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7.8 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Dr. Alan Whitehead): I concur with the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) that my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) has an enormous amount to celebrate tonight because of her inestimable role in securing the introduction of the Bill. My hon. Friend said that the Bill is a cause for celebration, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Julie Morgan).

As the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) said, there is also cause for a little humility, given the amount of time that we have taken between us to reach this point. As a result of the Bill passing into law, we can look forward to a far more balanced representation of men and women on these Benches than has ever been the case in the history of the House.

Until about two minutes ago, there was an exact gender balance in the Chamber. This is probably the first time that that has happened, but I hope that we can look forward to it in years to come.

It is a cause for celebration that the Bill's Third Reading will not be subject to a Division. That shows the strong commitment from all parties that they will take action to ensure that the House is properly representative of everyone in the country.

We recognise that there is much to be done. I have just referred to the temporary gender balance in the House, and I have another small statistic. I noted that, until a

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few minutes ago, 30 per cent. of the Conservative party's women Members of Parliament were present, whereas only about 2 per cent. of its male representatives were here. I did not have the opportunity to turn round to make a similar calculation for Labour Members, but I suspect that the result would not have been much different.

The hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) challenged Ministers to ensure that elections to any future elected Chambers would be subject to the Bill's provisions. The Bill refers to the elected Assemblies that are already in place, so it would not be appropriate to write into it reference to something that does not exist. However, in Committee, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government said that

That is a firm and clear commitment from the Government that that will happen in the future when relevant legislation comes before the House.

I am delighted that the Bill's simplicity has been maintained throughout its various stages in the House. It is a simple Bill embodying a simple principle and it achieves a simple outcome. It allows for political parties to introduce methods of selection which they consider—I accept that there may be differences between the parties—will enable more women candidates to be selected for election to the House and to other elected Assemblies. We face a simple challenge: to make that happen.

I look forward to the day 15 years hence when we ask ourselves whether we should renew the sunset provision currently provided for by clause 3. When we look around these Benches, I hope that we shall say, "No, we should not renew that provision because, at last, the talents of all our people are fully represented on the Benches in the House."

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.


Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I now have to announce the results of the Division deferred from yesterday.

On the motion on Local Government Finance, the Ayes were 357, the Noes were 1, so the motion was agreed to.

[The Division List is published at the end of today's debates.]

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Football (Disorder) (Amendment) Bill

Not amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. As you will be aware, in Mr. Speaker's provisional selection of amendments, a group of amendments appears under the heading "Restrictions on repeal of provisions of Football (Disorder) Act 2000". Amendment No. 1 was tabled by the Conservative party's Front-Bench spokesmen and by my colleagues and me while amendments Nos. 2 and 3 were tabled by Conservative Members.

As you will have seen, Madam Deputy Speaker, two further amendments were tabled by my colleagues and me. Given that, until this point, all selections are provisional and that there is an opportunity to make a last- minute bid for reconsideration, may I put the case for the inclusion of amendment No. 5 in the group to be considered?

We did not take votes on amendments in Committee, because we knew that we would return to the issues on Report. In effect, two different issues were raised in Committee. The first was the legislation's duration, and that will be covered by the debate on the amendments already selected. The second was whether any preconditions should be placed on the legislation having a particular duration, and that point is covered by amendments Nos. 4 and 5, which would introduce a precondition relating to previous conditions.

Although I am sure that it will be possible to touch on the second issue in the debate on the group that has been selected, I would appreciate it if amendment No. 4 or, preferably, amendment No. 5 could be selected so that those of us who wish to vote on those amendments could have an opportunity to do so at the end of the debate. I hope that you are minded to consider my suggestion positively, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I know that Mr. Speaker gave very serious consideration to the amendments before him. Having listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's remarks, I am not inclined to change Mr. Speaker's decision.

Clause 1

Repeal of Provisions of Football (Disorder) Act 2000

7.15 pm

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield): I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 4, leave out "subsections (2)" and insert—

'(a) subsection (2) is substituted by the following—
"(2) But—
(a) no application under section 14B of the Football Spectators Act 1989 (banning orders made on a complaint) may be made, and
(b) no power conferred on a constable by section 21A or 21B of that Act (summary measures) may be exercised,
after the end of the period of four years beginning with the day on which section 1 of the Football (Disorder) (Amendment) Act 2001 enters into force", and
(b) subsections (3)'.

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Madam Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 2, in page 1, line 4, leave out—

'subsections (2) to (5) are'

and insert "subsection (2)(a) is".

No. 3, in page 1, line 5, leave out subsection (2).

Mr. Grieve: We are considering a very short Bill and we return to a subject that was aired and that was of considerable concern in Committee. Because the Minister for Police, Courts and Drugs has alas not felt able to respond to those concerns by tabling Government amendments, it is necessary to ask the House to reconsider the position.

I do not wish to take up too much of the House's time or rehearse too much of the background. You, Madam Deputy Speaker, might rule me out of order if I did. However, it is necessary to say a few words about the thrust of the Bill. Parliament enacted legislation that was designed to try to halt football hooliganism, and that legislation has commanded much cross-party support. Conservative Members certainly support it.

That legislation has introduced what can only amount to infringements of what would normally be described as ordinary civil liberties, particularly in respect of the procedures under sections 14 and 21 of the Football Spectators Act 1989. Under them, either a procedure by complaint may lead to a banning order or—and more draconian still—under section 21, it is possible for police officers to stop people at ports or points of exit and detain them until the police decide whether they wish to bring them before the magistrates within 24 hours so that a banning order can be made. That is an unusual infringement of liberties, because there is no criminal element to the jurisdiction; it can be based simply on the nature of previous evidence relating to the conduct of that person.

In simple terms, the Bill will get rid of the necessity to renew the unusual powers conferred on the enforcing authority. The thrust of amendment No. 1, which enjoys the support of the Official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats, is to signal to the Government that, although we understand their motives, we think the provision should be subject to a sunset clause.

In Committee there was considerable debate about sunset clauses. The official Opposition, for whom I was the spokesman, suggested that a five-year sunset clause might be suitable. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) thought that five years might be sufficient, but an amendment tabled by his party proposed annual renewals in the meantime. We therefore suggest in amendment No. 1 that at the end of a four-year period, the powers under the Bill fall to be renewed in relation to sections 14B and 21A or 21B of the Football Spectators Act 1989.

It is worth examining in detail the powers conferred on the enforcing authority. In Committee, the Minister helpfully provided some indications of the way in which the legislation was working. He made it clear, and we accept, that in respect of the England v. Germany match in Munich, the powers that Parliament had conferred on the enforcing authority had been successful. The match was a success, and it is generally accepted that the level of violence surrounding it was tiny compared with some

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of the problems that existed in the past. There was little evidence that English fans or supporters were the major culprits.

That is a favourable omen for the working of the legislation, but against that we must consider the statistical evidence which emerged in Committee about how it is working in relation to the powers under section 21. According to the last information that I had, 98 people had been detained. The Minister said in Committee that if he had any further information of any substance, he would provide it, but none has been put in the Library or communicated to us, although I believe that one of the statistics may have changed briefly.

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