§ 4.23 p.m.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill has excited a certain amount of controversy, both during its passage in another place and more widely. I should like to make clear to your Lordships exactly why the Government believe that the measure is needed now, not next year.
Our national reputation—and I am speaking very specifically of England, not the United Kingdom—not many years ago stood among the highest for tolerance, good manners and civilised behaviour. It is hardly too much to say that that reputation, so far as many of our international friends are concerned, lies in tatters as a result of a small number of people who believe that watching an international football match is an occasion for obnoxious, loutish behaviour and sometimes indiscriminate violence. In other countries, international football matches are seen as an opportunity for people from different traditions and cultures to come together, to celebrate something they have in common—the love of a beautiful game. But for far too many English supporters, that appears to be a wholly alien way of thinking. They go to matches not so much to cheer their team but to provoke fights with rival supporters or uninvolved local people. They cannot think of Europe except in terms of outdated, Second World War stereotypes. They consider it entirely reasonable to insult people purely because they are foreign, to make racist remarks, to shout mindless and often offensive songs at the tops of their voices and to get into fights as soon as they imagine anyone is failing to treat them with the respect they have so clearly forfeited.
This Government cannot agree with critics.
§ Lord Waddington
My Lords, will the noble Lord give way? While giving his analysis of the present ills, will he take the opportunity to repudiate the insulting 1183 remarks of the Home Secretary in which he linked football hooliganism with what he called "the baggage of Empire"? Will he recognise that I, as president of the Overseas Service Pensions Association, have just come from a meeting of some of this "baggage"—colonial civil servants who went out to our colonies and served unselfishly for years and years? They gave of their best, and they take very badly these slurs on their reputation. We should be congratulating them on what they did in the colonies rather than insulting them.
§ Lord Bach
My Lords, this is the Second Reading of an important Bill in this House. The normal convention is to allow the Minister to open the debate, make his comments and analyse the Bill. It is not normal for there to be interjections of this kind at this stage of Second Reading. Of course the noble Lord will make his comments and can expect a reply in the windup. Can this House now not hear what the Minister has to say, and the debate then take its course? I do not honestly think it necessary for there to be more interventions before the Minister is allowed to continue describing this important Bill.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, will the noble Lord refer us to a point in Standing Orders? Is there a rule of the House that prevents an intervention or is the noble Lord making up the rules as he goes along?
§ Lord Bach
My Lords, as I understand it—and the noble Baroness has been in this place much longer than I have—this House bases itself on conventions as much as on rules. It would seem to be not just a convention of the House but good manners as well to allow the Minister make his speech. The noble Lord can make his speech in due course. The Minister will have to reply to what the noble Lord says. I wonder if we can get on with this business now.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, I think that this does need talking through. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, with impeccable good manners, gave way to the noble Lord, Lord Waddington. I have been in this House since 1971, when Attlee and Eden were still here, and that is how it has always behaved. The noble Lord is making a mountain out of a molehill. I know that the Government are panicking over this rotten little Bill and want to rush it through; but do not blame those of us who want proper debate.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, further to that point, I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, is not on the speakers' list. Those of us who have served in another place know that some Members there have an exceedingly bad habit of making an early intervention to appear on the record but participate no further. That has not been the convention in this House.
I hear much in the corridors from Members on the Opposition Benches about the declining standards of the new and reformed House. Some of those declining standards will come from those Benches if they play 1184 this kind of stunt. This House has conventions which should be protected and which differentiate it from another place. I believe that we need to protect those conventions and not play sharp party politics as those Benches appear to be doing now.
I want to hear the Minister and I believe that we should get on with it. The Conservatives should stop playing politics. The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, should have put his name down to speak in the debate, as have other Members, and not intervened in that way.
§ Lord Waddington
My Lords, as an attack has been made on me, I want to say that the Minister, with absolute courtesy, gave way. He had no need to do so. I thought that it was a perfectly appropriate matter to raise when he was dealing with the so-called "causes" of the present trouble.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, before we leave the subject, am I right in believing that the relevant passage in the Companion indicates that interventions should be brief?
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I hope that this debate can be conducted with due courtesy and that we can all refrain from being hooligans. I am unapologetic in my passionate support of this legislation. I believe that it will do much to restore the good name of our country and protect our participation in future international sporting events, particularly on the football field.
When on 4th July the Home Secretary announced in his Statement in the other place the measures we would be introducing to prevent future reoccurrence of the atrocious scenes of thuggery, hooliganism, racism and xenophobia, carried out by English football supporters in Brussels and Charleroi during Euro 2000, he highlighted the need for speedy but carefully scrutinised legislation. The qualifying stages for the World Cup begin in October and England play France in Paris as soon as 2nd September. The European club competitions will be well into their stride in the next few weeks. The need to bring in new measures swiftly could hardly be clearer.
Consequently, on 7th July the Home Secretary published a preliminary draft of the Bill and made himself available to Members of both Houses in order that the key points of the Bill could be discussed and Members' constructive proposals taken on board before the Bill was introduced into the Commons. At this stage, two specific proposals made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, which I shall outline later, were incorporated into the Bill.
The Bill was introduced into the House of Commons and received its Second Reading on 13th July. Having carefully considered amendments tabled both by the Government and the Opposition, the House of Commons completed the Committee, 1185 Report and Third Reading stages of the Bill on 17th July. We therefore have before us a Bill that is a speedy response to a pressing need but also one that has benefited from very careful scrutiny by Members of the House of Commons and which has been amended to reflect Members' deep concerns for issues of individual liberties and due process of law.
The need for new powers to prevent the hooliganism of many English supporters abroad has become apparent as a result of the Euro 2000 experience. This brought home the fact that there is a large swathe of English fans, typically male, white and aged 20 to 35 who, although not convicted of football-related offences, or perhaps not even known as football hooligans, are capable of violence and disorder when supporting England abroad.
Furthermore, it has become apparent that it is not always possible to rely on authorities abroad to prosecute offenders, which is necessary if our courts are to use their existing powers to make banning orders on the basis of offences committed outside this country. Too often, overseas authorities have preferred simply to deport English offenders rather than to deal with them as their conduct deserves.
There are four key measures contained within the Bill, the first two of which have been virtually universally welcomed. The first is the combining of domestic and international banning orders into one. That is important because currently those subject only to domestic banning order (80 per cent of the total bans m force) are at liberty to go to overseas matches despite their known propensity to commit football-related offences.
The mandatory withdrawal of the passports of those made subject to the new combined banning order, unless there are exceptional circumstances, for a certain period of days leading up to the match in question is the second measure.
The other two new measures are more complex and have been the subject of debate because, by extending the powers of the courts and the police, they seek to increase the number of people who, by their past or present conduct, make themselves liable to the new combined banning order. These new measures are, in the Government's opinion, absolutely necessary if the experience of Euro 2000 is not to be repeated.
The first of those two measures will give magistrates' courts the power to issue a banning order where it would help to prevent violence or disorder at certain football matches. Thus, magistrates will now have the power not only to issue banning orders in consequence of an offence, but also if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual has caused or contributed to violence or disorder and that a banning order would help to prevent violence and disorder in future in relation to football matches.
The procedure has been structured in a similar manner to the anti-social behaviour orders that were introduced by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and were designed to deal with low-level violence and disorder that can be seriously disruptive of other 1186 people's lives. The new power will be triggered by an application by a police officer under new Section 14B of the Bill.
As with anti-social behaviour orders, the standard of proof required for the imposition of a banning order will be civil. In addition to other relevant evidence, magistrates will be able to take into account evidence of involvement in violence against persons or property, including threatening violence and doing anything to endanger the life of a person. They will also be able to take into account evidence of involvement in disorder, including stirring up hatred against persons on the basis of their colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins. They will also be able to take into consideration any relevant convictions received outside England and Wales; deportation or exclusion from a country outside the UK; the removal or exclusion from a football stadium in the UK or elsewhere; or conduct recorded on video or by any other means. Breach of an order would constitute a criminal offence. Proof of that offence would of course be to the criminal standard.
Our intention is that the police will, wherever possible, apply for these orders well in advance of a particular fixture in order to prevent suspected hooligans from even setting out for the game. But inevitably there will be people who will not have come to the notice of the police until they reach their port of embarkation. For example, during Euro 2000 there were a number of examples of people travelling to Belgium who had previous convictions for violent offences and whom the police could not prevent leaving the country. That is why the Government see it as crucial that the last of the four new measures is also adopted. It was subject to much debate in the House of Commons surrounding issues of civil liberty Those concerns, we believe, have been addressed in the revised Bill that I am now introducing to the House.
The provisions contained in proposed new Sections 21A, 21B and 21C, introduced by Schedule 1, would empower a police constable in uniform during a prescribed period leading up to a specific match, to issue a notice preventing a person leaving England and Wales where the officer had "reasonable grounds" for suspecting that the individual may have caused or contributed to violence and disorder at any time in the past and reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order in his case would help to prevent violence or disorder in connection with a regulated football match.
Such a notice not only prevents the person concerned leaving England and Wales; it also requires him to attend a magistrates' court within 24 hours, where the notice will be treated as an application for a banning order. The police may detain a person while they consider whether or not to issue a notice provided that the above conditions are met. The constable must give the person in writing the reasons for detaining him. The maximum period of detention will be four hours, or six hours with the authority of an inspector. If, as suggested by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, a notice is issued during consideration of the original draft of the Bill, the notice must state the 1187 officer's grounds for issue. A constable may arrest the person issued with such a notice if he reasonably believes it to be necessary in order to secure compliance with the order.
I have gone into the detail of the last measure thoroughly to draw to your Lordships' attention the significant changes that the Government have made to the Bill in order to ensure cross-party assent in both Houses.
The Bill received detailed scrutiny in another place. It may have been condensed but it was thorough. We listened and responded to concerns expressed during that scrutiny. As a result, a number of government amendments will be tabled in Committee, including one relating to compensation. The Opposition Front Bench in another place tabled such an amendment and it was agreed in principle. It proposed that compensation should be met from local police authority funds, but the preferred option is for the cost to be met centrally. The amendment will deal also with the questions of maximum amount of compensation and appeals against refusal to grant compensation.
An amendment will also be brought forward to limit the number of times a person can be detained. It will prevent a person who is detained and released without issue of a notice being further detained during the control period concerned unless evidence, unavailable at the time of the first detention, becomes available. It will also cover a person who is released by the court following issue of a notice preventing departure.
Noble Lords may well be aware that, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, spent convictions will not be admissible in banning orders by complaint proceedings because of their civil character. Therefore, it would be inconsistent if a time limit were not placed also on evidence of conduct. As a result, an amendment will be tabled making evidence of misbehaviour inadmissible if it is more than 10 years old. That limitation will apply only to banning orders by complaint.
An amendment will also be tabled removing "any decision of a public authority, whether in the UK or elsewhere" from the examples of other matters which can be taken into account in determining whether a person has previously caused or contributed to violence or disorder in the UK or elsewhere and if a banning order will help to prevent football-related disorder. An amendment will remove the need for a person who is subject to a banning order to surrender his passport when an external tournament is being played in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
The Lord Chancellor's Department will bring forward regulations under Clause 3 of the Bill to make legal advice and assistance available for proceedings by way of complaint under new Section 14B. Clause 2 gives the Secretary of State power to allow NCIS to disclose information to persons prescribed by order. We shall table an amendment to ensure that such an order will be subject to negative resolution procedure. The Lords Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee has recommended an amendment to that effect and the Government agree.
1188 In that spirit of co-operation the Government have already accepted the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, to insert a sunset clause which will ensure that the last two measures contained in the Bill are renewed by affirmative resolution after one year and will lapse four years after that.
In the drafting of this vital piece of legislation, the Government have abided by the principle—
§ Lord Goodhart
My Lords, I am sorry to intervene and I am most grateful to the Minister for giving way. He referred to the intention to bring forward an amendment to Clause 3. Does he propose to introduce amendments to cover the other recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee?
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I believe that I should deal with that matter in my closing remarks to the debate later this evening.
The Government believe that the Bill is a proportionate and measured response to a problem which requires determined and effective action. It balances the liberties of the individual against the well-founded rights of decent people both here and abroad to go about their business without being subjected to drunken insult, racism, xenophobia and violence. I commend it to your Lordships.
§ Lord Mayhew of Twysden
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, he mentioned amendments which are to be tabled by the Government. In order to clarify the position, can he tell us whether the civil or the criminal standard of proof will apply? It appeared, having read the Hansard report of the debates in the other place, that Ministers, even at Third Reading, did not know the answer to that.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, where the procedure is civil, the civil standard of proof will apply; where it is a criminal procedure, the criminal standard of proof will apply.
Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Lord Cope of Berkeley
My Lords, we all look forward in the course of this debate to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Hodgson, especially those of us who have heard him speak as a colleague in another place and on other occasions since.
I should perhaps say at the start that I am not a regular attender at football matches and I cannot offer first-hand experience of hooliganism in that respect. However, I know how much I hate to see our nation's reputation dragged down by so-called supporters who have nothing whatever to do with those who built and served the British Empire.
Those so-called supporters appear to view football violence as a legitimate sport in its own right. I understand that they travel without a ticket and, frequently, with little hope of obtaining one when they arrive to see the match. Some apparently view the 1189 occasion as a continuation of the Second World War by other means. Indeed, I believe that one of the worst features of the whole matter is the way in which that view of football is sometimes encouraged by the choice of words of tabloid editors when matches take place. I believe that to be disgraceful and very damaging.
However, we are here today to consider this Bill, given that background. My first point is that I believe that we all hate legislating at this speed. The history of rushed legislation, cobbled together in haste in response to an event, is pretty rotten. I am not making a party political point. Some on this side of the House have scars to prove the point that I am making. The difficulty comes down partly to a question of time-scale and partly to one of emotion. There is little time for reflection and little time for people outside Parliament to take on board what is happening and to comment on it. Ministers, officials and parliamentary draftsmen must all rush their work, and that is made all the worse in this case because the Home Office is trying to cram through Parliament an enormously long list of legislation.
The Minister and I, and many others present today, yesterday evening finished consideration of a version of the extremely complex Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill—a very different version, I may say, from the version that we received, but that is another matter. Yet the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, is the Minister with personal responsibility for the topic of this Bill. Presumably for several weeks he has been trying to prepare the Bill and oversee debates in the Commons, as well as conducting business here. It is difficult for all of us to get legislation right in those circumstances. During the so-called spillover, when we come back from the recess, we shall have no fewer than seven Home Office Bills to deal with.
This extra Bill comes on top of a very heavy burden for all those concerned with the preparation of Home Office legislation. It has inevitably had to be rushed and it is no surprise that it has already been through several versions.
Not only are we legislating in haste, we are doing so under the emotions generated by seeing the dreadful scenes in Brussels and Charleroi. It is natural to say that something must be done. We all sympathise with that emotion, but the difficulty is to get the right legislation, not just any legislation on the subject. The Bill is the Government's attempt to do that. We should all be careful about such hasty legislation. That is why my noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon suggested a sunset clause during a meeting with the Home Secretary about the Bill. The Government have inserted a five-year sunset provision for the most controversial and novel aspects of the Bill. We believe that five years is too long, but we shall return to that point later.
However, not all of the Bill is novel and controversial. There are four main aspects to it. First, domestic and international football banning orders are being combined into one. We accept that proposition, which has been around for many years, having originally been advanced by one of my right honourable friends in another place.
1190 Secondly, the withdrawal of passports for the period of specified football matches from those with banning orders against them will become mandatory in all but exceptional cases, rather than being at the discretion of the courts. We also accept that.
Thirdly, there is a proposal to allow the police to apply to the magistrates' court to seek a football banning order against someone who may not have committed a football-related offence, but who has been involved in violence and disorder in another way.
As the Minister emphasised, the fourth proposal is the difficult one. A police constable will be able to detain a suspect for four hours on suspicion while he investigates. It is a sus law. A police inspector can extend that period by a further two hours to six hours. When they have investigated, they can serve art order, with reasons—the Bill has been properly amended in that respect—to appear before a magistrate within 24 hours, when the banning order will be considered. That means that the police can detain for six hours and limit travel for 24 hours on suspicion.
I was glad to hear the Minister refer to the arrangements for legal advice and assistance for people faced with such applications. The circumstances can sometimes be difficult. The events will often take place over the weekend while someone is away from home, travelling overseas. We are dealing with strong powers—all the more so because of the circumstances in which they are likely to be used.
I appreciate that the police will often wish to apply for a banning order in advance of a match, before anybody has had a chance to travel even as far as an airport, but they will often seek to detain someone who is about to travel by air or by sea. In these days of cheap flights, a delay of even one hour usually means losing one's seat and one's money. I was glad to hear that the Government will propose a scheme, as suggested by my right honourable and honourable friends in another place, to allow claims for those deprived of their trip and their money, if the magistrates subsequently decide that a banning order should not properly be made.
Being deprived of the right to travel is a considerable deprivation of liberty. We shall press for stipendiary magistrates to sit at airports when the powers are likely to be used. That will speed up the process of judicial decision-taking and minimise the time that people are held under suspicion by the police.
We have to decide whether the strong powers in the Bill are justified by the mischief to which they are addressed and whether they will work. We know that there are some serious loopholes. The first is the well documented Scottish loophole. Someone who has not yet had a banning order can avoid going through an English or Welsh airport or port by going to Scotland to travel to the continent, or wherever the match is taking place. Ministers suggested at an earlier stage that that loophole could be closed if the Scottish Parliament enacted similar legislation. Since then, Scottish Ministers have made it clear that they have no intention of doing so. Besides, they cannot possibly do so now, because the Scottish Parliament has already gone into recess.
1191 The Government are aware of the problem. That is why Englishmen—and, indeed, Scotsmen—will be prevented from travelling from Scotland while they are subject to restrictions by the police. This is not internal exile, but internal control of a type that the Government abolished for Northern Ireland comparatively recently with great trumpets. I am not sure what the precedents are for a Scotsman being prevented from travelling to Scotland by an English policeman on suspicion.
There is a similar Northern Ireland loophole. People could fly or drive to Northern Ireland and then go on to a European destination. Alternatively, they could cross over the land border to the Republic of Ireland and either go on from there or go directly to Dublin, if a match was being held there.
When challenged, the Home Secretary said that he understood about the Scottish and Irish loophole, but claimed that it did not matter much, because people could go to Spain in any case. That is true. If someone travels to Spain first when the match is in Germany, they are not likely to be picked up. That widens the loophole even further.
There is also a problem—I do not know whether it is a loophole—of recognition. Not all football hooligans will turn up at the airport dressed in their war paint and all the necessary gear for causing trouble. They may well come disguised in suits and carrying briefcases and, Lord preserve us, probably even mobile telephones. It will be difficult for the police to identify them in the crowds, particularly as they will need to be identified on first arrival at the airport, before they check in. Stopping someone after any baggage has been handed in and the ticket preliminaries have been dealt with at the check-in desk means stopping the whole flight to sort out the relevant baggage. I am sure that your Lordships will sometimes have seen this done when someone fails to turn up and one lot of baggage has to be taken out and everything else is spread out on the tarmac. If that should be caused by the police trying to stop a probable football hooligan dressed in a suit with a briefcase, I do not think it would make the police very popular on a busy weekend.
However, given all this and given the difficulties of the legislation, I hope that the noble Lord the Minister will tell us when he winds up, at least in broad terms, how many individuals he expects or believes will become subject to these orders in the first 12 months, or whatever period is deemed suitable. He gave us some figures, and the Home Secretary gave more figures, of those who went to Belgium and what happened to them and so on. We have had quite a lot of figures of a historical nature, but we do not know how effective this legislation is likely to be in terms of the numbers of people being prevented from going overseas and damaging our national reputation.
I assume that the Government have done a calculation of the numbers, because the explanatory memorandum tells us how much it will cost the magistrates' courts. They must have an idea of the 1192 number of hearings they expect to hold in order to arrive at the figure for the magistrates' courts. Therefore, I do not think I am asking the noble Lord the Minister for a figure that does not exist; I am only asking for a figure which we have not yet been given.
The noble Lord has made very clear once again the reason for the Government's sense of urgency over this matter; that is, the urgency they feel of the need not only to get this Bill through but also to get Parliament away for Recess perhaps before anything else goes wrong—and certainly before there are any more leaks from Downing Street. There are a number of questions to which I hope the noble Lord the Minister will be able to respond when he winds up. First, what is the opinion of the European Union authorities of this restriction of movement within the European Union? They have quite strong opinions about that and about freedom of movement, and this is clearly a restriction.
I find it difficult to understand, although I have read several clever bits of paper on the subject, how these very arbitrary powers can be consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. It would be helpful if we were told more about that and, for that matter, whether any of these powers are consistent with Article 12 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which also covers this kind of area.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I would be interested to know whether the Government intend to implement this of their own volition or whether we shall have to press for the implementation of all three of the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. They are all sensible recommendations, and your Lordships' House has a long tradition of carrying out sensible recommendations from that particular very distinguished Select Committee.
This Bill, as I say, is very much a rushed affair. It has important and very difficult—probably irremediable—loopholes. Nevertheless, we are prepared from these Benches to let the Government try this as an experiment, but not to place it permanently on the statute book. We shall also be doing our best in the limited time that will be available to us next week to improve the Bill but we are not going to stand in its way at this stage.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, at the great risk of irritating the noble Lord, Lord McNally—for which I apologise most sincerely—I think that the point made by my noble friend Lord Cope is important. The number of people to whom this might apply is so vital to this procedure that I am absolutely convinced that the polite and generous noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, will have the figures at his fingertips. Could he please let us know what they are before the debate continues?
§ Lord Cope of Berkeley
My Lords, I think perhaps that might be regarded as an intervention at the end of my speech and I am grateful for the support. I do not 1193 think, however, that the noble Lord the Minister will be able to respond immediately to my noble friend, so I shall sit down.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I shall endeavour to reply to the questions that have been raised at the closing-speech stage.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, I know that the noble Earl is very much a tease, but those of us with experience of another place are aware of the wrecking of ministerial speeches. It is a well-known tactic. I merely point out that if we reach a stage where, with our limited convention, interventions become the norm and we have speeches, as in the other place, which last for 20 minutes longer than they would normally do because there have been 20 or 30 interventions, usually from Members who want to get their name in Hansard without troubling to participate in the debate, then the nature of debates in this House will change.
One of the things I have found since coming to this House is that the general public now have a general appreciation of the quality of debates in this House and of our ability to listen at length to each other without nipping in with party political points and spur-of-the-moment interventions which disrupt so much of considered debate in the other place. I am willing to go down the slippery slope as far as the noble Earl: it is up to him. In the end I think it is your Lordships' House that will be the loser if we allow that to happen here.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Cope, I have been an unashamed football fan since the age of 10 when I watched Blackpool win the FA Cup on a nine-inch television set owned by a neighbour. Television technology has improved immensely since those days—alas, Blackpool Football Club has not but it has left me with a great love of the game. A moment of childhood which always remains in my mind is that sense of excitement as I ran up the steps of the Spion Kop at Blackpool on the third Saturday in August, knowing that as I reached the summit there was the field and there would be Stanley Matthews, Stanley Mortensen and Ernie Taylor, together with my other heroes who would be entertaining us for the next nine months.
Part of my concern about this Bill and this debate is that I want to see my children and their contemporaries getting as much enjoyment and pleasure from football as I have had during my lifetime. The noble Lord supports Brighton, and so we are fellow sufferers. As he rightly said, it is a beautiful game and one which needs protecting if it is not to be destroyed in a pincer movement between yobbery and greed.
I want football to be able to play what I believe is its positive role in our society, as an influence on youth in particular and on society at large, both nationally and internationally. Its potential for good, if properly run in all its aspects, is immense, and so none of us denies 1194 the need to stamp out the so-called yob culture which has attached itself to the game. Our doubts rest in the Government's haste in bringing this legislation before Parliament.
We are told that the Government need this legislation before England plays France in Paris in September. Indeed some cynics point out that by doing it this way the Government are in a win-win situation: trouble in Paris and the Government will have done their best; no trouble and the Government will take credit; if the Opposition delay the measure they carry the can. That is wonderful news-management politics, but in a sense that goes to the heart of the wider dilemma of this Government and their credibility. Are we dealing with a considered response or, to quote the Prime Minister, one of those "eye-catching initiatives" needed for short-term political ends?
There is not much use having a long inquest into whether the lack of action to date is the result of government miscalculation, inertia or opposition chicanery in the other place. Is the situation of such a serious and immediate nature that we should abandon normal parliamentary scrutiny and consideration? We have to judge whether the proposed measures get the balance right between the civil right of society to conduct its business free from the threat of violent behaviour and the threat to individual civil liberties posed by the Government's response.
To the first point—the Government's bounce, underpinned by the implication that we take the blame if anything goes wrong—my response is, so be it. The French and British police are not without powers to deal with public disorders. I have just watched the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, on television— somebody was watching. He pointed out that the police have a wide range of powers to deal with public disorder. So it is absurd to claim that Paris faces mayhem without the Bill.
The history of panic legislation is not good. This House and the other place put their rules and timetables in place for good reasons. There should be good reasons before we abandon them. I hope that the House will not be intimidated into cutting corners but will take as long as is necessary. The list of speakers indicates the degree of interest and concern. I give the Government no guarantee of safe passage until we have heard those concerns and the Government's response.
My noble friends Lord Goodhart and Lord Phillips of Sudbury, with their legal background, and others will be expressing our concerns in detail and will study the government amendments announced today. I will repeat the Liberal Democrat position, as expressed by my honourable friend Simon Hughes in the other place. We have always said that we wanted further legislation to deal with football hooliganism and that, in the UK context, the problem is a particularly English one—so we support the England and Wales context of the Bill.
We support the extension and interoperability of domestic and international bans. In that context, the courts should have the power to require the surrender 1195 of passports. However, banning orders must have the precondition of conviction. We question summary detention on the basis of a record that might not have involved a conviction or never involve one. As my honourable friend said, that would be a piece of legislation too far.
We will be tabling amendments relating to those issues, among others. We will not play politics with the Bill but seek to improve it. We will do so for the good of our national reputation, football and the ordinary citizen, who has a civil right to enjoy leisure and sport free from violence.
The Government must realise that law and order and civil liberties are not to be dealt with by gimmicks and eye-catching initiatives. We agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that the Government's proposed sunset clause of five years is far too long. We want the matter dealt with seriously. The legislation was announced three days before the famous World Cup vote at the behest, we are told, of Mr. Tony Banks in a late-night telephone call from Zurich. Is that the atmosphere in which to deal with fundamental rights concerning passports and travel?
I say to the Home Office and to No. 10 that there is no future in trying to out-Tory the Tories on a law and order issue. We used to laugh at Tory Home Secretaries when they turned up at Blackpool or Brighton to make their ritual abasement to the blue-rinse brigade. Now we are told that David Blunkett wants to be Home Secretary. According to the Sunday Times, his ambition will be to make Jack Straw look like a liberal.
There have been more signs in recent months of the Home Office, and the Home Secretary in particular, losing the plot on law and order and related civil liberty matters. All the more reason for the House to resist government bounce and intimidation. The Bill must be viewed in a wider context. It is no use pushing through emergency legislation while leaving contributory factors completely untouched. There is a crying need for those associated with football to put their house in order. The litany is familiar—players who employ cheating, dissent and violent play as part of their everyday game, as well as the coaches who instil and encourage such conduct. I make no apology for still seeing Stanley Matthews as a role model. I wonder how many youngsters today can find similar role models among modern footballers.
I call on the clubs to show at least the minimum of social responsibility to the communities from which they spring. The media, which encourage matches to be seen in terms of confrontation and international matches in terms of xenophobia and racism, must clean up their act. Channel 4 used time this week to devote a whole programme to the hard men of soccer and the best cheats in football. Is that the best use of media time? I think not.
Fans also have a role to play. They need to be more assertive in reclaiming their games from the yobs and disowning violence and racist language. I have sometimes been critical of Manchester United but I 1196 received an interesting letter from the chairman of that club's supporters' association. He makes the point that the experience of the association in dealing with such matters is ignored by government or the club. The fans must be involved and given ownership of the campaign against violence and racism. Our schools should be encouraged to set high standards—but for that, they will need playing fields on which to play.
There should be a close watch on appropriate measures to deal with alcohol. At two games in the European Cup alcohol consumption was dealt with differently, with a different outcome in terms of violence. The Dutch game was much better policed and better behaved than the Belgian game. Are there some lessons to be learned?
All is not gloom. The 5 per cent of television money going to grass roots soccer is a start, although far too little of the wealth flooding into football finds itself into the wider game. Before the lottery, the football pools paid more than 40 per cent of their income to the Football Trust or in direct taxation. The premiership league is capable of making a much bigger contribution to sport and its communities than it does now. It would help to have an independent football commission, which seems a long time coming into existence. All we know so far from the media is that Dr. Jack Cunningham is to be slotted into the chairmanship of that body and that Lord Faulkner of Worcester has been vetoed by the premiership from taking part. Instead of the Government bouncing Parliament with legislation that the Law Society describes ashalf-baked; a mixture of injustice and ineffectuality",perhaps they should give priority to creating a football commission with teeth, which would instil into the industry its share of responsibility for dealing with yobbery and violence in the game.
In the meantime, both on this Second Reading and in Committee, let this House do its duty. I find it a little strange riding into battle flanked by the noble Lords, Lord Tebbit and Lord Rees-Mogg. However, seeing him in his place, I have to say that I always think of the noble Lord, Lord Rees-Mogg, as the author of, "You Don't Break a Butterfly on a Wheel", so I know that his credentials on civil liberties are strong and of long standing. As I said, I have already passed the "Tebbit test" in that, with increasing gloom, my eyes go to the Blackpool result first on Saturday afternoons.
I find that what both those noble Lords have said on these matters reflects much more closely the duties and responsibilities of this House than do some of the remarks of Home Office Ministers. Those responsibilities have special regard to the protection of civil liberties and the rule of law, given the expertise that resides in this House on those subjects. So I say to Ministers that we shall discharge our duties at all stages of this Bill in the days ahead. We can offer them no safe conduct for the Bill, but a rigorous examination before we make a final decision.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts
My Lords, in common with many other noble Lords, I am a frequent purchaser of raffle tickets. I am not usually very successful, but no charitable or political function that I attend appears to be complete without this particular fund-raising event. However, my luck changed a few weeks ago and I was successful in winning a first prize that turned out to be an hour's private flying instruction. When I presented myself to collect my prize last week, I asked the instructor whether this was not a dangerous way to earn a living. He assured me that it was not, so long as one remembered two golden rules: first, that one should "treat the air with respect at all times"; and, secondly, that most accidents take place at take off and landing, so one had to be particularly vigilant at those times.
It occurred to me that that was pretty good advice for a maiden speaker in your Lordships' House—behave with respect at all times and exercise particular care at take off and landing. If I may say so, there was also a further similarity. When, at 750 feet over the airfield, the instructor said, "I think it's time that you had a go now", took his hands of the controls and sat back, I experienced the same mixture of exhilaration and terror that I am currently experiencing in your Lordships' House. No maiden speaker could fail to experience exhilaration and terror. It is not just the splendour of the surroundings, although it is that; it is not just the ghosts of the past looking down on one, although it is that as well: it is the knowledge that one is speaking before a body of individuals of all political persuasions and of none, with the widest possible range of knowledge and skills who are all bound together by the single silken thread of a lifetime of commitment to the public life of this country. In those circumstances, I am sure that every maiden speaker should be properly humble.
I was, perhaps, ready for that in part, but what I was not ready for was the way that noble Lords—again, from all sides of the House—have been so kind and encouraging to a new boy on his arrival. That applies not only to noble Lords but also to the staff of the House, who have dealt with my no doubt repetitious and silly questions with extraordinary courtesy and grace.
Having thus wobbled my plane uncertainly off the runway, I turn now to the matter under discussion. I begin by saying that I quite understand and support the strategic objective of this piece of legislation. No one who watched the televised scenes of what happened in Charleroi and Brussels with our fellow countrymen half dressed, or worse, half drunk, or worse and hurling abuse, or worse, at innocent passers-by, can have failed to feel a sense of deep shame. But I hope that it will not be considered provocative for a maiden speaker to seek of the Minister enlightenment and clarification on just a few points.
The first point, which has already been raised, relates to the difficult balance to be struck between the right of a citizen to travel freely and the need to 1198 maintain public order. Obviously I am particularly concerned here about the proposed powers in Clause 1(1)(d). My concerns are only partially addressed by the announcement of the "sunset clause" proposal. Even convicted hooligans, reprehensible though their conduct may be, have rights. As I understand it, we are not considering convicted hooligans with a record; we are considering would-be hooligans, could-be hooligans or even might-be hooligans, and how much more important it is that their rights should be protected.
Therefore, when the Minister responds, I should be grateful if he could give his view on that balance and on the point made by my noble friend Lord Cope of Berkeley about the effectiveness of the powers contained in Clause 1(1)(d). Perhaps he could also say how the determined malefactor—and these malefactors are undoubtedly determined—will be prevented and how the Scottish, the Irish and the Spanish bolt-holes, to which reference has been made, can be properly closed. If they cannot be closed, it will mean that this provision falls only on the ordinary law-abiding citizen whose freedom is, in this small but significant way, greatly diminished.
My second point relates to relationships between the police and the public and this legislation's impact on them. Recent public opinion surveys have indicated that public trust and confidence in the police have declined. The reasons for this are many and various, but I regret the result. It seems to me that a close relationship between the police and the public is an essential part of an effective fight against crime. I am concerned that these powers will put further stress on that relationship. The identification and detention of individuals will inevitably be seen by those individuals as being capricious—rightly so, if the courts do not subsequently uphold the view of the police. Of course, by that time, the plane or ferry will have departed and the match may well have taken place.
It is not just the impact on the individual; the individual has friends, family and work mates. Therefore, there will be a rippling effect of these cases whereby increasingly large groups of individuals feel and take a more jaundiced view of the police and will, perhaps, be less inclined to afford their co-operation to them in other ways. I hope that the Minster will, confirm—and will not mind my asking—whether he believes this price to be worth paying.
In conclusion, when I heard that I might be invited to join your Lordships' House, one of the reasons that I felt particularly honoured was that it seemed to me as an outsider—which I was until a few short weeks ago—that this House had sought always to take the long view. I emphasise the fact that I say this in no party-political sense: I say it in a constitutional sense. Your Lordships' House has stood out for essential principles, while governments of both colours in another place perforce, and probably rightly, have been blown very strongly by the ephemeral winds of political expediency. As a maiden speaker, I have to bow to your Lordships' judgment as to whether in all respects in this piece of legislation it is principle or political expediency that has triumphed.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Lord Ackner
My Lords, when I am likely to speak in a debate and, therefore, will be placed on the speakers' list, I usually look at the list initially without wearing my glasses because I can still find my own name. Having discovered where I am on the list, I then put on my glasses and view the team. On this occasion, I noticed that I was relatively high up the list and congratulated myself on having achieved that privileged position. However, when I studied the list with the aid of my glasses, I saw that my privilege had been greatly enhanced by the maiden speaker who was due to speak immediately in front of me. I knew that the noble Lord's past experience in business, in finance and in the Conservative Party, and even his pastimes as revealed in Who's Who—an interesting mixture of squash, fishing and theatre—would be productive of a very interesting maiden speech.
I congratulate him as an advocate. He first of all complimented his audience, so that they were relaxed and feeling genial towards him; and he then provided an amusing speech that captured everyone. It is an indication that we have many good times to look forward to—which is not always the case.
I do not think I shall take up much of your Lordships' time. I say that as probably my best point. The summary measures in the proposed new Section 21 involve a potentially serious interference with civil liberties. The Home Secretary clearly recognised that the powers could be abused, and he has provided in the Bill restraints on the exercise of those powers with a view to preventing those abuses.
The restraints come under two categories. First, there are the time restraints. Under proposed new Section 21A(3), the powers of detention are limited to four hours, increased to six hours if backed by an inspector or a more senior officer; and the application for the banning order must be made within 24 hours to the appropriate magistrates' court. These are important restraints and ones which, no doubt, will be generally viewed as most helpful.
The next category of restraint is the information that is to be given to the respondent to enable him to contest the allegations made against him. I am grateful to the Minister for having listened to my rather diffident comments with such sympathy at his meeting and for having reflected—or hoped to have reflected—what I was seeking to say in proposed new Sections 21A and 21B. I was anxious that he should achieve compliance with one of the first rules of natural justice—namely, that you must be given the complete information in regard to what you are charged with; what you have to meet; what you must be prepared to refute when you come to court.
The Minister has purported to reflect this initially in proposed new Section 21A(2), which states:The constable may detain the person in his custody…until he has decided whether or not to issue a notice under section 21B below, and shall give the person his reasons for detaining him in writing".I did not ask for that obligation because the constable's response can be perfectly properly given: "My reasons are that I have reasonable grounds for 1200 suspecting that you, the respondent, have at some time caused or contributed or been involved in violence or disorder, and I have reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order in your case would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches". Those are basically the reasons which the officer would be perfectly properly entitled to give.
What he should be obliged to give is quite simply what one frequently obliges a defendant in a civil case to give—and it has been stressed that this part of the proceedings is a civil procedure—and that is what is known as further and better particulars. What should be provided under proposed new Section 21A(2) is not the reasons but full particulars of the facts and matters relied upon in support of his suspicion as proposed in new Section 21A(1)(a) and in support of his belief as proposed in new Section 21A(1)(b). Then you have a clear statement of the case you have to meet. Without that obligation you have not obliged him so to provide.
I come to proposed new Section 21B. It seems to me that the proposed new section has two defects. In proposed new Section 21B(2), on page 9, we see that the obligation is,The constable may give the person a notice in writing requiring him"—and then it is set out what is required—and stating the grounds referred to in section 21A(1)".The first defect is that the proposed new Section 21B(2) does not state that,The constable may"—and I interpolate these words, "on the grounds set out in section 21A", and then read on—give the person a notice in writing".The proposed new section does not provide the initial basis, the initial justification, which entitles him to give a notice at all.
This is in contrast with what one finds in the explanatory notes at page 4, paragraph 22, which states:Section 21B empowers a constable in uniform, during a control period, to issue a notice to any person on the grounds set out in section 21A".That is absent from proposed new Section 21B. That is the first defect—a drafting defect which is easily remedied.
But again we have the same rather strange proposition that he must state the grounds referred to in proposed new Section 21A(1). In proposed new Section 21A he has to state "the reasons"; we now change to "the grounds"—quite why I do not know. The obligation should be similar to the proposed new Section 21A. You should set out a full statement providing the facts and matters relied upon in support of the suspicion or the belief. Unless you set out a statement of those facts and matters you have not provided the respondent with the case he has to meet.
I am sure that the Minister will be prepared to make the alterations I have suggested. It may be said that I can raise this issue in Committee. Of course I can. But we are adopting not a fast-track but super fast-track 1201 procedure. In order to assist the Minister with speed, when we come on Monday to the Committee stage, I hope in his initial speech he will confirm that the corn plaints I have made have been accepted and will be met in the manner that I have suggested. Of course, if I can be of assistance to the Minister by the use of my fading legal skills, I should be only too happy. Until those defects are remedied, this is a defective way of answering the major natural justice obligation of telling the accused what the complaint against him really is.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, it is my privilege to be the first from these Benches to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, on his excellent maiden speech. I am sure that I speak for all my noble friends on this side when I say how much we enjoyed it and look forward to many more contributions from him. The noble Lord was, as I recall, a famous by-election victor in the 1970s when we had a Labour Government which was rather more unpopular than this one. I know that he had a distinguished career on the voluntary side of his party thereafter. We look forward to hearing from him many times in the future. Before I turn to the Bill, I should like also to respond to the kind words of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, about myself.
All I would say about the Government's plans for football regulation is that the final whistle has not yet been blown, the game is still going on, and there may be some changes before the match ends. It seems a little odd for one of the regulated bodies to be seeking to exercise a veto over who the Government wish to have as their regulator. I say no more about that, at this stage anyway.
This is a rather depressing occasion. It is a necessary occasion. But I think that all of us would wish it was not necessary to have to bring forward a Bill of this type. Fresh in noble Lords' minds will be those terrible television scenes from Charleroi and Brussels just a few weeks ago. Had those scenes been an aberration, an isolated incident which was not going to reoccur, it might have been possible to say that the Bill was unnecessary or its provisions excessive. That is not the case. In preparing for the debate, I asked the Library to provide some information for me on incidents involving English fans abroad. When I read through the history of the past 25 years or so, I was struck by how frequently incidents have occurred, and how similar, predictable and how utterly ineffective have been the reactions of the football authorities and the government of the time to them.
There were appalling scenes of disorder in Luxembourg in 1977, in Turin in 1980, in Basle and in Oslo in 1981, in Paris in 1984, in West Germany in 1988, during the 1990 World Cup in Italy, in Sweden in 1992 and in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 1993. In Dublin in 1995 there was crowd violence at a so-called friendly match and the match had to be abandoned after 27 minutes. There was trouble in 1997 in Rome, in Marseilles during the last World Cup and in Glasgow in November last year. Then we have 1202 Charleroi and Brussels. These were not one-off incidents; there is a continued pattern of violent behaviour. It is up to all of us to see what we can do about it.
I was present on a number of those occasions. I understand—I hope your Lordships will understand—why, when one sees what is going on around one, that watching England abroad has ceased to be a pleasure. I am sick and tired of having to apologise to my hosts for the bizarre drunken behaviour of my fellow citizens; having to express regret for the damage done to cafés, bars and restaurants in normally peaceful and pleasant city centres; explaining that not everyone who follows football in England is a racist or a nationalist bigot; and reassuring them that no one really takes seriously the xenophobic rubbish which appears in our tabloid newspapers—I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, referred to that in his speech—regarding the way they describe foreign football teams. Indeed, only a month ago they were still managing to refer to Germans as "Huns".
In the face of all that, the attitude of our friends in European football bodies has been extraordinarily restrained and remarkably friendly. They have attempted to help us. I recall that during the time that English clubs were banned from European Cup matches in the late 1980s, after the disaster at the Heysel stadium in 1985, the then president of UEFA, offered some helpful, and in view of the proposals in the Bill, remarkably prescient advice to us. I read from a report of the Independent of 12th March 1987:The President of UEFA is to go over the FA's heads and ask the British government for a change of mind on the vexed issue of hooligans' passports".He said he was asking the FA chairman to go back to his government and seek action to stop these people coming to the Continent. He said:It is said that there is difficulty in telling who is a hooligan and who is not. But you have them in the courts, don't you? You know who they are. So why can nothing be done?I know the government will quote to me the Treaty of Rome. They will talk of liberty. But is it right that dangerous people should be allowed to leave your shores?That was 13 years ago. There has been much broken glass on the streets and the squares of Europe since then.
It is important to understand that there is now a great difference between crowd behaviour in our domestic game in Great Britain and what happens when England plays abroad. Crowd behaviour here is now dramatically better than it was in the 1970s or the 1980s and the early 1990s for a whole variety of reasons, which I shall not go into this afternoon. But while that improvement has taken place domestically, the hard core of trouble-makers who follow the England national team have continued on their merry way. Indeed, their behaviour has got worse. So the test that the Bill must pass is whether it will solve this problem. I do not believe that it will solve it in every circumstance. I think that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Cope, is being a little unfair when he talks about loopholes, because loopholes will inevitably let 1203 through a small number of people. But will the Bill solve the problem in a material way and make a real difference?
I was worried when I read the first draft of the Bill and the early statements from the Home Office about the civil liberty aspects. I was much reassured by the changes which were made in another place, and particularly following the meeting which many noble Lords attended on 10th July when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, made important contributions which have had such a material effect.
However, I am concerned that representatives of football supporters—I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, referred to them—feel that they have been inadequately consulted about this legislation. The two official groups have played positive and responsible roles in helping to tackle the game's social problems, particularly in the battle against racism. The contribution which the Football Supporters Association has made in organising and running unofficial "embassies" for fans in foreign cities where England has been playing has been outstanding. The help and comfort which these embassies have provided for decent fans, who through no fault of their own find themselves in trouble abroad, has been very important and helpful.
The Football Supporters Association sent me a note this morning. It said that it has statements from over 70 fans who were arrested in Belgium and deported. The fans say that they were deported,for no other reason that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.The vast majority of those we have spoken to had not even witnessed any trouble and were bewildered to find themselves behinds bars. Some were tourists who were not even aware that a football match was taking place.I was greatly reassured that there was no question of automatically imposing banning orders on everyone who was deported from Belgium. I believe I speak for the Minister when I say that. Equally though, it is important that those responsible for that disorder are dealt with and are banned from domestic and international football. There should be enough video footage and first-hand accounts to identify the majority of them. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Bassam will take seriously the concerns expressed about the Bill by supporters. I would hope that a number of their concerns have been addressed by the amendments which have already been made to it.
I also ask my noble friend to take a closer look at the England Members Club. It is run by the Football Association and provides the principal, and often the only, official route for fans to buy tickets for matches abroad. There is much anecdotal evidence that club members, despite being enjoined by the rules to,behave in a responsible manner at all times",and to dress "moderately"—the rules do not say what that means—have been involved in some of the worst incidents of violence and offensive behaviour in recent 1204 years. In a colourful piece in the Observer on 13th February this year, Mr Charlie Whelan, in his new role as newspaper columnist and pundit, claimed:During the World Cup in France the people who caused the most trouble inside the stadiums were those in the section allocated to the England Members Club".In the same piece Mr Whelan went on to claim that many of the worst examples of right-wing bigotry also involved club members.
Earlier this month the FA published some media briefing notes on football hooliganism. They contained a commitment on measures to be taken by the football authorities over the coming weeks. I regret, however, that there was no suggestion that the FA would review the membership of the club and include in the rules a description of the forms of behaviour which would give automatic grounds for expulsion. I see from press reports that the working group being established by my noble friend will take a close look at the England Members Club. I greatly welcome that.
We have put up with this deeply unpleasant and peculiarly English problem for far too long. It has damaged our national reputation and it has also had a debilitating effect on the performance of the England national team, although that is rather secondary to the other issues that we are considering today. So I wish my noble friend well. He is the latest Home Office Minister to try to tackle it. This is an initiative which deserves to succeed and I hope that your Lordships will support him.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, it is a convention of the House that congratulations to maiden speakers should be confined to the two speakers immediately following them. I have rarely been more frustrated by the conventions of the House. But I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, will forgive me for abiding by them.
I should like also to offer my thanks to the Minister and to the Home Secretary for the meeting on 10th July and for the publication of the draft Bill. Those two measures were extremely helpful and they are a precedent which I hope may be followed.
I understand that something needs to be done about football crowds and football supporters. My home tube station is on the way to Wembley. In the days of the late and unlamented home internationals, going home was sometimes a rather worrying process. I shall never forget one occasion when I was cataloguing a collection of historical manuscripts whose value was well into six figures. I was taking them home to work on them while they were still the property of the noble Lord who was selling them. I had forgotten that England were playing The Netherlands at Wembley. In changing trains at Finchley Road, I needed all the half-remembered skills of the other form of football. So I know that something needs to be done.
I should like also to offer a small word of warning about the word "hooligan". One of my graduate students discovered the origins of the word: 1205 Captain Patrick Hooligan, an Irish officer in the British Army, who led a Jacobite riot in Southwark in 1716 and was executed for treason. The original hooligan was another Captain Paddy. The word also has some distinct anti-Irish overtones. As the Home Secretary rightly dislikes racist use of language, I wonder whether I might ask him to beware of the possible anti-Irish implications of the word "hooligan".
Why is the Bill confined only to football? Disorder has a nasty habit of migrating from one place to another. I recall the days when I used to think that betting was about horse-racing. If we drive disorder out of football, it may well go somewhere else. I am tempted to put down an amendment in Committee to delete the word "association" from the Long Title. The Minister might save the time of the House later today if he were able to show me why that is, in his opinion, unnecessary. But I will say that single purpose, single issue legislation reminds me of the remark of a colleague, an 18th century parliamentary historian, who commented that 18th century MPs were always bringing in legislation about the thing which had just happened to them. The MP who had had his turnips stolen introduced a Bill to bring in the death penalty for stealing turnips, never thinking that the catastrophe which happened one year to his turnips might happen the following year to his potatoes. So we might think about whether we need a rather more general framework for dealing with disorder.
It also strikes me more and more, in what is still the short but no longer very short time I have been in the House, that one thing is even worse than rushed legislation; that is legislation addressed obsessively to a single purpose. When we legislate, we touch a cat's-cradle of interlocking rights, powers, duties and habits. If you pull one thread in a cat's-cradle, you can create great confusion. I think, for example, of the way it was not perceived that bringing in the poll tax would create what is now council tax benefit. I think of the CSA in all its various incarnations. When the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, referred to loopholes, he may have been a little optimistic. Loopholes have been found in legislation which have occasionally made some pieces of legislation totally ineffective. One of the effects of legislating only for a single purpose is that one does not spot the loopholes. There is some cause for concern in that respect.
I am also still concerned about Clause 3—the Henry VIII clause. I have read the report of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. I congratulate the committee on the speed with which it has reported. I notice that the committee's remarks are on the whole reassuring. I take the committee's point about it being bound by Clause 3(1). But I should like to ask—this is the question of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale—what is the difference between transitional and transitory powers? In the eyes of the theologian, anything on this earth is transitory. I wonder exactly what that means. I should be grateful if we could have a little more precise declaration about what actually could be done under these vires. The Bill says that the Home Secretary may 1206 do anything which he considers necessary. Home Secretaries have considered some fairly odd things before now. I want to know how much could be done with the provision.
I am a little concerned about Clause 6(2)—the devolution clause. It states:But the amendment or repeal by this Act of an enactment extending to Scotland or Northern Ireland also extends to Scotland or, as the case may be, Northern Ireland".That is potentially a very large coach and horses driven through the Northern Ireland legislation and the Scotland Act. I am concerned about what may be done under it.
The power to confiscate a passport, which is the major part of the Bill, is a moderately serious matter. It is prohibited by Clause 41 of Magna Carta. Before anyone says that that is an entirely antiquarian matter, Magna Carta was last invoked in the United States Supreme Court as recently as 1955 in order to stop a McCarthyite denial of a passport to a nuclear scientist, which illustrates the point that powers of this kind may on occasion be used for political purposes.
I am not a fundamentalist. It is a well-established legal point that, as Parliament is sovereign, Parliament may amend Magna Carta. I am—with a little reluctance, I must confess—prepared on this occasion to agree that Parliament may amend Magna Carta. I am prepared to accept new Section 14A in Schedule 1 to the Bill which deals with people who have committed a known offence.
However, I am a little worried by the mandatory character of the legislation. I can recall an occasion on which, thankfully, I was not prosecuted. As an undergraduate I attended a party where, unbeknownst to any of us, the drinks had been heavily laced with vodka, which is of course tasteless. The only person to leave that party sober was Mr Brian Walden, who was so busy discussing the future of the Labour Party that he never had time to finish his first glass. I was carried out of hall on the shoulders of the head scout, who rejoiced in the name of Baskerville. In other circumstances I might have found myself in the court. To suffer a mandatory penalty for that incident would, I should like to think, have been unjust. I hope that the Minister might perhaps agree with that.
My major problem rests with cases of suspicion, covered by new Sections 14B and 14C. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, with all his allegedly failing legal powers—that was a wonderful piece of acting—laid his hand most gently on what I think is the central flaw in the Bill. He asked about the "further and better particulars". The central problem as regards these new sections on suspicion is that one wants to know what type of evidence would be material to put in such further and better particulars.
It would be no good to say, "They are wearing football colours". That proves only that people wanted to go to the match, which is a perfectly lawful activity. It would be no good to say, "They are associated with a lot of disorderly people". 1207 Association, in this country, is not a crime. What kind of thing could, hypothetically, be introduced in evidence to justify the suspicion?
I have thought of one or two possible parallels in English law: the old offence of loitering with intent to commit a felony. There we might find some cases. If someone was found to be lurking in a dark alley opposite a jeweller's shop, carry a jemmy, a mask, gloves and a dark lantern, one might have reasonable grounds for suspicion that that person was loitering with intent to break into the jeweller's opposite. Alternatively, my great grandfather once found one of his servants heating the poker until it was red hot. He asked him what he was going to do with it. The servant replied, "T'kill kitchen maid". There, too, I think one might reasonably have a warrantable suspicion.
However, what I cannot see is any equivalent warrantable suspicion to be introduced here. That is why I think that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, was absolutely right to say that the power will be seen to be capricious in its exercise and will therefore do grave harm to police public relations. That is something that I do not think we should do. Where there is no coherent ground of suspicion, inevitably we shall see stereotyping, on which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, spoke so well when we debated the Lawrence report.
Precedents have been set for "suspicion". When Roman Catholics used to be arrested on suspicion of their intent to follow the example of Guy Fawkes, people did not think that it was proper to arrest them for being suspected of being Roman Catholics. However, it was acceptable to arrest them if they were suspected of being "vehemently" Roman Catholic. It has been said to me that "vehemently" is not a 20th century word, but I am sure that the Home Secretary could find an appropriate translation.
I fear that that is how this legislation is going to work. We should look at how it was used as regards 17th century Roman Catholics. If they were local gentlemen, they were almost never convicted. If they were the Duke of Norfolk, they were never convicted. If they were respectable neighbours, they were rarely convicted. If they were "furriners"; that is, people from the next parish, they might quite often be convicted. If they were Irish, they were almost always convicted. When one is focusing suspicion with little to go on, one tends to use stereotypes. That is one reason why I believe that it is dangerous to introduce it into English law.
I take the point made by the Minister and the Home Secretary that many of the people who were involved in the recent disorder had no previous criminal records. Under the existing provisions, it would not have been possible to stop them. However, I need to be satisfied that, if we introduce these powers, they will catch more guilty people than innocent ones. Until I can be satisfied of that, I do not see any good ground 1208 on which to let them through. If the Minister can satisfy me on that point, I shall be very much reassured.
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, perhaps I may mention one point in relation to his fascinating speech. He suggested that we should amend Magna Carta. We cannot do that. Magna Carta was formulated before we ever had a Parliament. All that we can do is to amend that legislation which, in later years when we did have a Parliament, implemented Magna Carta.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, the noble Lord is of course correct in relation to present legislation. However, 17th century Parliaments treated Magna Carta, in its 1229 version, as being an Act of Parliament. I spoke loosely and I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Lord Tebbit
My Lords, one of the wonderful features of this House is that a debate on football hooligans can embrace an exchange of the kind we have just heard on the 17th century interpretation of Magna Carta.
I regret that I must offer an apology to the House. I shall have to leave not too long after I have made my contribution. If I explain to noble Lords that I have undertaken to dine this evening with both my wife and my secretary to celebrate the latter's birthday, I think that noble Lords will understand the perils of not complying with that commitment.
Because statements of one kind or another about football seem to be de rigueur, I shall plead guilty to having once attended a professional football match. It took place, I think, in 1953, in Edinburgh between Hearts and Hibs. The experience led me to conclude that I never wished to attend another football match in my life. Perhaps I may say that hooliganism at football matches did not start only in the last 20 years.
Like the noble Earl, Lord Russell, I, too, have found myself in difficult circumstances, although not so well equipped. On a Saturday night I was travelling home from Merseyside in a train filled with Millwall supporters whose team had lost that day. I have to say, however, that although they were extraordinarily drunk, they were extraordinarily well behaved.
I doubt whether any noble Lord would not want to see an end to hooliganism, but, as has been made plain, a good many noble Lords have considerable reservations about the Bill. First—I find myself once again in agreement with the noble Earl—I regret that the Bill is so limited in its ambition. It is not a Bill about hooliganism or even about "drunks throwing traffic cones around". It is a Bill about football hooliganism.
It is not even a Bill to prevent football hooliganism in our cities but rather to keep our hooligans here at home rather than on the loose on the Continent. In its scope, its defects are those of omission rather than commission. In my view, however, the most serious defects are in the nature and extent of the powers it would grant to authorities to penalise individuals outside the normal judicial process.
1209 I should say that, since the publication of the draft Bill, the willingness of the Home Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, to meet and listen to Members of both Houses and to respond to some of their concerns has been both wise and welcome.
The Home Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, deserve sympathy at having the Bill dumped on them in such great haste so late in the year. We hardly need DNA testing to establish its true parentage. We know that the Home Secretary was on the circulation list of the Prime Minister's famous minute of 29th April, which stated:as ever we arc lacking a tough public message … we should think now of an initiative — e.g. locking up street muggers".I thought that somebody had thought of that before now.
The Prime Minister called for "eye-catching initiatives". The Home Secretary did his bit and what we have is exactly what the Prime Minister asked for. Legislating in that manner, in response to such vapourings, in haste, on such a narrow front and so obsessively about one small issue of law and order—it is small—produces ill-conceived and badly drafted legislation. Weak men, wanting to appear tough, look rather like Norman Wisdom dressed as Superman. As Mr Gould acknowledged, that leads to public derision.
The problem for us legislators, however, is that the clamour for tough measures threatens to produce unjust measures. I believe that none of us has any problem with the first two of the main four measures proposed: the combining of domestic and international banning orders—that seems sensible—and the empowering of magistrates' courts to impose a banning order to prevent violence or disorder associated with particular football matches.
The third and fourth measures, however, give concern. I hope noble Lords will understand my embarrassment at finding myself in the same bed as the civil rights lobby. It is made bearable only by the thought of their embarrassment at having me there with them. Perhaps it might cause Ministers to reflect and consider whether they might have misjudged the matter. Perhaps I may instance my concern.
Schedule 1 amends the Football Spectators Act 1989. I am surprised that nobody else has noticed that this provision falls under new Section 14B. Is my recollection at fault or was it not Section 14B which was used during the war to put away Oswald Mosley and others on the evidence of officials?
§ Lord Tebbit
My Lords, I apologise; I am wrong. None the less, it has a relevance. New Section 14B relates to the applications for banning orders. It states the condition that,the respondent has at any time (whether before or after the commencement of this section)",which is rather worrying,caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere".1210 It states "any". Would a person involved in a disorderly incident in a field of genetically modified maize, or perhaps even illegal squatting, be caught by Section 14B(2)?
§ Lord Tebbit
My Lords, it is suggested from the Liberal Benches by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, that it would. That seems to be extraordinary. What connection is there between the two matters? If that is the case, that seems to be fundamentally wrong.
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. However, it is not even as simple as that. If you drive someone to a field of genetically modified crops in which there were disorderly activities you would have contributed to disorder and that too would be caught. You do not even need to get your hands dirty, so to speak.
§ Lord Tebbit
My Lords, it is even worse than I believed. I am grateful for the intervention. It shows that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, is not always right on such matters.
After that, it only requires that the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder. Then the court must make a banning order. Again, I find that slightly doubtful by my standards of how the law should operate. This all rests on a belief about what a man might do, not so much on what he has done, even to the extent that it requires some belief that he might have done something.
New Section 14C also allows a court to take account of a deportation or exclusion from a country outside the United Kingdom. I am greatly encouraged by what was said earlier. The Government have intended to ensure that that would not mean that perfectly innocent people rounded up by the Belgian "hooligan police" and having their passport stamped that they had been excluded from Belgium would thereafter fall foul of this law. Clearly, many of them were absolutely innocent. Certainly, they have not been convicted under British law of any crime. That would have amounted to accepting the word of a Belgian police officer, not even a Belgian court, as to a man's character and his convictions.
Further on, at page 9, line 28, we come to another matter to which reference has already been made. I refer to the new section to be inserted into the 1989 Act. That would give wide powers to constables to prevent people leaving England and Wales and force them to give up their passports. It does not even require the word of a chief police officer, only an authorisation by an inspector, provided that the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that the conditions at Section 14B(2) are met. I can add nothing to that which has not already been said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner.
1211 I wonder, too, what are the precedents for preventing a man, perhaps a Scot, from going home to Scotland, which is what this Bill can do. Perhaps he is perfectly innocent. He may have been a bit of a tearaway in his youth and may even have tattoos on his arms, or something unseemly such as that. The Bill would give powers to prevent him going home to Scotland. The noble Lord looks incredulous, but that is what it does. Curiously, it does not prevent an Ulsterman from going home to Ulster. Perhaps I might say to the noble Earl that there is no anti-Irish ethic there.
I have considerable concerns, too, as to whether an offence of driving under the influence of drink or drugs on the way to a football match should necessarily be translated into an offence of football-related disorder. These are separate matters. Because one has committed an offence under the Road Traffic Act, one should not therefore be found guilty of an offence of football hooliganism in the future.
As I read all this, it struck me that a few years ago, during the coal strike, there were the most severe disorders which this country had seen for many years. There were flying pickets, mass picketing and violent picketing. All those matters were dealt with within the existing law without taking extra powers. We are now looking at a question of football hooliganism by a relatively limited number of people and taking these extraordinary powers to change the very nature of English justice to deal with them. It would be a pity to grant powers that were not needed during the coal strike just to deal with these matters.
I hope that the Government will think again. Above all, I hope that they will tell our friends on the Continent that much of this problem has grown up as a result of their failure to prosecute and punish hooligans who commit offences in their countries. They cannot complain excessively about us failing to keep our hooligans at home when they fail to prosecute and punish them for offences committed in their lands.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Lord Hoyle
My Lords, in following the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, for the first time in this place, if not in the other place, I must tell him that he was unfortunate in his choice of a football game that put him off forever. As anyone would have told him, Hibs versus Hearts is not a fixture for any neutral spectator. It is known for being rather partisan. So I am sorry that the noble Lord went down that track.
The noble Lord, Lord McNally, claimed that he was a football supporter, and that he supported Blackpool. I feel that I have stronger claims in supporting Bolton in recent years. Both of us have a right to speak on football matters. My interest in sport is well known—although on other games the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, and I do not always agree. While civil liberties supporters might indeed be rather surprised to have the noble Lord on their side, they might also be surprised that we are on opposite sides in relation to the Bill.
1212 Something had to be done about this problem. Much has been said about why we should not introduce such a measure. But we should examine the issue behind the Bill. It is not one of locking people away, except for perhaps a few hours; and cases must be brought to court within 24 hours. It is a matter not of sending anyone to prison, but of preventing people watching the football game. Although I bow to no one in terms of people's rights, certainly when it comes to civil liberties, we should keep the matter in perspective.
The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, spoke of hooliganism and disorder at home. I must remind the noble Lord that, at present, there is a disparate atmosphere at football matches in this country. There is rarely any disorder at home matches. It is a question of dealing with those who travel to matches abroad, in many cases not just to watch the match but to cause disorder and to make xenophobic and racist remarks. That was brought home to us during Euro 2000. It is right to introduce this Bill. We have another match coming up against France. It is right also, in relation to the club matches that will be played and other international matches that are in the pipeline, that we should begin to consider what can be done.
The Bill has been improved in another place. Given the concern expressed by Members of this House, I have no doubt that it will also be improved during its passage through this place. Many believe that four or five years is too long a period. But if the Home Secretary wants to change or strengthen the requirement, he must give a reason and provide written evidence before bringing in an order to do so. So the Bill has been strengthened by provisions introduced in another place.
We found during Euro 2000 that, of the 965 who were arrested, only 30 were known football hooligans. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, that of those who were there, 40 per cent had previous criminal convictions. In other words, 391 of the 965 had previous convictions, and the majority of those were for public order offences, not necessarily, as the noble Lord was right in saying, football-related offences. My noble friend came before the House prior to the matches taking place and talked about the measures that the Government had taken to prevent known hooligans from travelling abroad. Their success is clear in that the figure was only 30. It is not those people who will cause trouble overseas; it is others with an interest in violence or racism, or in causing disturbances. I do not see why genuine football supporters and holidaymakers, or residents of the towns or cities where matches are played, should have their pleasure disrupted by people travelling abroad whose real interest is xenophobia rather than watching a football match. That is why I welcome this legislation.
Let us examine the Bill carefully to see whether we, too, can make further improvements that will safeguard civil liberties. Several speakers have asked whether it is right that the police should have such powers; and what makes them think that a particular person has committed acts of violence or will cause disorder? At the end of the day, this measure is about 1213 preventing people from going to matches abroad who will bring not only football but this country into disrepute if they are allowed to travel.
We also have a duty to the country that is hosting the matches to try to prevent disturbances if possible. It is right that we should provide the police with these powers. As I said, a third of those charged had convictions for violence and public disorder but not connected with football. I give way to the noble Lord.
§ Lord Tebbit
My Lords, I am sorry to intervene, but does the noble Lord happen to know what percentage of young men aged around 25 in the population at large have convictions for violence or public order offences? It may be an alarmingly high percentage.
§ Lord Hoyle
My Lords, I do not doubt that the noble Lord is right. Unfortunately, given the society in which we live, this is a recurring problem. Alarming figures are published for those charged with one offence or another—although the offences are not normally violent, those people will have appeared before a court before they are 30.
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, the figure for men under 30 convicted of offences of violence or dishonesty is in excess of 30 per cent.
§ Lord Hoyle
That is right, my Lords. But we have allowed many among that 30 per cent to travel abroad. What we seek to do is to deal with the matter in this country and to prevent those people travelling overseas. Is anyone suggesting that we should turn a blind eye because a similar percentage of people are arrested in this country? Surely that is not a logical argument. If we can begin to prevent such people travelling abroad and causing trouble, we should do so. I was merely quoting the percentage of those arrested. The offences may follow the pattern in this country, but it behoves us to take any steps that we can to prevent it occurring.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. It follows from the observation of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, that this Bill will allow the police to stop 30 per cent of the population under 25 from going to a football match simply on suspicion.
§ Lord Hoyle
My Lords, I do not agree with that. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, can speak for himself. I see the noble Lord shaking his head in disagreement. If we can take measures to improve relationships between this country and others we should do so. I do not claim for a moment that the disturbances resulted in the UK being unable to host the next World Cup. Many say it is probable that the decision as to that had been taken before the disturbances. However, I do not believe that anyone in this House or outside it would argue that those disturbances materially helped our cause in trying to stage that particular tournament.
I hope noble Lords will bear in mind that, at the end of the day, this measure is designed simply to stop people who may be troublemakers from 1214 attending a football match, not to put them in prison. Noble Lords will examine the Bill in detail, and if it can be strengthened in any way we should seek to do so. I hope that the Bill is implemented as soon as possible.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Lord Alexander of Weedon
My Lords, this is a remarkably civilised debate on a very intractable and shaming problem. I begin by indicating where my views coincide with those expressed earlier. I very much share the view of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, about the talents of the late Sir Stanley Matthews. Born as I was in the potteries, I have always regarded Stoke City as first and last his natural home. I have always regarded the interregnum of his years at Blackpool with sadness, although it is surely mitigated by memories of the greatest 15 minutes in football at Wembley in 1953. If I remember rightly, Sir Stanley Matthews, like the late Billy Wright, was never cautioned, had a maximum wage of £14 a week and received a £50 ex gratia bonus for his deeds in that cup final.
I also share the views expressed by several speakers, notably the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner of Worcester and Lord Hoyle, about the undesirability of exporting our football hooligans. But we must remember that the civil liberties of real football supporters are undoubtedly inhibited in practice, if not sometimes in law, by actions which they disown and mar their pleasure in following a legitimate activity.
I also share the view that existing measures have simply not worked. I respect the support of the Association of Chief Police Officers for the measures in this Bill. It is police officers who have to deal at the coal face—the ports—with this immensely difficult problem. I am grateful to both the Home Secretary and the Minister for their willingness to debate the difficulties of this Bill. I do not believe that anyone who heard those debates would suggest that in bringing forward this Bill the Government in any way seek to be authoritarian.
For all that, I too share the view that the measures in this Bill give rise to serious issues of civil liberties; in summary, the potential to place people in custody before banning them without the accusation of a criminal offence. I simply do not know whether these measures will work. I have a fear that they may be operated—it is difficult to do otherwise—on a scattergun basis. It may be very hard for the police at ports, where a number of people may wish to travel, to differentiate between those against whom they might wish, on further inquiry, to seek a banning order and those against whom, once they know the true facts, they would not. These people may well be in crowds. Is there to be guilt by association, or by gear or garb, or simply because one is in the wrong place at the wrong time, to adapt the phrase used by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester?
1215 Having expressed those shared concerns, perhaps I may mention two other matters. The first relates to new Section 14G, which provides:A banning order may, if the court making the order thinks fit, impose additional requirements on the person subject to the order in relation to any regulated football matches".I turn to the Explanatory Notes to discover the additional requirements. It will not help the Minister to do so because the words of the note simply echo the clause. When the Minister responds to the debate can he tell the House what is envisaged? Is tagging or a residence condition contemplated? We should know what falls within the ambit of those very wide words.
Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, who is to speak later, I am concerned about the standard of proof. So far the Government have dealt with it by saying that the standard of proof in criminal and civil cases is different. I agree. However, I do not find it easy to discover from the provisions of this Bill whether the Government regard this measure as falling within the criminal or civil law. In many ways it appears to be concerned more with the criminal law. The matter can be preceded by arrest and it then comes before a magistrates' court. The right of appeal is to the Crown Court, and there are serious penalties for breach of a banning order. This is either criminal or quasi-criminal in nature. I hope that the least the Minister will accept is that before a banning order can be imposed the standard of proof should be very high.
Like the noble Earl, Lord Russell, I think back to the old "sus" laws. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars the soldiery who returned unrewarded by a not very grateful nation sometimes resorted to vagabondage. In 1824 Parliament introduced an offence whereby someone could be charged as a suspected person loitering with intent. Through no fault of their own, the police had to play a game: they had to form a suspicion and a few minutes later they could decide that someone was loitering with intent. When I was called to the Bar that law had been utterly discredited, yet it remained on the statute book until its repeal in 1981. That is a good illustration of a law that is totally discredited because it provides for the imposition of a penalty without guilt. Who suffered that penalty? It was suffered by the socially unfortunate, the outcasts, minor drunks and those who wore shabby clothing. That law was regarded as deeply unfair, and towards the end of its time prosecutions were rarely brought. Yet nothing reminds me so much of the old "sus" laws as the characteristics which underlie this offence.
I, too, share the concern about the speed. This legislation is due to go through the House on the Government's programme in less than one full week. But I recognise that the Home Secretary gracefully and promptly accepted that the nature of the issues and the speed meant that the law should be experimental. The procedure for annual renewal by affirmative instrument is helpful. We all know that debate on affirmative instruments can be relatively cursory, so it is good that the House will receive an annual report on 1216 the operation of the Act. I also feel that a sunset provision is very important. I personally would prefer to see a sunset provision of three years.
On balance, and perhaps contrary to others who do not normally find themselves in the civil liberties camp, to which sometimes I feel proud to belong, I would give cautious support to this legislation on an experimental basis and with amendment but for one difficulty. That difficulty is the impact of European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights, soon to become our own Human Rights Act. I am chairman of Justice, although the views I have expressed so far are purely personal and may not be shared by some of my colleagues in Justice whom I see here today.
On one issue Justice has, as it seeks to do on new legislation, taken the opinion of counsel, Clare Montgomery, QC, and Rhodri Thompson. Because of the haste with which it had to be obtained, that opinion has become available today. As the Minister knows it always does, Justice will communicate it promptly to the Home Office to be considered. But it is troubling in its conclusions. It concludes that this legislation is incompatible with both the European Union treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights. It considers, therefore, that the statement that the proposed legislation is compatible with convention rights is not accurate. It considers that if the legislation were brought in, new Sections 14B and 21A to 21C would have to be disapplied under European Union law and the United Kingdom Government would be at risk of action for damages.
I have had no real opportunity, and probably lack the specialist competence, to assess the validity of that opinion. However, in view of the care with which it is expressed and its strength, I would hope that the Minister will seek on it the views of the Attorney-General before we return to this issue in Committee. I know the convention that the Attorney-General's advice is never disclosed, although I have never fully understood the desirability of that. However, I think that with the help of that advice we should be given every reassurance in Committee that there is compatibility with both European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights before we are asked to give our blessing to this legislation.
§ Baroness Hanham
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, perhaps he will amplify something he said. New Section 14A refers to the court being satisfied,that there are reasonable grounds to believe",that a banning order should be made. My noble friend discussed the burden of proof. As a magistrate who may be faced with having to deal with this problem, it is important for me that we clarify at this stage whether a magistrate will decide on the balance of probability that someone will be a troublemaker or on the test of beyond reasonable doubt. Those are two very different tests. They matter when we talk about civil liberties.
1217 Before he finishes, perhaps my noble friend will explain further. The matter must be clarified in this Chamber.
§ Lord Alexander of Weedon
My Lords, I do not want in any sense to decline the opportunity to amplify. However, I am puzzled. It seems to me wholly ambiguous whether the words to which my noble friend Lady Hanham referred mean satisfied so that one is sure or satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there are reasonable grounds. I see a potential lacuna. I sympathise with the difficulties which magistrates may have if that point is not clarified in the passage of the legislation; and I suspect that it would need clarification not only by way of ministerial reassurance but also on the face of the legislation.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate
My Lords, perhaps I may say what a pleasure it is to listen to the wise words of people like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, and the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I am sure that the legislation can and will be improved tremendously by such detailed debate. Even though I do not agree with everything that has been said, it is a pleasure to listen to the contributions to the debate.
I start by declaring an interest as a lifelong supporter of Darlington Football Club. It is not renowned for being one of the most successful. I also confess as a police office to having imposed summary justice on football fans. I remember policing a match at Darlington many years ago. I caught a young lad climbing over the fence and I made him go back in and watch the end as a punishment. So summary justice is useful from time to time. We used to have rival matches with the nearby towns of West Hartlepool and Old Hartlepool. They are now called Hartlepool. I confess that I was 15 years old before I realised that it was not called Hartlepool nil.
I refer in particular to the power in the Bill which may concern most noble Lords: the power under Part II. I disagree that the power is similar to the old "sus" law. I think that it is more akin to the power the police have to arrest people for conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace. Indeed, it is an extension of that old common law power. It is also similar in a sense to the anti-social behaviour provisions under the Crime and Disorder Act because that offence initially starts as a civil complaint. It becomes a criminal offence only if that anti-social behaviour order is breached. The police officer needs grounds to suspect that the suspect has been involved in violence and disorder. "Reasonable grounds to suspect" is a test a police officer exercises every minute of every hour of every day of every week. Under statute, most powers of arrest will often require the police officer to have suspicion; it does not require him to have evidence. Many people do not realise that. The police officer does not need evidence; he simply has to have reasonable grounds to suspect. He has to justify that afterwards. In this Bill, he has to justify it before the magistrates' court within 24 hours. That seems to me to be a reasonable price to pay.
1218 What are we preventing? We are simply preventing someone from going abroad to watch a football match. I think that it is a reasonable and moderate response to the violence we have seen over the past few months and years. There is at present a restriction that a constable can hold the suspect only for four hours, or for six hours with the authority of a police inspector. When one used to arrest people for conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace, one held them probably for the weekend and brought them before the magistrates on the Monday morning. I do not think this provision can be compared even with that situation. It seems to me a perfectly reasonable response given the fact that the violence that has shamed the country has been seen throughout the world. Clearly, we need to take some steps to prevent that.
What are the objections? I have read the comments by the Law Society, which says that it is an erosion of free movement; of course, it is. Any arrest is an erosion of free movement. I have given an example of someone who is likely to commit a breach of the peace being detained for, perhaps, a whole weekend. That is an erosion of someone's free movement. What we are talking about here is probably preventing them from travelling abroad, not necessarily for longer than four hours.
It is also alleged that it can be used arbitrarily and prejudicially. I object to that. That kind of comment by the Law Society is unhelpful because one could apply that to any statute dealing with any power the police are given. Yes, occasionally, we do see powers being abused, quite often because the powers perhaps are misunderstood. Even where that is not the case, I think it is wrong to complain about this particular statute by saying there is a likelihood that it will be arbitrarily and prejudicially used. I think that we would not give the police any powers if we really believed that.
It has not been mentioned yet, but a lot of the complaints made by the police about being unable to deal with this particular problem were due to the fact that they had intelligence. The police obtain intelligence from many sources. I am certainly not going to go through them in detail here. If I can give an example, it may well be information or it may well be because they have someone working undercover in one of these groups that are planning to go abroad and, in various ways and means, to cause mayhem and bring shame and despair on the country. The police have this intelligence but, of course, they do not have the power to do anything about it. They have to stand at the airports and seaports and watch people going abroad.
This power provides a measure of prevention. It is a preventative power. It results in the suspect going before the court. Then the police, quite rightly, have to justify their actions. We have the provision now, as we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for compensation if the police get it wrong. It seems to me a perfectly reasonable response to an extremely difficult problem.
1219 I have heard it suggested that the police would be concerned that actions could be brought against them for wrongful arrest and so forth. I should say that if we ever reach the stage in this country where the police are deterred from taking action which they believe legitimate simply because of the fear of litigation then we go down a very slippery slope. I have seen cases in America where the police—a small police force, admittedly—have stood and watched a violent rape at knifepoint taking place inside premises without taking any action because they felt that if they went in and acted the damages against them might well be greater if the girl was injured and killed than it would have been because of the rape. I can assure you that is not a consideration that the police in this country would ever take into account, and I hope that always remains so. The threat of litigation should not be a factor at all.
This is a preventative power. One has to have confidence. That is why the suggestion it be a temporary provision and be reviewed is helpful because one has to put trust in the police and see if it works. If it does not, then let us have another look at it and perhaps improve it. But to do nothing is not an option.
To touch on the question of breach of the peace, I wrote a letter to The Times in response to an article by the noble Lord, Lord Rees-Mogg. I said in that letter that I have on many occasions arrested innocent people. What I meant was—and perhaps I should have explained this—innocent of an offence, a criminal offence. Of course, arresting someone for conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace is not a criminal offence. It is a complaint that one can lay before the magistrate. The consequences are that the person concerned is bound over. Nonetheless, one still removes his or her liberty. That power is used throughout the land on a regular basis for the right reasons. That is what I was talking about when I said I arrested innocent persons for an offence.
There is a power, obviously, for breach of the peace. It is useful to look at the areas for which the breach of the peace provision has been used in the past. It has been used for persons inciting a rent strike, believe it or not, eavesdropping, peeping toms—whose conduct is likely, if someone else sees them, to cause a breach of the peace—using abusive words, accosting someone immorally and, the obvious one, issuing and using racial threats. I am sorry to say that we see a lot of racial abuse and threats at football matches. That is something that we should be attempting to eradicate.
It is no good complaining about police inaction. What we should do is to provide the police with some tools to do the job, but properly accountable, and to involve the courts in this provision. I do not think that it is a draconian measure; I think it is reasonable and proportionate. It is a response to ugly, violent and often racist conduct that we need to try and take out of the game of football. It degrades the men concerned—it is usually men—and it also brings shame on the country.
1220 What we cannot do, and cannot afford to do, is to allow a repeat of the events in Charleroi and Brussels. To be frank, I do not think that restricting people's right to travel to see a football match is the end of civilisation as we know it when they can watch the game on television.
We have checks and balances. I do not think that the police would abuse the power. They have no reason to abuse the power. All they want is a power that can be used when they believe they have good intelligence. If we can take out the ringleaders and the people who are orchestrating this behaviour, then I think we will go a long way towards tackling the problem. One thing is certain, and that is that the problem has to be tackled. I do not think it is any good, as the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, suggested, simply blaming the foreigners. It is our problem and we have to deal with it. We have to try and prevent these people going abroad.
Certainly, I support the provisions of the Bill, with the sensible comments taken into account. The Home Secretary has gone quite a long way to improve the Bill and I am sure it can be improved by the deliberations of this House in the course of the next week.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, like other speakers, I wish to preface my remarks by complimenting the Home Secretary on his willingness to meet with us a fortnight ago in order to explore concerns. I should also acknowledge readily that the task of any Home Secretary in dealing with this deep-rooted problem is a most intractable and difficult one. Nothing that I have to say in relation to this Bill should cast any aspersions on the Home Secretary and on the way in which he tries, with difficulty, to carry out his obligations, and that applies to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam also.
I should like to take up the main point of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, in that it concentrated on the power to arrest for breach of the peace and then for magistrates to bind over the person to keep the peace. With great respect, I think that this is something of a red herring. The only analogy that the Government have relied on in justifying the measures in this Bill is the Crime and Disorder Act which allows for anti-social behaviour orders. The binding over process of justices of the peace, which is ancient in origin although now embraced in the Justices of the Peace Act 1968, does not have any immediate consequence such as a banning order will have in this case. A banning order will deprive someone of the right to attend football matches for between two and 10 years and could involve confiscation of passports, the requirement of reporting at police stations and the addition of other conditions as referred to by an earlier speaker. The binding over process involves nothing beyond the binding over and the agreement of the person to keep the peace. If he fails to do so, consequences follow but 1221 it is not an analogy. In any event, under the clause a banning order can be made only—and I quote from Stone's Justices' Manual—where there is evidence before the court which indicates a likelihood that the peace will not be kept".Before going further, perhaps I may put beyond doubt the order of proof which must be established under the Bill in order for a banning order to be made. There is no doubt that it is a civil test. The Government made it clear in the other place and the Home Secretary said so when he met us. Indeed, new Section 14J clearly states that if there is a breach of one of the conditions of the banning order, then an offence is committed and certain consequences ensue.
A conversation I had with a Minister at the Home Office on the Bill team related to the civil standard of proof required in particular by new Section 14B. The answer is that there must be a balance of probabilities and it must not be beyond reasonable doubt. However, the civil test is not a single test; it can vary in intensity. I was assured that in this case the higher rather than the lower end would be required. I do not know whether that is of consolation to the magistrate who spoke earlier, but were I a magistrate having to construe the Bill it would be of no consolation to me.
In my view this is a baker's dozen of objections to the Bill, however well intentioned and necessary its purpose. I believe that the House will want to guard against what is perhaps the grandest illusion of legislators; that is, their assumptions as to the extent to which legislation will achieve its purpose "on the ground". Are they real or unreal?
Perhaps I may remind the House that in recent times we have had the Football Spectators Act 1989; the Football (Offences) Act 1991; the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994; the Police Act 1996; the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999; and now we have this Bill. Anyone in this House who believes that the way to deal with these problems is to pile more draconian laws on top of existing laws is living in Cloud-cuckoo-land.
§ Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Having listened to him, I ask, "How would you deal with the problem?".
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, if the good Lord is patient, I shall come to that. The haste with which the Government are seeking to bring the Bill into force is not only unseemly but likely to prove counterproductive, particularly on the back of all that legislation. We know full well that the social virus with which we are dealing is resistant to most of the legal antibiotics thrown against it thus far.
It is one thing to rush through the Terrorism Bill in the wake of the appalling IRA carnage a few years ago. However—and without in any way belittling the offensiveness of the thrown plastic chairs and punches—of the 965 arrests in Holland and Belgium there were only four prosecutions. They occurred in Holland for ticket touting offences and in Belgium for assaulting a policeman.
1222 Those statistics were given by Jack Straw and they are a measure of the degree of disorder and violence the recent Euro 2000 events involved. I believe that had they involved serious violence rather than the more dramatic sights replayed on our television screens ad nauseam there would have been more prosecutions than two. As others have said, this could be another piece of mad dogs legislation and we must avoid that.
I turn to the issue of principle touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, and others. I refer to the old, tried, bedrock standard of proof required for a criminal offence; that is, beyond reasonable doubt. The nature of the offence and the penalties attaching to a banning order are of a criminal kind. It will be of no solace to someone wrongly the subject of a banning order to be told, "Don't worry, old chap, it's a civil offence after all". It is fundamental that the Government, in seeking to find easier ways of dealing with a real social menace, are not encouraged to recategorise what is a criminal matter by calling it "civil". That would be profoundly dangerous.
The Government lull us with the assurance that there is nothing new here and they say that the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 was a good precedent. That Bill was fiercely opposed in this House by Members on these and other Benches and by Liberty, the Howard League for Penal Reform and other organisations. But apart from that, the analogy is false. Perhaps I may read what the then Solicitor-General, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, said in a debate in this House on 17th March 1998 in response to the very concerns that have been expressed today. He said:The application for an [anti-social behaviour] order can be made only after consultation between the local authority and the police authority".Under this Bill there is no consultation because local authorities have no role to play. The police act on their own volition.
The Solicitor-General went on to say that once the local authority and police have consulted and decided to make an anti-social behaviour order application,
"there is a discretion on the part of the magistrates' court as to whether or not it makes an order".
In this Bill there is no such discretion. Under new Section 14B(4), the court must make a binding order if the other factors are established.
Finally, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, gave a third assurance on fundamentals by saying that there is a specific provision in the Bill which requires the magistrates, upon application for an order being made, to disregard any act of the defendant,which they regard as being reasonable in the circumstances".—[Official Report, 17/3/98; co1.583.]No such defence is available in the Bill.
There is a fourth fundamental difference between the anti-social behaviour orders under the 1998 Act and this Bill; namely, under the 1998 Act the application for such an order must be in respect of recent specific, relevant anti-social conduct. The magistrates in those cases can make their judgments only on the basis of recent relevant, specific evidence. 1223 However, under this Bill not merely can the application for a banning order be based upon any conduct, related or not, which is claimed caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, but it can be in respect of events which took place long before the commencement of this new Bill. That is expressly prohibited under the 1998 Act.
My next objection is also one of principle. It is that the new law would involve a form of double jeopardy or, worse still, punishment inflicted in respect of past lawful conduct. As regards the double jeopardy point, under the existing Football (Offences and Disorder) Act, a banning order can be made only on the back of a football-related conviction and at the time the person concerned is convicted. The person concerned will be dealt with by the magistrates "at one go", so to speak. The magistrate will decide upon fine or imprisonment, taking into account the additional punishment to be suffered by the person as a result of the banning order.
Under this Bill that will not occur. The offence, if there be an offence, on the basis of which the police apply for an order, will be long ago resolved. This will be a new, completely separate punishment in circumstances in which there may have been absolutely no activity by way of unlawfulness, violence or disorder on the part of the person concerned. Nothing at all may have happened between the occasion on which the application is built and the time of the application itself.
I believe that the injustice speaks for itself in the second—and, I believe, the worst—case, where someone is given a banning order under new Section 14B for conduct in respect of which he or she has never been charged and which might not even have been unlawful. At least the Public Order Act 1986—the key piece of legislation in this country which governs offences of this kind, covering riot, affray, violent disorder, harassment, alarm and so on—offers two protections against injustice which this Bill does not.
The first protection is that if someone is charged under the Public Order Act, where, of course, there will be a criminal standard of proof, he or she can produce a defence of "reasonable conduct", which may be self-defence or a case of provocation. However, under this Bill the court must be satisfied only,that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder".Of course, it must be remembered that violence can be against property and disorder can be of the most banal kind—a gesture, sign or word. As I have already said, in addition to that, the standard of proof under this Bill is civil rather than criminal. What is more, the accused—euphemistically, I note, in this Bill called "the respondent"—does not need to have any mens rea or intent. Again, that is an essential element of a conviction under the Public Order Act.
Other noble Lords have spoken of the particular offensiveness of new Section 21. I do not propose to enlarge upon that except to say that I agree entirely with that view. I note that, when in opposition, Labour 1224 launched a sustained and vehement assault on the old stop-and-search laws which were repealed, as the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, mentioned.
There might be a pragmatic justification if one felt that all this flimsy scaffolding of illibertarianism were likely to prove effective. But how can one seriously believe that? As the Home Secretary himself pointed out, huge resources were deployed before Euro 2000, particularly in the form of the National Criminal Intelligence Service. Yet, of the 965 arrests, only 30 were among the 1,000 or so football hooligans previously identified by FCIS. I repeat: only 30; and only four prosecutions. That should tell us everything.
I believe that one way in which to deal with this dilemma would be to legislate for extraterritoriality of the existing laws under the Public Order Act. That would allow offences committed at football matches or in relation to football matches abroad to be tried in this country under our own laws, under our traditional protections and under our traditional requirements as to standards of proof. I believe that that would be an infinitely better, easier, cheaper and more successful way in which to contend with these awful problems.
I believe that obtaining the necessary evidence would not be as difficult as it sounds. We are already sending hundreds, if not thousands, of police to the Continent on these great occasions to try to help, in the case of Euro 2000, Belgian or Dutch police to do their work. One could produce video evidence or, if necessary, ask for the co-operation of Belgian and Dutch police in coming across to give evidence in our courts. I believe that that would be vastly better in all respects.
For those reasons, regretfully I believe that the Bill is a danger to the standards upon which the whole of our law—not only our criminal law—is built. I do not believe that the circumstances with which we are contending give any hope that what the Government assume will follow as a result of this complicated law will work. I think of the police and of the magistrates who will have to implement the new law; I think of the reservations of the Police Federation, whatever the chiefs of police may say; and I believe that, above all, and perhaps beneath all, the danger of false convictions arising from this Bill would be a greater destroyer of public confidence in the law and, ultimately therefore, of public order than anything else. For those reasons—there are others which time prevents me from enlarging upon—I am afraid that I would throw this measure to the wolves.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I have no present interest to declare, although for a few years in the 1960s I had the honour to be president of Lincoln City Football Club. Unfortunately, during my short period of office the club was relegated from the Second to the Third Division and then from the Third to the Fourth Division. That had nothing to do with me directly as I had no executive or even advisory powers. However, clearly I must have brought bad luck upon the club.
1225 It may interest your Lordships to learn that one of the chief complaints of directors at home fixtures, as we knocked back our double whiskys at half time, accompanied of course by plenty of unfiltered high-tar cigarettes, was the iniquity of having to pay the players fully £20 per week which in those days was considered an obscenely excessive sum for a football player.
I turn to more serious matters. Like many other noble Lords, although not of course the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, I agree wholeheartedly with the Law Society in deploring the rushing through of,a measure which rides roughshod over the rights of unconvicted people".I shall gladly join other noble Lords at later stages of the Bill in attempting to restore the rights of unconvicted people.
I have reservations about some other aspects of the Bill. Incidentally, it is somewhat ironical that, had we subscribed to the Schengen agreement, as many Europhiles urged the Government to do, Clause 1(1)(c) which may require,persons subject to banning orders to surrender their passports",would have been totally ineffectual since hooligans and potential hooligans could have travelled abroad using other identity documents which realistically could not be removed from them.
It is true that Germany, although within the Schengen area, recently stopped suspected troublemakers from crossing their borders at manned border crossings, but of course not all border crossings are manned. Apparently, Germany indignantly has demanded to know why the United Kingdom has not behaved likewise. Much as I genuinely admire a great many things about modern Germany, I do not believe that we need take lessons from the Germans in matters of law or individual freedom.
We should remind ourselves of two things. The first is that good news is no news. Most English fans are perfectly well behaved, even if sometimes they are unjustly lumped in with the aggressive minority. However, that good behaviour goes unreported. Moreover, the media—both domestic and foreign—often stir up trouble, not out of malice but because of desperation for a good story.
Secondly, football violence is by no means an exclusively English problem. Whether or not inspired by the English example, other countries are catching up fast, notably, but not exclusively, Germany, the Netherlands and, of course, Turkey. The growing reality of redundant but vigorous young males—redundant in many senses of the word; not only in terms of jobs—soon will be a Europe-wide problem. Crises that stem largely from long-term social trends cannot be cured by a quick fix, least of all one that tramples on British traditions of justice and fair play.
Although the legislation of the previous administration rarely extended as far as what is now proposed, the noble Lord, Lord Cope, more or less acknowledged that they did not set the best example with their many instances of tabloid-driven panic 1226 legislation. I do not mean only the Dangerous Dogs Act, which has perhaps been excessively pilloried, given the many other examples.
As the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, said, it is incumbent on those who criticise the Government to say what they would do to solve the problem. I doubt that it can ever be solved, but I hope that it can be ameliorated. I have two modest suggestions. First, some municipalities in the Low Countries experimented earlier this year with banning the sale of strong alcohol before and during matches. As the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, only beer or lager containing under 4 per cent alcohol by volume was allowed. That seems to have been remarkably successful in curbing violence. Could not the United Kingdom Government, ideally in conjunction with other European governments, publicly and lavishly praise the cities in question, thereby encouraging the remainder to follow suit?
Secondly, one can well understand the reluctance of continental taxpayers to shell out for the board and lodging of convicted British hooligans. That explains the general reluctance of continental prosecuting authorities to prosecute. They would prefer to ship them home unconvicted after a night in the cells. The Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, both made that point. However, I believe that international agreements are already in place to permit prisoners to serve their sentences in their own country. Could not Her Majesty's Government publicly announce that they would automatically pay for the repatriation within one week of those fairly convicted of football-related offences on the continent? That should lead to more prosecutions and would be an enhanced deterrent, since those convicted would serve out their time in spartan English prisons rather than the comfortable ones to be found in Holland and elsewhere.
Even at this late hour, cannot the Government consider abandoning the more illiberal elements of the Bill in favour of less drastic alternatives?
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Lord Mayhew of Twysden
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, said that he had experienced football hooliganism as long ago as 1953, when he had gone to a match between Hibs and Hearts. I congratulated myself privately that I knew which teams he was referring to. The research department of the Library in another place has established that legislative attempts to deal with the problem of football hooliganism go back at least to the time of Edward II. More recently, since 1985, Parliament has passed eight Acts on the subject.
The cumulative effect of all that legislative endeavour has not been sufficient. I am sure that we all hope that the Bill will prove more successful, but it is not necessarily unconstructive to express some doubts. The origins of what we have called football hooliganism are far more diverse and complex than a mere mischievous desire to exploit loopholes in the law that prohibit violence. They certainly extend to the cult 1227 in the entertainment media of exulting in and exalting physical violence and crudeness in any and every form of human behaviour. That is served up non-stop, night after night in entertainment programmes. I believe that that trend has played a large part in the creation of the cult of violence and crudity that affects and afflicts a significant proportion of young and not so young people in our country—though not all of them. If any right reverend prelate had been present to add to that analysis by referring to the doctrine of original sin, I would not have quarrelled. Unfortunately, notwithstanding their efforts the other day, there are no right reverend prelates assisting us in our deliberations this afternoon.
I am sufficiently tainted by the experience—perhaps even the scars—of office to believe that it was a practical political imperative for the Government to make some legislative response in the light of the hideous events in Charleroi and Brussels that many of us observed on our screens earlier this year. The problem for the Government is to find an idea that has not been tried already that is not so harsh in its application as to be counterproductive by catching too many people who are innocent in record and intent. If the Government go too far and legislate excessively harshly, they will build up resentment against the agencies of the law—the magistracy and the police—and even against the law itself, when maintaining confidence in those institutions is essential if we are to sustain the rule of law in this country. If significant numbers of innocent people are caught in the unduly fine mesh of the legislation, there will be resentment against the police, who will face obloquy and litigation. That is an unfair burden to put on them. Even more importantly, it is damaging.
I always listen with the greatest attention and respect to the contributions of the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, given his long experience in the police service, which culminated in senior office. I also read the letter that he wrote to The Times the other day. However, his comparison between the proposals in the Bill and the ancient jurisdiction to bind over on suspicion of a breach of the peace was devastatingly demolished by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury.
If anything extra needs to be said, it is enough to point out that if a court is satisfied that the tests set out in new Sections 14A and 14B are fulfilled, it will be mandatory to make a banning order, which will last for a minimum of three years and may last for five years. What is more, under the detention measures in new Sections 21A and 21B, if a police officer who has decided to serve a notice of complaint asking for a banning order thinks that the respondent—that is a polite term for the person whom one might call the victim, or the citizen, to use a neutral label—may not comply with the terms of the order, he is entitled to arrest him. So I think that we have here a very significant infringement of personal liberties indeed.
It may be that the problem is so great that this infringement is justified. I think that it really is incumbent upon Ministers to know what standard of 1228 proof is going to be imposed upon magistrates, who have a most important contribution to make. Indeed, we have had just such a contribution from my noble friend, who has sat for long as a magistrate. It is important to know, if this is to be put upon the statute book, what standard of proof is required. I trust that we are going to find in the government amendments that have been promised some specific legislation making that clear. With great respect, I very much agree with my noble friend Lord Alexander, who said that this jurisdiction is at least quasi-criminal in its character. I would go further and say that it is criminal in character because you have only to look at the sanctions and their punitive nature to see evidence of this. That calls for a very high standard of proof: I would say that it calls for a beyond reasonable doubt standard of proof.
So much has been said today with which I agree that, mercifully, it curtails any excuse that I may have for making a longer speech. I would just end by saying this. Funnily enough, it reflects on one of the concluding remarks of my noble friend Lord Tebbit. We have to recognise that we are fighting a war against the scourge of football hooliganism. I think it might be said that we are fighting a war, without indulging in hyperbole. But let us not forget a famous case in the last world war. It was a case in which one of the Law Lords said in his judgment that amid the clash of arms the laws are not silent. It is true that the majority of his colleagues were against him. It was a case under Regulation 18(B) of the Defence Regulations 1939, but the only speech that is recalled with admiration and cited with the greatest of respect today of the speeches that were made in that case is the speech of the learned Lord who said those words. We ought to bear that case and that principle very well in mind.
I also believe that in the context of what we are discussing today we can transpose for the laws the principles of liberty. Notwithstanding the difficulties that we face and notwithstanding that there is a "sunset" clause now to be inserted into the Bill, I believe that the preservation of the principles of liberty is just as important in this "war" as it was held to be by Lord Atkin in the famous case to which I have referred in 1943. Whether it be under Regulation 18(B) or the new Section 14B, those principles need to be applied just as scrupulously and resolutely. That is the standpoint from which I hope this House will view the remaining stages of this Bill, and look at it in great detail.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, I wonder if he might concede for the record, lest it should show an inaccuracy, that a right reverend Prelate is sitting directly opposite him.
§ Lord Mayhew of Twysden
My Lords, of course that is right, and it is the more unforgivable since the right reverend Prelate is a very old and admired friend of mine from another jurisdiction.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Lord Borrie
My Lords, I am very happy to follow the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, particularly because I agree wholeheartedly with his last few remarks and his reference to Lord Atkin's speech in the course of the Second World War.
Some two weeks ago—it seems to me a short two weeks ago—the Government made a Statement which presaged the Bill which is before us today. On that occasion I ventured to express concern about what is still, though it has been amended, the fourth of the four elements that the Bill provides; that is, the summary measures available to the police.
I also expressed concern that Parliament was being rushed and would be unable, as I thought, to deal adequately with the detail, which detail is inevitable when a Bill is defining the borderline between a person's freedom of movement, for example, and the need to restrict that right so as to prevent violence and disorder.
Since that Government Statement two short weeks ago, and partly as a result of a number of points made at a meeting which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary had with parliamentarians, a number of distinct improvements have been made. During the passage of the Bill through another place a number of amendments were made, particularly with regard to that fourth element in the Bill. The police must now have "reasonable grounds" for suspecting that a person has contributed to violence or disorder in the past and they must have "reasonable grounds" for believing that a banning order would prevent violence or disorder at football matches.
There was also an amendment reducing the period of immediate detention from 24 to four hours, or six hours if an inspector approves. It is extremely welcome that the Home Secretary has shown himself willing to consider at the very least any amendments which are suggested. Indeed, he has indicated his willingness to consider further amendments that may emerge during the passage of the Bill in your Lordships' House.
In a way, the fact that we have had the Bill amended in key respects and that the Government intend to introduce other amendments here next week confirm my original concern about haste, because the normal gaps that there are in this House and in another place between the various stages of a Bill will not have occurred. The gaps are normally there for both Front Benchers and Back Benchers to give due consideration to the legislation, and we Back Benchers above all rely on a lot of people "out there"—interested organisations and so on—to help us by their briefings to improve Bills.
The Home Secretary said at Second Reading that he wanted to,combine speed with careful scrutiny".That is almost an impossibility, I would have thought, if this Bill is anything to go by. The Government have pointed out in their defence that this is a subject on which there has already been a great deal of discussion in a number of ways. However, there is a world of 1230 difference between considering these matters in a broad way and the detailed word-by-word specification of a Bill, which is of course part of the vital scrutinising role of both Houses of Parliament.
This is the Second Reading of the Bill, and therefore I do not wish to go into detailed consideration of concerns at the moment, though several have been mentioned with which I agree. Perhaps I may select just two matters on which I would like to ask the Government for their responses, although not necessarily this evening. The first is: what exactly are the "reasonable grounds" for detention which a police constable must have when faced with, say, a number of young men, perhaps several dozen young men, whether in one group or several groups? What reasonable grounds must the police have to prevent persons departing for the Continent, suspecting that one or more of them may have contributed to or caused violence of some kind, somewhere, at some time in the past?
It was said in the other place that appearance, clothing and demeanour are not enough. So on what will the police rely? Since the Bill was first drafted, the word "behaviour" has disappeared—unless it is lost in a provision that I have not noticed—yet behaviour may be relevant to police suspicion.
As the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, indicated, the police will mainly rely on intelligence. They will have vast amounts of information about violent or potentially violent persons. At the port or airport—even given the availability of mobile phones and other technology—the police will have to relate and connect that mass of intelligence to persons seeking to go abroad for a football match. There is now a requirement that the police will have to give their reasons for detention in writing. I have a feeling that the police will not rush into making detention orders unless they are on very sure ground.
When a magistrates' court considers a banning order, it must be satisfied that the respondent has in the past caused or contributed to violence or disorder in the UK or elsewhere. That conduct does not have to relate to a football match. Nor does there have to be a conviction. The proposed Section 14C(4) states:The magistrates' court may take into account … any decision of a public authority … deportation or exclusion from a country … removal or exclusion from premises used for playing football matches, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere".Even the football experts present would agree that the innocent are swept up with the guilty when they are removed from grounds and deported. Is it right for a magistrates' court to take account of that when deciding whether to impose a banning order?
The Bill's objective is to reduce significantly the disgraceful mayhem that British visitors tend to cause at international football matches. No matter how much the new law may be further improved in this House, it can be readily evaded by leaving for the Continent from Scotland or Ireland—which people living in the North of England might find easier in any case. The Government say that existing legislation and the non-controversial parts of the Bill are inadequate, 1231 so the controversial, summary measures are needed. However, the Bill has been so amended and hedged around with conditions that neither the police nor magistrates will in practice be able to apply its measures very much.
Government amendments that we have not yet seen provide for compensation. If the police or magistrates get it wrong, they may have to pay compensation. That will be a further deterrent to any robust use of the powers that the Government must want to result from the Bill, otherwise it will in practice be ineffective. I share the Government's objectives but am doubtful whether the Bill will do much to achieve them.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, last year or the year before, I threatened to behave like a football hooligan. I believe it was quite effective at the time, but that is not the kind of football hooliganism about which we are talking now.
At one moment, I thought there was an absolutely glorious thing in the Bill. We have a Minister who in his earlier life had gone squatting and attended courts with dongs on the end of his nose. He could have been told by Plod that he could not go to a football match in Zeebrugge. But now that he is older, wiser and more sensible, and has reached a great office of state, the Bill is being amended so that he cannot be done—unless of course the noble Lord was up to those antics less than 10 years ago. If that is the case, it is unfortunate that we must have the Bill at all.
The noble Lord, Lord Borrie, said that the Bill will be unusable and unenforceable. The Law Society says of the Bill:It is a clear erosion of the right of free movement within the European Union. It will be used arbitrarily and prejudicially. At its most serious the behaviour in question will be no more than semi-criminal. Like the old and discredited stop and sus laws, this is a superficial and potentially discriminatory method of pinpointing troublemakers. It is also contrary to Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantee the right to freedom of expression and free assembly. It will be simple to evade. It will lead to actions against the police. The Police Federation are well aware of this danger and have expressed their grave concern over this unworkable Bill".I am an unashamed libertarian. A long time ago I went to an Anglo-French rugby match in Paris. We arrived without tickets, got quite tight and sang a lot of songs. The whole place was surrounded by the CRS. In 1968, the students used to chant "CRS—SS, CRS—SS" by way of making a comparison between the Compagne Republicaine de Securité, who are extraordinarily tough and fairly nasty, and the German SS. There was no trouble at that match. Why is it that things happen at football matches that do not happen at rugby matches? I do not know the answer.
I was told by a Belgian journalist that the events in Charleroi and Brussels were miles less serious than those reported and were caused by over-reaction on the part of the Belgian police. When the Home Secretary spoke to us the other day, he admitted that there was nothing wrong with at least 60 per cent of the people arrested. The Belgians had used an 1232 administrative arrest, which allows them to lock people up just for fun. Only four crimes were committed—as the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said—yet we are rushing through legislation that is deeply offensive to human rights. I do not like the Human Rights Act; it is wretched. It is Parliament that should protect an Englishman's liberties, not somebody else.
But it appears that Parliament cannot do it. It is a perfect example of Parliament not protecting Englishmen's liberties. The liberty to protect is not mine or my noble friend Lord Astor's. That is dead easy. The liberty to protect is that of the fat-gutted, under-privileged, tattooed drunk who is not misbehaving. His liberty is the one that needs protecting because he is a minority and unpopular. Anyone can protect popular liberties.
We have gone through this Bill in quite some detail. There is provision in Clause 3, which, as far as I can make out, allows the Home Secretary to amend it at will in any way that he likes. Indeed, irrespective of what safeguards we put into the legislation, I assume that he can take them out again. It appears to be delegated legislation and we should perhaps look into that. The new Section 14B to the Football Spectators Act 1989, as set out under Schedule 1, allows a punishment to be imposed upon someone who the police think might have committed an offence.
A friend of mine was travelling home the other day with her husband. They got out of the car and were pounced on by three gentlemen wearing black hoods who mugged them. The police said to my friend, "We're pretty sure we know who those guys are, but we do not have the evidence to arrest them". But they will have in other respects. If those three men want to go to a football match, they may, under this legislation, be prevented from going to watch, say, Zeebrugge play Manchester United; but the police cannot arrest them for mugging Jan Morgan! This is a very odd way of making law.
Most of the other points that I had intended to make have been made with greater legal knowledge and expertise than I possess. However, I am completely convinced that this Bill is a combination of unworkability, illiberality and illegality. Surely the Government can do better than that. They now have a record of being an illiberal government. They want to hack about with the right of trial by jury; they took away the rights of people to shoot 22 pistols; they want to take away benefit from people who do not fulfil a probation order; and their recent Bill regarding the provision of information was attacked in The Times as being deeply illiberal.
This Government seem to want to pass nasty, illiberal Acts of Parliament, one after another. As long as I am in this Parliament, I shall do my level best to try to stop some of them. Of course, those on our side are not always perfect; indeed, they had dogs and pistol legislation in the last Parliament, so they are not as good as all that. However, as Back-Benchers we must stand up for the rights and liberties of Englishmen. That is what Parliament is for.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Lord Woolmer of Leeds
My Lords, as this is a Second Reading debate I shall attempt to confine my remarks to Second Reading issues, and leave much of the detail for later debates. We genuinely face a difficult problem in both Houses of Parliament. We know that the problem is not an issue of just what happened in Brussels or Charleroi and whether it was extremely serious or merely serious. I must confess that the scenes I saw could never bear excuse; and, indeed, could never hear prosecution if they happened in this country. However, as my noble friend Lord Faulkner said in his excellent contribution, this is not a one off: this is something that happens year after year after year.
It is absolutely right to say that we have attempted many times to resolve this issue, without success. During my remarks I shall express serious reservations about some aspects of the Bill's proposals that I shall certainly want to see overcome in the coming days. However, judging by the noble Earl's speech, what I had understood to be a general consensus between the two principal parties seems to have disappeared. When the Minister made the Statement on 19th June following the problems in Brussels and Charleroi, I recall that the noble Lord, Lord Cope, acknowledged that it was his right honourable friend David Maclean who proposed an amendment to a previous Bill to allow passports to be confiscated from unconvicted hooligans. He also said that there was general agreement that that would be better carried out by legislation in a government Bill. The noble Lord went on to quote a statement from UEFA:The UK Government owes it to everyone concerned to take steps similar to those taken in other countries to stop these so-called fans from travelling abroad … Other governments have shown that it can be done and we call on the UK Government to take the steps necessary as a matter of urgency".The noble Lord asked for the Minister's comment on that statement and whether it was proposed to follow it up. He then said:If that is the case, we shall continue to support proposals of that character".—[Official Report, 19/6/00; col. 43.]I draw attention to the latter merely to make the point that there seems to be a consensus that there is a problem and that we need to address it. If we are concerned about some important principles in liberty that we must get right if we introduce new legislation, then such issues must be properly examined. However, if it is a matter of Second Reading principle that we should not be seeking to do so, I must confess that I cannot agree with the noble Earl.
After the events of Euro 2000, I was struck by the way in which leading figures from both major political parties dug themselves into a hole immediately—the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Home Secretary. Within days they had committed themselves to a tough line and "tough-speak" and could not then get off the hook. In the calmness of this Chamber, we now remind ourselves that that is not the way to make legislation. For my part, I would have sooner seen no tickets sold to England fans for the Paris game and no fans going 1234 to European games for six or 12 months if that had given us time to consider legislation both carefully and properly. In my view, that option was pre-empted by the way in which all leading politicians from the two main parties spoke within hours of the events in Belgium taking place. What we must do now is to seek to make the best of that position.
For many years I was a director of Leeds United. It is a matter of irony to me that Leeds United caused eyebrows to be raised in recent days because it took the step of banning a large number of fans from its ground. That seems to me to be exactly what clubs should be doing. When I was on the board long ago, the existing chairman, Mr Peter Ridesdale, and the previous chairman, Mr Leslie Silver, took the decision to stamp this out: you cannot tolerate this on your doorstep. I hope and expect football clubs to do far more than they have done in this respect.
One of the many regrets that I have about the way in which events have gathered pace in the past few week is the fact that we have not created a sense of partnership with the football industry—the football clubs and the football supporters—so that there is agreement on what we are trying to do. This must be a wholehearted, multi-pronged attack on the problem. We shall not overcome it by repressive legislation alone; indeed, there is no doubt about that. Other action is also required. Such action can only be taken by football clubs and by supporters' associations. In the main, the people about whom we are talking are well known. They are not people who are coming out of the woodwork.
The problem in the past, which this legislation seeks to address, has been that although such people were known, the existing legislation did not enable the authorities to act and do anything about them. That is a problem. Let us imagine that we had done nothing or that, as a result of our deliberations in this Chamber, nothing were done and the legislation remained unchanged. People would then be able to follow their football clubs to Paris or Europe and do exactly the same things again. The police authorities would say, "We cannot do anything. We knew that these people would be troublemakers, but they have not been convicted of any offence". In my view, we would look extremely weak in the eyes of the public.
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. I am fascinated by the experience he is able to bring to the debate. Can he explain to me and others why, of the 1,000 or so who were deported, only 35 were on the NCIS hooligan list—let us call it that. Only 35 of the lot who tipped up in Brussels and Charleroi were deported? How does the noble Lord account for that?
Lord Woohner of Leeds
My Lords, I have not yet had the time to go thoroughly into that matter. By the time we get to the very truncated Committee stage we can explore it in more detail. If we take decisions based upon information and a rational examination of the evidence, then an answer to that should be available to us. It seems highly likely that most of those who were 1235 deported were not truly troublemakers but were swept up in the Belgian system of administrative arrest. A lot of fairly experienced people who were causing trouble almost certainly got out of the way and avoided arrest.
If one were to put a figure on this, in my view—from some considerable experience in football—we are talking thousands but certainly not tens of thousands; I think we are talking between 2,000 and 10,000 people who have an inclination to get involved in this kind of activity. But within that figure there are probably a few dozen ringleaders—maybe 100 or 200.
Like most noble Lords, I have no problem with the first two of the Bill's objectives. The proposed slow lane and fast lane procedures are where issues arise—particularly in regard to the fast lane procedure, as it has been called in the other place. I have no doubt whatever that this legislation cannot and will not work unless what is described as the "slow lane" process is followed. We must identify the people who are genuinely thought to be troublemakers coolly and calmly, and away from the storms of football games. They must be identified, properly taken to court and properly appraised. Out of that will come not only the conviction of the individuals but often the unearthing of what is behind them. The fast lane must be seen only as a matter of last resort.
I gathered some comfort—I would gather even greater comfort if it was repeated in the House today—from the remarks of Jack Straw in the other place when he said,the summary power"—which is the fast track process—needs to be seen as supplementary to the core power, which involves obtaining a banning order by a civil process. It is to be hoped—the police have this hope too—that, so far as possible, candidates for banning orders will be dealt with by the slower process of a normal complaint issued in the magistrates court, where, if a matter is adjourned for a week or so, it will not materially affect the risk the individual poses".—[Official Report, Commons, 17/7/00; commons. 125.].The idea that a significant number of people can be identified, given proper and due process and proper and due representation on any scale in our ports and airports can be only a fantasy—it could not possibly happen.
It is exceptionally important that Ministers make clear the intent behind the fast lane process. It can and should only be used for hard core people who have for some reason not yet been identified and brought to book. As has been said, something in the region of 30 per cent of the relevant age group have had some kind of conviction that is not unassociated with what could be brought in evidence as suspicion.
There is an important safeguard in relation to actual conviction, as it were; that is, that there must be reasonable grounds for the suspicion. It is an important qualification, but if the fast lane process were to apply to one fan it would apply to tens of thousands. It would be arbitrary if it were used for anything other than the absolute exception. When my 1236 noble friend responds to the debate, I shall be extremely interested to hear how he approaches that issue.
Most noble Lords, I think, agree that there genuinely is a problem. But our politicians in the other place—whether wisely or not—have forced the hand of Parliament. Our job is to consider how we can ensure that we produce a fair and proper Act within the proper due process of justice. We must not raise the expectations of people or the press. The only way the problem will be overcome is through the patient, year in, year out, application of the proper legal processes; it will not be sorted out in the hurry and scurry of the ports and airports of this country. If the Government proceed in that way, I shall vote for the legislation; but if there is a hint or an expectation of the fast track making a substantial contribution to solving a deep problem, I shall have the gravest reservations.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, it is a treat to follow the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer. The last time we debated a subject like this, the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said that every time I spoke he discovered something new. I apply those remarks to the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer. I perhaps should have known of his experience, but I did not. It is a tribute to your Lordships' House that in the middle of the debate we have heard the voice of experience; of someone who has been—and, for all I know, still is—at the sharp end of the football industry at a leading football club in England, and who has experience of the problems we are discussing today. I shall try to follow him in a constructive way.
First, I have to apologise that I was late coming into the debate. I found myself in the middle of—I must not call it round one—the speech of the noble Lord, Lord McNally. He was insisting on the rights of Back-Benchers in your Lordships' House. I applaud him for that.
Secondly, I declare an interest—the Minister is always keen on football and I am sure that he will note this—as the honorary patron of Forfar Athletic, but that should not concern us necessarily today. I am also a shareholder and a keen supporter of another major club in the north-west of England—I am wearing its tie tonight. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, will adopt a hull-down position; he knows that, whenever he mentions anything in your Lordships' House, Everton supporters tend to comb each word of Hansard. No doubt they might threaten me—there may be others who might wish to threaten me—but they might find in the case of a Forfar man that they have picked the wrong man.
As a supporter, I go frequently to Forfar—perhaps 15 or 20 times a season. It is a big treat for me to go to my other club in England. I may go twice to a home game; I may go once or twice to an away game, but I tend to go quite frequently to its youth games. One of my friends at this club has taken personal charge of the formation of the entire youth sector of that team. It is an enormous treat to see what the club is trying to do. So those are my interests.
1237 I also declare some nostalgia. The last time we spoke on this issue when the Minister made a Statement—I think it was in mid June—I mentioned that I had been in London on, I think, 15th April 1967 when Scotland, in the words of the Observer newspaper, took on the world champions and beat them. The scenes in and around Piccadilly were equally described by that same journalist, a Scotsman, as being a weird amalgam of William Wallace—that is the Braveheart who has recently come to fame—Harry Lauder and an advertisement for Alcoholics Anonymous. I think he was plumb on the button there. That used to be the way in which Scots behaved.
But, as their behaviour got wilder and wilder—it was rather like the threat of Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, "They don't like it" and so on—it became more and more apparent to Scottish supporters and to the Scottish Football Association that such conduct would result in the ultimate sanction of the banning of the Scottish national team from events such as Euro 2000 and the World Cup. It was beginning to sink in. It began to sink in that Scots were not welcome at matches played at Wembley.
I go back also with nostalgia to 1988–89. I seem to remember we have been here before. I remember reading in the great tabloid newspapers that something must be done. There were the same problems then as now. I looked also at the figures for Euro 2000, as have been spelled out by the Minister and indeed his right honourable friend in another place. Indeed, they were like a wonderful pair of pairs ice skaters. They did not make one error-6.0 for perfect style. Everything was made out. They mentioned that 965 persons were removed—I shall not say deported—from Belgium. We heard that 391 had previous convictions. That leaves 574 innocent people. Of those innocent people—the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, may have had something on them—I wonder how many were known to the National Criminal Intelligence Service? It was the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, who reminded us that of the 1,000 persons—I presume mostly men, there might be a girl among them, I do not know—on the list, only 30 were among the 965 removed from Belgium. We know about the 574.
Is it those 574 persons that this legislation covers? I have no problem with the first, the second and not much with the third element of the legislation; it is the fourth part of the legislation that gives me considerable cause for concern and indeed, many of your Lordships, as we have heard from excellent legal advice tonight. I looked also at the comments made on 4th July—alas I was absent from your Lordships' House in Edinburgh at another engagement I had to attend—when the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, told the Minister that a friend of his had been among the 965 removed from Belgium. The Minister indicated that he would look into that particular case. I am sure the Minister would be looking into that particular case, plus, I presume, quite a few others. I find it hard to believe that 574 persons who were removed from Belgium were all guilty, and those are the ones we are attempting to control with a scattergun approach.
1238 I turn to the Bill. The Minister has been wonderfully evangelistic, just as my noble friends were when in his position in 1988–89. The same speeches were made by my noble friends when the Conservatives were in power as are being made by the Minister, indeed with the same evangelistic tone. On 4th July, at column 1417 of Hansard, the Minister replied to my noble neighbour, Lord Mackie of Benshie, as to why the Scots tend to behave—perhaps not quite in a garden party way—better than the English at these matches. The Scottish supporters were singing, perhaps at the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, I do not know, but he mentioned it to me and lit the touchpaper. They were singing, "Doh, a deer, a female deer". That is what he said. I do not go to these matches because my blood pressure goes up. I prefer to stay in a hull-down position and listen to the result at the end of the match, particularly when Scotland are playing.
My first thought was that this was perhaps a black verse about the nocturnal habits of some of the England players sung by the Scottish supporters. Whether that would be considered abuse, I do not know. Secondly, I wondered whether the words were as the Minister heard them; the melody might be the same, but his ear might not be precisely attuned to what they were singing. Thirdly, I wondered whether the Scottish supporters were indicating that Miss Julie Andrews was the manager of the England team, then and now, such is their performance. I was not too sure. I was reassured today when I rang a Scottish journalist. He told me that the Scottish fans have—I do not know why—adopted this melody, motto and song for the past 10 years or so. It shows how often I go to matches to watch Scotland. I went nine years ago in Switzerland, when they did not sing that song, although it would have been nice if they had.
I recall the dreadful events in 1967. I also went as a guest to the match in 1969–71 when Scotland were playing at Wembley. I did not go in 1977 when the Scottish supporters virtually sacked the stadium. They wrecked the goalposts, tore up the turf and removed it. I did not go in 1981 when the Football Association said that they would take action against these wicked creatures from north of the Border; they would ban any Scot from getting a ticket to the game. That is relevant to what the Government are trying to do, let alone—I hope the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, will take that on board—what the football authorities are trying to do.
The Football Association, in its wisdom, said that no Scot would get a ticket for the England versus Scotland match at Wembley. I do not know how many of my compatriots took elocution lessons and started chanting, "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain". I am sorry the noble Lord is not here as I was going to refer to the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, in that way. It is clear that quite a few did because when the teams came out on to the pitch at Wembley a forest of banners went up—I do not think they would be caught under this Bill or any other one. Many of them said, "You tried to ban us, Mr Croker", who in those days was the secretary of the Football Association. Sixty thousand Scots had 1239 somehow evaded those controls and were at Wembley. The vandalism and so on had calmed right down. In 1999, the Minister was there, singing, "Doh, a deer, a female deer". The wonderful point is that in 1967, 1977, 1981 and 1999 Scotland actually won. So four times they have won.
I followed Scotland abroad; once to Portugal and once to Switzerland. In Switzerland I was with the ambassador, a guest of the Swiss. I had not intended going, but the Swiss said that I must come and support my team. So I did and sat among members of the Swiss government. There were 4,500 Scottish supporters with two pipers leading them in and out. The Scots drank very heavily throughout the day. There was not one arrest; not one case of violence. I wonder why that is. I think there is a lesson to be learned by England supporters.
I turn to the Bill. I am happy with the first three clauses dealt with in the Explanatory Notes. I am not happy with Clause 5. In respect of Clause 5, we see in the Explanatory Notes that inquiries about involvement in violence or disorder will be pursued. I wonder what the NCIS is doing. In respect of banning orders and so on, where it has information is it able to act at the port or the airport? I wonder how that fits in with what the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, the Minister, let alone his right honourable friend, said about 1,000 people or thereabouts being on the list of people who are under surveillance by the NCIS and the 30 who were picked up in Belgium.
When the noble Lord asked whether previous convictions count, I wonder how far back or what type of conviction he meant. I have a note here, "Who?". If we do apply these lists certainly I can think of at least four members of the professional English football team who would be on one. Certainly, one of them beat up a taxi driver 500 yards from my house. That was about three years ago. I think that the Minister might have to explain why the scattergun effect applies to someone who is under no suspicion at all and yet presumably players can carry on committing violence on the pitch. I am not too sure. Could the noble Lord at some stage give me advice about banning orders in Schedule 1?
I see that matches may be regulated. I checked my spectacles and looked at "regulating" further down, and I find that it reads "prescribed". Is a prescribed match in the original Act, or is it something that I have missed? Because the noble Lord is not—as I was in one case—the water carrier, he is the Minister in charge of the Bill, in charge of football hooliganism. He is, in football terms, the playmaker, so he ought to know what is a prescribed match. In that connection he and I were at that meeting. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, has mentioned the very helpful meeting we had with his right honourable friend. His right honourable friend mentioned the case of Manchester United playing Galatasaray. Can the Minister tell me whether he or his department have contacted anyone? I rang Manchester United this morning. A charming lady on the switchboard told me what the team were doing. The team is playing in a tournament in Munich 1240 on 4th and 5th August. The noble Lord will have to decide whether that is a prescribed match. What will he do? Are young boys or young adults who turn up at an airport in Manchester United shirts to be under suspicion? They might be going to Munich or they might be causing trouble. That is the kind of problem we shall face if the Bill is undigested and unamended. I am a little worried about that.
I do not have any quibble with the first, second and third measures. I do have a quibble with the fourth measure. I find it inconceivable that the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, and his colleagues, with all their wisdom and experience, could not use the existing regulations.
I referred to Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, referred to tabloid journalism and to the headline "Hun Nil" when England were playing our neighbours from Germany. I had a nasty shock last Saturday. I do not think that the Minister, let alone anyone from south of the Border, would have had the same shock. I went into a shop to get milk. I do not normally read the Scottish Sun—I do not think you read it; you assimilate it. I have the newspaper in my hand. It says in large print "15p". That is possibly for football referees or others who are a little short of sight. I flipped it over and what did I find:22 SOCCER GIRLS STRIP REF NAKED".That is the problem we have north of the Border. I understand that it was something to do with a Highland League game. Yesterday I had a word with a senior figure in the Scottish Football Association, but quite what FIFA and the SFA will make of that I am not too sure. We can control hooliganism but I am not too sure whether the Bill applies to young ladies as well as to young men. We shall have some fun in Committee. I look forward to the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, and his friends stopping a bunch of curvaceous young ladies who are on their way abroad and saying, "We think you mean grievous bodily harm against a referee. We are banning you and sending you back". That will be fun.
This problem has clearly been resolved in Scotland, but it shows the danger of following tabloid journalism and chanting "Something must be done". I go along with three of the measures. I hope that the Minister will be able to give noble Lords—my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew, the noble Lords, Lord Alexander of Weedon and Lord Phillips, and others who have spoken—an assurance on this point. I thank the Minister for his forbearance. I am delighted that when he went and was singing "Doh, a deer, a female deer", he was not in serious danger of breaching the provisions of his own Bill through abusive and foul language—certainly not this time.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Baroness Ludford
My Lords, I shall try not to speak for too long, even if it is a liberation not to be limited to one minute, as often happens in the European Parliament—a useful discipline.
I am rather surprised to find myself the only woman listed to speak in the debate, although I am glad that there was a brief female intervention. I do not think 1241 that football should be left to men, even though I am not quite such a connoisseur of the game as my noble friend Lord McNally. My only claim is that my home borough is Islington, which means that my loyalties automatically and properly lie with Islington.
The Bill could be described as "tough on embarrassment and tough on the causes of embarrassment". The suspicion that this legislation was designed more to cover up international embarrassment for this country and this Government than to get to the root causes of violence was somewhat borne out by the Minister's opening remarks. This is hasty, knee-jerk legislation which, by cutting corners on proper evidence and safeguards for civil liberties, will undermine the fight against violence accompanying football matches. The summary justice and banning orders on the basis of suspicion are particularly open to criticism. As the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, said, we must go along the hard but better route of securing court convictions with proper evidence in conjunction with our European Union partners, a point to which I shall return later.
We have seen this week, in the case of Mark Forrester, the only Briton convicted in Belgium after Euro 2000, that this kind of short-cut justice does not stick. The Belgian court has accepted that he did not get a fair trial under Belgium's new fast-track legislation. He was released on bail and a retrial will take place. The court ruled that more time was needed to assess the evidence against him, including video evidence which was not produced at the original fast-track proceedings, and to allow his lawyers to put forward a proper defence. As the Belgian newspaper Le Soir said, the case will now be tried before une juridiction classique, non accéléree. The lesson of that case is that it will take much longer in the end to get a conviction, if such is the result, than if the normal procedure had been observed in the first place. There is not much point in the FA saying that it would ban for life anyone convicted at Euro 2000 when only one person was; and he was not properly tried. So you get back to square one when you have bad law.
Liberty is surely right in saying that we do not know whether the new proposals are being brought forward because existing powers are perceived to be working well or badly, since we have no analysis at all of the existing powers and their results. The Explanatory Notes just say:In the light of persistent episodes of disorder involving English football supporters during the European Championship Finals … this Bill proposes further measures to combat football hooliganism".That is not a very well-founded justification. Banning orders and summary justice for suspected hooligans do indeed have unhappy echoes of anti-social behaviour orders, with their lack of criminal standard of proof, criminal disclosure regime and criminal procedures and rules of evidence. But they are even worse.
For instance, the test for the banning order is even lower than for an ASBO since it requires only reasonable grounds to believe that to grant the order would help to prevent violence in connection with football. Given the substantial consequences attached 1242 to a banning order and the penalties for breach, the court must be satisfied on a criminal standard that violence would be prevented by the order.
The government lawyers are no doubt being very modern and creative these days so that an order can be made on a civil justice standard but breach of it is a criminal offence. But I cannot help feeling that traditional distinctions I learnt in my Bar exams between civil and criminal law are to be preferred. So we need to concentrate, as the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, said, on the difficult, practical problem of increasing the rate of arrest and conviction through more and better policing—perhaps the rich clubs could chip in for that—and more CCTV and video evidence so that we get an increase in properly obtained convictions. I understand that the rate of arrests has fallen, proportionate to spectator numbers, by 75 per cent over the past 15 years since the Heysel stadium tragedy. If the authorities in other European countries just deport without prosecuting, we should be able to use their evidence in the prosecution process. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, made that point. But we should not recognise their deportation or administrative detention as convictions, which they are not. We should press, through increasing efforts, to approximate criminal law in the European Union and have mutual recognition of judgments and judicial orders for our EU partners to prosecute and not deport.
In debates on this subject in another place during proceedings on the Crime and Disorder Bill two years ago, Kate Hoey emphasised the Government's wish to see people taken to court in other European countries or to try to use the evidence in our courts. We heard nothing of that from the Minister today—perhaps because it is difficult and raises a good many practical problems. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, said that this is a speedy response to a pressing need. It has been a pressing need for 20 years, so why the unseemly haste?
There are considerable worries about the compatibility of the legislation with the European Convention on Human Rights as well as with the free movement provisions of the European Community—concerns which I do not believe the Minister covered. I apologise if I am wrong about that. It would be far preferable to avoid this knee-jerk response to past and potential international embarrassment. It would be much better to legislate only once the Home Office working party, led by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, and including members of the FA, has reported—the kind of partnership to which the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, referred. I understand that the working party is looking at a range of measures to stamp out hooliganism, including smart cards for ticket holders with photographic ID, travel and stewarding arrangements, tackling racism in football and addressing the problem of black market tickets, of which apparently 17,000 were obtained by English fans in Charleroi.
Parliamentarians in Belgium warned their government that their fast-track procedure would breach the European Convention on Human Rights regarding evidence and the rights of the defence. The 1243 Belgian court's acceptance that Mark Forrester did not have a fair trial may be an indication of the kind of problems that our criminal justice can look forward to if this Bill goes through.
If convictions issued by courts in other EU countries are to be recognised as valid, something which in principle both I and, I believe, the Government would wholeheartedly support as helping to fight crime, then we need to ensure that high standards of justice are upheld across Europe rather than sloppy decisions which, in the end, will undermine the effort to stamp out violence by bringing the legislation into disrepute.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Lord Lucas
My Lords, when examining legislation of this kind, we should always bear in mind the equation: is the damage that we are doing to the liberty of the citizen justified by the good that it will do? Let us look at the best possible case for this legislation. Let us suppose that the police, through their intelligence work and the kind of mechanisms that we have been discussing at such length in our deliberations on the Registration of Investigatory Powers Bill, know the identity of a few hundred people who, it might be said with great certainty, were intent on causing mayhem of one kind or another at football matches. However, hitherto it has been impossible to take any action against them because no evidence has been gathered to convict them of an arrestable offence and therefore a football banning order could not be put in place.
The legislation before us would enable most of those people to be caught with a football banning order. It will enable that because the terms in which new Sections 14A and 14B are drawn are so wide that they could catch almost everyone. They would catch the almost 30 per cent of the population who have convictions. They would also catch anyone who has ever been rude to a traffic warden. Most of us would probably fall into that category at one time or another because of the sheer exasperation and irritation of such encounters. It certainly caught the Home Secretary in his younger days, something which clearly he now realises.
The way in which this legislation catches people whom we wish to see banned is also the way in which it would catch perhaps 70 or 80 per cent of the population and leave out only that 20 per cent who are sensible enough not to go to football matches and therefore are presumably crime free in all other respects. If we produce a law that is so wide in its catchment, but so narrow in its application, then what we are advocating is arbitrary law. We are saying, "We shall have a law which catches almost everyone, but we shall apply it to only a very few cases". It is dangerous to go down such a road.
The same kind of law could apply to so many other matters here in our own country. Why not apply the same principle to the people who rioted in the City? Why not apply the same principle to those who dug up trial plots of GM seeds? Why not apply it to anyone who has ever been convicted of mugging? After all, are 1244 they not likely to commit that crime again? Why not apply it to anyone caught drinking in a pub? After all, they are likely to end up face down in Leicester Square or drinking and driving. As soon as we impose on people such an arbitrary travel restriction, based only on the suspicion that they might be likely to do something, we are treading on extremely dangerous ground. It is truly dangerous to introduce a law which leaves decisions entirely to the good sense of the police based on the notion that they will only arrest the ones who really are, "guilty, aren't they, guv"?.
My noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts put it accurately: we shall see a reduction in respect for the police. Furthermore, if the law is applied widely, we should anticipate a widespread reduction in respect for our police and for the application of the law.
We need also to consider the effectiveness of the measure. New Sections 14A and 14B will work if they are applied as the Government intend for them to work and if the police intelligence-gathering effort is good. However, I have enormous doubts about new Section 21. My noble friend Lord Cope pointed out that the authorities will be faced with several thousand football fans planning to go abroad on a series of ferries who have to be identified before they are checked in. As my noble friend Lord Cope pointed out, it will not be possible to wait until they have all shown their passports; identification must be made ahead of that stage. However, if the authorities can identify people that accurately, why not simply use new Sections 14A and 14B? Under what circumstances would new Section 21 be used? This section will be invoked so rarely and will apply to so few people that, from a legislative point of view, there is scarcely any point in putting it in place at all.
However, it poses such a threat to every football fan who has ever done anything wrong under the terms of the Bill—we know that that will include at least 30 per cent of those ordinary citizens, and probably 60 per cent if they admit to anything for which they have not been convicted. Almost every football fan travelling abroad will be at risk of being picked up by a police officer as he tries to pass through the port. That is an extraordinary challenge to ask citizens to face. Fans on their way out of the country will encounter a system of arbitrary arrest and will have no means of preventing it.
If we are to pursue a measure of this kind, then people must be given the opportunity to acquire prior clearance. They must be able to see their local chief of police and say, "Do you have any suspicions about me?". If the local chief of police has no suspicions, then those people should be given a passport, as it were, to wave at the authorities trying to stop them from travelling. They will be able to declare, "I have been cleared by my local chief of police. He knows me and you do not. Let me go". That would also force the local police service to go through the procedures laid down in this Bill. They will either need to obtain a banning order, or they will not need to do so. It is simply not good enough to subject so many tens of thousands of people to arbitrary arrest simply because they want to attend a football match abroad.
1245 As several noble Lords have already pointed out, we should not underestimate the effect of the banning order. It will be as near as makes no difference a criminal conviction. It will have to be declared for insurance purposes and will have to be made known to employers or prospective employers. We know full well what happened to several fans who were sent back from Belgium—they were summarily sacked from their jobs. Strikes have taken place over that. Indeed, I have suffered inconvenience as a result. My sympathies lie entirely with those who were returned from Belgium. The Belgian authorities appear to have acted with no particular regard for justice. Simply for the convenience of being able to clean the streets, they arrested all kinds of people who had done nothing wrong.
The legislation will place the stigma of a conviction on people who will have very little chance of escaping that stigma. As the Bill is drafted, there will be very little chance of escaping a banning order because the terms are drawn so wide while the discretion for magistrates is drawn so narrow. It is an extraordinary thing to impose on our fellow citizens even if they are, as my noble friend Lord Onslow said, fat, beer-gutted, unprepossessing and frequently drunk. That makes no difference. Those people are our fellow mortals and should be treated as our equals in legislation, as well as in life.
I shall turn now to the notion of "reasonable grounds". What will comprise those reasonable grounds? Again, if the police know something about a person for which they could have invoked new Section 14A or 14B, why would they not have done that already? New Section 21 would allow the police simply to pick people out of a crowd based solely on who those people are associating with or what they are doing. That would represent an interesting reversal of the general practice of "sus", in that the police will pick out the whites. Anyone of colour will be allowed to go free because they are known not to be guilty of this kind of crime. However, I believe that it is equally objectionable to apply "sus" to my race as it is to any other race. That kind of prejudice—it is no better than that—is no kind of basis on which people should be arrested.
However, there appear to be no other clear grounds on which to arrest people other than the kind of evidence that would have enabled the police to arrest those people under a new Section 14A or 14B order. If something has happened so that someone has come to the notice of the police only a week before a football match taking place abroad, it is hardly likely that that person will prove to be a major ringleader of a lot of people. If a person has been organising and has been involved in such acts for a period of years, that person would have come to the notice of the police at a much earlier stage.
There is not much opportunity to table amendments to the Bill. I urge noble Lords to do so tonight or tomorrow morning. With the noble Lord, Lord Bach, as the Minister, we shall not have the opportunity to stray off the subject of amendments. We shall be closely shepherded to the subjects that we have put 1246 down. I am sure I can count on the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, to pursue his amendments. I hope that everybody else will table theirs so that we can at least debate these issues.
We need to discuss the word "must" which has crept in to reduce the discretion of the magistrates. Whatever has been said by the Home Secretary, there are pressures in the Bill on magistrates to make people subject to banning orders just because the Belgians have sent them back. That is in the Bill. It does not matter what was said by the Home Secretary obiter dicta. We must ensure that being sent back from Belgium cannot be the sole ground on which a banning order is made.
We must have a tighter definition of disorder. For disorder to be ever having insulted someone is far too wide. We must, at least, insert the word "serious". There are several other places in the Bill where that word belongs. When we talk about what qualifies a person for a banning order, we must ensure that they have done something notable, serious or in sonic other way out of the ordinary for them to be subject to the years of stigma which will result.
I hope that my own Front Bench will gather courage from this debate and from what will be said in Committee. I hope that they will overcome what I understand is their natural reluctance to be seen to be seriously amending a Bill which may place them at political risk of being blamed for future football violence.
As has been said by many noble Lords tonight, no previous legislation, however well thought out, has made much of a dent in this problem. There is no evidence from this Bill that it will do anything. As many noble Lords have pointed out, if the "unidentified serious" were caught before with 14A and 14B that is fine, you have them. But if they think they will escape, and go on the day, they will not go through Dover; they will go out through Scotland. If they have not been caught beforehand, why take the risk at Dover? The Bill will only catch the innocent. Section 21 will not do what the Government hope. It will merely cause damage to the liberty of the citizen and to the reputation of the police. That is not something that we should allow to happen. We should be happy to accept the political risk that goes with removing that part of the Bill.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I am reminded that Harold Macmillan was once stopped and asked the cause of his present problems. He was asked, "What did you fear most?" He replied, "Events, dear boy". I can imagine that the last thing wished for by this Home Secretary or this Government were the events that took place during Euro 2000. However, they happened and that has to be dealt with.
I have heard most of the speeches tonight and have listened carefully to them. I was struck by the knowledge of this subject in this House. That is not a surprise. There are people here who know a considerable amount about the law but not so much 1247 about football. There are those like myself who know a considerable amount about football but not much about the law.
I have enjoyed the walk down memory lane, particularly the mention of Blackpool and Stanley Matthews. My knowledge of Stanley was that he patented "the Stanley Matthews football boot", made by the Co-op. Every time Stanley Matthews played away with Stoke, the local Co-op departmental store had a queue 500 yards long. They sold his football boots. It was quite a feat.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
It's the way I tell them! The other memory I have is of a voice you would have heard tonight but sadly he is no longer with us. I refer to Joe Dean; Lord Dean of Beswick. In 1988 or 1989 an attempt was made to pass the Football Spectators Bill. That was borne out of the troubles of the Government of the day. It was felt that something must be done. They produced a Bill which Joe Dean and I handled from the Opposition Front Bench. Lord Hesketh spoke for the Government and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was the then Minister in the other place.
The Government persisted with that Bill until the events at Hillsborough took place. The enormity, horror and terrible tragedy of Hillsborough caused the Government to abandon the Bill. No one will score marks politically about the right or wrong time to do things. There never is a right time.
I have been much taken by phrases used by noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, said that we can legislate in haste but repent at leisure. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, said that when we legislate we produce a cat's-cradle and that we do not know the full effect and impact of what we are doing. That is a fact which I do not deny.
I have listened carefully to noble Lords who are knowledgeable in the law and able to read the Bill and pick it to pieces. I do not mean that in a destructive way. They are able to analyse it sensibly and make their criticisms intelligible to me. Noble Lords will have gathered that I was not born within the sound of Bow Bells. My team were the Magpies. During the passing of the Football Spectators Bill, up jumped George Wallace of Norwich who said, "I am proud to tell the House that I am the President of the Canaries". Everyone looked around. Of course, the Canaries is the name given to Norwich football team.
I believe the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, mentioned Millwall or Millwall supporters. In the same debate, up jumped my dear departed Chief Whip, Bob Mellish. He had been the president of Millwall supporters club. Joe Dean and I had the privilege of visiting many football grounds. We were invited by the directors to see what was going on. Joe was passionate about Manchester. He was always proud to say that Manchester could boast the two best teams in the 1248 country: Manchester City and Manchester City reserves. If he had been here tonight he would have brought passion, knowledge and sincerity.
I suspect that, like myself, he would have felt uneasy at some of the consequences spelt out by the critics of the Bill. However, I detect that at the end of the day, even the critics are in a dilemma as regards the parliamentary timetable, the political imperative and the need to respond. The Government have to produce legislation. This legislation can and will be criticised.
I attended Newcastle United at St James's Park in the 1930s. I had what was called a "spuggies ticket". When I was interviewed once I was asked what that was. A spuggy, on Tyneside, is a sparrow. Together with a group of boys I went to the Leazes End. There was a tree right near the wall. One of the boys would go up the wall with a rope round his waist, get into the ground, tie the rope on to a stanchion, throw it down and we flew in. We were spuggies. That was in 1934 or 1935—over 60 years ago. From Newcastle, I "lived", as I do now, for 30 years at the Spurs. The football fan of 1999–2000 lives in a different world from the one that I remember. Today, 65,000 to 75,000 people are packed into the grounds.
Football is part of the cultural heritage, not just of the industrial towns but of other towns as well. Tonight, we are debating a very precious thing, which will interest and affect millions of people. I believe that, overwhelmingly, they will want this House, with another place, to produce a piece of legislation that will attempt to deal with some of the disgusting scenes that we have witnessed. I have heard speakers mention "wrongful arrests" and "unsure ground". All I can say is that I saw the same television coverage as they saw. Whether or not I saw unlawful arrests, I saw Englishmen behaving despicably. I do not know how many or who they were, but the public sees the image created by the hooligan and by cynical people of that kind.
The authoritative speeches by the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner and Lord Borrie and Members on the opposite side of the House clearly indicate that we take this matter very seriously. The Minister and his senior colleague, Jack Straw, have demonstrated that they are not set precisely in their ways and that they are willing to move. I hope that by the time we begin the later stages of the Bill next week, they will have listened carefully to the criticisms made in this debate and can produce amendments that go some way towards answering them. At the end of the day, the Government have the responsibility.
I shall certainly support the Bill, hoping that it will be amended in such a way as to satisfy its critics. The Minister has taken a keen interest and has represented the government view on this issue very well over the past few months. He could do his department, himself, this House and Parliament a great favour by listening to what has been said and by bringing back amendments next week to improve the Bill. If that is done, it will receive more support than it has at present.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Lord Goodhart
My Lords, I have a feeling that noble Lords in your Lordships' stadium are beginning to look at their watches and hope that the referee's final whistle will not be too long delayed. I shall try not to delay it any longer than is necessary.
I should perhaps start with a couple of declarations. One is that I am a supporter and occasional spectator of Queens Park Rangers. That team has never had much of a problem with hooliganism, partly perhaps because it has never been very successful—at least, it has had some good years in the past but not recently. But it has done rather better than Darlington. The other, more serious declaration of interest is that I am a vice-chairman of Justice, the organisation which gave instructions for the preparation of the full and thorough opinion by two distinguished members of the Bar referred to earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon.
This has been a good debate. We have heard contributions from experts on football, from experts in the law and from those who are experts in neither but whose contributions have been based on their own experience, good sense and judgment.
I should like to refer to the distinguished maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson. Perhaps I may also single out—I hope that other noble Lords who have spoken will not mind my doing so—not a maiden speech but a speech from someone whom I have not heard before in this House; namely, the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer. He spoke with outstanding good sense and good judgment.
Before turning to the substance of the Bill, perhaps I may clear away a few miscellaneous points. First, it is plain that the Bill—inevitably, as it is being rushed through—contains some bad drafting. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, pointed that out. There are one or two errors, one trivial and one quite serious, which need correction. I shall not mention them now but will deal with them in Committee.
We are faced with serious problems over the timing of this debate. The time allowed for the Bill is far too short. We shall be in serious difficulties next week when we are having a Committee stage late on Monday and the Report stage and Third Reading early on Tuesday. That will not make it easy, and indeed it may even not be possible, to prepare our amendments properly and to deal with the important amendments that will be tabled by the Government and which we have not yet seen.
I should also be interested to know whether the Government are proposing to accept all the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee or merely the one to which the Minister spoke.
I turn to another issue which, I was surprised to find, was not raised in the debate. I refer to the Welsh dimension—frankly, I am not the correct person to raise it because I am not Welsh. The Welsh supporters are not a problem. That may be partly because in recent years Wales has tended not to get very far in international tournaments. But that may change; 1250 indeed we hope that it will. Welsh supporters still have, compared with some others, a reputation for good behaviour. I remember an occasion some years ago when a match between Wales and Scotland had to be played in Liverpool. The newspaper reports said that 100 fans had been arrested for drunkenness, 99 of them Scots and one Welsh. Surely the consent of the Welsh Assembly ought to be required to treating any match involving a Welsh club or Welsh national team as a regulated match.
It is important, as a number of speakers have said, in particular my noble friend Lady Ludford, for us to look at better ways of ensuring that hooligans who have committed acts of hooliganism abroad are sentenced. That could be done, as my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury suggested, by making football hooliganism an extra-territorial offence. Another—in the longer term, not in this Bill—would be the development of a Euro-bail system. One of the problems is that courts in countries such as Belgium are faced with a dilemma. They do not want to shut hooligans up in prison to await trial when that trial may be considerably delayed. It will be expensive to look after them, and at the end of the day they may merely receive a fine. On the other hand, if they are given bail, they will simply scarper off home and never be seen again in Belgium. What is needed is a Euro-bail system by which we in this country would agree that, if someone was given bail in Belgium and failed to answer to bail, the person would simply be arrested here and shipped back to Belgium without having to go through the extradition process; and that could apply vice versa.
I turn to the major issues. First, I am much concerned by the excessive restriction on travel. This has also been a concern of Justice and the Law Society. The restriction is very probably inconsistent with the laws of both the European Community and the European Convention on Human Rights. We need to look very closely at the surrender of passports. What will happen to people who live or work abroad or whose work takes them abroad? What about those who have, say, pre-booked a holiday in Florida, only to find that the Secretary of State makes an order which declares a match in Denmark to be a regulated one and they must surrender their passports? Surely, that is absolutely ridiculous.
Surrender should not be required if a person needs his passport at a time when it would otherwise be surrendered because he lives or works abroad, or needs to go abroad for family reasons, or has pre-booked a holiday to another part of the world. Surrender should not be required in any case where the subject of the banning order can satisfy a court that he is not travelling abroad with a view to attending a match or taking part in any violence associated with it. Frankly, I do not see why there is any need to surrender a passport. Banning orders can and do require the subject to report at a police station while the match is being played. If that can be done for matches in the United Kingdom, why do we need anything more for matches outside the United Kingdom? If a banning 1251 order is broken by the subject failing to turn up at the police station he will have committed an offence for which he can be punished.
Secondly, I believe that the summary procedure that is proposed in new Sections 21A, 21B and 21C to the 1989 Act are deeply and incurably flawed. If a policeman has, or thinks he has, or says he has, reasonable grounds to suspect that a passenger on his way through an airport has a history of violence, whether or not he has been convicted of it, and that the passenger may join in a punch-up outside the stadium if he finds one going on, the policeman can detain that passenger for four hours on his own responsibility. He can then require the individual to turn up at a magistrates' court within 24 hours and hand over his passport. That policeman can even, on his own decision, place the individual in detention. By the time the passenger gets back his passport he may have been detained, quite unjustifiably, for more than 24 hours and missed his flight. He may be too late to buy another ticket or catch another flight. That simply will not do.
As has been pointed out over and over again in this debate, serious hooligans do not turn up at airports wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the cross of St George and bottles of lager sticking out of any pocket that is within reach; they come dressed in respectable clothes and set off undetected.
I recall a film released some years ago called "Cat Ballou" in which Jane Fonda hired Lee Marvin, a famous but ageing gunslinger, to help her avenge the murder of her father. She went to meet the stagecoach on which Lee Marvin was to arrive. When it arrived a hulking great man dressed in black swaggered out of the stagecoach. Obviously, Jane Fonda's spirits lifted—until the man was smothered in a gang of small children screaming "Daddy", at which point Lee Marvin was kicked out of the stagecoach dead drunk. That is what will happen here: the serious hooligans will make certain that they do not turn up like that at airports. If there are real grounds for making a banning order, it should be imposed in good time, on proper evidence and not at the very last minute, possibly on very flimsy evidence.
Having said that, I should like to look at wider issues. In this Bill we are treating the symptoms and not the cause. I accept that we need to treat the symptoms, but we must also discover the causes. The causes are many, and I should like to point to two. One which has already been mentioned is the xenophobic attitude of parts of our press which constantly make reference to "Huns" and "Frogs". Much more importantly, in this country we have among young people in particular a culture dominated by booze. Drink is central to hooliganism. It has been suggested that the reason there were few, if any, problems with violence at the England game at Eindhoven was that the Dutch authorities watered down the beer and ensured that lots of cannabis was available, thereby ensuring that the fans were peacefully stoned instead of fighting drunk. I do not suggest that we should yet follow the same course of action, but the Government 1252 should do what they can to restrict and diminish the booze culture. The Government should bear that in mind when looking, for example, at the proposed reform of the licensing laws.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, that we face the consequences of a knee-jerk reaction by both the Labour and Conservative leaderships to the events in Charleroi and Brussels. What we have at the moment is a bad Bill which has been introduced with good intentions. Some of its provisions, such as combining domestic and international banning orders, make a great deal of sense. But the measure is being introduced much too quickly and in the absence of any proven need to move so fast. The Bill also contains potential infringements of the rights of innocent people, especially in the summary procedure in new Sections 21A and 21B to the Football Spectators Act. I believe that those provisions contravene provisions of the European Community and the European Convention on Human Rights. We need substantial amendments to the Bill before we can welcome it. The Government have gone some way in that direction but they need to go a good deal further. I hope that by next Tuesday they will have done just that.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Viscount Astor
My Lords, we are now straying into extra time or injury time so I shall be brief.
My first task is to congratulate my noble friend Lord Hodgson on his excellent maiden speech. He was elected to another place in a famous by-election victory in 1976. It was a harbinger of our 1979 election victory. Therefore I am sure that his arrival in this House will be a similar harbinger for our party in the forthcoming election.
The Minister has a certain degree of sympathy from me. It has been said often today that legislation in haste is a bad thing. The Dangerous Dogs Act has been mentioned. I offer your Lordships an admission. Together with my noble friend Lord Ferrers, I took the Dangerous Dogs Bill through this House. Although it has been rightly criticised by dog owners, there is one defence to some aspect of it. For some reason I do not quite understand, the powers in the Act seem to have filtered down to the canine world. Thankfully, there have been fewer cases of dogs biting people and causing serious injury.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, said that the Bill is on a superfast track. That is so. It is an emergency Bill to enact new measures to combat football hooliganism in the wake of the disturbances in Belgium. The Government want it enacted before the end of July so that the new powers will be available for England-away matches during the Recess. I want to make this absolutely clear. We shall not stand in the way of legislation being enacted before Parliament rises for the summer. However, there must be proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill. It was published only last week and it has undergone significant recent revision. It needs further revision in this House. I assure my noble friend Lord Lucas that we shall have no reluctance in amending the Bill in this House.
1253 The Minister described the Bill's passage through another place as condensed but thorough. Presumably that is a new Labour spin word for the guillotine: it is called "condensing". Not all parts of the Bill were addressed in Committee in another place and it did not have the opportunity to debate the whole Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Graham, referred to the Football Spectators Act 1989. In the way that history proves strange things, I find that the current Home Secretary at that time voted against the Bill. The Government have missed opportunities to consider the problem in the recent past. My honourable friend Simon Burns took through the football offence and disorder measure, a private Bill introducing similar powers. The Government could have introduced those powers through that Bill had they so wished.
My noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon, the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, and many others agree that existing measures do not work. I think that we all agree that we should not export hooliganism and that we should act to prevent the ugly scenes which have occurred from recurring. But the Bill needs revision. It is full of extraordinary loopholes. The most bizarre relates to Scotland. The Bill brings internal controls into this country. I cannot think of a single Act of Parliament since the Act of Union, about 300 years ago, whereby a Scot may be prevented from returning home. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, may be able to think of an Act, or of one prior to the Act of Union, whereby that was the case.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, an attempt was made by King Charles I which was restrained by legislation in 1628.
§ Viscount Astor
My Lords, as always we are grateful to the noble Earl. It explains the difficulty for Government in trying to bring forward proper legislation. The Government have not been helped by the Scottish Executive which has said that even if it had the time, and the Scottish Parliament were sitting, it has n o intention of bringing forward similar legislation in Scotland.
I shall comment briefly on some of the legal aspects of the Bill. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, is concerned about the drafting defect. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Lord, Lord Monson, ask why the powers apply only to football and find extraordinary single purpose legislation.
It is particularly odd when one looks at the European dimension. I find it extraordinary that if a European suspected hooligan arrives in this country we do not deport him or prevent him or her arriving, but only prosecute if an offence is committed. It is also interesting that this Bill does not apply to a non-British resident living in this country of which, I am told, there are two-and-a-half million such persons. I understand the Government considered this as a proposal but rejected it. It would be interesting to know from the Minister what other EU countries have similar legislation or have plans to introduce similar legislation. Many noble Lords have mentioned what 1254 has happened in Europe. It is extraordinary that in Europe where, by and large, the police have wider powers, they have been used so infrequently recently.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, mentioned the failure to prosecute—four prosecutions and 900 arrests constitute an extraordinarily low percentage. We know that some countries have been slow to implement alcohol bans. We know that alcohol is a main factor when it comes to hooliganism.
My noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon was concerned at how this proposed legislation would fit in with the Human Rights Act, and he cited Justice. It seems that it may not be compatible with EU treaties and the European human rights law. I think that the Government will have to explain how that is going to work. The Minister is going to have to have help from his noble and learned friend the Attorney-General.
Will the Minister confirm that the Government are bringing forward an amendment to address the issue of compensation? The noble Lord, Lord Borrie, is concerned that any amendment may make the Bill less effective.
I think that the most important thing on our side is the sunset clause. We believe that the sunset clause should apply for six months—with a review in a year—and no longer. It was supported in another place by Tony Banks, Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott who all said that legislation passed in a hurry always posed problems and that there should be a review. My noble friend Lord Tebbit was concerned about banning orders. My noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew described the Bill as a serious infringement of civil liberties. There are serious issues of liberty and standard of proof.
One of the main reasons why I believe that a sunset clause is crucial is that—and I hope that Ministers on the other side of the House know about this because it was something we discovered when in government—courts do not always act in the way that Ministers intend they should. That has been the experience of many Home Secretaries and the Secretary of State for Education experienced that recently over teachers' pay.
There seems to be confusion—and as I am not a lawyer I look forward to the Minister explaining this—as to how this Bill is "civil" in effect but "criminal" in character. The Government must clarify this matter. Is it a civil or criminal level of proof that is to be required?
There are other concerns, for example, out of the 965 arrests, only 30 persons were known to the NCIS. So, how are these persons to be spotted? There are concerns about procedures at airports and railway stations. How is the Bill going to work? Are we to have policemen interviewing lines of people waiting to check in, perhaps inadvertently causing congestion and travel delay? This Bill needs to be revised. We need to get it right. We may not get it exactly right, which is the reason why a sunset clause is so crucial.
The Minister is going to have a difficult task this evening in saying, "I shall write to the noble Lord". Unfortunately, with the timetable that the Minister faces, he will not be able to do that. We have 1255 Committee stage on Monday and Report and Third Reading on Tuesday, and we have to have time to put down amendments. The Minister will have to answer the detailed questions that have been put to him this evening. We all look forward to his answers. I reiterate that we want the Bill but we must have a Bill that is right and that works.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, it is some five hours since I sat down. During that time we have had an interesting, illuminating and on occasions helpful and valuable debate. I have greatly enjoyed the contributions made from all sides of the Chamber. I want to refer in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, whose contribution was witty, wise, informative and helpful. He raised two or three useful and interesting questions and I am sure that he will have a most distinguished future in this House.
We also heard a number of interesting confessions during our long debate. Some people confessed to being Darlington supporters, Newcastle fans and Forfar Athletic fanatics. Someone mentioned Lincoln City and the noble Lord, Lord McNally, made a notable reference to Blackpool. Leeds received a very good showing from the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, and there was reference to Queens Park Rangers, which I believe is a better team than the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, demonstrated. We also heard a confession from the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, who, sadly, has left us. He is now, apparently, a civil libertarian. That is indeed profound and important news and the nation needs to know it.
I also discovered other interesting facets to the debate. A degree of consensus emerged; the first two measures which we seek to introduce are broadly acceptable to Members of your Lordships' House. That is an important consensus. Furthermore, most Members accept that legislation is necessary. There was criticism from some speakers that the legislation was "knee-jerk". I reject that suggestion. I believe that it is—to use one of my favourite words—"proportionate" and right in the circumstances.
During the past 15 years, since 1985, there have been eight pieces of legislation which in one form or another have had an important bearing upon the problems associated with football; often described as "football hooliganism". The Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol Etc.) Act 1985 set us along that course. As an official I was responsible for preparing evidence for submission to Mr Justice Popplewell in his inquiry. The previous administration passed six pieces of legislation and the present Government have passed two in order to try to deal with aspects of football hooliganism. This Bill is a third attempt on our part.
Undoubtedly, each piece of legislation has contributed to improving the nature of the domestic football game. In 1984–85 attendances at league football matches were close to 18 million and there were 40 arrests per 100,000 attendances. Now there are 1256 13 arrests per 100,000 attendances and during the season crowds are in the region of 26 million. Those figures and the actions of the previous administration and the Government in supporting many of the measures demonstrate that legislation has an important part to play; that it can have an impact on human behaviour; and that it will set a framework within which people behave in and around football. That is an optimistic view but it is borne out by the history of successive legislation and the way in which it has been used by the industry, the police, governments and the courts. That is a cause for considerable optimism.
The new legislation follows on from events in Euro 2000 but debate on its principal purpose, which is to curtail the freedom of movement of some individuals—some individuals—who can reasonably be recognised as likely to cause problems abroad, has been taking place during the past year and a half to two years. It was certainly raised during the Home Office consultation which took place prior to the last piece of football-related legislation and was widely debated during the course of that legislation. However, as a government, we were urged to take action in that field prior to, during and after Euro 2000. We reflected carefully on the nature of the problems that were experienced and decided that it was right to act again now. I believe that we are right to do so because a new football season is approaching. Five or six top English clubs will be playing in major European competitions which will involve between 20 and 40 matches. I do not consider that to be a small number of matches, and many of them—at least 50 per cent, I suspect—will be played in Europe. There will also be a match against France and the beginning of the World Cup qualifying matches. Given the events in Charleroi, Copenhagen and Brussels, I believe that if we do not act, we shall be looked upon by our European counterparts as being rather strange. I consider that to be a position which is widely supported throughout the country.
Having listened carefully to the arguments during this long debate, I recognise that there is a need to balance the civil rights of individuals and to combat football hooliganism and salvage our national reputation. As a Minister and as a campaigner before I became a Minister, I have long argued for civil rights to be protected, and I believe that we have an important job to do in that regard. I pay tribute to Members of your Lordships' House who, rightly, have raised those concerns. During our debates on this legislation we need to focus on that important issue.
I believe that the Bill strikes a balance, although it is difficult to do so. Throughout, we have demonstrated that we are willing to listen to concerns and respond with amendments where appropriate. I believe that that says much for the quality of the approach that we have adopted; it says much for the Home Secretary's attitude; and I believe that it will be reflected well in your Lordships' House.
Many points have been raised during the debate, some more important and serious than others. I shall attempt to deal in turn with as many of them as I can, but I apologise in advance if I miss one. However, I 1257 shall attempt to put them on the public record and, no doubt, the correspondence section of the Home Office will respond as dutifully as it always does in these circumstances. We shall try to give an answer where I do not manage to do so during the course of my summary.
The noble Lord, Lord Cope, rightly asked me to try to identify the number of individuals who may become subject to the orders under the legislation. I believe that it is probably not possible to be precise. However, our estimate of court and enforcement authority costs is based on an expectation that the numbers are more likely to be in the hundreds than in the thousands. I cannot be more exact than that and I do not believe that the noble Lord would expect me to be.
The noble Lord also asked about the Bill's compatibility with EC law, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act—a recurrent theme throughout the debate. I acknowledge that Justice has done a good job in obtaining an opinion in a short time. We have only just received that opinion and obviously we shall need to study it closely. We take the view that we can match the obligations placed upon us and I am very conscious of those obligations. We shall have to study Liberty's opinion very closely. However, I am satisfied that the Bill is fully compliant with the obligations. In our view, a banning order, for example, is a preventative measure and is not penal in nature. Therefore, we do not accept that issues will arise under either Articles 6(2) or 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
So far as concerns Article 5, we believe that the powers of arrest and detention set out in the Bill are within the terms of Articles 5.1(B) and 5.1(C) of the convention. The Bill requires the person concerned to appear before a court within 24 hours, and the requirements of Articles 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 in that respect are fully satisfied.
We are also satisfied that the Bill complies with Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That article secures the right to leave any country, but it is subject to exceptions for measures that are in the interests of public order and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. That is an important consideration for the Bill.
The noble Lords, Lord Cope and Lord Goodhart, asked about our response to the report of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation. I have had an opportunity to study the report and I am happy to confirm that we intend to amend the Bill to give effect to the committee's recommendations on Clause 2 and new Section 22A(2) to the Football Spectators Act—that is Recommendation 3. The Government's only reason for hesitating in accepting the second recommendation on Clause 3, that amendments to affirmative instruments should be by affirmative instrument, is that we need to be sure that we can make provision for legal advice and assistance to be available from commencement. If we are satisfied that we can make the necessary changes without amendments to affirmative instruments, we will bring 1258 forward an amendment implementing that Select Committee recommendation. We take that point seriously.
The noble Lord, Lord McNally, recognised in his supportive speech—I thought that it was supportive, although he might not agree—the importance of consulting supporters. That is why the Government fund the Football Supporters Embassy, which did a sterling job during Euro 2000, providing advice and information to football supporters from England, some of whom got very confused about their own travel arrangements. I am very impressed with that work and we will want to consult and work carefully with the Football Supporters Embassy and the other organisations that represent football supporters. I shall invite the Football Supporters Association to participate fully in the working group on football hooliganism that I am chairing, which is tasked to prepare a report by the autumn.
In his maiden speech, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, made a couple of important points. One was about police and public relations. He rightly asked about the effect of the powers in the Bill and whether they might damage the important relationship of trust between the police and the public. I am glad to reassure him that the police enjoy high levels of public confidence that would be the envy of most other professions, including politicians. I believe that the safeguards in the Bill and the general disciplinary code under which the police have to operate, together with the fact that compensation will be payable in appropriate cases, will ensure that the public will have confidence in the exercise of the powers. It is worth putting on record that the police have expressed strong support and desire for the powers. The National Criminal Intelligence Service in particular regards them as of immense value.
The noble Lord also referred to the loophole of individuals who would be stopped from leaving an English or Welsh port slipping through the net through Scotland, Northern Ireland or Dublin. If anyone tried to travel in breach of a banning order, the Scottish police would be able to arrest them and they would face criminal charges. There is no realistic prospect of hundreds or thousands of potential football hooligans migrating northwards at every opportunity to travel to the Continent. The pattern of movement to matches in Europe is from southern and south-eastern ports and from the three major airports that transport people to the Continent. We have to be realistic about that. No doubt the good co-operation between police forces in England and Wales and those in Scotland will serve us well. There is good intelligence between them, which was well used during the England-Scotland Euro 2000 play-off matches.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, made a number of helpful detailed points about drafting, particularly on new Sections 21A and 21B. We are of course going to pay very close attention to his advice, and I should like to place on record our thanks to him for the advice and encouragement that he gave us during the open session with my right honourable 1259 friend Jack Straw. We took a wide range of the points made into consideration when publishing the draft Bill.
The noble Earl, Lord Russell, asked what could justify the suspicion that a person may have been involved in violence or disorder. There are a number of circumstances that could justify a check: disorderly conduct at a port or airport or being part of a group which contained known troublemakers might well constitute such grounds. To say that we are introducing that concept into English law is quite wrong. These things are well precedented, particularly in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. I am sure that the noble Earl will be very familiar with that legislation.
The noble Earl also asked: why only football? It is the case that representations have been made to me in the past by representatives of other sports, but this Bill is limited to association football. The answer is partly that problems of this nature have so far been largely associated with that game. I think that is patently clear. I should point out to your Lordships that paragraph 7 of Schedule 2 to the Bill adopts a provision which is currently in the Public Order Act 1986. That power allows the Secretary of State to apply the provisions of Part II of the Football Spectators Act 1989, with modifications in relation to other sporting events. I should say that the power is subject to the draft affirmative procedure.
The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, raised an important point when he addressed the issue of those who were arrested in Belgium and the level of criminal convictions. We had an interesting exchange during the debate about those figures. NCIS analysis showed that 40 per cent of those arrested in Belgium had criminal convictions and 391 out of 965 were mostly for violence or disorder. Convictions for violence involved 133; disorder, 200; possession and use of offensive weapons, 38; and criminal damage, 122. Some have records in more than one category.
These are precisely the kinds of people who misbehave in town centres at weekends—just the sort, I think, the Bill is likely to target. The fact that that same group had not been connected with football offences in large measure indicates the size and scale of the problem we are trying to grapple with. The legislation will go a long way towards dealing with those problems.
The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, in an important speech, made some very helpful and constructive comments. He questioned the purpose of the proposed new Section 14G. The additional power in that section is not new. It was contained in the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999 in relation to international banning orders. New Section 14G simply replicates that provision for the combined order. I trust that explains the reason for its presence in the Bill. The imposition of additional requirements would be a matter for the courts in a particular case. Obviously it must be a requirement relating to attendance at 1260 regulated football matches. If a court were to impose an unreasonable requirement there would of course be a right of appeal to the Crown Court.
The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, also asked whether the legislation was not a sort of reintroduction in another form related to football of the "sus" law. I do not see it as being similar to the old "sus": I really cannot see the similarity. That made a criminal offence of merely being suspected. The criminal offences in this Bill are clear cut and objective. That makes a very big difference. There is a significant difference between how "sus" operated and how we propose to operate this legislation.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made what I thought was a rather heroic assumption when he said that offences committed by hooligans in Belgium would have been prosecuted if they had been serious. I am afraid experience tends to show that this is not the case. That is part of the problem. There are far too many examples of hooligans simply being deported and dumped back here in the United Kingdom without effective action being taken against them, even when we have undertakings given by the country concerned that prosecutions will take place where criminal offences have been committed.
The noble Lord referred to the possibility of extraterritorial jurisdiction, which was in effect his solution to the problem. That would be acting after the event. The legislation is partly designed as a preventative measure. However, I accept that there is a case for following through the notion of extra-territorial jurisdiction—complicated and difficult to operate though it may be, particularly in collecting evidence and securing the attendance of witnesses. As a strategy it has severe limitations but I thank the noble Lord for raising it.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, suggested that foreign jurisdictions could be encouraged to prosecute offenders with the promise of returning them to British prisons within one week. A large number of prisoners lodge appeals and those must be determined before they can return home. We shall, however, continue to urge governments overseas to prosecute British offenders wherever possible.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, made a good point about standards of proof in evidence, which will be an important element in our debates next week. The burden of proof under new Section 14B will—as with anti-social behaviour orders under Section 1 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998—be on the prosecution. As in those proceedings, the standard of proof will be the civil one. However, it is well established in case law that the burden of proof in civil proceedings is flexible. I quote Lord Scarman in Khawaja:The flexibility of the civil standard of proof suffices to ensure that the court will require the high degree of probability which is appropriate to what is at stake",which is an important and telling point. I have every confidence in the courts' ability to judge the matter fairly. They will not make banning orders unless they are properly satisfied that the conditions in 1261 Section 14B are met—that it is proved that the person before the court has caused or contributed to violence and disorder, and that there are reasonable grounds for believing that an order would help prevent violence or disorder in connection with football matches.
The noble Lord, Lord Borrie, mentioned in his important contribution that the police and courts might be deterred from applying the provisions of the Bill. The compensation amendment will make clear that compensation costs are to be met centrally and will deal with maximum amounts and possible appeals. The noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, believes that the British police would never fail to do their duty because of a fear of litigation. Given the noble Lord's reputation and knowledge, we must take that view on board.
The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, brought thoughtful reflection to our deliberations. He asked, at least by implication, whether any thought had been given to ensuring that English fans were denied tickets to overseas games. Serious thought needs to be given to ticketing arrangements, which will be examined by the working party and by myself in the next few months. Travelling football supporters believe that they can always buy tickets on the black market. Experience shows that they are probably right. A strategy based solely on the denial of tickets cannot be the entire answer.
I was also asked whether the power was a supplementary power. I am happy to confirm that I agree with the point made by my noble friend Lord Woolmer. The summary procedure, referred to as the "fast-track procedure", should be seen as a supplementary power. It is far better to use the power to lay a complaint in the magistrates' court where possible. The fast-track power is intended to be used only where new information or new considerations come to light during the control period and where the police believe swift action is necessary.
The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, asked for a definition of "prescribed match". This is to be found in new Section 22A of the 1989 Act, under Schedule 2 to the Bill, where it is defined as a match,prescribed by an order made by the Secretary of State".As the noble Lord suggested, matches are also prescribed or designated under existing law. The power is likely to be used to prescribe the same types of matches. Prescription orders will be subject to the negative resolution procedure. At present, matches played outside England and Wales in which an English or Welsh national or club team participates are covered by the existing orders.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, asked why people are not prosecuted abroad. That returns us to a range of issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. I agree with the noble Baroness; indeed, her point is well made. It would be preferable if those British citizens who commit offences abroad were prosecuted rather than deported. As I said earlier, that is a point we shall continue to press and upon which we need to work very closely, and in co-operation, with our European partners.
1262 The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, asked about prior clearance. We shall be discussing with the police service how best to respond to people who ask in advance whether they are likely to be prevented from travelling abroad. It may not be possible to give a cast-iron guarantee. However, I am sure that the police will wish to be as helpful as possible, as they are in most circumstances.
I hope that I have covered most of the points raised. I said at the outset of my remarks that I did not expect to be able to cover each and every angle highlighted in this wide-ranging debate. This Bill is a proportionate and measured response to a problem that we believe requires determined and immediate action. Clearly, that view was shared by the right honourable gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when he made an important speech to the editors of Newsquest. He made the point then that he thought that known hooligans should be prevented from travelling abroad. He also said that it was a matter of political will that we should ensure that that sort of measure was introduced.
The Government are fully of that view. We believe that we need to take swift, effective and firm action. This legislation will enable us to do so; it will enable the police to do so; and, indeed, it will enable the courts to enforce it. We believe that it balances the liberties of the individual against the well-founded rights of decent people, both here and abroad, to go about their business without being subjected to drunken insults and racism as well as the sort of the xenophobia we saw on the streets of Charleroi and Brussels and the sort of mindless acts of violence and hooliganism that accompanied it. That is the spirit in which the Bill is put forward. That is the spirit in which I hope noble Lords will give the Bill a Second Reading tonight.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.