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Lord Bassam of Brighton: I cannot comment on the internal dynamics of the Police Federation, but in all the contact that I have had in recent weeks and months with ordinary serving police officers, they have made it clear to me that if the power is exercised in the way that we suggest, they will welcome it. It will be an extra string to their bow and an extra power in their armoury. They believe it to be right and proportionate. We heard on Second Reading what the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, thought about the power. He seemed to believe that it would be very welcome.
My noble friend Lord Desai compared the power fleetingly with the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989. I know that that Act is not everybody's favourite, but it has been peculiarly effective. It may not have the best drafting. Indeed, as an official I once complained about its drafting and wondered about its effectiveness. However, I also know from our statistics and experience that it is very effective. So I am not quite sure that it helps to take the cause any further forward by quoting that in aid of the argument.
I want to reflect on the comments made by my noble friend Lord Woolmer. Along with my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester, he made one of the best contributions during the course of the Second Reading debate.
My noble friend Lord Woolmer was making a case for the proportionate use of this piece of legislation. I believe that that is how it will be used. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made a similar point, that this power could be used to sweep up hundreds of thousands of people. I made it clear on Second Reading that we did not expect there to be hundreds of thousands of people swept up as a by-product of this part of our package of measures. But, obviously, it is a very useful power which will have a preventive virtue. People will know that if it is considered that they are going abroad simply to carry out acts of violence, acts of disorder, acts of abusiveness, racism and xenophobia, then the police have the power to make a temporary detention which can be tested at some later point in the courts. That has a preventive virtue of its own.
My noble friend Lord Woolmer made the quite proper point that the circumstances surrounding a return fixture may have a bearing on that. On reflection, perhaps those circumstances should have a reflection on the way in which new Section 21A is used.
We should put this into context to try to make it a bit real. Let us suppose that it had been the other way round and there had been a knifing of a Leeds United supporter in Leeds as part of the first leg of that two-legged fixture earlier this year and there was the suggestion that Leeds supporters might want to travel abroad to wreak revenge on Galatasaray supporters. In that case, this power might have had some benefit because those people who felt inclined to go abroad and carry out acts of violence might have been made to think again about it because they would know that the police had a power to use in a targeted and proportionate way to affect the outcome of human behaviour in another country. The measure has a value because of that.
For me, the most absurd and bizarre argument advanced in support of removing this measure from the Bill was that of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. Essentially he was saying to the Committee that he wanted to protect for ever the freedom of the right of an English citizen to go abroad and fight on the streets of the Champs Elysees. That is what the noble Earl was saying.
The Earl of Onslow: That is absolutely not what I said. I said--and the noble Lord should listen--that it is the duty of the French police, the CRS, to control their own streets. Of course, I have never given any approval, by any hint of an eyebrow or a turn of phrase, of that sort of behaviour. But I say that it is the duty of the British police, the British Government and the British authorities to maintain Her Majesty's peace in this country; and it is the duty of the foreign police to maintain the peace in their country.
If our people go abroad and breach their peace, it is up to them to face the consequences. It is not up to us to remove people's civil liberties. That is the point I make. If the noble Lord cannot understand that, he cannot understand why people are objecting to the fact that they see their civil liberties threatened by the Bill.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I shall study Hansard very carefully. But I thought I heard the noble Earl make it plain that he felt that somehow the right of people to travel abroad to have a fight on the Champs Elysees was a right which he wanted to protect. As I said, I shall study Hansard very carefully but that seemed to me to be his line of argument and that seems to be where his argument leads to.
I must reject that argument. I believe that we have a duty to work here and with our European colleagues to prevent the sort of disorder which brought great shame upon our nation before, during and after the events which took place at Euro 2000. To fail to do that would beggar belief. Nor do I believe that the British public would understand that.
I turn to the point raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden. He said that we should allow experience to direct us so that we can return to the matter in a year's time. Just how much more experience do we need before we take some form of effective action? We have had appalling scenes on the streets of Charleroi and Brussels.
Earl Russell: The Minister uses the word "effective". If he is to satisfy the Committee that the measure is effective he needs to show some reason why we should believe that it will impact on the guilty rather than on the innocent. I have listened to him with great care in order to hear an answer to that question. I have not heard one.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: I make the point in another form. On the issue of effective action, the question is whether it is constitutional within the law and whether it is proportionate, reasonable and acceptable according to our standards. That is the point.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I find that argument most strange. Surely, if a piece of legislation works and is effective that proves the point that the legislation has worked and been effective. I do not understand the noble Earl's argument. My argument is that we need the opportunity to test out this legislation. I suggest that Parliament would be wise to pass it so that we can put it through the rigours and tests to which it, quite rightly, should be subjected. I take the point and I follow the argument that it needs to be both targeted and proportionate. I believe that the police consider that it covers both those points. They want to use it in an entirely proportionate way. No doubt they will be careful in the way in which they exercise the powers provided in this piece of legislation.
We have had a long discussion on this matter. I was asked one or two points of fact. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, asked how many people on the list of 1,000 had previous convictions? I believe the number is in the region of 500. About 100 had international banning orders and about 400 had domestic banning orders, so they had previous convictions.
I suggest to the Committee that to remove the fourth measure from the Bill will undermine the general effectiveness of this new piece of legislation. Acting on the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, we have picked up the point that there should be a "sunset" clause. We shall look at the legislation after one year and after a further period of four years so that we can see how effective it has been. I believe that was a helpful and a wise suggestion which will help us, particularly in regard to
If we do not take action and if we do not put this piece of legislation on the statute book, I believe that people in the wider world will wonder what we should legislate for. They will consider that we have the wrong priorities. For that reason, I believe that this piece of legislation and the fourth measure deserve to be supported.
Lord Lucas: The Minister is putting forward a rather extraordinary idea of the way in which we should legislate, that we should just accept any Bill if it is time-limited. Perhaps we could try executing engine drivers if they do not run their trains on time. We could try that for a year to see how it works!
The Committee must be allowed to perform its function. While taking note of the fact that the legislation is limited, in which case the Committee may let it go further than it would normally, and taking note of the urgent need for it, we must subject it to proper scrutiny. I do not believe that the Minister has made anything like a case for this part of the Bill. He started by saying that this measure would be used only occasionally and then welcomed with open arms the scenario painted by the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, of it being used to stop 20,000 fans travelling to a match in Turkey. We have had no explanation of how that will be achieved.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I said that I felt that the police would use this legislation in an entirely targeted and appropriate way. I said that in the circumstances I described it would have been an extremely useful power. In fact, I challenge the noble Lord to say exactly what sort of power the police should have in those circumstances to prevent the sort of disorder which I am sure the noble Lord will accept pours shame on our nation, causes misery and upset abroad, and damages our great national game.
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