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Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, perhaps I may take my normal place astride the fence, being neither for nor against my noble friend on the Front Bench. I was greatly impressed by the speech made by my noble friend Lord Fitt on the virtues of strong drink, to which I adhere. I was also greatly impressed by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice. I was drawn to my feet by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, who recalled our debates of some years ago on the Scottish situation where we were dealing with quite a different matter. We were not dealing with marches devoted to religious or quasi-religious, political aims, but with football hooliganism. It was thought that the Scots were given to strong drink and therefore to unreasonable behaviour. I found that a very odd idea for people to adhere to, but it seemed to be widespread. We have had debates in this House about alcoholic drink. That is exactly what my noble friend Lord Fitt was talking about--namely, the confiscation of alcoholic drinks before football matches and events of that nature. It was thought that the Scots were likely to become unseemly in their behaviour. I cannot see why that should be thought, but it was.

In the course of those debates my late lamented friend Lord Ross of Marnock, whom the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, will remember with affection, argued very strongly against the confiscation of drink as an interference with civil liberties. But if we look at the situation as it has developed since the distant days of about 10 to 15 years ago--I cannot quite remember, being in my declining years--we shall find that the

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atmosphere in Scottish football as regards alcoholic drink and other quite desirable refreshments has changed. Scottish football supporters are renowned throughout the whole of Europe, and possibly throughout the world for all I know, for their abstemiousness and good behaviour. That partly derives from their own good nature and possibly from the prohibition. It may well be that prohibition has turned out to be advantageous in that limited sphere. The Scots are, I am quite sure, much better behaved than the Northern Irish. What brought the Scots--I shall not say "to heel"--to better behaviour might be applicable to Northern Ireland. I do not wish either side in Northern Ireland the slightest harm and I hope that I have not annoyed any of them in any way by entering into this debate.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I had the pleasure, while a Minister in Northern Ireland, of seeing a parade of the Royal Black Preceptory in Carrickfergus, I believe it was. A more sober and respectable group of gentleman on parade I could not imagine. Therefore, I leap to the defence of my noble friend Lord Molyneaux as regards that group.

However, I saw a parade on 12th July which was towards the end of the marching part of the day. It was about to reach the field which the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, described so vividly a few moments ago. By that time the parade was moving relatively slowly and not evenly. There were long pauses because of confusion up ahead. That always happens when one has many people and vehicles in procession. I noticed that some members of the Orange Order were taking the opportunity given by the pauses to go into local hostelries, which happened to be open nearby, even before they got to the field.

The only conclusion that I draw from the two experiences, among others, of watching parades in Northern Ireland is that the Royal Ulster Constabulary will need to carry out the powers that it is given in the clause with great discretion and care. I note that the constable is being given the opportunity to confiscate alcohol rather than the duty to do so on the various occasions provided for. The RUC will need to use it with discretion.

Lord Fitt: My Lords, this is a serious matter that could lead to trouble. Clause 12(5) says,


    "A constable may dispose of anything surrendered to him under this section in such manner as he considers appropriate".

That leaves the situation wide open to abuse. If there is no abuse there will be allegations of it. The RUC will be charged by all kinds of ill-intentioned persons of behaving in a way which is not appropriate. After the constable has taken the drink away it should be clarified as to what he is to do with it.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Lyell drew specific attention to that in Committee. It seems to me that if the RUC is to have this power it needs to be a practical one which it can use with the minimum of difficulty. The points that the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, made in moving this amendment

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suggested to me that it, or something very like it, is necessary to enable the RUC to use the powers which it has rightly been given by this clause.

5 p.m.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, a few moments ago the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, gave us a very entertaining insight into what might happen on a hot afternoon in Northern Ireland in the middle of July. It is not for me to comment from the Government Front Bench on whether the speeches on such an occasion will be compelling or tedious. That would be inappropriate. However, the noble Lord asked what the marchers would do when they got to the field. Having looked ahead in my diary, I believe that 12th July is the day of the World Cup final, so I wonder what will happen with regard to the competing attractions on that day.

I turn now to the serious issue raised in the amendment. The Government recognise that alcohol is often the cause of many difficulties experienced at contested parades in recent years. Indeed, the North Report's recommendations in this field were so popular that the previous government moved to implement them early to ensure they were in force in time for the last marching season. In drafting the powers in this Bill we bore in mind comparable legislation on the confiscation of alcohol from under-age drinkers, and provisions for those travelling to sports events in Great Britain.

In Clause 13 as it stands the police have a power to require the surrender of alcohol from those at the vicinity of, or on the way to, a public procession if they reasonably suspect that such a person is consuming intoxicating liquor. Failure to comply with an instruction is a criminal offence, and a police officer can arrest without warrant. What this amendment proposes is that the police should have an additional power to use force to seize alcohol.

Although I sympathise with the wish to tackle the problems of alcohol, I believe that giving the police seizure power would not be appropriate in these circumstances. For one thing, it would take this legislation out of line with comparable UK and GB legislation. More importantly, it would be quite unprecedented for the police to have powers of seizure in cases where possession of alcohol is not a criminal offence. We have considered making possession an offence, but feel that it would be quite disproportionate and extremely difficult to draft. One would not want to see a circumstance where somebody walking back from the off-licence and passing a public parade inadvertently committed a criminal offence. We believe the power to arrest without warrant is already sufficient to deal with this problem, and I urge the House to reject this amendment.

Lord Alderdice: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. It is clear that the Government have considered the matter and that they have encountered something of the same difficulty as I encountered when trying to draft an amendment. I hope that the Government will continue to look at this because it seems to me that on this matter (as on so

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many others) the experience of Northern Ireland is a little different from experience in the rest of the United Kingdom. I believe that such a power would be of some advantage to the RUC.

The Minister has been extremely helpful. I am struck by his advice, which will no doubt be transmitted by the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, to the Orangemen for 12th July next year. Perhaps extra large television screens should be erected at the field so that the Orangemen can participate both in the 12th July and observe the World Cup final. From the noble Lord's comments, I gather that instead of singing "You'll never walk alone", they will sing "You'll never walk again".

I am grateful for your Lordships' consideration of this matter which, although amusing, has also been serious. I know that it has received full consideration. Given the somewhat inelegant nature of the amendment and the comment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that I still have some way to go to reach full accomplishment in the art of the parliamentary draftsman, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 14 [Breaking up public procession]:

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

Clause 17 [Interpretation]:

Lord Molyneaux of Killead moved Amendment No. 17:


Page 11, line 13, at end insert ("and includes cavalcades or processions of motor vehicles along any public highway").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the previous debate was most satisfactory from a recruitment point of view and I shall remember to bring a stock of application forms with me at the beginning of next week.

The amendment is intended to close what I regard as a serious loophole in the existing law and in this Bill. Cavalcades are a fairly recent innovation among paramilitary bodies. They get around the restriction on marching feet where no notice whatsoever will be given if they are mobile. In some respects, the cavalcades have the capacity, by reason of their mobility, to stir up apprehension, fear and reaction in a matter of hours and over wide areas of the Province--in fact, right across the Province--almost simultaneously.

I give an example of what has horrified me. On one occasion two years ago, in the late afternoon when the bereaved relatives of a chap who was shot by terrorists were attending the grave in the cemetery, seven motorcars appeared adorned with certain flags and those inside hurled insults in the name of the organisation which had assassinated the deceased. That incident and others like it are what I have in mind.

The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, said--I agree with him--that it is somewhat illogical to build into the Bill controls over walks while ignoring the far greater menace of motorised columns. When I raised this point in the Grand Committee the Minister undertook to look at the need for some changes and possibly to introduce an amendment at some stage. I beg to move.


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