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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I appreciate the comments of my noble friend. It is a matter of public record that the Belgian police commander acknowledged that a number of those arrested and deported were, in his terms, "innocent persons". They were picked up as part of a wider-ranging police operation. With the best will in the world, that is likely to be the case in some circumstances, however regrettable and unfortunate it is. Clearly, in those cases we should make effective representation so that people's right to travel is unfettered and they are right to bring those cases to our attention. If my noble friend has a specific case in mind I shall be happy actively to pursue it.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, should not the Minister look a little closer to home for remedies? The Scots are a warlike race. They are fond of drink. Around 20 years ago they behaved so badly in Spain that the Spanish police collected whole loads of them and pushed them onto aircraft, whether they had travelled by car or any other means, and sent them home. Today, for some reason, the Scottish football supporters are among the best behaved in Europe. I am not being funny in saying that. The Government

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should look at that situation instead of some of the extraordinary measures they seem to be contemplating.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I attended the England-Scotland fixture at Wembley. I was looking at the police operation and was usefully deployed between the English fans on one side of a channel and the Scottish fans on the other. The Scottish fans seemed to be very merry, but were certainly entertaining. I still do not understand why all evening they sang the song, "Doh a deer, a female deer". They kept going for half an hour after the game and I was very amused as a consequence.

The noble Lord is right. There are many Scottish supporters and in some sports alcohol is actively consumed with little public disorder as a consequence. It is a reflection perhaps of different cultures and that is something we should bear in mind. But we also need to address this issue. We need to campaign on the issue and to inform the public. We need to tell the public that the sort of unruly behaviour that we have witnessed in the past few weeks by some English fans and supporters--an extensive and large number--is something that we cannot and should not tolerate in a civilised society, and something that we should take all reasonable measures to counter.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, did I construe correctly from what the Minister said that, upon the word of a Belgian police officer, a British subject may, without trial or further process of law, be deprived of his right to travel to international football matches? Is that really what the Government propose?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I did not say "on the word of a Belgian police officer", but I was making reference to a British police officer at a port of embarkation. I think the noble Lord missed the point I made earlier in response to the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I think the noble Lord has missed the point. A Belgian police officer, on his word alone, has sent British citizens back to this country, and the noble Lord is saying that that is sufficient evidence for them to be deprived of their passports at the time of football matches in future. That is quite extraordinary, if that is indeed the case.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, no, I hope that is not the impression I have left with the House: it is not the impression I was intending to leave. I think I referred, in response to an earlier question, to people being identified as needing deportation during the recent disturbances. Clearly, that deportation evidence will have a bearing on their future ability to travel to football matches, but it will not be the sole determinant.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, the House will be greatly relieved to hear that there are going to be

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further consultations before the legislation referred to by the noble Lord comes before the House, particularly in the light of the very important civil liberties issues that have been raised in the course of these exchanges this afternoon.

However, is the noble Lord aware that the events which he has described and which we all know from the press do not happen in a vacuum? They occur within the general climate of opinion that exists at the time. I think the noble Lord will be aware, as will be many of your Lordships, of the great deterioration that has taken place in public morale over the past 20 years or more. He will be aware that there has been a toleration by perhaps the majority of us--of course I am not accusing any of your Lordships--of the deterioration of standards of conduct in other spheres of public life which at one time would have aroused instantaneous social objection voiced in a number of ways by the press, the media and so on.

Are we quite sure, therefore, that it is safe at this stage to assume that we ourselves are free from blame for tolerating for so long a climate of opinion within which these kinds of events--and there are many others--have occurred? Has there not been a deterioration in good manners? Has there not been a growth of intolerance over the past 20 years among the population as a whole? We bear a responsibility for this and it would be a sorry day if, in bringing forward legislation aimed at curbing miscreants and if necessary providing punishment, that should be made an excuse for doing nothing further to bring forward changes to a form of society which in many profound respects is contemptible within a civilised country.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I think that perhaps there has been a deterioration in standards of behaviour but perhaps that simply reinforces the point that we, as legislators, have a duty to try to reverse that tide. I make no apology for the Government's intolerance of poor behaviour, yobbishness and loutishness. I think this legislation might well do some good in beginning to redress the balance. In that regard, I trust that the Government will enjoy the full support of your Lordships' House.

Government Resources and Accounts Bill

4.53 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed after Clause 7.

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 10:

    After Clause 7, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) Subject to subsection (7), this section applies to any non-departmental public body, unless otherwise provided by any order made under subsection (8).
(2) On the prescribed date for each non-departmental public body to which this section applies, subsections (3) to (6) shall have effect in relation to that body.

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(3) Every non-departmental public body shall prepare accounts in respect of each financial year and shall send them to the Comptroller and Auditor General.
(4) The Comptroller and Auditor General shall examine accounts sent to him under this section with a view to satisfying himself--
(a) that the accounts present a true and fair view, and
(b) that any public money provided to the body has been expended for the purposes for which the money was paid.
(5) Where the Comptroller and Auditor General has conducted an examination of accounts under subsection (4) he shall--
(a) certify them and issue a report,
(b) send the certified accounts and the report to the Treasury, and
(c) if he is not satisfied of the matters set out in subsection (4)(a) and (b), report to the House of Commons.
(6) The Treasury shall lay accounts and reports received under subsection (5)(b) before the House of Commons.
(7) Subsections (3) to (6) do not apply to any body to the extent (but only to the extent) that any of its accounts are or become subject to audit--
(a) by the Auditor General for Scotland, or
(b) by the Auditor General for Wales.
(8) The appropriate Minister may by order designate a non-departmental public body as one in relation to which this section does not apply for so long as the designation remains in force.
(9) An order under subsection (8) shall be made by statutory instrument, and shall not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of both Houses of Parliament.
(10) In this section--
"the appropriate Minister" means, as regards any non-departmental public body, a minister in the department which is responsible for that body;
"non-departmental public body" means a body--
(a) which is not a government department or comprised within a government department,
(b) which exercises public functions of a governmental nature which might otherwise fall to be exercised by central government, and
(c) an officer of which has been designated by a government department as its accounting officer in respect of the preparation of its accounts,.
but does not include any such body which is a company registered under the Companies Act 1985; and
"prescribed date" means, as regards each non-departmental public body, the first day of the first full financial year of that body commencing after the expiry of the term of appointment of the person who is the auditor of the body when this section comes into force.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment, which stands in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Bridgeman, is concerned with the audit of non-departmental public bodies, which of course play a very important role in the Government's structure and which in addition have a large sum of public money allocated to them. We have debated this matter previously in the Grand Committee and I have considered very carefully the points made by the Government. This amendment seeks to take them into account.

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I hope very much indeed that it is possible to persuade the Government to accept this amendment. The reality of the situation is that the present structure with regard to the audit of non-departmental public bodies is a mess. To a large extent, I think this has been recognised by the Government because, since they came into office in 1997, they have arranged for all the new non-departmental public bodies to be audited by the National Audit Office.

At Committee stage the Minister argued that we should not rule out the use of private sector auditors for these non-departmental public bodies. We have sought to accommodate that point in our amendment by enabling the Government, if they do not think it appropriate in some circumstances for the National Audit Office to audit a particular non-departmental public body, to arrange for that to be done but subject to approval by way of statutory instrument. I hope that goes some way towards meeting the point.

We have also suggested that the existing arrangements which are in operation for non-National Audit Office audits to be done by private outside auditors should be phased out gradually as the contracts come up for renewal. Overall, it seems to me that the Government themselves have accepted the situation and that by and large they have argued that there ought to be transparency and that the most appropriate way to ensure transparency for such bodies is for the National Audit Office to audit them. This is true not only as far as concerns propriety but also value for money.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said in Committee that we would in some sense be nationalising the accountancy profession--he smiles: he clearly accepts that he was overstating his case, but I am only teasing him! In that case there is no division of opinion between us and the Government should clearly accept the amendment as drafted, which seeks to take into account the serious points that the Minister was making.

The fact is that the Government should not be able to pick and choose as to who audits particular non-departmental public bodies, using public money, and the assumption should be that they will all be audited by the National Audit Office. I hope the Government will feel able to accept the amendment, having discussed the matter in Grand Committee and as we have sought to accommodate the serious points made by the Government. I beg to move.

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