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Lord Cope of Berkeley: This amendment would knock out the whole of new Section 14B. There is a following series of amendments that we shall discuss shortly that deals with the individual words and phrases involved, so I shall not go into that detail at present. However, the question remains as to whether or not banning orders should be made. After all, we are talking about the magistrates' court making such orders on an application made by the relevant chief officer of police.

Although the hurdle in new Section 14B(2)--namely, whether the person concerned has,


as defined by new Section 14C, is extremely low, the hurdle that will really matter is that contained in new Section 14B(4)(b), which says that such an application can be made to a magistrates' court if,


    "the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe,

that the person will contribute to such violence. That condition will be quite difficult to satisfy; indeed, the chief constable may have difficulty in explaining why he thinks that someone will be responsible for violence or will get involved in violence in some way in connection with a football match. That is much the higher hurdle, although it is not all that high.

I believe that this particular banning order provision is less offensive than some of the provisions in the new Section 21A of a constable detaining a person. As regards new Section 21B, that allows a constable to prevent someone going to Scotland or further afield until magistrates have had the chance to consider it. If new Section 14B is left in, then something like new Section 21B must also remain in the Bill. It at least has the merit of the magistrates deciding the matter on the basis of admittedly not very high hurdles.

2 a.m.

Lord Woolmer of Leeds: May I take the opportunity given by this amendment to ask the Minister to deal with one or two matters of the process under the slow route. This amendment relates to the complaints system. Initially it concerns the slow route but later we come to the fast route. Can my noble friend explain a little of the process that he envisages operating under the slow route?

If someone has been found guilty of violence or is likely to cause it, and that is connected with football, I can well understand that that person may be identified and a case brought against them in a magistrates' court. But a person may not have been convicted of violence in connection with football, as we heard during the Second Reading debate and today, and a very high percentage of the population fall into that category.

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I am still a little puzzled as to how people who are not connected with football violence are identified. In the arguments put forward for this legislation, it was observed that people involved in the European championship violence had not been suspected of violence in connection with football. In other words, the conundrum that the Government are seeking to grapple with in this legislation is dealing with the people who have no obvious and immediate link with football violence abroad. I am trying to understand in my own mind what advice the Minister is receiving from the police or other authorities about identifying people who, on face of it, have nothing to do with such violence. I would not know where to start.

International football is rather different from club football. From my experience, as regards international football a large group of people follow England abroad. Everyone has voiced concern about the England supporters' club. Many others follow, but it is thought that often they do not follow club teams, but the national team. I can well imagine that they could be identified.

As regards club football, very often it is not known until two or three weeks beforehand that a club is playing abroad. Bradford City has just won through the interminable Inter-Toto competition to qualify for the UEFA cup. That club won a game this week and I believe that it plays another next week. If it had lost, the question of further banning orders would not have arisen, but, if it goes through, presumably people will consider whether there might be others going to the games who should be considered for banning.

As I explained some time ago, I understand the general thrust of, and need for, the legislation. However, I am genuinely concerned as to how the measure will apply. How is it envisaged that these people will be identified when many of them have not been convicted of football violence, and when, as regards club football, decisions have to be taken in a fairly short time frame and not at leisure over several months? How is a calm and measured inquiry to take place within that short time frame?

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I hope that the Committee will forgive my speaking again. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, spoke, it occurred to me that a Member of this House and a Minister in the other place would, in their time, have been caught slap bang by the legislation. I think of David Steel and Peter Hain, both of whom were engaged in anti-apartheid demonstrations, particularly in relation to rugby. Am I not right in thinking that both of them would have been caught slap bang by the provisions of new Section 14B and by the second test mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Cope; namely, that a court would indeed be satisfied that there were


    "reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent ... disorder ... in connection with any ... football matches"?

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Is that not a worrying example of the way in which this legislation could--I suspect that, if the legislation had been in force at the time, it would have been used in this way--have been used to close down the civil demonstrations that I mentioned?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This amendment would have a fairly devastating effect if passed. It would remove a significant chunk of the legislation. I accept entirely the sincerity with which the amendment has been moved. That sincerity overshadows the wider debate. I obviously cannot accept the amendment. The present law has clearly not proven adequate to deal with the problem. Sometimes when I hear noble Lords speak from the Opposition Benches, be they Conservative or Liberal Democrat, I almost think that they imagine that there is no problem to deal with. I am rather surprised at that. I believe that a noble Lord said that there was uncertainty about what happened at Charleroi. I do not think--

Earl Russell: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I have already this evening, and at Second Reading, specifically disowned the interpretation that I do not think that there is a problem. My question is: does the Minister have a solution? That is a legitimate question.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is indeed a legitimate question. However, I do not think that there is any uncertainty about what happened at Charleroi. There is a problem which has been identified. We believe that this legislation, and other steps and measures that we might want to take in the future, will be part of that solution, just as each piece of anti-hooligan legislation that has been added to the statute book over the past 15 years is an attempt to find that solution. I do not pretend that that is easy and I do not pretend that there are easy answers to the questions that have been raised. New Section 14B is a carefully structured, measured and balanced attempt to prevent those who engage in hooliganism from continuing to do so.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, asked about the term "contributed to". In the context of this legislation, the term "contributed to" means, "took part in the disorder but did not necessarily initiate or lead it". So someone would be involved in the action, as it were, without necessarily being the leader of it or initiating it; nevertheless he would have made a contribution to it. I think of the scenes I witnessed in Charleroi, where people who were not necessarily inciting or leading acts of violence or public disorder were certainly involved and without doubt contributing to that disorder. So the term does play an important part in this legislation.

The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, referred to violence in other circumstances. Yes, of course, it is part of our argument that if someone has acted in a violent or disorderly way in other situations, that may well be a consideration that would lead to them being affected by a banning order made on complaint. That is indeed part of our argument--I do not deny that at

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all. If they have been involved in public disorder of a violent nature in other circumstances, and they have a violent nature and disposition, it is likely that they will repeat that kind of behaviour--perhaps fuelled by alcohol--in the circumstances surrounding a football match, particularly an international football match, which is where the major part of the problem now rests. That is another reason why this proposed new section is of importance.

I shall not rise to the provocation that the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, is poking in my direction about being an ex-squatter. He clearly does not understand much about my past or about the political activity in which I have been involved for the past 20 or 30 years. It is one of those things; he does not know me terribly well.

The noble Earl made a suggestion about this particular proposed new section: that allowing the police to take action to prevent the possibility of violence or disorder would be contrary to our constitutional traditions. That point was fully answered at Second Reading by my noble friend Lord Mackenzie, who pointed out that the police have had common law powers since time immemorial to prevent crime or breaches of the peace. As I have said, this power is entirely within the traditions of British policing. It is workable for that reason.


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