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Lord Thomas of Gresford: Does the Minister agree it would be very odd if a person committed a criminal offence triable in this country because it was witnessed by an English policeman but not if it was witnessed only by a French policeman?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: It comes down to gathering evidence to a British evidential standard, securing proper identification, and ensuring that witnesses are transported here from an overseas jurisdiction and fully understand how our jurisdiction works. All of those matters must apply for extra-territorial jurisdiction to work effectively. At the time of Euro 2000 we believed it most important to secure the co-operation of our colleagues in Belgium and Holland to act and to prosecute where people committed offences in their jurisdiction. That was the basis on which we signed the various protocols, and we believe that that is the preferable course.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord McNally; it is important that people are prosecuted and are subject to the full force of the law. However, that does not deal with one of the important arguments that we have advanced for this legislation and its principal purposes; namely, to prevent unruly, unpleasant scenes like those on the streets of Charleroi, Brussels, Copenhagen and earlier in Istanbul. We want a strategy which in part rests on prevention rather than cure. That is where the extra-territorial jurisdiction line of argument leads us.
I have a great deal of respect for the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, but his proposal is not a strategy. It is not even a part of a strategy. It may be of some use in the future if we can put all those factors in place so that they can work effectively--equal evidential standards; the ready identification of suspects; the easy transportation of witnesses; and witnesses able to operate within a British court so that they can explain what they saw where offences were comparable. Those difficulties present us with considerable hurdles to overcome in adopting readily the amendment although as I said at the outset, and at Second Reading, I have some sympathy with the point that the noble Lord seeks to make.
Relying on extra-territorial jurisdiction would not prevent people from leaving this country who were intent on hooliganism, violence and acts of racism and xenophobia abroad. The amendment would not have that virtue. For all those reasons we do not think that we can rely on extra-territorial jurisdiction for football hooliganism offences. Nor do we think that it offers a viable alternative strategy for beating the overseas football hooligan problem that we have experienced.
Viscount Astor: Before the Minister sits down, perhaps he will kindly answer my question about who is covered by the provisions. Am I right to believe that the Bill covers only a British citizen, resident or non-resident, in this country? Does it cover a European citizen resident in this country?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My understanding is the same as that of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. Only Section 21 applies to a British citizen. All the other parts of the legislation apply to someone who resides in this country.
Earl Russell: As we are in Committee, I am entitled to ask the Minister to think a little further about the objective of prevention. He has no difficulty in convincing any of us that that objective is desirable. However, he has to convince us of two things: first, that the objective is possible; and, secondly, that it can be achieved without bringing in a large trawl at the end of it.
I know that in politics the unexpected always happens. However, if the Home Secretary were to describe Mr Roger Gale as a woolly Hampstead liberal, that would be beyond the realms of the unexpected; it would be near the miraculous. However, I have been looking at Mr Gale's speech in another place. I paraphrase as the rules of order demand. He said that many of his constituents going about their lawful business, going across the Channel to buy their booze, were as likely to be picked up under the provisions of the Bill as any football hooligan. He said that the Bill was inviting the Kent police to use a crystal ball. The Minister has shown no inclination to respond to that charge. We badly need to hear a response. Before he again invites the argument of prevention, can the Minister try to address that point because it is vital?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: One of the factors the noble Earl forgets is that this piece of regulation will operate only during a controlled and, therefore, limited period of time. That is an important consideration. We are being proportionate in the way we propose this piece of legislation.
I listened carefully to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson. He made it clear that the exercise of the power could not be conducted in the very arbitrary way in which several Members of the Committee have suggested. The police could not act in that arbitrary way. As the noble and learned Lord said, the police would run the powerful risk of running up big bills in terms of compensation and the exercising of their powers unlawfully. That is not what the police want.
Lord Lucas: The Minister said that the control periods would be relatively short. If one adds up all the potential measures and considers how they are distributed in time, do they not cover half the year?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: One is talking about 100 days at most. Given the way in which the power will work, the constraints on the police and terms of compensation, the police will be extremely careful about the way they exercise the power. Leading police officers have said that they want to exercise the powers in the Bill in a targeted and entirely proportionate way.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: If the noble Earl had listened carefully to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, he would have heard that the way the legislation is phrased, the police will have to operate lawfully and in an entirely proportionate and appropriate way.
The Earl of Onslow: I listened with care to what was said about preventive arrests that could have taken place in the case of Leeds supporters, had the Galatasaray game been the other way around. How many Leeds supporters need to be stopped with care? The Minister implied an awful lot. Could he elaborate?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I said in the other debate that in those circumstances, the police would have found the power of use and value. No doubt they would have been careful about the circumstances in which they exercised the power.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am grateful for the Minister's response to this mini debate and for other contributions. As to the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, I thought that the Bill confined itself to British citizens throughout but in fact that is only true of Clause 21--which could be remedied by redrafting my amendment.
The Minister did not envisage that the police would want to send enough officers across the Channel for the game in France on 2nd September but implementing proposed Section 21 would involve a massive deployment of police resources if it is to have any effect. I urge the Minister to look the practical consequences of Section 21 fully in the eye. It will not
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The NCIS exercise was extremely effective. Only a small number of persons identified as potential troublemakers bothered to travel abroad. They were put off. That was the beauty of it. The problem was that hundreds of other English supporters abroad were intent on causing trouble in any event.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am grateful to the Minister because he made my point precisely. Despite all that, the outcome was that 965 British fans were arrested and deported. Of that number, only 30 were on the NCIS list. That is another way of saying that it is impossible to tell who will cause an outbreak of violence. It will be no more possible in future and therefore no more possible to identify at any port who is likely to be the cause of the violence in order to utilise the powers under new Section 21. That is the practical point.
Lord Woolmer of Leeds: We are beginning to slip into treating all 900-odd as guilty. I urge the Committee to remember that a large number were herded together and deported with no evidence whatever that they were causing trouble. I want to make that point in case the noble Lord's analysis begins to blur it. Many citizens feel extremely aggrieved about what happened to them.
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