring many clubs in the lower divisions in England and Wales, despite what the Secretary of State said, into serious financial difficulties, if not into insolvency.

The Government's proposals are far more likely to deter decent football supporters than they are to deter hooligans. Once more we see the Government ignoring the advice, opinions and evidence of the people on the spot—the police, club administrators and those responsible for managing the situation—and imposing yet another central Government regime, another quango.

The Secretary of State recognised that the situation outside grounds, on trains and on public transport generally, was where the major problems existed when he said, in his 17 January press statement, and repeated today when talking about motorway service stations: Outside football grounds the behaviour of rival groups of supporters"— although I believe that to be a misuse of the word— makes life intolerable both for law-abiding football supporters and for those who live or trade nearby, or wish to travel by train on the same day as a football match. We share the right hon. Gentleman's view on those points, but the possession, or lack of a compulsory identity card will not prevent the incidents which are all too common in Britain today, whether or not football is the focus. Indeed, it could make the situation worse by requiring people to leave home or work earlier to ensure entry on time.

It could lead to more people spending more time in town and city centres before games, thus increasing the potential for disputes and disturbances—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—because people do not want to queue up and miss the beginning of a game. They want to ensure that they get into the ground, and therefore they will travel earlier. [Interruption.] If Conservative Members went to a few more football matches, they would know all about it.

For several years, under pressure, it is true, from fans, from public opinion, from Parliament and—I agree with the Secretary of State—from the Government, football clubs have taken, and are continuing to take, action to improve the situation inside grounds. The effective segregation of fans, family enclosures, close co-operation with the police and the installation of closed-circuit television have all been important and beneficial advances.

Local community schemes and, increasingly, good co-operation between clubs and local councils are also making a positive contribution to improving the situation. This essential progress must continue and that financial support from the Football Trust and from central and local government should be increased wherever possible.

The Bill, however, is irrelevant to all of those issues. It simply does not touch them. The Football Association, the Football League, the overwhelming majority of football clubs in England and Wales, the Police Federation and football supporters share that view. The evidence available to the House supports our conclusions and not those of the Secretary of State.

Nobody in football would deny that there is a problem of hooligan behaviour which attaches itself to the game, more regularly in some places than in others, but it is not unique to football. Other sports and society at large are afflicted by public disorder and violent crime.

The nature of the problem which attaches itself to football has altered significantly. Although there are still incidents of violence and disorder within grounds, those have been contained and trouble-makers are quickly identified and dealt with by improved policing, aided especially by closed-circuit television, now present at all league grounds.

The 6,147 arrests during the 1987–88 season represented a tiny proportion, 0.03 per cent., of the 18 million attendances at games in that season. That compared with arrest figures for the population at large of 3.9 per cent. The number of arrests is, of course, a measure of the effectiveness of club and police control, and as it gets more effective, the purpose is to weed people out and get them out of the grounds. Many of the offences included in that total occurred away from the grounds and would not be directly dealt with by a mandatory identity card scheme. Indeed, two thirds of those offences occurred outside the grounds and only about 2,000 arrests were made within them. Of the 6,147 arrests during the season, in only 1,089 cases did conviction result in exclusion orders—a sign, at least, that a considerable number of those arrests were not for violence or serious disorder.

Mr. Alistair Burt (Bury, North)

Given the scale of policing at football matches, the fact that football matches take place under close scrutiny and the fact that police officers are in large-scale attendance in the towns before matches, is it not remarkable that the scale of offences is so high? It is no point comparing that with what happens with the public at large, who are not subject to closed-circuit television or close scrutiny. It is remarkable that the scale of offences at matches is so high when there is such close scrutiny.

Dr. Cunningham

The hon. Gentleman has missed the point. With 18 million attendances, the scale is not high compared with other aspects of crowd behaviour in other circumstances.

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman appears to be reaching the conclusion that all is well and that there is no need to do anything—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is the impression that the hon. Gentleman is giving. He will be laughed out of court if he persists with his complacent and stupid attitude.

Dr. Cunningham

The Secretary of State is more dozy and dim than I had thought. It is clear that he has not been listening, but if he reads Hansard tomorrow he will realise that I said that all is not well, that we all recognise that and that we want further improvement. We do not think that his proposals are relevant to the problems.

With the help of the Football Trust, all league clubs now have closed-circuit television at their grounds. In addition, a further £500,000 has been allocated by the Football. Trust this season to provide the police with 45 portable systems to improve evidence gathering, which will enable them to take more positive action against troublemakers. That is the measure that the football authorities and the police believe will deal most effectively with the problem within the grounds, by deterring people from committing offences and by more quickly identifying those who have committed them. With one exception, all league clubs have voluntarily introduced partial membership schemes in the home areas of their grounds. All the clubs have comprehensive local plans to deal with the safety and control of spectators, which have been drawn up in consultation with the local police and local authorities. The vast majority of league clubs have family enclosures at their grounds, and they are now attracting more arid more families to the game. Indeed, as the Secretary of State rightly said, attendances have been rising over the last three seasons.

The football-in-the-community scheme co-ordinated by the league and the Professional Footballers Association has proved effective in bringing clubs closer to their local communities. Some 34 clubs are involved and there are plans for extending it throughout the league. Many of the clubs not involved in the scheme have introduced a community programme on their own initiative. At 93 per cent. of clubs with a PFA scheme for the 1987–88 season, arrest levels were below their divisional average.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

The hon. Gentleman said that most grounds now have closed-circuit television to help the police. Does he accept that at Selhurst park on 19 May there was a pitch invasion during which 16 fans were arrested and one was stabbed? As there was closed-circuit television available on that occasion, does he now accept that it was obviously inadequate to deal with the problem? Many people involved in offences on that day were beyond the policing available and so got away with them. Are not the hon. Gentleman's proposals inadequate to deal with the problems?

Dr. Cunningham

I do not accept any of what the hon. Gentleman says, other than that there was a serious disturbance at Selhurst park. However, I am not yet sure of the reasons for that disturbance and I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman is sure either.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

I was at that match. One of the problems was that the fences had been taken down because of the recent Hillsborough disaster—a problem now facing many grounds. If the police had tried to arrest all those who invaded the pitch—they had no support from the majority of supporters—there would have been a major incident. I do not in any way excuse what happened at Selhurst park—it mainly involved Birmingham supporters—but it was caused partly by the taking down of fences as a consequence of Hillsborough. There would have had to be mass arrests for the Bill to have been of any consequence.

Dr. Cunningham

In December last year, the Police Federation said about the proposed national membership scheme: Think again, Mr. Moynihan. The report of Sports Minister Mr. Colin Moynihan's working party on a national membership scheme for football has come in for almost universal condemnation. Sadly the strictures are deserved, for this is an extraordinary mish mash of good intentions and half-baked nostrums. If the Government insists on using its majority to steamroller this scheme through Parliament, the results could be disastrous. Those were the comments of the police about the proposals. The Police Federation continued: When the scheme breaks down, it will do so on match days and give rise to the threat of even worse disorder than it seeks to suppress.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

The hon. Gentleman is quoting views that the Police Federation expressed some months ago. Is he sure that they are the same today? He may find that they are not.

Dr. Cunningham

I am sure that the police do not support the proposals in the Bill.

The Bill is riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions and is full of holes. It is merely an enabling Bill; the heart of the Government's proposals—the so-called national membership scheme—is missing. That is to be left to a football membership authority. The Bill, however, makes no reference to the football membership authority recommended by the Minister's working party. Instead, it says the Secretary of State will appoint an administrator —who may, or may not, be the football membership authority. We do not know.

Whatever the House decides—not only today but in Committee—in advance of the Taylor inquiry report, the House cannot in any way influence the details of the heart of the proposals. The Secretary of State will determine that and bring it to the House on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.That is a wholly unsatisfactory way for the House to be asked to deal with such a matter, and in their heart of hearts Conservative Members know that to be so. The House is being asked to give the Secretary of State for the Environment a blank cheque for the proposals, and it should not do so.

I say to Conservative Members who have misgivings about the Bill—as many had misgivings about previous legislation such as the poll tax and water privatisation—that it is no good looking to the House of Lords to amend the Bill; it has already been in the House of Lords. Conservative Members cannot fall back on that excuse. If they intend to influence these matters, they must do so here and now through their vote in the Lobby tonight. There is no other way.

Mr. David Evans (Welwyn Hatfield)

Will the hon. Gentleman answer a simple question? Is his answer to the problem more police, more dogs, more horses and more fences? If, as I suspect, it is, will that continue until there are more police than there are spectators? Does he agree that it is about time that the Government and the House protected the vast majority of people who go in trepidation every Saturday in areas where football matches are being played?

Dr. Cunningham

Since my answer to the hon. Gentleman's unsimple question is no, all his supplementary questions fall. I do not agree that the answer is more police, more dogs and more horses. I think that he knows that very well. Nor do I say, incidentally, that the answer is the scheme that he and others have pioneered in the football club with which he has had a long association. That seeks to ban away supporters altogether.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

Will my hon. Friend point out a major hole in the Bill that has been brought out by the Football League—that it is the custom at football matches to open the gates for people to leave 15 minutes from time? If the gates were locked until the 90th minute, there would be chaos. When the gates are opened 15 minutes from time, what is there to stop anyone walking in free, without a membership card? People do it now. Anyone could walk in without a card and cause a riot.

Dr. Cunningham

My hon. Friend is right. That is a problem that again is not addressed by the Secretary of State's proposals.

Unlike many of the existing voluntary schemes, the Government scheme comes without any real benefit to members. No entitlements or rights will flow from being forced to have an identity card. It is nothing less than compulsory identity cards for up to perhaps 4 per cent. of the population of England and Wales.

The Government have rightly excluded Scotland from the provisions of the Bill. The Bill is nonsense for England and Wales. We support the exclusion of Scotland but at present Scottish and Welsh teams compete in European tournaments. Under the Government proposals Welsh fans will be required to carry identity cards; Scottish fans will not. English fans travelling to Scotland will be required to carry identity cards but Scottish fans travelling to England will not.

What will happen, for example, at an England versus Scotland match at Wembley, with Scottish supporters travelling down for the day, and Scots men and women who live in England claiming that they are just down for the day as well? Will a Scottish person living and working temporarily in England be required to have an identity card? Ministers have no answers to these questions. If the Secretary of State has got an answer, I will be happy to give way. I think in football parlance that is called a set-up pass; selling one's team mates short would, I think, describe the Secretary of State's behaviour in pointing to his hon. Friend.

To admit people without identity cards to a designated game will be a criminal offence, punishable by a prison sentence. What will be the position, and who will be responsible for order and for taking decisions if, in the interest of safety and public order, the police instruct ground authorities to open the gates and admit people, whether or not they have tickets and cards? That is exactly what happens from time to time every season. Who will be responsible? Who will be in charge? There is no answer to those questions either.

Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)

Before my hon. Friend goes too far away from the Scotland versus England example, may I point out that there was a lot of trouble associated with the recent international at Hampden. All that trouble took place in the streets and in the city centre. If the Government would do something to stop marauding Fascists who have nothing to do with football attaching themselves to football crowds, they would be getting to the core of the problem. The proposed scheme would have been utterly irrelevant to everything that happened in Glasgow that day.

Dr. Cunningham

I agree with my hon. Friend, although we might not agree about the outcome of the match.

Part I of the Bill is totally unacceptable and clause 5 is particularly obnoxious. Does the House really believe that pensioners, who will have to carry identity cards, are a threat to public order? Are women a major cause of hooliganism? I understand from debates in another place that the Government insist that women cannot be excluded because male troublemakers would dress up and pose as women to gain entry. On such stupidities do the Government rest their vacuous case. All unaccompanied children aged 10 years and over will be required to have identity cards. There is no evidence to support the need for that draconian proposal. Season ticket holders who pay large sums to guarantee their seats and their comfort at every home game will also be required to carry identity cards.

A major anxiety occasioned by the proposal to introduce a compulsory scheme is the prospect that fooball will lose a great many casual spectators, estimated at 20 per cent. of attendances and probably including a great many hon. Members. These people may go to matches two, three or half-a-dozen times a season. They and we often have no particular club allegiance, although I have; I say it quietly—Newcastle United.

In London and other major cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool many people may go to different grounds. The Government should recognise the problem posed by the potentially damaging loss of income which is worrying dozens of football administrators. How will the proposals cater for the spectator who decides at short notice to attend a match? Football clubs need flexibility to be able to issue cards on match days even for a single fixture. At larger clubs that attract much casual support the proposed scheme will lead to considerable administrative difficulty, delays, frustration and even anger.

Similar arguments apply to foreign visitors. Large numbers of spectators living in Europe, particularly Holland and Scandinavia, visit London clubs frequently, if not regularly in some cases. Similarly, Irish spectators travel to watch Liverpool and Everton in particular. The European and Irish spectators may in future have to present their passports at football club offices to obtain a one-match membership card and a ticket. The proposal is preposterous.

In its independent report on the Government's proposed scheme, Arthur Young stated that it had examined the technology available and had identified six options. The review showed: No one supplier was able to demonstrate conclusively at this stage that their technology or approach could satisfy the total requirements of the national membership scheme. We have only to go into London Underground at rush hour to see what happens. When there is a crush, the barriers are opened and everyone is allowed through. It is exactly such hold-ups, delays and aggravation that the Secretary of State proposes to impose on football spectators and clubs.

The problem that continues to cause football authorities, clubs and the police the greatest anxiety is the possibility that the technology will fail on a match day at more than one club, just before the start of the match, when thousands may be waiting to be admitted. What will happen then? The police will advise the club to open the gates. They will break the law by asking someone to commit a criminal offence and render himself liable to a gaol sentence.

At the briefing meeting for club chairmen on 17 January, the Secretary of State apparently said that local police will not have overriding powers to instruct clubs to suspend the operation of the membership scheme in order to admit spectators without checking cards. However, we know that, in the past, when all-ticket matches have been played, the police have done just that—admitted spectators without tickets, in the interests of public safety and order. The Secretary of State says that he will stop that. He will be responsible for the problems that result or, alternatively, for the fact that thousands of people, who want to see a match, have tickets and are members, will have to be turned away. That is a recipe for civil disturbance outside football grounds.

I see that the Secretary of State has written to all Tory Members pleading for loyalty in the Lobby tonight. One of his loyal and hon. Friends has kindly sent the Opposition a copy of that letter. It would be interesting to see the loyal reply from the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath). In any event, as I am sure that right hon. Gentleman would say, the best form of loyalty to one's friends is to tell them the truth, however unpalatable it might be. No amount of fudging can cover the huge inadequacies of the Secretary of State's proposals. He is fudging.

Typically, the Secretary of State is deliberately inaccurate and misleading in his letter to all Conservative Members. In his letter, he claims: The FA made a significant change of direction on 18th May in a statement which embraced the principle of a membership scheme. The Secretary of State appears to be referring to off-the-cuff remarks by Mr. Bert Millichip, but the FA and the Football League, in a brief to the House today, continue their opposition to part I of the Bill, which they describe as "seriously flawed".

They go on to say that it should not be considered in detail before full account has been taken of the recommendations of Lord Justice Taylor. We share their views.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Is my hon. Friend aware that the letter was sent not only privately to Conservative Members but to all hon. Members—at least to other hon. Members—including myself on 21 December? The Minister with responsibility for sport said: The Government, police and the football authorities were represented on the working party and agreed its recommendations. Quite clearly, they did not. The Football League told me that that was misrepresentation. Later, on 23 February, the Minister wrote: I recognise that the football authorities have made clear all along their opposition to the principle of the scheme. Therefore, is there not only dubiety in the Government's letter to Conservative Members but a calculated intention to mislead?

Dr. Cunningham

My hon. Friend's comments are borne out by the letter that he received, of which I have a copy, from Mr. J. D. Dent, the secretary of the Football League Ltd., dated 28 February this year. Mr. Dent wrote: Dear Mr. Spearing"— I will not read the whole letter— It is good of you to take up with the Minister his misrepresentation of the football authorities' views and I am most grateful to you for this. There we have it—the football authorities themselves saying that the Minister with responsibility for sport was misrepresenting their position.

We can at least agree the principle of part II of the Bill and the intention to restrict people convicted of a football-related offence from travelling to matches abroad. That proposal rightly enjoys general support, but, again, there are weaknesses in the detail of the Bill. Police in Europe often do not charge detained troublemakers but simply return them to Britain as soon as possible. As they stand, the proposals simply cannot deal with those people —there will be nothing to exclude them for. In addition, exclusion will require a very large administrative effort by the police effectively to implement the reporting scheme nationwide when matches abroad are designated.

This Bill is the imposition of central Government control upon a single sport. It is unprecedented in its implications for civil liberties, and it has no parallel in Europe. Once again, it gives the Secretary of State powers that effectively prevent proper Parliamentary scrutiny of his proposals. It would punish football and the game's supporters for the hooliganism and public disorder that are endemic in Tory Britain. As the Association of Chief Police Officers reported last year: From Petersfield to Penrith, from Barnstaple to Bridlington, come reports of unprovoked attacks on property, public and police". The chief officers referred to 251 incidents, involving 36,000 people, in which over 2,000 arrests were made. That is, 2,000 arrests from 36,000 people in towns and cities around the country. That is as many as the arrests from 18 million football supporters in a whole season, and Conservative Members say that they are dealing with the right problem. They are not even aiming at the right target. There were 1,700 arrests at race meetings alone in this country last year—600 at Royal Ascot in one week. [Laughter.]

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Cunningham

I will not give way.

Mr. Holt


Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) has made it clear that he is not giving way. I call Dr. Cunningham.

Dr. Cunningham

The hon. Gentleman— [Interruption.] Pardon?

Mr. Holt


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I heard the hon. Gentleman use the word "liar".

Mr. Holt

I will withdraw the word "liar". The hon. Gentleman is misleading the House, and he is afraid to give way.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I call Dr. Cunningham.

Dr. Cunningham

The hon. Gentleman flatters himself.

Mr. Holt

Give way—see if you can give way.

Dr. Cunningham

After his behaviour, I am certainly not giving way to the hon. Gentleman.

Regrettably but true, it is the case in this country, that, wherever and whenever large numbers of people gather, there are always some arrests. As the figures show, to single out soccer is misguided and plainly wrong, especially when the situation in soccer grounds is improving because of the actions that are being taken.

In early 1988, the Association of Chief Police Officers commissioned the centre for football research at Leicester university to undertake a survey of senior police officers with responsibility for policing Football League grounds. In all, the centre received replies from officers at 90 of the 92 Football League grounds. The survey covers a wide range of issues involving contemporary policing methods at football, but there is particular focus on a compulsory national scheme. The results of the survey—the most comprehensive one that we are aware of—show that the senior officers were divided about the Government's proposed scheme. A large proportion of them believed that hooliganism inside grounds is decreasing—the evidence bears that out—and four out of five of those senior police officers believed that hooliganism outside grounds was not worsening.

There is growing violence in all aspects of British life. It is more dangerous than ever before in our streets and on our public transport systems because of the increase in crimes of violence under this Government. To single out soccer grounds ignores where most violence takes place. Because of better crowd control, closed circuit television cameras and improved policing, football grounds are actually safer places to be than the average high street on a Saturday afternoon. The Labour party has supported the measures that were put into action by the Football League and the Football Association in their fight against violence associated with football. These actions have been successful in reducing the percentage of those arrested for any offences related to football to 0.03 per cent. of spectators, while the national average for criminal offences is 3.9 per cent. of the population. Football has done that, at a cost of £15 million to itself. A compulsory identity card scheme will cost many more millions and again the Government are inconsistent.

Let us consider the Secretary of State's performance in the House two weeks ago. The latest figures show that in 1985, 1,200 people were treated in hospital after being attacked by dogs. The Post Office unions claim that there are 5,000 dog attacks on postmen and women every year. It is estimated that about 1 million people in Britain are bitten by dogs every year. Yet this same Secretary of State rejected a dog owner registration scheme as complicated, bureaucratic and expensive to administer".— [Official Report, 14 June 1989; Vol. 154, c. 1076.]

Mr. Tony Banks

The score must be 6:0 now.

Dr. Cunningham

The Bill is not based on ideology, but on idolatory. The Prime Minister must have it, however stupid and however nonsensical. This is the Prime Minister who, on 18 May, was the subject of a four-page spread in the Daily Mail—a typical Daily Mail hagiography. Its banner headline reads: My European Nightmare by Maggie". Well, that was one of her dreams that certainly came true. If we read beyond the headline, the Prime Minister is quoted as saying: As I said in my Bruges speech, we are practical. They have identity cards, but can you imagine compulsory identity cards in this country? We recoil from it. That was what the Prime Minister said barely one month ago, but today we have a three-line Whip on all her Ministers who are being dragooned into the Lobbies in favour of compulsory identity cards for football supporters.

The Bill is based on blind support for that increasingly isolated and erratic Prime Minister. It should not proceed before Lord Justice Taylor—

Mr. Ridley


Dr. Cunningham

I shall give way in a moment.

It should not proceed before Lord Justice Taylor reports and it should be referred to the special statutory committee procedure so that witnesses can be called to give evidence and to answer questions from the Committee; so that we can have the football authorities, the police and, if necessary, Lord Justice Taylor here to comment before the legislation goes through. The Government's decision to press ahead with the Bill at this time and in this way, while the inquiry is still sitting, is not rational.

Mr. Ridley

Half an hour after I last intervened in the hon. Gentleman's speech—after half an hour of absolute twaddle—it is now clear that the hon. Gentleman does not think that anything is wrong and does not think that anything should he done.

Dr. Cunningham

I advise the right hon. Gentleman to quit and to think about his goal difference because it is getting worse all the time—

Mr. Tony Banks

It is time for the yellow card.

Dr. Cunningham

I unreservedly offer the support of the Labour party for any Bill which is genuinely and effectively concerned with football safety and the enhancement of a great national game. These are not and should not be matters of party political dispute. But this Bill does not meet those requirements. As drafted it can never do so. That is why we are opposing it tonight.

5.24 pm
Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

Inevitably the House has been treated to a certain amount of humour from the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) and, I suppose, to a certain amount of factual evidence that supports his party's opposition to this excellent Bill. However, what he was short on, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State rightly pointed out in his two interventions, was any type of answer to the terrible problems not only that we face as a country, but which football itself faces.

Much of the hon. Gentleman's argument was flawed. In his defence he quoted the Police Federation's opposition to the Bill, omitting to mention, of course, that just four or five weeks ago it reversed its opposition and said that it was in favour of the "no away supporters scheme" as exemplified at Luton. The hon. Gentleman quoted the Football Association in his favour, not mentioning of course, the words of Mr. Bert Millichip who has been described in a sedentary intervention as "a 68-year-old nonentity". He said: I do not know where we go from here. I just do not know what course of action we can take, but something has got to be done. The problem with the hon. Gentleman's speech was that he did not give the House any fresh ideas. The complacent attitude of the hon. Gentleman and of his right hon. and hon. Friends belies the fact that they have understood the fundamental principle of the Bill.

Conservative Members appreciate that the problem exists. We shall not sit idly by and watch hooliganism spread throughout the greatest of our national games. Perhaps in the minds of some of my hon. Friends we are attempting to deal only inadequately with the problem, but the hon. Member for Copeland gave no answers in his speech.

When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985, which was supported by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), the right hon. Gentleman said that we should never have enacted that legislation.

Mr. Denis Howell


Mr. Carlisle

I shall give way to the right hon. Gentleman in a moment. The right hon. Gentleman said that we should never have done it, but he supported the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman and I served on the Committee on that Bill. He knows that it was rushed through this and another place in a day and a half with the full support of the right hon. Gentleman and his party. However, he is now saying that that Bill was a mistake, and saying, "We should not have supported it," and, "I have no other answer."

Mr. Howell

The Opposition have never supported the proposal that drinks should not be sold inside grounds —[Interruption.] No, we have always said that the problem was drinking outside grounds. If the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) will consider Hillsborough and if he will look at the police report on Crystal Palace, he will find considerable evidence—I am sure that Lord Justice Taylor will tell us this—of people arriving late because they had been drinking outside the ground. One effect of that legislation has been to aggravate the late arrival of people who cannot get a drink inside the ground. That has caused additional difficulties, which we predicted at the time.

Mr. Carlisle

I advise the right hon. Gentleman to go back to Hansard and to read the record and the surrounding press comments of the time. The measure was supported by almost all hon. Members. If I recall correctly, there was little division between us. The right hon. Gentleman would be wise to remember that at times he has supported certain measures and at others he has not.

None of that alters the fact that throughout this argument, no Opposition Member—on either the Front or the Back Benches—and no member of the Football League or the Football Association has come up with any real solution to the terrible problem that we face.

Although the speech of the hon. Member for Copeland was humorous at times, Conservative Members consider this to be a serious problem. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman lives in an ivory tower away from the problem on Saturday afternoons, but if he lived near any of the football grounds where nearby residents have suffered terrible afflictions because of football hooliganism, his attitude would be somewhat less light-hearted and more serious.

Dr. Cunningham

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman does not have a sense of humour, but I am grateful to him for giving way. I never said that this is a laughing matter. What I said was laughable was the performance and proposals of the Secretary of State.

As the hon. Member for Luton, North has made an allegation, I should make it clear that I am very familiar with the conditions and the circumstances around many soccer gronds—for example, St James's park, Roker park and Elland road—and rugby grounds, too. I am a regular —although, unfortunately, not as frequent as I would like —attender at sports occasions. I watch Sunday soccer and a lot of schoolboy soccer. My greatest pleasure is watching my son play centre forward for his comprehensive school team.

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman says that, but he still does not answer the basic problem, or perhaps even acknowledge that there is a problem.

Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carlisle

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman a little later, because I know that he will probably want to intervene.

For many of us the Bill has been a long time coming. Inevitably, there was a right and seemly delay after Hillsborough. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for listening to those of my hon. Friends who thought that we should sit back and wait for some interim comments from Lord Justice Taylor, and as my right hon. Friend has pointed out, at the end of the day to take into account the findings of Lord Justice Taylor.

Over the years, this game—I remind the House that, after all, it is only a game—has attracted an element of hooliganism and criminality which has resulted in deaths and injuries, in towns and cities on Saturday afternoons being turned, by military operation, into no-go areas, and in public transport being completely unsafe for those who wish either to travel to the match or to the area of the match. Those living around football grounds have suffered the desecration of their gardens, broken windows and abuse. Regrettably, all those matters are associated with football. It is a fact that the crowds have halved in about 20 years and that the disgraceful behaviour of our so-called soccer fans abroad has brought shame and disgrace on the name of this country and on many of our towns and cities. That is why I salute what the Government are doing. They will not sit back and let the problem continue.

The saddest night of my life was in March 1985 when I attended the FA cup quarter final. My club, Luton Town —just outside my constituency—was playing Millwall. I say to my right hon. and hon. Friends, who may be worrying about the Bill, that had they been with me that night—some of them may have experience of what football hooliganism really means—they would have seen the way in which people behaved. Half-crazed with drink and with the knowledge that their team was losing, those hooligans took vengeance on my club by ripping out the seats, by tearing down the goal posts, by bursting through the fences and by injuring people. The situation was so bad that the young cadets of the St. John's ambulance, who were there to help those who needed help, were not allowed out on to the pitch. The police were attacked with iron bars and seats. On that night the whole area around the ground was devastated by the damage inflicted by those hooligans.

My hon. Friends say to me, "Yes, but is this the answer? Have we really come to the stage where we must force people to have membership cards?" I tell them that, if they had seen those scenes—which have sadly been repeated in and out of football grounds throughout the country—they would perhaps have some sympathy with the arguments of my constituents.

Mr. Ashton

Is it not a fact that Luton Town was very much to blame on that night? First, it did not print any replay tickets and did not have them ready to give to Millwall supporters on the previous Saturday, which has been standard practice for many years; secondly, it let 8,000 people into a section of the ground which probably would hold only 5,000; and, thirdly, the Bedford police were not ready, despite warnings sent from St. Pancras station, and had no experience of such trouble. The crowd had to invade the pitch to save themselves. When Luton Town and the police realised what a massive clanger they had dropped, to save itself from an investigation, Luton Town brought in its scheme. Much of the problem was due to bad organisation. Luton Town let far too many into the ground and was not able to police it.

Mr. Carlisle

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's words, if expressed to my constituents in the Luton and Dunstable hospital the following morning, would have been of great comfort. Of course people say that it was not the fault of anybody, bar those in authority. It was not the fault of football fans: it was because Luton town did not allow enough police for the ground and it let too many supporters into the ground. I can tell the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), because I was there, that it did not let them into the ground—they burst through the gate a la Hillsborough style. His attitude is the same as that of other Opposition Members—it is always someone else's fault, but never the fault of—[Interruption.]

Mr. Terry Fields (Liverpool, Broadgreen)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) has clearly stated that people burst into the Hillsborough football ground. That is a lie. It is a distortion of the truth.

Madame Deputy Speaker

I am sure that, if that is incorrect, the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) may reflect on it and make some correction. I shall just say to the entire House that a number of hon. Members wish to speak in this debate, and that it may be counter-productive for too many hon. Members to approach the Chair and to show their interest in speaking.

Mr. Carlisle

I say to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Field) that it would be presumptuous of anybody to state what happened at Hillsborough. He will know, however, that the facts suggest that those gates were left open or, as I said about Luton, they were burst open. I did not say that they were burst open at Hillsborough. —[Interruption.] Will the hon. Member for Broadgreen stop wagging his finger at me? The problem at Hillsborough was similar to the one at Luton. The difference, as the hon. Member for Bassetlaw said, was that the crowd spilled on to the field at Luton.

Those sad events left deep scars on my local club and on my town. My hon friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) and his colleagues on the board of directors of Luton Town took the sensible, necessary and drastic step of saying that that would not happen again and that they would pursue the experiment of a "no away supporters" scheme. In the three years or so since that scheme was introduced, we have had one arrest. The police go home at half-time. Families have returned to the ground. It is a delight to see young children there. Perhaps more important than anything, those who come to the town to shop and visit relatives, who probably outnumber the football supporters by four or five to one, know that they can come in peace and quiet.

Mr. Wareing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carlisle

No, I have given way enough.

Those people come with the absolute assurance that, because the football crowd has been controlled by our system, they can come to the town and enjoy the sort of Saturday afternoon that the majority of the country would wish for them.

Mr. Wareing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carlisle

No, I will not, because of the time.

I am proud to represent a constituency that has been the leader in correcting a terrible problem that has afflicted this country and has brought football into disrepute.

Mr. Wareing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has made it clear that he is not ready to give way at this time.

Mr. Carlisle

I will not give way on the basis that many hon. Members on both sides wish to make a contribution. I know that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) is keen on the subject and may wish to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, a little later.

We have seen such a change in our town in the past three years that we are bound to say to our hon. Friends and those hon. Members who listen from the Opposition, "Why not try our system?" People say to me, "But yours is a 'no away supporters' scheme." Our scheme is exactly the same as that envisaged in the Bill. One has to be a member to come to our ground. If, however, the hon. Member for West Derby wished to watch the Luton versus Liverpool game at Kenilworth road, he would be entitled at the start of the season, for a cost of £1, to apply for membership and, provided that he is a good and upstanding citizen, which I know him to be, there would be no reason to refuse him membership. His problem would be that, because our scheme has been so popular, we have a waiting list.

Mr. Wareing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carlisle

I shall reluctantly give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Wareing

I am much obliged, because the hon. Gentleman has mentioned me. On 21 January this year I attended Luton Town football ground to see Everton. On that occasion, between 2.20 and 2.25 pm., I stood at a turnstile watching people use their membership cards to gain entry. Forty people entered in five minutes; 10 of them had great difficulty with their cards, and four entered with the help of the card of the person standing behind them.

Mr. Carlisle

I have heard the hon. Gentleman say that before and I am grateful for the information. New technology is now available which was conveniently forgotten by the hon. Member for Copeland who has seen the demonstrations, and I hope—I stress "hope", as the Bill is full of hope—that it will correct the problem. Luton pioneered the scheme and I am sure that, if my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield has the opportunity to speak, he will enlarge on what I have said.

In June 1986 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister invited representatives of the Football Association to come to No. 10 to discuss the problem of football hooliganism. I do not like to use that phrase, but it is convenient today. The former secretary of the Football Association, Mr. Ted Croker, told my right hon. Friend to "take your tanks off my lawn" when she suggested that the Government, together with the Football Association, the Football League and others, might try to do something about the terrible problem inflicted on the game.

The remarkable thing about the opposition to the Bill from both sides of the House is that it fails to recognise that that is the intention of the legislation. It is unique for legislation to be passed for one specific sport. The Bill is an attempt—at this stage it may be nothing more than that —to take the problem away from football. Where that problem goes is, of course, the problem—[Laughter.] Opposition Members may laugh, but if I was in football I do not believe that I would reject something from a Government who said that they would try to take the problem away from me as they believe that it is also partly their problem.

The Bill is an attempt, and nothing more, to try to correct a problem. It may or may not work, but many of us hope that it will. We cannot ignore the problem. The hon. Member for Copeland may quote figures to show that the number of arrests is going down. We may argue that closed-circuit television and segregation have helped to deal with the problem. I do not deny that matters have improved, but there is still no corrective treatment. There is no way in which to distinguish between those who go to a game to enjoy it and the tiny minority who want to wreck it. The tragedy of all legislation is that it is framed for the minority, not for the majority.

Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carlisle

No, I will not.

The hon. Member for West Derby has spoken about the practicalities of the proposed scheme. Many hon. Members have taken the trouble to see what different systems are available, be it a smart card, a voucher system or whatever. The new technology will not suffer the same problems as those outlined by the hon. Gentleman.

We believe that every match should be an all-ticket game. There is nothing wrong with that and I do not believe that that represents an erosion of civil liberties. If a man wants to go to a game once or three times a season, what is wrong with asking him to make some small sacrifice by going along to his local post office or football club to buy a ticket to enable him to go to that game or games for up to five years? The card would not limit his entry to one ground; he would be permitted entry to any of the 92 grounds in the Football League. That is why the proposed scheme runs parallel with the Luton scheme.

When the Luton scheme was thought out, we always envisaged that it would be part of a total membership scheme. On that basis, the good guys will buy tickets and the bad guys will fall foul of the law, once established.We want to support those who are well-behaved. We ask them to make a small sacrifice by purchasing a ticket, probably once every five years, for a minimal cost. It would be extraordinary if such people said they would have nothing to do with it because it would erode their civil liberties. People may ask why they should buy a ticket, but hon. Members know that if they wish to attend any major sporting event, be it at Twickenham or Lords, where I have been for the past few days, one must buy a ticket to gain entry to the ground. I do not consider that the purchase of that ticket represents an erosion of my civil liberties. All that we are trying to do is to correct the existing problem.

I hope that the Bill will receive the full support of my hon. Friends. Originally I was against a compulsory membership scheme. I did not like the thought that one had to buy a ticket and that one must be identified. But we cannot go on as we are. The events after Hillsborough are crucial, as they suggest that some elements in the football crowd could not care tuppence about the game and are intent on wrecking it.

The Bill tries to correct what has been going wrong. It will act as a deterrent. It will ensure that those who go to football grounds do so with the intention of watching the match and of behaving, or they will lose their cards. The Bill will enable the police and the stewards to monitor and to filter fans who are going to matches when they arrive at railway stations, bus stations and on the roads leading up to the grounds. That would have helped at Hillsborough. People will have to have not only a ticket, as at Hillsborough, but a membership card.

The Bill must act as a deterrent, but it will not deter the genuine football supporter who wants to ensure the well-being of the game. I count myself in that category and that is why I support the Bill.

5.46 pm
Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, East)

What are the alternatives to the Government's Bill? What is the answer to the problem? Nobody denies that a problem exists. Following Hillsborough the Government set up an inquiry under Lord Justice Taylor. That inquiry was given wider powers of examination than those given to Popplewell. The Government set up that inquiry so that a report could be made. They stopped the progress of their Bill in the House of Lords and gave it a breathing space. Therefore, why on earth are the Government going ahead now before we have that report before us?

We accept that a problem exists and it is right that, given the expertise and experience in this House, it should be discussed here. However, we should have Lord Justice Taylor's report before us. Surely we should know what he has to say, or are the Government afraid that he will come up with some proposals that run counter to their own? Surely that is what the Secretary of State apparently fears.

I am a football supporter. I have played and watched soccer all my life and, when I have the time to do so, I watch Manchester United. I have studied the record of that particular club and it is worth repeating it to the House tonight. Manchester United is among the best supported football clubs in Britain. Its average home gate is more than 40,000. In 1987–88 it attracted about 750,000 spectators and there were 38 arrests.

Mr. David Evans

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that Manchester United has a 50 per cent. membership scheme and that it was the one club that followed the Government's directive three years ago.

Mr. Orme

Yes, it has a membership scheme of which I am in favour, but I am not in favour of backing it up with the identity card nonsense. It is nonsense because it would not work.

There are genuine football supporters and football supporters' clubs. Those people deal with this problem on the ground week in, week out; they oppose violence and want it to be eradicated. They are in the front line of this battle and may be in a membership scheme involving 50 per cent. of spectators. I would welcome a 100 per cent. membership scheme. I am talking about a club which has 40,000 spectators per home match. In 1984–85 there were 124 arrests, so in the past three or four years there has been a reduction of about 50 per cent. in the number of arrests.

Mr. David Evans


Mr. Orme

No I shall not give way again.

The club has worked hard to reduce the levels of violence at Old Trafford and spent a huge amount of time and money on creating an environment which is both safe and comfortable for spectators. The family stand is a positive step against violence, and youth groups and other organisations are always welcomed. The club has one of the best safety records in Europe. It has the most up-to-date equipment and a willingness to co-operate with the authorities in an effort to deal with the area's relatively small hooliganism problem. It has closed circuit television and various other facilities.

I have seen the club in operation. I have been on the popular side and in the stand, and I have seen the police surveillance system. Do we want to transfer existing problems from inside to outside the grounds? Do we want to create a problem when spectators arrive late, the system breaks down and people are anxious to get in? Those are the sort of problems related to a sport which is watched by millions of people every week.

There has been an increase in violence but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) said, there has been an increase in violence at other sports. That has occurred in boxing and, particularly, at horse racing. That is a classic example of the media closing ranks and not revealing the problems in those sports in the same way as they have revealed them at football matches.

What about the problems which exist in county towns? What about the yuppie influence and the lager louts? Many of the areas in which these problems occur are miles away from football grounds and are never in any way connected with football. As has been said, the increasing violent crime in Britain—recent Home Office figures show that there has been an 11 per cent. increase—is not to be found in football grounds or connected with football, in which there has been a reduction in violence in recent years.

The Minister has said that football will foot the bill for the scheme. The financial implications of the scheme are catastrophic. The Arthur Young study forecast that the scheme would cost about £70 million to implement over the first five years. The projected 20 per cent. loss in gate revenue will result in a £34 million loss in the first year alone.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said, there is a very real concern about clubs in the third and fourth divisions. Many clubs will go to the wall because they will be unable to finance the scheme or obtain support to do so. Therefore, the scheme will have a detrimental effect on our national sport.

Improved stands within the grounds are needed, and I acknowledge that football clubs have not done enough in the past. More money must be spent and we must bring together the people within the game and those who have to administer it, such as the police and local authorities. My hon. Friend the Member for Copeland said that this should not be a party matter and we should try to resolve the problem on an all-party basis. However, the Government have made no attempt to do so. While they wait for Lord Justice Taylor's report, the Government should call together the football clubs, supporters, the police, local authorities and the Opposition and suggest that they all examine a way of dealing with the problem. We should analyse the problem without sweeping anything under the carpet and, at the same time—[HON. MEMBERS:"Talk."] No, we should not just talk but should come forward with proposals. We should consider what Lord Justice Taylor says because the Secretary of State's proposals will not succeed. They will drive people away from the game and those who create problems at football matches will feel that they have scored a victory and will exploit the position.

We should set up a body which could be the start of an implementation of a statutory body which would contain the interests of the managers, players, supporters, police, transport officials and local authorities. It should be given teeth and powers to intervene to call to account clubs and other authorities. It should have the correct power to act when appropriate and should be based on Lord Justice Taylor's report, when it is completed. Why do we not put such proposals to Lord Justice Taylor? We should also tell the Government that this enabling Bill will not resolve the problems as they say it will.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland has clearly shown this afternoon, the identity card scheme is riddled with contradictions and has no basic support. The Bill is a wholly inappropriate way of dealing with the problems associated with football and should be scrapped or, at the very least, delayed until we have digested Lord Justice Taylor's report.

5.58 pm
Sir Neil Macfarlane (Sutton and Cheam)

I shall not detain the House too long or follow too closely the speech of the right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme). I listened closely to the speeches from the Front Bench spokesmen and I shall listen even more closely to the speech of my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport when he winds up the debate. He will have to catch up on many of the points raised in the debate, because there were a number of crucial pointers and factors which should be carried along with momentum.

I have not fully made up my mind about the Bill and shall be open to persuasion during the next few hours. It is most important that we consider the manner of the problem of the past 20 years or so. I must make it perfectly clear that I. like the right hon. Member for Salford, East, have always been an enthusiastic supporter of a membership scheme. It has been well chronicled elsewhere that, a few years ago, I had one or two differences of opinion with some former colleagues about the efficacy of this way of approaching the problem. However, I shall not digress.

I had always hoped, in the numerous meetings that I attended with many of my colleagues four or five years ago, that the football authorities would encourage a membership scheme. The right hon. Member for Salford, East referred to Manchester United; I can confirm that earlier this year I saw an effective range of card schemes in operation at Carrow road, Norwich City's ground, when my own famous Sutton United played there earlier in the year. I could not help feeling that if all the 92 clubs in the League, and others, had followed that model and the model proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans)—who has chaired Luton Town football club so successfully for so many years—we should not be where we are now.

In September 1985 the Football League set up a working party to study the question of membership cards, largely in the wake of the inquiry by Mr. Justice Popplewell—who, incidentally, brushed aside in his interim report the fact that he was advocating a national identity card system, because such a system was, he said, likely to prove impractical at the turnstyles.

Mr. David Evans

Is my hon. Friend aware that the only club that embraced the Popplewell report—which, as he may know, recommended home fans only—was Luton Town?

Sir Neil Macfarlane

I do not want a clash of minds or personalities with my hon. Friend—we go back a long way —but we are talking about a wholly different dimension of the problems of numbers and techology. In principle, however, I agree with him.

The Football League working party recommended that all clubs should have a membership scheme, the basic principles of which should be common to all of them. Some of those principles may well have been implemented; in some instances, however, the desirability of such a scheme may have been ignored. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) underlined the problems of the failure of the football authorities to do very much: if they have done much, they have kept very quite about it in recent years.

It is depressing to note that—having written to all 92 clubs in the Football League inviting those interested in the very difficult problems of football to let him have their views on every, or any one subject—Mr. Justice Popplewell noted in the report: I have rather sadly to record that over 50 out of the 92 league clubs did not even take the trouble to acknowledge receipt of my letter". I was closely involved with the Popplewell inquiry, along with my hon. Friends in the Home Office and other Departments, and I found it staggering that only 50 clubs out of 92 took the trouble to reply. It makes me wonder what the world of football is doing, or what it is perceived to be doing by those who have loved football for 30 or 40 years. I want to try to find out what hon. Members think that the football world has done to try to enhance its reputation, and to restore its rightful place in the life of our nation.

Why have so many thousands of people stopped going to League matches? I used to go in the early 1950s when I was living in Essex, in outer north-east London. Those games were attended by more than 40 million people, but since then the numbers have gone down and down. I know that we are now a nation of participators, and that there are alternative activities in which people can indulge. The fact remains, however, that they have stopped going to matches—although in recent years there has been a slight increase, which I welcome.

Why has the improvement of stadiums been given such low priority by and large throughout the 92 clubs? What about the poor old football fan and the facilities that he or she has had to suffer? Why has so little money been spent, other than by the Football Trust? What effect has the easy availability of alchohol had on some spectators' behaviour, and why do people consider that going to a football match poses a risk to their well being?

Doubtless many factors led to the decline in spectator attendance at football matches, but the fact of that decline is beyond argument: all the evidence shows that fewer and fewer people are attending.

I find myself in difficulties over the proposals in the Bill, taking them against the backcloth of the tragedy at Hillsborough. I fear that not enough research has been conducted by the police, the Department of the Environment or the Football Association. Hillsborough graphically illustrated Oliver Popplewell's reservations about the practicality of an identity card system at the turnstiles, and, I understand, is the reason why the police dislike many of the Bill's proposals. Their worst fear has always been the excessive accumulation of spectators at the point of entry.

I am also concerned at the rush to proceed with the legislation. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister can allay my concern. I should have thought that even Lord Justice Taylor's interim report would have presented a golden opportunity for us to latch on to: it might well have provided the golden research which I think that we need, and which I hope we shall be able to implement. I believe that many involved in football would wish the Government to wait until the report is to hand. I also fully accept the points made in the letter from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment—quoted by the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham)—about the need for action, although I am not entirely happy about his interpretation of future timing. The wording of the letter was skilful, especially the penultimate paragraph.

I am profoundly unhappy that we are proceeding to Third Reading before Parliament has had a chance to review the Taylor report. On the other hand, we have now sat for the better part of 10 years with nothing being done. We face a dilemma: we are up against a timetable.The World Cup takes place next year, and clearly an important dimension of necessary provision is in the Bill. We cannot tolerate the gratuituous violence that football, more than any other sport, seems to encourage. We are all acquainted with the catalogue of violence caused by our people on both sides of the Channel—and sometimes on the Channel —over the past 20 years or so. When he was Minister for Sport, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) had to apologise to the head of the French Government in 1974 in the Parc des Princes. He knows exactly what went on; he knows the problem.

Above all, I believe that over the past 10 years we have failed, not only at home but abroad, to secure prosecutions and convictions. Far too many people have got away with it, time and again. We have seen it happen in London, Cambridge, Leeds and elsewhere. In effect, this is a failure of our law and order, and that is what I find so depressing.

I shall wait with interest to hear what my hon. Friend the Minister has to say about the problem. Clearly we cannot continue as we have for the past decade or so. Urgent action is needed. Even after Hillsborough, violence has taken place inside the ground. Everyone is sick and tired of it. The country expects us to do something, and I hope that my hon. Friend will answer many of our questions when he winds up the debate.

6.7 pm

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

I find myself substantially in agreement with much of what has been said by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Sir N. Macfarlane), who speaks with the authority of a previous Minister for Sport. The reasonableness of his approach was self-evident.

After hearing the Secretary of State trying to justify the Bill, I find myself driven to the conclusion that it is shoddy in its conception, inept in its timing, and wholly lacking in merit. Before I deal with that in more detail, let me say to the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle)—whose sincerity I recognize—that anyone with any interest in football must be concerned about the way in which it is stained with hooliganism and violence. Concern about the problem, however, does not justify the embracing of measures that are likely to be ineffective, and there is a real risk of raising expectations based on part I of the Bill which are unlikely to be justified. It has already been said in the debate that this should not be a party political issue. I fear that the Government are making it such by their determination to press ahead at this stage.

Those of us who oppose part I do not do so out of any complacency about the problem that faces football, nor are we here as uncritical defenders of the Football League or the Football Association. Certain criticisms can be made of both these bodies, but equally a proposal as flawed as this one should not obtain the support of the House.

Three conclusions may be reached by Lord Justice Taylor. First, he may say that the football membership scheme in part I would have prevented or ameliorated some of the events of Hillsborough. If he said that, many of us opposed to the Bill now would find it persuasive. Secondly, he may say that the football membership scheme, as proposed, would have no effect. If that happened, we should have to consider what is the proper attitude to take, after seeing the report. However, if he says that, after careful review of the evidence and careful consideration of what has been said to him, it is his belief that a national membership scheme would have aggravated the problems at Hillsborough, what justification could there be for the Government proceeding in the teeth of that conclusion, resulting from an impartial examination of the circumstances? In what conceivable circumstances would the Government reject the impartial review of someone who was chosen because he was thought to be entirely suitable to bring the necessary intellectual objectivity to what happened at Hillsborough and make the kind of recommendations that the Government would regard as valid?

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

The converse of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said is that, if Lord Justice Taylor recommends that a national membership scheme is just what is needed, he should then endorse such a scheme.

Mr. Campbell

I did my best to say just that. Perhaps I did not express myself in sufficiently trenchant terms, but no doubt the hon. Gentleman will accept that if that is Lord Justice Taylor's recommendation it will be extremely persuasive. It will persuade me and 1 will recommend that my right hon. and hon. Friends should support such a scheme.

That issue was not properly addressed in the Secretary of State's speech. In a sense, as other speeches have demonstrated, that lies at the heart of our debate. A public inquiry by a respected judge is still to report on issues that are directly germane to what we are considering today. Notwithstanding that, the Government still intend to proceed apace with this legislation.

It is not unreasonable to describe such a course of action as a Gadarene rush to judgment. Sensitivity has hardly been the hallmark of this Government, and on this occasion they have excelled themselves. The people of Liverpool are still awaiting Lord Justice Taylor's report. Some of them are still nursing their grief and the Government's decision to press ahead after what some of us regard as far too short a period is a demonstration of insensitivity that many of these people will find difficult to understand. The Government may win the vote this evening, although, as we have heard, many have reservations about the Bill. I wonder what prospects the Government would have of winning that vote if they were to take off the Whip and allow hon. Members to vote according to their consciences. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. The convention of the House is that hon. Members do not pass between the hon. Member addressing the House and the Chair.

Mr. Campbell

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) is a close friend of mine, and I am sure that his movement was no reflection either on me or on the strength of my argument.

There is some legitimate concern about the nature of the powers that would be given to the Secretary of State were the Bill to be enacted. There is a divergence between what Ministers say and the powers conferred on them by the Bill. The whole process of the scheme lies under the direct control of the Secretary of State and not of Parliament. Under clause 1(2), the Secretary of State will designate matches. He may need a statutory instrument to alter that designation, but that is subject to annulment by either House of Parliament. Furthermore, such a statutory instrument would not be capable of amendment. Once annulled, it would be a simple matter to bring forward another. Clause 3(2) provides that the Secretary of State is to designate the football membership authority. Therefore, it will be his creature. He will be responsible for its constitution and its powers. Its very existence will be at his pleasure. If he wishes to withdraw his designation of the Football Membership Authority, he can do so under clause 3(3) without any statutory instrument.

We do not yet know everything that the scheme will contain. Clause 5(2) says what the scheme must contain, but clause 5(3) says what it may contain. There are mandatory provisions and permissive provisions, but these are not exclusive, and this uncertainty causes much concern about the nature of the powers that the Bill would confer on the Secretary of State. The scheme as finally approved may contain a whole raft of provisions that are not included in clause 5(2) or clause 5(3).

The alleged purpose of this legislation is to improve behaviour at football matches and in the surrounding areas. One is entitled to ask where is the evidence that it will do just that. Evidence is necessary when one embarks on a restriction of what would otherwise be a lawful activity. When one imposes on a huge majority of law-abiding citizens a restriction in their freedom because of the abhorrent and aberrant behaviour of a small number of people, such a restriction should be justified by clear and unequivocal evidence that what is proposed will provide the required solution.

Mr. John Carlisle

The evidence of Luton is there for all to see. I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that there has been one arrest in three years and there is peace and quiet in the town and in and around the ground. That is the one pilot scheme with a 100 per cent. system that has been put into effect, and it has been extremely successful.

Mr. Campbell

Yes, but the Luton scheme is not the scheme in part I, a point made by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam. If the Luton scheme were exactly on all fours with part I, some of us might be more impressed by the scheme than we are. We cannot ignore the fact that the numbers of people attending Luton football matches have not grown recently, while it is acknowledged that elsewhere there has been a growth in attendence.

Mr. David Evans

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that last year, because the team is now in the first division, the attendance at Luton Town increased by 21 per cent.? That increase was the fourth highest in the division.

Mr. Campbell

A long run in the cup tends to have that effect, but, in any event, I should have been much more impressed by the figures if we had those for the past five years.

Mr. Denis Howell

The House should be accurately informed. The attendance before the Luton experiment averaged 11,000 per match. The average is now 9,000 per match, having risen in the past year from 8,000. If the same attendance figures applied to every other ground, foot ball would be bankrupt.

Mr. Campbell

Both the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) and the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) are capable of catching your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I shall leave them to their 15-round contest.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the House that hon. Members cannot have it both ways: they cannot make both interventions and speeches in a debate in which a very large number of hon. Members wish to speak.

Mr. Campbell

The need to show evidence as to why the scheme is justified is made all the more acute by the fact that the football authorities have taken steps to deal with disorder at football matches. Reference has already been made to the use of closed-circuit television, to the segregation of supporters, to the encouragement of families to spectate and to closer integration with the community. We must ask ourselves whether the scheme in the Bill can have any material effect to improve behaviour. I rather fancy that better stadiums, better facilities, all-seated stadia and a recognition that football fans are entitled to a proper standard when they visit football matches are more likely to be persuasive of good behaviour. In that regard, the activities of the Football Trust are to be commended. Some of us have open minds about the idea of a football levy board.

It seems to me that the most effective deterrent against criminal behaviour at football matches and elsewhere is the belief that one is likely to be apprehended. Resources and efforts to that end should now be pressed instead of pressing a proposal which is misconceived, has no merit and which appears to have very considerable disadvantages for football. The proposals also have substantial potential costs for clubs. How are third and fourth division clubs to meet those expenses? If we consider their balance sheets, it is a miracle that some of them can keep their doors open. The proposal will discourage casual spectators. The truth is that unfashionable football clubs will be put substantially at risk.

The Government have been disingenous in the use of statistical information. We have been told on many occasions that there were 6,147 arrests last year. However, we have not been given accurate information about how many convictions followed those arrests. So far we have not yet reached the stage in the United Kingdom when arrests equal convictions. We have not heard how many of those arrests related to events inside football grounds and how many outside. We know that some of the arrests relate to pickpocketing, drugs offences and car thefts. Those are thoroughly undesirable, but it is difficult to justify the view that they are football-related crimes.

The Government had an opportunity arising from the tragic events at Hillsborough for mature reflection and reconsideration. They had an opportunity to consider an external and impartial judgment on their proposals through Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry. By their precipitate desire to proceed with this measure, the Government have rejected that opportunity, and the House in turn should reject the Bill.

6.22 pm
Sir Rhodes Boyson (Brent, North)

I grew up in soccer territory in the Rossendale valley. Within five or six miles of where I lived there were Blackburn Rovers, Bolton, Bury and even Accrington Stanley in those days. It was not until I joined the Royal Navy during the second world war that I ever saw a rugger ball. I thought that the equipment in the Royal Navy must be worse than that in the Haslingden grammar school because the ball was such a funny shape. I stood amazed.

From the beginning I have been imbued with the football culture. The one thing that I despair about—although despair may be too strong a word—is the fact that as a boy I could travel on the tram and then on the bus with a set of people from the little village in which I lived to watch Blackburn Rovers without any worry to my parents or anyone else. We went to see matches, the hymns were sung, people behaved and there was no obscene chanting. It was part of a culture that I respected and it helped to make me, no matter what values I hold now.

Mr. David Martin (Portsmouth, South)

As with rugby today.

Sir Rhodes Boyson

Yes, but they still do not play rugby in the Rossendale valley. There is one team now, so there has been a decline in the valley. It is called Bacup and Rawtenstall grammar school old boys.

I believe that we are discussing a non-party matter. We are considering order and discipline. We are not considering free enterprise or Socialism. There is a breakdown of law and order in adolescent behaviour which at the moment is revealing itself more in football than anything else. However, like water in the bowels of a ship, it will move from one side to the other. If the troublemakers leave football, they will go somewhere else, until we solve the adolescent problems in society.

This Bill dealt with symptoms, not causes. Even if it is successful, we will still be left with a massive problem and there is no sign of it going away. In recent years Tory and Labour Governments have suffered from legislative hyperactivity. When anything happens, there must be another Bill. We spend our time day after day here discussing not first principles, but Bills to clear up what we got wrong in Bills last year. Almost every Department has one of these. Perhaps we should spend six months in this place without debating any Bills and we could discuss what we should really be here for. That may come as a shock and some hon. Members may disappear because they cannot decide what to do.

We are facing a major breakdown of law and order in this country which, as I have said, has little to do with Socialism or free enterprise. It is caused by the disappearance of community ties which once held people together. Although Edmund Burke was never a member of the Tory party, he called certain groups of people "little platoons". Unless people believe that they belong to little platoons, they will create their own at war with society.

The family is breaking down and we no longer see three generations together. There is no trouble at rugby league where three generations of family watch the game. However, once adolescents and peer groups get together, there is trouble. We are separating the old people into sheltered accommodation so another generation is being isolated. The second generation must move 20 or 200 miles away to gain economic prosperity. There is nothing wrong with that, but it makes it difficult for the children and the three-generation family breaks down.

The churches are relatively empty and the local government reorganisations of 1964 and 1972—which I opposed at the time and still oppose—put people into units to which they did not want to belong and in which they had no history. In most cases we do not even know where those places are now.

There is a breakdown in security and behaviour in many of our homes, schools, and in large areas of our towns. A rootless adolescent generation has grown up and it is almost ungovernable. It accepts no standards apart from its own immediate egoistic satisfaction. That is basically the problem.

A survey carried out in 1988 by the National Union of Teachers, of which I used to be a district committee member in my trade union days, showed that one in three teachers expected a major disruption in the school year at some stage. Half the teachers surveyed said that there was frequent indiscipline in their schools. A National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers survey in 1986 showed that 4 per cent. of teachers had been physically attacked in the previous six months and 25 per cent. had been threatened with physical attack. Worst of all, the National Association of Head Teachers' survey of nursery schools showed that one in five schools for three and four-year-olds was out of control. If we cannot control children at the age of three or four, how can we control them when they are adolescents?

All that assumes that the children go to school. A survey of a well-run Labour borough—this applies to other boroughs; I am not making any political points here because there is a deep sickness which both Labour and Conservative must deal with—showed that in three big comprehensive schools the attendance of 15 to 16-year-old boys was 47 per cent., 48 per cent. and 52 per cent. That means that half the 15 to 16-year-old boys did not attend school that year or they did so on a rota system. They would come in on alternate days while another boy worked on the market. If we cannot get children into school, how can we get them to behave? If they are living on the fringes of society, at war with society, getting mixed up with all sorts of things outside, they will be undisciplined and there is no solution to that.

These pupils will be uncontrollable in adolescence. No matter whether we have plastic, wooden or golden football identity cards, it will make no difference to those adolescents because they have got away with it for years and they will get away with it again. They are at war with our values in society. The Children and Young Persons Act 1969 caused untold harm by not making young people liable for their actions, particularly when we consider how young people grow up more quickly these days.

School breakdown, family breakdown and schools giving pupils little or no faith in past or present-day society, with little knowledge of our history and literature, mean that we have prepared what we called during the second world war a Molotov cocktail for adolescents, which will blow up under us.

The Education Reform Act 1988, which I supported, is an attempt to introduce some sense and control. I understand that the national curriculum will be retained whichever party is in control in Parliament in the future. But in addition, we have television, videos and magazines glorifying brutality. Those magazines can be picked up in all the newspaper shops. There are no restraints. Self-fulfilment becomes self-gratification. Self-expression becomes self-absorption and we reap the dastardly flowers of a permissive age gone mad.

All that applies to 10 to 20-year-olds, from whom the violence comes. The average age of the male criminal today is 14 years and seven months. Violence is happening not just at our football matches, but in society generally. If we have football identity cards, are we to have cards for those who riot outside pubs? The licensed victuallers have sent out 500,000 applications for cards to prove that people who drink are of the age of 18. Are we then to have a card for those who visit public houses? There will soon be more cards than there are bankers' cards.

On new year's eve last year 128 people were arrested in Trafalgar square. Are we to have cards to admit people into Trafalgar square on new year's eve? More were arrested on that occasion than at most football matches. At Pilton pop festival in Somerset 106 people were arrested recently. Are we to have pop festival cards? Will all the cards be different colours—if enough colours exist?

Only this weekend two policemen were hurt and 13 youths were arrested after a one-hour running battle in Andover in Hampshire. According to newspaper reports 11 "tanked up" youths were arrested at Blandford in Dorset last week. Are we to have cards for "tanked up" youths as well?

I support compulsory identity cards. Some hon. Members would not go along with me on that. However, I am trying to carry people with me, so if I lose some on the way I shall try to rope them in again later. I know that the wild libertarians on the Conservative Benches do not support compulsory identity cards. I am glad that we have Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) who makes me look like a moderate. Long may he remain here. I am a middle-ground man compared with him. I must introduce him to my wife. Such a card should carry a photograph, fingerprints, blood group, a section to say whether the bearer wants to leave his kidneys as a donor and a national insurance number. If freedom of information means that we know what the Government are doing, it should also mean that the Government should know what the individual is doing. It should work both ways in our society.

I wonder whether the Bill is necessary and whether it will work. According to my figures, there was one arrest for every 5,000 attending a first division match last year, and one arrest for every 3,233 attending all division matches. Last year, 25 times as many people were arrested in London for offences against the person committed well away from football grounds as for offences committed in or near the grounds. More than 75 per cent. of the 92 teams had fewer than five arrests last year, yet they will all be landed with the scheme. If ever there was a case of burning villages in Cyprus, this is it. If one person misbehaved, the lot had to be destroyed and everybody was lined up and shot. I thought that we had passed that stage, given the respect for the individual that we are supposed to have now.

As for turnstiles, I should like those who wrote the Bill to travel on the underground with me. We would have to travel for only two hours before one broke down. They are a form of all-in wrestling. They are certainly good for muscle development. Turnstiles do not work on the Underground, so why should they work at the football grounds? As hon. Members have already said, if they break down, people will riot and move in.

If the cards do not carry the owner's photograph, many people who set out for the game will not arrive there. A mile away from the match they will be locked into the nearest cupboard—I trust that they will live through the experience—and somebody else will go to the match with their card. However, it will be a clever machine that can read a photograph. We do not yet have such a machine on the Underground, but I look forward to the day that we do.

The four tribes that make up these islands have always been difficult to discipline. We talk about them being law-abiding, but only those who have not read history can believe that. They are law-abiding only when the law has been enforced from above. Let me give just one illustration of English youth, without referring to the Irish, Scots or Welsh. Remember the 6,000 London apprentices whom Taine reminded us formed the garrison of Calais and tyrannised the countryside for miles around. When they succumbed to superior numbers they died to a man, fighting savagely to the last. That is why the English are such brilliant infantry. We have the only Army in the world which prefers the bayonet to the bullet. Those who say that the British are law-abiding do not know what they are about.

Look at the early industrial revolution. Those of us from Lancashire and the north know what happened in its early years. The situation is complicated by the new industrial revolution. I agree with the Government's economic policy. I might lose any friends that I have on the Opposition Benches by saying so. There is a heavy price to pay for our new economic prosperity. That price is being uprooted from one's community. Fathers are away from their children. Just like the industrial revolution, it will impose a great penalty on adoloscents growing up.

I would support a Bill that returned caning to schools so that we could have order in our schools; heavier punishment for hooligans; enforced rather than the voluntary attendance at school that exists in many local authorities; identity cards for all; that said that three generations should meet at least once a week—perhaps, for the Jewish, on a Friday night—so that grandparents could recognise their grandchildren, and vice versa.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

At a seance.

Sir Rhodes Boyson

I do not mind where they meet. They can even meet at a football match and watch Luton play. However, we must bring them together at least once a week.

Such a Bill would shut any school that did not have a 95 per cent. attendance rate, and change the management immediately. If I catch Mr. Speaker's eye in the debate on Friday on policing in London, I may also be able to put forward my thoughts on some form of local national service which would be a cross between dad's army and an Outward Bound school. Unless we organise people, they will organise themselves. That is what is happening. People are at war with us.

Let me return to what I said at the beginning on legislative hyperactivity—the greatest disease in Britain at the moment—and the need to debate the major problems of our society. We need to debate why crime is so high in our society. It should not be so high. We should debate why 250,000 people are unemployed in London despite there being plenty of jobs in my area; why there is such a huge number of family breakdowns; why there is such a dependence on drugs and drinking among people growing up; why many parts of London are so seedy; and why we have so many dropouts. These are not problems of capitalism or Socialism. They are signs of a breakdown not just among adolescents, but in the unity of our society. We will not solve those problems by throwing accusations across the Floor of the House.

On 2 July it will be the 500th anniversary of the birth of Cranmer, whose Book of Common Prayer is one of the finest pieces of the English language. I am not suggesting that by returning to religion everyone will learn to behave. I am not saying that an agnostic or an atheist cannot behave. But we have lost a means of establishing standards.

The Bill deals with symptoms, not causes. The symptoms are a sign that there is something seriously wrong with the way in which we in Britain are bringing up our adolescents. We need more debates on such matters in the Chamber rather than on the continual legislation which exhausts those who debate it throughout the night. In that way, we may start objective thinking again, which would be a good thing.

6.38 pm
Ms. Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

I am very pleased to make my maiden speech in a debate on a subject about which not only I but millions of people throughout the country feel passionately. I begin by thanking all right hon. and hon. Members and the staff of the House for their kindness in welcoming me as a new Member of Parliament. I have been offered everything from tours of the House and rundowns of right hon. and hon. Members to avoid, to advice on rules to obey and not to obey. I have also been inundated with offers to pair.

I have reached the conclusion that there are some drawbacks in being a new Member of Parliament. Perhaps I may misquote Oscar Wilde, who in the circumstances in which I find myself might have said, "A lady without a desk may be considered unfortunate but a lady without a desk, a telephone or a chair to call her own may be called careless." I do not wish to appear to be a person who is the victim either of misfortune or of carelessness, because I want to be earnest, but at the moment I have nothing to call my own in this House. Nevertheless, I shall not dwell on that but will move on to speak about happier matters.

My predecessor, Stuart Holland, worked conscientiously for all his constituents. His case-load was huge and he was held in great regard by the people of Vauxhall. I am sure that the House wishes him every success in his new responsibilities in Europe. I thank him for the support that he gave me over the past few weeks.

I am also honoured to succeed another hon. Member who was well known to the House, George Strauss, who spent so many years here. If there is one thing of which I am certain, it is that there is no way that I could spend the number of years in this House that he did, because to do so I would have to reach a very, very old age.

I am fortunate that there are in my constituency many of London's famous landmarks. They include Lambeth palace, the south bank centre, St. Thomas's hospital and the Oval cricket ground. I was most disappointed that the Government missed an opportunity to provide a community sports centre at the Oval, and I only hope that in the next few weeks it will bring better news of England's cricketers in the final Test.

On a more serious note, I remind the House that every night in my constituency, and within a mile of this Chamber, between 1,000 and 2,000 men and women sleep out in cardboard city on the south bank. Many of them are young people without any hope of ever having a roof over their heads. Most feel totally alienated from politicians and from everything that we do in this House. The population of my constituency comprises a disproportionate number of young people aged between 16 and 24, and it is those very young people whom the Bill's provisions will directly affect. The Government cannot provide them with homes, the Government cannot provide them with jobs, and now the Government want to alienate them even further.

Most right hon. and hon. Members probably remember their first visit to a football match. I can vividly. I recall being taken by my father to Windsor park in Belfast, where I unfolded my stool and happily watched the match from the terraces. Existing supporters are very much the vital link in the marketing of football, for they create the customers of the future. Sponsorship and the income that derives from it can never replace supporters and the income from them.

We are all aware that football has attached to it an element that we would all like to see removed, and that hooligans in football colours have vandalised trains and stations. However, a vicious circle has been created whereby the precautionary measures taken by British Rail, civil and transport police and the clubs feed the negative image of soccer fans so that they are all treated, carte blanche, as potential hooligans, and are herded and hounded in an unnecessarily provocative way. When fans are marched through the streets and forced on to already scruffy and vandalised special trains, it breeds a resentment that can, sadly, manifest itself in more unsocial behaviour.

Conservative Members must be continually reminded that the overwhelming majority of men, women and children who attend football matches are peaceful, law-abiding supporters, yet the Bill treats them all as potential hooligans. What angers me most about the Football Spectators Bill is that the only relevant people who were not consulted were the spectators themselves. Where were the supporters' organisations on the working party? They did not serve on it, and they were not consulted. Why is there no place for the supporters' organisations on the Football Membership Authority?

The Football Supporters Association, of which I am proud to be a founder member, produced excellently researched evidence. Part II of the Bill contains a proposal to prevent convicted hooligans from travelling abroad when English teams or clubs are playing there by making them report to attendance centres. That was urged by the FSA a number of years ago. Why not direct a similar effort at the home-based problem and leave the rest of the supporters alone? Why does no one want to listen to those who most want to see football thrive—its supporters?

Let us make supporters real members of their clubs, with all the privileges as well as responsibilities that membership traditionally confers—especially the right to be properly represented. Why is the Minister for Sport not pushing through a genuine membership scheme? Does anyone really believe that the FMA, made up as it will be of members of the Football League and of the Football Association, will ever force clubs to adopt genuine membership? The Government failed dismally to exploit the opportunity with which they were presented.

The Minister for Sport cannot possibly believe that compulsory identity cards will solve the problem of football hooliganism. They will create a nightmare of bureaucracy that will do nothing to stop the hooligan element but much to prevent the genuine football lover from attending matches. If a person's ID card is taken away from him, he will simply borrow one from another member of his family. If he cannot do that, the genuine hooligan will go out and mug a 10-year-old on his way to a match. Ticket touting will be replaced by ID card touting. Stan Flashmans of the ID card will be springing up all over the country.

It is sad that after the Hillsborough tragedy the Minister for Sport did not have the courage to take on the Prime Minister, because everyone in football, from board chairmen and players to the authorities and spectators, realise that it is not the Minister for Sport who is pushing through the Bill but the Prime Minister.

Football supporters are the greatest asset that the professional game has, but it has taken the football authorities a long time to acknowledge that. Recently a quarter of a million people signed their opposition to the Bill, and at last there is co-operation between the FA, clubs and supporters. In Committee, my right hon. and hon. Friends will build on that co-operation to ensure that, whatever may be the outcome, football's relationship with its supporters will never be the same.

There is still time for the Government to think again. I was encouraged to hear the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Sir N. Macfarlane) say that he has not yet made up his mind about the Bill. If the Minister for Sport is not convinced by his hon. Friend's opinion or by me, perhaps I will be able to convince his predecessor. We should build on the opportunity created by the spirit that came out of Hillsborough, which we all felt. There are so many good examples of football clubs working to involve their supporters. The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) mentioned the hooligan problem at Millwall. I remind him that this year Millwall won the award for being the club that has done most to solve the problem of hooliganism.

I believe that sport in its wider context is crucial to the future of our young people. I hope to play my part in its development in this House. Above all, it is to the people of Vauxhall that I pledge my time in the House in working to represent them, and I hope to continue to do that for a number of years.

6.49 pm
Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe)

It is a great privilege to follow the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey) and to be the first to congratulate her on the quality of her maiden speech. As I live in her constituency, I take a great interest in her activities. I make a public offer to pair with her. I have never succeeded in finding a pair, even though I have been a Member of Parliament for 15 years.

The hon. Lady's involvement with Arsenal football club makes her well qualified to comment on our national game and to take part in the debate in the informed, concerned and lucid way that she demonstrated in her maiden speech. She has also demonstrated the energy that is necessary to achieve a seat, a telephone and a desk, the raw materials that would enable her to perform her task well. I am confident that she will make her mark. I am also delighted to say that I agree with the broad thrust of her speech, especially her recognition of the value of football supporters in our national game.

I approach the debate with considerable sadness. For the whole of my life I have been a keen football supporter. I am also a great supporter of my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport. It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to be in disagreement with him and the Government over the Football Spectators Bill. We all recognise that there is a problem but many of us find it amazing, following Hillsborough and all that has been said, that this should be regarded as a party political issue. Concern about football hooliganism ought to unite both sides of the House.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment insists that Parliament must take a decision tonight. Many of us know that all sorts of things—the European election results, loyalty to party, which the Secretary of State has referred to in a letter, a three-line Whip and considerable persuasion—have brought that about. It leads me to believe that it is not the quality of the argument that will prevail. The fact is that the Government want the Bill, willy-nilly. We shall force through a Bill for a national scheme in a relatively short time, despite the reservations of many of those who are affected, including Conservative Members as well as Opposition Members who know something about football.

I find it difficult to understand why we need to pass the Bill at this time. The argument is that, if the Bill is not passed now, 12 months will be lost. We are already committed to debating Lord Justice Taylor's conclusions, although we have not had an assurance that they will be taken into account. That is a grave weakness in what has been said so far by Ministers. There is little prospect of those conclusions being published until the New Year. We have been told that we shall be able to debate them in the New Year. We should base our views on the conclusions and on the work that we can do between then and now, not on what we think at this moment.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, whose integrity I respect, has also assured me that he will not introduce or approve any scheme until he is satisfied that it is workable. I should like to know the basis on which he will decide that a scheme is workable. What tests and what criteria will there be? The very professional Arthur Young report includes all sorts of bar charts as to what must and must not be done. It came to the conclusion that, even if the Bill had been passed within the original time scale, the scheme could not be implemented before 1991–92. What, therefore, is the reason for the inordinate hurry to pass the Bill at this time, with all this pressure?

I object in principle to the Bill. I question the Government's purpose. They say that it is not to deal with hooliganism but to separate hooliganism from football. I am a great supporter of my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) who has talked about the problems of hooliganism. The general public are not concerned simply about hooliganism connected with football; they are concerned about hooliganism, wherever it takes place. I regard the Bill as social engineering. We are trying to break away the working-class football hooligan from football so that it is a better game for those of us who are not broken away from it. That is a very grave legislative principle.

Football is a national game and a national activity, just as going to the theatre or watching cricket and rugby are national activities. At Saturday lunchtime during the winter, people make a choice about what they would like to do. That happens in families. It also happens in my surgery. I might say to a councillor who has sat with me all through the morning surgery, "Would you like to go and watch a football match this afternoon?" About 5 million out of the 18.5 million who attend football matches go on a casual basis, and about 25 per cent. of those who attend football matches go to only four matches a year.

People have the right to make a spontaneous decision to take part in a lawful activity. It will be a grave attack on that right if their names have to be registered on a central computer and if they have to carry an identity card simply to attend a football match. To do that, just to isolate over 1,089 people who have committed football-related offences, needs to be argued with greater force than it has been so far.

I support a national ID scheme. It would bring great benefits in terms of both international security, fraud and other matters. However, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister regards it as anathema to the British people. One of my colleagues could not understand why football supporters feel even more strongly, simply because they will be required to carry an identity card, for no other reason than to go to football matches. However, it causes grave offence to many of my constituents. They feel that it means that they are such a risk to others that they will have to carry an identity card, on top of their season ticket and their membership ticket for their club. It is a grave infringement of people's liberty.

A great deal has been said about the number of police who are required to attend football matches. I define what we are trying to do in part I of the Bill as the fruit machine approach or the needle in the haystack approach. The reason for such complicated access through many turnstiles on a Saturday afternoon by means of an identity card is because, suddenly, one of the many thousand turnstiles will flash red, since one of the 1,089 people who has been accused of a football-related offence has tried to cheat. I wonder how many police will be required to man every turnstile at every football match, in every division, in case there is a flashing red light? It is the needle in the haystack, the fruit machine, the chance approach.

If people do not want to be dissociated from football and do not intend to practise their hooliganism elsewhere, they will play the game of beating the system. Therefore 500,000 people will have to watch those going through the turnstiles. There will be endless nil returns every week. however, the system will have to be operated in case one of the 1,089 people tries to cheat and to get into the ground against the rules.

That is a tremendous overreaction to a relatively simple problem to solve. Having said that, I appreciate the need to provide a constructive alternative, and there has been a shortage of those in the debate. In seeking such alternatives, it is necessary to spend more time in the short term considering carefully the way forward.

Other hon. Members have spoken of the way in which people will be convicted and will not be able to travel to games abroad. In part II of the Bill we deal with the exclusion of people who have committed a football-related offence. We assume, in that part of the Bill, that they had been charged with some offence, and there is an assumption that people who are hooligans in this country wish to be hooligans overseas. I suspect that that is not a genuine assumption to make. For example, I recall that many of those who offended us all in West Germany went there wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, "England's invasion of Germany 1988." That had nothing to do with football. Nor did it mean that they had been hooligans in this country. That aside, since 1987, since exclusion orders were introduced, there have been 1,889 such orders. Considering that 18.5 million people attend football matches each year, that is a tiny number of exclusion orders.

It would make more sense to have attendance orders, not exclusion orders. Let us focus on those who cause the problems rather than on the 999.97 in 1,000 who do not. I propose that we examine the Bill carefully, abolish part I and amend part II so that anyone who has committed a football-related offence would be required to attend on the Saturday when there is a match.

If I were a chief constable, I would rather be responsible for looking after the 1,889 attending a police station than search through 500,000 people—on the fruit machine principle—in case a red light flickered and they were trying to get in. That would be a more sensible way of targeting on those who cause the problem rather than on the vast majority who do not.

Reference has been made to inconsistency. I shall not rub that in. There is an inconsistency in relation to, say, a dog registration where a dog is required to be registered only once in its lifetime. That scheme was regarded as costly, complicated and bureaucratic. The scheme proposed for football fans would mean people registering every week. That would prove more costly and complicated and even more bureaucratic.

It is also a mistake to think that other options have not been considered. The Dutch and Germans, for example, have a problem of football hooliganism. They have approached it on a more sensible basis, by targeting on clubs where offences are committed—six out of 34 clubs —and requiring them to implement an away members' scheme.

I have in my pocket the card which members are required to carry. At least, I had the card in my pocket and I proposed to display it to the House, but I seem to have mislaid it. That is one of the problems with the football scheme as proposed in the Bill; if one cannot find the card, one cannot get in. I have now found the card in my pocket, and as I hold it up, hon. Members can see what it looks like.

In other words, another country with similar problems is adopting a more selective and sensible approach. It does not require all the 34 clubs—in our case it would be 92 clubs—to go through this enormously complicated and bureaucratic procedure. It targets on those clubs where there is a problem, and we could easily do the same.

Mr. Wilson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that even with such a reduced scheme, during a recent Netherlands-West Germany international game, alleged supporters of those clubs, through contempt for a membership scheme of any kind, did not apply for membership cards, were therefore unable to get tickets for the international and instead of going near the ground, waged a running battle with police through the streets of the city while the game was being played?

Mr. Lester

I am trying to demonstrate that we could take one of several different approaches, instead of running away with the idea that we must do something in a hurry because we have a problem, saying, "We are doing something. We are taking this action. Therefore you should vote for it." In my view, it is not the only answer. There are other constructive ways to approach the problem and I am putting some of them forward as best I can.

There is a great deal of research going on in this country which I believe shows, for example, that 52 per cent. of arrests—bearing in mind that we are talking about arrests and not charges—occur at 21 per cent. of grounds. The idea that we must lump all 92 clubs together in one scheme, when the problems affect a much smaller number of clubs, offends my principles, and I should have thought that that offended the principles of many of my hon. Friends.

We must also consider the political consequences, an issue that people might like to wish away. I judge from the community where I live and where I have lived all my life, that the party that I support and represent is not entirely popular. It has been said that the message we are trying to put over is not being presented properly. I get the feeling that the problem is not the way in which the message is being put across but the fact that the message is being well understood, and the Bill epitomises much of what people are beginning to dislike about my party.

It has been pointed out that football supporters have not been involved in the discussion of the scheme. Indeed, Conservative Members have not been involved in the scheme's evolution. There have been no policy discussions other than a rather scrappy working party report.

Despite that, we seem to be certain that we have the answer, and that is why, the Government say, they are going ahead with the scheme. They are going ahead whoever objects, be they football supporters, the industry or the police. "We shall impose it," they say. That arrogance—of saying "We know best," whatever the subject—is starting to get reaction from our traditional supporters.

I warn my hon. Friends, especially those who represent marginal seats—I have two good hon. Friends in Nottingham in marginal seats; we also have two good football clubs there—that we must think carefully about what is proposed and the effect that it will have on marginals. People do not like their liberties being challenged. They do not like schemes being imposed on them against their better judgment. In other words, we should think carefully about what we are doing before we proceed further.

I hope that hon. Members in all parts of the House believe in the rule of law. If we impose a law on people who do not understand it and who resent it, we challenge the rule of law. Remember, there appear to be constructive alternatives to what is being proposed. To impose fines and create criminal offences in the way proposed in the Bill will, I fear, defeat, or at least challenge, the rule of law.

Bearing that in mind, I have a last plea to make to the Government. I have been involved with several measures by way of the special Standing Committee procedure. For hon. Members who are not aware of that procedure, it means that the Standing Committee for the first three sessions—I would be happy if, in this case, it could be clone in a week—turns itself into a special Standing Committee. On the basis of the legislation, the members of that Committeee, chaired by the Chairman of the relevant Committee, hear evidence from all sources on the impact of the legislation in question. That has a salutary effect on legislators, for they are in a position to hear and challenge the view of those most affected and who wish to give evidence.

To cool the temperature and make better legislation than we have before us, but in particular to show that we are interested in the views of those concerned and are not trying to impose a measure on them against their will, we should support the principle of adopting the special Standing Committee procedure in this case.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We are now into the 10-minute time zone. I hope that speakers will not feel obliged to take the whole of their 10 minutes.

7.8 pm

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

With the exception of the contribution of the Secretary of State, we have heard some excellent speeches this afternoon. But none was better than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey), who I am glad to welcome to our deliberations. I lived for 16 years in the constituency that she represents and I am aware of some of the problems with which she must contend. She made an admirable speech, a pearl among maiden speeches, and it is refreshing to have a woman colleague taking part in a debate on a subject such as football and contributing with such expertise and knowledge of the subject. If she is selected to be a member of the Standing Committee, she will be a great asset to the deliberations.

We are witnessing the Government attempting to use the King Herod principle. Throughout 2,000 years of history it has been proved that King Herod-type legislation does not work. Under such legislation, the whole community is punished to catch the 1 per cent. of people who are causing the problem. Invariably, such legislation fails. It failed to impose prohibition in America in the 1920s and 1930s and it failed when the Labour party tried to introduce a prices and incomes policy to govern everybody's pay rises. Such legislations usually ends in tears, and that will be the fate of this Bill, under which 99 per cent. of innocent spectators will be punished in an effort to catch the fewer than 1 per cent. of the guilty who will indulge in crime and vandalism wherever they go.

I was at Hillsborough two months ago and witnessed the disaster. Although booze was a factor, the membership card system would only have made the problems worse. It would have meant people queueing for longer to get into the ground, it would have been more difficult to gain admission and the riots would have occurred earlier.

Many hon. Members have received an excellent brief from the Football League committee pointing out that, at the Arsenal-Liverpool match a few months ago, when 51,000 people were trying to get into the ground, the membership card system would have meant an additional 37 minutes queueing, on the assumption that it takes four seconds to produce a card to get through the turnstile. That would have caused more panic, more annoyance, more problems and more riots.

Hillsborough proved how easy it was to bribe the man at the turnstile. In many instances, he takes £10 to allow people to climb over the turnstile and not go through the existing apparatus. As I understand it—at least, it is what the Minister said on television—the Minister is proposing a simple card that will be pressed flat against a disc, which will light up if the card is genuine. If the light does not appear, a steward and a policeman will have to apprehend that person and throw him out. Grounds such as Manchester United and Hillsborough have about 80 turnstiles, so that will mean 80 stewards and 80 policemen.

I assure the House that the fans will just do what we did when I was in the Royal Air Force. If we did not have train tickets, when we arrived at the station four of us would line up and the first person would give the ticket collector a used ticket and then run. Those behind would say to the ticket collector, "Don't worry mate, we'll catch him," and we went through the barrier as well. It was all timed to coincide with the arrival of the train, and away we all went. The same will happen with membership cards. The guy who does not have one obviously knows that he does not have one and the guys behind him probably do not have one either. They will either pay or not pay according to how they feel at the time. There could be 51,000 people trying to get into the ground at 7 o'clock on a dark, wet, January night for a mid-week cup tie replay, and the computer will probably be frozen because it has been standing unused all week. It will be chaos.

It was wrong of the Secretary of State to suggest that the Opposition were trying to make political capital out of the problems and were supporting hooliganism. He should not have suggested that we would not support sensible measures; we would. If he agreed to adapt the scheme so that it applied only to away supporters, I would vote for it because it would work. We should seriously consider that possibility when we reach the Committee stage. The right hon. Gentleman should understand that every team has away supporters, who would not object to carrying identity cards. They are proud to be identified with their clubs. It should be a voluntary membership scheme, and priority should be given to those voluntary members. They could have certain concessions—for example, season ticket holders could have 10 per cent. knocked off the price of their tickets. I am sure that in those circumstances many supporters would voluntarily become members of the scheme.

Under such a scheme, away supporters could be segregated at the home ground. I am sure that they would accept the need to park in specific areas. They could be given maps showing how to reach the ground. A voluntary scheme would solve 98 per cent. of the problems because every ground would be required to designate an area for scheme members. I am not sugesting anything similar to the Luton scheme where away supporters are banned. That is an infringement of civil liberties and it stops me watching Sheffield Wednesday playing at Luton, as it also stops thousands of people who should never be excluded from matches.

I am certainly not a football hooligan. Why should Luton Town have the right to tell me that I cannot go there to watch my team playing? That is not fair; there is nothing clever about that. Perhaps the club now has fewer problems, but it is denying football supporters their basic right to watch their team—and I am one of them. That is not right. I do not wish to be personal, but the chairman of Luton Town—the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans)—is sitting on the Conservative Benches. He should not have the right to tell me that I cannot go to the Luton ground to watch Sheffield Wednesday. He is exceeding his powers—

Mr. David Evans


Mr. Ashton

I cannot give way, as I am running out of time.

No one has mentioned the cost of the scheme to third and fourth division clubs. The Secretary of State and the Prime Minister continually throw out the suggestion that there is plenty of money in football because of the transfer fees. It is not that they do not understand the system, it is that they deliberately refuse to accept that the transfer money goes round in a circle within the game. It is not like money spent on bricks and mortar, on stands or on seating, which is money gone for ever. One club buys a player from another and so the money goes round and perhaps dwindles from Liverpool paying £1 million to Hartlepool, for which £20,000 would be a large sum, as my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) knows because he is a director of Hartlepool. Let the Government tell Hartlepool supporters that their club will be put out of action, and watch their reaction.

One of my local football clubs is being put out of action because the ground is being sold over its head to provide a site for a supermarket. There is a gut feeling among supporters of the small clubs. I am a shareholder in Sheffield Wednesday and we are surrouned by clubs such as Mansfield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Leeds and a host more. Every one of those clubs has the right to exist, but the Bill will knock them sideways because they cannot afford to lose their 20 per cent. casual support.

I did a Central Television interview with the chief culprits of the problems in Germany. They were proud of what they had done. They were not football supporters; they openly admitted that not one of them had ever been to a match. Indeed, they could not afford to go to the match because they had travelled overnight, boozing all the way on £20 spending money. They were not interested in watching football, just in fighting world war 3. I am as keen as anyone to stop those people causing trouble, but the Bill will not do that.

Last week I was part of a Select Committee trip to Washington to study the problem of drugs. We saw 12-year-old kids being arrested and put into handcuffs for selling crack. We visited a huge place in Washington which reminded me of "Oliver Twist". Those kids were being organised to sell drugs, whereas Fagin taught his to steal handkerchiefs. It was a step back to 100 years ago. Those kids have no other outlet.

Football is the opium of our people, and we must not kid ourselves about that. It releases an enormous amount of tension, energy and aggression among teenagers, which used to be dissipated by national service, by carrying bricks on a hod up a ladder or by working in a rolling mill or a coal mine. Those means to release tension no longer exist, so football is a wonderful safety valve. Countries such as America, which do not have that safety valve, instead have drug pushers on the corners peddling crack at $5 a time to give some euphoria, some release or some high kick that our teenagers get from going to football matches and cheering their teams when they have the ecstasy of seeing them score goals or win the cup.

If we curtail that activity and deter supporters from attending football matches, we shall simply build up the social problems. It is no coincidence that a great deal of lager lout violence occurs in towns that do not hold football matches, such as Aylesbury, Stroud and Amersham. They have affluent lager louts. They do not have football teams—

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Ashton

I must conclude, as I have been called to order. I hope that some of the points that I have made will hit home. I also hope that I will be chosen to serve on the Committee, because I am sure that this Bill is not the way to solve the problems.

7.19 pm
Mr. David Evans (Welwyn Hatfield)

I shall not take up time answering some of the unfair comments and criticisms that have been made about Luton Town football club, but I will point out that Luton Town is a privately owned club and that we choose whom we like to have in it.

The issue that we are discussing today is not narrow and parochial. It has to be seen in the context of Britain's international standing. The problem addressed by the Bill is crucial. The Bill constitutes a serious attempt to deal with the problem. I contend that the problem is too important to permit delay.

Football is the traditional national game of the country. It used to be a matter of national pride. Each Saturday, thousands of spectators, integrated, would pack the terraces. Fathers were accompanied by their children and there was little trouble. When there was overcrowding or over-enthusiasm, spectators did as directed by police officers. Hon. Members may remember the famous occasion of the single officer on a white horse who served as a potent symbol of the good order and humour that characterised sport at that time.

Today, unfortunately, the game is a matter not of national pride but of national shame. Football hooliganism on the terraces and on the streets is seen overseas as part of the English disease. It has led to the fortification of our football stadiums and the banning of English clubs from European competition, and it has contributed to the general perception abroad of the British as a nation of thugs, exemplified by the hooligan on the terrace and the lager lout in the bar of the foreign holiday resort.

The disease can no longer be ignored. Much of the problem arises from a lack of discipline. When there is no self-discipline, it has to be imposed, ideally by the family, but ultimately by society itself. Imposing discipline by law is the least preferable method, but when other methods have failed, as they surely have, we must resort to it. Hence the Bill.

The demise of our national game, on and off the field, is not a recent phenomenon. Indeed, the game has been in steady decline for almost the entire post-war period. I suggest, however, that 1966, the year when England last won the World Cup, marked a watershed in the recent history of the game. Since then, attendances have fallen by over one third, from 34.5 million a season to about 20 million. There has also been a sharp decline in the number of professional footballers in the game.

It was about that time that sponsorship became a significant feature of the game. Winning became all-important if clubs were to attract much-coveted sponsors. Freedom of contract brought higher salaries but fewer players. Certain teams began to interpret the rules of the game in a way that had never been envisaged. The professional foul, time wasting, the questioning of decisions and other forms of cheating became the accepted norm. Combined with the use of the offside tactic and the increasing exodus of our best players to foreign clubs, the game became much less interesting to watch.

The lack of sportsmanship and the increased hostility among players on the pitch soon became a feature of behaviour on the terraces. The so-called fans began to chant obscenities and to fight among each other on the terraces, and, whenever possible, on the pitch. Some found themselves segregated and later penned in by fences. The result is that today football matches are played in an almost warlike atmosphere. Fans are herded to grounds with the help of dogs and horses. They are frog-marched. Then they are caged in like animals and watched over by video surveillance. It takes 5,000 police officers, at a cost of about £300,000 per-Saturday, to control their activities.

Not surprisingly, a significant proportion of the decent, law-abiding, football-going public has abandoned the game. The position is not getting any better, as some would have us believe. In the 1987–88 season, there were no fewer than 6,147 arrests at football grounds, an increase of II per cent. on the previous season. In April of this year, just a week after the Hillsborough tragedy, 94 were arrested at Chelsea and 24 at West Ham. The last Saturday of the season witnessed trouble up and down the country, including a pitch invasion by Birmingham fans at Crystal Palace that put 16 people in hospital. Not by any means for the first time, the England-Scotland game was marred by the antics of the mindless minority, with 150 of them being arrested.

What then have those responsible for the game, the football administrators, done to try to stem the steady flow of deteriorating standards of the national game? The answer is, not a lot. The game is run by hooligans for hooligans. Not only have the administrators failed to come up with any effective solution, but they have constantly discredited constructive suggestions put forward by the Government.

Just a few years ago, for example, the Government asked football to put its own house in order by introducing a 50 per cent. voluntary membership scheme. Only one big club, Manchester United, made a serious attempt to introduce such a scheme; within weeks it had a voluntary membership of some 40,000. Most clubs chose to ignore the Government. Because of the incompetence of the Football Association and the self-interest of the twits in the management of the Football League—it has had three presidents in the last year, which shows the contribution that it can make—the Government's request went almost completely unheeded. The reaction of the football authorities fulfilled in no way the Government's intentions in respect of the scheme.

It is primarily because of the ineptness and lack of effective leadership by the football authorities that the Government have found it necessary to introduce the Bill. As for the clubs themselves, they have been happy to spend millions on transfer fees and exorbitant fees, but they plead poverty when it comes to spending money on improving safety and facilities at their grounds.

The Bill is essential to the very survival of the game. A comprehensive, computerised national membership scheme, drawn up and implemented by the football membership authority, will discourage the yobbo from attending matches. Those that attend and continue to indulge their anti-social behaviour will find that they wait a very long time—five years—before they can attend another match. The benefits of the scheme may not become apparent overnight, but I believe that in time we will rid ourselves of the scourge of hooliganism and entice back the millions of football-loving families.

The members-only scheme that we introduced at Luton Town football club in 1986 is often used as a yardstick against which to measure the Government's proposals. However, it needs to be remembered that ours is a members-only scheme for Luton supporters; under the Government's proposals, all fans will belong to a national scheme. That makes strict comparisons difficult. Nevertheless, contrary to some of the wild and inaccurate reporting, the scheme at Luton provides some useful pointers.

In the 1985–86 season, the last season before the scheme was introduced, there were 104 arrests, four of them for stabbing offences. During the subsequent three seasons, the police at Luton have had to make just one arrest. Those encouraging statistics have not been achieved at the expense of the club's finances or support. The scheme was closed last December with 20,000 members. A waiting list now applies. The average attendance last season of just under 10,000 per match represents an increase of 21 per cent., the fourth highest increase in the first division. The club is in a healthy financial state, thanks in part to additional sponsorship and to the fact that 28 companies have prepaid for the construction of executive boxes. Those companies and our sponsors have made it clear that they are happy and indeed keen to be associated with a club free of hooliganism.

Despite the success at Luton and the obvious benefits inherent in the Government's proposals, there are many who oppose the Bill. They claim that it encroaches on our civil liberties, that it will force small clubs out of business, that it is unworkable in practice and that it fails to address the problem of trouble outside the ground.

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Evans

It will only be—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry, but I have to implement the rule to which the House agreed.

7.29 pm
Mr. Eric. S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Nobody can say that there has been no hooliganism and that there has not been or is not a problem. There is. However, some Conservative Members have failed to recognise the problems with which we must deal. Let me quote an example of hooliganism. Until the tragedy at Heysel, the Liverpool team travelled around, playing football in just about every large city on the continent. When the team went to Rome, a group of Liverpool supporters were set upon by some supporters, and at least two of my constituents were stabbed. The Italian authorities were extremely helpful in ensuring that they were properly looked after and helped to get them back to our country. The Liverpool people got tremendous support throughout the continent. The one great blot was the Heysel stadium tragedy. There is no simple answer to what happened at Heysel.

What happened at Hillsborough was not the result of hooliganism. The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle), who said that fans had burst through the gates, was not telling the truth. Everybody knows that, rightly or wrongly, a policeman gave instructions for the gate to be opened. I said at the time that I did not argue with the decision. There are several views about it, but there was no hooliganism. There was a great tragedy, just as there was a tragedy at Heysel.

I should like to point out what Liverpool supporters say about the Bill. On Friday 7 April, I presented a petition to the House. It was signed by 26,411 supporters from Liverpool—the Liverpool football supporters. I am not talking about supporters of the club that I support, Everton. Their petition reads: That we condemn the proposed legislation to force football supporters to carry identification cards, and we believe that a system of identity cards will have little impact on the problem of football-related violence, will hinder football's attempt to attract a new generation of supporters and will lead to the eventual demise of the game as a spectator sport."—[Official Report, 7 April 1989; Vol. 150, c. 471.] That is absolutely right. They enthusiastically gave me that petition on the night that Liverpool played Derby County. It was an evening match at which 40,000 people were present.

My old friend Lord Sefton of Garston—we were great mates in the Liverpool trades council and Labour party, before he took a slightly wrong path and went to the House of Lords—made an excellent speech in which he said that he had written to the chief constable of Liverpool requesting some figures relating to how many people were injured or arrested at matches at Liverpool and Everton in one year. The chief constable said that there was a total attendance of 1,812,000 people at the two football grounds in one season. He gave figures relating to crimes committed two hours before the game, during the game and after the game, as laid down in the Bill. At Everton there were four cases of theft from the person and 15 woundings—not a happy scene. At Liverpool there were 10 thefts and no woundings. The figures included thefts from motor cars and so on. Out of the 1,812,000 people who had gone to those matches, about 30 people were arrested, and most of the offences took place outside the pitch.

Ministers often give us figures relating to arrests and so on. We are told that there were 6,147 arrests during the 1987–88 season, but we are not told that those arrests represent 0.03 per cent. of the 18 million people who attend games throughout the season. I invite all hon. Members to read the excellent brief from the Football League and the Football Association.

There have been some excellent speeches in the House today. One or two were made by Conservative Members —those who support our opposition to the Bill. We heard an excellent speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) and, in particular, an excellent speech by my new hon. Friend the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey). I hope that she makes many more such speeches. I say that as somebody who was not happy about the way in which she was picked, but she is here and she has made an excellent speech. I am sure that she will make a good contribution to our proceedings.

It is interesting that, apart from one or two hon. Members who go to football matches and, for some reason, get a bit crackpot about it, other Conservative Members who attend football matches are opposed to the Bill. The overwhelming majority of people who go to football matches and even those who do not are opposed to the Bill. Let us deal with hooliganism and other problems, but let us deal with them in a different way from that which has been suggested. I appeal to Conservative Members to be bold and to be like myself and others have been over the years when we have disagreed with our Governments. I ask them to go into the Lobby and vote according to their consciences and, if their consciences say say no, vote no. If enough of them do that, we will defeat the Bill tonight.

7.38 pm
Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

I declare an outside interest as parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation,. In contributing to the debate, I should like to express the most recent considered views of the Police Federation as well as those of my constituents. Hon. Members who have been here for some time will know that the position I occupy has been occupied by several distinguished hon. Members, and it provides an opportunity for the Police Federation's view to be made known.

The extent of football violence and of violence associated with the game of football has caused considerable concern during the past few years to all hon. Members and to many members of the public for reasons of which we are all well aware. Such events have generated widespread agreement about the need for some sort of action. However, there is much less agreement about the sort of action that is necessary.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has suggested to his colleagues that there is agreement by the Police Federation and the Football Association on the principle of a membership scheme. That is true, but I must inform the House that the Police Federation would prefer a 100 per cent. home-supporters-only scheme, which is not proposed in the Bill. As I understand it, the Football Association argues for an away club membership scheme, which is not proposed in the Bill either. Such a scheme was referred to in a fine speech by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), to whom I always listen with great attention. Neither the Police Federation nor the Football Association is in favour of my right hon. Friend's precise proposals, although they have both expressed their preference for a different type of national membership scheme.

The prime concern of the Police Federation is the injury and loss of life suffered by football supporters at matches during the past few years. Naturally, the federation is also concerned about the real difficulties that police officers have to face when policing the often large crowds of supporters who arrive late at football grounds and who are anxious to gain admission quickly. Sometimes those supporters do not have tickets. Sometimes they are excitable and may well have been drinking on their way to the match. Nevertheless, the federation has serious reservations about the type of national membership scheme that may be proposed by the Football Membership Authority. It is not convinced that, when enacted, the Bill will stop hooliganism outside football grounds, although it may well make a contribution towards achieving that end.

The federation has carefully considered the position in recent days as a responsible staff federation. It would much prefer a 100 per cent. home supporters scheme, such as is operated at Luton, but it recognises that that may be difficult to achieve, especially because many fans regularly support clubs that are many hundreds of miles from their home town and yet regard that team as their home club. The overriding consideration of the federation is to support action that will stop the spiralling violence and hooliganism that is connected with the game of football. For that reason above all, the federation is prepared to accept that there should be a membership scheme.

I should prefer any scheme brought forward to be approved by affirmative resolution of this House so that we would all have a chance to debate and approve it. However, I realise that technical difficulties may be associated with, for example, the question of hybridity because some clubs will be treated differently from others. I am glad that, at the very least, after Lord Justice Taylor has reported, the House will have two opportunities to debate both the constitution of the FMA before it is set up, and the final scheme that is submitted to the Secretary of State for approval, subject to the agreement of the House on his approval.

Hon. Members will therefore have two opportunities, if they so wish, to vote against either the constitution of the FMA and to defeat it, or to vote against the proposed membership scheme. Every hon. Member who was present on the night when the Shops Bill failed, will know that even in a House in which the Government have a large majority, such measures can be defeated. If the Bill were to fail on either of those counts, both the membership scheme and the Bill would probably be dropped. It is now clear that if the House does not approve the constitution of the FMA or my right hon. Friend's approval of the scheme, the measure will not go ahead. That was made clear in my right hon. Friend's speech this afternoon.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister responsible for sport will give a firm undertaking to consult the Police Federation on the scheme to be recommended by the FMA if the Bill is passed. I hope that he will give that assurance this evening. I stress the need for my right hon. and hon. Friends to agree to consult the Police Federation as well as the chief constables. My right hon. Friend knows that the federation is a staff association that was set up by an Act of Parliament 70 years ago. So, it has a special place in the scheme of things. That is the basis for its request to be consulted. In my view, it could make a practical input that will help to make whatever scheme may be recommended more acceptable and more workable.

The federation also considers that the scheme outlined in the Bill should be administered by an independent statutory authority rather than by an authority formed by the Football Association and the Football League. It takes that view because it considers that in the past those bodies have not exercised sufficient influence to ensure that the money from admissions has been used to improve football grounds and to provide proper facilities for supporters. If, however, the FMA is to be constituted as proposed in the Bill, the federation would like it to be headed by an independent chairman who should be a national figure, widely acceptable to both the football world and the police. I suggest that there should be a commissioner of football and that the chairman of the FMA should be known as that commissioner. He should have specific responsibility for ensuring the safety of football grounds, in addition to being the independent head of the FMA. That would be a useful move forward.

The federation wishes to make another proposal—that the FMA should have the power to recommend to the Secretary of State that there should be a ban on away supporters at certain grounds for an appropriate period, should that prove necessary. Furthermore, the federation believes that a good opportunity now exists to exclude convicted child molesters and pickpockets from any membership scheme that may be approved.

My constituents who have written to me about the Bill have expressed their concern about the introduction of identity cards for attendance at football matches. They will be relieved to know that this is an enabling Bill— [Interruption.]—yes, and that I, as their representative, will have two further opportunities, if I so wish, to vote against either the FMA or the scheme that it proposes. I give notice to the House that I shall exercise that privilege if I judge it right to do so.

When my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport replies to the debate, I should be grateful if he would state whether the Government will agree to formal consultation with the Police Federation when the scheme is produced by the FMA and before it is approved by my right hon. Friend. I should also be grateful if he would comment on the proposal that there should be an independent chairman of the FMA, perhaps styled the "commissioner of football" as I have suggested.

Mr. Meale


Mr. Shersby

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way, but I am up against the time constraints.

If my hon. Friend gives me those assurances tonight, I shall give him this assurance—I shall not oppose the Second Reading of the Bill, but I shall reserve my position and that of the federation with regard either to the constitution of the FMA or to any scheme that it may recommend for approval to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

7.48 pm
Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde)

I should like to add my voice to those who have congratulated my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey) on an excellent maiden speech. Those of us who know her know of her love for sport and are not surprised that she made such a speech. We know that she is a great champion of football and of all sports and we look forward to hearing from her in the future. Some hon. Members may not know that my hon. Friend was once a high-jumper for Northern Ireland. On the basis of her speech tonight, she is well on the way to becoming a parliamentary high-flyer. I think that she was a little unfair on the Minister for Sport in asking him to take on the Prime Minister; no one else on the Government Benches would dare.

This is a sad day for association football and for those millions who follow it. It is a sad day, too, for the Government, but most of all it is a sad day for the House. Almost certainly, if we had had a free vote tonight, a majority of hon. Members would vote against the legislation. Instead of attempting to enact the Football Spectators Bill, which is irrelevant to the real problems that the game faces, the Government should be listening to those who care about, love and understand the game. As has already been said, the real tragedy, following the sad loss of life at Hillsborough, is that we—

Mr. Ridley

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Pendry

I am pushed for time, but for the Secretary of State I will give way.

Mr. Ridley

Is there a free vote among Opposition Members? Certain Labour Members would dearly like to vote for the Bill. We all know who they are, and so does the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Pendry

That is another of the Secretary of State's red herrings. Of course, one or two of my hon. Friends were doubtful until they heard the informed voices of the rest of us. We are all united.

I was about to say that the House and the football authorities are missing out on a great opportunity, following the disaster at Hillsborough, to sort out the myriad of problems that affect our game. Why are we discussing this legislation before the Taylor report, either interim or final? The report is crucial because the inquiry's remit is the safety of crowd control, which is bound to impinge on the relevance of ID cards. We still do not know when Lord Justice Taylor will report, either in the interim or finally. Why, therefore, did the Minister for Sport assure the House, in a written answer: The timetable for the Football Spectators Bill will allow the House, in considering the Bill, to take account of relevant recommendations from Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster."—[Official Report, 24 April 1989; Vol. 151, c. 415.] Why does not the Secretary of State come clean? The Government are determined to railroad this legislation through. There is no way that we can amend it at any stage —and he knows that. I am sure that the country is in no doubt as to the Government's intentions. It is the Prime Minister's baby. She wants the Bill through, and that lot over there will in the main support it.

Lord Justice Taylor will certainly not report next week when we go into Committee. The Government should not legislate on an interim report—there are dangers in that course—but should wait for the final one. Legislation should not be based on the interim report, because the Popplewell inquiry, following the Bradford tragedy, clearly showed that interim reports can be dangerous. In his interim report, Lord Justice Popplewell said: Urgent consideration should be given to introducing a membership system in England and Wales so as to exclude visiting fans. Although that was his interim report, it is the one that is often thought of as the pioneer of this legislation. However, in his final report in January 1986—six months into the football season—Lord Justice Popplewell, amended it to a partial membership scheme which still allows casuals to enter the ground. That is a gross distortion of the Government's claim that the ID card scheme is built on the recommendations of the Popplewell report—the interim report, perhaps; but the final report, certainly not.

The Minister for Sport and the Secretary of State have got it completely wrong. It would be morally wrong, and dangerous, for the Government to put pressure on Lord Justice Taylor to report early to fit in with the compressed legislative timetable, rather than to report accurately.

Football is now in an impossible position. The more the game tries to clear itself and make it attractive and safe, the more the Government attack it. The Bill was originally conceived in another place. It has 22 clauses—Catch 22. The ultimate relevance of the Bill is that it can destroy so-called football hooliganism but, as seems likely, football will be destroyed in the process. It is Catch 22 indeed.

The legislation is bad. As chairman of the all-party football committee, I have received hundreds of letters —as no doubt other hon. Members have—but I want to quote just one, written to me on 3 March. It says: Dear Mr. Pendry, As a life long supporter of Blackpool FC and football generally, I am very concerned about the Government's plans to introduce a national football membership scheme … More seriously, I feel that football can only be harmed by such an intervention. I have taken up the issue with my local MPs both in Fleetwood and Hull but obviously the Conservative MPs have toed the party line in their replies. He concludes by saying: I would also be grateful if you could provide me with any information which supports the case against the scheme. I look forward to hearing from you. N. Hodgson. (On behalf of Hull University Conservative and Unionist Association). If the Tories' own party members are up in arms, as they are, the Bill will have a rough passage. Following the Euro-elections, many Labour candidates with football grounds in or near their constituencies cannot wait for the next general election.

We have heard about the Home Office's belief that fewer police will be needed if the legislation goes through.

Mr. Denis Howell


Mr. Pendry

I agree with my right hon. Friend that it is rubbish. I shall just mention one fact, which I believe has already been mentioned. There are more than 1,800 turnstiles in the 92 league clubs. If the proposed scheme goes through, there will be at least one policeman, if not more, at the end of every turnstile on the wrong side of the ground. It means that extra police officers will be needed to police queues. That must clearly be thought through.

We heard today from my pair, who represent, the Police Federation, that the Police Federation has changed its mind. I believe that it has changed its mind only since the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) became its parliamentary adviser. As I have heard that there is an hon. Member who is very close to the Opposition who wishes to have a pair, I shall reflect on my position.

Mr. Meale

Does not my hon. Friend find it strange that a Member of Parliament who has taken on this new position should be promoting or supporting legislation while the organisation which he represents does not argue for a similar system to combat violence in other sports, such as horse racing, where there have been 17,000 incidents—three times the number for football—or Henley, where stabbings have occurred, or rowing, in which the Minister for Sport participates?

Mr. Pendry

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention—[Laughter.] I hope, Madam Deputy Speaker, that you will have compassion on me for that.

ID cards will punish the majority of the 99.99 per cent. of those who have nothing to do with hooliganism. We all know that similar problems exist on Benidorm's beach, in the home counties or in our city centres. Those same hooligans are attaching themselves to football. The legislation will not stop the fights at Euston station. There will be no closed-circuit cameras positioned there. We need tough and planned sentencing of convicted criminals. The law is already in place—we have the Public Order Act 1986 —but it is not being used. If exclusion orders were imposed on those who cause trouble, preferably with a rider to make criminals sign on on Saturday afternoons, hooliganism could be divorced from football.

I quote from Hansard: An exclusion order scheme … will enable the courts to ban convicted hooligans from attending football matches. The purpose of this scheme is to exclude the troublemakers, and especially the ringleaders who instigate much of the violence."—[Official Report, 13 January 1986; Vol. 89, c. 799.] Those are not my words but the words of the Home Secretary. Why is that legislation not being used? Why do fewer than one in six of those supposedly arrested for football-related incidents receive exclusion orders? Why, two and a half years into the scheme, is it being dumped in favour of the ID scheme? The Bill shows that the Government are out of touch with our national game. With the exception of those hon. Members who regularly attend games—they are being gagged tonight, but some brave ones will come through the Lobby—Conservative Members do not understand the problems facing football.

I cite the problems of a small club like Colchester United. In 1986–87, its average gate was 2,740. In 1987–88 it introduced a 100 per cent. membership scheme. When it introduced the Luton-type scheme, its gate dropped enormously. Even though it was heading for promotion at Christmas, it had to sell players, and the club slumped to ninth. The scheme was abandoned midway through that season, but the average gate for the season was just 1,754 —36 per cent. down on the previous year. This season, even though Colchester has been fighting for its life, having abandoned the scheme, its gate rose by 65 per cent. Its gate is up to 2,893. That is what will happen to many clubs similar to Colchester if this legislation is passed.

The Dutch FA listened to the Dutch Government and the Dutch Government listened to it—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)


Mr. Pendry

I am sure that in Committee—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I am a hard woman.

7.59 pm
Mr. Gwilym Jones (Cardiff, North)

I join other hon. Members in adding my welcome to the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey) and my congratulations on her excellent maiden speech. It was a pleasure to be in the Chamber to listen to her speech, and I am sure that we shall hear much more from her in the future, not least on the subject of football in which she has obvious expertise.

I offer a somewhat guarded welcome to the Bill because I imagine that it is hardly likely that many will have a real enthusiasm for it. I cannot say that I believe that the Bill is desirable, but I appreciate that it is most necessary.

Some reference has already been made to the emotion that regards football as our national game. As I come from Wales, I shall not claim that football is my national game. Those who know Wales will appreciate that rugby is far more likely to be our national game. If I was honest I would say that it is our religion rather than our national game.

Only a few weeks ago in Arms Park, the spiritual home of international rugby, an important soccer match was played. It was an all-seated football match, which appeared to be carried off successfully and which stood up well to comparison with other football matches. That example could help us to contemplate the ideal to which we are all striving. Another example of that ideal is American football matches. In the United States, American football is not just a game but an entertainment. As far as I am aware, that game is regarded as extremely safe for all the family to attend.

Surely that is the way in which all sports should be going. They should be much more of a family entertainment. Ideally, there should be good parking provision so as not to cause a nuisance to anyone else, and even space for picnics and barbecues. Football should be played in seated stadiums where spectators and fans could enjoy services, including the sale of alcoholic drink, during the game and the entertainment. I appreciate that that proposition would not be encouraged now, but in the future it could be. That is the ideal to which we should strive as we have not reached that ideal now.

At the moment many of us would be afraid to take our younger children to most of our professional football clubs. We do not regard such clubs as the venues of traditional family entertainment. Those grounds are preceived to be home to large tribal warfare, inside and outside the ground. People perceive that major action is necessary to deal with the problem. I know that the opponents of the Bill argue that the numbers involved in such trouble are small and that it is only public perception that the problem is major.

The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) tried to quote figures to show that the number arrested at football matches was small and decreasing in comparison with the total number attending. I noticed, however, that he did not respond to a pertinent intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt), who sought to point out that there is already close supervision by the police and the stewards and closed-circuit television, but that the current number of arrests are still being made.

We must not underestimate or ignore the public perception of the problem. I do not agree with the claim that the problem is not major. The public perceive it as a problem and we must not ignore their concern.

Mr. John P. Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

Does the hon. Gentleman perceive the problem among Welsh clubs. If so, would he care to name the Welsh league clubs where that problem prevails?

Mr. Jones

I am afraid that I must tell my new colleague from south Wales that I do not believe that the Welsh clubs are innocent. I am sorry to admit that Cardiff City football club does not have the highest reputation and it must aim for a much higher standard of behaviour among its fans. The problem is not peculiar to English clubs.

The problem is not new. About 15 years ago I remember trying to organise a function in Cardiff. I tried to encourage people to go into the centre of Cardiff one Saturday evening. When it came out that Manchester United was playing in Cardiff that day, the overwhelming consensus was that Cardiff would not be the appropriate place for the function to be held. That was the attitude 15 years ago and it has not changed now; in fact, it is perceived that the problem is just as bad or much worse now.

We must respond to the public's perception of the problem. If we asked the public whether they thought that the problem was getting worse, the answer would be yes. If we asked whether they thought that action should be taken, the answer would be yes. The Bill is currently the best way forward. The overwhelming public opinion is that there is no case for doing nothing about the problem, but that appears to be the attitude conveyed by the Opposition.

Although I said that this Bill does not relate to the national game of Wales, there are two Welsh aspects to it. The hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) might have been trying to prompt the question about Welsh clubs being excluded from the Bill's provisions. I do not believe that that is a practical suggestion. For that to happen the three Welsh clubs would have to be eliminated from the Football League and from the Football Association cup. Almost everyone in Wales would regard that as undesirable.

The second Welsh aspect relates to one of the foremost, if not the first, advocates of a national membership scheme, the former Member of Parliament for Cardiff, West, Mr. Stefan Terlezki. He was tireless in lobbying for such a membership card scheme. He had good experience on which to base his case, as he had previously been the chairman of Cardiff City and therefore had first-hand experience of the problems encountered inside and outside that ground. Cardiff City football ground, Ninian Park, was also in the constituency of Stefan Terlezki. He knew better than anyone the apprehension felt by residents near that football club when they knew that an important football match, or, in many cases, any football match, was being played.

The residents of Canton and Leckwith, which are close to Ninian Park, or those of Grangetown and Riverside, which are further afield, see the litter in their streets as a result of football matches. They see indiscriminate parking which adds to the existing congestion and traffic problems. They see take-away meals, half consumed, being deposited on the streets or in their gardens. They see vomit and worse being deposited on their streets and in their gardens. They suffer vandalism to their gardens and houses and, especially, they suffer intimidation at any of their attempts to remonstrate with those who cause the problems. "Terrorised" is not too strong a word to describe how many residents feel who live close to football grounds, be they in Cardiff or in other cities and towns. That feeling, above all others, is justification for making progress with the problem.

However much we abhor the scenes on the pitches or terraces, however great our anxiety to stop violence and the suffering caused by it, our determination should be, above all, to protect the innocent. Who are more innocent than the people who live close to football grounds? Consider what they must put up with.

Mrs. Ann Winterton (Congleton)

Can my hon. Friend tell the House what is contained in the Bill that will help those people living close to football grounds? For the life of me I cannot see what it is, and I would be interested to hear what my hon. Friend has to say.

Mr. Jones

I must disagree with my hon. Friend, as I believe that the Bill strives to do the all-important thing —to break the link between violence and football. That violence is not football's responsibility, but it is its problem.

Football is the focal point for the hooligans that presently associate with it. Any convicted hooligan, however, would have no incentive to travel to a football ground as he would be denied admission and therefore the focal point of his violence would be removed. Violence is the prime cause of the problem for residents around football grounds. I believe that it is one of the prime reasons why we should make progress with the Bill, and I hope that we shall give it a Second Reading tonight.

8.8 pm

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

I shall make a brief contribution.

Tonight some have argued that nothing can be done about the problem, while others have argued that something can be done. The argument has rolled back and forth, but we all agree that there is a problem in the sporting world and we all want a solution to it. I have never yet come across a situation, however, in which, while discussions are going on and the evidence is being taken, the decision is being made. The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester), in a brave speech, put his finger on it when he spoke about the arrogance of deciding before one knows and the danger of making a decision before all the evidence is collected.

The Hillsborough tragedy was awful. Mr. Justice Taylor's inquiry is sifting the evidence with great care. We are told that when he reports we will be given two opportunities to discuss the matter. Sadly, that statement misleads the House. The first opportunity that we shall be given will be when the Football Membership Authority is set up, which will be done by the Secretary of State. We shall know little about the membership authority until we are told. The decision will have been made. Whatever Mr. Justice Taylor has to say, the membership scheme will already exist and the decision will have been taken. What arrogance—the Government allow us to discuss the matter and consider the evidence after the decision has been taken.

We have been told that we shall be given a second opportunity to discuss the membership scheme when the Secretary of State has approved the Football Membership Authority's decision on the scheme. When all the decisions have been taken, we shall be told that we can consider Mr. Justice Taylor's report, but the decision will have been taken. What arrogance. How small are we now and how tiny is our judgment. Why do not the Government have the courage and wisdom to say, "We shall listen to the arguments and evaluate the evidence." The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that we should have a special Standing Committee. That would be a second best suggestion. The best suggestion would be to put the Bill on the back burner until we have the evidence. However, if we cannot persuade the House to do that tonight, perhaps we can persuade hon. Members to have a special Standing Committee which could at least call for the evidence and hear the arguments. At least then the decisions taken by the Committee would be in the knowledge of all the available evidence, not on the grounds of dogma, arrogance and pride which dictate that the Bill must go through.

Many years ago when I was a young lawyer I was told to remember one great maxim: one is not always right. I tender that piece of advice to the Minister tonight. What is being suggested is a bit like asking the jury to call in the verdict before being allowed to hear the evidence. The problem we face is as simple as that, and I hope that the House will show more sense than has been shown so far in the debate by some Conservative Members.

8.15 pm
Mr. Anthony Coombs (Wyre Forest)

I strongly support the Bill, not only as someone who recognises the fear, crime and damage to the national reputation which is too often focused on our football grounds, is totally unacceptable and cannot be merely shrugged off as a manifestation of violence in society, but as someone who is passionate about the game. I still play a bit and have watched professional football at least twice a week for 25 years. A member of my family had the honour, some may say the misfortune, to be chairman of a first division football club for 20 years.

I am convinced that anyone with any imagination will see the Bill as an opportunity to make football the great national spectator sport which it once was. That something is rotten in the state of football must be obvious to everybody who is not a purblind member of the league management committee. Last year alone, arrests in the football league increased by 11 per cent. to 6,000, and that figure was doubled by the amount of ejections for bad behaviour at football grounds, which amounted to another 6,000.

It takes 5,000 policemen, who could be performing more constructive tasks, to police football matches every weekend of the season. This is at a time when the majority of league clubs are technically near insolvency and shored up only by their asset values and the activites of property developers who wish to develop their grounds. This at a time when the concentration in the Football League in the top five clubs is becoming greater than ever, as witnessed by the fiasco when the chairman of one first division football club tried to bargain with both ITV and the BBC at the same time during the recent television negotiations. The standards of behaviour on the pitch reflect the falling standards of behaviour on the terraces.

The Football Trust figures show that in 1970–71 there were 37 sendings off and 906 cautions, and by 1987 there were 215 sendings off and 4,037 cautions. These problems demand immediate action, and are compounded by the apparent acceptance of violence as an integral part of football shown in the statements of breathtaking complacency made by the chairman of first division football clubs, such as Ken Bates of Chelsea. In a letter to his supporters on 4 January this year he said: We must be careful that our rational feelings are not carried away by reaction to media comment. At our match with Middlesborough last season we had 53 arrests within the ground and this was described as a riot". Surprise, surprise!—How should the media describe it, as some sort of teddy bears' picnic? A certain divine retribution was shown, and that complacency was exposed when, the Saturday after the Hillsborough tragedy, there were no less than 94 arrests at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea football club.

That is not to say that the Football League's problems are ignored. We have heard about the initiatives including the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988, the public order act on the statutory front. We have heard that, to a certain extent, clubs have taken initiatives in closed-circuit television, partial membership schemes, segregation and in some inconsistent efforts to improve player behaviour.

However, violence continues to increase. Only a few weeks ago, my old club, Birmingham City, and Crystal Palace were involved in appalling pitched battles following a football match. We still see spectators running amok in town centres. By December, there were no less than 300 incidents last season alone involving British football fans on public transport. There is some evidence, as adduced by the Football Trust, that the pattern of arrests per match is spreading from the first and second divisions right across the Football League.

The result of all this is that the game which was the gentleman's game of Matt Busby, Johnny Haynes, Gil Merrick and Trevor Brooking now too often reflects, in the 10 men behind the ball, the zonal marking and the 135 per cent. effort on the pitch, the sort of hard, talentless attitudes seen off it.

It does not take an enormous effort of imagination, for which football administrators are rarely noted, to see that the Bill provides an opportunity to break out of that cycle. The membership scheme will provide an opportunity to raise the image, appeal and dignity of the game and gradually exclude those elements who organise and are involved in violence, and who drag the name of football through the mud. As a result, we could attract back to the game the 12 million fans who have been lost during the past 20 years.

It is significant that a poll conducted by the Mail on Sunday between 21 and 23 November last year showed that 61 per cent. of people said that they would regularly watch a football match on television, but 48 per cent. never went to a football match. However, 80 per cent. of that 48 per cent. had been to a football match during the past four or five years. Of those polled, 56 per cent. thought that a membership scheme was a good idea, which indicates their loyalty to the game and the fact that they are hungry for a lead to protect the sport and ensure its revival.

Any scheme which leads to the revival of football will not be without difficulties. Of course clubs are worried about the decline in casual support. However, support for Luton recovered quickly in one season, following the introduction of a membership scheme. We have already heard that Manchester United managed on a voluntary basis to recruit no less than 40,000 members to its membership scheme during the past two or three years.

If we consider the problems of entry, only a minority of clubs are faced with 650 to 1,000 fans entering per minute, and smart cards will accommodate those numbers. It should not be beyond the wit of the larger clubs to have the necessary stewarding to deal with such numbers. Equally, it should not be beyond the wit of many clubs to provide sufficient pre-match entertainment so that more than 40 per cent. of fans—the number quoted by Manchester United—get into the grounds up to 10 minutes before kick-off.

As for the costs, although the Arthur Young study group talked about ridiculous figures of between £33 million and £36 million net, its projections of profit per supporter over five years were ridiculously low, at about £2 per member. It made no projection for the increased support that I believe the membership scheme will bring in the long term. It is very significant that, of the 90 companies that originally showed an interest, at least five or six are now prepared to proceed with such a scheme on a totally free basis for football clubs. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which ones?"] I think that that will be borne out later in debate.

Of course there will be practical difficulties, but they can be overcome. As for the principle, the Government are right to insist that the problem must be dealt with as a matter of urgency, and equally right to lay down a framework for implementaton of the scheme. The rewards will be great. Not only will cities, towns and suburbs which have too often been shuttered and fearful on match days no longer be a focus for the violence for which football has provided too many opportunities, but—equally important—our national game will be saved as a spectator sport for fathers and sons and for young and old alike. It will be made respectable. Entertainment, not blind confrontation, will be encouraged, and the Bill will do much to restore our national sporting reputation.

8.21 pm
Mr. John P. Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

Not only is the Bill unacceptable to the people of this country; not only is it typical of an attitude which, especially over the past six to nine months, has cost the Government dear in votes—not least in my election to the Vale of Glamorgan seat; it is typical of legislation that shows the Government to be out of touch with the attitudes and views of the people.

The Bill is particularly insulting to the people of Wales. There is, in fact, no reason for it to apply to them, as Welsh league teams do not suffer from the problems that we have seen in England. As the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) pointed out, this is a particularly English disease.

Mr. Couchman

Does that mean that the hon. Gentleman does not wish Welsh clubs to play English clubs in the leagues that they share? He is suggesting that Welsh club supporters should be able to arrive without identity cards to watch league games in England—that there should be differentiation between the two sets of supporters. That is an odd suggestion.

Mr. Smith

It highlights the problems in the Bill. Not only will it not work—not only will it penalise the vast majority of decent football spectators, such as my family—but it will penalise Welsh football clubs, which do not share the problem.

I disagree with the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones), who drew attention to the sad plight of Cardiff and the problems associated with violence there. The situation in Cardiff has improved dramatically over the past decade. Of more concern to those living in the vicinity of Cardiff City's ground, Ninian park, are the crimes of violence committed on the streets after dark, which have made many women and elderly people afraid to go out at night. That is what frightens people in the area, especially since the present Government came to power—much more than isolated problems of violence at football matches.

I share with the hon. Member for Cardiff, North a love of our country's national sport, rugby, but I also love soccer. I enjoy taking my two boys to matches, accompanying my nine-year-old but allowing my teenage son to go alone, in the knowledge that there will be no trouble and that they will come away from a good day's entertainment with no risk of violence. On the day of a major rugby international in Cardiff, however, the city is almost a war zone. Does the Minister mean to extend the identity card system to include our much-loved national sport? According to Conservative arguments, there is a greater case for applying the system to rugby in Wales than there is for applying it to soccer. We were not banned from Europe after the Heysel stadium disaster.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

The hon. Gentleman has almost invited me to respond. I challenge him to produce any statistics concerning arrests or other information from the police to suggest that international rugby matches in Cardiff have generated the same problem as soccer matches. I think, however, that the hon. Gentleman is agreeing with me that we should warn people in advance that if a problem developed with rugby matches we should need to take appropriate action.

Mr. Smith

Let me draw the attention of the House to the statement made by the director of our local football club, David Sylvester. Although the club is not in the league, he—as a lay person—is committed to the great sport of soccer. He said that there is a problem; and that the reputation of soccer as a whole has been affected by isolated offences perpetrated by a few people. He also said what every sensible person in the country is saying: that an identity card system would be utter nonsense.

8.26 pm
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

After the Hillsborough disaster, in which many of the large number of Liverpool supporters whom I represent were injured and two were killed, I thought that there was hope for the game of football: that it would be shaken into reality, that behaviour would improve and that we would see change. When the Government decided to suspend consideration of the Bill, I imagined that we would see a new dawn; but we have seen anything but a new dawn.

Four weeks later, on the day of the game between Crystal Palace and Birmingham City, 300 people were arrested at football matches, 16 of them at that game, where the pitch was invaded and one person was stabbed. The message was clear: nothing had been learnt by football supporters since Hillsborough.

We have a duty to look at the history of football over the past few years, and to establish what has been achieved and what we can do to improve standards of behaviour. I have been a football supporter since the age of about eight, when I started to go regularly with my father to see Manchester United play. I have been to semi-finals, European cup semi-finals and European cup finals at Old Trafford, and since that young age I have seen the standard of football spectators' behaviour deteriorate continuously.

Before I was elected I earned my living in the courts, and defended football supporters day by day. Many came back to my office to be represented time and again. The situation needed to be taken in hand. It got to the stage where I could trace the grounds at which a client's local team played by looking at his record of court appearances. That sort of thing must stop.

By 13 May, four weeks after Hillsborough, the minority of football supporters had learnt nothing. I agree that they are a minority, but we cannot operate the law on the basis that because only a minority cause the trouble, we should do nothing about it. That would result in anarchy. Although these people are in a minority, thousands of them get into trouble at football matches. We must take action that will allow football matches to be enjoyed by the majority so that it becomes a family sport, free from fear and violence. The Bill sets out to achieve that.

The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) said that the scheme is without precedent in Europe. It is, but it is without precedent in Europe that one country—England—is banned from competition in Europe because of the behaviour of its supporters. A problem without precedent needs serious and tenacious measures to deal with it, and the Bill does that.

I do not regard a national membership scheme as a breach of civil liberty. Nobody has the right to go everywhere. Nobody can go into private premises, which is what a football ground is, as of right. My hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), who is the chairman of Luton, said that he and his directors reserve the right to deny entry to their grounds. Football authorities generally should do the same but they cannot because, under the powers of the courts and the law as it stands, the mechanism is not there. The Bill will allow them to do that through banning orders.

It has been said that the Bill will not deal with the problem outside the grounds. However, Luton Town does not have trouble outside the grounds. There has been only one arrest there recently. There is no trouble because people know that if they turn up at Luton Town without a ticket, they will not get into the grounds. Therefore, they do not turn up. I accept that the Hillsborough situation was different, and we can deal with that when we have Lord Justice Taylor's report, which will make recommendations about the problem of ticket touts. However, if fans know that they will not get into grounds without tickets, they will not travel long distances to get to such grounds.

Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hind

I would normally, but many hon. Members wish to speak.

Football is a business, and the Government have told those who are making money out of it that they should put their house in order. The football authorities achieved a certain amount, but they have not achieved enough. If they had achieved more, the events of 13 May at Crystal Palace would not have occurred. Three hundred fans would not have been arrested around the country on that date. Therefore, the Government must step in to lay the foundations of a scheme to sort out the problem.

I know that there is a lot of strong feeling about it, but this is an enabling Bill, and the public must realise that. This is not the end of the matter. We have two further chances to consider the details. Before we next debate the matter, we shall probably have in our hands a report from Lord Justice Taylor. I know of people who died at Hillsborough and we owe them detailed consideration of that report before we take the next step. However, if we do not take the opportunity to put this enabling Bill on the statute book, it would be two years before we could introduce such a scheme, if we decided in those two further debates that that was the appropriate way to deal with the matter. The football authorities have not put their house in order, so we must do it for them. Therefore, I shall have no hesitation in supporting the Government and voting in favour of the Bill.

8.35 pm
Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

I start by declaring an interest as a Crystal Palace supporter. I had better do that because, under the provisions of the Bill, if I give the wrong allegiance when I apply for an ID card, I shall be committing a criminal offence. That shows the bureaucracy of the scheme. Both Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic play on the same ground, but if people are forced to choose allegiances, those who will be put off are those who support football rather than supporting a particular team. There can be no doubt that most football fans want to see an end to pitch invasions and violence. They want to see a game, to see good football. The chants of "Off, off, off" that come from ordinary supporters when there is bad behaviour at a ground proves that point.

I object to the Bill on principle. Being a football supporter does not make me a member of a feral species. I do not need to be licensed like a wild animal. I do not want my name being put on a computer and I do not want to opt for a team preference. When I go to the north of England on holiday, I want to go to see Manchester United. Because I am a registered Crystal Palace supporter, I do not want to be forced, when I go to Old Trafford, to go to the Millwall end rather than to the Manchester United end.

My main objection to the Bill is on the grounds of practice. The House of Commons has an ID scheme for all staff, including research assistants. The Minister for Sport knows one or two things about this. If our ID scheme cannot keep out undesirable people, how will a scheme that is supposed to operate for 20 million people, rather than a few hundred research assistants, keep the hooligans off the terraces? People will make false applications for membership. There will be a good deal of crime as people will be robbed of their membership cards so that others can get into the ground. There will be many other practical difficulties.

We shall do terrible damage to the game, and I can illustrate the truth of that statement by applying it to my local team. On 19 November last year, Crystal Palace stood ninth in the league. In the 16th game, it won by four goals to two against Leicester, and the attendance was 8,843. By 3 December, the team had dropped to 13th, when it drew 0:0 against Manchester City, although the attendance was rather better at 12,444. By 17 December, when the team drew 0:0 against Leeds, it was 14th in the league and there was an attendance of 9,847.

I am reminded of a colleague of mine, a former hon. Member for Vauxhall—not the present incumbent my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey) whose speech I commend, but the former Member, Mr. George Strauss, who saw me going down to the constituency night after night during the municipal elections which I am afraid we lost heavily. He said to me, "You know the mistake you made, John? You peaked too early." Crystal Palace did not peak too early. It was 14th with an attendance of 9,800.

Crystal Palace suddenly had a run of wins. By the time it reached the second leg of the play-off against Swindon Town, which Palace won 2:0, the crowd had risen to 23,000. At the final match of the play-offs, when Palace played Blackburn and miraculously won one of the most exciting football matches that I have seen in my life, there was a capacity crowd of 30,000. That is what the scheme will kill.

The Bill will kill that great surge of support for football teams which do well in the league or the cup. In some cases attendances swell far in excess of the usual 8,000 or 9,000. That is the problem with Luton Town. Any examination of the attendances at Luton Town will confirm that.

The identity card scheme will act as a massive disincentive to supporters who swell into a ground when a team is doing well. That is part of the magic of football. A team doing badly during the season and then having a good run in the cup will suddenly have a surge in attendance and people who do not support the team all the time will go to watch it play. That is the great thing about football. That is what the Bill will kill. This Bill will not prevent people being killed at football matches: it will kill football.

I want to consider what happened at Selhurst park when Crystal Palace played Birmingham City. None of us wants to tolerate the kind of behaviour shown by Birmingham City fans on that occasion. It arose from frustration because Birmingham City had just been relegated. If Crystal Palace had won that game, it might have been promoted if Manchester City had lost against Bury.

Hundreds of fans invaded the pitch at Selhurst park, but nothing in the proposed scheme could have prevented that. If the proposed scheme is to work, that game would not simply have been delayed for 15 minutes or so; it would have been delayed for hours or abandoned so that the fans who had invaded the pitch could be arrested to ensure that they lost their membership cards. The cause of that pitch invasion was due to too much alcohol and a certain amount of frustration about the relegation of Birmingham City. However, it also occurred because the barriers had been taken down, quite sensibly and prudently, immediately after the Hillsborough disaster.

One of the problems in our football grounds is that there are V-shaped, or funnel-shaped, enclosures for away fans. There is the same problem of crush in those enclosures as that which occurs in the bay of Bengal when the wind comes up. Because of the V-shaped nature of the enclosure, a surge can take place, resulting in death and injuries. That is a problem of crowd organisation and it will not be solved by this Bill.

The problem with the Bill is that it is devised in the main by the greatest hooligan and vandal of them all. It has been devised by that woman who incidentally is not having much support in playing in an away match in Madrid. The Prime Minister is the political vandal who is now becoming a football vandal. I hope that the House will express its true view about the Bill. I am sure that there must be massive reservations among Conservative Members and I hope that the Bill can be defeated. We all want to defeat football hooliganism and violence. This Bill is not the way to do that. If there is ever a huge surge in a crowd at a cup final or at a major league match and people cannot get into the game as the computer has broken down because the scheme cannot work physically, those who have introduced this Bill may have many lives and injuries on their hands.

8.43 pm
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)

In his autobiography "Arsenal from the Heart", Bob Wall, the former Arsenal secretary, devoted a whole chapter to the problems of football hooliganism. That book was published more than 20 years ago. The hooligans of the 1960s are now the parents of the hooligans of the 1980s. Problems of hooliganism and yobbish behaviour are endemic in our society. The tragedy about this debate is that we are being asked to vote on a Bill which holds out a utopian solution for the ills of football, but we cannot reflect on Lord Justice Taylor's report into the worst tragedy in the history of football.

I must declare an interest. I am a lifelong football enthusiast, having been associated with York City football club of which I am now president, and I am also a very keen follower of Arsenal football club. It would not be inopportune of me now to congratulate Arsenal on winning the first division championship. I mention that because 10 million people watched that final exciting televised match at Anfield which showed the reasons why so many of us are so enthusiastic about our exciting game of football.

Following two football teams can lead to divided loyalties, such as when York City beat Arsenal 1:0 in the FA cup four or five years ago. Emotions and loyalties are also strained by the Bill. The Government have come in for a great deal of criticism over this measure, much of it unjustified. The Bill is not born out of malice for football, it is born out of malice for football hooligans and those mindless yobs who besmirch the name of their country, their town, their city or the club that they purport to represent.

My argument with the Government is not about whether more action may be needed. It is about whether this is the right measure. I do not believe that it is, and I regret to say that I cannot support it in the Lobby tonight. I am opposed to the principle of what almost everyone associated with football as well as the police have rejected and criticised—the requirement that every fan may enter a soccer ground only by means of an identity card which in effect is nothing more than an electronic key. That is not club membership: it is a gross violation of the dignity and freedom of the law-abiding individual which would not be tolerated by the public in any other part of society. That is a recipe for yet more disasters outside football stadiums on match days. The tragic irony is that every fan at Leppings lane, Hillsborough, would have been a member of the proposed membership scheme.

The recent events at Crystal Palace and Bristol on the last day of the soccer season serve as a reminder of the worst features of soccer violence which the Bill is trying to resolve. Those events reinforce the view of the police that away supporters are most often at the centre of violent incidents. Unless the problem caused by away fans can be resolved, football will ultimately face the unenviable choice of an enforced 100 per cent. membership scheme, which the Government have in mind, or a ban on away fans.

I believe that the full membership scheme for away supporters only, which was originally suggested by the House of Commons all-party football committee and which was recently endorsed and embraced by the FA secretary Graham Kelly in his working paper, offers a realistic and practical alternative. There is little difficulty in segregating fans on match days. That is already a regular feature of match policing and it is helped in no small measure by the determination of young travelling fans to join their pals and occupy the terraces allocated to away supporters. Many clubs achieve that through their travel clubs whereby only members of that travel club can gain tickets and therefore access to those terraces.

If those terraces were designated for away clubs only, we could achieve the desired objectives of discouraging misbehaviour and the easy identification of any troublemakers. Most matches in the lower divisions—between third and fouth division clubs which face the prospect of going out of business if the Bill is enacted—attract a relatively small number of away supporters. If by accepting a membership scheme for them we can avoid the more damaging consequences of a 100 per cent. scheme for everyone else, such a proposal would be a worth while addition to the current soccer scene.

For home supporters, clubs should promote meaningful membership of the kind originally envisaged by Lord Justice Popplewell. "Members only" turnstiles could facilitate discounts to home supporters and allow police and stewards, as now, to concentrate supervision on the remaining turnstiles to ensure that young hooligans following the away team or belonging to another club do not infiltrate home supporters to cause trouble. Regular fans could be encouraged to become members by providing benefits, not an electronic key for entry. Casual fans and visitors could still attend matches without difficulty. The Government have already accepted in the other place that arrangements will have to be made for non-members.

When I put those proposals to the 48 chairmen of the third and fourth division clubs at their annual general meeting two weeks ago, they unanimously agreed to support them. That shows that some elements of the football world can speak with one voice and respond favourably to the fact that more needs to be done to deal with the hooligan element associated with football.

Understandably, the first and second division clubs, facing larger crowds, have not yet endorsed them and can see some difficulties. I hope that when my hon. Friend the Minister replies he will be able to say that the Government are still willing to consider how the football membership scheme should be drawn up, perhaps to embrace such proposals so that we can avoid the damaging consequences of yet more trouble outside football grounds which seems likely to result from the scheme, and to protect the interests of particularly the smaller clubs.

Let there be no glib solutions to the control of large crowds. The terrors of what can occur provide every justification for the harshest punishment of the minority who cause the trouble, without which neither football nor society will ever be rid of the yob element.

The Bill is a lost opportunity. The public are rightly asking: why stop at football? Violent and drunken behaviour is seen all round us, not only in our cities, but in our towns and, I regret, even in our villages. We need a charter for hooligans wherever and whenever it occurs. The Government have embodied a workable solution in part II by requiring convicted hooligans to report to attendance centres. But why stop at international matches? Why not extend that principle to domestic matches, too?

In his letter to colleagues, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment implied that the reason why the right of exclusion orders under the Public Order Act 1986 had not stamped out hooliganism is that, if one club bans hooligans from its ground, they can travel to another club to cause trouble. The Government's solution is to police them out with these electronic keys, but what is to stop hooligans causing trouble outside or somewhere else? What is to prevent the 18-year-old thug who has been banned from football from robbing a younger fan of his card to gain admission to that match? That is what happens now with all-ticket games. What is to stop multiple card applications? There is only one certain way in which to stop the hooligan causing trouble, and that is by policing him out of society and making him go somewhere else. Those are matters we shall no doubt wish to debate further in Committee.

The enactment of penal legislation in Parliament can never guarantee universal success in coercing elements of society into behaving in a particular way. If it could, we would not have drunk drivers, drug addicts or a host of others whose personal behaviour the majority find unacceptable. The core proposal in part I will not end all hooligan behaviour inside and outside football grounds. Measures already taken, for which the Government deserve credit, should be built upon, not by restricting the freedom of law-abiding fans, but by imposing proper harsh restrictions and punishments on those who cause the trouble.

8.53 pm
Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey) on her fine speech. In a recent newspaper article, she said that she wished to be the first woman Minister for Sport. After the recent European election results, she may get her wish sooner than she thinks. I also pay tribute to the law-abiding football supporters in Britain, and, specifically, in my constituency of Leicester, East.

The Bill represents the most sustained attack on the game of football by any Government in our history. The hooligan who is currently playing away in Madrid—to borrow an image from my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser)—has achieved something unique. She has united the football clubs and the national supporters groups as they seek to reclaim the game not from the hooligans but from the Government. I and many other hon. Members have had numerous letters from supporters representing a cross-section of our constituencies opposing the scheme.

I have to declare an interest as the president of two local football clubs—Hillcroft football club in Netherhall, and Thurnby Lodge football club in the Thurnby Lodge estate. I had the pleasure of meeting both those clubs at the end of last week and they both urged me to voice their opposition here and, on their behalf, the opposition of millions of other football supporters to the Bill.

The Bill will do nothing to improve the game's image. It will do nothing to improve the safety of football grounds. It will do nothing to improve the ability of football spectators to enjoy the game. It will do nothing to increase the number of spectators at games. It will do nothing to end the violence that has afflicted society over the past decade.

Last Friday, the Home Secretary came to Leicester and I and others presented him with a petition of some 10,000 signatures from pensioners and others who were desperate as the result of the high level of crime in Leicestershire. It is wrong that the Goverment should be obsessed merely by the small incidence of football hooliganism. Lawlessness has increased enormously over the past decade.

The Bill will increase the risk of violence outside grounds. It will decrease the number of football supporters and it will cause the decline and closure of many clubs. So much could be done by the Government and the Minister for Sport to improve the image of football and to ensure that football becomes a truly recreational facility. They could remove the current restrictions on local authorities, such as my own in Leicester, enabling them to enhance a partnership with private football clubs. The hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Carlisle) said that his was a private club and that he could decide who entered it.

My local authority would be keen to assist local football clubs to develop recreational facilities, but they need the spending power that the Government do not allow them. I recently visited my local football club, Leicester City, and I commend its scheme to the House. That is a voluntary, not a compulsory scheme, with a current membership of 61 per cent. That club has a good relationship with its supporters and with supporters of visiting teams. It also has a good relationship with the police. When I visited, I went into the police control box and I know, in contrast to what the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), the paid consultant for the Police Federation, said, that the police in Leicester would be opposed to a compulsory scheme.

Recently, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) visited Leicester City football club and was given a tremendous reception by the supporters. We went on to the pitch and presented him with a certificate for his many years of service to sport, along with a compulsory identity card. The reaction of the football supporters showed that they were completely against the scheme. Recently, in a football magazine, the secretary of Leicester City football club, Alan Bennett, said: we do not believe such a scheme will help the problem that we all face of bad behaviour, and it would be suicidal for soccer to voluntarily introduce a scheme which we believe is unlikely to work and certainly is likely to reduce our attendances drastically. Alan Bennett, a man of considerable experience, described it as suicidal.

I now refer to the civil liberties implication of the scheme. It is a back-door attempt by the Government to impose a compulsory identity scheme on every citizen of the country. Those who disagree must look at the Government's record and the restrictive legislation on civil liberties that has poured out of the Home Office. I refer to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the Public Order Act 1986 and other such pieces of legislation. If the Government impose a compulsory membership scheme on football supporters, it will be imposed on other sports and on all citizens. We will have the absurd scenario of citizens' cards being removed because those citizens have behaved in a particular way. We will all bitterly oppose that.

I echo the sentiments that have been expressed by many hon. and right hon. Members who urge the Government to wait for the outcome of the Taylor inquiry. Ministers should wait, because that inquiry will contain a great deal of information that will be of direct benefit to the House when considering what needs to be done. The Government are hell-bent on a strategy that will increase disorder, not decrease it. They want to destroy the game of football, and this horrible measure is their means of doing it. The verdict of sporting history will be harsh.

9 pm

Mr. Matthew Carrington (Fulham)

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) wishes to start his speech fairly soon, so I shall be brief. He and I have one thing in common in this debate: we are the two hon. Members who have two league football grounds in our constituencies. [Interruption.] I apologise to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). There are three hon. Members with that considerable honour. However, the two football grounds that I have the great honour to have in my constituency—Fulham and Chelsea—exemplify some of the problems from which football has suffered in recent years. As has been said, over the past 20 years, attendance at football games has dropped from about 34 million to about 21 million. That is a drop of about 40 per cent., which is a problem from which football suffers in a way that is hard to explain. Undoubtedly the problem does not arise from a single source.

Without question, violence plays a serious role in the problems in which football clubs find themselves. Clubs have done a great deal to tackle the problems. They have taken considerable measures inside their grounds, and some clubs—Fulham is one—now claim not to have any problems with their own fans. However, Fulham and Chelsea in particular have problems with away fans who travel to watch grames and are outside their control. They cause problems inside the grounds and even more difficult problems outside the grounds. Problems outside the grounds have not been successfully tackled, even though there has been massive policing at many football matches. Local residents have suffered considerably, particularly near urban football grounds where there is little parking and where it has proved extremely difficult to get fans into the grounds. Local residents have suffered violence, vandalism, racial abuse and sexual harassment. All the problems are associated with crowds getting out of control, and they have led to the difficulties in which football now finds itself. The Bill addresses those problems.

The Bill is far from anti-football. In many ways, it will be the saviour of football. It will enable football to return to the family sport and the violence-free experience I hat families can enjoy. It will allow football to be as popular as it was immediately after the war. The police have been tackling problems associated with violence. That in itself has caused considerable problems. The cost of policing football matches is astronomical and only partly offset by the clubs. The three clubs within the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham pay less than 20 per cent. of the costs incurred by the police in providing residents with the type of protection from fans that they need. That hides most of the problems.

It has been rightly said that, if one wishes to commit a crime, one picks an area in which a home football match is going on. One is able to get away, as there are no police on the streets. One knows full well where they are likely to be. Residents have suffered badly.

I believe that the scheme will iron out many of the problems by ensuring that those who attend football matches are identified as committed football supporters. It will keep out those people who are known troublemakers—those who are known to the courts and also those who are known to the clubs. They will be identified as they try to go through the gates and they will be kept out, whether or not there is a court order against them.

One of the most important aspects of the Bill that has not figured largely in the debate is the licensing of grounds. The Secretary of State will be able to impose conditions that will enable football clubs to treat their fans like human beings. Fans are treated like animals far too often. If people are treated like animals, either they stay away or a small minority start to behave like animals. It is unreasonable of any club nowadays to expect tans to stand. Even if some fans claim that they derive a kind of macho enjoyment from standing to watch a match, stadiums ought to provide seating throughout the ground. Fans should not be forced to suffer for their football.

There are positive aspects to the membership scheme for clubs. The problem that faces Fulham football club best exemplifies them. Its average gate for each home match is about 4,000. The club admits that it is losing about £500,000 a year. The losses are made up by rich benefactors. However, it is unreasonable to expect a league club to survive indefinitely if it makes losses of that size. The club also faces enormous problems over its ground, which, for a variety of historical reasons, was sold.

If one assumes that the 4,000 gate does not consist only of regular supporters, those who actually support Fulham on a half-regular basis will number between 12,000 and 15,000. If most of those people joined the membership scheme, Fulham football club would be able to identify 12,000 or even 15,000 people who claim to be Fulham football club supporters. The scheme would enable them to appeal for money to their real supporters, whom at the moment they do not know. It would also enable the club to market many of the things that a modern football fan might wish to have. For example, if only 4,000 out of 12,000 to 15,000 supporters have seen a match, the other 8,000 or 11,000 might like to buy a video recording of the match. That could be done quite cheaply. Fans would be able to see a match that otherwise they would not have seen because it was not shown on television.

The scheme will provide small clubs with the opportunity to get themselves out of their financial plight. It would identify their supporters and rally their support. It would enable clubs to become part of the entertainment industry, which is what football really is. The details of the scheme need to be worked out. Success or failure will depend on whether the scheme is able to tackle violence outside the ground. Many of my constituents say that they do not care if the fans kill themselves inside the ground, as long as they behave themselves outside the ground. If the scheme manages to sort out the problem of violence outside the ground, it will be widely supported and will lead to the regeneration of league football.

9.8 pm

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

We have had a fascinating debate. Not the least of our delights has been the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey). She is an international sportswoman in her own right and gave an international performance for us all today. She spoke with feeling, particularly about supporters' rights, and asked why they have not been consulted by the Minister for Sport and why he continues to insult them, with all their collective wisdom, by not having them on his working party.

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

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Howell

In just a minute. Keep calm.

The Minister will not have them on his working party. They will not be allowed to serve on the Football Membership Authority. The Minister is not prepared to listen to their collective wisdom. That is one of the reasons why the Government are getting into such difficulties over the scheme.

Mr. Moynihan

So far, so bad. Will the right hon. Gentleman now inform the House correctly, first that I consulted the football supporters on two occasions, and secondly that there is no decision about who should constitute the FMA? I think it eminently sensible to consider whether supporters' representatives should be considered in due course as possible members of the Football Membership Authority.

Mr. Howell

The Minister wants 20 minutes in which to reply to the debate. Perhaps I may take some injury time to deal with his intervention. I am patron of the National Association of Football Supporters Clubs and I have been in close touch with the Football Supporters Association. They both tell me—

Mr. Moynihan

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question?

Mr. Howell

I wish you would listen for a moment.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I am listening.

Mr. Howell

You always listen, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I apologise for that slip of the tongue. In any event, you would never be the sort of Minister who would sit on the Front Bench interrupting almost before the Opposition spokesman has begun his comments.

The supporters' association tell me that they went to see the Minister, that he did not stop talking from the moment they got into his office and that he did not listen to anything they had to say. That is the trouble with the hon. Gentleman. He does not listen. He just talks, and that is one of the troubles to which the football people draw our attention. They say that the Government will not listen. "They talk at us all the time," they say. Nobody would object if they talked sense, but they keep talking nonsense. My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall, who precipitated this crisis in my speech, put her finger exactly on the point when she said that the football supporters' association have a good deal to say.

The only justification for the measure I could find in the remarks of the Secretary of State was that we must deal with football because of violence in society. The Government describe it as football hooliganism. I confess that I do not believe there is any such thing as football hooliganism. There is criminality in society and there is violence—

Mr. Ridley


Mr. Howell

I will come to the question of whitewash, the word that the Secretary of State shouts at me from a sedentary position.

This is the promise that the Conservatives made in 1979, the rule of law with which they said they would deal: The most disturbing threat to our freedom and security is the growing disrespect for the rule of law. In government as in opposition, Labour have undermined it. Yet respect for the rule of law if the basis of a free and civilised society. We will restore it". That having been the promise, let us look at the facts so that we can put the matter in perspective.

The number of crimes of violence against the person in 1979, when that promise was made, was 94,960. In 1988, the last recorded figures available, the number was 158,248. There has been an increase in violence under the Conservatives of 67 per cent. The Government should be dealing with that today. That is where their priorities should lie. They issued figures last week showing that the number of crimes of violence in the first quarter of this year went up by a further 11 per cent.

There has been nothing like an increase of that magnitude in violence on football grounds or in football, as despicable as any violence is on football grounds. That is why the Government have chosen football violence, so-called, for this measure. They have totally failed to deal with violence in society and they want a scapegoat. The scapegoat is football, and that is why we have the Bill today.

The Secretary of State asked for examples of what we should be doing. We should be having a more intelligent policy to deal with violence as it exists in football. That should be done by targeting the place where the violence is likely to occur, not by having a blanket restriction on civil liberties applying to everybody who is likely to go to a football match.

The Minister might like to comment on some figures that I obtained from the Sir Norman Chester centre for football research at the university of Leicester. They are as available to the Government as they are to me. About 52 per cent. of arrests occur at 21 per cent. of the grounds; 35 per cent. of the grounds are responsible for 8 per cent. of arrests; 26 clubs have less than one arrest per match. yet all the fans, all the civilised supporters going to the grounds, will be subject to a massive restriction on their civil liberties even though the problems can be targeted and should be dealt with by the Government. Last year, seven clubs had fewer than 10 arrests during the whole season. We need an intelligent approach to the problem. Although 10 grounds had more than 2,000 arrests, 82 clubs had only two arrests. To produce a blanket solution to such a disparate problem is a monumental abuse of government and of civil liberty.

We all know that the problems stem from a small number of fixtures that produce a large proportion of arrests. If the Government concentrated on them we would support that sort of policing. It would be sensible to deal with the criminals where they are active—and as I said, it is criminality rather than hooliganism. As the hon. Member for York—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ryedale."] Of course, I meant the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), who represents York City. He said that it would make more sense to apply the principle of part II of the Bill—which has a little merit—to part I by identifying people and making them appear at attendance centres. However, that solution does not find favour with the Government.

Mr. John Carlisle


Mr. Howell

I am sorry, but there are many points to which I wish to reply.

Mr. Carlisle


Mr. Howell

I shall give way if the hon. Gentleman promises to be very brief.

Mr. Carlisle

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Labour party would support certain measures for certain games on the basis that they could be picked out as potential troublemakers. I have some sympathy with that view. The right hon. Gentleman must also understand, however, that unsolicited violence does occur at games, such as at Selhurst park earlier this month and during the opening game at Scarborough two years ago. How can he say that there should be one rule for some games but not for all of them?

Mr. Howell

I have a great deal of experience of dealing with these matters. As the Minister knows, a great deal of intelligence about games where there is likely to be trouble comes in from the police, and that intelligence should be used. It is certainly not being used very well at the moment.

I presided over a committee that represented all football interests, such as the coach operators, the railways and the police, but it has never been mentioned since the day that I went out of office. One of the problems is that the Government know it all; they can do it all on their own. That is certainly not the way to solve the problems.

There are two problems of great importance about which not a word was said by the Secretary of State in that most lamentable speech that he inflicted on the House—civil liberties and the practicality of the scheme. We know why we did not hear a word about those from the Secretary of State—because no man or woman living in this country has ever seen the Secretary of State at a football match. We would all be interested if we ever saw the Secretary of State at a sporting event. He has never been to a football match. That is why he is the repository of all wisdom on the subject that he wishes to inflict upon us.

Millions of football supporters are decent people who have never been in trouble in their life; 99.9 per cent. of all the people who go to football matches are peaceful, law-abiding citizens. The Government and the Secretary of State propose that those law-abiding citizens shall be registered, photographed, computerised and processed. That is Conservatism today. Those who believe in civil liberty and the value of freedom reject that entirely. Of course, those innocent citizens will not be allowed to take a member of their family to a football match without that person being registered.

Mr. Couchman


Mr. Howell

I am sorry, but I am not giving way.

One interesting fact that emerges from the university of Leicester is that the largest crowds occur at holiday time because fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters visit their families and they all go together to a match as a family. That should be encouraged, but it will be actively discouraged by the Bill.

The Bill will outlaw neutrality in football. It will impose segregation for ever. That is outrageous. We should be moving away from segregation back to the days when people living next to each other who supported rival teams could sit next to each other to enjoy the sporting encounter. That will never happen under the Bill. That traditional sporting joy of the British people is being killed.

I move to the practical objections, on which we have not heard one word from the Minister. If the scheme is imposed, it will aggravate the very problem that it is supposed to deal with at the turnstiles.

Mr. Moynihan


Mr. Howell

The Minister says no. Those of us who were at Hillsborough, and every sensible, intelligent person, know what will happen. The Minister arrived at Hillsborough by helicopter at midnight. Had he been there earlier he would have known what would have happened if the turnstile operators, beleaguered as they were that day, had been required to take cards and process them through a computer, as well as taking money. The problem would have been aggravated.

Under the procedure that is proposed we cannot amend the orders that will come before us; we will have to take them or leave them. It is inconceivable that Lord Justice Taylor will tell us that the membership scheme could have assisted at Hillsborough.

Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)


Mr. Howell

No, I am not giving way.



Mr. Howell

I will not give way. I am dealing with the situation that is facing Lord Justice Taylor. He has been put in an impossible position by the Government. The Secretary of State is forcing through his scheme and putting Lord Justice Taylor in an impossible situation, which is a most undignified state of affairs. That is something of which we must take account. We all know—

Mr. Riddick

Will the hon. Gentleman give way now?

Mr. Speaker

Order. There will possibly be an opportunity for the hon. Gentleman to make his point in the debate on the instruction.

Mr. Howell

Peat Marwick's investigations showed an estimated 25 per cent. loss of gate, representing some 700,000 spectators—which is an outrageous imposition.

Mr. Moynihan

indicated dissent.

Mr. Howell

The Minister will have an opportunity to prove that his knowledge of accountancy is superior to that of Peat Marwick, and we shall listen with great interest.

For the past six months the Minister for Sport has been telling us that football can make a profit out of the legislation because clubs will be able to sell their mailing lists to cover their costs. There has not been one word about that from the Secretary of State. Why is that? It is because not one of the firms that expressed interest can operate a scheme free of charge to the Football League. Not one. They all know that they cannot profitably operate a mailing list. One reason why they cannot do so is because the Minister has had to agree, under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1984, that members can put a cross in a square if they do not want their names and addresses passed on to a mailing company. The football authorities, football supporters and certainly the Opposition will advise every supporter to exercise that right. There is no reason why supporters should be flooded with advertising about double glazing or second hand cars—apparently all that is okay by the Government, although not in respect of the poll tax.

The Bill has many other deficiencies.

Mr. Ridley

If I were the right hon. Gentleman, I would pack it in.

Mr. Howell

The Secretary of State packed in football 50 years ago. He has never been seen at a football ground since. I wish that he would not make insulting remarks after his own speech earlier today.

Mr. Ridley

Having listened to the right hon. Gentleman's flannel so far, I think he is saying that there is a general increase in violence and that football should be allowed to keep its share of it—because he is not prepared to do anything about it and has no ideas. The right hon. Gentleman's complacency is revolting to those of us who really care.

Mr. Howell

I accepted the challenge by the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) to say what should be done. I have said what should be done. Violence should be identified and targeted and then dealt with. I do not want to waste any more time on puerile interventions.

I turn to a matter of equal importance. We are in favour of the principle enshrined in part II of the Bill but we are concerned about its application. As I said earlier, unless the Minister can tell the House tonight that arrangements are being made with other European Ministers not only to apprehend troublemakers but to bring them to justice in the European courts, which has not happened so far, he will have no names to feed into his computer when he comes to implement part II. [Interruption.] The Minister may say that that is absolute nonsense but I shall give him two examples.

Mr. Moynihan

The right hon. Gentleman has stated that if we do not have such arrangements with overseas countries, we would not be able to ban anybody under part II. He is totally wrong because, as he knows, anyone convicted of a football hooligan offence by the courts in this country, with appropriate action being taken by the court, will be banned under part II from going to overseas matches for either two or five years.

Mr. Howell

I am obliged to the Minister, but he will now tell the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw".] I am not withdrawing because I am going to justify it. The Minister will now tell the House why, in these circumstances, not one of the 300 people arrested in West Germany has ever been dealt with in courts in this country. Perhaps he will also tell the House why he has not done anything about the members of the National Front who went with the England team to Albania and to Iceland and behaved disgracefully. I am informed—[Interruption.] this is all part of part II—I am informed by representatives of the Football Association and of Leicester university that there was the most appalling behaviour. Those people arrived in those countries appallingly dressed and assaulted other supporters. They gave the Nazi salute during the British national anthem and then left the ground before the match had started. That is the essence of the matter, but the Minister has nothing whatsoever to say about it and no proposals whatsoever for dealing with it. It is a scandal. He should join us in denouncing it and say that he will take action.

I turn now to the Football Membership Authority itself. It is ridiculous that a Football Membership Authority is to be appointed and accepted by the Secretary of State without any opportunity for the House to discuss it. I agree with the hon. Member for Ryedale that it is wrong that the Bill as drafted does not provide for any consultation about membership with the supporters, or even with the police.

The Football Membership Authority will be a figleaf organisation, provided by the Government to give them a figleaf of respectability. It will have no powers apart from those which the Secretary of State decides that it shall have. It will make no decisions except those of which the Secretary of State approves. It is not a free-standing organisation. It cannot take its own decisions. It cannot determine its own policy. It will be bound hand and foot at absolutely every turn. It must register and computerise. It cannot exempt other categories of supporters.

We know that guests, disabled people and children accompanied by adults will be exempted, but the FMA has already been told that even if it wants to, it cannot exempt old-age pensioners and women. There are hardly any examples of old-age pensioners or women acting as football hooligans. The whole thing is ludicrous, yet a great attack is being made on the civil liberties of a mass of people, including old age pensioners and women.

Perhaps the most ludicrous of all the proposals is that dealing with overseas visitors. Those who want to attend football matches will be allowed to do so on the production of their passports. Where will the gates be located at our football grounds such as Wembley at which passports can be produced? Stealing passports is one of the most lucrative businesses in our society, but the Government's proposals will encourage it.

The Government have totally rejected all the proposals and objections that have been made. In my judgment, the scheme cannot possibly work. It will create aggravation at the turnstiles and deep resentment throughout the country. I say to my friends in football that, if they have any sense, they will have nothing to do with the scheme. We all know that those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. The Government are mad. There is no need for the football authorities to prove that lunacy is infectious. They should therefore have nothing to do with the scheme.

To show how irrelevant the scheme is, I shall cite the recent remarks of Judge Dennis Clark in Liverpool, who was dealing with people who had committed offences away from football grounds.

Mr. Roger King (Birmingham, Northfield)

The right hon. Gentleman's time is up.

Mr. Howell

No, it is not; I have another five minutes.

Judge Clark noted that most of the violence described in the cases before him took place away from soccer grounds and so could not have been prevented by the Government's identification card scheme, which he described as futile and cosmetic.

The judge was absolutely right on all counts. People who vote for the scheme today will vote for a scheme which certainly is futile and cosmetic.

We must spend a few minutes on all-seater stadiums, but, Mr. Speaker, due to your ruling, we may be able to return to it. All-seater stadiums are the new panacea. We all want to work towards all-seater stadiums, but I have a relevant question to which the Secretary of State has not yet addressed himself. Do the Government intend to make it a criminal offence to stand up? Unless we have an answer to that question, we will not know whether we can enforce all-seater stadiums. The Minister has obviously not contemplated that question, but I must tell him that at many grounds this year I have seen people who have been allocated seats—at Manchester city and Leeds especially—refusing to sit down. We must not believe that an all-seater stadium is a panacea, because it is not. We must know how we can force people to sit down in such stadiums.

I have already objected strongly to the proposal that we should approve the scheme by orders. It is a monstrous proposition to Parliament. Most of us in the House have never heard of an order being defeated, as that rarely happens. The orders are to be brought before us after we have Lord Justice Taylor's report. We then either have to accept them or the Government have to withdraw them. The reality is that no Government will withdraw an order and admit that they have made a monumental misjudgment of such an important situation.

We hope that the House will vote for the special procedure resolution, which will at least give us the opportunity to have witnesses called and to hear what they have to say, because the views of such witnesses were silent in the Minister's statement.

This is a Bill conceived by the prejudice of the Prime Minister—a reservoir of prejudice so deep that no man can plumb it. It is a Bill that owes its intellectual content to the Minister for Sport about whom no more need be said. It is a Bill about law and order throughout the realm, yet the Home Secretary has not taken part in the debate. It is a Bill that removes the rights of citizens.

The Bill will not work. I cannot understand why the Government want to accept responsibility for it. The Government are saying that the Bill is the answer to all the football problems. The very first time that there are problems, as there will be when the Bill is on the statute book, the Government will have to accept full responsibility for them.

The Bill cannot be brought into effect until 1990–91—that is its timetable. That year will be an exciting one in which to bring in the Bill. If the House forces the Bill on the country today, 1991 will be the year when football constituencies and others will show their contempt for the Government. They will restore to themselves the dignity and the civil rights that have long been theirs.

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

Before I comment on the points that have been made during this debate I would like to say how much I share the sympathy which hon. Members have expressed for those affected by the Hillsborough disaster. My visit to the stadium following the tragedy will remain with me as an occasion of great sadness. It was correct in every sense to pause for a decent period to mark our respect for those who died and who were injured and to have allowed time to consider additional measures to ensure that such an event never happens again.

This has been a productive and interesting debate, not least because of the contribution from the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey). I congratulate her on an outstanding maiden speech. I listened carefully to what she said and I am glad that I can meet her at least on the principal point that she raised with regard to supporters. I agree with the hon. Lady that supporters must be "real members", to use her phrase, of their clubs. There is a major onus on football clubs to respond in that manner. I would like to see the European initiative of bringing them on to the boards of football clubs followed much more closely in this country. When the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) began his speech I said that I thought that it was important for us to consider carefully the case for supporters or for a supporters' organisation representative to be represented on the Football Membership Authority.

We heard a predictably long-winded speech from the right hon. Member for Small Heath. It was long on criticism of our plan to tackle football hooliganism and precious short of ideas and constructive proposals. He made six or seven points, all of them inaccurate. First he talked about the appalling behaviour of our fans in Germany and Iceland and asked why those fans were not dealt with at home. Under the present law such hooligans have committed no offence known to our courts. Under the provisions of the Bill, however, hooligans convicted of corresponding offences abroad can be subject to restriction orders and prevented from attending designated matches outside England and Wales. I am sure that, when the right hon. Gentleman reads the Bill he will welcome that move forward.

Mr. Wareing


Mr. Wilson


Mr. Moynihan

No, I shall not give way. I have less than 20 minutes in which to respond. I purposely kept to 20 minutes in the expectation that the right hon. Member for Small Heath would do likewise so that other hon. Members could make their contribution to this debate.

The right hon. Gentleman also spoke about people being required to hand over cards to turnstile operators so that they could look at them. That is totally unnecessary. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the technology is available to ensure that individual members do not have to hand over cards to turnstile operators. Therefore, there need be no additional delay at the turnstile if the appropriate technology is chosen.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about the "national membership association". The right hon. Gentleman could go right through the Bill without finding a mention of any national membership association. I am well aware of what he was talking about but if he was referring to the Football Membership Authority he should also be aware that there are provisions within the membership scheme that can be deployed to allow the FMA to tackle incitement to violence, racial abuse at grounds and any incident that brings the game into disrepute which does not lead to action by the courts.

Those various abject and abhorrent practices can be handled under the discretionary powers of the Football Membership Authority, which can ban individual members for two years, and there is also an appeal mechanism therein. For the first time, many of the incidents at grounds which rightly cause anger and annoyance among law-abiding citizens or—I emphasise this—any similar incident away from grounds which brings the game into disrepute, can lead the Football Membership Authority to use its discretionary powers to ban those people from becoming members of the football membership scheme and thus from attending matches for two years. The right hon. Member for Small Heath should take a little time to look at that important provision, which he should welcome.

I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman advocated that members of the national membership scheme who join through their clubs should place a cross in the box to show that they do not wish to receive correspondence. Of the 92 clubs in Britain, 90 have partial membership schemes. Those clubs appreciate the opportunity to communicate with members so that they can keep them in touch with what is happening and inform them, not only about the success of the club but about sponsorship deals. Many such deals are associated with the cards. For example, British Rail sponsorship is associated with Reading football club's card.

The clubs appreciate being able to keep their supporters informed, because their members benefit when the club is financed by the sponsors. Yet here, the right hon. Gentleman stands at the Dispatch Box and tells clubs to stop communicating with their supporters and to put a cross in the box. That is an appalling derogation of his responsibility.

Mr. Denis Howell

I said nothing of the sort. I said that I would advise supporters to put a cross so that they would not receive an avalanche of unwanted mail. It is an entirely different matter for the football club of which they are members. Obviously, the supporters want to hear from their football club but do not want their club to disclose their names and addresses.

Mr. Moynihan

That is yet another fascinating revelation: there is a distinction in Labour party thinking between the members of a football scheme or club and the supporters of a club. It was very much our thinking that they were one and the same group of people. We thought that if clubs had an opportunity to encourage as many members as possible, they would want to find as many supporters as possible to watch their games.

The six points made by the right hon. Gentleman were all, regrettably, inaccurate. It has been made crystal clear to the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members that even with the most advanced technology available and with no commercial opportunities whatsoever, the cost would be £3.30 per annum if the card was to last three years, and possibly less if the FMA decided that it should last for four or five years.

We consider that to be a small price to pay for individual football supporters to be able to go to and from clubs safely. If the commercial opportunities are developed, it is possible that the card will not cost the football clubs anything but, in practice, will be an income stream to them. That is an important consideration which should motivate clubs to ensure that as many members as possible come to their ground.

The contribution of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) was thought-provoking and relevant, particularly to the wider debate of the problems of adolescent law and order. We have a duty to tackle the problems of law and order wherever they exist in society. That was the background for much of the Public Order Act 1986 and the Education Reform Act 1988 to which my right hon. Friend referred. However, no one would deny that there is a major problem of disorder, violence and hooliganism associated with football which must be tackled. The best way forward is to put deterrents in place, which is precisely what we intend to do by divorcing once and for all true football supporters—the vast majority of supporters—from the hooligans.

I cannot accept the claim by the right hon. Gentleman that there was a problem in only a limited number of grounds. The very first day of last season saw problems with the newest club in the fourth division—Scarborough—and, regrettably, only three weeks after a glowing recommendation of Aldershot's record in a BBC television documentary, there was trouble there.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Moynihan


We must take action to tackle hooliganism wherever it may occur, and I regret to say that there is no guarantee that it is not equally likely to occur at Hartlepool, Chelsea, Aldershot or Scarborough.

Mr. Barron


Mr. Moynihan

The hon. Gentleman has not been present throughout the debate. Some of my hon. Friends have been, and I think that it is important that I should respond to what they have said.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) made some pertinent comments about the view of the Police Federation, whose view he put very clearly. I welcome the federation's responsible approach to our proposals, and I am happy to give an assurance that, along with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the federation will be consulted about the scheme. My officials and I discussed the proposals with the federation at an early stage, and I am also happy to repeat the Government's agreement to the concept of an independent chairman for the FMA. Other hon. Members have raised the same point, and we may return to it in Committee.

Hon. Members have raised the important issue of the displacement of violence. I refer them to the 100 per cent. home-only scheme that operated extremely successfully at Luton. I also refer them to the view of the Bedfordshire police: To suggest that football hooligans have been forced out of the ground and are now committing violent offences within the community is totally without foundation. The groups of hooligans who used to attend home matches are well known to the police, and had they been responsible for an increase in local violence this would have been quickly recognised and appropriate action taken. The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) wrongly said that none of the police had come down in support of the concept of the scheme. Not only has it been made clear today that the Police Federation has expressed a strong preference for a home-only membership scheme, under which all away team supporters would be banned; but the federation wishes to impose a much more radical new measure than that proposed by the Government. There was no evidence in the hon. Gentleman's speech that he wanted to pursue any new measure.

Dr. Cunningham

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way so late in his speech. I accept what he has said about the police, but the fact is that none of the police organisations supports the proposals in the Bill.

Mr. Moynihan

That was a timely intervention—for I am about to quote from the Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales. The association has written: I am pleased to inform you that this Association is broadly in agreement with the Summary of Conclusions". All last summer was spent in consideration of a proposal which had the agreement of the working party members—the FA, the Football League and police representatives—and which formed the nucleus of the Bill. The hon. Member for Copeland would have difficulty finding a distinction between those proposals and the present ones—and the superintendents agreed with the main proposals. His was, in fact, a very untimely intervention.

Mr. Holt

My hon. Friend will recall that earlier I rather inadvisedly and unwisely called the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) a liar. I withdrew that and said that he had been inaccurate to say that 600 people had been arrested at Ascot over three days. I have taken the trouble to ring the assistant chief constable of the Thames Valley Police, Mr. Dunn, who told me that over the four days of Royal Ascot, 32 people were arrested.

Mr. Speaker

We are debating football.

Mr. Moynihan

My hon. Friend has spoken for himself. If the hon. Member for Copeland wishes to withdraw, I shall give way.

Dr. Cunningham

I do not wish to withdraw. If the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) had been listening instead of bellowing abuse, as he was continuously, he would have heard that I said "last year".

Mr. Speaker

The two hon. Members are about equal.

Mr. Moynihan

It is clear that the Jockey Club has made a dramatic improvement.

The hon. Member for Copeland also made comparisons about crime statistics. I find it surprising that he comes to the Dispatch Box to make such false and fatuous comparisons between apples and cheese. The crimes committed outside the grounds are different from those committed inside. After all, no driving or speeding offences are committed inside the grounds. The most relevant and comprehensive comparison would be between the number of arrests against equivalent numbers of police hours. I doubt whether there would be any disagreement about making that comparison, and I see that the hon. Gentleman agrees. The comparison of the number of arrests against the equivalent number of police hours is six of notifiable offences in society and 130 at football matches. That appalling number of incidents is permitted despite 5,000 police being on duty—police whom my constituents, and I hope every other hon. Members' constituents, would prefer to be downtown tackling crime.

It is vital that the House recognises that the most significant step in recent weeks is the decision by the Government, accepted by the other place, that there should be two debates after Lord Justice Taylor has reported. It is vital that the House recognises, before it votes, that after Royal Assent for the Bill, no action will be taken on the membership scheme, or even on the establishment of the Football Membership Authority, until the Government come back to the House and every hon. Member has had the opportunity to consider Lord Justice Taylor's report. Then the House will have the opportunity to vote. Furthermore, once the scheme is prepared, the House will have another opportunity to look at it and decide whether it wishes to give approval to the decision by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to implement that scheme.

All this will happen after Lord Justice Taylor's final report, whenever it is published. It would be wrong and inappropriate to take action on the details of the scheme or the composition of the Football Membership Authority until we have his final report. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed understandable concerns. I hope that as they decide how to vote, they will reflect that they will have the opportunity to look in detail at that report and to consider all its implications before the FMA is set up or the scheme approved.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 330, Noes 252.

Division No.263] [10.00 pm
Adley, Robert Baldry, Tony
Aitken, Jonathan Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Alexander, Richard Batiste, Spencer
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Allason, Rupert Bellingham, Henry
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Bendall, Vivian
Amess, David Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Amos, Alan Bevan, David Gilroy
Arbuthnot, James Blackburn, Dr John G.
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Ashby, David Boscawen, Hon Robert
Aspinwall, Jack Boswell, Tim
Atkins, Robert Bottomley, Peter
Atkinson, David Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Grist, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Ground, Patrick
Brazier, Julian Grylls, Michael
Bright, Graham Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hague, William
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Browne, John (Winchester) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hampson, Dr Keith
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hanley, Jeremy
Budgen, Nicholas Hannam, John
Burns, Simon Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Burt, Alistair Harris, David
Butcher, John Haselhurst, Alan
Butler, Chris Hawkins, Christopher
Butterfill, John Hayes, Jerry
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hayward, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carrington, Matthew Heddle, John
Cash, William Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda 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, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Holt, Richard
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hordern, Sir Peter
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Howard, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Colvin, Michael Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Conway, Derek Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Cope, Rt Hon John Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Couchman, James Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Cran, James Hunter, Andrew
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Curry, David Irving, Charles
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jack, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jackson, Robert
Day, Stephen Janman, Tim
Devlin, Tim Jessel, Toby
Dorrell, Stephen Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dover, Den Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dykes, Hugh Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Eggar, Tim Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Emery, Sir Peter Key, Robert
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Evennett, David King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Kirkhope, Timothy
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Knapman, Roger
Fallon, Michael Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Farr, Sir John Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Favell, Tony Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lang, Ian
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lawrence, Ivan
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fishburn, John Dudley Lee, John (Pendle)
Fookes, Dame Janet Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Forman, Nigel Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lightbown, David
Forth, Eric Lilley, Peter
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fox, Sir Marcus Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Franks, Cecil Lord, Michael
Freeman, Roger Luce, Rt Hon Richard
French, Douglas Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Fry, Peter McCrindle, Robert
Gale, Roger Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Gardiner, George MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Gill, Christopher MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Glyn, Dr Alan Maclean, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip McLoughlin, Patrick
Goodlad, Alastair McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gorst, John Madel, David
Gow, Ian Major, Rt Hon John
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Malins, Humfrey
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mans, Keith
Maples, John Shelton, Sir William
Marland, Paul Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Shersby, Michael
Mates, Michael Sims, Roger
Maude, Hon Francis Skeet, Sir Trevor
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mellor, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
Meyer, Sir Anthony Speed, Keith
Miller, Sir Hal Speller, Tony
Mills, Iain Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Miscampbell, Norman Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Squire, Robin
Mitchell, Sir David Stanbrook, Ivor
Moate, Roger Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Monro, Sir Hector Steen, Anthony
Moore, Rt Hon John Stern, Michael
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Stevens, Lewis
Morrison, Sir Charles Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Moss, Malcolm Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Stokes, Sir John
Mudd, David Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Neale, Gerrard Sumberg, David
Needham, Richard Tapsell, Sir Peter
Nelson, Anthony Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Neubert, Michael Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Nicholls, Patrick Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Temple-Morris, Peter
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Norris, Steve Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Oppenheim, Phillip Thorne, Neil
Paice, James Thornton, Malcolm
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Thurnham, Peter
Patnick, Irvine Townend, John (Bridlington)
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Patten, John (Oxford W) Tracey, Richard
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Tredinnick, David
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Trippier, David
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Trotter, Neville
Porter, David (Waveney) Twinn, Dr Ian
Portillo, Michael Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Powell, William (Corby) Viggers, Peter
Price, Sir David Waddington, Rt Hon David
Raffan, Keith Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Waldegrave, Hon William
Rathbone, Tim Walden, George
Redwood, John Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Renton, Tim Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Rhodes James, Robert Waller, Gary
Riddick, Graham Walters, Sir Dennis
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Ward, John
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Warren, Kenneth
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wells, Bowen
Roe, Mrs Marion Wheeler, John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Widdecombe, Ann
Rost, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Rowe, Andrew Wilshire, David
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Wolfson, Mark
Sackville, Hon Tom Wood, Timothy
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Yeo, Tim
Sayeed, Jonathan Young, Sir George (Acton)
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Shaw, David (Dover) Tellers for the Ayes:
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Mr. Tony Durant.
Abbott, Ms Diane Ashton, Joe
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Allen, Graham Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Alton, David Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)
Anderson, Donald Barron, Kevin
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Battle, John
Armstrong, Hilary Beckett, Margaret
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Beggs, Roy
Beith, A. J. Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bell, Stuart Godman, Dr Norman A.
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Golding, Mrs Llin
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Gordon, Mildred
Benyon, W. Gould, Bryan
Bermingham, Gerald Graham, Thomas
Bidwell, Sydney Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Blair, Tony Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Blunkett, David Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Boateng, Paul Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Boyes, Roland Grocott, Bruce
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Hardy, Peter
Bradley, Keith Harman, Ms Harriet
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Heffer, Eric S.
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Henderson, Doug
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Buckley, George J. Hinchliffe, David
Caborn, Richard Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Callaghan, Jim Home Robertson, John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hood, Jimmy
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Canavan, Dennis Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Cartwright, John Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Clay, Bob Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clelland, David Illsley, Eric
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Ingram, Adam
Cohen, Harry Irvine, Michael
Coleman, Donald Janner, Greville
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Johnston, Sir Russell
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Corbett, Robin Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Cousins, Jim Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cox, Tom Kilfedder, James
Crowther, Stan Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cryer, Bob Kirkwood, Archy
Cummings, John Knox, David
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lambie, David
Cunningham, Dr John Lamond, James
Dalyell, Tam Leadbitter, Ted
Darling, Alistair Leighton, Ron
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Litherland, Robert
Dewar, Donald Livsey, Richard
Dicks, Terry Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dixon, Don Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dobson, Frank Loyden, Eddie
Doran, Frank McAvoy, Thomas
Douglas, Dick McCartney, Ian
Duffy, A. E. P. Macdonald, Calum A.
Dunnachie, Jimmy McFall, John
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Eadie, Alexander McKelvey, William
Eastham, Ken McLeish, Henry
Evans, John (St Helens N) McNamara, Kevin
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) McWilliam, John
Fatchett, Derek Madden, Max
Fearn, Ronald Mahon, Mrs Alice
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marek, Dr John
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Fisher, Mark Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Flannery, Martin Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Flynn, Paul Martlew, Eric
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Maxton, John
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Meacher, Michael
Foster, Derek Meale, Alan
Foulkes, George Michael, Alun
Fraser, John Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fyfe, Maria Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Galbraith. Sam Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Galloway, George Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Morgan, Rhodri
George, Bruce Morley, Elliott
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monkds E)
Mowlam, Marjorie Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Mullin, Chris Snape, Peter
Murphy, Paul Spearing, Nigel
Nellist, Dave Steel, Rt Hon David
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Steinberg, Gerry
O'Brien, William Stott, Roger
O'Neill, Martin Strang, Gavin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Straw, Jack
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Summerson, Hugo
Patchett, Terry Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Pawsey, James Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Pendry, Tom Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Pike, Peter L. Turner, Dennis
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Vaz, Keith
Prescott, John Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Primarolo, Dawn Wall, Pat
Quin, Ms Joyce Wallace, James
Radice, Giles Walley, Joan
Randall, Stuart Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Redmond, Martin Watts, John
Reid, Dr John Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Richardson, Jo Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Whitney, Ray
Robertson, George Wigley, Dafydd
Robinson, Geoffrey Wilkinson, John
Rogers, Allan Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Rooker, Jeff Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Rowlands, Ted Wilson, Brian
Ruddock, Joan Winnick, David
Salmond, Alex Winterton, Nicholas
Sedgemore, Brian Wise, Mrs Audrey
Sheerman, Barry Worthington, Tony
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wray, Jimmy
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Young, David (Bolton SE)
Short, Clare
Sillars, Jim Tellers for the Noes:
Skinner, Dennis Mr. Frank Haynes and
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Mr. Robert N. Wareing.
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Motion made—[Dr. Cunningham]—and Question put, That the Bill be committed to a Special Standing Committee:—

The House divided: Ayes 234, Noes 326.

Division No. 264] [10 14 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Buckley, George J.
Allen, Graham Caborn, Richard
Alton, David Callaghan, Jim
Anderson, Donald Campbell, Menzies (Fife ME)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Armstrong, Hilary Canavan, Dennis
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cartwright, John
Ashton, Joe Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Clay, Bob
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Clelland, David
Barron, Kevin Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Battle, John Cohen, Harry
Beckett, Margaret Coleman, Donald
Beggs, Roy Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Beith, A. J. Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Bell, Stuart Corbett, Robin
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Corbyn, Jeremy
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Cousins, Jim
Bermingham, Gerald Cox, Tom
Bidwell, Sydney Crowther, Stan
Blair, Tony Cryer, Bob
Blunkett, David Cummings, John
Boateng, Paul Cunliffe, Lawrence
Boyes, Roland Cunningham, Dr John
Bradley, Keith Dalyell, Tam
Bray, Dr Jeremy Darling, Alistair
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B ham Hodge H'l) McFall, John
Dewar, Donald McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dixon, Don McKelvey, William
Dobson, Frank McLeish, Henry
Doran, Frank McNamara, Kevin
Douglas, Dick McWilliam, John
Duffy, A. E. P. Madden, Max
Dunnachie, Jimmy Mahon, Mrs Alice
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Marek, Dr John
Eadie, Alexander Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Eastham, Ken Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Martlew, Eric
Fatchett, Derek Maxton, John
Fearn, Ronald Meacher, Michael
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Meale, Alan
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Michael, Alun
Fisher, Mark Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flannery, Martin Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Flynn, Paul Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Foster, Derek Morgan, Rhodri
Foulkes, George Morley, Elliott
Fraser, John Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fyfe, Maria Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Galbraith, Sam Mowlam, Marjorie
Galloway, George Mullin, Chris
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Murphy, Paul
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Nellist, Dave
George, Bruce Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John O'Brien, William
Godman, Dr Norman A. Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Golding, Mrs Llin Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Gordon, Mildred Patchett, Terry
Gould, Bryan Pendry, Tom
Graham, Thomas Pike, Peter L.
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Prescott, John
Grocott, Bruce Primarolo, Dawn
Hardy, Peter Quin, Ms Joyce
Harman, Ms Harriet Radice, Giles
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Randall, Stuart
Heffer, Eric S. Redmond, Martin
Henderson, Doug Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hinchliffe, David Reid, Dr John
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Richardson, Jo
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Home Robertson, John Robertson, George
Hood, Jimmy Robinson, Geoffrey
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rogers, Allan
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Rooker, Jeff
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Salmond, Alex
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Sedgemore, Brian
Illsley, Eric Sheerman, Barry
Ingram, Adam Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Janner, Greville Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Johnston, Sir Russell Short, Clare
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Kilfedder, James Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Snape, Peter
Kirkwood, Archy Spearing, Nigel
Lambie, David Steel, Rt Hon David
Lamond, James Steinberg, Gerry
Lead bitter, Ted Stott, Roger
Leighton, Ron Strang, Gavin
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Straw, Jack
Litherland, Robert Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Livsey, Richard Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Turner, Dennis
Loyden, Eddie Vaz, Keith
McAvoy, Thomas Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
McCartney, Ian Wall, Pat
Macdonald, Calum A. Wallace, James
Walley, Joan Winnick, David
Wareing, Robert N. Wise, Mrs Audrey
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Worthington, Tony
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E) Wray, Jimmy
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Wigley, Dafydd Tellers for the Ayes:
Williams, Rt Hon Alan Mr. Frank Haynes and
Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then) Mr. Nigel Griffiths.
Wilson, Brian
Adley, Robert Cran, James
Aitken, Jonathan Currie, Mrs Edwina
Alexander, Richard Curry, David
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Davies, Q. (Stamfd & Spald'g)
Allason, Rupert Davis, David (Boothferry)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Day, Stephen
Amess, David Devlin, Tim
Amos, Alan Dorrell, Stephen
Arbuthnot, James Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Dover, Den
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Dykes, Hugh
Ashby, David Eggar, Tim
Aspinwall, Jack Emery, Sir Peter
Atkins, Robert Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Atkinson, David Evennett, David
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fallon, Michael
Baldry, Tony Farr, Sir John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Favell, Tony
Batiste, Spencer Fenner, Dame Peggy
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bellingham, Henry Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bendall, Vivian Fishburn, John Dudley
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fookes, Dame Janet
Bevan, David Gilroy Forman, Nigel
Blackburn, Dr John G. Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Forth, Eric
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fox, Sir Marcus
Boswell, Tim Franks, Cecil
Bottomley, Peter Freeman, Roger
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia French, Douglas
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Fry, Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gale, Roger
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gardiner, George
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gill, Christopher
Brazier, Julian Glyn, Dr Alan
Bright, Graham Goodlad, Alastair
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Gorst, John
Browne, John (Winchester) Gow, Ian
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Budgen, Nicholas Grist, Ian
Burns, Simon Ground, Patrick
Burt, Alistair Grylls, Michael
Butcher, John Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Butler, Chris Hague, William
Butterfill, John Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hampson, Dr Keith
Carrington, Matthew Hanley, Jeremy
Cash, William Hannam, John
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Harris, David
Chapman, Sydney Haselhurst, Alan
Chope, Christopher Hawkins, Christopher
Churchill, Mr Hayes, Jerry
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Hayward, Robert
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Heddle, John
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Colvin, Michael Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Conway, Derek Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hill, James
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hind, Kenneth
Cope, Rt Hon John Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cormack, Patrick Holt, Richard
Couchman, James Hordern, Sir Peter
Howard, Michael Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Mates, Michael
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Maude, Hon Francis
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Mellor, David
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hunter, Andrew Miller, Sir Hal
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Mills, Iain
Irvine, Michael Miscampbell, Norman
Irving, Charles Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Jack, Michael Mitchell, Sir David
Jackson, Robert Moate, Roger
Janman, Tim Monro, Sir Hector
Jessel, Toby Moore, Rt Hon John
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Morrison, Sir Charles
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Moss, Malcolm
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Moynihan, Hon Colin
Key, Robert Neale, Gerrard
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Needham, Richard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Nelson, Anthony
Kirkhope, Timothy Neubert, Michael
Knapman, Roger Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Nicholls, Patrick
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Lang, Ian Norris, Steve
Lawrence, Ivan Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Lee, John (Pendle) Oppenheim, Phillip
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Paice, James
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Lightbown, David Patnick, Irvine
Lilley, Peter Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Patten, John (Oxford W)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Lord, Michael Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Porter, David (Waveney)
McCrindle, Robert Portillo, Michael
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Powell, William (Corby)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Price, Sir David
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Raffan, Keith
Maclean, David Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
McLoughlin, Patrick Rathbone, Tim
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Redwood, John
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Renton, Tim
Madel, David Rhodes James, Robert
Major, Rt Hon John Riddick, Graham
Malins, Humfrey Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Mans, Keith Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Maples, John Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Marland, Paul Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Roe, Mrs Marion Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Rossi, Sir Hugh Temple-Morris, Peter
Rost, Peter Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Rowe, Andrew Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Sackville, Hon Tom Thorne, Neil
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Thornton, Malcolm
Sayeed, Jonathan Thurnham, Peter
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Townend, John (Bridlington)
Shaw, David (Dover) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Tracey, Richard
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Tredinnick, David
Shelton, Sir William Trippier, David
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Trotter, Neville
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shersby, Michael Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Sims, Roger Viggers, Peter
Skeet, Sir Trevor Waddington, Rt Hon David
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Waldegrave, Hon William
Soames, Hon Nicholas Walden, George
Speed, Keith Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Speller, Tony Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Waller, Gary
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Walters, Sir Dennis
Squire, Robin Ward, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Warren, Kenneth
Steen, Anthony Wells, Bowen
Stern, Michael Wheeler, John
Stevens, Lewis Widdecombe, Ann
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wiggin, Jerry
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Wilshire, David
Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N) Wolfson, Mark
Stokes, Sir John Wood, Timothy
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Yeo, Tim
Sumberg, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Mr. Tony Durant.

Question accordingly negatived.

Bill accordingly committed to a Standing Committee.