§ 3.30 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This Bill has arrived in your Lordships' House with unusual speed—some may say with unseemly haste—having left another place only a week ago. I appreciate the genuine concern expressed that the timescale within which your Lordships are invited to consider the Bill should be so short. It was of course to have been shorter; but, as I am sure your Lordships will understand, the reason for the unusual haste is to have a measure on the statute book before the start of the next football season on 10th August; a measure which will go some way towards meeting the very proper concern—concern which we all share—expressed about behaviour at football matches.
On 3rd June, shortly after the dreadful events in Brussels, your Lordships heard my noble friend the Lord President repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. That Statement described a number of measures being taken by the Government to tackle problems of order and safety at football grounds. This Bill is one of those measures. Your Lordships made plain then the feelings of anger, shame and sorrow which that night at the Heysel stadium stirred, not only in your Lordships' House but throughout the nation. Your Lordships indicated support for the measures being taken by the Government and, in particular, our proposal to introduce legislation increasing controls over drinking and drunkenness at and on the way to football grounds.
323 My right honourable friend the Home Secretary said, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill in another place, that it was a matter of deep regret that such measures should have to be considered. It is indeed a sad reflection on the state of a great national game—a game the world considers to be truly British. A football ground ought to be a safe place for decent people and their families. A football match ought to be an occasion for good, honest enjoyment for everybody. People ought to be able to walk about their town on a Saturday afternoon without fear. Some clubs, I am happy to say, still provide good, safe entertainment with a peaceful, even a family, atmosphere. They deserve every credit for maintaining the finest traditions of the game. But over much of the country football all too often means trouble. That trouble may not be on the scale of the despicable actions of the thugs at the Luton-Millwall match, which were on the television screen for all of us to see. But some degree of drunkenness or vandalism or intimidation or disorder has come to be expected in many of our towns and cities when there is a home match. That is appalling, and something no one should stand for. British football used to be respected across the world. Now it has reached the humiliating and shameful position whereby English clubs have been banned from competing in Europe.
The need and the urgency are such, as I said, that the Government want this Bill to be in force before the beginning of the next football season. We have had to get the Bill ready quickly to meet this timetable, and I know that there are, quite properly, reservations about hasty legislation. But in this case the Government decided that it was necessary to act quickly. Moreover, we have been assisted by the fact that the current Bill is based, with variations, on the tried and tested legislation in Scotland. There both the Scottish football authorities and the Scottish police believe that it has made a considerable contribution to improving the standard of crowd behaviour. Of course there are differences between the situation in Scotland in 1980 and that in England and Wales today, and we have tried to reflect these differences in the legislation.
Moreover, although the legislation has been brought forward quickly, we have consulted those concerned: the Association of Chief Police Officers, the football authorities and, not least, the official Opposition and the Alliance. The Bill takes into account the comments we have received, though I fear that we have not satisfied, and indeed would not be able to satisfy, everyone. In particular the football authorities are concerned about the effect on their revenue. Nevertheless the Bill, although prepared quickly, is a reasonable piece of legislation and I believe that it will prove practical and effective. It is certainly not a panic measure. My right honourable friend has characterised it as "tough but fair". I believe that this is right. We have tried to set a proper balance, and not to go over the top. There will be an opportunity in the Committee stage later to discuss particular amendments. On some points we may possibly need to look at the Bill again when we bring forward new public order legislation following the review of public order law. In the longer term, if English football is successful in rehabilitating itself we may be able to consider possible relaxations in the controls in this 324 Bill. But I am afraid that looks like being some years off. Meanwhile I believe that this Bill represents a reasonable compromise between the need to eliminate violence and hooligans and the interests of respectable clubs and respectable supporters.
The Bill applies to sports grounds and sporting events designated by the Secretary of State. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has made it clear that his immediate intention is to designate only soccer grounds and matches. These will include the grounds of all football league clubs; Wembley and any other stadiums which might be used for international fixtures; and non-league grounds when they are used for matches with league clubs, for example, in the FA Cup. It would be possible for the Secretary of State to designate other sports if the need arose. In that respect the Bill follows the Scottish legislation. The Government believe it is right to take such powers, because drunken hooliganism in connection with any sport is equally unacceptable even if less likely. But I assure your Lordships that we most earnestly hope that it will never be necessary to exercise them.
I shall now briefly describe the main provisions of the Bill. Clause 1 concerns travel to and from matches on coaches, minibuses and "football special" trains. It creates three new offences: first, it will be an offence to possess alcohol on the vehicle or train; secondly, it will be an offence for the hirer or operator or his servant or agent knowingly to cause or permit alcohol to be carried; and thirdly, it will be an offence for a passenger to be drunk. The Association of Chief Police Officers considers that the main problem of disorder at football matches stems from supporters arriving at the ground already under the influence of alcohol. The Bill will make it more difficult for supporters both to get drunk on the journey, and to gain entry to the ground if they are drunk.
Clause 1 will catch travel in England and Wales not only to English and Welsh grounds, but also to designated matches abroad and to matches in Scotland which have been designated under the 1980 Scottish Act. Your Lordships will be aware that the Government have tabled an amendment in order to bring the liabilities of hirers and operators of public service vehicles and trains and their agents and employees into line with the position under the Scottish Act, and I shall explain that point more fully when your Lordships come to consider the amendment.
Clause 2 concerns behaviour in the ground and on entry to it. It will be an offence to be drunk while entering or trying to enter the ground or in any part of it. It will be an offence to possess alcohol or a "controlled container" on entry to the ground or in any part of the ground from which the game can be directly viewed. The throwing of missiles, especially bottles and cans, is all too common and can cause serious injury. This provision in effect bans all bottles and cans from the stands and terraces. Concern was expressed in another place that the present definition was too wide and would catch items which it was unnecessary or undesirable to catch. I shall in due course be inviting your Lordships to approve an amendment which would catch (if that is not an inappropriate term in this context) a narrower range of 325 containers and exclude articles which are unlikely to be used as missiles.
This clause prohibits the possession of alcohol only in areas which afford a view of the pitch. In this respect it departs substantially from the Scottish Act, which in addition bans alcohol in all areas of the ground which are open to the public. I know there is concern about this, and perhaps I may briefly set out the reasons for this departure.
Even before the 1980 Act, no Scottish club was licensed to sell alcohol. Their problem lay solely in people taking in drink which they had bought outside, or arriving at the ground already drunk. But a considerable number of English clubs have for many years sold drink in their grounds—in many cases to no evil effect. It has been argued forcefully by some that nothing short of a total ban will do. But that is not the argument which has been clearly put to us by the Association of Chief Police Officers. Their view is that strictly controlled drinking inside grounds is easier to police than increased and more dispersed drinking in pubs and in the streets away from the ground. We propose, therefore, that clubs which keep their house in good order, and where drinking inside the ground presents no problem, should be able to apply to the magistrates for an order permitting the sale of alcohol in certain areas of the ground. The sizeable revenue which clubs receive from the sale of alcohol will serve as a powerful incentive to them to keep up to scratch.
Clauses 3 to 5 and the schedule concern the sale of alcohol in licensed or registered club premises inside the ground when a match is being played. That includes a period of two hours before the start of the match and one hour after the final whistle. During that time no alcohol may be sold unless the magistrates' court has granted an exemption order. In granting an order the court must be satisfied about the likely consequences for public safety and orderly behaviour. The order may be revoked or varied by the court, either generally or for a particular match. There is power for a police inspector to suspend an order at short notice for a particular match. This would provide for the situation where, for example, the police received information on a Saturday morning that troublesome supporters of the away team were on their way to the afternoon's match.
Clause 4 provides that the normal duration of an exemption order is five months. This means that clubs will need to apply for an order, and therefore satisfy the court about their arrangements for ensuring safety and good order, at least twice every season. Clause 4 and the schedule lay down procedures for the making of applications for orders.
There is one immediate practical consequence of these procedures which I should bring to your Lordships' attention. While clubs will be able to apply for exemption orders as soon as the Bill comes into force, it will take some time for applications to be dealt with. There will therefore be a period after commencement during which no club whose ground has been designated will be able to sell alcohol at a match. For a short time at the beginning of the next football season all league and international fixtures will therefore be "dry". It is not possible to say exactly how long it will take for an exemption order to be issued in 326 any particular case, but it cannot be less than 28 days, which is the minimum period laid down in the Bill between the application to the court and the hearing of the case. It is therefore likely to be September before any sale of drink at designated grounds can be resumed.
Clause 5 provides for a right of appeal to the Crown Court against a decision by a magistrates' court in connection with an order. Clause 6 empowers any constable in uniform to close bars in the ground if trouble breaks out or is threatened during the period of a match. Clause 7 gives the police the necessary powers to enforce the provisions of the Bill. Clause 8 prescribes penalties. Imprisonment is available for the most serious offences. Clause 9 sets out definitions. Clause 10 amends Part V of the Scottish Act. It extends controls under the Act to trains (which are not caught at present under the 1980 Act) as well as public service vehicles; it enables the Secretary of State for Scotland to designate matches overseas; and it applies the Act to matches designated under the present Bill, so that travel in Scotland en route to designated matches in England and Wales and abroad would be caught.
I shall have the chance to pick up detailed points raised at the end of this debate. But in closing my opening remarks can I say this: this Bill is intended to curb drunkenness and so help to prevent violence and disorder at football matches; behaviour which has been seen the world over on television screens; behaviour which has brought the game as played by the British into particular disrepute—and deservedly so; behaviour which we ought to be ashamed about; behaviour which we must take effective and rigorous steps to stamp out. Inevitably it will also place restrictions on genuine peaceful football supporters. That is in the nature of things, and is a matter of regret. But in the long run it is in everybody's interest—everybody but the drunken hooligan that is, and even him if he can be made to realise the damage he does—to restore the once good name of British football and to bring back the law-abiding supporters and their families who have been driven away from football matches by fear.
We must face up to whatever measures are necessary to achieve that aim. Violence and hooliganism, the behaviour of a minority, must never be allowed to triumph over the legitimate peaceful enjoyment of our national game. Let no one doubt the Government's determination to play their full part. This Bill is one illustration of that determination. If all others concerned, the clubs and the football authorities especially, will play their part with equal vigour, we can together rid the game of the scourge which has afflicted it and which has cast it into such disrepute. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, that the Bill be now read a second time—(Lord Glenarthur.)
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, the House will be grateful, as it normally is, to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, for the manner in which he has moved the Second Reading of this Bill. I believe that the House will also agree with the unexceptionable sentiments that the noble Lord has expressed. This will be a 327 debate, I hope, which will cover the provisions of the Bill which has been brought before us very properly as an emergency measure, and I wish to make it abundantly clear that the official Opposition in your Lordships' House not only agree with the general provisions of this Bill, but they furthermore agree that it is of an urgent nature and ought to pass through Parliament in good time to allow its provisions to be brought into effect before the commencement of the coming football season. That means that nothing that I shall say from this Front Bench is meant in any way to block the passage of this Bill, or indeed to impede its progress. But your Lordships have a duty to discuss, at all events, various issues, and if the Government find that any such discussion is useful or any amendment moved in your Lordships' House ought to have their consideration, I am sure that course will be adopted.
It is a personal delight to me that in the course of this debate my noble friend Lord Donoughue will be making his maiden speech and I am sure that we shall all listen to it with the greatest of interest.
Against that opening remark of mine about the official Opposition wishing to assist in every way it can in the passage of this Bill, our minds obviously go back to the sense of national shame to which the noble Lord the Minister referred and which was unfortunately our lot after the scenes in Brussels; it followed on Luton; it followed on Birmingham; and of necessity steps have to be taken in order to try to deal with this slur upon the name of football and also of Britain. I do not think anybody ought to think that by passing this Bill through your Lordships' House and speeding its way on to the statute book we are providing a panacea for football violence or any violence at all. What we are doing is trying at least to deal with a part of that matter and it is our obvious duty so to do.
It is right that not for the first time we borrow something from north of the Border; in the same way that they have from time to time borrowed useful things from south of the Border. It is a fact that similar legislation passed in 1980 in Scotland has, so we are informed, brought a great improvement in the conduct at football matches in Scotland. On that matter, I am hoping that the House will have the privilege of hearing something from my noble friend Lord Ross.
Violence is not confined only to football grounds and it is appropriate, when dealing with a measure of this kind, that one reflects for a moment in Parliament about this positive curse that appears to have hit many countries in the world, and certainly not ours alone. We ask ourselves questions when we are dealing with the prevention of alcohol at football grounds, in large measure, by an enactment of this kind. What are the causes of this extreme violence which our generation has inherited? One wonders whether there ought to be a deeper inquiry than a debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. Is it just alcohol? Is it drugs? Is it unemployment? Is it economic deprivation? Is it lack of discipline in the home? Is it lack of discipline in certain schools? Is it the absence from many more homes than was usual of religion and of religious discipline, if one may put it in that way?
It was interesting to read the report of NACRO, the National Association for the Resettlement of 328 Offenders, who looked at the statistics for criminal damage. The figures were referred to in the other place in the debate on this Bill and they are somewhat alarming. They show an increase over five years in matters of criminal damage of more than one-third. Those figures show that of the convictions and cautions the preponderant majority of the offenders were under 21, and in the case of minor offences nearly 90 per cent. were under 17. So this is a matter that concerns the nation fundamentally, because it looks as though it is something with which our youth is in some way afflicted.
That means only a minority of our youth. Of the majority of our youth we can well be proud, but we have a problem in regard to that minority. I shall not carry that discussion further than to say that they can also fall a very easy prey to any political party, so-called, that wishes to attend by its representatives at football grounds or elsewhere, to try to encourage our youth to join their ranks and join the violence and the frightening behaviour in which that certain political party believes.
Having said that, I pass to the measures in the Bill itself. As I said, it is the view of my noble friends that we must do nothing to impede the passage of this Bill; and, as has correctly been said, this is an agreed measure between the representatives of the various political parties in another place. Therefore it is my intention—and I wish to make this clear to the House at Second Reading—to refer only briefly, I promise, to certain major amendments where my name occurs on behalf of my noble friends, and in regard to them I shall say why I think that those amendments would be good amendments and would provide improvements to the Bill.
However, I tell the noble Lord the Minister immediately, because I believe in good faith and in agreements, that if he indicates to me that in his view any one of the three matters to which I shall refer breaches an agreement which has been reached between the official Opposition in another place and the Government, I shall tell the House that I personally will not from this Front Bench dream of moving the amendment when we get to the Committee stage.
Having said that, perhaps I may refer to the items that are involved. The first is that vehicles are defined in the Bill as vehicles upon which there ought to be no alcohol, no drinking and no drunkenness. Under Clause 1 of the Bill, that applies to a vehicle whichis a public service vehicle or railway passenger vehicle".The clause goes on to say that the vehicle,is being used for the principal purpose of carrying passengers for the whole or part of a journey to or from a designated sporting event".The immediate thought occurs to anybody who wants this Bill to be effective: why choose only public service vehicles narrowly defined under Clause 1? Why not all vehicles which are going to or from the designated sporting event? It would be very easy to get over the provisions of this Bill, if one chose to have some vehicle other than a public service vehicle to convey people to the ground or to take them away from the ground.
The second matter is of much greater importance. If it be decided to try to eliminate at least one of the 329 factors—namely, alcohol drinking—from our football grounds, why should it not be a total ban? Why should there be exceptions for executive suites or for other parts of the football ground, provided that one is not in sight of the football field itself?—a difficult matter to define, one would have thought, in any event. Why have these exceptions?
The exceptions are supposed to be there because it is thought that people might not come as guests of sponsors of the football event if they were deprived of a glass of wine or a glass of beer. They must be poor lovers of football and not very gracious guests if the invitations are refused on the ground that no alcohol is available, though in any event it will be available at a certain time before the start of the game and at a certain time after the finish of the game. One would have thought that a little patience might be exercised, even if there was such an avaricious desire for the consumption of alcohol as a guest.
So I put down an amendment and gave notice that I would oppose Clauses 3, 4 and 5 standing part of the Bill, because those are the clauses which deal with the exemption provisions, under which one can apply to the magistrates in order to get an exemption for a certain part of the ground which is not within sight of the field and where the applicant club has the merit of a good record. Again, I repeat that if these are deemed to be matters which contravene the agreement reached, I have no intention of moving my amendments and of saying that those clauses should not stand part of the Bill. But I am anxious that this vital matter be discussed at least at Second Reading.
I go to the next point. The Bill is expressed to be a Bill for all time. I use those words because I noticed that in another place they were the words that were used by my right honourable friend Mr. Howell. The Minister did not dispute, when he answered an intervention by Mr. Howell, that this Bill was intended for all time. I say to myself—and I say it especially when one looks at the provisions concerning the power of the Secretary of State to make an order subject to the negative procedure for these provisions to be carried to other sports grounds; not just football, but to be made applicable to other games such as cricket, rugby and so on—if you are experimenting (and we are), and if you are moving this as an emergency measure (as we are), and if you are hoping that this is going to improve matters and that you are going to have less hooliganism in the future on football grounds, why have it as a permanent Bill on the statute book?
Why not deal with it almost as though you were dealing with terrorist legislation? Why not have it for, say, a period of five years, renewable for another five years if Parliament by an affirmative resolution in both Houses so decides? So I have put down an amendment to that effect. I repeat that if the noble Lord the Minister tells me that that is an amendment which in his view has a wrecking effect on the Bill and is contrary to the terms of the agreement, I will not move it; but I hope that your Lordships will at least discuss it in the course of this debate on Second Reading.
In conclusion, I ask only three questions of the Government. First, please, when are we going to get 330 the interim report of Mr. Justice Popplewell? I know that that deals with the safety of football grounds. and so on, but we could be given many hints in regard to the whole beastly plague of violence on football grounds if we could get that interim report. So I ask the Government, bearing in mind that the learned judge has had some months in which to consider what is, I know, a very complex problem—I am sure it is being done with his usual care—when is it anticipated that we are going to receive that report?
My second question is this. When we are dealing with the question of violence on football grounds it seems to me as a layman in these matters that the installation of closed-circuit television is a vital element and one essential, one should have thought, for supervision by the stewards and the police. Can the Minister tell us what progress is being made with regard to the arrangements for closed-circuit television, and what arrangements are being made, too, for financing it from whatever source that may come?
The third matter, in view of the fact that I have just talked about resources, is this. We are going to need a lot of policing under this legislation. We are going to need all the money that can be spent on improving football grounds and safety. Please, can the Minister indicate, after the discussions that have taken place with those involved, what is the likelihood of there being funds sufficient to cover the policing that will be necessary under this Bill and the vital matter of safety at football grounds? Having said that, on behalf of my noble friends I hope that this painful Bill—painful to all of us and painful to the nation, but necessary—will be speeded on its way.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Lord Wigoder
My Lords, in my approach to this fascinating Bill I want to make two preliminary observations. One is to say how much we look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue; the other is that I should say from these benches how much we congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, on his speech. I have never before seen anybody fight quite so effectively with both hands tied firmly behind his back.
As we approach this topic, my mind goes back about half a century, to my school days in Manchester, when I used to go on alternate Saturdays to Old Trafford and Maine Road, wearing the appropriate United or City scarf and mingling freely with the supporters of the opposing team. I never had a moment's worry and knew perfectly well that my parents never had a moment's anxiety, either. Half a century later the position is very different. I am hound to say that I would never allow my children now, assuming that I had any control over them, to go to a football match wearing their Manchester United scarves at almost any ground in this country or, to be fair, at almost any ground in Europe or South America, either. I do not think we ought to delude ourselves into thinking that this is a peculiarly British problem.
What has caused the decline in our standards of fooball match behaviour during that half century? The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has indicated some of the 331 more deep rooted causes. There is material, I think for many debates in your Lordships' House as to why the standards of behaviour have declined over that half century. I doubt whether at the end of those debates we would find any very satisfactory answer. But I venture to say that I do not believe there is any one of your Lordships so naïve as to suggest that the decline in football match behaviour, the increase in thuggery and hooliganism over the past half century, is due primarily to the increased consumption of alcohol. There is no evidence to suggest that for one moment. If that conclusion is right—and I am sure it is—at least we ought to recognise for a start that this Bill is not significantly going to affect, not materially going to affect, the basic reasons for the misbehaviour that we see at our football grounds.
The fact is that at those matches there are today what might be called "professional thugs". They are professional hooligans. They are not football club supporters; they are not football supporters—to call them that is an absolute mockery. They are people who turn up in the hope and the expectation that they can take part in violent activity. Indeed, it is not unknown, and your Lordships may well know this, for many of them to turn up in order to have a good fight outside the ground without even bothering to waste their money and go inside and watch the match.
I have no doubt at all that this was part of the trouble recently in Brussels. Many people must have gone over there looking for trouble. That is why, of course, it is so desperately important that the opposing supporters should be effectively segregated. That that course was not followed was the principal cause of that terrible tragedy on that day. The other tragic outcome of that day's events is that it is not those thugs who have been penalised as a result—it is the fooball clubs themselves, which are perhaps not substantially to blame, and, more than that, it is the footballers themselves, who are not in the least to blame, who are going to suffer most as a result of the ban, a ban which I am sorry to have to say the Government appear to have welcomed when it was first imposed, although when the matter was raised the other day the Government hastened to say that it was not really a matter for them at this stage.
I do not want to suggest that alcohol plays no part in this misbehaviour. I believe that the part that alcohol plays is simply this: when the professional thugs and the professional hooligans start on their violence in or outside football grounds, there are other people there who, because they have drunk too much, join in who otherwise would not be tempted to join in. There is therefore a purpose to this Billl, although it is a much more limited purpose than that which the Government pretends.
As your Lordships know, this Bill creates a number of new criminal offences. When it is passed, it will be an addition to the criminal law of this country. I am bound to say that I am appalled when I read the debates in another place and infer from them an unpleasant undercurrent which the two principal parties have between them read into the provisions of this Bill. That is not the way in which criminal legislation should be enacted in Parliament. Over and over again in another place there were indications that 332 an amendment might be put forward, but then it was suggested that such action was outside the terms of the agreement, and the proposal was therefore abandoned. I am sorry to have to say that that has been the case.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I interrupt the noble Lord only to make the position of those on these Benches entirely clear. There are some emergencies which are national emergencies and where, by the grace of God, and with common sense, the three parties combine in order to benefit the nation. This was deemed by the official Opposition one of those instances. I understood that the Alliance also were a party to that agreement. If the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, cares to say that there was no such agreement with his party, no doubt he will make that clear.
§ Lord Wigoder
My Lords, certainly there was no such agreement. There was consultation with one of the Whips of one of the Alliance parties, who never even saw the Bill and who said that the matter appeared to be sufficiently urgent for its passage through another place to be facilitated. That is as far as the matter went.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way again. I do not know whether he has read what was said in another place, but the Home Secretary stated quite clearly that he had the support of all the parties in another place. He named the two people who represented the SDP and Liberal Alliance, in the persons of Mr. Beith and Mr. Maclennan, and he thanked them for the support they had given.
§ Lord Wigoder
My Lords, I repeat what I said earlier and which I understood to be correct; that at the time when the Alliance representatives said they would facilitate the passage of this Bill, the Bill was not produced to them. There the matters rests.
I am certainly not going to suggest that I should be hampered in my criticism of various clauses of this Bill, or that I or my noble friend Lord Hams of Greenwich should be reluctant to put forward various amendments, because of any such agreement as was entered into in another place. I believe that your Lordships have a role to play as independent Members of Parliament. If we have views about certain matters to do with a Bill of this nature, particularly a Bill that is adding to the criminal law of this country, it is our duty as legislators to put forward those views and not to say, "I am terribly sorry, but somebody somewhere else has said that I ought not to do that and so I am not going to do so".
Viewing the Bill in that light, I am bound to comment that I regard it as a somewhat muddled Bill. Well meaning it undoubtedly is. Muddled it certainly is. Indeed, without being unduly cynical, I could perhaps suggest that it is one of the most muddled Bills that we have had from another place for several days now.
Let us start with the provisions to prevent drunkenness before arrival at the ground. This is an important aspect, and I agree that it is important. I welcome such part as this Bill will play in controlling the consumption of drink on the way to the ground. However, I agree entirely with the noble Lord. Lord Mishcon, that there are loopholes in Clause 1, and I 333 believe that they will be very effectively exploited unless they are sealed up at this stage in your Lordships' House.
I next come to the provisions which claim to stop people drinking at the ground and getting drunk at the ground. I wonder whether we are not exaggerating this problem. I speak as someone who has been to a great many football matches, who has stood on the terraces and sat in the stands, and who on one or two red-letter days has even sat in the directors' box. I doubt whether there are very many occasions on which football club supporters arrive at the ground sober and then proceed to get drunk because of the amount of alcohol they consume at the bars in the ground. I do not believe that is a serious problem.
The real problem is that dealt with in the earlier part of this Bill—the problem of stopping people from arriving at the ground drunk or very much under the influence of drink. As to the provisions relating to containers, they were, if I may say so, made to look ridiculous in the course of the debate in another place. I shall await with interest the proposals which the Government have put forward by way of amendment, to see whether they have been able to close some of those loopholes.
The other matter to which I want to refer at this moment, because I regard it as being of great importance in this Bill, is the whole question of executive or sponsored boxes. These are boxes which are provided at a number of clubs, and to which companies may invite their guests, their staff, their employees, or whoever it may be, to watch the match in comfort and in seclusion. Meals are served there, and a drink is available before and during the match and, indeed, at half time.
I have two observations to make about that facility. First, such boxes are the source of very substantial income for the clubs which offer them. I do not wish to suggest that money is the be all and end all of this argument; of course it is not. But such boxes produce substantial income, and that income is very largely used to improve the safety of the grounds, the amenities of the grounds, and the police protection provided at the grounds.
The second obvious comment is this. There is no reasonable possibility of any act of thuggery or hooliganism being committed by anybody sitting in one of those boxes. As somebody said in another place, it is unknown for someone, having been invited to a match in those circumstances, to leave such a box and go downstairs and there to thump some opposing supporter. That simply does not happen. In those circumstances I am bound to ask this question: on what basis are the Government now seeking to say that the people in such boxes should not, if they want to do so, enjoy themselves in the way they customarily do?
I can understand the argument for saying that it might irritate other spectators who themselves are not allowed a drink to see people apparently enjoying a privilege that is denied to them. I can understand that argument—but that is not the way the Government have chosen to deal with this matter. What they have chosen to say in Clause 2(1)(a) is that drink is to be barred in any area,from which the event may be directly viewed".334 I am bound to say that I find that totally illogical. I begin to suspect that the draftsman was one Lewis Carroll. What difference can it make whether or not it is possible to view the event? Surely the point which the Government should be considering, on the basis that there may be an irritation caused to onlookers, is whether it is possible to view the drinking of alcohol from other parts of the ground. I venture to suggest that the Government should look at that point again before Report stage.
I had thought of tabling an amendment to Clause 2, but I have not done so because, for purely personal reasons, I am not able to be present for the Committee stage this evening. It would be wrong to put down an amendment and then not be present when it is moved. But I suggest to the Government, with a view to considering this matter at Report stage, that an appropriate amendment ought to he made to Clause 2(1)(a) in that to the words,in any area of a designated sports ground from which the event may be directly viewed",there should be added,other than an area to which the public are not entitled to have access, whether on payment or otherwise, and which cannot be overlooked by other spectators".A corresponding amendment should be made to Clause 4(1)(a).
That would enable those clubs who have existing executive boxes to continue to use them if people in them cannot be overlooked by other spectators. If they can be overlooked it is a simple enough matter to put in a one-way glass screen and to proceed in that way. To say that in some extraordinary way the use of executive boxes is out for the purpose of the consumption of alcohol if the pitch can be viewed is, I repeat, a total illogicality. A moment ago I referred to a corresponding amendment to Clause 4(1)(a) I am sorry; I should have said Clause 3(3).
I suppose that it will be said by some people that this is discriminatory and allows some people to drink and prevents others from drinking. I suggest that the answer to that is that it is not discriminatory to provide that where there is any possibility of thuggery taking place people should not be allowed to drink and where there is no possibility of thuggery taking place people should be allowed to drink.
My final observation on this Bill at this stage is that the provisions for the making of orders, bearing in mind that this is important criminal legislation and that we are entering largely uncharted seas, ought to be by way of affirmative resolution rather than negative resolution. It will still give Parliament some control over the working of this Bill. I hope that I have indicated that my noble friends on these Benches will not oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, but we believe that it must be substantially improved in Committee and on Report before we can give it our support at Third Reading.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Lord Donoughue
My Lords, perhaps I may begin by saying that it is a very great honour and a pleasure to join this House, which is making such an outstanding contribution to the national debate on public affairs and to the scrutiny of legislation. It is also a privilege 335 to participate in today's debate, which although perhaps a little removed from my own central interests in economics is, being non-partisan and yet very important in terms of social policy and behaviour in this country, particularly suited to the thoughtful and measured style of this Chamber.
The problem to which this Bill is a response is undoubtedly serious. I think that the kind of violence which we have seen brings shame upon all of us, whether it takes place in Luton or in Brussels. The British public looks for something to be done before the next soccer season, and this measure does something. If I have any reservations they relate to whether the measure quite matches the scale and the nature of the problem. I wonder whether the Bill is perhaps both too wide and too narrow; too wide unavoidably in its implications that the problem of football violence is extremely widespread. As we know, there are over 2,000 league and cup games in a British season and the problem afflicts only a few dozen of them. So much of football remains unblemished.
At this point perhaps I should mention that, over the years, I have been privileged to play football at the very highest level—that is, for the Houses of Parliament soccer team, as a guest. I am sure that noble Lords will be relieved and reassured to know that on those occasions at least I witnessed absolutely no violence or inebriation (among spectators at any rate), so the problem is not universal. It is localised, but it is serious and it is appallingly terrifying for the innocent citizens who are involved. It is also ruinous for the finances of soccer because the family spectator, upon whom the game depends, is being driven away.
The Bill is a step in correcting that situation and I am sure that, having heard the impressive statements from noble Lords on the Front Benches, this House will give its support. I also wish to add support for what my noble friend said about the problem of the political extremists who normally are involved in this kind of violence. These political hooligans see the football ground as a very convenient theatre for their activities, with quick access to the media and a large crowd available to give the security of anonymity. I hope that the authorities will pursue that problem very closely indeed.
I make one final point. The measure, being in a sense too wide, is in fact also too narrow relative to the nature of the problem. Violence in our society is not confined to football grounds. What we are considering here is the quality of our whole leisure environment. I hope that the Government will give great and perhaps higher priority to that question in the future. As far as football is concerned we know—and Bradford is the most recent illustration—that the quality of many of our sporting facilities is poor; and I believe that slum stadia produce slum behaviour.
I was privileged to be a member, some 20 years ago, of the Chester committee of inquiry into association football. Its report identified many of these problems and made recommendations, including one for a football levy board, which I hope will still be considered. Very little has been done, and that is true of Governments of all parties. As I said, I hope that the Government will give greater priority, when 336 considering expenditure, to the quality of our leisure environment.
If I may extend our vision just a little wider, to me that leisure environment is not just sport. It contains the whole of the conventional arts, theatre and music, in which I declare an interest, being associated with a great symphony orchestra. I believe that the diminishment of funds in any of those areas is a threat to the quality of our leisure environment. As to the Bill itself, I conclude by saying that it is a useful step. It is a commendable step, and as such I am happy to support it. I look forward to much more.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, it is a real privilege to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, on his maiden speech. It was modest but self-confident, witty, brief, enviably spoken without a note, and well-informed. I must confess that his own experience as a footballer was very different from mine. I was discouraged at the age of about 12 by kicking the ball into one's own goal. I only hope that the Chief Whip does not think that I do that too often these days. I hope, and I am sure all your Lordships hope, that the noble Lord will find it possible to take part in our debates very often. The fact that he is primarily an economist—a distinguished economist—but decided to speak non-controversially on this social problem is, I trust, an indication of his breadth of vision of which we may witness more in the years to come.
I was fascinated by the contrast between the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, because on this occasion I find myself in agreement with nearly everything that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said and in disagreement with nearly all that the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, said, which is a most unusual situation. I do not say that it is one to be repeated, but I must record it for this occasion.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, posed a question which is in all our minds: what is the cause of this football violence? The Government have made the underlying assumption that the excessive consumption of alcohol is the main cause. Certainly in my opinion that is justified by experience in recent years here, and to a less extent in Europe as well unhappily, especially when British teams have been there. From my own experience this does not surprise me because, though I have but rarely attended a first division football match, I was appalled when I used to sit as a Recorder, often trying cases in which a few young men, young wage-earners, were involved in offences of violence, burglary and robbery, to find that these offences were caused by drunkenness. One used to hear evidence, often given by the men themselves, sometimes, they hoped, in mitigation of the offence, of the amounts of beer that they had consumed in the evening when they committed the offences; one heard about anything from six to 10 pints.
Why was this? I suppose it was what is broadly called social drinking. They were not alcoholics in the sense that they could not resist drinking. They drank because they were "out with the boys". It was social drinking at its worst; they were competing with each other as to how much beer they could each drink or 337 they were showing off. They did these things in the mistaken belief that it would enable them to have a good time. Sometimes, of course, the worst of them, having mustered Dutch courage, would egg the others on to commit the most awful crimes, invading people's homes and so on. Certainly their drinking had a most shocking effect upon their behaviour. I used to think, and told them, that it was a damnable waste of their hard-earned wages.
In my opinion it is when such drinking habits are pursued at football matches or on the way to football matches that they cause the violence. I am sure the Government are fully justified in legislating to try to stop this situation before it becomes an even greater and more widespread social evil than it is already, causing injury, death and damage. As the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, so eloquently put it, it is a curse on football and a slur on the name of Britain. He was quite right.
So much for the need for the Bill, which I do not think can be doubted. As to the method, in my opinion the Government are right to make it largely an enabling Bill, though as a matter of drafting it is done in a rather obscure form. One does not really discover that it is an enabling Bill, believe it or not, until one reads the interpretation clause, Clause 9. It is there that one finds that the Secretary of State has power to make orders. I should have thought that sometimes the orders should be fairly peremptory orders, but as a safeguard the Government in their wisdom have provided that they should be subject to annulment by either House. It would be sheer nonsense to make them subject to positive resolution, but they can be annulled within 40 days, within the parliamentary definition.
I think we need to know a little more than my noble friend has been able to tell us so far about the way in which it is envisaged that the Secretary of State will exercise these powers, because they are at the heart of the Bill. Of course, they could be used in such a way as to make the provisions of the Bill apply to Wimbledon, Lord's, the Oval, Trent Bridge, Henley and to every football ground in the country to which people pay to have access, but I hope and believe that the powers will not be used as widely as that. I should expect them to be very selectively used, but I hope that we may hear more about that.
If I have any doubt about the Bill, it is as a lawyer who for four and a half years had responsibility for police matters under the Home Secretary, as my noble friend now shares responsibility in the Home Office. My doubt is as to the enforceability of some of its provisions. For example, take the last lines of Clause 9 on page 7:This Act does not apply to any sporting event or proposed sporting event—That admission free of charge is something that I think people would find fairly easy to get round. Suppose the suggestion, which is very widely put forward, is that no spectators who are not members of a football club should be admitted, suppose the entrance fee for joining that club is pretty high, and suppose it becomes 338 a condition of the sporting events of that club that admission should be free to members—that would possibly be a way of getting round that particular provision. It would be for the courts to decide.
- (a) where all competitors are to take part otherwise than for reward, and
- (b) to which all spectators are to be admitted free of charge".
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, would the noble Lord, Lord Renton—only to help us, as he always does—explain his point, if you take (b) with (a) and you remember that (a) and (b) have to be joined together?
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I had not overlooked that. I had read (a) as well as (b). Indeed, I have attended football matches which were of the ordinary sort hut in aid of charity, and where none of the players received any reward at all, but there were large crowds there. I mention it only as one of several ways in which we ought to consider the enforceability of the Bill, because it is very important that we should not pass these laws unless we are reasonably convinced that they are enforceable.
This is not an occasion for long speeches. I conclude by saying that yet again we find ourselves having to add to the criminal law of this country, not because the citizens as a whole need to be governed by it, but because of the curse of another minority. Nearly all our criminal laws are forced upon us because of the behaviour of one minority after another. This is a very unfortunate minority, in the sense that its troubles are caused by social drinking within the herd.
One hopes that one day the habit will change. Social habits do change. The habit of drinking in pubs over the country has changed a good deal in my time. One hopes in a sense that what the noble Lord. Lord Mishcon, said about the Bill being temporary and an experiment will reveal itself. But in the foreseeable future we have to legislate on the assumption that the operation of the Bill may have to last some years. I shall be interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, says about its being made a five-year experiment. There is something to be said for that. But all our legislation is experimental, except perhaps Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights. So let us, meanwhile, leave it at that.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Lord Willis
My Lords, it falls to me to be the first from these Benches to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, and welcome him to these Benches and to the House. I congratulate him most warmly on his interesting and witty maiden speech. I know that we all want to hear him at greater length—not too great a length!—on the subjects on which he is a real expert. That is not to say that he knows nothing about football, because he was a distinguished member of the Chester Committee. I for one have admired his work in those other fields for a great many years and I look forward to hearing him in more detail.
I find myself in a curious disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Renton. I disagree with practically everything that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, says and agree with practically everything that the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, says. In parentheses I take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, who to me made an astonishing statement. He said that if there was some kind of deal in the other place between 339 Opposition and the Government, we should not press certain matters in this House if that agreement had been reached. I find that astonishing. This House is independent. We have absolutely no ties with the other place, and nobody should be bound by anything that is said there. Let us by all means have respect, but we are not the lap-dogs of anybody.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I know that my noble friend will forgive me. I promise only this one intervention in what I know will be an outstanding speech. My intervention is upon this basis. I emphasised that such a practice in my view was only in a national emergency. Where that occurs and the Government are taking steps, it is always hopeful, and I think useful, that parties can agree to see that an enactment is passed through both Houses with great speed. I hope that that will be the position very shortly when we take office. I said no more and I meant no more.
§ Lord Willis
I accept that explanation, my Lords. Like many other noble Lords here, I approach the Bill with tremendous sadness. I have been an enthusiastic supporter of soccer in general and of Tottenham Hotspur in particular for over 50 years. I understand as well as anyone the high feeling that can run on the terraces. I can watch any good soccer match and enjoy it with a degree of objectivity. I love the skill of the game and the patterns that can be weaved by skilful players. But I was born only a mile from the Spurs ground and the blue and white of Tottenham is in my blood. When Tottenham is playing it is different. I can hear and feel the old tribal rhythms beating in my brain. So it grieves me, as it does others, that this wonderful sport should have reached the shameful position which makes some parts of the Bill so necessary.
We can all look back and remember—oh, the brave music of the distant drum! Fifty years ago or more we had a situation in this country which had several features in common with the one that we face today. At least one matching feature was the existence of mass unemployment. Millions could find no work. Hundreds of thousands of young people were either unemployed or trapped in dead-end jobs, with no future except the dole queue or the possibility of joining the Armed Forces, and many of them were rejected for the services because malnutrition had made them physically unacceptable. I know because I was one of them. I was unemployed for about a year during that period, and I understand only too well the hardship, bitterness and biting sense of frustration that is felt by those who believe that society has no need and no thought for them, and they therefore sometimes kick back brutally, ruthlessly and even mindlessly at that society.
Football, whether playing or watching, was one of our greatest joys, our main outlet. For a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, standing on the terraces in all weathers, it was possible to forget the grinding poverty and seeming futility of our daily lives. It became possible to identify with other people in a common enthusiasm; to taste success even though it was second-hand; to commiserate with each other in defeat; and to live again on Sunday and Monday the 340 magic moments of each match, praising the consummate skill of our heroes and denigrating the consummate skill of the team up the road.
I say all this because at this dark time it is important to remember that football, like the theatre, the cinema and the other arts that the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, mentioned, plays a positive part in our national life, providing relaxation and entertainment of a high order for millions of people. We should be the poorer without it. It was born out of a need and it still satisfies that need.
What was interesting about football in my youth was that although the crowds were much greater and more tightly packed together, there was little or no violence, as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, said. Today, the crowd limit at White Hart Lane is around 40,000, I believe; but as a boy I went to matches where there were 70,000-plus crowded into the same ground. Even when we played our arch-enemies, the Arsenal, there was no violence. Good-natured banter was the limit of our rivalry. Perhaps the absence of violence was because we could not afford alcohol. I do not know. Perhaps we had a greater regard for authority and a deeper respect for the police than have the present generation. But I do not recall one serious act of violence at a football ground during my first 40 years as a spectator.
I can remember on more than one occasion as a small boy arriving late at the ground and finding my view blocked by a mass of adults in front, and the cry would go up, "Hey, there's a kid here", and I would be lifted up and ferried by one pair of friendly arms after another, over the heads of the crowd, until I arrived at the front and had a perfect view of the pitch. Perhaps the whole thing was encapsulated some years before at a Cup Final, when the crowd was so large that it burst the barriers and flooded on to the pitch. Those thousands of spectators were shepherded back to the terraces and sidelines by one good-humoured policeman on a white horse. One policeman controlled those thousands of people. Indeed, looking back, the only violence that was associated with a sporting event in my youth usually took place on Boat Race night. I can remember how shocked we were at the "yobbish" behaviour of people who were supposed to know better.
I do not believe that the majority of spectators at football matches have changed all that much. They love the game as we did. They love their teams; they abhor violence. If the Bill can help to return the game to that majority; if it can provide the conditions in which friendly rivalry can replace moronic violence; and if it can bring back the true spirit of football, it is deserving of our support.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, touched on the basic reasons for this upsurge of violence in our society, and, as he said, this is not the time and place to go into that. But it is true that violence is now endemic in our society; and few would dispute that. Therefore, there arises a problem with this Bill, for this is an attempt to identify and remove some of the symptoms of violence in one area. Let no one be under the illusion that it will cure the disease. Indeed, there is a very real danger that it may contain the virus at one point and force it to surface elsewhere.
341 Whether we agree that violence is endemic—and few would dispute that—it follows that if we succeed in shutting it out of A, it will find another outlet, like water, in B or C. There were alarming indications of this at one of the recent test matches. How long will it be before the hooligans turn their attention to other sports or to other activities if they are forced out of football? I have the feeling that here the Government are simply diverting the flood and not stemming it. I do not blame them for dealing with this particular problem immediately; in fact, I welcome it. However, they are only stemming the flood, or, to use another analogy, they are seeking to check an outbreak of smallpox by sticking a couple of band aids on the spots. As the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said, we must hurriedly try to study the real basic causes of this violence in our society and root it out from there.
We have to remember, too, that football has become a victim of the plague: it did not begin it. It has now become too easy and too fashionable to blame soccer for the violence in our society. Perhaps the FA and the Football League dragged their feet, particularly in regard to the Chester Report, but in this respect they were no better and no worse than successive Governments. As Gerald Kaufman said in the other place, there is no such animal as a football hooligan: there are only hooligans at football matches. That point needs to be pondered. We must not simply push this Bill through, heave a sigh of relief and then sit back on our hands as if all has been accomplished.
There is one other general aspect of the Bill before us that concerns me. In the last few weeks, particularly since the disaster at Bradford and the tragedy at Brussels, we have repeatedly heard the demand that football must put its house in order. Clubs are being asked to close or rebuild stands, shut off parts of the terraces, introduce closed-circuit television and membership cards, and reshape or shut private boxes and bars. Fine: I am sure that the clubs and football authorities are only too anxious to comply. However, the costs will be staggering, the loss of revenue immense. Indeed, there is a grave danger that this Bill will tip the baby out with the bath water—or, in this case, with the alcohol.
I have heard it said that football can afford it, and the very large transfer fees are quoted in support of the argument. This is a fallacy. In the first place, only the richest clubs can afford the large fees and the money they pay quite often goes to the smaller, poorer clubs and helps them to survive. The money circulates within football. It is not invested outside the game.
In the second place, it has to be remembered that the main asset of a club lies in living human beings, in its players. They are its stock, just as a business has stock. They have to keep topping up that stock, renewing that stock, replenishing that stock, and getting the best stock. Without this, there would be no football, and consequently no crowds. No one criticises a large company when it spends millions on a takeover to extend and improve its assets, and football should not be criticised for doing exactly the same. If one takes the money away and prevents transfer fees, one will not improve conditions at clubs, one will lessen the crowds, lessen the income and lessen the opportunity to improve grounds.
342 There is not a bottomless pool of money in football. This Bill will put an enormous strain on the finances of the game. Yet the Government are doing little or nothing to help. They take over £200 million a year from soccer through the pools tax and VAT and they are proposing to give nothing, or virtually nothing, to help football through this crisis. A sum of £500,000 from the Football Trust to help provide closed-circuit television is welcome; but it is a mere drop in the bucket. Last year, for instance, it cost 11 London clubs almost three-quarters of a million pounds to pay for policing at grounds. This year it will cost more. Why can the Government not help, at least for two or three years, with this enormous liability?
It can be argued that the citizens of this county are entitled, since they pay taxes, to police protection whether they are inside a football ground or outside it. Yet the Government are handing the clubs a double penalty: "Pay your rates and taxes and pay for police protection as well". I think this is unjust. I think in this emergency, since the Government recognise that it is an emergency, some help should be given with the cost of policing.
In other respects, the Bill as it stands inflicts unnecessary financial suffering on football. The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, spoke about private boxes, and I entirely agree with him. Many clubs, anxious to improve the image of football and to generate extra revenue, have installed private boxes and suites. Most of these boxes are leased by companies and individuals who use them to entertain friends, clients and families. As the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, said, the usual practice is that one turns up, one has a drink before the match, a drink maybe at half-time, or a cup of tea or a bowl of soup and a drink afterwards, and maybe a bottle of wine with one's meal—exactly the kind of thing that happens at Ascot, Lord's or the Oval, with the only difference that Ascot and Lord's can carry on entertaining, but apparently football cannot.
Not surprisingly, as again the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, said, there is not one single case upon record of a riot taking place in a private box at a football match. Yet, by a single stroke of the pen, the Government propose to rob the clubs of much of the income from these suites, to so restrict their use that most of them will become white elephants. Thus, much of the £4 million annually that is generated by leasing these boxes will be lost to the game. How do the Government justify on the one hand taking away nearly £4 million in revenue from private boxes, and on the other demanding that the football clubs should spend much more money on improving facilities at the grounds and improving crowd control? The two things do not make sense.
We are told that drinking may go on in such boxes if they do not have a direct view of the ground. How absurd can one get? What company in its right senses will hire a box at a football pitch if it does not see the match? At Tottenham, for most of the season, the spectator sits in a private box and watches the match through a plate-glass window. The sounds of the game are fed in through amplifiers. It is a very civilised way to watch football. I stood for 30 years on the terraces and I love sitting now in the boxes on the stands. But there is no area in those boxes at Tottenham which does not have a view of the pitch. The suites at 343 Tottenham were constructed three or four years ago. They are small—too small to be altered. Under this Bill they will be rendered virtually useless, and Tottenham will lose an income of nearly three-quarters of a million pounds a year from leasing those boxes.
Absurdity piles upon absurdity. In another place it was suggested, I think by a nember of the Government, that the occupants of a box could always leave and go to a bar, which does not have a view of the pitch, for a drink. The scene boggles the imagination. Imagine the Prime Minister entertaining guests at Downing Street and announcing that drinks can be obtained only at St. Stephen's Tavern! One can see the guests nipping out for an aperitif, then smartly back up Whitehall to No. 10 for the hors d'oeuvres and a glass of white wine, back to St. Stephen's for a glass of red wine, back to No. 10 for the main course and the coffee and back to St. Stephen's for the brandy. It is absolute nonsense. The boxes are there at these matches. They are secluded. They hold only a few people. Most people cannot see inside them from the pitch. It seems to me ridiculous to penalise the people who receive great enjoyment from sitting in those boxes and the clubs who receive the revenue from them.
The Government say—I think it was said in another place—that one could not have one law for the rich and another law for the poor. That to me is a populist argument. Why cannot there be one rule for the people on the terraces and another for those in private boxes, if those on the terraces tend to misbehave with drink and those in the boxes do not? Why penalise those people who have not caused any trouble whatsoever? Why take away the money that could be used to pay for the new stands, the extra policing, the closed circuit television and matters like that?
I hope we shall come back to all these matters at Committee and that the Government will see the folly of their position, particularly on that issue. Football needs sympathetic support and help, not needless restrictions which in themselves will inhibit further improvements. While welcoming the broad thrust of the legislation, I urge the Government to think again about some of the deeper implications in this Bill.
§ 4.59 p.m.
My Lords, I rise to give my support to this Bill. If ever there was a need for a revising Chamber, we have demonstrated it by our example this afternoon. I should like to raise a matter upon which great urgency is laid.
I was astonished at one thing the noble Lord, Lord Willis, mentioned—that is, the help that he pleaded for from the police. The police are already a very expensive service and men and women are called out at very short notice. During the winter few of them have undisturbed weekends. Such an operation deprives other areas of the fair number of officers on which the establishment is calculated. We must not pass over this too lightly. There are many difficulties involved in moving about large numbers of police.
We are considering an urgent case in this Bill. But the urgency is, I believe, exaggerated. Why should there be this surprise? About six years ago we were 344 debating these very questions day after day when discussing clauses on a certain Scottish Bill. In fact, both Scottish and English issues were being considered and there were hopes that they could be brought closer together. But at the time the Home Office was not keen. So we had nothing to compare with the Scottish legislation. In the end, however, this House did succeed in getting through amendments to the British Railways Board by-laws. We achieved the important step of providing for the "dry" train.
I should like to ask what will be the effect upon those useful by-laws if this Bill becomes law. We are not in a simple situation. It is rather the reverse. Three Government departments concerned never makes for smooth and rapid action. We have the Scottish Office and its Scottish law. We have the Home Office concerned with English law. We have the Department of Tranport responsible for the British Railways bylaws which contain a great deal of what a police constable might reasonably want. These powers can be used by all constables but are used much more frequently by the British Transport police. However, every constable, if he so chooses, has these powers to hand under what are called, to use the jargon, 3A charges. Yet they have not been mentioned during the debate.
While we were discussing the big Bill last year, great emphasis was given to the rights of individual citizens. This aspect has not been mentioned so far, but I can see a number of problems that will arise in the proposals for upholding the law that we shall be considering shortly. As always, it is difficult for the police to fulfil their role of upholding the law when fans are milling around and, even if not making trouble, looking as if they will make trouble in the next few minutes.
There is, too, the question of identification. All of us can put ourselves in the position of a PC trying to identify, especially in poor light. We cannot take in everything we see. But, on the other hand, we cannot arrest by the dozen when trouble arises. When lads are pulled in this reduces the number of officers left outside on duty. How is an officer to remember the colour of a man's jersey or distinguish between two shades of blue? It means that the ringleaders often avoid trouble and others get away scot free.
The tradition of the British police is to take trouble slowly and carefully. They hope that the trouble will evaporate. Often, because of their skill and dignity, this approach succeeds. Today, however, we have violence of a different sort. One cannot simply wait for those involved to disperse. We have to meet violence with force. Too many officers are at risk.
Again, there has been no mention so far in this debate of the ever-increasing number of police officers and their families who have suffered from incidents arising from this football duty. I should like to see small highly-trained task forces in different parts of the country. These admittedly small elements must be well equipped and highly trained. They must be able to offer a speedy response to the violence they meet. A long and rather drawn out operation such as we have seen on television probably results in just as many casualties as may occur in a sudden and rapid clash. I would like your Lordships to consider this matter. We should consider that a number of police officers are 345 exposed unnecessarily to risk. There is need, too, to study how we can achieve a smaller call on manpower. It is my hope that in a week's time this House will have greatly improved the Bill.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
My Lords, it is much to the advantage of the subject and to the wellbeing of Parliament itself that we, in this House, have taken it upon ourselves to insist upon our right to discuss the Bill fully and also to have time between one stage of its progress and another to consider its proposals. That is only right and only fair.
The Bill is based on Scottish legislation. I was interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, had to say. It is nearly six years ago that we discussed the matter. I do not recall the noble Lord being present. It was virtually a dialogue at that time between myself and the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield. I am glad to say that I had legal help on that occasion from my noble friend Lord Mishcon, who is always helpful to a novice. It was one of the first Bills with which I had to deal after arriving in this House.
There was nothing unexpected about the Scottish legislation. It did not come as a surprise. There had been discussions and an inquiry in Scotland headed by a Scottish Office junior Minister, the late Frank McElhone. He met the clubs, the players, the police and the administrators as he travelled round the country. Eventually a report was produced and the aspect we are now discussing was only one of the items within it. Other matters included the issues of segregation and the standards of the stadia. The reference that has been made to slum stadia is right. It is not worthy of our national game that we should have such antiquated places and complete lack of comfort for people who want to see it.
We did more. This leads me to one of the most important issues. How many people were charged following the Luton-Millwall game? Certainly the offenders seem to get away while the innocent suffer, both from the actions of the offenders and from what we do in Parliament to circumvent the violence. We decided in Scotland that people offending at a football match, instead of going to the lower court, should automatically go to the sheriff court—the equivalent of the county court. Our administrative policy in relation to the law has matched the seriousness of the offence.
I was saddened to hear the noble Lord, Lord Renton, with his Scottish connections, and even one of my own colleagues, talking about the great slur on British football. It is English football that is in the dock—and, sadly, innocents among English footballers. What harm did Everton or Norwich do that they should be robbed of an element of glory that they gained for themselves in the last year? There has been far too much instant judgment. Instant judgments tend to be wrong, and the innocent suffer.
Everybody jumped on the penal bandwagon after the Brussels events and not everything was done in a fair way. I am very glad that FIFA today has retracted in some way from what it had done in relation to English football, but in my view it should still go a bit further. Why should the pre-season "friendlies" between Scottish clubs, English clubs and Irish clubs 346 be banned so that an English club cannot come up to Scotland? It is beyond all reasonable thinking.
However, let us consider what we did in Scotland. We had trouble with coaches, buses and in some cases with trains being loaded with drink. I remember seeing a television film of, I think, a Scottish-English game. There were crates and crates. They could have floated to London on the amount that was taken on the train. You can imagine the state which they were in by the time they arrived there. That was the cause of the trouble. There is no drink available for sale in any Scottish ground and so they brought it with them, and how they brought it! In fact, I should have declared my interest. I am and have been for some years the Honorary President of the Scottish Football Association and that is why my ears ring when I hear people talk about the "British" when they really mean the "English".
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, surely we Scots are such generous people that we would not wish to single out the English for ignominy?
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
Yes, my Lords, but I am afraid that that was what UEFA and FIFA did, and we had better face the facts. The Scottish position is that we stopped the carrying of these things on buses, minibuses and so on, but we did not mention trains. However, if the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, had been here, he would have heard that we discussed the matter and suggested that it ought also to apply to trains.
However, what were we told by the Government? The noble Lord, Lord Gray, was not here; he was acting in another sphere, probably supporting Inverness Thistle or something. We were told that it was outside the scope of the Bill; that the matter could be dealt with only by British Rail by-laws. Let us be fair. British Rail introduced the by-laws. If there is a big game in Glasgow or in Edinburgh where there is likely to be trouble, in all the stations round about there will be notices saying, "No alcohol on all trains" to such and such a place. It has worked. There has been a response from the clubs and a response from the public. The difference in the behaviour at the games has to be seen to be believed.
Only yesterday I asked Mr. Walker, the Secretary of the Scottish Football Association, what he thought about the Bill. I shall not tell you what he replied. However, one of the pieces of information which he gave me was the fact that when there was a big game at Hampden it used to take 10 large industrial skips to take away the bottles, the cans and the containers which were left behind. One could hardly, with safety, walk around the area. However, the last international game which took place there was against England. On that occasion over 70,000 people attended, but there were only a few hundred of those containers left lying around. Mr. Walker was able to tell me that the reason for that was that the administrators are still conscious of the fact that we must keep up the pressure to ensure that the law is obeyed. Indeed, this is where the police come in. The police have done a first-class job. Your Lordships must not believe that this particular Bill will go all the way to solving the problem. There are all the other matters, about which we have already spoken, 347 which we have done in Scotland and which we are continuing to do.
However, we still experience violence in Scotland. There was a Scottish international against England, but I think it was the Prime Minister who felt that it should not take place in London and so it was put off. We volunteered to hold it on a Saturday in Glasgow and show her that we could behave ourselves up there and have a good game. Indeed, we did so. However, there was one incident in which a group of English supporters—some of them supporting an insignia to which I am perfectly certain my noble friend was referring today—got themselves among the Scottish supporters and it looked like there would be trouble. Within 10 minutes the police were in there and the supporters were shepherded out of the park and, I hope, out of Glasgow as well. We now have experience in how to handle and deal with this type of situation and that is what is lacking in Europe apart from in this country as well. It is sad that we have to segregate and that we have to have all-ticket games and so on. However, we must face the fact that violence is there and we must deal with it. There is not the slightest doubt that that violence is exaggerated by or even brought about by alcohol. I shall not interefere with Clauses 3, 5 and 6. All I would say is that I am very glad that there is no weakening of the Scottish position.
There is only one other point about which I should like to ask the noble Lord. When the Bill was printed—and of course at the moment it is unamended—there seemed to us in Scotland to be a conflict between the Scottish position, which is supposed to be very good, and what was being proposed in respect of rail passenger vehicles under Clause 1. The Government's attention was drawn to that matter by, I think, Mr. Harry Ewing and then by the leader of the Scottish Labour Members in another place, and I understand that the Government amendments cover the situation. The Scottish position is preserved and is being applied to England, rather than an untenable English position being applied to Scotland under Clause 10. By the way, I think that it was my noble friend Lord Mishcon who suggested that there was no reason why we should not learn from Scotland in this respect because sometimes Scotland learned from us. Mind you, I have been puzzling my brains for half-an-hour to find out on what occasion we have learned something useful from England. I have not discovered one!
I do not want to speak for very long. I certainly wish the Bill well, but let no one think that it is the answer to violence, be it on football grounds or anywhere else. This is only a start. I know the difficulties. The traditions in Scotland, the drinking habits and the attendances at football matches are entirely different from those in England. Therefore, I am prepared to let the English handle the matter in their own way and I shall not vote against the clauses which provide certain exceptions and weakening of the bans. I know that conditions are very different down here. However, please do not weaken the position in Scotland, My Lords. If you want to know any more, I am prepared to lead a delegation of English noble Lords from this part of the world up to Scotland to see how to handle 348 matters properly. Please do not refer again to the behaviour of "British" teams in Europe, when you really mean "English" teams.
I was very proud of the fact that though when we went to the World Cup in Spain people were horrified at the thought of these wild Highlanders coming and living around Sotogrande, Malaga and Marbella, by the time the Scots were going away we were the home team and they were out cheering us even when we lost. I was even prouder of the Scottish supporters. When we played Brazil in Seville and were beaten—not inevitably, but we were beaten narrowly—the Scottish defeated supporters marched through the streets of Seville with the victorious Brazilians. It was a joy; it was a game which had been well played. The sooner we get back to that feeling in football—a feeling that we can enjoy ourselves—the better I shall be pleased, and I am sure that that is true of the rest of the country.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, I commence by congratulating my new friend and colleague the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, on his cogent and concise maiden speech, delivered in a first-class manner. I know he has a great deal of expertise to offer your Lordships on certain subjects. We can look forward to hearing some first-class contributions from him in the future.
What is this Bill about? I support the sentiments expressed within the Bill, but one part of the Bill will not be so workable. That is Clause 3, which was extensively referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder. But what has triggered the necessity for this piece of legislation? It was the awful and awesome tragedy at Brussels. I go some of the way with my noble friend Lord Ross when he spoke about an overdispensation of justice. I do not know when it has ever been acceptable to us as a nation, whether English. Scots, Welsh or Irish, that we need to have a blanket judgment where the overwhelming sufferers from the bans imposed are people who are totally innocent.
My noble friend Lord Ross referred to the fact that FIFA had today lifted its ban on English clubs playing abroad outside Europe. Some noble Lords present will recall that twice in the last fortnight I have asked Her Majesty's Government whether they would support the FA in its application to lift what many fair-minded people who have spent their life in football considered to be an unnecessary ban. The ban has now been lifted. It is sad that the Government at this moment could not have gone along with the request in an attempt to re-establish or get football moving in the right manner and in the right atmosphere again rather than appearing to be wanting to act in a punitive manner. I am not for one moment trying to defend what happened in Brussels. The behaviour of the people who caused that disaster was appalling. Most noble Lords will have read on Monday of this week a report from the Belgian Parliamentary Committee. While there is no question at all that the Liverpool supporters triggered off the whole thing, many things that contributed to that disaster could have been avoided. I do not think that type of thing could have occurred on any first-class ground that I have been on in any part of Great Britain.
349 I do not know whether any noble Lord has been at a match and very close to where violence has erupted, but I have. I have to tell my noble colleague who has just spoken that the first time I was frightened at a football match was on my first visit to Hampden Park some years ago, in the balmy days of Tom Finney and people like that. It was obvious that a large percentage of the people entering that ground had about as much interest in watching a football match as the people who stayed at home, judging from the state in which they attended the match. However, that has been put right. But, almost ten years ago to the night of that terrible happening in Brussels, I was in Paris at a final of the European Cup between Leeds United and Bayern Munich. There was a riot at that match when the players had to be taken off the pitch and brought back again.
Most noble Lords who have spoken today have come to the same conclusion as that which obviously manifested itself that night. None of the drinking had taken place at the match. In fact, supermarkets within two or three miles of the ground had been wrecked by people who were drunk on the way to the match.
I support completely and wholeheartedly the proposals contained in the Bill which will stop the carrying of drink and that type of behaviour that leads to this problem at football grounds. But I do not see, and cannot for the life of me see, why there is this stringent approach suggested in the Bill that will be applied to the guest or VIP boxes. I have put down a simple amendment that may draw forth the Government's views on this, but I do not think I could put it any more cogently or better than the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, who put forward a marvellous case. It could be laughed out of' court to say that because the people on the terrace will not be allowed to drink beer, people in a box which is totally secluded cannot have the enjoyment and fulfilment of taking a drink in an appropriate manner and in a private way. It has been said, and quite rightly, that these boxes provide a substantial sum of money for ground improvements in other respects.
I should be one of the first to criticise some of the astronomically high transfer fees that are paid, often for rather under-talented players, and some of the salaries that are paid to managers today, Nevertheless, there has to be a big input into football as our national game if we are to keep pace internationally, to blood the players and bring them through properly. It is true to say that even the richest of clubs here, such as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, who have substantial crowds every week, cannot survive these days without sponsorship from outside. That is why one sees players wearing shirts with commercials on them, because it is a necessary input of finance.
I understand that in the debate in another place one honourable Member referred to the fact that the ban would probably result in a loss of about £4 million. I believe that was mentioned a little while ago by a noble Lord. If £4 million is removed from clubs of that sort, it is true to say that it is being taken out of football in general because players move about. The man who has become an expensive player tends to move for a much reduced fee, perhaps into lower leagues, when he is over the hill or when he is on his way down past his 350 peak. This is the way that football has to be run, on the basis of good players moving up to the top and then moving to one side or moving downwards. It costs a lot of money to run a football team.
I was present when the Statement was repeated about the tragedy at Bradford. I think I raised the point then that most of the teams outside the First and Second Divisions would not be in existence if they had to exist on their gate money with perhaps a little sponsorship. Most of the Third and Fourth Division clubs, to my knowledge, exist only because perhaps they find somebody in the area who is a successful business person either in industry or in commerce and who pumps a great deal of his own money into the club in an attempt to keep it afloat. I should have thought that at this time—I believe the noble Lord. Lord Willis, mentioned this—there is a case for asking the Government for some money for football, in an objective sense. It has had more taken out of it by the Government pro rata than any other sport, and little money is siphoned back into the game.
While we are discussing this Bill, there is no point in us sitting back and thinking that we are the only, ones suffering from football violence. I do not know whether any of your Lordships saw scenes on the television and in the press at the weekend of a football match in Australia. No one could accuse any British supporters of being present at that match: but the match was total mayhem. Nobody could accuse British supporters of being present at the football match in China where it became so violent that the Chinese Government banned their international team and disbanded it. We are dealing with a worldwide phenomenon.
I hope that because of the money that has already been lost UEFA may want to reconsider what they are doing to clubs which are totally innocent. The Liverpool club has been severely dealt with because of the actions of people over whom it had no control whatsoever. The sad part is that we have to accept that as a nation because of what happened.
I should like to put one point to the Minister before I sit down. I think that he said that whatever the form of this Bill when it is enacted, there would be about a 28-day lapse before the clubs would be completely dry because of the legal necessities required to enact the Bill; and then there is the licensing. Having been in another place for quite a while, it is not the first time that I have seen Governments of both major parties who have anticipated that legislation would become law. I do not see any possibility of this Bill being greatly changed; it may be that it is going to be altered a little; I do not know. We will learn more about that on Committee stage. I do not know anybody who would not predict that in the next few days or the next few weeks this Bill will become law. I cannot see any reason why the Government could not give consideration to people being able to apply and to anticipate that; because it is not the first time, as I have said, and it will not be the last time, when a Government, in order to fulfill their political objectives, tell people that they can act in a certain manner because the thing is going to become law. There is the matter of the 28 days' loss of revenue to some of the clubs. Some of them, the very successful ones, will be able to carry it, as will those who have 351 quite substantial financial backing. But that 28-day ban will be a very severe blow to some of the clubs, and I hope that the Minister may be able to look at it—and he may not want to give an answer today—to see whether it can be anticipated legislation and then the matter can start to roll forward.
As I have said, I support the main proposals of the Bill. It is not the first time that we have had violence over here. I have to remind the Scottish Peer who waxed so eloquent on the good behaviour of the Scots that a short time ago Scottish supporters actually wrecked Wembley stadium after they had beaten England. I also have to say that the English have no predominant position in the matter of violence in football matches. You have only to cast your memory back a few years when a prominent (I think, the top) Northern Ireland football club was banned from football, disbanded for life because a group of its spectators attacked the opposing centre forward, a man named James O'Neill, severely injured him and maimed him for life. Belfast Celtic have been banned from football ever since. While we are dealing with it in a new form, football has had an undertone of violence for a long time.
I believe, having been a football supporter for most of my life, that the local magistrates with the aid of the police are quite capable of controlling our grounds if we give them the power on the points where beer or liquor can be sold and when it can be sold. I see no reason for insisting on this nonsensical idea of the private suites of boxes, with some of them seating only four people, having to be treated as though they are open points of access for drinking. They are not. They are very private areas, and I hope that the Minister will address himself to that and give it some consideration, as Lord Wigoder mentioned.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Lord Teviot
My Lords, this has been an interesting afternoon. I wish that we were discussing football or any other sport without it being tinged with violence. I join other noble Lords in giving a welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, who made a most interesting and relaxed speech, without a note. We hope that we shall hear him many times and possibly even in Committee, if he can face it. I am quite sure that he can give excellent contributions there.
I am afraid that I am now going straight on to my prepared speech—and some of your Lordships, including those who have been in the other place, might think this utterly disgraceful. This Bill is urgent, and must be expedited and be made into law ready for the forthcoming football season. It is a great pity that legislation of this kind for England and Wales has not been introduced before, especially following the success of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, in which one took part in the Committee debates. My interests are basically concerned with the transport arrangements to the sporting grounds and I am happy to say that the industry, through the Bus and Coach Council, has not dragged its feet. It has acted responsibly.
At the time of Mr. Whitlock's ill-fated Bill of 1981 the Bus and Coach Council, together with the Home Office, had agreed the following guidelines which are 352 now observed. Tours shall not arrive at the match more than one hour before kick-off and shall not leave later than one hour after the final whistle. The coach shall not stop, except in an emergency, within 10 miles of the match venue. It shall not stop en route for more than one hour more than once for refreshment at any place where alcohol is served; and alcohol shall not be carried in crates or cases or in bulk in any public service vehicle.
So, my Lords, the position so far as coach operators are concerned is virtually dealt with, in advance of legislation, by voluntary action. However, this has been done only at the loss of a considerable amount of business. The hooligan element, against which we now seek to legislate, found a simple answer to the problem. They decided to hire self-drive minibuses and provide their own transport free from restrictions. Indeed, only a week or two ago I read an article in the transport press which asked whether the new legislation would be, "A charter for soccer hooligans". This article suggested that the present Bill, when enacted, would encourage a further move from the disciplines applying to professional coach operators, with even more unruly fans hiring and providing their own transport.
This is a shortcoming in the present Bill which I sincerely believe must be eradicated and it is my intention to move an amendment in Committee to ensure that all passenger vehicles with more then eight seats shall be brought within the scope of this Bill when there is any element of payment, direct or indirect, by those travelling on the vehicle. This would in no way affect the private use of such vehicles, perhaps on a family basis, but it would, one is wholly convinced, greatly strengthen the effectiveness of the legislation.
Here I depart from my prepared speech. The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and others have amendments which go beyond this. Perhaps in between the Second Reading and the Report stages it might be as well to discuss the point to see where we go. I feel that theirs perhaps go a little further than I wanted. but I am quite sure there must be something different from what is in the Bill at present.
I am also concerned that, as in the Scottish legislation, there should be a defence, particularly for the driver of a coach, where he may find himself in the position of permitting the carriage of alcohol against his instructions and his own wishes. It must be remembered that the people we are seeking to control are the unsatisfactory element, and there may be circumstances where it will be unfair and unreasonable to expect the driver to expose himself to serious physical assault if he refuses to drive his vehicle because some aggressive people are carrying drink. I believe that a simple amendment following the lines of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act could overcome this unfairness.
To conclude, my Lords, it is unfortunate that it should be necessary to introduce legislation of this nature, especially at the speed with which we have to do so. However, we must face the realities of the times in which we live. Therefore, subject to the minor matters which I have mentioned, I give my wholehearted support to this Bill.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, I should like to join all of your Lordships who have congratulated my noble friend Lord Donoughue on a model maiden speech. Since I have had the privilege of knowing and working with him over a number of years, I can assure your Lordships that it was merely a foretaste of the great abilities and the depth of knowledge and experience that he brings to your Lordships' House. I certainly endorse what has been suggested, that he should speak often in our debates.
Since I am critical of the manner in which the Bill was produced and of the suggested rush through this House, let me make it absolutely clear that I completely agree with all those who want to minimise violence of any kind, particularly violence in a sport with which I have been associated over very many years. as well as the shame which all of us must feel through the misbehaviour of the very tiny minority of—I had better say "English", so as not to upset my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock—English supporters. I am sorry that the Scottish Bill, which seems to have worked well, was not put through in 1981, when my honourable friends Mr. Whitlock and Mr. Dunnett were then Members of Parliament for Nottingham. Mr. Dunnett, as your Lordships will know, has been for some time president of the Football League and he is extremely knowledgeable about these matters. I think it is a pity that that Bill was not proceeded with then. Nevertheless I do not think it would have solved the major part of our problem. As many noble Lords have said, the problem is much wider than the mere question of drink. It is an international problem as well.
I support the Bill because it is at least a contribution, although I would endorse what has been said already by several noble Lords; namely, that it is unusual for people to turn up at a match absolutely sober and to become drunk during the course of the match. No matter how one devises legislation, people who want to obtain drink on the way to a match will do so, whether it is from off-licences, supermarkets or whatever. However, I certainly believe that the Bill is a step in the right direction.
What I objected to was not only the instant reaction and panic of our own Government but also that of the international football associations. FIFA, the international body, only yesterday had the sense to realise that to ban English clubs world-wide was totally unjust, and I greatly regret that, with the encouragement of our Government, the European authorities, UEFA, not only banned our clubs from the European competitions but also prohibited friendly matches, even to the extent that friendly matches which had been arranged with English and Scottish clubs (and arrangements for which have existed for many years) have all had to be cancelled. The Belgian authorities, who went about the matter a little more judicially, by having an inquiry, have come out with a number of conclusions which I would have thought it would have been more expedient for the European authorities to have waited for. In the light of that report, I hope they will reconsider their decision, because the hard fact has to be faced that Liverpool had no means of controlling the arrangements for that match, and indeed it is now well understood that it was 354 a most unsuitable ground for the European authorities to have chosed. The Liverpool club had no part in that choice. Indeed, I believe that designation of the ground for the final is decided before it is known which teams will actually be taking part.
In general, one very strongly resents the fact that the clubs and the players are treated as though they have full responsibility for their supporters. Of course these hooligans could never be supporters of any sport, since they do not know what sport means, and it is totally wrong that clubs and players should be penalised in financial and other ways, quite apart from having to carry the stigma for matters over which they have no control and, indeed, cannot have control.
I wish very much, as I say, that we had not reacted in a panic and I very much wish that the Bill had been drafted by somebody such as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, who clearly understands about football and who, if I may say so, seems to have a superhuman impartiality. I come from a city where there were two football clubs and it would have been thought there absolutely improper to wear the scarf of one team on one Saturday and the scarf of the other team the following week. How the noble Lord has been able to do that over the years I should like to be told at some time. But obviously he knows a great deal about the game and I hope that perhaps at a later stage of the proceedings on the Bill he will give us the benefit of his great football knowledge as well as of his great legal competence.
Perhaps I may also briefly say that while I support this Bill and think it will help, some other ideas which have been put forward—identity cards and compulsory membership cards, for instance—are totally impracticable. Anyone who has had anything to do with the running of football clubs would know that and would not seek to go up that kind of avenue at all. Several noble Lords have said that we must also watch the consequences for clubs, in terms of finance. I understand the reason, and I do not dissent from the Government seeking powers to designate any sporting match or event, but if they include the Third and Fourth Divisions, they will be putting these clubs under very severe pressures. It is very rare that such clubs have any trouble of this character; their great trouble is getting any spectators into the ground at all. Certainly, as we saw at Bradford, what is badly needed is the money actually to deal with the facilities at the ground.
Also, the ridiculous transfer fees and the rather high salaries one reads about are just as exceptional, taking the game as a whole, as are the hooligans who misbehave as supporters of a particular club. Very many football clubs at present are in great difficulties and we know that at the moment the Government benefit to some extent from the pools. I do not think it would be unreasonable to ask the pools, at the expense of the pools winners, to give a further slice of money. A large percentage is now taken out by tax. I think the Government should pay part of the tax revenues into a fund to help with the improvements at the grounds; and I say that as the author of the Act under which the football pools are managed. Thirty years ago it was a great surprise to me to find that not only did the pools not have accounts, but that they were not subject to any audit or accountability at all. 355 I was very glad, with support, to put that Act through. It did not, of course, deal with the tax question. I had no contemplation that I was providing a quite admirable basis for a subsequent government to tax football indirectly. But I would hope that some of this money could go to clubs to help them with ground improvements and to achieve them at a faster rate, because I believe that this is an equally important factor in dealing with the problem that we are discussing today.
Finally, I should like to say that something about the Bill strikes me as being extremely odd. It is right that there is a statutory duty on the police to be responsible for the implementation of the Bill, when it becomes law. But the strange thing is that the football clubs have to pay for every policeman who crosses their threshold. They have to pay a fee for his duties, even though, as at the present, they do not ask for police. They certainly do not specify how many should come. They receive a bill for the police who have attended that match. I think that in principle this is wrong because it does not apply in any other field. I know of nowhere else where the police, quite properly, get involved—whether it is with pickets, or defending either the rights of people to go on strike or to go to work, or whatever it is—and where there is a charge to the organisations concerned. If Parliament decrees that the police should carry out these responsibilities—and we certainly would not wish it otherwise—I see no reason at all why the football clubs should have to continue to pay the costs for policing the football grounds. They do not, of course, have to pay outside—
My Lords, would the noble Lord explain how far the clubs themselves pay for this policing? Is it because it is private property where the game takes place? Is that not right? Surely there is some sort of agreement?
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, in fact in South Yorkshire at the present time I believe litigation is pending because some of the South Yorkshire clubs are taking the view that since they do not ask for the police to enter—they have no objection to their coming—they should not have to pay for them. I would certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that if they ask for police in the grounds as with anyone else asking them to enter private property or for a private occasion, they should have to pay. But when the police believe it to be in the interests of law and order that they should be there, I think that that comes under the general responsibility of the police and that the football clubs should not have to pay. As I say, I think that litigation may well be pending as a result of the refusal, as I understand it, of some clubs to meet the bills that have been sent to them by the police authorities.
I strongly support the amendments that have been suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, and supported by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, and my noble friend Lord Dean of Beswick, and some of the other amendments to which reference has been made during the course of our debate. I think that it is only right that we should give proper consideration to the Bill. I hope that if there is further legislation to try to 356 deal with this problem, it will be brought forward in a rather more leisurely manner and that the Government will take more cognisance of those who, like the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, understand what football is all about.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, may I begin, as everyone in this House has done, by welcoming the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, and paying a warm tribute to his excellent maiden speech. It is a trite phrase to say that we look forward to hearing him often in the future; some of us have heard him often in the past. All I would say to him is that he did not disappoint any of his friends on this side of the House, or indeed, throughout the House. We certainly look forward very much to hearing from him often in the future.
I listened very carefully to the speech that was made from our Front Bench by my noble friend Lord Mishcon. I echo entirely the thrust of what he had to say—that is, that in no way is it my intention to aid and abet delay or damage to the Bill. We are committed by all the facts and by conventions to ensure, in the light of that which has caused this Bill to be brought here, that as a Parliament we deal with the problem as effectively as we can. However, that does not mean that we ought not to scrutinise the Bill in the time that we have and speak to proposed amendments which are designed to remedy defects that we see and to improve the Bill; but it is against the background that at the end of the day the Bill shall pass with the blessing of this House.
I echo, too, the words of a number of noble Lords. I happened to have been on holiday—as indeed was the House—on that dreadful Wednesday night when we saw the scenes in Brussels. I looked at the television screen with my family, an extended family, on holiday. There was, of course, a mixture of feelings: anger, vengeance, revenge. This turned to despair and desperation, because at the end of the day one asked oneself: what madness gets into individuals to behave and tragically to over-react in the way that they did to bring about the tragedy?
The interesting point is that in another place, when the Home Secretary prevailed upon the House to take the action which is contained in this Bill, it was against the background of the happenings at three major football events: the Birmingham-Leeds game; the Luton-Millwall game; and the Liverpool-Juventus game. In all of those grounds no alcohol was on sale. They were "dry" grounds. It is against that background that we are trying to solve a problem at this time.
The Bill seeks to ensure the non-carrying into the grounds of alcohol. It certainly wishes to see the control of the consumption of alcohol inside the grounds. The dilemma for the Government is that they have to produce a piece of legislation which, to the best of their ability, will tackle not the problem of drinking in the grounds but the problem of the state which the spectator sport of football has reached over a comparatively short period for thousands and thousands of people. What the House has to do is to be exceedingly careful—as my noble friend Lord Ross of 357 Marnock said—in making instant judgments based upon a horrific scenario from Brussels and believing that we are getting it right. This is one of those cases where we have not only to get it right; we have to get it right quickly. We all know the danger of trying to get things right quickly—we may very well not get them as right as we would, given time.
I agree with the Government that there is very little time, because we need to be seen to be acting as a Parliament before the season begins. The whole raison d'etre of the Bill is to control, direct, and moderate, in the interests of crowd security, hooliganism which is primarily caused by the consumption of alcohol.
I listened with fascination, not to the whole but to part of the major contribution to this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Willis. He is a Tottenham boy, born and bred. He knows his Tottenham. I happen to have had the privilege of representing Edmonton which is as proud of the Spurs as those such as the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who live there, I happen to have stood on the terraces of the Spurs as long ago as 40 years. At the end of the War, I happened to find my way to the Spurs in July 1945 to see not a football match but a boxing match. It was the heavyweight championship of Great Britain between Bruce Woodcock and Jack London. My noble friend Lord Dean of Beswick knows not only his football but was able to tell me before the words came out of my mouth who the proponents were. Sadly, because Jack London came from West Hartlepool, I cheered him and I lost. Members of the House can see that, although I lived in Tottenham and Edmonton for 30 years, I was not born within the sound of Bow Bells. I declare that other interest.
But what the noble Lord, Lord Willis, said with effect is that those who live in Tottenham are not saints; and certainly they are not sinners. What the Spurs club has attempted to do for the past few years is to recognise that one cannot rely upon the good sense. the moderation or the sense of fair play of the hooligans and people who are intent on spoiling the game as a club and as a business. Like most major clubs, the Spurs is a successful, professional business. but there are responsibilities upon the club. I have had information from the club for this debate which I myself sought.
I declare an interest, not by virtue of a connection with the Spurs, but as a director of the Enfield and St. Albans Co-operative Society who are one of the sponsors of the Spurs. Sponsorship and support by companies and industries plays a major part these days, so I declare a tangential interest in this matter. I have seen the Spurs grow over 30 years into the finely equipped, well managed and anxious to please club that it is today. But clubs like Spurs, faced with wanting to do what is right, faced with agreeing with the thrust of the legislation, recognise that there is a lacuna, an anomaly, so I support the case that has been made for the Government to think again, or to come up with a solution whereby their problem can be looked at.
Without the need to be galvanised into action or being afraid by what happened in Brussels, Spurs spent in 1984–85 £100,000 on ground maintenance and £450,000 on ground improvements, new crush 358 barriers, new fencing, new gates, waterproofing stands, modernising the turnstiles, improving concrete steps and retaining walls and better signposting. A club cannot do that sort of thing purely on the basis of the gate money coming in. In 1985, a club carries on what is called a corporate business and it needs other means of survival. It has also spent £70,000 this year on closed circuit television and improved facilities for the St. John Ambulance Brigade.
The phrase used by my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock—"rushing into instant judgments"—is a fair phrase, a telling phrase and a proper phase. There is no doubt that drink and its abuse is part of the problem we face, but the major problem is proper policing and segregation of the fans. When I first stood on the terraces of St. James's Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne 50 years ago, one suddenly noticed the policemen when, five minutes before the end of the game, they moved from wherever they were. That was the first time one knew that there were policemen in the ground.
It is all changed now. The fact of the matter is that a club like Spurs engages and pays for the average game 200 policemen and 300 stewards and ground staff, in order adequately to police and regularise the ground. They tell me that 99.5 per cent. of any trouble by the crowd can be contained by using that number of people. But that still does not mean that we must not look at the problem of drink.
The noble Lord, Lord Willis, dealt far more graphically, humorously and tellingly than I could with the main problem facing clubs like Spurs, who need an income and who have moved with the times not merely by improving the ground for the generality of the fans but also by providing what are called executive boxes. We have the problem under the Bill that the people on the terraces will be enabled to buy drink, but the people who are providing a great deal of wealth and occupying the boxes will not be able to consume drink, simply because of the geography or the necessity for a certain design. I believe that the Government ought to have another look at that.
I am told that this affects not only Spurs. I have a list of clubs—Aston Villa, Birmingham, Blackburn, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Derby, Everton, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich, Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Queens Park, Sunderland, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton—who all have problems similar to those which will be faced by Spurs; and as the noble Lord, Lord Willis, pointed out, the rental income or the value of the executive suites works out at £600,000 a year. Football in 1985 is very big business indeed.
I do not wish to say any more, other than that it is very sad indeed—and I take note of what my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock said—that this problem has been brought upon us by the behaviour of some English fans, and that the football authorities in England could have followed the lead of the football authorities in Scotland with a great deal of profit. We might then have eliminated the necessity to pass legislation in this form. It will certainly not be impeded or opposed by me, but I hope very much that the Minister can say something kind to me and my colleagues, who intend to argue the case we have made in respect of the executive boxes.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, in winding up this debate on behalf of those sitting on these Benches, I should first like to join with others in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, on a most outstanding maiden speech. I can say that for several reasons, the first of which is that I largely agreed with the thrust of his argument that this Bill is in some respects too wide and in other respects too narrow. I think that that is a correct diagnosis. But I join with him also in saying—and I think it is common ground in all parts of the House—that the Government were right to introduce this legislation, and it is clearly right for Parliament to proceed with it with dispatch, so that it is on the statute book before the beginning of the new football season.
That is exactly what the Alliance representatives said to the Home Secretary when they met him. On that occasion, they were given an outline of the Government's proposals, but of course they did not see the Bill. What they committed themselves to on that occasion was to make sure that that Bill had facilities to go through Parliament before the summer Recess. They were not asked at any stage, nor, it is only fair to say, has it been suggested (but I want to avoid any misunderstanding on this point) to agree that the Bill should go through this House in one day's sitting. I would just touch on this matter briefly, because it is important to take account of it and use it as a background in developing the rest of one's case.
We have been presented with a Bill at exceptionally short notice; a Bill which proceeded through the House of Commons in one sitting day. At ten o'clock at night, when the Bill secured its Second Reading, there were a whole series of speeches made, primarily by Conservative Members of the House of Commons, who were complaining at the speed with which this Bill was being put on the statute book. They were joined by a number of Labour MPs and by my honourable friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland. I think it is right to say that, because that is one reason why a number of us were so alarmed by the suggestion that we, too, were going to be invited to put this Bill through all its stages in a single day.
I am very glad that the Government thought better of that, after a number of us had protested about it, and have changed their earlier decision and have agreed to take this Bill in two days—today and Wednesday of next week. But the House has still agreed to speed up the progress of this Bill by a very remarkable amount indeed.
Normally there would be four separate stages. We are now going to have only two stages. That being so—I say this to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, as I did to the noble Viscount on Tuesday—the Government have a particular responsibility to listen very carefully to the arguments which have been put by Members on both sides of the House and to take account very seriously of what has been said so that we can try to get some common ground. There is no desire on the part of my noble friends and myself to find areas of disagreement, to press matters to Division, or anything of that kind; but we hope that the Government are going to make some concessions in a spirit of compromise, which I think most of us are very anxious to achieve.
360 I should like to make one more point on this aspect of the argument before moving on to the Bill. I touched on this matter on Tuesday when we were discussing the Business Question. When we had the Prevention of Terrorism Bill going through this House in one day's debate, as we did in 1974, there was obviously a very substantial amount of common ground, as there is on this Bill, between Members on different sides of the House. It is only fair to say that on that occasion we provided members of the opposition parties with Notes on Clauses, which has not been done in this House today and which I rather regret. However, on that occasion we had one very important provision within the Bill: it was subject to annual renewal. What we have to accept here is that we are being invited to pass a Bill which will form a permanent part of the statute law of this country, which means that we have to look at it that much more critically to ensure that we do not wholly inadvertently do some private citizens or some clubs very substantial damage.
It has been agreed by most noble Lords who have spoken that there has long been a case for dealing with football violence. Indeed, as we have been reminded on a number of occasions, an all-party Private Member's Bill was introduced in another place by Mr. Whitlock, Mr. Dunnet, my colleague Mr. Tom Bradley, and by the present Conservative Member for Market Harborough. That Bill, which had the same objectives as the present Bill, was in fact blocked by the Government. That was in 1981. I think that was a mistake. It may well be that the Bill was not perfectly drafted—I am sure it was not—but nevertheless if the Government had supported the Bill and had brought in a number of amendments to it, then it is at least possible that we would have avoided some of the violence of the past four years. It would also have been possible to consider in a much more leisurely way than is now possible the actual detailed contents of the Bill.
There is of course not much mystery about why that violence has taken place. It has occurred partly at least because a number of young men have consumed too much alcohol and have used the excuse provided by a sporting occasion to involve themselves in vicious hooliganism. As we all know—indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, touched on this at the beginning of our debate—there is far too much violence in our society. A great deal of this is alcohol-related.
When I was chairman of the Parole Board I asked the Parole Board secretariat to carry out an analysis of 100 murder cases. This demonstrated that in half of those cases the assailant was heavily under the influence of drink at the time of the offence. Indeed, sometimes both murderer and victim were in precisely the same condition. What holds good for murder also holds good for acts of unpremeditated violence. Home Office statistics show that in roughly half of such cases the assailant was heavily under the influence of alcohol at the time he committed his crime.
In such circumstances I think it is obvious that this Bill is long overdue. Our nation's reputation has been severely damaged by the sight of drunken rioters not only invading football pitches but smashing cars in adjoining streets and terrorising people in city centre shopping areas. These escalating episodes of violence culminated in the dreadful events of Brussels. There is 361 little more that one can say about this except once again to express one's deep regret and sadness at the wanton destruction of human life by a number of so-called football supporters.
I do not think that many of us doubt—the noble Lord, Lord Dean of Beswick, touched on this matter—the accuracy of the verdict of the Belgian Parliament's committee of inquiry, which indicated that there were undoubtedly a number of serious errors committed both by the football authorities and by the Belgian police. But the principal responsibility—we have to recognise this—did lie with British football supporters. That of course is why we are debating this Bill today.
Having stated my support—not only my support but the support of those sitting on these Benches—for the general purposes of the Bill. I now want to turn to a number of specific criticisms of some of its detailed provisions. I shall deal first of all with one matter which is not dealt with at all in the Bill. Frankly, I find this one of the most perplexing issues of all. The House will remember—this has been referred to already—the dreadful scenes that took place at the match between Luton and Millwall in March of this year when crowds invaded the pitch and attached the police. We all remember watching these scenes of vicious violence on television.
I do not understand why the opportunity has not been taken in this Bill to make it a criminal offence to run onto a football pitch while the game is in progress and after its conclusion. It seems self-evident that this was a clear demonstration of how serious violence can take place. I do not understand why we are not dealing with this issue in the Bill. That would deal with some genuine problems. It is a matter of substantial doubt how much effect some of the other provisions in the Bill will have in reality.
Secondly, I come to the difficult question—it is a difficult one—of whether the banning of alcohol at football games should be absolute or whether there should be some form of exceptions. I understand the position of the clubs and I have some sympathy for many of the arguments which have been put forward about the executive boxes. That is an issue of importance to which we shall come in the Committee stage. Many of the clubs are in an extremely shaky financial position and others fear that they could well be driven towards bankruptcy because of the more stringent safety standards which are now being applied and will undoubtedly be applied as a result of the report of Mr. Justice Popplewell.
In the present situation they are inevitably fearful that, if alcohol sales are prohibited absolutely, they and their supporters' clubs will be denied the revenue that they desperately need if they are to keep going. In those circumstances the Home Secretary has chosen what he no doubt regards as a middle way, a term which I hope the Government will not find too offensive at this time, between absolute prohibition and the present situation. He has therefore erected what I am bound to say is an extremely complicated, not to say tortuous, system. Although as from the beginning of next season, as the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, reminded us, the sale of alcohol will be banned in football grounds in England and Wales and 362 its possession made an offence if the person concerned is standing or sitting in a place from which he can view the game, there can be exceptions. As the noble Lord has again reminded us, the Bill provides that clubs with a good record of safety and orderly conduct at their grounds may apply to the magistrates for permission to sell alcohol, but only at approved places which are out of sight of the pitch.
Then comes yet another qualification. The police are given the power to apply for the revocation of the magistrates' order—and that much is under-standable—but if time does not permit, an inspector of police will himself be able to revoke the order temporarily. As the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, suggested, this may apparently be done on the basis of some intelligence that noisy supporters from another team are on the way to the ground. It is on the basis of such information and on that alone, as I understand it, that an inspector may say. "Shut down the bars".
What will happen if it is discovered subsequently that the information was inaccurate? The club may possibly have lost many thousands of pounds. There will almost certainly be a complaint made against the inspector to his chief constable. There will he an inquiry under the Police Act as to whether some form of disciplinary action should be taken. The House should be aware of what it is actually doing in this Bill before we cheerfully send it on its way.
I recognise that it is difficult to draft legislation of this kind. All I will say is that I am very doubtful whether such complicated procedures are altogether desirable. I am sceptical as to whether they will be easy to enforce or whether by themselves they will prevent drunken conduct leading to violence from taking place at some of our football grounds.
For instance, there seems to be an assumption that those responsible for football violence purchase their alcohol exclusively on football trains, on coaches, or at the grounds. That does not happen to be so. As has been made clear, it is certainly not the view of the Association of Chief Police Officers that that is the case. As we all know, a great deal of alcohol is purchased from shops in the areas surrounding football grounds. To the extent that the sale of alcohol may be banned from the grounds themselves and on football trains and coaches, even more alcohol is likely in the future to be purchased in shopping areas.
I therefore doubt whether the Bill will in those circumstances achieve its entire purpose. I doubt whether a rather confused administrative system in which alcohol will be available at some grounds because of magistrates' decisions, but not at others, will make a great deal of sense. I question also the suggestion that it should be a criminal offence to have alcohol in one's possession—at those grounds where alcohol is permitted by magistrates' order—if one is drinking that alcohol at a place from which it is possible to view the game. That seems to me to be one of the oddest proposals of all. I hope that we will consider that matter at Committee stage.
Let us remember that at the moment we are talking about legislation which will form a permanent part of the criminal law of this country. In the very limited amount of time available, some of the proposals do not appear to have been thought through as carefully as they should have been.
363 I turn now to a third matter on which this Bill appears to go too far. If the Bill is enacted in its present form, the Secretary of State will be given a power to apply its provisions to any sports ground or at any sporting event. The only control that Parliament will have will be the negative resolution procedure. I doubt whether that is a sensible idea. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, to whose speech I listened with great care and attention, said that it would be a nonsense to make it an affirmative resolution procedure. Unhappily, he did not go on to explain why it would be a nonsense. No doubt we can argue this matter at Committee stage.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, perhaps I should make it clear that orders made by the Secretary of State would on some occasions have to be peremptory—by that I mean, made with a degree of urgency. If the Secretary of State has to wait for an affirmative resolution, which will very often mean waiting a long time, then the necessary action taken by the Home Secretary might come far too late.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, for reasons which I am just about to explain, I find that argument rather unpersuasive. I will now say why. If the noble Lord's position, and that of the Government, is accepted by the House, then it will mean that the Bill will be extended way beyond football. It can be taken into cricket, into rugby union, and even, in the final analysis, into tennis. The noble Viscount is not in the Chamber, and I am not sure whether he is aware of this, but the provisions of the Bill could even be taken into his own game of golf—all without being compelled to secure explicit parliamentary approval, even by the very limited device of the affirmative resolution procedure.
I will give one example of what could be involved if the Bill is extended in its present form into cricket. I must declare an interest, which no doubt I should have done earlier. While I was for many years, and still am, a supporter of Chelsea, I am also a member of the MCC. Although those two organisations do not necessarily behave in the same fashion, nevertheless it is right to spend a moment or two considering what would happen if the provisions of this Bill are extended into cricket.
The Bill prohibits the possession on a sports ground of what is described as a controlled container. Such a container is at present defined as any container capable of carrying liquid and capable of causing injury. As was pointed out in another place, beer bottles and cans are obviously controlled containers. Most of us would regard that provision as entirely reasonable. But if this Bill is extended into cricket, as it could be if we passed it in its present form, then where people may be present at a match at Lord's, the Oval or Headingley for seven or eight hours, is it being seriously suggested that any child carrying a bottle of orange squash provided by its mother will be committing a criminal offence?
I assure the House that if this Bill is extended to cricket, as it can be with no difficulty whatsoever, then that child will be committing such an offence. I doubt whether many people outside Parliament, or indeed 364 within it, will regard that as being in any degree sensible. The controlled container concept certainly makes sense in some respects, when applied to football, but, in the example I have given, it would be an absolute nonsense if applied to cricket.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has put down an amendment with which I agree. I hope that he will not be quite as accommodating as he implied that he might be at the beginning of his speech. The noble Lord proposes to insert a provision that the Bill will expire after five years. That seems to me to be a sensible proposal, and I hope very much that the Government will consider it very carefully.
I am increasingly concerned that in respect of this Bill, where the motives of the Government are admirable, and many of whose clauses will probably find favour on all sides of the House, the Bill will contain also a number of features which will come to haunt us—Government and Parliament alike. Parliament makes itself look foolish when it allows hurriedly-drafted legislation to be rushed onto the statute book without adequate consideration.
As I have indicated, we are broadly in support of the Bill's proposals but the drafting of it is simply unsatisfactory in some respects. As I said right at the outset of my remarks, I hope—particularly in the light of the fact that we have to consider the Bill under a very truncated procedure—that Government will listen to our concerns expressed on a number of matters and will amend the Bill accordingly.
§ Lord Wigoder
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down may I correct him on one small matter? I did receive a copy of the notes on clauses and I am grateful to the Home Office for its courtesy in providing it. Had I realised that, no doubt due to some oversight, my noble friend had not received a copy, I would have shared mine with him.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, we have had an interesting debate and I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken and for the general welcome—if qualified in certain quarters in matters of detail—that the Bill has received. As I made clear earlier, the Government do not see the Bill as a means of curing all the problems of football hooliganism, but it deals with an important contributory element. The problems of football cannot be tackled by Government alone. There needs to be action by all those concerned—by the Government, certainly, but also by the police, the courts and, not least, the football authorities themselves.
I take this opportunity from this Front Bench to say how much I enjoyed, as we all did, the excellent maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue. He delivered it without a note, to my acute envy, surrounded as I am by a sea of paper. It was thoughtful, and it was well balanced. Those were its characteristics. And how else could it be anything but well-balanced when the noble Lord said that, on the one hand, the Bill was too narrow and, on the other, it was too wide! I join with others in congratulating him and look forward to hearing his balanced arguments again on other matters before too long.
The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, has explained to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that notes on clauses were 365 available. They were also available in the Printed Paper Office. Why things should have gone wrong for him I am not clear, but there we are.
Before going into more detail on the Bill may I refer to the agreement that was mentioned earlier by the noble Lords, Lord Wigoder and Lord Mishcon. Yes, agreement on principles there were, and this has been explained by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. There were agreements on principle to meet the sort of emergency which football hooliganism has made quite plain to all of us. I agree, of course, that the Bill should be discussed with great care in your Lordships' House, but I believe that we can do it in two days. I shall certainly take careful note of all the points raised.
As regards the suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, that the reasons for hooliganism go much wider, yes, I am sure he is absolutely right but, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on 3rd June in another place, if we were to conduct the sort of inquiry which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and others, have suggested might be necessary, that inquiry could go on for years and no conclusion would necessarily be reached. The fact is that we have the difficulty now. The problem exists now. We have all seen it on our televison screens, and that is why we must act with persuasion, prevention, or punishment.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord the Minister. I thought I had made that point abundantly clear. I merely said that the passage of this Bill alone would not cure the problem and that, hereafter, we should go further into the question of violence.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that it is of some concern to all of us. The Government are certainly in mind of the fact that violence has reached such proportions. As a matter of history—and I do not dispute that football hooliganism is at an unacceptable level today, as are other forms of hooliganism—the first recorded incident of football violence that I have been able to trace (I do not know whether anyone has done any further research into the past) occurred on Christmas Day in 1647, in Kent, when the then Government failed to solve the problem. I am sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, is not here because he will know from where that particular information came.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I do not intend to get drawn on the question of which Government was involved.
Before picking up some of the other points raised, it might be helpful in setting this Bill in context if I indicate the other measures to deal with football hooliganism which the Government are taking and which I did not fully develop earlier. We are proposing new legislation on public order, as envisaged in the Government's White Paper on the Review of Public Order. The proposals on assemblies in the open air would enable the police to impose limits on the numbers of people attending football matches and to 366 stipulate other conditions if they foresaw a likelihood of disorder. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already put in hand the designation of all Third and Fourth Division clubs under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975, so that by the beginning of next season every club in the Football League will be subject to rigorous safety requirements. A number of measures are also being taken in co-operation with the police. The Home Office is providing three of the special photographic vehicles that were designed and tested last season for use by the police at events where trouble may occur. Radio communication links will be provided between British Transport Police contingents travelling on trains and local police forces. The police have also improved their arrangements for collecting and co-ordinating information about behaviour at matches, both between forces and with the British Transport Police.
Answering the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, I can say that, following discussions with the Football Trust, £500,000 is being allocated for the extension of closed-circuit television equipment to assist in crowd control—enough to cover some 30 grounds which do not already have such equipment. I am sure that that will be to everyone's advantage. The Government are taking a vigorous lead in developing international measures to deal with hooliganism. Discussions in the Council of Europe have produced widespread agreement among member states on the measures which should be taken to prevent outbreaks of violence and to deal firmly with it if it occurs.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, asked about the Popplewell Inquiry. Mr. Justice Popplewell hopes shortly to be able to submit an interim report covering the Bradford and Birmingham incidents. The inquiry's initial recommendations should, therefore, be available before the start of the new football season. The final report covering more general matters will follow later in the year.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and the noble Lord, Lord Willis, were concerned about policing costs. I am sure both noble Lords are aware that it is the general practice for organisers of sporting events to pay for the presence of police officers inside grounds. The cost of policing outside the ground is already met from public funds.
I now pick up points of concern raised by my noble friend Lord Inglewood. The first relates to British Rail By-law 3A. British Rail have a discretionary power under their by-laws—and this is what my noble friend is referring to—to prohibit alcohol on any train provided reasonable notice is given. They have used this power on many, but not all, football trains. The Bill will make an alcohol ban mandatory on all trains where the principal purpose is conveying passengers to or from designated football grounds and matches. Bylaw 3A will continue to be available to British Rail for scheduled services that might be used by significant numbers of football supporters. I think that meets the concern which my noble friend expressed.
As regards police task forces, I can tell my noble friend that the police have no plans to form specialist squads to deal with football hooliganism. They consider that there is often an advantage in using local officers so far as is possible because they get to know the regular troublemakers. As my noble friend will 367 know, since the Government took office in 1979 the total manpower available in the police service—police and civilian—has increased by over 12,000. Therefore, more officers are available for chief constables to deploy as required. May I add that in addition, as my noble friend will be aware, the British Transport Police already have a number of mobile support units, primarily for just this purpose. They are specially trained and equipped and I understand that the British Transport Police intend to increase the number of these units in time for the next football season.
I hope your Lordships will forgive me for spending a little time on matters which are not strictly within the scope of the Bill, but which were raised legitimately. I believe that we must look at the Bill in the context of a package of measures to counter hooliganism and violence in order to restore the good name of British football. The Bill before us is an important element in the package. The Government share the widely accepted view, which is also largely accepted by those of your Lordships who have spoken today, that alcohol is an important contributory factor. There may well be some football thugs who go to matches in search of a punch-up and who do not need drink before they start attacking others, but for many people alcohol is definitely a factor contributing to the loss of self-control and to a willingness to indulge in violence, damage and thuggery generally. Therefore it is right that we should introduce arrangements to restrict and control the availability of alcohol in connection with matches.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, raised the question of hasty legislation, and before turning to other points perhaps I may deal with this matter. I understand the fears which he raises, but I have to say again that the horrific scenes at the end of last season make it essential to do all that we can as soon as we can to ensure that such things never happen again. This legislation is not wholly new. As I said earlier, with some variations it is based on legislation which has been tried and tested in Scotland and which went through the normal scrutiny of the parliamentary process some five years ago. I note with some interest that some of your Lordships opposite have curiously made fierce criticism of this aspect of the Bill, but in fact we have followed the Scottish precedent quite straightforwardly and quite closely.
I note with equal interest and curiosity that some of your Lordships who have said that there is not sufficient time for proper parliamentary scrutiny nonetheless have not shrunk from putting down amendments which would extend the Bill by creating new criminal offences—the noble Lord, Lord Harris, referred to one just now—and new police powers as well. I look forward to hearing at Committee stage how those who advocate that particular course can complete the circle.
I should like to return to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, when he said that he felt that if the spirit of undertaking an agreement would be breached in any sense by his moving the amendments to which he referred, he would not necessarily move them. I have explained the exceptional nature of this Bill. I have to say that I regard the moving of the 368 amendments by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, as a breach which would undermine what, in our view, was a clear agreement on principles which were reached about the Bill. That is my clear view. It may not be everybody's view, but it is certainly the Government's that while not wishing to forestall debate as I indicated earlier and as the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, would want the need for an agreement of this exceptional nature to speed this Bill on its way is all important. That is a fact and I hope that the noble Lord will consider that particular point in deciding whether or not to move his amendments.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, before the noble Lord the Minister continues, perhaps I may explain very clearly to the House that, in view of the very clear statement that he has made that the Government would regard the moving of the amendments to which I put my name as being a breach of an agreement which has been reached and therefore a breach of principle, I regard myself as being bound in conscience by his remarks. I should have liked to have moved them, but I think that what he has said precludes me from doing so.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I apologise for intervening in the Minister's speech, but I am afraid that I must make it clear that we on these Benches would not be able to accept that, and if the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon withdraws the amendments—as of course he could—and does not move them at Report stage, they will be put down in the name of myself and my noble friends. We do not believe that agreements of this sort, taken in private, should in fact come before our duty as Members of the House of Lords.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I certainly share the feeling of concern for the duty that the noble Lord expresses about examining legislation with great care in this House. I cannot speak for the noble Lord. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, is there. He has given an indication that he accepts what I have said and that he does not propose to move the amendments. I can do no more than accept his gracious remarks.
I should like to turn now to one matter of concern raised by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, which is the negative resolution procedure, and the wish that he expressed for the affirmative procedure. After full parliamentary scrutiny, Parliament gave the Secretary of State power to designate by order the grounds and events to which the controls in the Scottish Act should apply, and that order is subject to negative resolution. The Secretary of State for Scotland has exercised those powers with caution and great prudence. In addition to soccer grounds, the only other sports ground designated is Murrayfield, for the purpose of international rugby matches. My right honourable friend intends to be no less cautious. He has already said that initially he intends to designate only soccer grounds and soccer matches. It may never be necessary to designate other sports, but the possible need to do so cannot be ruled out and it is only prudent to take power now for extension to other sports.
The Bill proposes that designations should be accomplished by order subject to negative resolution as in Scotland. I suggest to your Lordships that if the 369 need arises to extend to other sports, it is right that this should be done by an order subject to negative resolution. Most of the reasons were admirably expressed by my noble friend Lord Renton. Let us suppose that, God forbid, we were to see rioting at a cricket match—after all, there have been riots at cricket matches in other parts of the world—and that the Government decided that it was essential immediately to extend this legislation to cricket grounds; and let us suppose further that this situation arose during the Summer Recess. In those circumstances, in order to proceed by order subject to affirmative resolution, it would be necessary to recall Parliament. I cannot believe that that would be either necessary or appropriate and it certainly would not be very popular. I very much hope that your Lordships will be prepared to accord to my right honourable friend the powers which are already entrusted to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. There really can be no reason now for making such a distinction.
The noble Lord, Lord Willis, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and others, were concerned about revenue and private boxes, and the implications that this Bill has for the revenue of clubs. This raises in particular the question of restaurants and sponsors' boxes. The Football League estimates that £1.5 million per annum is derived from bar sales of alcohol at league games and £4 million a year from the leasing of executive boxes. The league estimates that 75 per cent. of that £4 million could be at risk from the provisions of this Bill which prevent the sale or possession of alcohol in all areas from which the pitch may be viewed directly.
The Government have of course carefully considered this. Certainly there are implications for revenue. I do not suggest that people in private boxes are trouble-makers—they certainly are not—but it was put to us very firmly that it would be unfair to make special provision for such boxes and restaurants. This is an argument which has force. Why should the very many respectable spectators in the rest of the ground be placed at a disadvantage in comparison with those in boxes? The Bill does not therefore accord any special treatment to boxes. I am not entirely sure that the league is right, though it may be, to say—
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way on this point. I think the Minister ought to be aware that the provision of boxes is, in fact, a growth industry and more of the top clubs are installing these boxes. Does the noble Lord, the Minister understand that this particular clause, if it stands as it is, will kill that growth stone dead? This is at present a desirable development in football which will be killed off.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I do not necesarily agree. Boxes may be a growth industry—and I shall take up what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said in a minute—but I do not think that not being able to have a drink in a box in sight of the ground will necessarily do the damage that the noble Lord, Lord Dean, suggests. The availability of alcoholic refreshment is claimed by the league to be an important element in the attraction of boxes. The noble Lord emphasised that. I do not share that view and neither, I think, does 370 the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. As I think he said, one hopes that at least some of the occupants come primarily to watch football. However, given some ingenuity, it should be possible to make arrangements for the service and consumption of alcohol out of sight of the pitch. After all, one can watch a match without having a drink in one's hand. We would hope—
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, how can that have an effect on public order? That is the point which some of us find difficult to understand. Why does it make it more likely that there will be disorder if a person has the opportunity of seeing what is happening? I find it extremely difficult to follow the logic of this part of the argument.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I think that the logic lies in the fact that there are those who would otherwise be able to have a drink outside the confines of the boxes on the terraces who will not be able to, and they would be able to look through the window and see people in the boxes whom the noble Lord, Lord Dean, described, being able to drink and watch the game. It is the element of unfairness. That surely is the point.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, being out of sight of the pitch is the key. I can refer to the words a little later. An element of unfairness creeps in if people can see into a box and see people drinking when they are unable to drink. If it can be fully hidden, which seems to be what the noble Lord suggests, I should have thought that that met his point.
§ Lord Wigoder
My Lords, is the noble Lord in effect saying that, if clubs provide one-way glass at the front of these executive boxes so that the members and guests inside can see the event but nobody can see into the box, he might regard that as an acceptable compromise?
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I do not think that the idea of one-way glass has yet been canvassed. Perhaps I may come back to that point a little later rather than be drawn on it now.
My honourable friend the Minister of State—and I think that this will reassure the noble Lord, Lord Dean—gave an undertaking in another place that he will monitor the situation. If there is a major fall in sponsorship income, as the noble Lord seems to fear, to the detriment of the game, he will be prepared to consider whether it is possible to make adjustments to the present Bill in the public order legislation which we hope to introduce following the review of the law relating to public order. I think that that may be the sort of assurance that the noble Lord is looking for, and I hope that he will consider that.
Let me address the one or two exceptional points which were made, before I conclude. The noble Lord, Lord Mulley, was concerned about the proposal to designate the grounds of all league clubs and all matches played by league clubs. He said that it was unfair to penalise the smaller Third Division and Fourth Division clubs when the real trouble is in 371 others. Crowd trouble tends to be more serious in the big clubs in the higher divisions of the league, but unfortunately lower placed clubs are not immune from the violence that we have seen. Clubs are promoted and relegated each season. The prohibition on drunkenness and on taking drink onto coaches and into grounds is good sense for all clubs. As to—
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, I think that following Bradford the Secretary of State was right to require for the first time that the grounds of Third Division and Fourth Division clubs should be subject to stringent safety considerations. But they have to find the money to do that, and they have very little revenue. I have been looking at the figures. In a lot of clubs average attendance is less than 2,000 per game, and they will have bills of £200,000 to £300,000 upwards to put their grounds in order. Why should the little money that they get from alcohol be taken away from them, especially at this time and when they have no disputes? That is my major point. I know of no dispute that has occurred in a Third Division ground. When clubs come into the Second Division they will automatically be caught by the provisions in the Bill.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, the designation in relation to fire following Bradford goes wide of the Bill. The designation in this Bill is narrow. I accept that the concern which—
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, the money has to come out of the same pockets. That is the point I am trying to make.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I am aware of the point the noble Lord is making, but I do not share his concern that clubs will find it quite as tight as he thinks. I accept that there is some element, but I by no means follow him fully along the path that he wants to go.
The noble Lords, Lord Mulley and Lord Willis, asked about the Government and the pools betting duty. They did not raise the question of VAT. It was claimed that we were taking out millions, but that is not the case. Pools betting duty is a tax on gambling and not on football. The Pools Promoters' Association pays about £5 million a year for the use of league fixtures, and VAT is charged on entry fees to all places of entertainment, including theatres and cinemas, to which one noble Lord referred.
My noble friend Lord Renton asked about an exemption for amateur events. That is Clause 9(6). I am grateful to him for his helpful remarks on the Bill as a whole. The exception to which he referred would benefit only amateur events at which no charge is made for admittance. At charity matches there is usually an admittance charge even if the players receive no fee. The loophole which he mentioned whereby there may be a hidden charge for admittance—which I hope is the point he was getting at—is unlikely to be a problem in practice. It is unlikely that in such circumstances players would not be financially rewarded. I hope that that answers his concern. I shall study carefully what he said and if necessary elucidate further.
372 The noble Lord, Lord Dean, asked whether it was possible to permit clubs to apply for exemption orders before Royal Assent. I understand the problem that he raises, but it would be quite wrong to anticipate final forms of legislation which are yet to pass both Houses of Parliament. I am sure that he realises that. Until Royal Assent is given the courts would have no power to receive an application to enable the 28-day period to start running, nor to issue summonses to the police. I am afraid what is being suggested is totally impracticable.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, I shall be brief. Is the Minister really saying that there is no possibility of looking at the situation? I have applied for licences in the past, and I believe that there could be some accommodation so that the 28 days for permission to sell drinks under the Bill as it stands would not be lost. I think that this problem could be overcome with some effort.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, it certainly cannot be overcome in the way that the noble Lord suggests. Anyhow, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has stressed the advantage of the initial dry period at the beginning of next season in enabling magistrates' courts to take into account the record of a club. That is all-important in relation to crowd behaviour in the early part of the season.
My noble friend Lord Teviot mentioned two amendments which he is bringing forward at the Committee stage. I realise that he has special knowledge of the subject. I shall not deal in detail with his arguments now, but I shall answer them at the Committee stage.
We have had a long and interesting debate. I am grateful to your Lordships for some interesting contributions. I have tried to answer some of the major criticisms of the Bill and to clear up some of the misunderstandings. I shall try to elaborate in more detail in Committee. While there may be criticism of the Bill, there is far greater criticism and concern—and rightly so, and it has been clearly expressed today—about the behaviour on the football terraces, which grieves me as much as it does the noble Lord, Lord Willis, and which has led us to take the steps that we have to stamp it out. This Bill is one of those steps. Perhaps it is a sad reflection on failure on the part of all of us that it is only by such tough measures, affecting as they do the innocent as well as the troublemaker, that we can take things forward.
Let us not look back. Let us, the football authorities and the public look forward to the day when the package of measures of which this Bill is part has restored the reputation of football as the spectator sport it deserves to be, so that those who wish to can admire and enjoy the skill of footballers in healthy competition and share in their good sportsmanship.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ Lord Denham
My Lords, it has been represented to me that there is a certain amount of hardship in going straight on to the next stage without a brief pause, in particular, perhaps, for noble Lords who are interested in the first amendment. It has therefore been agreed 373 through the usual channels that we should have a five-minute adjournment. Accordingly I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure for five minutes.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The sitting was suspended from 7 until 7.5 p.m.]
§ Then, Standing Order No. 44 having been dispensed with (pursuant to Resolution of 9th July):
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Glenarthur.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD MURTON OF LINDISFARNE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Offences in connection with alcohol on coaches and trains]:
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 1:
§ Page 1, leave out lines 6 and 7.
The noble Lord, said: I beg leave to move this amendment. I understand that we are going to take Amendment No. 31 at the same time.
Amendment No. 31: In the Title, line 2, leave out from ("on") to second ("vehicles") in line 3.
§ As the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, will realise, this is a probing amendment. It seeks to exclude the limitations in Clause 1 relating to the carriage of alcohol on trains and coaches. I see the advantages of the present form of words, that it should apply to coaches and trains hired specifically for the purpose of taking football supporters to a match. However, there are two problems about it, and I should like to hear the noble Lord's views upon them before withdrawing the amendment by leave of the Committee.
§ First of all, there is the less substantial point, which is that there is this difficulty. What about coaches where it cannot be said that "the principal purpose", to quote the language of Clause 1(1)(b), is to take passengers to "a designated sporting event"? Inevitably, one of the difficulties will be that there will be some ingenious people who will think of ways in which to get round this legislation. One way to get round the legislation is to hire a coach to go, let us say, from Chelsea to Norwich ostensibly to do some shopping in Norwich, whereas in reality the purpose will be to take football supporters there, although no doubt wives and girlfriends will be taken on a shopping expedition. It may well be that it is impossible to deal with every conceivable problem on the face of the statute, but I am just saying that this appears to be one way in which some people will try to avoid the stringency of the provisions of the clause.
§ I then come to the more substantial question, and that is in relation to ships. Let us remember why we have this Bill. We do not have it because of violence at British football grounds. That is not the real reason. The real reason is what took place on foreign soil: what 374 took place in Brussels and what had taken place previously in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The problem is that large numbers of British football supporters pile on to special trains. They go down to Dover, and if they are going to Belgium, for instance, they have a substantial cross-Channel sailing. So far as I can see, if, by chance, there was a bridge or tunnel across the Channel and they travelled by coach, and so long as they were on British soil, they would not be able to consume alcohol because the purpose of the visit was to attend a football match. The problem is that many of those who travelled to Brussels got into a state of almost hopeless intoxication during the ship's passage between Dover and Ostend.
§ What can be done about that? It may not be possible to deal with it within this piece of legislation. I do not know. But it seems to me odd that we are talking in the Bill about our internal problems whereas, in what we hope will be the relatively near future, when we are able once again to engage in football matches in Europe—the sooner that this takes place, the better, for many of us, it will be—one of the not unreasonable questions that will be asked is what action the Government have taken to ensure that there is some limit on alcohol supplies on cross-Channel ferries. What can be done about it? I beg to move.
§ Lord Monson
I am afraid that I cannot possibly support the amendment; it goes much too far. Inadvertently, no doubt, it brings private motor cars within the ambit—
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
I am sorry, but the noble Lord, Lord Monson, was not in the Chamber when I began to address the Committee. I indicated that this was entirely a probing amendment relating primarily to ships. I am not seriously suggesting that the amendment should be carried.
§ Lord Monson
I am grateful to hear that. However, in case there is any inclination on the part of the Government to accept the amendment—there was a serious attempt in another place to include private motor vehicles—I should like to say why I think this should not happen. Consider the case of a family consisting of a husband, wife and two children aged, say, 12 and nine, who resolve to attend a football match 50 or 60 miles away. In order to reach the ground and to park their car and find their seats well before the three o'clock kick-off, they decide to leave at noon and to have a picnic lunch on the way. Into the picnic basket, the wife packs as well as sandwiches and fruit, a couple of cans of Coca-Cola or lemonade for the children and a flagon of cider for her husband and herself. The picnic is duly consumed in a lay-by. The children polish off the cans of "coke" and lemonade, but as cider is nowadays normally sold in litre size screw-top flagons, the parents have no inclination to consume the whole bottle and the one-third of a litre that is left is duly repacked in the picnic case. The family arrive three-quarters of an hour later at the football ground car park, whereupon a sharp-eyed constable observes the tell-tale brown bottle protruding from the picnic basket. Lo and behold, the handcuffs are snapped on, metaphorically if not literally. I do not think that this is the sort of thing that we would want to happen.
§ Lord Glenarthur
If only to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Monson, may I deal briefly with the question of motor cars. The extension of the clause in the manner in which the noble Lord, Lord Harris, suggests, in probing fashion, would create considerable difficulties for the police in determining which vehicles were on their way to or from designated sporting events and might lead to some resentment—no doubt the noble Lord would feel resentful—on the part of private motorists who are stopped. I can do no more than give an assurance that I am not going to accept the amendment. I should, however, like to develop the theme that concerned the noble Lord, Lord Harris, about ferries.
The extension of the clause to ships would have very little effect since it is unlikely that the principal purpose of the journey of the ship or ferry would be to carry passengers to or from a designated sporting event. It might happen, but on the whole, they are just passengers on that particular vessel. In addition, captains of ships and also of aircraft already have full discretion to refuse to carry people who are drunk or in possession of alcohol. From my own experience as a one-time captain of aircraft, I can tell the noble Lord that I have had cause to invoke that power myself. It is a power that ferrymasters have also exercised on occasion. They also have full power to refuse to serve alcohol or to sell it.
The extension of Clause 1 to ships might also have the effect of driving the hooligan element on to foreign ferries where British legislation could not effectively apply. I should tell the noble Lord that ferries are policed. In the case of the Brussels tragedy, I am given to undertand that the ferry was policed and that the people, as they left the ferry, were not drunk. I have no doubt that if a ferry is policed in that way, the police would not hesitate to draw drunkenness to the attention of the captain who would take the necessary action.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
I am much obliged. I have indicated already that this is entirely a probing amendment. I would only say, as I am sure the Government recognise, that when we start playing football in Europe again, this matter will have to be looked at very seriously. I believe that our European partners will want some pretty explicit guarantees before we are allowed to play football on the mainland of Europe. Nevertheless, I am entirely content with what the noble Lord said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.15 p.m.
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 10, leave out ("designated")
§ The noble Lords said: With this amendment we can take Amendment No. 3, if that is convenient to the Committee.
§ Amendment No. 3: Page 1, line 10, at end insert ("to be held within the area of a designated sports ground.").
§ These amendments are designed to cut out a reference to "sporting events" and also to define far more precisely the sports grounds to which the Bill applies. Why are we having this Bill at all? It is because 376 of violence at football matches. Why should it not be limited to football? At the moment in this Bill there is a blanket power for the Secretary of State to extend the Bill to any other sporting ground. Why? I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, is no longer with us. Insofar as I understood the noble Lord's argument in defence of the language of the Bill, it is that there might be a dreadful event at a cricket match during the summer recess and that, as a result, the Government would have immediately to spring into action and use the language of this Bill. With respect to the absent noble Lord, this is total, fanciful nonsense. We are not talking about large-scale riots at cricket matches. There is no indication of such experience in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, has stated accurately that they have occurred in Pakistan and India. We are not, however, members of the parliaments of Pakistan and India and, therefore, it seems to me that we do not have to concern ourselves with that forbidding prospect. It seems to me that when the Government move in with what is described as emergency legislation we should insist that it relates to the issues of the emergency and does not go into far wider territory.
Ministers have made their position clear. The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, made his position clear in winding up the Second Reading debate. And his honourable friend the Minister of State made his position clear when, speaking in another place on 3rd July, he said at column 437:
I reiterate my right honourable and learned friend's assurance, also given on Second Reading, that we have no immediate intention of designating sports other than soccer".
§ That being so, why give them the powers? I note what was said on the Home Secretary's behalf. But, as we know, Home Secretaries, Ministers of State, and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries are here one day and, unhappily, gone tomorrow. Therefore, the amount of comfort that we gain from what we are being assured that the present Home Secretary will do, does not put our minds totally at ease. One day there may be another Home Secretary—I suspect that there will be many—who will take a very different view of this piece of legislation and who may be foolish enough to try to extend it to sports other than football. In my view the Government must justify what are in fact drastic powers affecting not only the liberties of people going to these matches but also the economics of the sport itself.
§ Let us consider again what would happen if these provisions were extended to cover cricket. Let us say, for example, that there has been some kind of disturbance at Somerset. Somerset is not a bad example to give because some Somerset supporters—and I hope that there are not too many in the House at the moment—tend to be slightly more noisy than the supporters of other country cricket clubs as a result of the fact that they have so much excellent cider in that county.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My noble friend is quite right. Somerset has one other great advantage at the moment, and that is an Alliance majority on the county council; and therefore there will undoubtedly be a transformation of the behaviour of Somerset 377 supporters in the future. Let us say that there has been some type of problem at a cricket match in Somerset and that that is used as the basis for applying the provisions of this Bill to the major cricket grounds of this country: the Oval, Headingly and Lord's.
There are two problems associated with that situation. First, let me deal with the controls on alcohol. As in the case of football, there would be a total, blanket ban. That would be the effect of extending the provisions to county cricket. Then there would be partial exclusion, if the local magistrates agreed, combined of course with the provision that no one would be able to drink in the sight of the pitch or with a view of the pitch.
To take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dean of Beswick, executive boxes would be affected, with a major loss of revenue to county cricket clubs in this country, many of which have very pressing financial problems. We know that in the past some of them have come very close to bankruptcy. Consider also—and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, a noted supporter of Kent County Cricket Club, is not with us—the effect on Canterbury Week. That beautiful Kent county cricket ground has its cricket festival the first week in August. The tents surround the ground. One of those tents is for the use of the Canterbury Conservative Association and it is there every' year. The mayor of Canterbury attends, and so on.
All those tents provide some form of alcoholic refreshment. Under the terms of the Bill it would be a criminal offence for anyone to consume alcohol—even if an exclusion order had been made by the magistrates—if he were in sight of the pitch. In my view that goes a very long way indeed. The Minister may well say, "Of course nobody would ever do that. No Home Secretary would ever be daft enough to extend the Bill to cricket". Unfortunately the power is being given to a Home Secretary of the future to do just that.
I have given the example of Canterbury, but let us consider the position of Lord's. What about the bars which are under the stands at Lord's? If it could be said, "It's perfectly all right; you can't see the pitch", then drinking would be all right. However, what happens if there is a sudden round of applause and a man clasping a cardboard container full of lager—it cannot be a metal container because that would be a controlled container—jumps or runs up the steps in order to see what has happened? He has committed a criminal offence. It seems to me quite extraordinary that we are prepared even to contemplate giving Ministers powers to extend the provisions of this Bill to cricket and to other sports which would have—and I in no way exaggerate—the effects which I have described.
I come to the controlled container provisions in Clause 2. In reality we are discussing the effects of the extension of the provisions of this Bill to cricket, and therefore we must consider what is being said in Clause 2. Let us again assume that those provisions are extended to cricket. I mentioned this example when I wound up for my colleagues on Second Reading. What about the bottle of orange squash in the hands of a 10-year-old child? There is no doubt at all that the Bill as drafted at present means that that child—any child—with a glass bottle of orange squash in its hand 378 is committing an offence. Again, that would seem to me to be a rather remarkable proposition.
There is also another aspect. A football match takes one-and-a-half hours, as I indicated in my Second Reading speech. We are talking about one-day cricket matches which can take seven or eight hours and sometimes even longer. Moreover, they are much more liable to be affected by the weather. There would be a most ludicrous position whereby if a match was affected by rain anyone drinking in the sight of that pitch would be committing a criminal offence.
I hope that between now and the Report stage the Government will consider some of these examples. None of us wants to pass legislation which would be a nonsense if extended beyond the area of our principal concern, which relates to football. On that basis I beg to move.
§ Baroness Seear
To follow what my noble ally has said, may I ask the Minister whether a thermos of tea is a controlled container? It looks to me as though it is.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I shall be dealing with the matter of thermos flasks a little later, and I hope then to be able to reassure the noble Baroness. If the noble Baroness will bear with me until later, I hope to give her just the type of reassurance which she seeks. However, in response to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, let me say that I had rather expected the noble Lord to couple his Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 with Amendments Nos. 24, 25, 30 and 32.
§ Lord Glenarthur
Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 only relate to Clause 1. Therefore it is in that spirit that I shall reply to the noble Lord.Amendment No 24: Clause 9, page 7, leave out lines 12 to 37 and insert—("(b) falling within paragraph (1A) of the schedule to this Act.").Amendment No. 25: Page 7, leave out lines 23 to 25.Amendment No. 30: In the Schedule, page 9, line 3, at beginning insert—("(1A) The following sports grounds shall be treated as a designated sports ground" for the purposes of this Act—All grounds on occasions on which matches between teams in the first and second divisions of the Football League are played.").Amendment No. 32: In the Title, line 4, leave out ("designated").The principal effect of the group of amendments which the noble Lord has described is to confine the designation of sports ground to venues where matches between First Division and Second Division football league teams are played and to limit designation to the time when the matches are played. It would not be acceptable to the Government to limit this Bill to First Division and Second Division football matches, and I shall explain why.
One only has to reflect that last year Millwall was in the Third Division. Moreover, the Government want the ability to extend designation to other sports if the need arises. My right honourable friend explained in another place that we have no immediate intention of designating sports other than soccer. I stressed on Second Reading that one would hope that one would never have to do so.
379 I do not think it helps for the noble Lord to draw in examples from abroad quite in the way in which he did so. However, the fact is that troubles have arisen abroad, and to some extent not riots but certainly disruptions have taken place over here. I sincerely hope that the case which he has described never arises. I can see all types of difficulties not only for cricket but also if the provisions were extended to race meetings and so on. However, I sincerely believe that we must have the ability to take the action should the need arise and that we should be able to do so without introducing further primary legislation.
The point that was made by my noble friend Lord Renton, which I developed a little at Second Reading, was that it is perfectly possible that the sort of situation which might arise could arise at a time when Parliament is not sitting. That is why I think that these careful powers which my right honourable friend feels and which, I am quite sure, his successors will feel should exist, should be interpreted in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time.
A further consequence of the amendments proposed would be to disapply the provisions of the Bill relating to the possession of alcohol and drunkennesss on coaches, mini-buses and trains carrying fans to or from designated matches in Scotland or, for that matter, abroad. I do not quite see the logic of that in the light of the noble Lord's earlier amendment, which he withdrew, when he talked about ships.
Many of us will have witnessed on television the distressing scenes which took place at Brussels. I did, and I was as horrified as anybody. There have been other regrettable incidents over the years involving so-called supporters of English football teams. In view of this lamentable history of bad behaviour by drunken English fans abroad it is entirely right and absolutely necessary that the Bill should allow the Secretary of State to designate matches played abroad. This will have the effect of preventing drunkenness and the carriage of alcohol in coaches and trains travelling in England and Wales to or from matches abroad. Considerable confidence in the Government's resolve to tackle this problem has been expressed in FIFA's recent decision. It is, after all, the governing body of world football and its decision allows English clubs to compete against teams from outside Europe next season. It would be regrettable for your Lordships, by adopting or accepting these amendments, to demonstrate that the confidence which FIFA has shown may be misplaced. This would also send an undesirable signal to those in Europe who are still looking closely at how we tackle this hooliganism problem. I can assure your Lordships that they are doing it most vigorously.
I hope that I have answered some of the concerns that the noble Lord expressed. His concerns are I believe misplaced and I trust he will feel reassured and not press these amendments.
§ Baroness Seear
Will the Minister tell us whether there is any evidence in any other sport of anything approaching the problems that we have in football? Otherwise the Government are extending to the whole 380 range of sporting activities the potential for a range of controls for which there has been no evidence shown whatsoever that they are necessary. Does this extend to Ascot?
§ Lord Grimond
When the Minister is dealing with that question will he clarify a point which I have in mind? I understand that the Bill as drafted would apply to a showground on which sports may take place, as they often do, when the show is over. In my experience there is a certain amount of alcohol available on showgrounds, for there is usually a bar at which a certain amount of beer is provided. Am I right in thinking that this Bill could apply to that? If that is so, I do not think it is sufficient for the noble Lord the Minister to say that no Minister would apply it. The point is that Parliament should not give powers, even if they are not used, unless they are shown to be essential and necessary. I do not believe that it is essential or necessary that Ministers should have a power to enforce the provision of this Bill on a showground because there is a certain number of sports and some beer is provided in a bar.
§ Lord Mishcon
I wonder whether I may intervene merely to ask whether the Minister feels that there is enough substance in what has been said so far for him to consider between now and Report stage whether or not, as a very minimum, the affirmative procedure should not be invoked if the Secretary of State wishes to make any order in respect of any other sport? I believe I am entitled to say this and I merely ask for consideration to be given. He will find that there is an amendment on the Marshalled List asking for just that. I do not suppose that anybody, although I am only speaking for myself, would want to press him further at this stage other than for him to assure us that the matter will be considered.
The affirmative procedure will ensure that Parliament has a chance of considering the matter properly. If the only answer to it is that there could be an emergency and the affirmative procedure takes too long, I would say that we have gone for years without this legislation. If we have gone for years without this legislation, I would imagine that we could go the few days that might elapse between some other sport taking on the ugly form that soccer has taken on and the affirmative procedure being applied. I merely ask for the noble Lord to consider the matter.
§ Lord Willis
I support that; but will the Minister reply to one of the strong points that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, made? It is that this legislation, which is designed to cope with hooliganism at football matches, is not really suitable as it stands for extension by a Minister or anybody else to other sports. The shape of cricket grounds, the design of their stands and boxes is totally different from that of football. The noble Lord made the strong point that cricket can go on for a whole day, sometimes three or five days. I am not intending a pun, but this is a different ball game. 381 It would be a tremendous mistake to extend it. Having made a suit to fit one game, it will not necessarily fit another. If it were arbitrarily introduced as is proposed, it could have tremendous and very bad consequences. That is why I support the idea that it should come back here.
§ Lord Colwyn
From the Benches behind the Minister I should like to say that I support what has been said by the mover of this amendment. I feel that the Minister must look into this and have an answer when it comes back at the next stage, if not this evening.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I certainly acknowledge the feelings which lie behind the views that have been expressed. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, expressed mild horror that this could, in certain circumstances, apply even to Ascot. She suggested that that was quite unthinkable.
§ Baroness Seear
I did not feel that it was unthinkable that it should apply to Ascot, but unthinkable that Ascot should need it. The Government are not bringing this legislation in for fun, but because they think that there may be a riot. Can the noble Lord seriously contemplate a riot at Ascot? That is what I was saying.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I cannot, but what I am suggesting to the noble Baroness is that we ought to be prepared to think about the unthinkable. It is our job to anticipate these things. The noble Lord says that riots do not take place at cricket matches, but there have certainly been examples, I believe, in Australia. I shudder to think that it might one day occur over here.
§ Lord Glenarthur
The noble Lord, Lord Graham, can indicate that that is so far removed from us that it would not necessarily crop up here, but I think the noble Lord only has to consider the fact that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland already has these powers to extend to other sports. So it is not new by any manner of means.
The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, asks whether or not showgrounds are affected. Yes, if sport is taking place there, they would be. I should like to go into this a little more and in doing so I shall refer, with the leave of the Committee, to an amendment which comes later. It is Amendment No. 26, which is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, and it relates to the affirmative procedure and it bears relevance. I again say that my right honourable friend has made plain which grounds and which events he intends to designate. That designation, for the present, will be limited to soccer. I can assure the noble Lord that the Government have no plans to designate any other sport. I can further assure your Lordships that any further designation would not be a step which the Government would take lightly.
I referred to the Scottish legislation. When that Scottish legislation was passed, it was thought right to take an enabling power to designate any sports ground or sporting event by order, subject to the negative 382 procedure, should the need arise. As I have said, the Bill exactly reproduces that condition for England and Wales. As the Committee will be aware, our Scottish colleagues have made only one very limited extension beyond soccer, and I referred to it earlier—and that is at Murrayfield, to be designated when rugby internationals are being played there. With that one exception, they have not found it necessary to designate any other sport.
There have been a few regrettable incidents in connection with other sports in England and Wales. They must be dealt with firmly; but there is no problem on the scale that prevails in soccer. In that, I would entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Harris. If circumstances change, and change they might, I believe it is right that we should be able to act quickly; and the negative procedure enables us to do so. Indeed, your Lordships will know that my right honourable friend has used that very procedure to extend the designation of grounds under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975. And who could possibly argue in the case of the tragic happenings at Bradford that that was not necessary? I ask your Lordships seriously to consider what would happen if trouble broke out at, say, a cricket match during the parliamentary Recess? It is not fanciful, as the noble Lord suggested that it was, when he referred to the remarks of my noble friend Lord Renton.
§ Baroness Seear
The Minister talks about trouble breaking out at a cricket match. Let us say it breaks out on a Saturday afternoon. It will not go on until the following Tuesday, which is the very earliest by which the Government could declare anything. It will be all over. The noble Lord the Minister is surely not suggesting that it is so catching that, because it broke out at one cricket match on one Saturday, unless the Government take action here and now, cricket matches all over the country will be in a state of riot. That is what the Minister is implying. But to order this you are not going to leap into action on a Saturday afternoon if they start rioting.
There is a bigger principle, a very important Liberal principal. This is that we are deeply opposed to increasing the power of central Government to take action of this kind until it is proven absolutely that it is necessary. We have agreed that it is necessary in relation to football; but the noble Lord has made out no case whatsoever for such power being necessary for other sports.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Lord Airedale
In support of what my noble Leader has just said, the Minister has been speaking as if he was forgetting that we have our criminal law which has been in existence for centuries. Parliament ought to be reluctant to extend the scope of the criminal law unless there is a real likelihood of this being necessary. At race meetings and cricket matches and everywhere that people gather in large numbers, disturbances of one kind or another are happening every day and the police deal with it under the existing criminal law. If there are disturbances on Newmarket Heath and so on, we have the criminal law under which the police are able to deal with such matters. Unless there is a real likelihood of hooliganism on football-ground scale 383 extending into these other sporting events, we ought not to be contemplating extending this legislation to cover those other events.
§ Lord Glenarthur
With respect to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, I really cannot believe that no case has been made out. Because the problem has not arisen yet does not mean, with all respect to her, that the problem may not arise in time to come. I certainly join with your Lordships in regretting in advance the fact that it might occur. It is conceivable. Since we are talking about trying to prevent in advance this sort of thing happening when one gets information that there may be a riot, for example, at a cricket match, or even, God forbid! at Ascot—although I believe that to be a highly remote possibility, if not even more unthinkable than the earlier examples—I really cannot believe that the noble Baroness herself would not agree that the matter should be nipped in the bud.
If the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, want to have it nipped in the bud, then I suggest that the means to do so is by the negative procedure, when the action can be taken straightaway, and not by the affirmative procedure which could involve, for example, the recall of Parliament. One understands that the recall of Parliament is necessary for matters of such importance as the Falklands crisis, but really it is not realistic to recall Parliament for the sort of crisis which might occur and which might nevertheless appear on the television screens in the same awful way as other examples have in the past.
If the affirmative resolution procedures were necessary, we would have to wait for weeks and could even wait for months before the process could be complete. And we would be depriving the Government of the ability to take swift and effective action. That is just as important as the safeguards to which the noble Baroness referred for her party. I think that that is why we need this particular measure.
The noble Lord, in pursuing his amendment, has proposed that, in effect, there should be a two-tier system of designation. Any association football ground could be designated by order subject to the negative procedure, but any other sports ground can be designated only by order subject to the affirmative procedure. I am a little confused about which procedure would be more appropriate for, say, Wembley, when soccer internationals are played there. My right honourable friend has said, and I say it for the umpteenth time today, what he intends to include in the initial designation order. It will be open to your Lordships under the negative resolution procedure to debate that and any other order. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that to insist on the affirmative resolution procedure is unnecessary, undesirable and will prevent the sort of action which we need if the unfortunate should happen. I hope he will not press his amendment.
§ Lord Mishcon
I wonder whether I could perhaps finally press the Minister without in any way embarrassing him. May I, first of all, rather resent the fact that when he talked in terms of a possible disastrous event at cricket he left it to this world's decision and when he referred to a disastrous event at 384 Ascot he said, "God forbid!" As a lover of cricket, I resent the fact that the Almighty has been brought into Ascot and not to the Oval or Lord's where it is much more appropriate, I should have thought—and certainly if it were Lord's.
Having said that, not terribly seriously, may I make a serious point. I do not understand what the noble Lord the Minister is saying; and I am sure that it must be my fault. He says that there can be a disastrous event during the Recess and that it would be possible for Parliament to do something under the negative procedure. I do not understand the sequitur. Either it is in Recess, where Parliament can do nothing at all, and there is an emergency; or there is such a procedure as allows, even in the Recess, Parliament to do something; in which case Parliament could do it just as expeditiously under the affirmative procedure. When I asked for advice as to procedure, I was courteously given it and I was told that you can have an affirmative order taking immediate effect, as would emergency orders, subject to approval within 28 days.
Either the noble Lord is saying it can be done during the Recess without Parliament having a say at all—which, I think, frightens all of us—or he is saying that Parliament would have a say. Therefore, I do not understand his point in insisting on the negative procedure.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I would be the last person to fail to give due acknowledgment to cricket. Cricket has been well served, perhaps, although he is not here today, by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool, and I am sure that he would have complained just as strongly as the noble Lord opposite.
However, turning to the more serious aspect, as I understand it—I hope I am not wrong, and I shall correct myself at a convenient moment if I am—under the negative procedure the power can come in immediately and can be debated during the period that the negative resolution lies on the Table. That is my understanding of it, which I believe to be correct. So if the noble Lord has a concern about it, I think he should understand that that is the procedure which applies in many other cases. I really do not think I can add to what I have said. We believe it is necessary to have these powers and I hope, as I said, that the noble Lord will not press his amendment.
§ Baroness Seear
I am sorry to keep popping up, but the noble Lord has said of the negative procedure that the whole point of it is that it can be used during the Recess. If the negative procedure is used during the Recess, nobody can raise it for debate, because Parliament will not be here.
§ Baroness Seear
If I may say so, I do not think the noble Lord the Minister quite heard what I was saying. The whole point is that the Minister says he wants to be able to do this during the Recess. If he lays a negative resolution, he has just told us that Parliament is free to debate that. But the whole point about doing it in the Recess is that Parliament will not be here to debate it.
§ Lord Glenarthur
If I may say so, I think the noble Baroness may be under a misapprehension here. The negative procedure can be used when Parliament is in recess. That is where the advantage lies; and it can be debated during the 40 days.
§ Lord Mishcon
We must not keep popping up, and this is the last time I shall do it, I promise your Lordships. But if Parliament is in recess the whole point of the argument put forward by the noble Lord the Minister is that there is an emergency, and Parliament is not there to deal with it. If the thing is laid, it may very well be that Parliament, if they were sitting, could have the very right that the noble Lord the Minister has referred to; but if they are not sitting then they will not have that right because they are not there.
That is why I said: would the noble Lord the Minister, without giving any assurance at all to the Committee, but so that we can pass on to the next amendment, at least say that he will bring the arguments and submissions raised in the various parts of the Committee to the attention of his right honourable friend with a view to seeing whether or not be can bring an answer forward at the Report stage? I think, if I may say so, that that is the least one can expect, and I am not asking for any assurance whatsoever.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I shall certainly draw the attention of all those concerned to the exchange, but I must stand my ground a little on this. The fact is that the negative procedure can take effect when Parliament is not sitting to deal with an immediate problem, because the order can be made and it can lie on the Table, and it can be debated during the following 40 days. One has not got time to recall Parliament to deal with a particular problem which is forecast at a day or so's notice. We are talking about a perfectly standard provision of the negative procedure. It is different from the affirmative one, and the number of days that it has to lie on the Table is different.
In arguing that Parliament would not be able to debate these issues the noble Lord is really trailing a bit of a red herring. We are talking about the action that is necessary to meet a particular concern. That will be available under the negative procedure. But, having said that, I will of course study with great care the remarks that have been made, and I will draw them to the attention of my right honourable friend. Beyond that I can give no commitment.
§ Lord Monson
Before the noble Lord sits down, may I briefly put one slightly different question to him? He maintains that the negative procedure provides adequate safeguards. Just possibly it does; but is it not the case that by convention your Lordships' Chamber, in contrast to another place, has no effective powers when the negative procedure, as opposed to the affirmative procedure, is employed?
§ Lord Glenarthur
I think we have the same powers. I do not think the noble Lord is right in what he has just said.
§ Lord Airedale
My experience as a long-time member of the Joint Committee on Statutory 386 Instruments leads me to support the Minister upon this matter. I understand it to be that under the negative procedure a statutory instrument is laid and comes into force upon the day which it says on the face of it that it shall come into force, and it remains in force until such time as a Prayer is prayed against it to annul it. If that Prayer is successful it is annulled; but otherwise it remains in force.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
The noble Lord will not be astonished to learn that his answer left me totally unconvinced, and I am afraid I must say to him that he also left the entire Committee unconvinced. Every single member of your Lordships' Committee who has spoken in this debate has been critical of the Government's position.
I did have a moment of fellow-feeling with the noble Lord, if he will allow me to say so. I must avoid a trip down memory lane at this particular stage of the evening, but I do remember defending the previous Government on the Welsh devolution Bill. There was a particularly forward-looking proposal in that Bill with the responsibility of which I was entrusted on behalf of the Home Office—largely on the grounds that no other department wanted to do it. We had some responsibility for racecourses, and there was a provision in the Bill delegating full responsibility for Welsh racecourses to the proposed Welsh Assembly. The only problem was that there were virtually no racecourses in Wales. In fact, we discovered there were one-and-a-half: the half was where National Hunt meetings were held, and the one, I believe, was at Chepstow.
I can remember a debate rather similar to the one we have just been having; namely, that I was trying to put a case for which I am bound to say I did not have a great deal of enthusiasm, and I was being assailed on every side. However, the moral of the story is that my colleagues ultimately took the view that this was an issue on which it would probably be sensible to reach a desirable compromise; and that was eventually done. I would say to the noble Lord that I think he has behaved with high gallantry this evening, defending his department and putting the case which has been no doubt approved by his right honourable friend; but, frankly, he has not convinced a single Member of your Lordships' Committee.
I would say this to the noble Lord, Lord Denham—whose courtesy, incidentally, round about seven o'clock I very much appreciated, if I may say so—as the principal Government business manager in this Chamber. On a Bill which is in fact being speeded through with very considerable despatch as a result of collaboration on all sides, it is most important that arguments as strong as those which have been deployed this evening should lead to a situation where the Government are prepared to look at the position following Committee stage and to consider whether they should not put some form of compromise before your Lordships' House on Report. None of us wants, next Wednesday, to be going into the Division Lobbies on a Bill which, frankly, should receive broad bipartisan support.
387 There broadly is bipartisan support for this Bill; but, quite honestly, many of us are wholly unpersuaded by a case which rests on the arguments I should like now to summarise briefly. The first is that we have no intention of moving outside the game of football. That is the Home Secretary's view; it is the view of the Minister of State; and it has been repeated here this evening by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary. We welcome that.
We then go on to question why, in that case, we cannot have some provision which at least makes it possible for Parliament to consider the situation if in fact some future Home Secretary decides to move in a different direction. A future Home Secretary will not feel himself hound by the view taken this evening by the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, and we may well find some future Government misusing this legislation to extend the provisions of this Bill to sports outside football.
I have given a few illustrations of what could happen to county cricket in England. I am quite sure that there are many others of your Lordships in this Chamber who could give a whole string of similar examples of what might happen if this Bill were applied to other sports. All I am saying to the noble Lord is that if this Bill were extended to cricket it would make this piece of legislation an absolute nonsense.
The suggestion, as I understand the argument, that we need the present Bill in its present form in case there is one August some appalling happening, at some county cricket match, so that a vigorous Home Office can immediately spring into action and extend the provisions of this Bill throughout the major county cricket grounds of this country, seems to me fanciful in the extreme. We would not even be debating this Bill tonight were it not for what happened in Brussels. That is the issue we have to keep before us. My noble friend Lady Seear said a few moments ago that one of the things Parliament must examine with the utmost care is governments of whatever political persuasion coming forward and saying that it would be very nice for the Secretary of State to have this power, and then finding it extremely difficult to explain why he needs the power.
The only examples we have had this evening have been the riots in Pakistan; the riots in India at cricket grounds; and apparently some disturbance in Australia. That does not seem to me the most formidable argument for having this provision in the Bill. I do not want to repeat the argument. Time is getting on. All I am saying to the noble Lord, and through him to the noble Lord, Lord Denham, is that I hope we shall not have a rigid departmental case being argued on every single amendment this evening.
There is a need for compromise on this. Most of us want an agreed measure. Indeed, I think all of us want an agreed measure. We do not want to have some boring, sterile, party conflict on this question. We want to reach agreement, but it needs two sides to compromise. I hope that we shall get that. On the basis of that statement, I seek the leave of the Committee to withdraw this amendment, but I leave no doubt in the 388 Minister's mind that we shall be coming back to this on Wednesday unless in the meantime he can effect some form of compromise.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 3 not moved.]
Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 2, line 3, leave out from ("offence") to end of line 7 and insert—
The noble Lord said: With your Lordships' permission, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 6 and 7.
Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 14, leave out ("in relation to such a vehicle").
Amendment No. 7: Page 2, line 16, leave out from ("1981") to end of line 18.
§ These amendments relate to the liability of operators and hirers of vehicles to which Clause 1 applies and their servants or agents who knowingly cause or permit the carriage of alcohol. As presently drafted, the clause catches the operator and the hirer and the servant or agent of either, whether the vehicle in question is a public service vehicle or a train. During proceedings in another place, concern was expressed that the position of British Rail and its employees would be different in England and Wales compared with Scotland. In England and Wales they would be liable; in Scotland they would not. We agree that the position should be the same, so far as possible, on both sides of the border. That is the purpose of these amendments.
§ The net effect of the amendments is this. For public service vehicles—that is, coaches and so on—the hirer and the operator and the servant or agent of either are all caught. For trains, only the hirer and his servant or agent are caught. British Rail and its drivers, guards and ticket collectors therefore are not caught. This seems only sensible. I believe that all reputable companies and their employees will do all in their power to ensure that the law is respected on their vehicles. Indeed, it is most necessary that they should do so.
§ It is unreasonable to expect the police to enforce these provisions without such co-operation. However, we also need to ensure that operators or their employees who encourage drinking, or fail to do all they can to prevent it, are penalised. The Bill provides all such penalties in relation to public service vehicles, but I think we can draw a distinction between them and railway passenger vehicles in this respect.
§ Coaches and mini-buses are hired out by a multiplicity of companies ranging from national fleets to an owner-driver of a single coach. With trains we are dealing primarily with a single operator, British Rail. It has power to make by-laws. It has an established disciplinary structure. It can look to the British Transport police to enforce the law on its vehicles and its stations. Indeed, British Transport police will often travel on trains. British Rail is able to deal effectively with any of its own employees who may offend against the law or the disciplinary 389 regulations Football specials are often provided on hire to clubs and the main onus must then be on the club and its stewards to ensure that the law is upheld. I beg to move.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
Perhaps I may express my appreciation on behalf of those Scots Members in another place who raised this matter and pointed out that you could have trains travelling between London and Glasgow under one regime while they were in England and another regime while they were in Scotland. I am very grateful indeed that the Bill has been so altered that the Scottish experience will continue and will be applied to England. I think it is very sensible. It carries out a pledge that was made in another place.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, for his helpful and kind remarks.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Hayter)
I have to point out that if Amendment No. 5 is approved I cannot call Amendments Nos. 6 and 7.
Lord Teviot moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 2, line 14, leave out from beginning to ("in") in line 17 and insert—
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 5. I am grateful to my noble friend for the fact that on Second Reading he did not refer to any of my comments, and will do so now. I shall move this amendment quite quickly. I am afraid that on the Marshalled List it looks as clear as mud. However, I hope that with a short explanation of the intention it will be slightly clearer; but I fear that if it is not as clear as mud it will be as dry as dust.
§ If I read this brief very slowly—it is rather technical—I hope your Lordships will forgive me. The intention of my amendment is to ensure that any vehicle operated for hire or reward is caught by the provisions of this clause. By that I mean any vehicle, regardless of the owner, on which those travelling contribute directly or indirectly to the cost of the journey. These people are all too frequently the ones about whom we need to be concerned.
More precisely, the amendment has the effect of applying the clause to all vehicles which carry more than eight passengers if—and I quote Section 1 of the 1981 Act:
payment is made for, or for matters which include, the carrying of passengers, irrespective of the person to whom the payment is made, and in the case of a transaction effected by or on behalf of a member of any association of persons (whether incorporated or not) on the one hand and the association or another member thereof on the other hand, notwithstanding any rule of law as to such transactions".
Smaller vehicles might also be caught, if any passenger pays a fare for the journey. The major change from the Bill is to bring in scope the so-called permit minibuses—there is no reason whatsoever why they should
be excluded—and to emphasise the liability of those sharing self-drive hire mini-buses.
§ One recognises that, in the hiring conditions of responsible firms, the driver is required to remain sober and abide by the driving and traffic regulations. But only the driver is under contract to remain sober. Moreover, control for the use of the vehicle is remote and cannot readily be enforced. Because only the vehicle is hired it may well be cheaper than hiring a proper coach. Therefore, this Bill as drafted will provide a positive incentive for football fans to transfer from conventional coach travelling to mini-buses. I could even suggest that the Bill would create unfair competition for coach operators. But that is of secondary importance.
§ I think your Lordships will recognise that the Bill is lacking in its ability to meet the needs of the situation—and that is something we must all earnestly desire—unless my amendment, or one very similar, is made. I beg to move.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I have to say to my noble friend that before he made his speech on Second Reading and I saw his amendment on the Marshalled List, I was not quite sure what direction the thrust of his argument would take. He said that this is a complex matter. The definition of "public service vehicle" in the Bill is the same as that in the Scottish Act and this will catch vehicles capable of carrying eight passengers or more, if they are carried for hire or reward. This will catch some mini-buses, but it may not catch all mini-buses, if they are not carrying passengers for hire or reward. The Government are aware of this, but there would be real difficulty in extending the definition of "public service vehicle" more widely without catching private vehicles, which would be contentious and would require careful thought, as I tried to indicate earlier.
In those circumstances, the Government decided that it would not be right to go beyond the definition in the Scottish Act; but, as my honourable friend the Minister of State pointed out in another place, the Government expect to introduce public order legislation next Session. That legislation could be an appropriate vehicle for reconsidering the issue after consultation and after we have had time to assess how the Bill works in practice.
I recognise that in this complex area I shall have to study carefully what my noble friend has said. I will do so and will certainly draw it to the attention of my right honourable friend. But I hope that with that understanding and with his own understanding of the fact that it is a complex issue, he will be content and will not press his amendment now.
§ Lord Teviot
I have no intention of pressing the amendment, but I am very glad about what my noble friend has said with regard to forthcoming legislation. This is a very sober moment in our discussions, which have been quite technical. I am grateful for what my noble friend has said. I shall read the report of what he has said, just as he will read the report of what I have said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.391
§ Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 6:
§ [Printed earlier.]
§ The noble Lord said: I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 4. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Following is the text of the amendment (No. 6):
Page 2, line 14, leave out ("in relation to such a vehicle").
§ Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 7:
§ [Printed earlier.]
§ The noble Lord said: I spoke to this also with Amendment No. 4. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Following is the text of the amendment (No. 7):
Page 2, line 16, leave out from ("1981") to end of line 18.
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Lord Teviot moved manuscript Amendment No. 7A:
§ After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:
("Defences in connection with carriage of alcohol.
Where a person is charged with an offence under section 1(2) of this Act, it shall be a defence for him to prove that the alcohol was carried on the vehicle without his consent and that he did all he reasonably could to prevent such carriage.").
§ The noble Lord said: I apologise for the fact that there has been a complete muddle on my part. Two nights ago, because of the urgency of moving these amendments, I took to the Public Bill Office rather late at night two copies of the first amendment but not of this one, and I arrived here today and discovered that I had not put this one down. I feel that it is important that this amendment should be aired and discussed, and therefore I am most grateful to the Government for allowing this manuscript amendment. Also, I appreciate that they may not have time to study it fully and, if necessary, I shall put it down at a later stage.
§ Under Clause 1(2) of this Bill, it is an offence knowingly to cause or permit alcohol to be carried on a vehicle. These words are already the subject of considerable case law, and for this reason there is concern in the coaching industry that their drivers could unreasonably be put at risk. The word "cause" is not a problem. It denotes a positive control of the situation. The word "permit", however, while necessary, could be unhelpful. It has been held that permission may be "merely inferred", although knowledge is always essential; but with an interesting play on words that, where a person deliberately chooses not to know what another person is doing or failing to do, the first person nevertheless permits the action.
§ Let me apply this to a case where a coach driver is confronted by two or three rather large and formidable gentlemen—it could even be ladies—who he can see are carrying hip flasks of drinks. To meet the requirements of this Bill, the driver would have to tell these men or women that he could not carry them, unless they threw away their bottles of whatever drink it was. If he does that and they become aggressive, he may be left in the position that if he does not drive on he will be physically assaulted and may be quite seriously injured. That is no exaggeration. Your Lordships 392 could ask anybody who drives a vehicle about injuries to himself or his friends caused by these rather strange people; it is not something to be taken lightly.
§ It is in these circumstances that I seek to introduce the statutory defence provided in this new clause. It is, I submit, only common justice to provide a defence of this nature which will, of course, be evaluated by the courts, according to the particular circumstances. I end by saying that this is almost a carbon copy of the defence which already exists in the excellent Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980. I beg to move.
§ Lord Glenarthur
Of course I sympathise with the argument which my noble friend has put forward in moving his amendment, that it would not be right for hirers, their servants or their agents in the case of trains, or operators, hirers, their servants or their agents in the case of coaches and minibuses, to face absolute liability for the carriage of alcohol by their passengers. But I have to tell him that his amendment is unnecessary.
The words used in the relevant defence in the Bill are "knowingly causes or permits". These words already import considerations of mens rea—that is to say, there must be either knowledge of the offending circumstances or wilful blindness to them. There are, of course, some circumstances in which it is very difficult for a coach driver to confront a bunch of young hooligans. The driver in such a case would be guilty of permitting the carriage of alcohol, but only if he knew or suspected that alcohol was being carried and if he had failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent it. In considering what were reasonable steps, the full circumstances of each case would be taken into account. including whether, for example, there was any intimidation of the driver or a refusal accompanied by threats of violence to obey his instructions.
I appreciate that in the Scottish legislation there is a specific statutory defence, but it would not be appropriate to include such a provision in this Bill, because under English law the word "permits" already imports considerations of mens rea. I therefore hope my noble friend will feel that his point has been fully met and that he will be able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Teviot
May I say a last word? My noble friend explained clearly the difference between Scottish and English law. I shall read carefully the report of what he said, which I am sure is absolutely correct. But I hope that drivers who are confronted by this situation will have good employers who will back them up, and that they will not be caused any embarrassment. All legislation is about people and I feel for the drivers of vehicles who may be confronted by this sort of situation. I thank my noble friend and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 2 [Offences in connection with alcohol, containers etc. at sports grounds]:
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees
I have to point out a printing correction to Amendment No. 8 as it appears on the Marshalled List. The words "to which" should be left out the first time they appear.
Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 2, line 19, leave out ("a controlled container") and insert ("an article to which this section applies").
The noble Lord said: With your Lordships' permission, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 11. It might be convenient also if I refer to Amendment No. 12, in the name of the noble Lord. Lord Harris of
Greenwich, and Amendment No. 13, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon.
Amendment No. 11: Page 2. line 33, leave out subsection (3) and insert—
(" (3) This section applies to any article capable of causing injury to a person struck by it, being—
Amendment No. 12: Page 2, line 36, leave out ("capable of causing injury to a person struck by it") and insert ("made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person or intended by the person having it with him for use by him")
Amendment No. 13: Page 2, line 36, leave out ("capable of causing injury to a person struck by it") and insert ("made or adapted for use causing injury to the person or intended by the person having it with him for such use ")
§ I apologise for the printing error, which should have been spotted. These amendments respond to criticisms in another place about the range of items which would be caught by the definition of "controlled container" in Clause 2(3) of the Bill. In effect, the amendments restrict the offence to a narrower range of containers.
§ It is of course already an offence under general legislation to be in possession of an offensive weapon. That offence would cover items such as knives or sharpened poles or other items of that kind which were brought into a football ground. The purpose of the offences relating to controlled containers in this Bill is to catch containers such as bottles and cans which, if used as missiles, are capable of causing injury. The offence in the Bill catches all containers designed to carry liquid which are capable of causing injury. This extends to containers of drink, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, and to containers of liquids other than drink. Any such item cannot easily be caught by the offensive weapon offence because it is almost impossible to prove that it is not to be used solely for an innocent purpose.
§ It is of course impossible to catch all the items which could conceivably be used as a missile. For example, coins have been thrown at the goalkeeper, and one can readily understand that being hit on the back of the head by a 10p coin could well lead to injury. But it would not be sensible to make it an offence to be in possession of coins. The purpose of this offence is not to catch every item which can be used as a missile, but only those containers which cannot easily be caught by the offensive weapon offence and which, experience shows, are frequently used as missiles. That is the background to the offence.
§ A similar offence is of course contained in the Scottish Act and the definition of "controlled 394 container" in Clause 2(3) of this Bill is closely based on the Scottish definition. Nevertheless the definition was criticised in another place as catching too wide a range of items. It was pointed out that the definition would catch items such as thermos flasks, which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, mentioned earlier, babies' bottles, deodorant aerosols and bottles of scent. It was argued that, while these item were capable of being used as missiles, they were not likely so to be used, and that such a prohibition would bear unreasonably on respectable spectators. For example, it would become unlawful for a person to be in possession of a flask of tea or hot soup, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, suggested, which he wanted to drink to keep warm on a cold day. The Government undertook to look again at the definition of "controlled container", and these amendments are the result.
§ As compared with Clause 2(3) as it now stands, the amendments limit any containers caught in two respects. First, only containers for drink would be caught. Clause 2(3) catches containers of liquid. The effect of this is to free such items as scent bottles and deodorant aerosols. Secondly, the amendments would catch only containers which are normally discarded when empty, or returned to the supplier. This would decriminalise—if that is the right word—such items as thermos flasks and babies' bottles.
§ Your Lordships will perhaps have noted that similar amendments have not been tabled to the equivalent offence in the Scottish Act. My Scottish Office colleagues have been consulted about this. I understand that there have been no major problems north of the Border and it is not therefore proposed to make any amendment there. Nevertheless the Scottish Office will observe the English provisions with interest. My right honourable and honourable friends in another place and your Lordships' House might be prepared to consider an amendment to the definition in the Scottish Act if it seems advantageous in the Scottish circumstances, and if there is a suitable legislative opportunity.
§ These amendments respond to criticisms that too wide a range of containers would be caught, and I hope that the restrictions which they embody will be welcomed by your Lordships. I beg to move.
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Renton)
I have to point out that, as the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, has referred to Amendments Nos. 11, 12 and 13, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 12 or 13 if Amendment No. 11 is agreed to.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
The new definition put down by the Minister improves what was an unsatisfactory situation. We cannot in any event, as the noble Lord in the Chair has pointed out, pursue our own amendments this evening—the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and myself—because they are caught by the terms of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur. I should like to consider again the general questions involved in this issue. I shall not add anything more this evening. I have already deployed with some vigour the argument about the bottle of orange squash. I shall not trouble the Committee with it again this evening, though I fear I may have to trouble your Lordships again next Wednesday.
§ Lord Mishcon
I shall add to this debate only very briefly so that the noble Lord the Minister can consider whether he feels there is any weight to the submissions that I have made. It will save the time of the Committee if I speak to Amendment Nos. 12 and 13, realising what we have already been told must be the ruling if the amendment of the noble Lord the Minister is passed.
I ask him to consider two matters in regard to his own amendment. First, I should have thought that if somebody brought his own glass or glasses from his own home and said that that is what he had done, there would be difficulties. The first is whether the police would have any right at all to deal with the container under this clause because it is his own glass and is not one therefore that either would normally be destroyed or one that would normally be returned to the supplier. It is his own glass.
The second point that I would ask the noble Lord the Minister to consider—I do not ask for more than consideration—is this. The noble Lord realises, unless I have read this wrongly, that there is an alternative. It is,a person who has intoxicating liquor or the container",which is now differently defined,in his possession".How therefore does one deal with the innocent container which has orange juice in it, or any non-alcoholic liquid in it, or indeed water in it? I ask the noble Lord the Minister to consider that matter not now—I do not expect any answer now—but when he has the leisure and time to do it in order to see whether he thinks there is anything in the points I have made which ought to be covered.
I turn for only a brief moment to Amendments Nos. 12 and 13. I ask the Minister to consider whether he feels that Amendment No. 12, in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, or my amendment, deserve some consideration to see whether they are preferable. I mention only one word about the difference between Amendments Nos. 12 and 13. Looking at Amendment No. 12—I think I recognise the organisation which was responsible for it—I thought that the final words "for use by him" in the passage which reads,intended by the person having it with him for use by him",were largely meaningless. I therefore altered that in Amendment No. 13 to "for such use". The words "such use" relate back of course to the words,made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person".That is the reason for the difference in wording between Amendments Nos. 12 and 13. I was, of course, a supporter of the spirit behind Amendment No. 12 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Harris.
I shall content myself with those remarks. I do not intend to ask the noble Lord the Minister for a considered reply to the points I have raised; it would be unfair of me to do so. However, I hope they will at least have his attention between now and Report stage.
§ 8.30 p.m.
I ask my noble friend to consider the drafting again before Report stage in one week's 396 time. I have listened to this debate from beginning to end. The longer I have listened, the more complicated it looks as though this Bill is to become. I refer to the small points which will arise and the impossible situations in which people will find themselves. We have all drunk all kinds of liquor from thermos flasks in trains and elsewhere.
One point which has not yet been mentioned and which might be important is this. Those of us who go on holiday in the Alps and elsewhere nearly always carry a leather bottle filled with wine. Can it be said that such a flask is an offensive weapon or not? After all, one could turn around and hit somebody over the head with it. Or should one now carry around one's wine in a soft receptacle?
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
I hope that the Minister will take note of this single point, when he refers to the watchfulness of the Scots and the possibility of changing Scottish legislation because of what may happen in England. I advise the Minister to leave well alone. When we included such items as fruit juice bottles, it was because they can be pretty powerful weapons. All one has to do is take such a bottle and break it against the heel of one's shoe and it becomes a powerful weapon. Long before we ever talked about violence at football grounds in the terms we are now, I have known such to be used as a weapon in certain parts of Scotland.
I advise the Minister to leave well alone. He may do what he likes about England—I will let him make a mess of it if he wants to do so—but he should not interfere with a provision that is proving useful in Scotland.
§ Lord Airedale
I am a little concerned about the proposed new subsection (3)(a)(ii) in Amendment No. 11. The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, mentioned hip flasks. A hip flask, if thrown, could undoubtedly make a very nasty weapon indeed. I can well imagine a hooligan, having consumed the neat spirits from his hip flask, deciding to use it as a weapon. The trouble is that the hip flask would escape under subsection (3)(a)(ii) because although it is a container, under (a), and is for holding any drink, under (i), it is not, under subsection (3)(a)(ii)of a kind which, when empty, is normally discarded or returned to, or left to be recovered by, the supplier".Admittedly, if one omits subsection (3)(a)(ii) and let lady's thermos of tea. However, I should have thought it was worth while doing that because the police act sensibly in these matters. They do not prosecute every offence that is committed. In practice, they would say to the lady with a thermos of tea, "Strictly speaking, you are not supposed to bring that in here and perhaps you should not do so again". But they would not prosecute her. I feel that we need to include the hip flask in the offence, even at the expense of having a technical offence if one brings in a thermos of tea.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I listened with interest to the point of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, concerning glasses. I believe he was talking about glasses which could be used for the consumption of the soup, tea, or whatever 397 fluid it is, inside the thermos. That is a very good point. I will study his remarks with great care and will consult upon them further.
This is a very difficult area. As the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, said, the half-consumed bottle of orange squash to which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, referred could become a missile. The amendment in the name of the noble Lords, and to which I spoke earlier, would have us go further than we have already gone, in that the noble Lords wish to limit the scope of controlled containers to those which are offensive weapons. I do not believe that that goes far enough.
Containers which meet the description proposed by the noble Lords would already be offensive weapons under Section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, from which I believe both noble Lords have drawn the words for their amendment, or so it appears. In that respect, the amendment duplicates existing law. Indeed, an offence under the 1953 Act carries higher penalties than this Bill—up to two years' imprisonment.
In Clause 2, we are trying to catch items which are used as missiles at football matches but which are not of themselves offensive weapons. For example, a can of Coca-Cola is not self-evidently an offensive weapon because it may well be held for legitimate purposes—that of drinking the contents, obviously. It is therefore unlikely that it would be covered by the 1953 Act because of the difficulty of proving that it is possessed with the intention of using it to cause injury. Fortunately, most people do not throw Coca-Cola cans at one another. But some hooligans do and the end result is much the same. It is certainly regrettable that in order to prevent such misuse, innocent people have to he forbidden to take their drinks into football crowds.
I believe that our amendment is the best way of meeting this problem. My noble friend Lord Inglewood asked me to consider this aspect again. What both he and the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, may be forgetting, when they talk about bringing a flask containing wine or any other alcoholic drink into a ground, is that Clause 2(1) makes reference to,A person who has intoxicating liquor",and then goes on to describe the times or conditions for entry under subsection (1)(a) and (b).
This means that the person will have committed an offence if he has brought the liquor into the ground. The container as such is an additional application to this particular clause. I believe this point was well covered by the noble Lord, Lord Ross, when he said that we should leave well alone. We may have to take account of the particular matter of glasses, but I hope that the concerns expressed by both the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, and my noble friend have been met by what I have said. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Dean of Beswick moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 2, line 23, after ("viewed") insert—
("(other than an area to which an order under section 3 of this Act applies)")
§ The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 9 I will, by leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendment No. 15, because the two are interlinked.
§ Amendment No. 15: Clause 3, page 3, line 27, leave out subsection (3). The substance of these two amendments has already had a considerable airing. Certainly it was greatly enlarged upon during the Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, when he gave a wonderful exposition of the case for making these amendments.
§ In replying to me during the Second Reading debate, the Minister indicated that in another place the Minister of State had implied that the Government would keep the situation under review—I refer to the question of liquor being sold in suites or boxes. Since that debate I have received information which indicates that of the five boxes at Tottenham Hotspur where the leases are due for renewal, a clear direction has been given by two out of the five lessors—that is, 40 per cent. of them—that they will not be renewing their leases if the purpose for which they originally leased the boxes is withdrawn.
§ I am not for a moment trying to hinge a whole case on the leases of five boxes at one particular club. However, I wonder whether the Minister might consider trying to be helpful. I do not know whether the Government or any of their Ministers have had any discussions on this difficult problem—and it is a difficult problem. The Government cannot afford to turn their back on it. Have the Government had any discussions with representatives of the clubs involved in this particular decision and who could he very seriously financially affected?
§ We have until next Wednesday before we come back to the Bill having completed the Committee stage tonight. It might be helpful, I suggest, if the Minister, or another Minister in his department, would be prepared, before next Wednesday, to meet a small deputation from the clubs involved. He might then be able to come back to us on Wednesday next with an agreed formula, rather than have a situation where clubs will quite unnecessarily lose substantial sums of money and, as it were, have to bury the corpse before proving the case.
§ The Minister may wish to respond to that suggestion so that I need not proceed further and delay noble Lords this evening. I have no desire to do that. It may be a way out, but I ask the Minister to respond to my suggestion.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
I rise briefly to support my noble friend. More than once since Second Reading began we have posed to the Minister the problems and consequences of the legislation. I fully understand the imperatives of the Minister. He has every justification for taking what I call drastic action. However, the Minister is a fair man and the department is anxious to proceed with the maximum co-operation from those who will be affected.
There is no doubt whatever that the general view of the public will be to welcome the thrust and the action of the Government, which is designed to tackle this terrible problem. There is not much time, but that is not the fault of those who either oppose the measure or who are not concerned with it. At the same time, we 399 understand the reason why there is so little time—if the legislation is to be effective for the beginning of next season it must complete all its stages through both Houses before Parliament rises for the Recess.
I do not suggest that those who see the Minister will do so with any great confidence that a radical change might be achieved, but they would at least be satisfied to hear from the mouths of the Minister and his spokesmen the real reasons why, in the light of their plight, the Minister is unable to accede to their request. The Minister has more experience than I in these matters. There are bound to have been occasions when the bleak decisions beforehand are amended or twisted in the light of discussions. One does not know what good ideas might come from the mouths of those outside the department, or even from its officials, after they have heard the germ of an idea which might emerge.
It is a reasonable amendment with an even more reasonable suggestion which could provide the ground for the withdrawal of the amendment.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Lord Willis
May I, briefly, also support the amendment. I listened very carefully to the Minister's reply at Second Reading. First, it seemed to me that his main argument was that it would be unfair to have drinking in private boxes when law-abiding citizens elsewhere in the ground were not allowed to have a drink. Secondly, the Minister felt that if those law-abiding spectators in the ground could see, through the windows of the boxes, someone swigging liquor they would feel badly treated.
There is a problem, as I am sure the Minister realises. I think that he passed over it rather lightly in his reply when he said that he does not share the view that the loss of revenue from private boxes will be very great. I can assure the noble Lord the Minister that it will be enormous. One is killing Peter to pay Paul because the money that could be used for ground improvements will not be available if the boxes are not sold.
As I said earlier, it is impossible to adapt the boxes at Tottenham Hotspur, but a deputation might be able to convince the Minister that, for example, if one-way glass is installed—the crowds cannot see into the boxes at Tottenham, anyway—it would certainly remove that objection. One would then have a confined space with 10 or 12 people in it who are incapable of influencing others or creating a riot. At the same time it would be preserving a valuable source of income for the football club. That seems reasonable. On the one hand, one does not want to deprive people of the pleasure of a private box but, on the other hand, one sees the point that one does not want to irritate the law-abiding spectators on the ground. Why not compromise? Why not meet a deputation which can put forward this sort of argument? That is a reasonable suggestion and I hope that the Minister will agree to it.
§ Lord Monson
I think it might be useful if someone from another quarter of the Committee also spoke in support of these two amendments. It was pointed out in another place on 3rd July that the three matches that led to the introduction of this legislation were 400 played at football grounds where alcohol is banned. We should bear that in mind when considering the subsection which Amendment No. 15 seeks to delete.
There seems to be an element of class distinction in the Government's attitude. It was pointed out in another place on 3rd July by an honourable friend of the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, that he—that is, the noble Lord's honourable friend—knew of no case in which a person had become blind drunk in an executive box and then gone downstairs and thumped somebody. Yet people in private boxes at football matches who have never laid a finger on anyone will now be forbidden to drink alcohol while watching their favourite sport. In contrast, different types of people in private boxes at Ascot who are no more violent—but no less so, either—will be permitted to continue drinking themselves into such a state that they can hardly hold their binoculars while racing goes on.
It will be said that this subsection is the consequence of collective punishment which anyone connected with football in any way, however remote they may be from the hooligan element, must suffer as a consequence of the hooligans' actions. Ever since my schooldays I have detested collective punishment. I dislike the collective punishment imposed by FIFA and I dislike the punishment that this subsection effectively imposes. It is a punishment which, it was pointed out in another place, will cost football clubs, collectively, £4 million a year.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
I hope that the Government will look at this matter again. The point made a few moments ago that the three last serious disturbances in this country took place on grounds where there was no alcohol demonstrates one problem. It is a problem which will confront the Government if the Bill goes on the statute book in its present form.
Let us assume that we enter the next football season with the Bill enacted in its present form. A number of football clubs, as we have heard this evening from several of our colleagues, undoubtedly will be seriously financially damaged. One or two of the smaller clubs will probably be driven into bankruptcy. The loss to football could be substantial. What will happen if the disturbances continue? The punishment will have been awarded, as the noble Lord, Lord Monson, said, and clubs will have been grievously damaged in economic terms and the violence will continue.
The Minister must accept this. There are many senior police officers—I do not claim to speak for the whole of the police service this evening, and there are probably as many different opinions on this legislation in the police force as there are within the Committee—who do not believe that the problem is caused by drinking at the grounds. The problem arises from the drinking that occurs before reaching the grounds. We are at real risk of doing something that will damage the game of football and achieve little or no advantage for public safety.
§ Lord Glenarthur
The noble Lord, Lord Dean, has raised a difficult question, that of whether drinking and the sale of drink should be permitted in private boxes and restaurants. Of course the Government are 401 aware that clubs which provide boxes, of which I understand that there are some 32 at present, are concerned about the potential loss of revenue if drinking ceases to be permitted. I referred to this earlier, and we have given the matter a very great deal of consideration.
We are not suggesting that people who use private boxes are hooligans—of course not; neither are the great majority of spectators in the stands and on the terraces. We want to ensure that the controls in the Bill apply fairly to all spectators. As I indicated at Second Reading, it is not possible to introduce controls of this sort without them having an impact on respectable spectators. I regret it, but it is an inescapable situation. I personally share many of the reservations which the noble Lord. Lord Monson, expressed about collective punishments, from the same sort of background of the things which happened at school.
Against this background, as the noble Lord, Lord Willis, indicated and as I said earlier, many people would regard it as unfair if people in boxes were able to enjoy a drink when watching the match while those on the terraces and in the stands, who were equally respectable people, were prevented from doing so. I think that this would be seen in some quarters as conferring an unacceptable privilege on the occupants of boxes. The Bill prohibits the possession or sale of drink anywhere in the ground from where there is a direct view on to the pitch. Of course it does not preclude drinking out of sight of the pitch. Some clubs may already have or may wish to provide areas out of sight of the pitch where drink may be served to occupants of boxes or any other spectators, and it will be for the magistrates to say in each case where and under what conditions drink may safely be sold there.
I believe that people who use private boxes have the interests of football at heart and will support the principles of this Bill. I hope that the restrictions on drinking during the match—and I myself think that drinking must be regarded as a pleasant luxury rather than a strict necessity—will not cause them to diminish their support for the club, particularly those who can go and have a drink elsewhere, if not in view of the pitch. In the long run they, like all of us, have much to gain from restoring to football its good name. That seems to me to be the most important matter. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Dean, that the effect on the revenue of football clubs, if the good name of football is not restored, will be much more serious, and I think he should bear that closely in mind.
The Government accept that some loss of revenue is to be expected, and that is why we have undertaken to monitor the effect on club sponsorship income over the coming season. I have no doubt, too, that we shall carefully monitor the situation as regards hooliganism, and if there is hooliganism at "dry" football grounds and the measures that have been taken do not seem to be having the effect which they are designed to have, directors' boxes will be taken into account in this way. But if it is the case that there is a major fall in sponsorship income to the detriment of the game, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State would be prepared, in the context of new public order legislation, to consider whether an amendment might be made which would relax restrictions in the Bill. 402 However, we do not feel able to recommend such a relaxation at present.
I hope that the noble Lord will not press his amendment, but I should like to develop the theme a little more. So far as discussions are concerned, the noble Lord may be aware—or perhaps he is not—that my honourable friend the Minister of State has discussed the issue with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United and the Home Office has been in touch with the Football League. Quite honestly, I do not think that there would be much point in having a further deputation come to meet my honourable friend. I shall of course draw his attention to the remarks which the noble Lord has made and the support that others have given him, but in view of the discussions which have already taken place I do not think that there will be much future in pursuing the matter.
It was suggested that whether or not an area has a direct view on to the pitch is an irrelevant criterion for deciding whether the sale of alcohol should he permitted there. But it is not in such areas that drinking, and especially the possession of beer cans, bottles and so on, is most likely to cause trouble. I take it that those who have raised this matter do not seriously propose that drinking on the terraces and in the stands should be permitted. I am sure that that is not what they intend. It seems to me that it is perfectly sensible to say that it is at the places where people sit or stand in order to watch the match where, under all circumstances, we wish to prevent drinking and the possession of cans and bottles. I know that there are those who do not agree that the general rule should catch private boxes. That has been made quite clear and I have explained why that is not the Government's view. We believe that the same rules must apply to all spectators at a match.
The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, suggested that the provision of one-way glass might be a sufficient means of allowing drinking in private boxes. I have looked into this. It has been considered and I have to say that I doubt very much whether it would help. The Government have decided that the fairer solution is to apply the same criteria to drinking by all spectators alike.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
The noble Lord is saying that it probably would not help. Can he say why it would not help? It seems to many of us that it would help a great deal.
§ Lord Glenarthur
If the noble Lord will allow me to develop my theme, I can point out precisely where in the Bill he will find that it does not help. The restrictions in the Bill affect law-abiding spectators in the stands and on the terraces, and they affect law-abiding spectators in private boxes also. It is true that if spectators who were not allowed to drink could see other spectators drinking freely in private boxes, it would be an annoyance for them. I accept that and that it might reduce their respect for the law. But even if they cannot see directly into the boxes in the way in which I think the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, was suggesting, people have a pretty shrewd idea of what goes on there.
§ Lord Glenarthur
Suspect, maybe. They probably know, because, apart from anything else, on purely practical grounds, it is possible to see through one-way glass if the light happens to be in the right direction or if there is a light behind it. They will know that drinking is going on and that it is smiled upon by the clubs and permitted by the law. I do not see that one-way glass is the answer.
The point is that the Bill as written covers this particular point because it refers to the need to be able to "see from"—"may be directly viewed" is the key phrase here. I am trying, with some difficulty at this time of day, to find the relevant clause in the Bill. It is Clause 2(1)(a):A person who has intoxicating liquor … in his possession—(a) at any time during the period of a designated sporting event when he is in any area of a designated sports ground from which the event may be directly viewed".So we are talking about looking out, not about looking in. That is where the noble Lord's suggestion falls down.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
I am sorry that the noble Lord the Minister could not have been more sympathetic and responsive to what I still think is a reasonable request. I do not know when the Minister last stood on a football terrace or sat in a football stand. I do not go to football matches as frequently as I did. I was blooded at the same two grounds as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder—namely, Manchester City and Manchester United—and probably at the same time, so maybe we stood there together as boys. I know that in the early 1930s of the two Manchester City was the premier side. I was sent to watch United if I had misbehaved because the team was playing so badly. But the position has been reversed a bit since.
I think that the Minister's response could have been a little better. I probably watch about two or three matches a year now. I watch Leeds—which is where I live—or go across to watch Manchester City for the odd game. I have yet to see what the Minister or the Bill are trying to imply—people quaffing beer from cans in the stands at Maine Road or Elland Road. It just does not happen. I have never seen people sitting down in the stands swigging pints of beer at the football grounds to which I go. A lot of this is based on a completely false premise. As many noble Lords have said, the trouble is not in the grounds but before people get anywhere near them. The pubs that have the trouble in the Leeds area are not the ones that the genuine Leeds supporters use; they are the ones that people go to from outside.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt him, but in that case can the noble Lord explain the success of the legislation in Scotland?
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, the Minister cannot have the argument both ways. I fully agree that it has been a success in Scotland, but numerous noble Lords have indicated today that where the experiment has been tried in England and the grounds were completely dry, there has been the worst possible crowd trouble anywhere. In some cases abstinence must fire the blood. I have never seen that, but that 404 would appear to be the logical conclusion. People abstain and get angry about other things; it may be frustration.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, is not part of the answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, that although some violence is alcohol related, a lot is not, and that is obvious?
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, I am sure that that is the case. I do not want to detain the Committee much longer. In this country we have a ground which, although it is not now the best in the world, is still the citadel of soccer internationally. I am talking about Wembley Stadium. It possibly stages more showpiece games than any other stadium in the world. Before any footballer of note from any country in the world hangs up his boots he wants it to be known that he has played at Wembley.
Wembley has a first-class restaurant which can cater for 200 people. There is no direct access to the stands. After the war, when the cold war started to melt a bit, Russia sent across some superbly trained football teams—Moscow Dynamo and Spartak. Then the Hungarians came and showed us how to play the game that we had taught them. Part of that showpiece was the catering. There is a magnificent restaurant with a full panoramic view of the pitch. What do we tell visitors when they come now? "We are sorry, but there was an incident in Brussels which a lot of people think could have been prevented or diminished by proper control and arrangements, and the citadel of soccer has to suffer".
We are not asking much of the Minister at this late stage. He may have discussed the matter with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, but that is not the approach that I want. I am not particularly concerned about the financial well-being of some of the clubs at the top. They can always adjust and look after themselves. I think that Manchester United has had the highest average gate in the country for a number of years. But, as I said earlier, even a club like that may not succeed. Liverpool has had the most successful run of any club in history, but it still lives almost on a financial tightrope. These clubs must have extra fund raising and revenues other than the turnstiles clicking over.
I certainly shall not press the amendment tonight. But I think that we should have had a more sympathetic response and not just be told that the Minister of State has spoken to certain people. I was hoping for a meeting so that there could be, not confrontation, because I do not want to use that word, but consultation between the Minister and his advisers and the collective advisers to the sport. What suits one club may not necessarily suit another. We need that in order to present to your Lordships next Wednesday a formula acceptable to both sides.
I can see what will happen. The trend that I have spoken about of the five boxes at Spurs may be the yardstick. We are talking about only two out of the five which are empty at present. It might go to four out of five once people decide that it is not worth it if there cannot be entertainment on the basis set out in the original contract. The Government are changing the name of the game unnecessarily. Once it starts to 405 happen it is hard to stop. When someone has lost £4 million it is no good the Government saying, "Well, you were right and we were wrong. We will reverse the situation". That is not necessary.
I stood at Maine Road as a kid when there were 84,500 people there. It was the biggest crowd ever at a football ground outside Wembley watching the Cup Tie in 1933. I have watched football ever since. I have never seen the abuse on the terraces for which some people are in a blanket fashion condemning football supporters in this country. It is totally unfair. It is as had as some of the judgments that are coming through in the Belgian courts on some of our people. I do not know whether noble Lords saw the interview with the Belgian lawyer about the case of the lad from Liverpool. It was an utter disgrace. The Belgian lawyer said that there was no case, no evidence or anything else, but the lad was convicted. I do not know what his record was, but he wa convicted because he was one of a crowd. It seems to me that because of what happened at Brussels for time immemorial we shall subject our people and our clubs to blanket justice when they have not even been involved in the excesses.
I do not believe that the Minister or the Government would be in any way diminishing the desires of your Lordships or of those in another place to deal with the delicate situation by agreeing to the request to have discussions before next Wednesday with representatives of the people involved. Otherwise, I feel that totally unnecessary and irreparable damage will be done.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I did not wish to indicate a lack of sympathy for his arguments. I said that the Government came to their conclusions after a great deal of thought. I also said that I would make sure that my honourable friend was aware of the arguments that had been put forward. I said that in the light of the fact that he was already been in touch with two clubs—albeit clubs that may be better off than some of those which the noble Lord seeks to protect—and that the Home Office has already been in touch with the Football League. What I also said—and I draw the noble Lord's attention to it—was that we would monitor the situation closely and that in the light of experience over this season my right honourable friend might consider whether or not it would be appropriate to bring forward amending legislation to relax the restrictions of this Bill when we come to the new public order legislation in the next session. That is what I have said. I shall draw my right honourable friend's attention to it. I hope that with that assurance—and there is no intention at all on my part to show lack of sympathy—the noble Lord will not press his amendment.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
I am sure the Minister will understand that I am not trying to delay anything. What goes from your Lordship's Chamber should have almost unanimous support, if that is possible. However, there is no question at all that a number of noble Lords who have spoken do not feel inclined to give this particular clause in the Bill, as it stands at present, unanimous support. I do not want to divide the Committee on this issue. However, I am bound to tell your Lordships that, if the evidence comes in that because of the time factor the finances of clubs will 406 suffer adversely, I shall be bound to come back to this matter in some other form at Report stage.
I have always had respect for the answers of the noble Lord the Minister and the sympathetic way in which he normally deals with matters. He has said, "Well, if this goes wrong, we will have a look at it". What is the good of that? That is like, for example, a bank manager saying to a person he has made bankrupt and could have helped. "Well, I am sorry, but we are a bit late now". It is like a doctor saying, "I could have saved you, but you are a client for the undertaker". That is the very situation that we are trying to prevent. We are trying to eliminate the possibility of what in my opinion would be irreparable damage, based on the premise that historically and even today people in our football grounds stand on the terraces and sit in the stands quaffing pints of beer. This premise is absolute rubbish, and I do not know what people base it on.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
Perhaps I may speak very briefly, because the Committee has devoted a substantial amount of time to this amendment. On the other hand, it is an important issue. If the legislation goes through in its present form it will undoubtedly do substantial damage to a number of football clubs.
Inevitably the noble Lord, Lord Dean of Beswick, is an enthusiast for both Manchester United and Manchester City. There have been enthusiasts for Tottenham Hotspur. However, some of the clubs who will suffer most grievously are those who have not been mentioned—some of those who are struggling for survival. I hope very much that between now and next Wednesday this matter will be considered very seriously by the Government.
However, I understand what could loosely be described as the class warfare point. The argument is this: why should the men on the terraces be prevented from drinking, whereas those in the boxes are allowed to drink as much as they want? Of course I understand the argument. However, in my view it is an entirely false argument. That is for two reasons. First of all, there is no evidence—I repeat, "no evidence"—that watching a match is liable to make one involve oneself in acts of violence. I do not become concerned at those grounds where the magistrates have given their consent for drink to be made available. After all, we all know the background to the situation. We start off with total prohibition: drinking will take place only if a magistrates' court gives its authorisation for that drinking to take place.
In that situation is it really possible to argue that what I regard as this false distinction as between those who can see what is going on and those who cannot see what is going on should form part of the legislation at all? I do not believe that those people on the terraces or sitting wherever they may be, in an executive box or in the stands, are more likely to become involved in violence if they are drinking in those seats or standing wherever it may be.
I hope that this particular concept will be looked at very carefully because this is why there is a problem at all. If the Government were to say that a magistrates' court must decide whether a particular ground can be allowed to serve alcohol and that should be the only test, together with the control contained in the 407 provisions, I think we would get over this difficulty immediately. The only problem is that it is suggested that a person would be committing a criminal offence if he were in a position to watch the match. I think that is unnecessary. I think that is the point which should be reconsidered by the Government between now and next Wednesday.
I end on this point. I understand the Government's difficulty about seeing deputations. If I may say so, I understand inevitably the problems. However, I hope that the Government will consider this point. This matter goes wider than the amendment. I speak to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, as one of the veterans of the Sexual Offences Bill. I think there is something to be said for seeing whether there can be informal consultations to see whether we can get some broad measure of agreement between all parts of the Committee between now and next Wednesday. We would have a much shorter Report stage and Third Reading if we were to do that.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I should like to respond briefly to the noble Lord, Lord Hams. I do not really think that in the short period of time between now and Wednesday it will be practicable to produce the sort of consulatations that the noble Lord seeks. That would be one of the additional considerations that would face the suggested consultation with the football grounds that the noble Lord has suggested. It is better to consider what has been said today. I shall draw my honourable friend's attention to it. I shall deal with the matter myself and in consultation with my honourable friend as quickly as I can. If there is anything that I can do to help, I shall let the noble Lord know, but I do not honestly believe that I can go as far as he wants this evening.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
Is the noble Lord really saying that he is declining—I am sure he is not—to meet a number of Members of the House between now and next Wednesday? Surely, it is in the Government's own interests to agree. Otherwise, we shall have a very tiresome Report stage on the Bill. I pointed out earlier to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, that there is some obligation on the Government, given the very speedy way in which this Bill is being put on the statute book, to try to make some concessions. Frankly, the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, has not made a single concession this evening. He has not even begun to imply that he is prepared to move in any direction at all. It has been resist, resist, resist at every stage. I do not believe that that is reasonable.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I do not suggest that it would be impossible to meet the noble Lord to discuss the matter. I am concerned about whether the discussions that he wants would be particularly fruitful. If the noble Lord so wishes, I shall certainly see what can be done about a meeting. I still think, however, that it will be extremely difficult to meet the concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Dean, and by the noble Lord, Lord Harris. We are talking about real matters of principle in this part of the Bill. We are aware of the concern that has been expressed. It has been deeply thought about and discussed by the Government. That 408 is why the Bill is in the form it is now. I shall certainly do my best to meet the noble Lords concerned at some point. I cannot, off the top of my head, say when. It will certainly not be tomorrow because I shall not be here. I shall, however, bear the matter in mind. I hope that with that the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
I shall not proceed further other than to say that if the position is as rigid by the time we reach Report stage next Wednesday this may well be an issue that cannot be resolved simply by debating it. Some of us feel very strongly over a part of the Bill that we consider unnecessary. However, not wishing to delay proceedings any further tonight, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 2, line 24, after ("enter") insert ("or loitering in the vicinity of).
§ The noble Lord said: I shall try to be very brief because I do not believe that the amendment is likely to give rise to a long discussion. The words of the amendment sound like charge room jargon, but they add, I believe, to the clarity of the meaning of this subsection. The next subsection begins by dealing with a person who is drunk. I wonder what is the definition of a person being drunk who may be loitering. I believe I am right in saying that the average police sergeant has several ways of describing a person who is drunk. Here, it says no more than a person "who is drunk". If we are to be precise over so many small matters, we should be able to define someone who is incapable. I support especially the words "loitering in the vicinity or which add considerably to the meaning of the subsection. I beg to move.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I shall try to be equally brief. My noble friend rightly points out that trouble can often develop outside a football match. That is the theme of the amendment. The Bill helps in one respect in that the prohibitions that it imposes in relation to coaches and football special trains reduce the likelihood of supporters arriving in the ground under the influence of alcohol. There is also a power in the Licensing Act 1964 for the justices to order the closure of licensed premises on the application of the police in any area where the presence of supporters seems likely to give rise to unruly behaviour and disorder. Of course the police can deal with a person who is committing an offence under the existing law with a simple charge of drunkenness, or something more serious, in a public place outside the ground. My noble friend invites us to go one stage further.
The difficulty about my noble friend's amendment is that it would catch people who had no connection at all with the football match. That is not a fanciful construction or interpretation to put upon his amendment. Football grounds are usually near town centres or at least in built-up areas. My noble friend has not sought to define just what "the vicinity of ' a football ground should embrace—
The amendment refers to loitering about "in the vicinity of', which is exactly what I said. You may never get inside the ground; you are loiterng in the vicinity.
§ Lord Glenarthur
Perhaps I may develop the theme a little further. The difficulty which I see is that because it is "the vicinity or' and it would include streets surrounding the ground as well as the area immediately beside the entrance, a person, for example returning from a supermarket with a bottle of wine in his shopping basket could arguably commit an offence if he stopped to chat to a friend in the street. A person drinking a can of lemonade would equally be caught, because it would be a controlled container.
So far as drunkenness is concerned, it will not be necessary for the police to resort to breathalysers or that type of thing in order to prove the offence of drunkenness under the Bill. Under Section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872, for well over 100 years it has been an offence to be drunk in a public place and the police have not experienced any difficulties in bringing prosecutions. The courts have held that a person is to be regarded as drunk if he has consumed intoxicating liquor to the extent that he has lost self-control. I could add to that, but I really think that my noble friend's suggestion that "vicinity" should be included would take the Bill far too wide and would catch all types of people who I am sure my noble friend would not like to catch.
§ Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
§ Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 11:
§ [Printed earlier: col. 393.]
§ The noble Lord said I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 8. I beg to move.
§ Lord Airedale
It is true that we discussed this amendment with the earlier amendment, but I should like to say a word at this stage, having had time to consider the Minister's reply to the concern—
§ Lord Skelmersdale
I hope that the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. If this amendment is to be discussed, even in retrospect, so to speak, I think that the Question should first be put.
§ Lord Airedale
I am very sorry. I expressed disquiet that hip-flasks were being put outside the scope of the Bill because they were not returnable containers. In reply the Minister said, yes, but that the position seemed to be covered because it was also an offence to be in possession of intoxicating liquor. I have in mind the hooligan who smuggles in a hip-flask containing neat whisky which he then consumes. He becomes unruly and attracts the attention of the police. He is no longer in possession of intoxicating liquor because the intoxicating liquor inside him is no longer in his possession within the meaning of the Act. The police say, "No, you have a whisky flask in your possession". He says, "Yes, but you haven't read subsection (2) of the section. It is not a returnable container. You can't catch me for that".
Surely it is worth while forgetting about the returnability of the container and bringing the flask 410 within the scope of the Act. Admittedly it then becomes a technical offence even to bring in a thermos flask of tea. But surely we can leave it to the good sense of the police not to prosecute innocent, orderly people who bring in a thermos flask of tea.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I thought that I had been able to make it clear to the noble Lord—I am sorry if I have not—that under the amendments that we dealt with, Amendments Nos. 8 and 11, there are two strands to the argument. One deals with containers intended to carry drink; that is those which are caught. The present Clause 2(3) catches containers of liquid whether or not the liquid is drink. Secondly, the amendments limit the containers which are normally discarded, such as cans or bottles, or returned, such as glasses and one or two other things as well. Hip flasks would not be caught because they are not normally returnable, but they can cause injury if thrown, but so can thermos flasks. One cannot sensibly create new criminal offences on the basis that the police will not enforce them. We have genuinely tried to meet a realistic need which was expressed, among others, by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, who said that somebody might legitimately take into a football ground a thermos flask full of tea or soup, but would not be allowed to do so under the Bill as it stands.
One could argue that a thermos flask could be thrown, but it is unlikely. It is much more likely that the hooligan who brings in a hip flask—if, indeed, hooligans have hip flasks, which I somehow doubt—would be quite likely to throw it, and it could do damage as a result. But the concern which the noble Lord has expressed has been met by the earlier amendment.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Following is the text of the amendment (No. 11):
Page 2, line 33, leave out subsection (3) and insert—
(" (3) This section applies to any article capable of causing injury to a person struck by it, being—
§ [Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 not moved.]
§ Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 14:
§ After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:
. A person who enters the playing area of a designated sports ground at any time during the period of a designated sporting event at that ground without the express approval of the person or persons responsible for the management or supervision of the event is guilty of an offence.").
§ The noble Lord said: The Minister will be delighted that I propose to take this fairly briefly. It concerns a point which I raised on Second Reading. We have spent a fair amount of time discussing issues which in the view of many of us are not really relevant to soccer 411 violence. Without repeating what was said in the last debate of substance, I would say that many of us doubt whether drinking at the actual football grounds is in fact the central issue, though it has become the central issue. What we know is what we saw of the Luton-Millwall match at a ground where drinking was not taking place, a "dry" ground, where large numbers of football hooligans invaded the pitch, stopped the match and had a violent confrontation with the police. It seems to many of us deeply and genuinely puzzling why the Government have not taken advantage of the Bill to make this behaviour a criminal offence. They are making many other types of conduct into offences, why not this? It is far more directly related to football violence. I repeat that I find it most surprising that this was not contained in the Government's Bill.
§ If I am told that the Government will consider this matter seriously—I underline the word "seriously" —in the forthcoming public order legislation, I shall be content. With great respect to the Minister, "drawing the attention of my right honourable friend", will not quite do. I mean some indication that the Government are proposing to look at this matter seriously in their forthcoming public order legislation. If they are, I will not take up more time of the Committee.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I must confess to finding the noble Lord's position on this amendment rather curious and confusing. He has soundly berated the Government for allegedly trying to rush through what he suggested might be ill-considered legislation; on the other hand, he has tabled a number of amendments which considerably widen the ambit of the Bill and create important new criminal offences, criminal offences for which the noble Lord himself has expressed great concern over the last week or two on other issues as well.
This amendment, apart from anything else, is not strictly relevant to the subject matter of the Bill. That is the first point to make about it. For that reason alone, I do not think that we ought to accept this amendment. I acknowledge the noble Lord's concern about the scenes of pitch invasion by football spectators. We have all witnessed them. However, it is the case that the uglier forms of behaviour by so-called football fans who invade the pitch are already covered by the criminal law and may constitute, for example, criminal damage or assault or threatening behaviour.
Acceptance of this amendment would only extend the law in a limited way and, in particular, would make criminals of those whose behaviour at best might be described as over-enthusiastic, for example, people running on to the pitch to congratulate a goal scorer. That is not to say that I believe such behaviour is wholly acceptable, far from it. I should be the first to urge football clubs to improve their perimeter fencing within the grounds of what is safe to give the greater control over pitch invasions. I certainly do not think that it should be criminal. I hope that the noble Lord will understand the force of that argument.
There is also another difficulty which would arise if encroachment on playing areas was made an offence in the way that the noble Lord proposed; that is, that only encroachment on to the playing area of a designated 412 sports ground during a designated sporting event would be caught. I indicated during Second Reading of the Bill that at the moment it is the Government's intention that the Bill should apply to football and not to other sports. Indeed, we discussed at length that matter earlier on. The effect of this amendment would be to make a criminal offence to invade the pitch during some football matches but not during any rugby matches or any cricket matches. Thus, it would be an offence to run on the pitch to congratulate a goal scorer but not an offence to run on to the cricket square to congratulate someone who has scored a century. I cannot see the logic in that, and neither do I think that it would be equitable or even right.
The noble Lord must also consider that it would put at grave disadvantage other people, such as the fire brigade—and Heaven forbid that that should ever be necessary again!—who need to come on to the pitch. That is the effect of the legislation; but in practical terms it would not mean that. I must say to the noble Lord that the point of that would be that if people wanted to come on for some sort of emergency, I think they would find themselves technically caught by the amendment which the noble Lord proposes. I am not suggesting that it is likely to affect the position, but that is a result of the noble Lord's amendment. The noble Lord asked me whether or not the Government would consider bringing forth some sort of legislation in the future to do with crowd—
§ Lord Glenarthur
That is right: public order legislation. Certainly, the Government will keep under review the sort of happenings which entail people running on to pitches. Whether or not that particular matter will be included is a matter for consideration by the Government. I feel that there is something of a lack of logic in what the noble Lord has put forward in this amendment. I hope he will not feel it necessary to press the amendment.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
As I have already indicated that I am not going to press the matter, the noble Lord will not be surprised to hear that that is still my view, despite a remarkably inadequate response. I must say that if I had had the job of replying to that amendment I hope I would have produced one or two slightly better arguments than the point about the fire brigade. If ever there was a weak, threadbare argument, it was that one.
The reason why in fact one is raising this issue at all is because this was the particular occasion, as the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, may recall, which excited the great interest of the Prime Minister—for the first time, so far as I am aware—in the question of football violence. One of the problems of the Government in this matter is that this event took place at a ground which was then as "dry" as many grounds will be in the future. This is an attempt to make the Bill more relevant.
May I just say to the noble Lord that one of the problems about this Bill is that in fact it is designed to punish a significant number of individuals and institutions without giving any guarantee whatever that there will be a lessening of soccer violence. That is why the 413 amendment has been put down. There is no lack of logic: it is a fairly obvious response to the situation which has arisen at Luton and a number of other football grounds in this country. However, while I do not propose to trouble your Lordships any longer with this particular debate, as I indicated a few moments ago, I really do hope that the Minister will find some better arguments in the future. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 15 not moved.]
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Clause 4 [Supplementary provisions about orders under section 3]:
§ [Amendment No. 16 not moved.]
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 17:
Page 5, line 16, leave out ("transfer or").
The noble Lord said: I am going to move Amendment No. 17, which is an alternative to No. 18, and I think we could take No. 19 at the same time.
Amendment No. 19: Page 5, line 17, leave out ("or the grant of a protection order").
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness White)
It has been suggested that Amendment No. 20 might be discussed at the same time.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
Yes, very well.Amendment No. 20: Page 5, line 22, leave out subsection (4) and insert—("(4) Where an order under that section is in force in respect of any premises and application is made not less than twenty-eight days before the order is due to expire for renewal of the order or for a further order in respect of the premises, the first-mentioned order shall not cease to have effect by virtue of subsection (1)(b) above until the application is disposed of by the magistrates' court.").This is a fairly limited issue. Our attention has been drawn to it by a leading football club and I hope that this amendment will be somewhat less controversial than some of the others we have been discussing this evening. This particular problem will arise only where there are licensed premises or registered club premises in a designated sports ground. A magistrates' court may make an order under Clause 3 of the Bill and under the order intoxicating liquor may be sold or supplied within the control specified in the clause and in the order itself.
Under Clause 4(2) if the holder of the licence dies, retires or is sacked, the Clause 3 order ceases to have effect when the justices' licence is transferred or a protection order is granted. One cannot have a hearing for a new order under Clause 3 until 28 days after it is requested, and that provision is dealt with in paragraph 4(b) of the schedule. There may therefore be circumstances where a club will suffer if the Bill is not amended, and this seems to be a matter of drafting rather than for the inclusion of a deliberate provision in the Bill. If the amendments are made the club will not suffer accidentally. No harm, I believe, will be done to the desire to have tight control if the amendments are made, because there is the power in Clause 3(5) for a magistrates' court to revoke an order under the clause if they wish to do so. I beg to move.
§ Lord Glenarthur
This is a complex part of the Bill. If I have understood the noble Lord's argument correctly, his concern is that the provisions of the Bill as it is at present drafted could mean in practice that if there were an unforeseen change of licensee—for example, where a dishonest licensee had to be summarily dismissed—the football club could be faced with a period of at least 28 days during which there would be a prohibition on the sale of alcohol and no power for the magistrates' court to hear an application for a fresh exemption order no matter how meritorious that application might be. So far as the sudden death of a licensee is concerned, I believe that my own amendment, Amendment No. 20, has the effect of ensuring that clubs should be in no difficulty.
I think that the arguments about the other circumstances in which a protection order might have to be sought as a matter of urgency do have some force. I am not equally persuaded that there is a real problem in connection with transfers. I repeat what I said earlier: that I am sure the Committee will realise that this is a highly technical part of the Bill's provision. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will be willing to withdraw his amendment so that I can give this further consideration before Report stage. There may be some technicalities of drafting to consider. As I mentioned, I am not sure that the case for transfers is as strong as that concerning protection orders, but I am willing to consider the point raised and I hope that the noble Lord will feel reassured by that.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 18:
Page 5, line 16, leave out ("or removal").
§ The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 18 is a minor drafting amendment. The effect of the removal of a justices' licence to different premises is that the premises to which the licence originally related cease to be licensed premises. The words "or removal" thus add nothing to the final words of the subsection. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 19 not moved.]
§ Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 20:
§ [Printed earlier: col. 413.]
§ The noble Lord said: I have spoken to this amendment. Although I seem to have rather a lot left to say, I do not think that it is strictly necessary. In essence it is purely technical and drafting. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Following is the text of the amendment (No. 20):
Page 5, line 22, leave out subsection (4) and insert—
("(4) Where an order under that section is in force in respect of any premises and application is made not less than twenty-eight days before the order is due to expire for renewal of the order or for a further order in respect of the premises, the first-mentioned order shall not cease to have effect by virtue of subsection (1)(b) above until the application is disposed of by the magistrates' court.").
§ Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.415
§ Clause 6 [Closure of bars]:
Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 21:
Page 6, line 17, leave out ("constable in uniform") and insert ("police officer in uniform of rank not less than an Inspector").
§ The noble Lord said: I shall make this point very quickly. I think the meaning is entirely clear here. I am suggesting that we should have a "police officer in uniform of rank not less than an Inspector" closing down a bar rather than a "constable in uniform". There are occasions galore when it is perfectly right and proper to let large responsibility rest on a constable's shoulders. On the other hand, there are occasions when I think that the situations are handled rather better by an officer of senior rank. I therefore beg to move.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I agree with my noble friend in his curtailed speech that where a magistrates' court has seen fit, after careful consideration, to grant an exemption order permitting the sale of drink, the police should act to stop such sales only with good reason and with the appropriate level of authority.
The emergency power in Clause 3(7) to suspend or modify an exemption order for a particular match is reserved to police officers of rank no less than inspector, as my noble friend will be aware. But the power in Clause 6 has a different purpose. It can happen that during the period of a football match—perhaps just before kick-off or at halftime—trouble suddenly brews up in a particular bar. What is then required is immediate action to nip it in the bud. If, in the view of the constable on the spot, that means closing the bar, he should be able to do so. If the constable were obliged to await the arrival of an inspector before he could act, valuable time could be lost as the trouble grew more serious. In our view it is essential that the police should be given the powers they need to react quickly to signs of trouble. Clause 6 will cater for such situations where firm and swift action is of the essence. I know my noble friend will agree that swift action is important and I hope that he will be able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Mishcon
I had the good fortune to hear him and possibly I can summarise what the noble Lord the Minister said by saying that there could be an emergency where only a constable was present and therefore that emergency ought to be covered. I can make a suggestion to the noble Lord the Minister. Can we be assured that there will be guidelines issued to the police, so that when enforcing this clause a constable will, on all possible occasions, get the concurrence of a more senior police officer before he carries out the provisions of Clause 6, it being well understood that if that is not practicable, the decision will have to be left to him?
§ Lord Glenarthur
I am sure that in considering the way in which this legislation will operate general 416 guidance will be given to police officers on how they should conduct their business in this matter. I think, though, that it is important—and I believe my noble friend shares this view—that one must react quickly to situations when they crop up. That is why I do not think my noble friend's amendment would be practicable because it may take some time to get an officer of the rank which my noble friend requires. But certainly it will be brought to the attention of policemen. I feel sure that that will be the case and I hope that that will reassure my noble friend as well.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
But of course it will be for the operational decision of a chief constable how this matter is enforced. It is not primarily a matter for the Home Office. It will be force orders which will go out on the basis of this piece of legislation. I see the problem about insisting that it should be an officer of the rank of inspector, certainly in an emergency situation. On the other hand, I am slightly nervous that, quite bluntly, some probationer constable may over-react in some circumstances. We are all aware that probationer constables make up a significant proportion of the police force and one could over-react in a particular situation and close a bar. Then there could be a situation of more difficulty than if the bar had been left open in the first instance. It is probably very difficult to do this on the face of the Bill, but it is a matter which should be carefully considered with the chief inspector of constabulary and there should be informal consultations with the Association of Chief Police Officers.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I quite take the point that the noble Lord makes. It is difficult to put it on the face of the Bill. Of course, one must guard against overreaction, and that is just the sort of thing which will be catered for by the instructions issued to police forces. In general, the wishes that have been expressed will be carried out.
I am very grateful for what my noble friend has said. I see his point, but I do not think his argument deserves quite the weight that he has given it. It is suggested that something will happen very rapidly. When you are on a football ground you will have policemen in small groups, led almost certainly by a sergeant. When I put down the words of this amendment I thought to myself that a sergeant would be an extremely good compromise between the rank of inspector and what is in the Bill. If my noble friend will tell me that he will have a look at this before Report stage, I shall beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I shall certainly study the noble Lord's words without commitment. I do not think I can do more than that because there are real practical difficulties to adopting my noble friend's suggestion. But I shall certainly consider it and I shall discuss it with my honourable friends. I hope that that will meet his concern.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.417
§ Clause 7 [Powers of enforcement]:
§ Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 22:
Page 6, line 37, at end insert—
("( ) A constable may search a person seeking to board a public service vehicle (within the meaning of section I of this Act) or a railway passenger vehicle if he has reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence under that section is likely to be committed.").
§ The noble Lord said: I do not think it is necessary for me to read the words off the Marshalled List. The drafting of this page of the Bill has not struck me as being very clear. If my noble friend can set my mind at rest I shall be very grateful.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My noble friend's proposal would confer on the police additional powers of search beyond those already contained in the Bill. By Clause 1 the Bill makes it an offence to be in possession of alcohol on a football special, coach or train. This offence attracts the power of search in Clause 7(2) which is exercisable on reasonable suspicion that the person is committing or has committed one of the offences in the Bill. Since the offence of being in possession of alcohol on a coach or a train is capable of being committed only in the vehicle itself, it follows that the power of search is capable of being exercised only in the vehicle itself or if there is reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed when the suspected offender gets off the train.
My noble friend's amendment would give the police power to search a person before getting on to a public service vehicle or train if they had reasonable suspicion that an offence was likely to be committed. I have to tell him that the additional power is open to very serious objection. I ask my noble friend to consider the following situation. Let him suppose that the power of search conferred by his amendment is exercised on the platform of a railway station and that alcohol is found in the possession of the person searched. What is then to be done? No offence has yet been committed. The police have no power to seize and detain the alcohol they have discovered. They will have to return it to the person whom they search. He will no doubt then either drink it immediately or throw it away. It is only if he is foolish enough to board the vehicle or train with it still in his possession that an offence will have been committed and an arrest can be made. I can really think of nothing much more damaging to the standing of the police than to search a person, find the article for which they are searching and then have to return that article to him without being able to take the matter further.
The only other point that I should like to make to my noble friend is that we are rightly careful about conferring new powers of search and arrest on the police. A number of your Lordships have expressed concern about the speed of the passage of this Bill. There are good reasons for that. But on this particular amendment I suggest that your Lordships and my noble friend would be right to be cautious and sceptical. I hope that that explanation helps my noble friend.
My noble friend has given us just about the worst case to describe the circumstances that I have tried to describe. I have seen something of the sort happen. I should think that the wise, experienced 418 PC would proceed with what is called ways and means if he found somebody creating difficulties on a platform in a railway station. But in the circumstances it may perhaps be a good thing if I withdraw the amendment. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 23 not moved.]
§ Clause 8 agreed to.
§ Clause 9 [Interpretation]:
The Deputy Chairman of Committees
Should Amendment No. 24 be agreed to, it will not be possible to move Amendment No. 25.
§ [Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 not moved.]
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 26:
Page 8, line 5, after ("section") insert ("relating to an association football ground").
The noble Lord said: I should like also to speak to Amendment No. 27.
Amendment No. 27: Page 8, line 7, at end insert—
("but no order in respect of any other sporting ground shall be made under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.").
§ I turn to this matter very briefly. We have already had what might be described as a Second Reading debate on this particular proposition. I refer to the affirmative resolution argument. As the Minister may recall, we had it at his instance on an earlier amendment. I made our position clear then. I believe there was total unanimity in the Committee, except on the Government Front Bench, on this particular matter. It is one of the matters which I hope will be seriously considered between now and Wednesday of next week.
§ I do not want to repeat this point with boring regularity, but the fact is that none of us wishes to do other than ensure that this Bill goes onto the statute book in a satisfactory form. So far we have achieved precisely nothing as a result of our debates today, except a position of considerable inflexibility so far as the Government are concerned. We hope that between now and next Wednesday we will see greater progress.
§ I shall not argue the case again this evening, but, frankly, if we do not make progress, we will be debating these matters at substantial length next Wednesday, because we do not believe that this Bill should be extended to sports other than football without the affirmative resolution procedure being employed. Having said that, and having briefly moved the amendment, perhaps I may indicate that after the Minister has responded I shall withdraw the amendment. That is on the clear understanding that we are bound to have this debate over again next Wednesday, unfortunately at great length, unless (as I hope very much) we have an indication that the Government will make some concession.419
§ Lord Glenarthur
The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, will not expect me to rehearse the same arguments again. I know his feelings on this matter. We have already said that it may be possible to meet and to try to thrash something out before the next stage. That is probably the best way to leave this matter. With that, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
I shall not try to pin any words on the Minister, but I welcome the note struck in his intervention. On that basis I gladly withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 27 not moved.]
§ Clause 9 agreed to.
§ Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 28:
Page 8, leave out lines 10 to 12 and insert—
(" (a) in section 68(1), after paragraph (b) there shall be inserted—
(c) a sporting event, or a class of sporting event, taking place outside Great Britain";").
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment,in the name of my noble friend Lord Gray of Contin, is purely a drafting amendment. This part of Clause 10 deals with the Secretary of State's power to designate sporting events abroad. At the moment, under the clause as drafted, it might be argued that it will oblige the Secretary of State to designate grounds outside Britain as well as sporting events. All that is wanted in practice is the power for the Secretary of State to designate events or classes of sporting events which take place outside the country, and the revised drafting makes this perfectly clear. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 11 [Short title and extent]:
Page 8, line 30, at end insert—
("( ) This Act shall continue in force for the period of five years beginning with the date of the commencement of this Act and shall then expire unless Parliament by affirmative resolution of each House determines that it shall continue in force for a further period of five years.").
§ The noble Lord said: In the circumstances recorded in the exchange between myself and the noble Lord the Minister, I shall not move this amendment.
§ [Amendment No. 29 not moved.]
§ Clause 11 agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 30 not moved.]
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 31, 32 and 33 not moved.]
§ Title agreed to.
§ House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.
§ House adjourned at ten o'clock.