§ 11.23 a.m.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.
Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(Lord Hesketh.)
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the Bill be now read a third time, at end to insert "but that this House regrets that Her Majesty's Government have decided to proceed further with the Bill, in particular Part I, in advance of any report from the judicial inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster being conducted by Lord Justice Taylor".
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, "What a Difference a Day Makes" is the title of a popular 1647 song of yesteryear. There can be no more fitting epitaph for our debate today. That day is Saturday 15th April 1989. As we concluded the Report stage of the Bill in early April we expected to move to the Third Reading and to a vigorous series of debates on a range of fiercely contested issues. However, that is no longer the case.
§ The events of Hillsborough on that dreadful day in April cast shadows far and wide and into the hearts and minds of the whole nation. To seek to progress this Bill in the midst of such awful, horrific and unbearable tragedy for the bereaved, the injured, the emotionally damaged, the clubs, the players and the cities of Sheffield and Liverpool seems to me to be an act of unspeakable obscenity. To intrude Parliament and Parliamentarians into such enormous, unbearable grief is an exercise of monumental insensitivity. To do so demands an imperative of overriding priority. It demands progress with this Bill at a time when the evidence of what happened on that awful day has still to be gathered, let alone evaluated. It places a priority on speed before all else.
§ There is much common ground on Part II of the Bill, which deals with hooligans abroad. Whether Part I is the best way to deal with hooligans at home is, and will be, the continuing subject of bitter divisions. If the real debate is renewed before we have the views or even the recommendations of Lord Justice Taylor, it will be an exercise in futility. Any debate without the views of Lord Justice Taylor will be held in a vacuum and will have to be repeated. That need not be the case. The intention of the Government to have a Bill in place for spring 1990 can still be met, whether or not the report of Lord Justice Taylor is received in time for this Session. I will explain to the House how that can be done and why it should be done.
§ This debate should have nothing to do with the ramifications of the Bill. However, it must have everything to do with getting the matter right, rather than achieving a result now. That terrible day and the subsequent inquiry of Lord Justice Taylor represent for the Government, Parliament and the people perhaps the last chance to reshape football in the way that we want it to be established for the 1990s and beyond. The Minister has brought forward amendments pursuant to undertakings given. I acknowledge that. I have put down but one amendment to a government amendment.
§ There are important players in this drama, for drama it undoubtedly is. We have heard three voices, all of which are of great significance for they illuminate more brightly than any words of mine both the attitude and the rationale of this Bill in the eyes of the Government. As is fitting, the first voice I ask noble Lords to listen to is that of the Prime Minister, who spoke in another place immediately after announcing the inquiry of Lord Justice Taylor. She said that to refuse to pass the Bill this Session would be a very grave decision for this House. Thus we are left in no doubt that for the Prime Minister the crucial issue is that of passing legislation this Session.1648
The Minister for Sport, Mr. Colin Moynihan, in a broadcast on "The World Tonight" on 20th April was asked what would happen if the Taylor inquiry opposed the idea of bringing in compulsory identity cards for football spectators. His reply is at the heart of the approach of the Government to the Taylor report. The Minister said:
I think it is inconceivable that he will say that … We will not implement a national membership scheme until we are totally satisfied the technology exists so there will not be a build-up of crowds outside the ground. That technology does exist. There will be no delays".
Before Hillsborough, and more than two months before the Minister said that there would be no build-up and no delays as the technology was in place, Arthur Young, the management consultants, had presented the Football League and the Minister with its report on the precise circumstances to which the Minister said he had the answer. Arthur Young took as its example the Arsenal ground and an Arsenal match with Manchester United which took place mid-week in November 1988. The final attendance at that match was a capacity crowd of 54,029, with between 3,000 to 5,000 spectators locked outside. Arthur Young made a series of assessments, but its main conclusion was that:
Any delay caused by membership cards may increase queueing time substantially and many people may not be admitted until well after the scheduled kick-off time. The extra time required to admit everyone would increase between 16 and 48 minutes".
§ To be responsible for such a Bill with such danger and so graphic a warning of the consequences before us is too great a responsibility to contemplate. However, that need not be the case. It is when I reflect on the words of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Mr. Nicholas Ridley, that I feel the greatest unease about whether the report of Lord Justice Taylor will be given proper weight by the Government.
I first remind the House of what Mr. Ridley said when he produced the current plan to proceed with the Bill at a pace which would take into account any relevant recommendations from Lord Justice Taylor. Frances Coverdale interviewed him for the Radio 4 "PM" programme on 20th April. She put it to him that:
It is conceivable that Lord Justice Taylor will come out at the end of his investigations and say that there should not be identity cards for fans, that it would have caused more problems and the effect of it could probably be to lead to a greater crush outside a football ground. That is the argument".
To which Mr. Ridley replied:
Yes, it could indeed".
Frances Coverdale then said:
But if Lord Justice Taylor came out against this measure would you still go ahead with it if that was the case?
Mr. Ridley said:
That's a hypothetical question. Let's see what happens. I think it is for the Government to decide what it proposes to Parliament, not for the people who conduct inquiries into disasters to have the last say".
He also said that Lord Justice Taylor can only advise:
We may not accept his advice, but at least let's hear it".
§ Now we have it. The Government will at least hear what Lord Justice Taylor has to say.
§ I remind the House that Ministers have indicated a government timetable. It was aimed at clearing1649
§ parliamentary hurdles this Session and carrying out testing and experiments in time to have the scheme in place by the spring of 1990. That target can still be attained. An all-party agreement could give the Government Part II of the Bill almost on the nod. The crux of the dilemma is when Lord Justice Taylor presents his preliminary findings. Whether they impinge on this Bill or not, we are told that if he does so in time for the Government to take them into account, a restructured Part I will be put before the Commons, will come to this House and will be promulgated this Session.
§ If Lord Justice Taylor does not present his preliminary findings in time, there must be no cut-off date, no point of no return. It would be intolerable if he felt in any way that to meet a parliamentary timetable to suit a political imperative he was under pressure to report in haste. If that point of no return and no report is reached there should be no Part I this Session.
§ Who would be the losers? Do the Government believe that the world of football is standing still, paralysed, waiting either for Ridley or Moynihan? All within football recognise that the next period, perhaps the next 12 months, is make or break time. Is it not better to give Lord Justice Taylor a higher worth than Ministers and to defer this Bill to next Session, with an urgent priority to receive Royal Assent for spring 1990, when it reflects fully the lessons of Hillsborough? That would be the fallback position if Lord Justice Taylor reported later rather than sooner.
§ Perhaps I may conclude with sadnesss in my thoughts but with hope in my heart. I know full well how determined the Government are to promulgate their preferred solution with this identity card Bill. They may well be right. I happen not to think so. But to proceed with the Bill before being able to analyse and evaluate the report from Lord Justice Taylor is surely to make a travesty of a tribunal and a mockery of parliamentary responsibility.
§ I want this Bill out of your Lordships' House and on to the Cabinet table. If your Lordships share my revulsion that the nation and Parliament will be plunged into an acrimonious, heart-tearing, soul-searching, bloody inquest on Hillsborough and beyond, before as well as after Taylor, you will properly and seriously request the Government to defer progress on the Bill until after the report. Nothing will be lost by supporting that request. I happen to believe that there are millions of men, women and, yes, children who, after Hillsborough, expect nothing less from your Lordships' House today. I beg to move.
§ Moved, As an amendment to the Motion that the Bill be now read a third time, at end to insert "but that this House regrets that Her Majesty's Government have decided to proceed further with the Bill, in particular Part I, in advance of any report from the judicial inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster being conducted by Lord Justice Taylor".—(Lord Graham of Edmonton-)
§ The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)
The original Question was that this Bill be now read a 1650 third time, since when an amendment has been moved, at the end to insert the words set out on the Order Paper. The question now is that this amendment be agreed to.
§ 11.24 a.m.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, it is now more than two months since we last debated this Bill. Two days after our second day on Report came the terrible disaster at the Hillsborough stadium, on 15th April. The Prime Minister and other members of the Government have expressed their deepest sympathy for those who were bereaved or themselves injured on that terrible day. I should like to add my own personal sympathy to those concerned. It is with no political point in mind that I say that this is the most recent and most serious in a line of tragedies that have scarred British football since the Second World War. I am sure that all Members of your Lordships' House share my profound hope that this disaster will be the last in that line.
I should also like to say something, before I move on to the Bill itself, about the reaction of the people of Liverpool to the disaster. I think that the whole country was deeply impressed with the way in which the city of Liverpool came together following the disaster. We were all moved by the remarkable floral tributes that covered the Anfield stadium and by the memorial services held to commemorate those who died. It is a measure of the impression that Liverpool's response made upon the rest of our country that the disaster fund for those bereaved and injured now exceeds £6 million though of course no amount of money will ever provide true compensation.
We cannot fail to be aware of that tragic background to our debate today. Immediately after the disaster, the Home Secretary asked Lord Justice Taylor to conduct a public inquiry into what happened. His terms of reference are:To inquire into the events of Sheffield Wednesday football ground on 15th April 1989 and to make recommendations about the needs of crowd control and safety at sports grounds".It would be quite wrong for me today to anticipate Lord Justice Taylor's findings on the causes of the Hillsborough disaster. The Government believed before Hillsborough that the Football Spectators Bill was necessary and we believe that it is still necessary, to deal with the continuing problem of football hooliganism, though we have no wish to draw a link between hooliganism and the disaster at Hillsborough.
I have heard the noble Lord, Lord Graham, speak about the Government's decision to proceed with the Bill now, and I shall explain our reasons for doing so. I hope to draw the noble Lords' attention to the amendments which we have proposed to provide not one but two opportunities for Parliament to debate the national membership scheme following Lord Justice Taylor's final report. The Opposition's reasoned amendment was put down before the Government's amendments providing for those two further debates were tabled and I shall argue that it has been overtaken by them.
As your Lordships know, we felt it right to pause for a time in the passage of the Football Spectators 1651 Bill following Hillsborough. I am afraid that events since the disaster have only served to confirm the vital need for both parts of the Bill. Only one week after the Hillsborough disaster, on 22nd April, there were 24 arrests at West Ham and 94 at Chelsea. Three weeks later, the last Saturday of the Football League season was marred by a number of serious incidents both inside and outside football grounds.
The most serious trouble on 13th May was a pitch invasion at Crystal Palace by Birmingham City supporters in which 16 people were injured, two of them with stab wounds. At Bristol City's match with Sheffield United fighting between rival groups of supporters spilled on to the pitch and held up the game. There were several other outbreaks of fighting between football supporters in places as far removed as the Toddington service station on the M.1 and Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.
In the face of continuing problems of this kind it would be irresponsible for the Government to postpone Part I of the Bill. When Part I becomes law all those convicted of a relevant offence, whether it is inside a football ground or on the way to or from a match, will be automatically disqualified from membership of the scheme. Of course, I must not pass judgment on those who were arrested on 13th May but, if those arrests lead to convictions, then I am sure that noble Lords on both sides of the House will agree that it would be desirable that the people concerned should be banned from football matches.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord a question on that point. As he rightly said, we must not anticipate a decision by the courts. However, is he aware that the courts already have the power to disqualify people from attending football matches?
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, I am, but I think that we shall get very bogged down in the debate if we do not try to follow an element of procedure. I am hoping that, with the leave of the House, I shall be able to answer questions on the reasoned amendment at the end of the debate.
The trouble surrounding the Scotland-England Match on 27th May was further evidence of the need for both Parts I and II of the Bill. I am afraid that it is clear that a number of English hooligans went to Glasgow not only to watch a football match but to find a fight as well. If the Football Spectators Bill had been law, restriction orders imposed under Part II of the Bill would have kept some of those hooligans at home. At least as important, it would have been open to the Scottish authorities to refuse to sell tickets to the match to English supporters who were not members of the national membership scheme and any member of the national membership scheme convicted of causing trouble at Hampden Park, or on their way there, could have their membership withdrawn.
The problem of football hooliganism is one that we have had to face since the Hillsborough disaster just as we did before. The need for measures to deal with it has, if anything, become more pressing and 1652 we believe that it would be quite wrong to postpone for yet another year taking the powers to put those measures in place. It is already three and a half years since Mr. Justice Popplewell reported. That is why we now propose to proceed with both Parts I and II of the Bill. At the same time, I invite your Lordships to recall that Part I of the Bill does not itself implement the national membership scheme. It provides a framework within which the Football Membership Authority will draw up the scheme.
We recognise that Lord Justice Taylor may have comments to make which will be relevant to the national membership scheme and of which Parliament would wish to be aware before any final decisions are made on the implementation of the scheme. The amendments that we have tabled for your Lordships to consider today would allow two opportunities for Parliament to debate the scheme after we have seen Lord Justice Taylor's final report. I must emphasise that proceeding with the Bill will enable us to create the framework for the scheme: the scheme itself will come later.
The amendments to Clauses 1 and 4 provide at the Bill's report stage the opportunity for parliamentary approval which I promised to consider. Their effect is that the Secretary of State's approval of the scheme submitted to him by the Football Membership Authority will itself be the subject of parliamentary approval and we shall arrange that this House, as well as the other House, will have an opportunity to vote upon it.
The amendments to Clause 24 add another, and prior, stage of parliamentary approval. No element of Part I of the Bill will come into force without a commencement order and the first commencement order, which will bring most of Part I into force, will require a negative resolution statutory instrument. The effect will be that the Secretary of State's appointment of the Football Membership Authority, under Clause 3, and the requirement on the FMA to submit the scheme for approval, under Clause 4, will not be activated until Parliament has debated and approved the relevant commencement order.
Parliament will therefore, following Lord Justice Taylor's final report, have opportunities to debate the scheme both before the FMA is appointed and after it has submitted a scheme for approval. The Government will, of course, ensure through the usual channels that opportunities for those debates are provided in both Houses. As I have said, we shall also provide an opportunity for a vote in this House when the order confirming the Secretary of State's approval of the scheme is debated.
The Bill will provide the framework, but there will be no question of putting the national membership scheme into place without full parliamentary consideration in the light of Lord Justice Taylor's report. That will mean that we can go ahead with the scheme rapidly if Parliament is content to do so following Lord Justice Taylor's report. Not only is that a very much better approach than the idea of withdrawing Part I of the Bill and starting again, as implied by the reasoned amendment; it overtakes the need for it.
1653 I think this is the best way to deal with the position that we are now in. The case for both Parts I and II of the Bill is as strong as it ever was. Sadly, football hooliganism is only too obviously still with us. The Bill has been clarified in a number of useful respects during its passage through your Lordships' House. It would be quite wrong to throw away the progress that we have made and to delay for another year providing the framework that the Bill proposes.
At the same time, it is entirely right that Parliament should have the chance to take a further view on the national scheme in the light of Lord Justice Taylor's report, before the framework is filled in and the scheme implemented. The amendments that we are to discuss shortly will provide not one but two such opportunities. They take away the substance of the argument behind the Opposition's reasoned amendment and I invite the noble Lord, Lord Graham, to withdraw his amendment.
§ 11.45 a.m.
§ Lord Mellish
My Lords, I do not think that anyone in the House can quarrel with the statement that has just been made. I think that it is very co-operative, friendly and decent. It is a great pity that that attitude did not prevail earlier when we had our debates on the proposals in the Bill. If it had, I do not think that we should now be in the position of putting down amendments.
Perhaps I may just put this comment to the noble Lord. Yesterday was a bad day for the Conservative Party. There cannot be any doubt about that. It lost two by-elections and, if the polls and the BBC arguments are right, it has done very badly in the European elections. I ask the party opposite, why? I have some experience of these matters. I was involved in party politics for many years. I have seen governments come and I have seen them go. But the Government must ask themselves, why?
I shall tell the noble Lord why this has happened, at least in my view. I believe that it is because, in mid-term, as we are now, the Government have lost their way. They have lost the art of public relations. If they have any decent ideas, they do not seem to put them over very well. They always put them too late and they always argue them rather badly. At least, that is how it seems to me, looking on.
Let us take the Bill. No one, but no one, can quarrel with the Government's intentions. They are honourable. They seek to deal with football hooliganism. No one on this side of the House can quarrel with that. However, the problem is whether the methods that they adopt are right. Here I come back to my argument about PR. Why do the Government not listen? I think that they have at long last started to do so. Why do they not listen to people who have spent their lives in football, the world of industry and the rest? Why do they not just listen now and again and not assume that, because they have a point of view, it must necessarily be right and be shoved down everyone's throat? That is the wrong way to approach the matter.
If we start from the basis, as we do, that both the Government and many on this side of the House—indeed, I think all on this side—are agreed 1654 that hooliganism must go, we must decide how best to deal with the problem. That is the key. It is as simple as that. There are no party politics in it. It does not matter whether one is Labour or Tory. It is a question of how we make the spoil a bit cleaner, given the thugs and the handful—the tiny handful—who spoil everything for decent people.
I speak with a little knowledge of the matter becuase I am associated with Millwall. I suppose that that is a bad enough advert for anyone. Millwall Football Club has been well known down the years for its handful of thugs who have destroyed the peace of mind of many decent people. No club has tried harder than Millwall to eradicate that problem.
Why is it, then, that under the scheme proposed by the Government, which is a national identity scheme, everyone has to have a ticket whether they like it or not? Why is it that many football clubs say that the scheme will not be workable? It is not because they are Labour. I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, that I happen to know that the top management in Millwall is certainly not Labour. 'Strewth—one has only to listen to some of them! Why do the Government not listen to friends? But no, they know so much; they know everything. Who knows everything? Who is it in government and in the Minister's own department who knows everything that goes on in football? It is a funny old world, isn't it? My knowledge of the department concerned—and I know it fairly well—is that the people there are as thick as a plank. They are just efficient doing a certain job and doing what they are told to do, but, as for ideas, I do not remember that department being brilliant. I cannot imagine how it was that the scheme came out. I can see why they started it and why the clubs were given the chance to analyse it. After the analysis, they have decided that it is not workable.
I must say that I found the noble Lord's speech very impressive; I do not deny that. But he has in effect said to my noble friend Lord Graham of Edmonton that the Government are bringing in amendments that achieve everything that the reasoned amendment is trying to introduce. That is my view. That is what he said and I understand from him that no scheme of any kind will be introduced until Lord Justice Taylor's report has been received and both Houses have had a chance to discuss it. Until then nothing will be done. The scheme will be on the Statute Book—I assume that the Government's majority will ensure that—but its implementation will not take place unless and until both Houses of Parliament have had a chance to discuss it. If I am wrong about that, perhaps the Minister will get to his feet and say so. I see that he does not, which means that I am not wrong. I am right and that is quite an achievement—actually to be right in this place!
Therefore I ask my noble friend Lord Graham, "How far do you want to go?" It may be a matter of words but it is also a question of intention. As regards the original scheme, I have done a little research on my own account. I went to a number of banks—not because I am in debt, I may add. I went to talk to people who had some experience of dealing with plastic discs. I was told by one bank which is 1655 very popular in south London that on average between 10 and 15 people a day go to it because they have trouble when they put their discs through the cash banking facilities which are available outside the bank. So 15 to 20 people have trouble with their discs with that one bank every day.
I should like to give the Minister an illustration of what might happen at football matches. Let us suppose that Millwall, which is one club that I can speak of with knowledge, are playing a very important match—let us say it is playing Arsenal, and just imagine that!—so hundreds of supporters are queing up outside the ground and trying to get in with their discs. These people are ordinary, decent people—registered supporters who comply with the regulations of the Government; we have no truck with the spiv. Let us suppose that they arrive at the gate, put in the disc and the system does not work because something has gone wrong. The people argue, and when Millwall fans argue they really do have a go. They will say to the attendant at the turnstile, "Oi! This won't do—my card's all right". The turnstile attendant replies, "I am sorry but this doesn't work and you can't go in". Naturally there is a row; that is understandable. One can imagine the remarks of the crowd outside that is waiting to get in to the ground: "Oi! You lot in front, get rid of that argument! Let's get through!" They are not going to get through and in the end they are turned away. If the Minister thinks that they are turned away gently, then he could not be more wrong; there will be a disaster.
Everyone is horrified at the possibility of what might happen as a consequence of this scheme. At least the Minister is listening; I give him credit for that. Let me put to him no more than this: there are doubts as to whether the scheme will work. I appreciate that he has now said that the scheme will not be implemented under any circumstances until Lord Justice Taylor's report has been fairly and honestly considered. I speak personally and with some experience when I say that that from a statement by the Minister is not only worth considering but is worth supporting.
§ Lord Rodney
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down perhaps I may ask him whether he saw the demonstration that took place outside this House a few months ago. If he did see it, I think he will understand that the scheme envisaged bears no relation at all (except that it makes use of a disc) to the kind of mechanism in the bank which he mentioned.
§ Lord Mellish
My Lords, I did not see the demonstration and I am prepared to accept that the noble Lord is correct in his remarks. I did not see the demonstration and cannot argue the case.
§ 11.53 a.m.
§ Baroness Burton of Coventry
My Lords, as I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, I realised more than ever the unbridgeable gulf between those who think that action should be taken today in this House and those who believe that it should be further 1656 delayed. I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, in that we all wish to see the end of hooliganism, and I know that that is the attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Graham. However as I listened to the debate, I found it quite incomprehensible that anybody could accept that the tragedy at Hillsborough should prevent the passage of this Bill. I just cannot come to terms with that.
I thought about the tragedy of Hillsborough and what has happened since as regards the behaviour of crowds at subsequent matches. The noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, referred to that. It was an indication that action must be seen to be taken now. I looked at some more recent matches shown on television, as no doubt did other noble Lords, and was completely horrified by what went on in the vicinity of the ground regarding the behaviour of people coming to matches and its effect on the people who have houses close by. It seemed to me that unless some indication is given that at last action is to be taken we should never make any further progress.
I do not want to get sidetracked on to other issues, but I should like to say that it has always seemed to me that what is wrong is the need for perimeter fencing. The perimeter fencing itself is not at fault at football matches; it is what gives rise to the necessity for perimeter fencing; namely, the state of the terraces and the lack of any initiative by the Football League or the football clubs in the past to deal with that situation.
I should like to move on from there and say, as is probably obvious already, that I take part in this debate because I wish to support the Government on this matter. I wish to support the Third Reading of this Bill quite simply because I believe that we have reached the stage when something definite has to be done. That was the case some time ago when the Second Reading debate took place. I said then that I should be very glad to listen to the whole of the debate and if other schemes were put forward I should be happy to consider them, but that if other schemes were not put forward, I should support the Government. That is my position today.
This may not be the best Bill ever, but it is the only Bill that we have. That is my line of thought. One of my complaints was and still is that the people who have been opposed to the passage of the Bill ignore or forget that while it is called the Football Spectators Bill, the ramifications spread a great deal wider. Reading the newspapers and seeing the publicity that has gone on ever since the initiative of this Bill was taken, one would have thought that the only people concerned were those who went to football matches. It goes a great deal wider than that. This concerns the householders in the vicinity of the matches. I can only say that I am glad that I do not live anywhere near a major football ground.
Football matches affect the towns in which they are played. They affect shopkeepers, pub owners and the general public. We know what happens on our own city's transport and the Tubes in London when matches are played, never mind the rail transport throughout the country. Of course it affects the reputation of our country also. I should have thought that anyone who had seen the action of hooligans at matches since the Hillsborough disaster must have 1657 realised that it was not a very good advertisement for the entry of our clubs again into European competition.
Perhaps some noble Lord will want to rise and say to me, "All right, but do you think that this Bill will cure that?" Certainly I do not think so; of course not. However, this Bill will at least be an indication that the interminable delay is coming to an end and that something has been decided. I think that that is most important.
On 25th May I read what had been said by the chief executive of the Football Association, Mr. Graham Kelly, and I should like to repeat that to the House:We must reconstruct public confidence in the game. We need to break out of the trap created by hooligans on the one hand and outdated facilities at grounds on the other. It is important the FA shows it is capable of going forward".When I read what Mr. Kelly had said, I realised that at last public opinion was having some effect. It is quite vital that the Football Association and everyone involved should understand that the general public are concerned in this matter. It does not only concern the people who go to football matches, who make up only a very small proportion of the population of this country.
Today on Third Reading I have no intention of listing what I think should be done. We all have many suggestions. However, I want action to be taken, and people should realise that action is being taken. Every time this issue has cropped up in this House there has been a suggestion of delay: let us put it off for whatever reasons. I am quite convinced that until this matter is tackled we shall not get anywhere. I should have thought that all those urging delay must have looked at the matches since Hillsborough and agreed that we cannot continue like this. One has only to look at a screen to see what is happening. To look at that and to say, "Let us leave it and delay further," is incomprehensible.
I have read—and I hope that it is correct because I have not checked it—that hooliganism is being contained in England only through public policing, with costs exceeding £20 million a year. I suggest that "contained" is an optimistic word. As Graham Kelly said, we need to break out of the trap created by hooligans on the one hand and outdated facilities at grounds on the other. I hope very much today that the House will support the beginning of the breaking out of this trap. Although I have the greatest respect for my noble friend Lord Graham of Edmonton—he will accept that term—I find myself unable to support his amendment.
§ 12.1 p.m.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, this is a debate that should not be taking place. The Government were rightly persuaded after the Hillsborough disaster that it would be insensitive for Parliament to be debating this question while the suffering was still continuing. Do they believe that the anguish which was caused by that disaster has disappeared? If they do, they are totally out of tune with public opinion. Public opinion will see this debate as grossly insensitive in view of the events of the last few weeks and the people who have suffered from them.
1658 If the Minister looks behind him, he will see that those of his party who have been critical of this Bill, although not necessarily opposed to it, are not here. That is not an accident. I have heard throughout this week from those who, as I have, have taken part from the start in the debates on the Bill that a number of them have deliberately absented themselves this morning because they do not have the stomach to participate in something which is so distasteful to the public.
There is a second reason why this debate should not be taking place. Despite what the Minister said—and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, that he made a very conciliatory speech—he has missed the central issue. Like the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, I do not intend to anticipate the findings of Lord Justice Taylor. It is debasing parliamentary work and the institution of Parliament to ask us to debate a Third Reading of a Bill without the evidence on which that debate should be based.
Since 15th April the situation has changed. I remind the Minister that in February of this year I warned the House that the conditions of the Bill could very well lead to an increase in violence, in particular outside the grounds. To my utter distress, that warning was validated in horrific circumstances on 15th April. While not anticipating what Lord Justice Taylor will report, those of us who have been closely associated with this business can tell the noble Lord now that there will be findings which will startle the public.
I refer simply to one issue. I suggest that when the report is made, Members of this House and of the other place note the number of injuries and deaths that took place outside the Hillsborough Stadium, not inside. That was the warning that I gave to the House when referring in February to the events of the evening cup tie replay between Manchester United and Queen's Park Rangers when the police asked the Manchester United Club to close the turnstiles with 10,000 people outside.
We do not have the evidence on which this debate should be based. The events of 15th April, as examined by Lord Justice Taylor, should be the basis on which the debate should take place. The Government have forced us to participate in the debate today against the weight of public opinion, without the evidence that parliamentarians should have to debate a matter of this kind. I say this to the noble Baroness who spoke before me. The important factor is not to take action; it is to take the right action. As some of us have been arguing from the start, the Bill could be the wrong action. It could increase violence rather than, as we all wish, to diminish it.
So far as I can see, the only reason that we are being forced this morning to debate this Third Reading is a megalomaniacal obsession with getting the Bill through at all costs, irrespective of whether we have clear evidence that we are getting it right with regard to the reduction of hooliganism, the prevention of another Hillsborough and the prevention of the events that took place on the last day of the season. These are the elements of evidence on which we 1659 should be debating. They are not there. The Government should not have forced the House to debate this Third Reading this morning.
§ 12.8 p.m.
§ Lord Murton of Lindisfarne
My Lords, I listened with some interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, said. I do not think that the House can be accused of being insensitive to the dreadful tragedies that have happened over the last weeks or months. On the other hand a debate on a reasoned amendment on Third Reading is a very unusual occurrence in this House. I should have thought that, in view of the assurances that the Minister has given this morning that the House will have the opportunity, not once but twice, to come to a decision in a specific debate on a Motion, the reasoned amendment put forward is not now necessary.
I wish to deal very shortly with a narrow point. It is a question of what can be done on Third Reading. We go back to our old friend Erskine May. It is stated that amendments of a reasoned or delaying character may be moved in the same way as on Second Reading. However, I believe that in this House it is a very rare occurrence. I know that it happened in 1972 on the European Communities Bill. I gather that it happened again in 1982. My knowledge does not extend back for more than 10 years in your Lordships' House. I do not think that there have been any other cases.
The point that I wanted to make was that such an amendment has no effect on the progress of a Bill through Parliament. Whatever your Lordships' House decides today will not affect the progress of the Bill. It is merely an expression of opinion. I do not necessarily say party political opinion because that is too pejorative for me on this occasion. It does not concern detail upon the contents of the Bill as it is constituted.
Erskine May states that it is considered undesirable that an issue which has been fully debated and decided upon at a previous stage in the Bill should be re-opened on Third Reading. I suggest that it is unwise for an entirely different reason, and that is one of strict relevancy. The principle of relevancy must govern an amendment. The amendment must strictly relate to the Bill which the House, by its order, has resolved upon considering.
Our Companion to the Standing Orders is quite clear on that point.The principal purposes of amendments on Third Reading are to clarify any remaining uncertainties, to improve the drafting and to enable the Government to fulfil undertakings given at earlier stages of the Bill"—and, I suggest, at this stage of the Bill, from what we have now heard from my noble friend the Minister this morning.
The noble Lord, Lord Graham, has had, even as I have had, experience as a Government Whip in another place. We both know the very limited value of a reasoned amendment. The party in opposition who puts down an amendment may think that it is of value. That value may be limited to the party's 1660 members in that House, but to the general public outside Parliament it is usually incomprehensible. To the public the reasoning is more like unreasoning. Members of the public would ask, "Why, if you do not like the principle, do you temporise? Why do you not vote outright on a straight Motion?" That surely is what we shall have the opportunity to do in due course when the Government put forward their own Motion.
I refer again to my main argument. The principle of the Bill is not now being called into question. An extraneous matter has been introduced as an argument for delaying the passage of the Bill—something which does not appear on the face of the Bill. I submit that it is inappropriate as an amendment, whether it be reasoned or otherwise.
Having said that and before I sit down, I fully understand the concern which the whole House feels about this extremely difficult problem, but I suggest that delay in any form, as the noble Baroness, Lady Burton, said, would be a great mistake. Let us get on with it. Let us get the Bill through and then deal in due course with the promises which have been made by the Minister.
§ 12.14 p.m.
§ Lord Knights
My Lords, as I reflected last night on what contribution I might make to this debate I took the opportunity to glance again at the report of the inquiry set up to investigate the disaster which occurred at the Bolton Wanderers football ground on 9th March, 1946, when 33 spectators were killed and hundreds injured. The parallels with Hillsborough made chilling reading. "Too many were admitted to the enclosure" the report said. It also described unauthorised entry as a factor—although not a major one—contributing to the disaster. The siting of the crash barriers provided for a direct channel or direct pressure to be transmitted from some distance away.
Noble Lords may agree that from reports we have read of the evidence being presented to Lord Justice Taylor similar comments are likely to be included in his report. What was different about Hillsborough was that the tragedy as it unfolded was seen by millions of people on their television screens. The result was shock, anger and recrimination on a scale which no other disaster, apart from that of Aberfan, has produced. No body of people watching the scenes would have been more horror-stricken than the police. Of all responsibilities laid on senior police officers, none weighs more heavily than that stemming from the problems of policing a situation which has a potential to develop into public disorder. Many officers that day would be saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I", for they would have understood better than most how the seeds of such disorder and such disasters can be found at most football grounds in this country. The reasons are fairly clear, I believe. They can be summed up as total complacency in the sense of "We have had no trouble before. It cannot happen here" on the part of all those involved.
How, otherwise, can one explain the fact that so many recommendations of past inquiries have not yet been implemented? How can a situation have 1661 been allowed to continue where allegedly only seven turnstiles were provided to handle the 10,000 capacity of the Leppings Lane terrace? At their most efficient it would have taken one and a half hours at least to let the number through. How could we have arrived at a situation where a senior police officer has been quoted as saying that stewarding was not a matter for the police but a matter for the club and the chief steward declaring that the terrace was a no-go area for them?
In saying that I do not seek to apportion responsibility. After all I have been as involved as anyone. I simply believe that no one, including the police, has really beaten the drum enough in seeking to identify and to draw to the attention of the proper authorities the potential dangers lurking in their local football grounds.
Does all this justify a postponement of the Bill which is the subject of this debate? First, it needs to be made clear that proper action is now to be taken. Whatever delay there may have been in the past, whatever deficiencies there may have been, action has now to be taken. In my submission there is no reason for delaying the passage of the Bill. As the noble Lord the Minister has said, the Bill in essence sets up a Football Membership Authority and creates the necessary criminal sanctions to support the scheme it is required to formulate. It does no more than that. The lessons to be drawn from Hillsborough will affect much more the formulation of the scheme.
It is the fear of many people, as expressed today, that the result of the scheme will be to create on more occasions the very scenes we saw at Hillsborough with large numbers of spectators seeking admittance at the very last moment. It is for that reason that the police are seeking to ensure that proper arrangements exist to abandon the scheme on a particular occasion if danger is perceived. That is a matter for inclusion in the scheme, not in the Bill.
It is, I believe, the formulation of the Final scheme rather than the Bill which must be delayed to take fully into account Lord Justice Taylor's recommendations. Nevertheless there is one aspect with which, if I may be permitted to say so, I hope the Government will seek to deal when the Bill is being considered in another place. As I said on a previous occasion in this House, football grounds are private places. It is the clubs' primary and continuing obligation and responsibility to control and manage spectators in normal circumstances. They must also secure reasonable safety for those who are invited on to their premises, supported, to such an extent as may be thought appropriate, by the police. That is a special service for which the club is expected to pay. The police are present to assist in the enforcement and preservation of law and order.
No doubt Lord Justice Taylor will make comments on that relationship. The Hillsborough disaster clearly indicates the close involvement which the police must have if the scheme is to operate efficiently. Therefore, it is vital that they should be consulted at all stages in the drafting of the scheme; not simply invited to comment at the whim of members of the body concerned. There should be a statutory provision, as is the case in the making of 1662 traffic orders. I hope the Minister can say that the Government will at least give consideration to formulating such an amendment.
I conclude as I began. There are many lessons to be learned from Hillsborough; and they must be taken into account when the scheme is developed. However, I do not believe that it would be right to delay the Bill and give the impression that once again action will be deferred, as has happened so many times in the past.
§ 12.21 p.m.
§ Lord Trafford
My Lords, I have every sympathy with and understand the anxieties expressed most eloquently by the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton. We all know that there are problems concerned with football and no one doubts that. The debates which have taken place on the Bill have been concerned with dealing with those problems and the noble Lord contributed materially. I deny the remarks made earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, that no one from this side of the House had criticised or commented on the Bill. Some noble Lords who did so are present.
No one disputes the suggestion that there is a problem which must be addressed. Contributions have been made from all sides of the House. However, should we as a result of Hillsborough or any other disaster, or of the consequences raised by the noble Baroness of the post-Hillsborough matches, cease to consider the future of football in this sense?
This is an enabling Bill because Part I provides only a framework. It does not implement any specific scheme. Therefore, we need to satisfy ourselves of three issues. First, we need the opportunity to consider and debate the outcome of the Taylor report. Secondly, we need time to consider the incorporation of the appropriate recommendations into any scheme which will subsequently be implemented. Thirdly, we need another opportunity to confirm such a scheme.
I believe that those are the requirements which the noble Lord, Lord Graham, was seeking and that 95 per cent. of his requests have been conceded by the Government. We shall have an opportunity not only to debate the Taylor report but to consider the scheme as a whole. Contrary to some of the criticisms put forward in this House, the Minister also made clear that a vote will be arranged so that the opinion of the House can be expressed. That appears to meet the requirements of incorporating. Lord Justice Taylor's recommendations, giving time to assess the scheme and giving the opportunity to debate the matter further and to vote upon it.
I understand and appreciate the concerns of the noble Lord. However, I believe that 95 per cent. of his requests have been met. I express the hope that, rather than be too controversial today after significant concessions have been made, he will make the gracious move of which I know him capable. I urge him not to force us into the Division Lobbies on this issue today.
§ Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
My Lords, I am sorry to intervene. I put down my name but it was omitted——
§ 12.26 p.m.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Viscount and point out the fact that my name already appears on the speakers' list.
I address the House on this amendment following the reasonable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Trafford. I shall later point out where I believe his reasoning should leave him as it has not at the moment. I concentrate on the assumption, first, that noble Lords are present today with open minds. Secondly, the House is conscious of the fact that it is a legislative body, responsible to the public for assuring that legislation is properly dealt with.
I proceed on the first assumption of open minds. I remind the House of the terms of reference given to Lord Justice Taylor. They were:To inquire into the events at Sheffield Wednesday football ground on 15th April 1989 and to make recommendations about the needs of crowd control and safety at sports grounds".When the terms of reference were announced in another place on 17th April, (col. 19 of the Official Report) the Secretary of State for Home Affairs answered questions. He took the trouble to make absolutely clear how wide the terms of reference were intended to be. Mr. Michael Shersby asked:Can he say whether the inquiry will particularly consider the question of safety of stadiums and whether it will have the power to recommend temporary closure, should that prove necessary? Can he also say whether the inquiry will further consider how supporters travel to matches, the parking arrangements and the way in which supporters approach the ground? Can he further say whether the inquiry will consider the role of the Football Association in connection with the proposed football membership scheme?".In reply the Secretary of State said:We have deliberately cast very widely the terms of reference for Lord Justice Taylor so that he can examine all those matters that my hon. Friend has listed, I believe without straining at the terms of reference. There are many angles to this—many points of comment and criticism have already arisen, even in the last 48 hours—and it is right that Lord Justice Taylor should be able to look at them all".Also in the debate the question was cogently raised of whether the issues which were to be dealt with in Lord Justice Taylor's report would be properly examined. The matter was raised by Mr. John Carlisle, a very ardent supporter of the Bill which we are now talking about. He said:As my right hon. friend knows, I am one of the strongest supporters of the Football Spectators Bill, and I remain committed to the principle of membership to combat football hooliganism. Does my right hon. friend accept, however, that in consideration of what has been said this afternoon—and, indeed, of the tragic circumstances—it would be wise to postpone any further discussion until the full results of the public inquiry are known? I hope that my right hon. friend will then bring to the House a Bill that will receive not merely all-party support but support from outside the House, to combat the terrible problems that have been highlighted".The Secretary of State duly replied:As I have said, there will be a pause for the sake of seemliness—as the House would wish—and also for consultations on the possible strengthening of the Bill. Both purposes are, I think, important from the point of view of my hon. friend".—[Official Report, Commons, 17/4/89; cols. 26–7.]Therefore, in quoting what a Minister of the Government has replied in course of discussions of this report I am bringing to the attention of the House the understanding at that time that further discussion was promised to those who supported the 1664 Bill to allow the report of Lord Justice Taylor to be before the House.
There was a Written Answer given on 24th April by Mr. Moynihan, the Minister for Sport in answer to this Question:To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what account will be taken of the Hillsborough disaster and the judicial inquiry of Mr. Justice Taylor before the Football Spectators Bill is introduced in the House".His reply was:The timetable for the Football Spectators Bill will allow the House, in considering the Bill, to take account of relevent recommendations from Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster".—[Official Report, Commons, 26/4/89; col. 415.]I now turn to the amendment and to the logical sequence of the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Trafford, and others who have spoken against this amendment. I could understand it if any noble Lord rose in this debate to say that it was quite wrong to postpone the passage of the Bill through your Lordships' House. Nobody has proposed that so far, and so far as I know there will be no speaker subsequently who says that that is the interpretation of the Motion before the House. As I understand it, the House will be passing the Third Reading of the Bill. The Bill will go to another place. All that this Motion does is to call upon every open-minded Peer to express regret if the Bill goes through another place, especially in regard to Part I, before proper consideration can be given to the report of Lord Justice Taylor.
Perhaps I may turn to the speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Burton. She is always listened to with great attention in this House and when she speaks about sport we recognise and remember her very eminent past. I thought that there must have been a misunderstanding about what the Minister has said so far and I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, may have misunderstood it. The Minister has not said, as one would be led to believe by the Written Answer that I read out from the Minister for Sport, Mr. Moynihan, that in the House of Commons there will be no Committee stage because it would be nonsensical to take amendments on the Bill before one knows what Lord Justice Taylor is recommending in his report. The Minister has not said that there are arrangements in programming the Bill, as the Minister was saying in that Written Answer, that the Report stage will not be taken, that Third Reading will not follow and that the Bill will not be passed. What he has said is something that is completely and positively empty and has nothing to do with the expression of regret that I hope this House will make without stopping the passage of the Bill.
What did the Minister say? I took a note of it and I know that he will correct me if in any way I am misleading the House or misunderstanding what he has put to the House. There will be parliamentary approval of the scheme. That has nothing to do with the provisions in the Bill. Does he agree with me that if you put a scheme before Parliament nobody will be allowed to rise and say, "Please, I want to act as a committee on this scheme. I do not like the wording of Part II or subsection (3) and in regard to the scheme I want to move an amendment because 1665 of what Lord Justice Taylor said in a certain portion of his report".
Everybody knows who wants to analyse it that all that the Minister said was that the scheme will be passed—and of course there is a parliamentary majority to ensure that—or it will not be passed; that is all. What Lord Justice Taylor has said may be irrelevant from the point of view of what Parliament then wants to do. The Minister then said that there is no need for this because events have supervened which make this Motion unnecessary. No element of Part I is to have a date without a parliamentary order. What powers we are being given in this House and in another place as a result of being able to vote as to whether or not a date shall be agreed to which the Government put before us!
We were given nothing, no assurance at all. The word of the Minister in his Written Answer has been broken. This House is being asked, without postponing the Bill at all, to remind another place that we too are legislators. We are the revising Chamber. We do not like the idea of clumsily dealing with legislation.
My noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones, who is responsible for any of the quotations that I make which have the slightest wit, reminded me of the observation of Lloyd George when he said:It is undesirable to traverse a chasm in two leaps".That is exactly what the Government are asking us to do: to get on with the Bill, not to stop the Committee stage, not to wait for Lord Justice Taylor, and then to come back and have a debate and maybe an amending Bill later. Please let us not traverse this sorry and tragic chasm in two leaps and let us express our regret without stopping the Bill by voting for this amendment.
§ 12.39 p.m.
§ Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
My Lords, I shall try again. I have looked at my list of speakers and the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, is not on it. I do not believe that your Lordships realise what the public really feel. They are becoming fed up. They see these ghastly things happening and they want action to be taken. The Government are now proposing that action and please God let it take place. Reasonably quickly after lunch I shall stop to buy petrol on the way home. I shall take in my credit card and in one second exactly what I have spent will have been recorded, and I cannot see much difficulty in that.
Football itself will suffer. I do not believe that your Lordships realise the feeling that exists. A man was kicked and ruptured in a football match. He was cured by the intercession of King Henry VI, 500 years ago. However, the monk who chronicled the episode added this:It is a game in which young men propel a huge ball not by throwing it but by striking and rolling it along the ground with their feet. A game, I say, abominable enough, and, in my judgment at least more common, undignified and worthless than any other kind of game, rarely ending but with some loss or accident to the players themselves".Let us at least do something: I ask your Lordships not to accept this amendment.
§ 12.40 p.m.
Lord Wallace of Coslany
My Lords, the noble Viscount jumped the gun in speaking because I had already advised the Whips that I should be speaking. I shall be brief, but I speak as one who for many years has been a casual visitor to many grounds and in later years has become a supporter and member of supporters' clubs from outside the home team's area. This involves a lot of travel to home matches at great expense. Such supporters respect the law and are decent people. All of them are against the proposed scheme.
That is not the reason why I am speaking on this amendment. I believe that the Government are acting indecently in jumping the gun before the completion of the report from Lord Justice Taylor. There is much arising from the tragic events at Hillsborough that will affect the working of this Bill. Ticket admission is one aspect, but there are many other issues. I hope that the pressure to rush through this Bill is not because it is judged to be of party political advantage. If that is the case, it is completely and utterly wrong. I am not speaking now in a party political sense at all. The issue of Hillsborough is far too grave and will raise many questions in the final report.
I should like to make one final comment which is not exactly connected with the amendment but deals with an important issue. It has been said by the Minister that the cost to small clubs—I am concerned with small clubs—will be eased because the installation costs will be met by the proprietors of the equipment who would sell the addresses of the people on the register. I can assure the House that the Football Association has been told that not a single firm is prepared to install its machinery free of charge. I accept that that is a side issue to the debate.
In conclusion, I sincerely regret that the Government have jumped ahead without waiting for the report. The report will present many vital factors that the Bill has not covered. The Bill will go forward this afternoon because it is not the custom of this House to delay a Third Reading, but the amendment is vitally important. It is an expression of regret and that is an expression which I deeply share.
§ 12.43 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lord's, a week ago a detective sergeant of the South Yorkshire police gave evidence to the inquiry in Sheffield being conducted by Lord Justice Taylor. Speaking about the scene at the Liverpool end of the ground he said this:I can't believe what I saw. There were four rows of dead people in the front of the terraces. Some had bulging eyes, and there was vomit".The policeman, Detective Sergeant Morton, went on to say that he then looked up and saw even more Liverpool fans surging in to the top of the terraces, following the decision to open the gates to relieve a crush of thousands of latecomers pressing to get in from the Leppings Lane end of the ground. He saw a young boy aged between 11 and 15. The boy was 1667 trapped, half upright, about four rows back from the perimeter fence. Mr. Morton said:He was leaning over the people in front of him and literally turned purple in front of me. I could see he was still alive. I tried to get over to him and pull him through the fence, but it was totally impossible".Thus the evidence of just one witness before Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry; just one policeman amid the scores of others, some no doubt confirming his account of what occurred and some disputing it.
As your Lordships know, and as has been said this morning, we will not receive the interim report of Lord Justice Taylor for some weeks. He will presumably be able to tell us what in his judgment went wrong on that hideous Saturday afternoon: whether the pressure of the crowd in Leppings Lane led to the disaster; whether there were errors of judgment by the ground authorities or the police; to what extent heavy drinking was a factor; and what part the perimeter fencing played in the appalling loss of life.
That being so, we have to ask why in these circumstances we are being invited today to recommence discussion on the proceedings of a Bill which is directly relevant to all the fundamental issues being examined by Lord Justice Taylor. How can it possibly be right for Parliament to anticipate his findings, as indeed Parliament is being asked to anticipate his findings? What we have been told by the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, rightly said, is that Parliament will indeed have the right to block the Bill, but the one thing it will not have the right to do—and certainly this House will not have the opportunity of doing—is to amend the scheme itself to take account of what a Lord Justice of Appeal, appointed by the Government, finds in his report.
I take one small but, in my view, important matter—a matter dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Knights, in his speech. The noble Lord and I went with representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers to see the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers. We had a helpful meeting, for which we were grateful, and we made some progress. However, there were a number of substantial issues left unresolved at the end of that meeting. One of them was the issue identified by the noble Lord, Lord Knights. Will the police have the right—a statutory right—to be consulted before this scheme is implemented? According to a letter from the noble Earl, for which I thank him, the answer to that question at the moment is no they are not. However, is it not important in the light of the report from Lord Justice Taylor, which will bear on this as on so many other issues, that Parliament should have the opportunity to satisfy itself on the important matter that the police should have a statutory right to be properly consulted? That is only one of the many issues which will be left unresolved when the Bill leaves this House.
Today therefore will be the last opportunity to have any form of detailed consideration of the contents of this Bill and we shall be doing it in ignorance of what Lord Justice Taylor says following one of the greatest disasters on an English Football 1668 ground. Will Lord Justice Taylor take the view that the proposed football membership scheme is relevant or irrelevant in regard to crowd safety? Will he make a firm recommendation as to what happens if the computer system introduced as a result of the scheme breaks down?
I take that example because we devoted a fair amount of time to that in Committee. I raised in debate with the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, as he will recall, the question of what would happen if the computer system broke down when tens of thousands of people are attempting to enter a ground in the few minutes before kick-off. According to much of the evidence given before Lord Justice Taylor which was very clear and not, so far as I am aware, disputed, this massive build up of thousands of people in Leppings Lane was one of the most signficant factors in relation to the disaster that took place a few minutes later. It seems highly possible that if this scheme had been introduced and there had been a computer malfunction, there could have been far heavier loss of life than took place on that occasion. I raised this matter with the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers. On the 14th March at col. 194 of the Official Report, in replying to an amendment which would have given power to the police to suspend the operation of the scheme if an emergency situation arose, the noble Earl said:I see dangers in providing for the criminal offences of unauthorised entry and admitting spectators to unlicensed premises to be waived whenever a so-called emergency is deemed go have occurred".As we know, that emergency arose in Leppings Lane. I do not believe that any rational person can now doubt that if on that occasion there had been a computer malfunction at that end of the ground, there would have been scores killed in the streets outside besides what happened on the terraces. That is one of the more obvious conclusions to be drawn at this stage. But on this most fundamental issue Parliament will have no opportunity to look at this matter in the light of Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry. That seems wholly wrong. It is quite extraordinary that the Government who set up this inquiry presided over by a most distinguished member of the Court of Appeal, are prepared to put Parliament in this difficult position.
I have expressed my own views regarding this element of the Bill. There was a second leg to the argument which I shall try to deal with fairly briefly. It was introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh. It concerns the second reason why we should proceed with the Bill. He told us that there had been violence at Crystal Palace, West Ham and in Scotland. He passed over the Scottish experience rather swiftly, and for very understandable reasons, because we know that Scotland will not be covered by this Bill. Notwithstanding what the noble Lord said in his speech, we also know that an attempt was made on that occasion to ensure that no tickets were available south of the Border. We saw the situation that could arise if the Bill were passed with large numbers of people who knew that they could not get into the ground going there and creating mayhem in the streets outside.
That is one of the many reasons why there is so much police sceptism about this Bill. As the House 1669 is well aware, what many senior police officers fear is that violence within grounds will spread to the streets outside, city centres, railway stations and motorway service areas. When the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, said that that was one of the reasons why we want this Bill as quickly as we do, as the House will recall he was unable to respond to the question that I put to him; namely, is he not aware that the courts already have a power to disqualify people from entering football grounds?
I believe that the noble Lords, Lord Graham, Lord Mishcon, and others, have pointed out the unwisdom of proceeding in the way in which the Government have in fact decided to move. I know of no occasion during the period which I have been involved in public life when any government have behaved in a comparable situation with such an extraordinary combination of insensitivity and lack of judgment.
§ 12.54 p.m.
§ Lord Hesketh
my Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may briefly reply to some of the points that have been raised during the debate this afternoon. I took some time laying out the Government's position at an earlier stage. The noble Lord, Lord Mellish, introduced an electoral atmosphere to your Lordships' House when commenting on the events of yesterday. I am entirely confident that one day Glasgow, Central may become a Conservative-held seat. I believe that the noble Lord understands that it is not on the list of the most winnable seats.
He referred to the efficiency of the scheme and the technology as did the noble Lord, Lord Harris. I remind the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, that we have always said that we have to be satisfied that the technology is going to work before it is implemented. The noble Baroness, Lady Burton, quite rightly pointed out that the Bill spreads far further than football. It also spreads to the good name and reputation of this country. We are very conscious of that. The noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, accused the Government of megalomania. I do not believe that is true at all. They are responding to a demand.
My noble friend Lord Murton of Lindisfarne quite rightly drew your Lordships' attention to what he felt was the not good reason for having this amendment before your Lordships' House today. Throughout the passage of this Bill we have been grateful for the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Knights. He drew the attention of the House to the fact that this is a framework Bill and that the foundations provide for the scheme. The Government's amendments that will be dealt with this afternoon will respond by providing Parliament with two opportunities to discuss this issue. He also asked me about the position concerning consultation with the police. As the noble Lord, Lord Harris, quite rightly pointed out, following a letter that he received from my noble friend Lord Ferrers, the Government feel that this matter can be dealt with by agreement. At the moment the Government do not believe that it should be dealt with by statutory procedure.
However, I shall draw to the attention of my right honourable friend the remarks of the noble Lord. 1670 My noble friend Lord Trafford pointed out, as others had done earlier, the difference between the basis of the Bill and the scheme that comes after it. I believe it is very important for all of us to keep that in mind at all times. The noble Lord, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, pointed out that many people in the country were crying out for something to be done. As always, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was in brilliant form. He presented a most persuasive case. At one point I felt that I was going to be convinced. Though the noble Lord does not like the scheme being discussed rather than the Bill that is to leave your Lordships' House today (and that I can understand) we believe that it will be an adequate and successful outcome to the matters that will be resolved when the scheme is discussed.
The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Coslany, said that the Government were jumping the gun. It has always been important that the Government have proposed two stages. They have proposed to produce a Bill that provides the foundations and then to build on them. That will happen with the construction of a football membership authority and the scheme. Most important of all, the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, said something very nice, and that is not always experienced by someone speaking from the Dispatch Box. He said that in the past the Government had not listened. He said that what I have said today showed that it may be better late than never. The fact is that we have listened and provided amendments that we shall come to later this afternoon in order to take account of anxieties that have been expressed. I was very grateful for the noble Lord's remarks. I shall say no more on the subject because earlier I expended a considerable amount of your Lordships' time in this debate. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, wishes to speak now.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether he will answer one simple and straight question. He has described it as a framework Bill. If the Third Reading is passed and the Bill is passed in another place and then, as a result of the report by Lord Justice Taylor it is seen that the Bill is either irrelevant or dangerous, what opportunity will this House have to change the Bill? It is on that issue that many noble Lords believe that this debate should not have taken place.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, by leave of the House for the second time, we have stated from the very start that we do not wish to anticipate the inquiry that is taking place. So let us wait and see what happens with the outcome of the inquiry.
§ 1 p.m.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, perhaps I may say at once that the debate has been conducted in good spirit. Passionate views have been presented on both sides of the argument about the Bill. There has been no acrimony in any of the speeches because even those who have spoken with passion have at the same time sought to understand the view of those on the other side of the argument.
The Minister has helped us by the attitude that he has displayed today. He may recall that in a fleeting 1671 reference in my opening speech, I acknowledged and paid tribute to the fact that the Government amendments were in response to matters raised at an earlier stage by, among others, noble Lords on this side of the House. However, in his view what he had to say pre-empted the necessity for our amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Trafford, made some kind remarks about my diligence on the Bill in general. He said that 95 per cent. of what I wanted was contained in what the Minister had said. He hoped that I would be non-controversial and would withdraw the amendment.
Perhaps I may remind the House of the purpose of the amendment. It has a great deal to do with the Bill, but it also has a great deal to do with two other scenarios. Once the Bill leaves the House, one assumes—although the Government have not been precise with the timetable—that it will shortly be introduced for its Second Reading in another place. Immediately after the Bill becomes the property of another place, it will not be possible for a debate either on the Floor of the House or in Committee to be devoid of references to Hillsborough. The noble Baroness, Lady Burton, whom we all deeply respect, said that Hillsborough has nothing to do with the Bill. The Minister made allusions to the fact that they are two separate issues. That is where we part company. What happened at Hillsborough may or may not have something to do with the identity card scheme; but what Lord Justice Taylor says are the lessons to be learnt from Hillsborough may very well have something to do with the Bill.
In my amendment, I invite the House not to anticipate what Lord Justice Taylor may have to say. I lay strong stress on the point that every day hundreds and perhaps thousands of people who live in Sheffield and Liverpool open their newspapers to read what I can only describe as horror stories. I shall not go into the detail, but those who have read the newspapers this week will know exactly what I mean. In two or three weeks' time they will be invited by the Government to listen to horror stories that may or may not be as authentic as those to be repeated in Parliament, to be rebutted in Parliament and to be argued about in Parliament while Lord Justice Taylor is trying to make sense of what happened.
The noble Lord, Lord Mellish, asked whether we could take it from the Minister that nothing would be done until Parliament had had the opportunity to give approval through the order procedures. The Minister was silent. Everything will be done before then. The Bill will be fought through Parliament. The issues in the Bill are matters of deep controversy. Overlying that will be Hillsborough. That will be enough to repel any one who shares in the trauma of Hillsborough. We all share in it. I am repelled by being part of a procedure that forces that kind of thing to be part of our parliamentary timetable.
§ Lord Mellish
My Lords, so that we can have it on the record, and so that we all know what we are talking about, perhaps I may set out my understanding of the position. The Government, assuming that they have their Bill on the statute 1672 book in that sense, will not implement that Act of Parliament if Lord Justice Taylor says that the government scheme is impracticable, and so on. If he says that—it is all hypothetical—we shall never see that Act of Parliament implemented in any way. Is that correct?
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, with the leave of the House, the fact of the matter is that the scheme will not be implemented until it has been before Parliament.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, that helpful intervention and the more helpful answer from the Minister tells it all. By declining to regret the progress, we are being invited to discuss the nature of the Bill, overladden with the horror of Hillsborough and perhaps without the benefit of Lord Justice Taylor's report. I remind the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, who is a friend, that Mr. Colin Moynihan said that it is inconceivable that Lord Justice Taylor will say that identity cards are not relevant. How on earth can the Minister say that it is inconceivable? He has not heard the evidence. He does not know the working. As I reminded the House earlier, the Secretary of State Mr. Ridley has said that Lord Justice Taylor is an adviser and that he will advise the Government. He was then magnanimous enough to say that the Government will listen to what he has to say. That is all. He did not say that if Lord Justice Taylor came out with incontrovertible evidence, the scheme should not be introduced.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I feel that the noble Lord slightly insinuated that it is possible that Lord Justice Taylor's report will not have due attention paid to it. I must make it absolutely clear that it will. The most important thing which I also said earlier is that we cannot anticipate what will be in the report.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, the noble Lord's ministerial friend Mr. Moynihan was sufficiently moved to say that he felt it inconceivable that this aspect would not be in the report. We also have the words of Mr. Ridley who said that the Government would listen to what Mr. Justice Taylor had to say. I accept what the Minister is saying now that they will listen carefully to what is being said. However, what the Minister has offered the House is that when the FMA has produced a scheme, and when the scheme has taken into account the Government's views—they having studied the report of Lord Justice Taylor whose views they may or may not accept—the House will then be invited on one Motion, without an opportunity for amendment, in two debates of a general character, to approve an action by the Government. That is what we are being invited to do in substitution for proper scrutiny by Parliament.
All my amendment asks is that until Lord Justice Taylor gives us the wisdom of his inquiry we ought not to project the horror story from Hillsborough either on to Parliament or on to the public. It is a sensible and a reasonable request. Unless it is absolutely necessary I do not want to be part of 1673 continuing the agony of the thousands of people outside. We should not proceed without this stricture on the Government. I beg to move.
§ 1.9 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the amendment to the Motion that the Bill be now read a third time shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 96.1674
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Addington, L.||Kings Norton, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Longford, E.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Macaulay of Bragar, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Attlee, E.||McNair, L.|
|Birk, B.||Mayhew, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Mersey, V.|
|Bonham-Carter, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Monson, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.|
|Callaghan of Cardiff, L.||Peston, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Phillips, B|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Dean of Beswick, L.|
|Denington, B.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Rea, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Robson of Kiddington, B|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Russell, E.|
|Ezra, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Falkender, B.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Scanion, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Seear, B.|
|Foot, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Grey, E.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Grimond, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Hampton, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Hayter, L.||White, B.|
|Hooson, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Willis, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Jenkins of Hillhead, L.||Wise, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Camden, M.|
|Alexander of Weedon, L.||Carnock, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Arran, E.||Davidson, V. [Teller.]|
|Auckland, L.||Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Digby, L.|
|Bellhaven and Stenton, L.||Dilhorne, V.|
|Belstead, L.||Donegall, M.|
|Bessborough, E.||Dundee, E.|
|Birdwood, L.||Effingham, E.|
|Blatch, B.||Elles, B.|
|Blyth, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Elliott of Morpeth, L.|
|Burton, L.||Elton, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Erroll of Hale, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Faithfull, B.|
|Caithness, E.||Ferrers, E.|
|Foley, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Fraser of Carmyllie, L.||Munster, E.|
|Gainford, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, I|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Norrie, L.|
|Hacking, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Oxfuird, V.|
|Henley, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Porritt, L.|
|Hives, L.||Reay, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Romney, E.|
|Ironside, L.||Saint Brides, L.|
|Jellicoe, E.||St. Davids, V.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, L;|
|Joseph, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Killearn, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Kimball, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Knights, L.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Layton, L.||Slim, V.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Long, V.||Terrington, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Teviot, L.|
|McFadzean, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Mackay of Clashfern, L.||Trafford, L.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Mancroft, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Marley, L.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
|Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and the amendment to the Motion that the Bill be now read a third time disagreed to accordingly.
§ 1.17 p.m.
§ Bill Read a Third time.
§ Clause 1 [Scope and interpretation of this Part]:
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 19, after ("made") insert ("and approved").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1, I intend to speak to Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 20. We have discussed the effect of these government amendments during the debate on the Opposition's reasoned amendment. They provide two opportunities for Parliament to debate the national membership scheme after Royal Assent to the Bill, the first before the scheme is drawn up and submitted for approval and the second after the Secretary of State has approved it. The effect of the amendments to Clause 1 and Clause 4 is to make the approval of the scheme by the Secretary of State the subject of parliamentary approval by means of negative resolution. Any subsequent replacement scheme would similarly be subject to parliamentary approval. These are the amendments that I promised to consider at Report stage.
§ Amendment No. 20 to Clause 24 is new. The amendment provides an opportunity to debate the principle of the scheme following the final report of Lord Justice Taylor before the FMA is appointed. I do not propose to go over the ground that we have already covered. I beg to move.
§ Lord Northfield
My Lords, I do not want to detain the House. However this is the only opportunity I have to raise an issue on which I have spoken 1675 informally to the noble Lord. As a result of the way in which these amendments have been proposed we are uncertain as to the function of the Football Membership Authority. The authority was brought in on a side wind as a way of drawing up a scheme, Clause 3 says:There shall be a body responsible for the administration ol the national football membership scheme".Clause 4 says:The Football Membership Authority shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after its designation takes effect, prepare a draft scheme".In other words, the Football Membership Authority came in as a piece of administration to draw up the scheme. The worry of a number of us is that the authority should be more than merely a body that draws up a scheme and is responsible for administration. Now that we have had time to reflect upon the situation created by the addition of the amendments, we believe that it should be an advisory body. It should advise the Secretary of State on the running of the scheme, on possible changes—I know that it can agree changes with the Secretary of State under Clause 4—and on possible termination of the scheme if that proves necessary. While it is operating it should be able to advise on the running of the scheme and on points that should be brought to the attention of the Secretary of State regarding the general policy and principles contained in the Bill.
At this late stage I am not expecting the Minister to give any undertaking. I suggest, however, that when the Bill goes to another place the Government should flesh out the functions, duties and role of the Football Membership Authority. It should not be left merely with its administrative and drawing-up functions. It should become an advisory body on the whole policy of the scheme which is the cornerstone of the Bill. I would have moved an amendment but did not believe it worthwhile. I hope the Minister will ensure that the matter is looked at carefully in the other place.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, with the leave of the House, the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, is correct when he says that the Bill goes to another place from here. I shall draw his remarks to the attention of my right honourable friend.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [Offences relating to unauthorised attendance at designated football matches]:
Lord Airedale moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 2, line 40, leave out ("of entering premises.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 2 raises the subject of attempting to commit offences. I was wrong on Report to suggest that that was unnecessary. I had forgotten that the general rule does not apply in summary cases before the magistrates. I was properly put right about that.
§ Subsection (1) is curious. It refers to two offences; namely, unlawfully entering a football ground and unlawfully remaining there, and then the offence of 1676 attempt, confining that to unlawful entry. It becomes an offence unlawfully to attempt to enter the ground, but it is not an offence under the Bill unlawfully to attempt to remain in the ground as an unauthorised person.
§ On Report, I tried to illustrate the sort of thing that might happen. A tradesman enters the ground lawfully in the morning to deliver goods, or a carpenter enters a stadium lawfully in the morning to do repairs. As the time of the match approaches he decides that it would be nice to remain and watch. He is told that he cannot do so because he is an unauthorised person and must leave. He says that he is blowed if he is going to leave; he is going to stop and watch and match. He refuses point-blank to leave and becomes abusive. The police have to be called to take him out. He is just as much of a nuisance as the fan who tries unlawfully to enter the ground. I do not know by what reasoning the Government believe that the fellow who tries unlawfully to enter is a worse criminal than the fellow who tries unlawfully to remain in the ground so that one commits the additional offence of an attempt and the other does not.
§ Natural justice requires that those two fans are dealt with equally. If the one attempt is a criminal offence, so should be the other. I look forward to hearing what the Government have to say. I beg to move.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, is on to one of his characteristically ingenious matters of precision. He tabled an amendment on Report. I said that I thought that it was unnecessary to ensure that the offence in Clause 2(1) covered an attempt to remain. "Remaining" is sufficient since anyone who attempts to remain must obviously be remaining. That is unlike the entry provision, because it is possible to attempt to enter without already having succeeded.
The noble Lord said that there were two offences under the subsection. In fact, it creates three offences: one of entering, one of remaining and a third of attempting to enter. If the noble Lord's amendment were incorporated into the Bill there would be a fourth offence of attempting to remain. One cannot attempt to remain without remaining. In his example the noble Lord said that the person having entered the ground might have been asked by a steward to leave but had replied that he would be blowed if he would leave. He wanted to stay. The fact is he was staying; he was remaining. Therefore it is no advantage to have an amendment which creates an offence out of attempting to remain.
The noble Lord in attempting to simplify the wording of the amendment has complicated its meaning. I hope that he will see that it would be better if his amendment were not in the Bill.
§ Lord Airedale
My Lords, the noble Earl takes so much trouble and does his homework so well that I am astonished by that reply. He is miles away from the point. If a person goes in as a carpenter to do some work in the morning, he is obviously entering lawfully. There must then come a time—the football 1677 match is about to happen—at which he becomes an unauthorised person. If he does not have a pass, attempts to remain in the stadium beyond the point at which he has been told that he is not an authorised person and is to leave, and makes a nuisance of himself so that the police have to come to turn him out, he is of course attempting to remain in the ground during the football match as an unauthorised person.
If I were to take this matter to a Division, I should be impeding the further progress of the Bill. I am mindful also that there will be an opportunity in another place to go into this matter further. The Government's reply has been hopeless, but subject to what the noble Earl may be now going to say, I shall ask to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, if I may have the leave of the House, I would not wish to prevent the noble Lord from doing that. I realise that the noble Lord is agitated about this matter. It worries me when he says that we are miles away from the point. Perhaps the noble Lord will be good enough to look at Clause 2(1). It refers to an offence of remaining on the premises at a time relevant to a match. If a carpenter remains at a time which is relevant to the match, he commits an offence. It does not matter whether he is attempting to remain, he is remaining.
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Lord Airedale
My Lords, I appreciate that, but in my illustration, a person having refused point blank to leave is turned out by the police. They have to come and turn him out. He has been doing his absolute damnedest—if that is a parliamentary expression—to remain and watch the match. That is his attempt; he does not succeeed and because he does not succeed, he does not commit the offence of remaining inside. However, he commits or would commit the offence, if it were an offence, of attempting to remain in. If he were trying to get in unlawfully from outside, he would be caught as attempting to get in under the provisions of the subsection. That is the position. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 4 [National membership scheme: making, approval, modification etc.]:
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 4, line 4, after ("requirements,") insert ("by order").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ The Deputy Speaker (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)
My Lords, the following amendments all refer to the same point. If your Lordships will allow me, I propose that we take Amendments Nos. 4 to 10 together.
Lord Hesketh moved Amendments Nos. 4 to 10:
Page 4, line 5, at end insert ("and if he does so, he shall lay a copy of the scheme as approved before each House of Parliament").
Page 4, line 6, leave out ("gives it his approval") and insert ("approves the scheme under subsection (3) above, then, subject to subsection (7A) below,").
Page 4, line 8, leave out from ("Authority") to end of line 9.
Page 4, line 16, after ("scheme") insert—
Page 4, line 20, after first ("scheme") inser—
Page 4, line 22, at end insert—
("(7A) The powers of the Secretary of State to make orders under this section are exercisable by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament,").
Page 4, line 23, leave out subsection (8).
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 5 [National Membership scheme: contents and penalties];
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 4, line 29, at end insert—
("(1A) All evidence introduced under the procedures established and described in paragraph (k) of subsection (2) below shall be given orally.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am moving this amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, and myself. I find it rather surprising that I have to rise to move the amendment because, until the government amendments were tabled this week and we read the result of the briefing by Ministers of the football correspondents, we assumed that there was agreement on the issue. It is a matter of fundamental importance. I very much hope that the Government will be able to reassure us on the matter.
§ The issue before us is very simple: what is to be done when someone is expelled from the football membership scheme? The question arises of what rights the person has to challenge his accusers. I asked this question when we were in Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, who was speaking on that occasion, will recall it. He told me that of course the rights of the accused person would be preserved because he would have the opportunity of his case being considered by a tribunal. After we had had a rather prolonged series of exchanges, he told me that the Government were holding discussions on the matter with the Council on Tribunals. He assured me that hearsay evidence would be excluded. We were satisfied that the Government had met our point.
§ However, what is now proposed? In the amendment which today stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, we see that the tribunal, as it was referred to in the Bill, is now to be abandoned. There is an insertion of totally different language. This suggests to us that the rights of an accused person will be drastically curtailed.
§ In the light of that, we have tabled this amendment, which would require that evidence given before any organisation which had the responsibility of determining whether a person was to be excluded from the scheme should be on the basis of oral evidence. The question to which I hope we shall receive a clear and also persuasive answer 1679 from the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, is this. It is a fundamental question and I should be grateful if he would take note of it and answer in explicit terms. Will an accused person have the right to challenge his accusers?
§ Let us say that a person is accused of racial chanting. I hope that the noble Lord is following the point. It is of some importance. I repeat, let us assume that a person is accused of racial chanting and is thrown out of the ground as a result. The person concerned denies it. What are to be his rights? Can he give oral evidence before the organisation or the body which will have the responsibility of hearing his case and will he be able to cross-examine his accusers?
§ Let us say that the evidence against him is that of a single steward. The steward says, "I heard him shout racial abuse". The man concerned says, "It was not me. We were in a dense crowd. It was a man four or five to my right or left". Does the accused person have the right to cause the steward to be cross-examined or does he not? It seems to me that this is a matter of the highest importance. I repeat, there have been suggestions in the press, clearly after government briefing, that the statements concerned will be given in writing. But if that is true, I must tell the noble Lord that it seems to me a most extraordinary provision.
§ May I ask the noble Lord whether it is true that the Government are taking this action because they have had some unwelcome advice from the Council on Tribunals? If so, what was the view of the council? I think we should all be extremely interested to hear what it was. Where does the onus of proof lie? Does it lie on the people who want to exclude the person from the scheme, or is it transferred to the person against whom the complaint has been made?
§ Let it not be said by the noble Lord, "Let us leave this to the Football Membership Authority". That is no answer at all. We are talking here about people's civil rights and the Government have an absolute obligation to satisfy us that they will be protected in the matter. I very much hope that he will be able to reassure us that there is nothing in this as sinister as it appears at first sight. I beg to move.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, perhaps I may add my support on behalf of my noble friend Lord Graham to the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Harris. It seems to me that the key to this and the reason why the amendment is necessary is in Amendment No. 14 to be moved by the Government. If we had had a tribunal, I assume that it would be constituted under the tribunals Act and that the Council on Tribunals would make sure that there was a right of cross-examination.
As the matter stands, the whole nature of the proceedings which may be instituted under the clause as it is to be amended if the Government's amendments are accepted means that the right of cross-examination is taken away. It cannot be right to have an accusation made purely in writing—because to deny somebody a spectators' card is an accusation. It cannot be right to permit 1680 that accusation to be made only in writing, without a chance to examine the person who or organisation which made the accusation. It requires that the answer should be given orally. I hope that the Government will recognise that their amendmenl which is to be moved makes this amendment necessary.
§ Viscount Craigavon
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said, I have put my name to this amendment. I fully support his very forceful speech and also the speech we have just heard. I have a few brief remarks to make. I have been reading the Report stage of the Bill and a speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh. It seems to me that he was trying not to deter the clubs from using the machinery of appeal by making it simple. In my opinion, the machinery of appeal is being made far too simple for the clubs and a balance is being struck in the wrong way. I hope, if that is the case, that the noble Lord will redress the balance.
§ Lord Knights
My Lords, I seldom disagree with the ideas advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. However, I am afraid that I must do so on this occasion. His argument seems to be based on the assumption that a person has a civil right to enter a football ground. I do not believe that that is the case. A person has a right to enter a football ground if the club is prepared to give him permission to enter. A club can withdraw that permission at any time, without reason. That is the position that applies at all places of public entertainment.
As I have said, perhaps too many times already, places of entertainment are private premises and people enter with the consent and permission of those who own the premises. If we are to create a situation in which only football clubs—this measure does not apply anywhere else—have to justify by way of a procedure which is very similar to a trial why they have withdrawn permission for entry to their premises, we are raising this matter to a level that we shall find very difficult to sustain in practice.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I too hesitate before I intervene, especially on a Friday afternoon. I wonder whether the noble Lord who has just spoken and whose experience with the police we value in this House has really considered what the Bill intends to do. It intends to regulate the membership scheme so that those who are undesirable—let there be no doubt about the public impression of this matter—for one reason or another, cannot be admitted to a football ground and cannot be admitted to membership of the scheme. That is not the question that is normally within the policeman's mind or the civilian's mind who knows about these matters when it is a matter of joining a drinking club or any other kind of club.
This Bill has been intentionally introduced to stop violence and to stop undesirable people from being able to come to a football ground. Therefore, there must be a procedure which guards the character and the reputation of people who are refused membership. There must be an ability for a person to state that, if he is denied membership of the scheme, he must have the right to face his accuser, 1681 who has stated, for example, that the accused was a drunken lout the previous week. The accused must have this right if he feels his identity has been mistaken. There must also be the right to question a witness who alleges such things. To limit such a matter to evidence in writing would, I think, be absolutely wrong bearing in mind the obvious stigma that attaches to a person if membership and admission are refused.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, the amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has moved anticipates Amendments Nos. 12 to 15 standing in my name. I think that it may be for the convenience of the House if I speak to both my amendments and to his at the same time.
My amendments fulfil the undertakings that I gave during the earlier stages of the Bill. Amendment No. 12 would limit the FMA's discretionary bans on membership to a maximum period of two years. Amendment No. 13 would make it a mandatory provision of the scheme that the FMA should notify anyone it disqualifies from membership of the reasons for that disqualification.
Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 concern the procedure under which anyone who is refused membership or is disqualified from membership and feels aggrieved about the FMA's decision may make representations about it. We have had very helpful discussions with the Council on Tribunals on how best to handle this matter. As presently drafted the Bill provides for a tribunal to hear and determine appeals against disqualification. Establishing a formal tribunal in this way would mean that the principles advocated by the council on appeal procedures would have to be applied in full. The council felt that the impact on the individual concerned of refusal or withdrawal of membership from the scheme was not of the character and weight that is usually dealt with by tribunals which are subject to the council's supervision.
We must remember that clubs already can and do bar people from their grounds without giving them the right to make any form of representation. It is also the council's view that if oral hearings were to be a normal procedure in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, proposes in his amendment, that in itself would mean that the council's principles and procedures had to apply. That, in turn, would mean that many hearings might not be held until after a short period of disqualification had expired. That would certainly not be fair to anyone.
We therefore envisage an informal procedure for making and considering representations against the FMA's decisions. The representation would normally be made in writing, although we do not rule out the possibility of occasional oral hearings in appropriate cases. The procedure will be simple, speedy and fair. We must not deter the FMA and the clubs from imposing bans. Dealing with cases quickly is important because that is part and parcel of making the procedure as fair as possible.
In the interests of fairness, it is also essential that the procedure for reviewing FMA decisions should be independent. Amendment No. 15 gives a member who is disqualified the right to have the decision 1682 reviewed by people who are independent of the FMA. The FMA will need to establish a panel of independent people for this very purpose. I said that we would consult the Council on Tribunals on these amendments. We have followed the council's advice in proposing them. I hope that in the light of what I have said, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Lord has not the remotest intention of withdrawing his amendment, particularly in the light of that very unpersuasive reply which did not answer a number of questions which I put to the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh. I asked him at the beginning of my speech whether, if a person wanted to confront his accuser and deny absolutely the charge made against him, he would have that right. He replied that there would be an oral hearing in an appropriate case. But what is an appropriate case? Who is to determine that?
As the noble Lord, Lord Knights, rightly said he and I very rarely disagree. However, I fear that we are on this occasion in fundamental disagreement. I regard this as a central question of the liberty of the individual. The noble Lord is correct in saying that at the moment an individual club has the right to keep someone out of its ground. He is absolutely right. That applies to football clubs just as to any other place of public entertainment. However, we are not talking about individual clubs; we are talking about a statutory scheme which imposes criminal penalties. That is the distinction. Are people to have their rights taken away in this arbitrary fashion and not be guaranteed any opportunity of being able to face their accusers? Who are some of the people we are talking about in this matter? Some of them, undoubtedly, will be able to frame representations with no difficulty at all. However, many will not be able to do so. Many would be deterred from doing so or would find themselves unable to put their representations in writing. Those representations would be passed to a body of men before whom, as I understand it, the accused would not be guaranteed any right of audience.
I have rarely heard an argument which strips people of their civil rights on the grounds of administrative convenience—that was the purport of the noble Lord's speech—introduced in any Bill in this House since I have been a Member.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene in the hope that the Minister will deal with the point about oral hearings being part of the procedure where appropriate? Who will decide what is appropriate? I am asking the noble Lord, Lord Harris, whether he feels that the Minister could help the House by dealing with that particular point. I could not understand what the noble and learned Lord tried to say from a sedentary position. If the Minister can tell us what is meant by "appropriate" and whether the accused person has the right to opt for an oral hearing, I believe that that would be helpful.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, I dealt with that point in my speech. The position of the noble Lord, Lord 1683 Harris, is based on an assumption that rights are being taken away. In my speech I made two relevant points. The first is that, when we took the advice of the Council on Tribunals, far from being disappointed or disagreeing with the Government, the council felt that the impact on the individual concerned of the refusal or withdrawal of membership of the scheme was not of a character or weight such as is usually dealt with by tribunals.
To answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Harris—as I did in my speech and am doing again—when one combines that point with the fact that at present people have no rights as regards being ejected or prevented from entering a football ground, as the noble Lord, Lord Knights, pointed out with regard to other places of entertainment, it can be seen that the Government are in no way stripping away people's rights. Far from it. We have taken advice and are trying to introduce a system which will be fair and easy to operate.
§ Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone
My Lords, perhaps I may appeal to the noble Lord the Leader of the House on a point of order. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, was quite rightly addressing the House on his amendment in reply to the Minister. He was interrupted by the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, who then made a supplementary speech in the middle of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and the Minister then replied. Where are we getting? Surely on a Friday afternoon we ought to stick to the rules of order of the House.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, I think that we ought to stick to the rules of order of this House whether it is Friday or any other day. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, was making his final reply on his own amendment. He has the right to do so and I suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, now proceeds.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to bring the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, to his feet, even at nearly two o'clock on a Friday afternoon. I am grateful to him for reminding the House that I was endeavouring to reply to the debate.
However, I was also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, for intervening because he made the point that the Government were not removing any rights from the individual on the ground because clubs already have rights to cause people to be excluded from a ground. I dealt with that particular issue about two minutes before the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, got to his feet. The point had been made by the noble Lord, Lord Knights. The answer to it is that of course a club has the right to exclude anybody. It can do it today, tomorrow or next week. It can do so if it is a football club, a cricket club or if it is Wimbledon. There is no doubt about it.
The issue here is a totally different one. We are introducing criminal penalties. Criminal penalties do not apply if someone tries to climb over a wall to get into Wimbledon or the Canterbury ground of the Kent Cricket Club. The situation here is quite 1684 different. If one enters a ground or attempts to do so without being a member of a national scheme—not a club—one commits a criminal offence. One can be sent to prison. In my view there is no doubt that if people are expelled from the scheme it is a commentary, and will be taken as a commentary by many fair-minded people, that they have done something seriously wrong.
I say that those rights will be stripped away from them with no guarantee that they will have the opportunity to put their own case before the body which will make the final determination of the matter. They will have no opportunity to cross-examine their accusers. In my view that is a fundamental attack on an individual's civil liberties, and we shall vote for this amendment.
§ 1.54 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 11) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 53; Not-Contents, 65.1685
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Addington, L.||Longford, E.|
|Airedale, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Macaulay of Bragar, L.|
|Blyth.L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||McNair, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Callaghan of Cardiff, L.||Monson, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Phillips, B|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Falkland V [Teller]||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Robson of Kiddington, B|
|Foot, L.||Russell, E.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]||Seear, B.|
|Grey, E.||Tordoff, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Hampton, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Hooson, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Willis, L.|
|Jenkins of Hillhead, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Arran, E.||Elton, L.|
|Bauer, L.||Erroll of Hale, L.|
|Bellhaven and Stenton, L.||Faithfull, B.|
|Belstead, L.||Ferrers, E.|
|Bessborough, E.||Foley, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Greenway, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Harlech, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Henley, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Hesketh, L.|
|Digby, L.||Hives, L.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Home of the Hirsel, L.|
|Donegall, M.||Ironside, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Joseph, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Killearn, L.|
|Elles, B.||Knights, L.|
|Layton, L.||Oxfuird, V.|
|Long, V.||Reay, L.|
|Lothian, M.||Rodney, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Romney, E.|
|McFadzean, L.||Saint Albans, D.|
|Mackay of Clashfern, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Saltoun of Abemethy, Ly.|
|Mancroft, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Marley, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Morris, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Mountevans, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Munster, E.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Trafford, L.|
|Norrie, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Orr-Ewing, L.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 2.2 p.m.
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 4, line 43, leave out ("a period") and insert ("an appropriate period not exceeding two years").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 4, line 46, at end insert ("and for notifying persons who are excluded from membership of the grounds for the exclusion;").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 5, line 11, leave out from ("establishing") to end of line and insert ("procedures for the making and consideration of representations against").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 15:
Page 5, line 13, after ("it") insert ("and for the independent review of the decisions in the light of the representations;").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 16:
Page 5, line 35, at end insert—
("( ) Nothing in section 28(1) and (2) of the Data Protection Act 1984 (which exempt personal data relating to crime from the subject access provisions in certain cases) shall apply to personal data held by the Football Membership Authority for the purposes of the national football membership scheme.").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 7 [Disqualification for membership of scheme]:
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 17:
Page 6, line 24, leave out ("or of detention in a young offenders institution").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 18.
§ These two small amendments remove unnecessary references to detention in a young offenders' institution in Clauses 7(3)(a) and 14(1)(a). The relevant definitions of "imprisonment" in Clauses 7(9)(a) and 12(9) respectively already include detention for young offenders. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.1686
§ Clause 14 [Effect of order]:
Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 18:
Page 12, line 22, leave out ("or of detention in a young offenders institution").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 21 [Further provision about, and appeals against, declarations of relevance]:
The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 19:
Page 19, line 5, leave out ("three") and insert ("five").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend, I should like to speak to Amendment No. 19.
§ This amendment fulfils an undertaking which my noble friend Lord Hesketh gave during Report stage. It requires the prosecution to give a defendant at least five days' notice before his trial that the court will be asked to make a declaration that the offence was football-related and that it is therefore relevant for the purposes of mandatory disqualification from the national membership scheme.
§ We had a brief discussion when my noble friend moved this clause on Report as to whether the period of advance notice should be three days, as we first proposed, or five working days as the noble Lord, Lord Graham, preferred. My noble friend offered five days in a generous spirit of compromise. It is of course a matter of balance. The defendant must be given sufficient notice to allow him to prepare his case against a declaration of relevance being made, if he so wishes. At the same time, we need to ensure that there is no unreasonable delay in the administering of justice.
§ This amendment gives effect to the willingness that my noble friend expressed on Report to move to five days' notice. There was some discussion during our debate on whether notice should be for calendar days or working days. This amendment means that the defendant will have five calendar days' notice where a declaration of relevance is to be sought. If we opted for "working days" it would be appropriate to spell that out in the Bill. We have not done so because we think that five; calendar days represents the best balance between fairness and speed. In our original proposal that three days' notice should be given, our precedent was the Criminal Courts Act 1973. That precedent was in respect of calendar days.
§ Five days' notice that a declaration of relevance is to be sought is fair to the defendant and consistent with the principle of swift justice which is so important in the context of football hooliganism. I beg to move.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, the Minister is quite right that at earlier stages of the Bill this was a matter of some concern. I believe that he has gone some way with his ministerial colleagues to take our point. However, perhaps he will deal with the possibly tangential aspects of illness, convenience and such other circumstances. If there are problems of a person being able to keep to the five days, will there be a procedure whereby that appeal, request or excuse can be put forward?
1687 I reiterate that the amendment is certainly better than the Bill, but there might well be circumstances in which, even with five days' notice, there would be personal difficulties. I am not talking about anyone who procrastinates or tries to avoid appearing. I am talking about genuine reasons why it may be difficult.
§ The Earl of Arran
My Lords, with the leave of the House, the simple answer to the noble Lord's question is that, if the person produces a medical certificate in the event of illness, that is perfectly all right.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that answer about the medical side of the matter. I shall not labour the point. There could be other circumstances that make it impossible for the person to comply with that requirement. I believe that the spirit of the Minister's remarks is perfectly sensible and reasonable.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 24 [Citation, commencement, consequential repeal and extent]:
Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 20:
Page 20, line 11, leave out subsection (2) and insert—
("(2) The provisions of this Act (other than this section) shall not come into operation until such day as the Secretary of State may appoint by order made by statutory instrument.
(2A) Different days may be appointed under subsection (2) above for different provisons of this Act.
(2B) The statutory instrument containing the first order under subsection (2) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.")
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ An amendment (privilege) made.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.
Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Hesketh).
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, this is the last opportunity for those who have followed the matter closely to say a few words. Very often those words are to wish the Bill well and to express the hope that it has a successful passage through another place. I am sure that the Minister will understand that in view of the debate I am not in a position to say that.
First of all, however, I want to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, who has certainly dealt with the Bill much more comprehensively towards the end of our discussions than at the beginning. Let me hasten to say to the noble Lord the Leader of the House who is in his place that that is not a back-handed compliment. I appreciate the fact that at all times the Minister has sought to understand the intentions behind many of the observations from these Benches. On most occasions he has been successful. On one or two occasions he has not been quite so successful.
We on these Benches are very sad and sorry that the Government resisted the opportunity earlier 1688 today to delay the passage of the Bill. I genuinely do not believe that the Government understand what a furore will be caused when the Bill reaches another place. However, so far as concerns this House, it is a good opportunity for me to say that this side of the Chamber has always understood the need for legislation and the desire of the Government to take action. Our quibble is not with Part II of the Bill which is long overdue—it is to the credit of the Government that they are now dealing with the matter—but with the concept and the totality of a national compulsory identity card scheme.
The Minister may dress up the scheme. He may say that this is an enabling Bill, an outline or a skeleton scheme. At the end of the day the House has been asked to progress a Bill designed to introduce a compulsory identity card for those who wish to attend a football match. We believe that to be a retrograde step. Having said that, I repeat my thanks to the Minister and acknowledge the care and diligence he has shown always in listening to what this side of the House has said and often meeting our points.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I agree with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, has said. I add my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, for the useful discussions that we have had with representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers. I hope very much that the matters raised in those discussions will be carried forward and that a number of them will be included in the final Bill.
During the debate on the gracious Speech I described this measure as a "silly little Bill". Following the detailed consideration that we have been able to give to it I should like to make a substitution to the first of those adjectives. It is a nasty little Bill. Most of us on these Benches and quite a large number on the Benches opposite who have today given the Government majorities of 12 and 13—revealing a certain lack of enthusiasm there for the contents of the Bill—as well as many other noble Lords recognise that the Bill is irrelevant to its stated purpose. At best it will have only a limited effect within the grounds. It is the view of many senior police officers with operational responsibilities for policing football grounds that it will lead to a deterioration in behaviour in the streets outside. It may thus lead to more rather than less violence.
I find it extremely hard to believe that many Ministers in the Government dissent from that view. That is why the Bill has been left to the care of a junior Minister in the Department of the Environment. Its real author is the Prime Minister. Throughout she has handled colleagues who doubt the wisdom of this measure with the same degree of sensitivity as she has applied to her relationship with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Bill is therefore a suitable memorial to the Prime Minister.
The Bill is both silly and irrelevant. It will damage many small football clubs, some of which may be driven out of business. It also represents a fundamental attack on people's civil liberties and the civil liberties of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding football supporters.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, irrespective of its detailed content, this emerges from our deliberations as a wholly misconceived Bill. It is misconceived because it tackles the symptom rather than the disease—and only one of the many symptoms at that. The disease is the surplus aggression and violence of young males in this country. The phenomenon is endemic in Britain for a variety of reasons, including the absence of national service in Britain compared with the situation that still prevails on the Continent, the encouragement by the present Government of the get-rich-quick property boom society, at least until October 1987, with the consequence that a substantial segment of young people felt excluded from the alleged benefits of that society, our inadequate and probably under-funded state education system, and the virtual breakdown of discipline within that system, and a breakdown of family cohesion of which the highest divorce figures in Europe, announced two days ago, are only one aspect.
It is in stark contrast with the situation prevailing in France, for example, where family cohesion is still strong. That is why, although French youth is very far from being docile, tame or uncomplaining, one will not find lager louts or football hooligans in that country.
By this legislation the Government are inserting their finger into one hole in the dyke while there remain 100 other holes through which the tide of young male aggression can potentially surge. Even if this legislation succeeds without bankrupting many of the smaller clubs, or producing the grievous problems about which many other noble Lords have warned us, it will merely transfer the violence from the football grounds to other sporting events, to the pubs, the streets and the shopping centres. I hope that the House of Commons will give the Bill the drubbing that it deserves.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, I do not intend to rehearse once more the reasons why this Bill is necessary. Football hooliganism remains a major problem both at home and overseas. The Bill provides further powerful measures to deal with the problem on both these fronts.
I should like to reassure your Lordships once more today, as I did earlier, that we shall not approve and implement the scheme until we are satisfied that it will work effectively and efficiently. I do not wish to make a long speech at this stage of our proceedings today. However, before I finish my remarks, I should like first to thank my noble friends Lord Caithness, Lord Ferrers and Lord Arran for their help in taking the Bill through your Lordships' House. On the Benches opposite I should like to extend my particular thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for the major contributions that they have made in all stages of the Bill as it has gone through your Lordships' House. I should also like to thank the many noble Lords from all sides of the House who have taken part in our debates. At a personal level, I can say that there could not have been a more educational Bill to deal with as one's first Bill. I beg to move.
1690 On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.