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Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, for most of my life I have either supported or played football. Today, I am a supporter of a small club which has a life with the community. Indeed, I support and have sympathy with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, Lord McNally. What I saw on the television during the weekend was not only an absolute disgrace, but shamed all of us in this country. Hooliganism was not taking place on the football ground, but in the heart of the community of that country.
In recent years we have heard on the terraces the chant, "Here we go, here we go, here we go". Although I welcome today's Statement, there was an echo in it of, "Here we go again", which I found most disappointing. There has been a sea change which worries me. The antics which take place on the field today never took place when I played football. The antics which sometimes take place on the terraces never took place when I watched football. But the support and enthusiasm then was none the less for that. We appear to be tackling the problem as it occurs on each and every occasion instead of getting to the root of what is happening.
Many people are returning to this country after having been deported. Once we identify who they are, how severe will be the penalties that we can impose on those people who brought this nation to shame? They are hooligans and vandals who should not be allowed to go to any community in which a football match is being played.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, unfortunately, those who have been deported, after having been arrested "administratively", have not been charged or prosecuted with an offence. We in our jurisdiction cannot subsequently charge them with an offence. However, we can identify them. The Statement makes it clear that they will be visited, warned and deterred as much as possible from going back to Belgium or Holland during the tournament.
As regards those who are convicted of offences, the imposition of fines and possibly of imprisonment is available to the courts, depending on the seriousness of the case. Importantly as regards football, domestic and international banning orders exist. However, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, that the measures which we put in place are draconian. That is not my description; it was the description of David Maclean, shadow Home Office Minister, who during part of last year's debate clearly opposed much of what we were doing. He said that they were draconian measures and he was right; they are widely recognised as being such. Many of our European counterparts have reflected long and hard on our legislation and have been most interested to see whether they can incorporate it into theirs. The
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, reflecting on the answers which the Minister gave on television, is it true that if it had not been for a few Back-Benchers in the House of Commons the Government had intended to take that power and would have done so? If that is the case, is it not pathetic that a government moving into their fourth year in office did not use their overwhelming majority to secure that power?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have talked about the importance of getting the legislation right. I am sure that the noble Baroness will recall those debates. The legislation was enacted last year to come into effect in September. We were not given the opportunity to have that power because it was Private Member's legislation. We consulted on a particular power and we believe that we were right.
The noble Baroness was right to point out that since September we could, in theory, have put that legislation in place. But we have operated a law which we believe to be effective and which will greatly assist the situation. As I have said many times, even if we had had that power the terrible scenes shown on television, and which I witnessed personally, would not have been prevented. Those people would have been there whether or not we had that power. I and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary have made it plain that we intend to revisit the question of the courts having the facility to take away passports and to implement the banning orders which we believe to be necessary as regards those suspected of being likely to be involved in hooligan behaviour and public order offences.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, is it not a shame that the noble Baroness should try to make a political point out of this? Is not time that the majority of fans were given the opportunity to put their point of view in order to ensure that we have the kind of football that the Minister has described as "something beautiful"? Will the Minister take this opportunity to explain, in particular to the Belgian authorities, that the Government are not to be identified with those people who refused to honour the law? Will he make it clear that the Government are determined that where evidence exists such people will be prosecuted and that it would be wrong for the England XI to be refused the opportunity of participating in the rest of the tournament?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I said earlier that I believed the anger expressed by UEFA to be understandable. I continue to hold that view. It would be deeply disappointing if the England team were to be
However, the matter comes down to individual responsibility. Those who were involved in the scenes of wanton disorder have an individual responsibility and should be reminded of that. They owe it to themselves, to the team and to our country to think long and hard and to reflect on their behaviour. I believe that we should give them every encouragement to reflect on the appalling behaviour in which they have been involved and to consider how that impacts on our great game. We shall of course make all the right representations. We continue the dialogue that we began with our colleagues in Belgium and Holland. I hope that that dialogue is fruitful.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: Before we listened to the two Statements, we had a considerable discussion about the issues in Clause 12. I believe them to be of first importance and central to the Bill. However, at this point I do not believe that there is much to be said in addition. Therefore, subject to the views of the Committee, I do not propose to debate clause stand part.
I believe it to be little more than rumour but it is said that the Government propose to make no contribution to the capital cost but to cover some of the revenue cost of interceptions required by the police and other services. I believe that it would be helpful to the Committee if the Minister could explain that in greater detail. However, I also believe that it would be helpful--this is the point of the wording of the
There is no doubt that enormous expense is involved. That brings us back to the issue of driving the customers of Internet service providers overseas to use foreign providers. The Government estimated the cost to be some £20 million a year; on the other hand, the report prepared by two academics from the London School of Economics and University College, London, with the assistance of several colleagues, suggested a figure of £650 million over five years, rising quite steeply. The early years cost was well below the average over five years but rose to a very large sum--£200 million or so a year--at the end of that period. That is an enormous sum to place on Internet service providers.
The issue rests on a number of assumptions: first, as to how many ISPs will be asked to carry out the duties imposed by Clause 12 to have a black box, and so on. The Home Office paper states that the number of ISPs to be covered is greatly exaggerated, as is, hence, the cost. However, in reporting to the British Chambers of Commerce the gentlemen from the LSE and University College could only look at the Bill and say what the potential cost might be. That is what we, as Members of Parliament, must do, too, in considering the cost.
The cost is extremely heavy. In my view, it is essentially a cost of policing. We do not ask householders to pay a direct contribution for the fact that a policeman passes their door (or not, as the case may be) at intervals. Of course, we pay the bill for the police as a whole mainly through our taxes, and the same is true of the other services. However, here it is proposed, in part at any rate, that those immediately concerned--the ISPs--should meet the cost. Of course, they are bound to pass it on to their customers and from that comes the danger of driving the business overseas. If that happens, the Bill will have failed.
In so far as individuals can go overseas, the Bill is likely to be ineffective. Knowing of the existence of the Bill, the sophisticated criminal is in any case likely to use an overseas Internet service provider so as to avoid the issue of costs. However, there is a severe danger, to put it no more strongly, that sophisticated criminals--those who run big rackets and who are well advised--will be missed entirely by the Bill even though a heavy cost will be imposed.
As a result of the report to the British Chambers of Commerce, two particular figures have been bandied about: one of £650 million and one of £35 billion. The latter is the best estimate that the authors of the report could make of the economic cost to the nation of driving business overseas. As the report makes clear, the figure is based on a whole series of assumptions, all of which are open to challenge, and the Home Office duly has challenged them. Neither the Home Office nor outsiders are in a position to know the absolute facts. The figures are estimates and no one will go to the stake on the precision of those estimates.
So far as concerns the amendment, we are talking primarily of the figure of £650 million. Again, that figure depends on assumptions. Obviously the Home Office has depended on other assumptions in arriving at a figure of £20 million. Either way, there is no doubt that it is a large sum with the potential to do great damage to our electronic commerce and, hence, to our commerce and finance generally. I beg to move.
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