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Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Graham of Edmonton: It's the way I tell them! The other memory I have is of a voice you would have heard tonight but sadly he is no longer with us. I refer to Joe Dean; Lord Dean of Beswick. In 1988 or 1989 an attempt was made to pass the Football Spectators Bill. That was borne out of the troubles of the Government of the day. It was felt that something must be done. They produced a Bill which Joe Dean and I handled from the Opposition Front Bench. Lord Hesketh spoke for the Government and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was the then Minister in the other place.

The Government persisted with that Bill until the events at Hillsborough took place. The enormity, horror and terrible tragedy of Hillsborough caused the Government to abandon the Bill. No one will score marks politically about the right or wrong time to do things. There never is a right time.

I have been much taken by phrases used by noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, said that we can legislate in haste but repent at leisure. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, said that when we legislate we produce a cat's-cradle and that we do not know the full effect and impact of what we are doing. That is a fact which I do not deny.

I have listened carefully to noble Lords who are knowledgeable in the law and able to read the Bill and pick it to pieces. I do not mean that in a destructive way. They are able to analyse it sensibly and make their criticisms intelligible to me. Noble Lords will have gathered that I was not born within the sound of Bow Bells. My team were the Magpies. During the passing of the Football Spectators Bill, up jumped George Wallace of Norwich who said, "I am proud to tell the House that I am the President of the Canaries". Everyone looked around. Of course, the Canaries is the name given to Norwich football team.

I believe the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, mentioned Millwall or Millwall supporters. In the same debate, up jumped my dear departed Chief Whip, Bob Mellish. He had been the president of Millwall supporters club. Joe Dean and I had the privilege of visiting many football grounds. We were invited by the directors to see what was going on. Joe was passionate about Manchester. He was always proud to say that Manchester could boast the two best teams in the

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country: Manchester City and Manchester City reserves. If he had been here tonight he would have brought passion, knowledge and sincerity.

I suspect that, like myself, he would have felt uneasy at some of the consequences spelt out by the critics of the Bill. However, I detect that at the end of the day, even the critics are in a dilemma as regards the parliamentary timetable, the political imperative and the need to respond. The Government have to produce legislation. This legislation can and will be criticised.

I attended Newcastle United at St James's Park in the 1930s. I had what was called a "spuggies ticket". When I was interviewed once I was asked what that was. A spuggy, on Tyneside, is a sparrow. Together with a group of boys I went to the Leazes End. There was a tree right near the wall. One of the boys would go up the wall with a rope round his waist, get into the ground, tie the rope on to a stanchion, throw it down and we flew in. We were spuggies. That was in 1934 or 1935--over 60 years ago. From Newcastle, I "lived", as I do now, for 30 years at the Spurs. The football fan of 1999-2000 lives in a different world from the one that I remember. Today, 65,000 to 75,000 people are packed into the grounds.

Football is part of the cultural heritage, not just of the industrial towns but of other towns as well. Tonight, we are debating a very precious thing, which will interest and affect millions of people. I believe that, overwhelmingly, they will want this House, with another place, to produce a piece of legislation that will attempt to deal with some of the disgusting scenes that we have witnessed. I have heard speakers mention "wrongful arrests" and "unsure ground". All I can say is that I saw the same television coverage as they saw. Whether or not I saw unlawful arrests, I saw Englishmen behaving despicably. I do not know how many or who they were, but the public sees the image created by the hooligan and by cynical people of that kind.

The authoritative speeches by the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner and Lord Borrie and Members on the opposite side of the House clearly indicate that we take this matter very seriously. The Minister and his senior colleague, Jack Straw, have demonstrated that they are not set precisely in their ways and that they are willing to move. I hope that by the time we begin the later stages of the Bill next week, they will have listened carefully to the criticisms made in this debate and can produce amendments that go some way towards answering them. At the end of the day, the Government have the responsibility.

I shall certainly support the Bill, hoping that it will be amended in such a way as to satisfy its critics. The Minister has taken a keen interest and has represented the government view on this issue very well over the past few months. He could do his department, himself, this House and Parliament a great favour by listening to what has been said and by bringing back amendments next week to improve the Bill. If that is done, it will receive more support than it has at present.

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8.52 p.m.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I have a feeling that noble Lords in your Lordships' stadium are beginning to look at their watches and hope that the referee's final whistle will not be too long delayed. I shall try not to delay it any longer than is necessary.

I should perhaps start with a couple of declarations. One is that I am a supporter and occasional spectator of Queens Park Rangers. That team has never had much of a problem with hooliganism, partly perhaps because it has never been very successful--at least, it has had some good years in the past but not recently. But it has done rather better than Darlington. The other, more serious declaration of interest is that I am a vice-chairman of Justice, the organisation which gave instructions for the preparation of the full and thorough opinion by two distinguished members of the Bar referred to earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon.

This has been a good debate. We have heard contributions from experts on football, from experts in the law and from those who are experts in neither but whose contributions have been based on their own experience, good sense and judgment.

I should like to refer to the distinguished maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson. Perhaps I may also single out--I hope that other noble Lords who have spoken will not mind my doing so--not a maiden speech but a speech from someone whom I have not heard before in this House; namely, the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer. He spoke with outstanding good sense and good judgment.

Before turning to the substance of the Bill, perhaps I may clear away a few miscellaneous points. First, it is plain that the Bill--inevitably, as it is being rushed through--contains some bad drafting. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, pointed that out. There are one or two errors, one trivial and one quite serious, which need correction. I shall not mention them now but will deal with them in Committee.

We are faced with serious problems over the timing of this debate. The time allowed for the Bill is far too short. We shall be in serious difficulties next week when we are having a Committee stage late on Monday and the Report stage and Third Reading early on Tuesday. That will not make it easy, and indeed it may even not be possible, to prepare our amendments properly and to deal with the important amendments that will be tabled by the Government and which we have not yet seen.

I should also be interested to know whether the Government are proposing to accept all the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee or merely the one to which the Minister spoke.

I turn to another issue which, I was surprised to find, was not raised in the debate. I refer to the Welsh dimension--frankly, I am not the correct person to raise it because I am not Welsh. The Welsh supporters are not a problem. That may be partly because in recent years Wales has tended not to get very far in international tournaments. But that may change;

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indeed we hope that it will. Welsh supporters still have, compared with some others, a reputation for good behaviour. I remember an occasion some years ago when a match between Wales and Scotland had to be played in Liverpool. The newspaper reports said that 100 fans had been arrested for drunkenness, 99 of them Scots and one Welsh. Surely the consent of the Welsh Assembly ought to be required to treating any match involving a Welsh club or Welsh national team as a regulated match.

It is important, as a number of speakers have said, in particular my noble friend Lady Ludford, for us to look at better ways of ensuring that hooligans who have committed acts of hooliganism abroad are sentenced. That could be done, as my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury suggested, by making football hooliganism an extra-territorial offence. Another--in the longer term, not in this Bill--would be the development of a Euro-bail system. One of the problems is that courts in countries such as Belgium are faced with a dilemma. They do not want to shut hooligans up in prison to await trial when that trial may be considerably delayed. It will be expensive to look after them, and at the end of the day they may merely receive a fine. On the other hand, if they are given bail, they will simply scarper off home and never be seen again in Belgium. What is needed is a Euro-bail system by which we in this country would agree that, if someone was given bail in Belgium and failed to answer to bail, the person would simply be arrested here and shipped back to Belgium without having to go through the extradition process; and that could apply vice versa.

I turn to the major issues. First, I am much concerned by the excessive restriction on travel. This has also been a concern of Justice and the Law Society. The restriction is very probably inconsistent with the laws of both the European Community and the European Convention on Human Rights. We need to look very closely at the surrender of passports. What will happen to people who live or work abroad or whose work takes them abroad? What about those who have, say, pre-booked a holiday in Florida, only to find that the Secretary of State makes an order which declares a match in Denmark to be a regulated one and they must surrender their passports? Surely, that is absolutely ridiculous.

Surrender should not be required if a person needs his passport at a time when it would otherwise be surrendered because he lives or works abroad, or needs to go abroad for family reasons, or has pre-booked a holiday to another part of the world. Surrender should not be required in any case where the subject of the banning order can satisfy a court that he is not travelling abroad with a view to attending a match or taking part in any violence associated with it. Frankly, I do not see why there is any need to surrender a passport. Banning orders can and do require the subject to report at a police station while the match is being played. If that can be done for matches in the United Kingdom, why do we need anything more for matches outside the United Kingdom? If a banning

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order is broken by the subject failing to turn up at the police station he will have committed an offence for which he can be punished.

Secondly, I believe that the summary procedure that is proposed in new Sections 21A, 21B and 21C to the 1989 Act are deeply and incurably flawed. If a policeman has, or thinks he has, or says he has, reasonable grounds to suspect that a passenger on his way through an airport has a history of violence, whether or not he has been convicted of it, and that the passenger may join in a punch-up outside the stadium if he finds one going on, the policeman can detain that passenger for four hours on his own responsibility. He can then require the individual to turn up at a magistrates' court within 24 hours and hand over his passport. That policeman can even, on his own decision, place the individual in detention. By the time the passenger gets back his passport he may have been detained, quite unjustifiably, for more than 24 hours and missed his flight. He may be too late to buy another ticket or catch another flight. That simply will not do.

As has been pointed out over and over again in this debate, serious hooligans do not turn up at airports wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the cross of St George and bottles of lager sticking out of any pocket that is within reach; they come dressed in respectable clothes and set off undetected.

I recall a film released some years ago called "Cat Ballou" in which Jane Fonda hired Lee Marvin, a famous but ageing gunslinger, to help her avenge the murder of her father. She went to meet the stagecoach on which Lee Marvin was to arrive. When it arrived a hulking great man dressed in black swaggered out of the stagecoach. Obviously, Jane Fonda's spirits lifted--until the man was smothered in a gang of small children screaming "Daddy", at which point Lee Marvin was kicked out of the stagecoach dead drunk. That is what will happen here: the serious hooligans will make certain that they do not turn up like that at airports. If there are real grounds for making a banning order, it should be imposed in good time, on proper evidence and not at the very last minute, possibly on very flimsy evidence.

Having said that, I should like to look at wider issues. In this Bill we are treating the symptoms and not the cause. I accept that we need to treat the symptoms, but we must also discover the causes. The causes are many, and I should like to point to two. One which has already been mentioned is the xenophobic attitude of parts of our press which constantly make reference to "Huns" and "Frogs". Much more importantly, in this country we have among young people in particular a culture dominated by booze. Drink is central to hooliganism. It has been suggested that the reason there were few, if any, problems with violence at the England game at Eindhoven was that the Dutch authorities watered down the beer and ensured that lots of cannabis was available, thereby ensuring that the fans were peacefully stoned instead of fighting drunk. I do not suggest that we should yet follow the same course of action, but the Government

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should do what they can to restrict and diminish the booze culture. The Government should bear that in mind when looking, for example, at the proposed reform of the licensing laws.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, that we face the consequences of a knee-jerk reaction by both the Labour and Conservative leaderships to the events in Charleroi and Brussels. What we have at the moment is a bad Bill which has been introduced with good intentions. Some of its provisions, such as combining domestic and international banning orders, make a great deal of sense. But the measure is being introduced much too quickly and in the absence of any proven need to move so fast. The Bill also contains potential infringements of the rights of innocent people, especially in the summary procedure in new Sections 21A and 21B to the Football Spectators Act. I believe that those provisions contravene provisions of the European Community and the European Convention on Human Rights. We need substantial amendments to the Bill before we can welcome it. The Government have gone some way in that direction but they need to go a good deal further. I hope that by next Tuesday they will have done just that.

9.7 p.m.

Viscount Astor: My Lords, we are now straying into extra time or injury time so I shall be brief.

My first task is to congratulate my noble friend Lord Hodgson on his excellent maiden speech. He was elected to another place in a famous by-election victory in 1976. It was a harbinger of our 1979 election victory. Therefore I am sure that his arrival in this House will be a similar harbinger for our party in the forthcoming election.

The Minister has a certain degree of sympathy from me. It has been said often today that legislation in haste is a bad thing. The Dangerous Dogs Act has been mentioned. I offer your Lordships an admission. Together with my noble friend Lord Ferrers, I took the Dangerous Dogs Bill through this House. Although it has been rightly criticised by dog owners, there is one defence to some aspect of it. For some reason I do not quite understand, the powers in the Act seem to have filtered down to the canine world. Thankfully, there have been fewer cases of dogs biting people and causing serious injury.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, said that the Bill is on a superfast track. That is so. It is an emergency Bill to enact new measures to combat football hooliganism in the wake of the disturbances in Belgium. The Government want it enacted before the end of July so that the new powers will be available for England-away matches during the Recess. I want to make this absolutely clear. We shall not stand in the way of legislation being enacted before Parliament rises for the summer. However, there must be proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill. It was published only last week and it has undergone significant recent revision. It needs further revision in this House. I assure my noble friend Lord Lucas that we shall have no reluctance in amending the Bill in this House.

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The Minister described the Bill's passage through another place as condensed but thorough. Presumably that is a new Labour spin word for the guillotine: it is called "condensing". Not all parts of the Bill were addressed in Committee in another place and it did not have the opportunity to debate the whole Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham, referred to the Football Spectators Act 1989. In the way that history proves strange things, I find that the current Home Secretary at that time voted against the Bill. The Government have missed opportunities to consider the problem in the recent past. My honourable friend Simon Burns took through the football offence and disorder measure, a private Bill introducing similar powers. The Government could have introduced those powers through that Bill had they so wished.

My noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon, the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, and many others agree that existing measures do not work. I think that we all agree that we should not export hooliganism and that we should act to prevent the ugly scenes which have occurred from recurring. But the Bill needs revision. It is full of extraordinary loopholes. The most bizarre relates to Scotland. The Bill brings internal controls into this country. I cannot think of a single Act of Parliament since the Act of Union, about 300 years ago, whereby a Scot may be prevented from returning home. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, may be able to think of an Act, or of one prior to the Act of Union, whereby that was the case.


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