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Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am not entirely sure to what the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, refers when he speaks about Her Majesty's gift. Is he referring to her voluntary taxation payments?
Lord Dean of Harptree: My Lords, can the noble Baroness give the House any information as regards the future financing of pension arrangements for those employed by the Royal Household? I gather that there may be some changes pending in that regard.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, yes. I believe that that is one of the matters that will be transferred to the Civil List. Originally pensions were paid in a different way, as I am sure the noble Lord is aware. It is one of the extra matters that the Civil List will now include.
"I should now like to tell the House about the conclusions of the review which we have undertaken following events in Belgium and the legislative and other proposals which I shall be commending to the House.
"The House and the country know all too well of the events in Charleroi and Brussels which shamed our national game and our national reputation, and which resulted in the arrest of over 900 British nationals, in the deportation of 464 of those, and in a very small number facing trial.
"For some years, the widely accepted view has been that football hooliganism abroad is perpetrated by a relatively small minority of known football troublemakers. Measures discussed and approved by the House over a 15-year period have been predicated largely on that assumption. However, the blunt truth, which has become very clear from events last month, is this. Football hooliganism abroad is no longer confined to that small minority of known troublemakers. There is now strong evidence of a larger number of England supporters getting involved in violence and disorder, and few of them are known in advance to the police nationally as football-related offenders.
"As I told the House on 19th June, the policing operation for Euro 2000 against known football hooligans was largely successful. Of the 1,000 such known offenders on the lists provided by NCIS to both the Belgian and Dutch authorities, our information is that most either did not travel or were denied entry to the host countries. Only 30 were arrested, detained or deported in either country.
"Against that background, the House will, I believe, appreciate the need for measures to be drawn more widely than has been proposed in the past. I have specific legislative proposals, but this is an issue which runs wider than legislation alone and requires the active co-operation of all involved in football at every level in England.
"First, I turn to legislation. The legislation which I propose has four key elements. First, we propose to combine the domestic and international football banning orders which are made by a court following a conviction for a football-related offence. Currently we have about 400 domestic bans in force but only 101 international bans. Those 101 are the only people who currently can be prevented from leaving the country to attend matches abroad. In future, everyone who receives a banning order will be subject to both domestic and international bans.
"Secondly, we propose that, save in exceptional circumstances, everyone who receives such a ban will have to surrender their passport while major overseas games are on. Courts currently have discretion to impose such a condition when they impose an international football banning order. In future, that will be the norm for the new combined orders.
"Thirdly, there is the proposal for civil process, similar to that for the anti-social behaviour order, for a football banning order. That was included in our consultation paper published in the autumn of 1998 and has been actively supported by honourable Members on all sides. Under such a process, the police could propose a football banning order to the courts where they believe that that would help to prevent violence or disorder in connection with football matches. However, I believe that the order should now be more widely available than hitherto proposed. Under the new scheme, it would not therefore be necessary that the person in question should have been convicted of a football-related offence or, indeed, of any offence, although plainly any convictions for violence would be very relevant evidence. The police would need to have evidence sufficient to convince the court on the balance of probabilities that the test was met. That evidence could come from abroad and it might date from before the proposed new law comes into force.
"Those, then, are the main legislative measures that we seek, although the legislation will include other minor measures. I am satisfied that they are compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.
"Let me now deal with the time-scale for this legislation. I have already had constructive discussions with the Official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats, and I am grateful for their co-operation. The Official Opposition are already on record as saying that they will support any moves in Parliament to restrict English football hooliganism. The next international game for England will be against France on 2nd September. Plainly, it will be preferable if the legislation can be put in good order to be on the statute book by the time the House rises at the end of this month.
"However, I well recognise that all Members of this House and of the other place take their responsibilities for scrutinising legislation very seriously. Three of the four key measures proposed have been well aired in principle in the past. The fourth has not. In any event, the effectiveness of legislation comes down to its detail. In order to combine speed with careful scrutiny, I therefore propose to proceed as follows.
"A draft Bill will be published in the Vote Office for all honourable Members, hopefully by the end of this week. I shall discuss its detail with the Opposition parties and hold an all-party meeting for honourable Members and Peers with a view on the Bill early next week. We shall also consult outside interests and take account of the conclusions of this process in the version of the Bill presented to the House. All this will of course be discussed through the usual channels as soon as possible to see whether there is scope for the Bill to have a very speedy passage, even possibly before the Recess.
"Legislation is only part of the answer to the wider problem. I strongly welcome the Football Association's commitment to seek life bans from home grounds for any England fan convicted of hooligan behaviour, or against whom there is hard evidence of such behaviour, at Euro 2000 or in the future. I hope very much that the clubs will support the FA in this initiative.
"I hope that what I have said will demonstrate to the House our determination to use all the means at our disposal to get rid once and for all of the obnoxious taint of football hooliganism. The Government will give a lead. But only if we can succeed as a nation in changing the culture that gives rise to football violence shall we be able to claim that the problem has been truly solved".
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement of his right honourable friend the Home Secretary. However, as the Minister is personally responsible for this area of policy in the Home Office, I assumed that to some extent the Home Secretary was repeating the words and policies suggested by the noble Lord.
With regard to recent history, can the Minister tell us why those who were forcibly repatriated to this country were not charged with offences in Belgium and Holland? Indeed, was any judicial process in Belgium and Holland involved in the deportation of these individuals?
We continue to support measures to remove passports from hooligans with domestic and international banning orders. Such measures were proposed by my right honourable friend Sir Norman Fowler in 1998 when he was shadow Home Secretary, but the Government have left them on the shelf until now.
The proposed Bill will go further, allowing arrest and an initial travel ban on the word of a police inspector, subsequently to be confirmed by a court. We shall look carefully at the draft Bill--and at the real Bill, when it appears--but we shall not stand in the way of its passage through the House, although, as the Minister said, the timings will need to be discussed through the usual channels.
Does the Minister realise that the urgency of the legislation is the consequence of the Government's delay on the issue? Parliament has been awash with Home Office Bills throughout the year, with even more ideas being proposed by the Prime Minister on a Friday and withdrawn on the following Monday, as we have seen this week. Can we expect the Bill to be called the Dangerous Fans Bill?
Lord McNally: My Lords, after the Statement on 19th June, I recall noble Lords on all sides warning against knee-jerk reactions. The review has taken two weeks, which must be a record for a Home Office review. The Minister must accept that there is a certain cynicism about the motives and the timing of the announcement.
Our main claim in recent years has been that we have eradicated violence from our major domestic internationals, so I do not believe that we should be dragooned into a deadline for the friendly against France or the World Cup game against Germany. As the noble Lord, Lord Cope, said, the history of knee-jerk legislation is not good. I suspect that the Dangerous Yobs Act may join the Dangerous Dogs Act in the lexicon of bad legislation passed in haste unless we are very careful.
The Liberal Democrats would have preferred a more measured look at the legislation, perhaps with some pre-legislative scrutiny. As a second best, we welcome the Minister's commitment to consult both opposition parties and, perhaps as importantly, outside interests. Will the Home Office put in the Libraries of both Houses all the submissions that are received?
The Liberal Democrats have already given their support to some of the proposals. For example, the extension of domestic football banning orders to international orders and vice versa seems to be common sense. However, we make no apology for telling the Government that we cannot give them blanket approval until we see the details of the legislation.
I remember the scene in "A Man for All Seasons" when Richard Rich is proposing rapid-fire solutions and Thomas More asks him where we will shelter when the wind of tyranny blows and we have chopped down all the safeguards to our liberty. When the Government seek to take away the civil liberties of the least appealing of our citizens, Parliament should be on its guard.
We welcome the recognition that any legislation is only part of the answer. I welcome the establishment of the working group under the Minister. As we know from his other activities in the House, he has plenty of time in his diary. When will the membership be announced and when will the group hope to report? Will it consider holding public hearings?
The legislation will make sense only if it is accompanied by other measures that put it in context. We should look at best practice at home and abroad. We should look at the relationship between alcohol and violence to see if further restrictions are needed. We may have to consider a total ban on away ticket
I welcome the acknowledgement that the issue runs wider than legislation alone and requires the active co-operation of all those involved in football at every level. However, football is not the only issue. We must address the context in which the culture of yobbery has grown. The Prime Minister should not invite icons of the yob culture across the threshold of No. 10 and the media should not turn every sporting fixture into a re-run of World War II. Players have to take responsibility for their behaviour on and off the field and the clubs must show greater social responsibility. The media in general have to consider the appropriateness of television programmes and other coverage that gives implicit approval to the yob and his attitudes. We need to take measures to ensure that the vast wealth now flowing into the game feeds down to the often very deprived communities that sustain it.
Watching Euro 2000 made us realise why soccer is called the beautiful game. What makes me so angry is that that beautiful game is being stolen from us by yob culture at one end and corporate greed at the other. It is the job of Parliament to set a framework that combats both.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I welcome the welcomes from both previous speakers and look forward to the active support of both opposition parties in our endeavour to bring the legislation before Parliament and ensure an active process of scrutiny with good debates. We want to settle this legislative matter once and for all.
The noble Lord, Lord Cope, asked about deportations and the judicial process. In only a handful of cases was there any attempt to process through the judicial system those who were arrested and deported. We were sad about that. I am sure that it is widely accepted that, where there is evidence, people should be brought before the courts, charged properly and, if the evidence stands up, convicted. Before Euro 2000, we gave every encouragement to both jurisdictions to approach matters in that way.
The noble Lord also pointed out, not entirely unfairly, that our urgency is a product of events before Euro 2000. It would have been preferable for some of the legislation to have been in place beforehand, but I am not convinced that the earlier proposals would have been as extensive in their effect as many believe that they could have been. There would still have been problems in Charleroi and Brussels, because the legislation would have needed to be in place three or four years ago for it to have an effect in picking up and identifying those who were likely to cause trouble in the streets.
We are right to take a broader view. In the past we have taken the convenient view that football hooligans are a small, mindless minority. Sadly, there is something sick about our culture that has developed this yobbery, which is more widespread than perhaps
In his welcome for the formation of the working group, the noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked one or two specific questions. It is our intention to be speedy. We hope to set it up within the next week or so. We want to report in the autumn or earlier, if and when appropriate. I certainly want to look more widely than the legislation. I want to involve the clubs. I certainly want to involve those in the rest of the industry. By that I include the media, which also have a responsibility. We must work closely with the football authorities which have a profound responsibility. We need to look at a range of issues: ticketing arrangements, travel, sponsorship, the involvement of clubs in the community, tackling racism and looking at good practice and best practice in clubs. I am particularly impressed by the activities of Charlton Athletic with their anti-racist strategy. I should like to look at that. I should also like to ensure that we take from the best practice that is available in Europe in terms of powers, and so forth. If there is something to be learnt from the Germans, we should learn it.
I promise your Lordships' House that I shall cast my eye widely. We have the beginnings of active and positive support from the Football Association and those involved in the football business. They realise that we must take more steps finally to put our house in order.
There are positive aspects. Here, the domestic game is more broad based in terms of support. It is more multicultural and multiracial. It has become an entertainment and a sport which has a broad-based family backing. I believe that has something to do with the way in which it has been successfully rebranded. Sadly, that is not the case for the international game and for those who travel abroad. It is that to which we must turn our attention in a dramatic way. It must be tackled or the problems will continue.
Lord Windlesham: My Lords, I share the expressions of public revulsion to which the Minister referred regarding the behaviour of some football supporters and agree that it is entirely proper for the Government to respond to threats to public order. However, does the Minister accept that it is sometimes only too easy to go one step too far?
The fourth category of these proposals is entirely novel and raises fundamental issues of civil rights. It affects those who have no previous conviction and are not subject to any existing banning order, and it depends on the word of a police officer. One question is bound to come up, which I shall put to the Minister now. Will the suspects--for that is what they will be--
These issues--there are many more--will require careful consideration in this House. We are three weeks away from the Summer Recess. The Bill must be allowed sufficient time for thorough examination. There should be no question of trying to put it through all its stages in one day.
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