Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


The Earl of Onslow: Could a ban be increased under that provision?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: It could be. Equally, it could be reduced.

Amendment No. 53 would allow the courts to relax requirements. That is not necessary because the facility already exists for someone subject to an order to make an application to have it varied outside the additional requirements order. I can understand the case for the argument that has been made but we do not believe that it is necessary because the facility exists to make an application.

Lord Lucas: It would be helpful if the Minister could point to that in the Bill.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As I explained earlier, Section 20 provides for exemptions. A person affected can apply to the football banning authority, NCIS, and at short notice he can apply to the police for exemption. If the exemption is refused, there is a right of appeal to the court. Therefore, that facility exists.

I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. I, too, have searched through my mind and read various parts of the schedule. Perhaps it is not immediately plain to all concerned and the ability to apply for that variation is not as clearly spelt out as it could be. Therefore, before the Report stage tomorrow I undertake further to investigate the point so that I can make it plain to the noble Lord that the facility exists. On that basis, I invite the Committee to reject the amendment.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Perhaps I may help the Minister. Is not the power to vary contained in new Section 14G(2)?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I thought so on my reading of it, but that provision relates to the additional requirements of orders. The point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, is more general; it is to seek to vary the order at large outside the additional

24 Jul 2000 : Column 256

requirements of orders. That is a point that I properly need to make clear to the Committee and I shall undertake to try to do so tomorrow.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Before the Minister sits down and before my noble friend Lord Goodhart replies, perhaps I may ask the Minister a question. He makes the case, and with some persuasiveness, that there may be a need to impose additional requirements. However, would it not be minimally fair that before imposing additional requirements the magistrates gave the respondent the opportunity to make such observations on the proposals as he or she thought fit before they reached a conclusion? That would lend some protection against magistrates going outside the conventional brief and doing something which inadvertently was of significant disadvantage or unfair to the respondent.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord is suggesting that a facility be made available so that the respondent has the opportunity to make representations. I take that point and undertake to ensure that the opportunity will be made available. It is an important principle.

Earl Russell: I do not think the Minister helped himself with that reply. He invoked useful flexibility. Does he understand that that is precisely what worries us most about the proposal in the Bill? The point about having a fixed upper limit on punishment is that it is the citizen's only protection against punishment based on spite. When we become exhausted, and I am sure that the Minister sympathises, spite is something of which we are all regrettably capable. The need to place a maximum limit on punishment is the only thing that persuades us that we are punished according to fixed and known rules. I am surprised that the point has not been thought of. It is an example of the obsessive single purpose legislation. As I listen to the debate I conclude that this Bill makes the Child Support Act 1991 look well drafted.

Lord Goodhart: I am afraid that once again the Minister's reply is deeply unsatisfactory. We are not saying that there should never be any additional requirements. The Minister's example of banning someone who is the subject of an order from going to or near a railway station which is being used by fans of the visiting club is sensible.

However, we say that the parameters of the additional requirement should be either on the face of the Bill or, at the very least, set out in a statutory instrument. Without that, there is a real possibility that requirements could be made which are not acceptable. Let us say, for example, that the court stated that the subject of the order was to be confined to his house for the whole of the day of the match except for going to and from the police station for the purpose of reporting. I do not believe that we would regard that as being an acceptable additional requirement. We consider that the possibility of

24 Jul 2000 : Column 257

making orders of that kind needs to be curbed by requiring some degree of parliamentary control over the additional requirements that can be imposed.

Once again, I intend to ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw the amendment, but this, too, is a matter which we shall bring back on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 52 to 53A not moved.]

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 54:


    Page 8, line 50, leave out from ("section") to end of line 2 on page 9 and insert--


("(a) may not require the person subject to the order to report except in the control period in relation to a regulated football match outside England and Wales or an external tournament,
(b) may not require him to surrender his passport except in the control period in relation to a regulated football match outside the United Kingdom or an external tournament which includes such matches.").

The noble Lord said: In moving government Amendment No. 54, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 68 and 73. They are major drafting amendments. Their purpose is to make it clear that, while the requirement to report to a police station may be applied in relation to matches outside England and Wales, the requirement to surrender a passport can be imposed only in relation to matches outside the United Kingdom. There will be no need to surrender passports in relation to a match which takes place in Scotland or Northern Ireland. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 55 and 56 not moved.]

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 57:


    Page 9, line 11, leave out ("for suspecting") and insert ("to believe").

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 57, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 58 to 60. I do not want to go back over territory which the Committee has already debated. However, through an amendment moved earlier this evening the whole of new Section 21A would, in effect, have been removed. Therefore, these amendments look at the matter in another way and, I hope, improve or make clearer the grounds for the burden of proof.

They are fairly simple amendments. Amendment No. 57 inserts "to believe" instead of "for suspecting". Amendment No. 58 requires that an officer of at least the rank of inspector should be involved. Amendment No. 59 adds a time constraint. They attempt to toughen up the measure.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, was unable to stay until such a late hour but he asked me to mention his amendment. I should be entirely happy if the Government were to go back over the Second Reading speech of the noble and learned Lord in which his thinking on the matter is set out. I could try to paraphrase the speech but I suspect that, if I did so, it would be even longer than the original. Therefore, I hope that the Minister can take as said the points made

24 Jul 2000 : Column 258

by the noble and learned Lord so that we do not have to repeat the process, because I am sure that he realises that the points will come up in this debate. If the Minister could reply to those points, it would help enormously with the next stage of the Bill, which I am sure he would like us to get through in the quickest and most orderly fashion possible. I beg to move.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I suggest that Amendment No. 69, which is also in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and is in the same terms as Amendment No. 60, should be considered with this grouping. I support the amendments.

Viscount Astor: And Amendment No. 67.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Indeed, and Amendment No. 67.

Lord Lucas: I have a couple of amendments in this group. Amendment No. 64 has been dealt with by the effect of the amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Cope of Berkeley. Amendment No. 65 is on a different subject. It comes back to a point that I raised earlier about the effect of the two sections on the Scots. At the moment, any Brit can be hauled up and stuck in chokey for six hours under Section 21A, but Section 21B does not allow a Scotsman or someone from Northern Ireland to be further processed under that section. Section 21B(4) requires the complaint to be made as if it is by the appropriate chief officer of police to the court in question. For a Scotsman or someone in Northern Ireland, there is no such person.

Section 14B is drafted entirely with the English and the Welsh in mind. It has no application in Scotland or Northern Ireland. The process of arraigning in front of a magistrates' court has no status for someone who lives outside England or Wales. Section 21A gives the right to detain the Scots and the Northern Irish to no purpose. Many of us might enjoy doing that on an off day to lighten the weary hours, but it should not be in the Bill.

4.30 a.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I shall try to respond to all the amendments. We are not convinced of their necessity. Amendment No. 57 would require a police officer to believe rather than to suspect that a person had been involved in violence or disorder before exercising the power to detain. I suspect that the practical difference is not great, but I submit that suspicion is probably the right test. The officer must have reasonable grounds for his suspicion. Government amendments in another place have ensured that, and it is not necessary or in the interests of the effectiveness of the Bill that the officer should have formed a firm belief on the matter before any inquiries are made.

Amendment No. 58 is unrealistic. It would require an inspector to authorise every case of detention for further inquiries. The inspector will need to be engaged

24 Jul 2000 : Column 259

if an extension of detention from four hours to six seems justified, but a constable is capable of making and justifying the initial decision.

Amendment No. 59 would limit the detention period to the time reasonably necessary to reach a decision. That would not make much difference in practice. The officer may detain until he has made a decision and in no case can that be for above six hours. How would it be established in practice that an officer had taken longer than was reasonably necessary to make a decision? On what basis could that conclusion be reached?

I believe that the absolute limitation on detention time which we have now introduced will, in practice, be a much better safeguard. I am tempted to pray in aid of my argument the earlier words of the noble Earl, Lord Russell; but perhaps not.

The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, has done us a service in speaking to Amendment No. 60. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, has tabled some interesting amendments. However, I fear that Amendment No. 60 would create real difficulties for the police in attempting to implement new Section 21A. The reality is that a person detained will be held for only a relatively short while and then will either be issued with a notice or released to continue his journey.

Of course, the police will not indiscriminately pick out people to check on them. It is right that they should do so only when there are reasonable grounds, as the Bill currently provides.

But the amendment goes beyond the kind of requirement which we see in analogous provisions of PACE and the requirements of the common law. "Full particulars" suggests to us a rather substantial document which may add to the bureaucracy with which the police must comply without being of much value to the person detained. By the same token, I recognise that, as we were warned at Second Reading, there may be a temptation to issue a notice to the individual explaining that the detention was in order to make further inquiries. I suggest that that matter can be best dealt with in guidance to the police. I am sure that the noble and learned Lord will be interested in the explanation which I have given.

In moving Amendment No. 65, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, raised an interesting issue. We may wish to look again at that to see whether we can help in terms of covering the point which the amendment raises. I say that without commitment, but I am happy to go away and look again at that amendment.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, has also tabled Amendment No. 69. That makes the same point in relation to the issue of a notice as was made in relation to the power to detain under new Section 21A. The amendment is based on the premise, which we accept, that people issued with notices commencing a banning order by the complaint process need to know the case against them so that they can prepare for their hearing.

24 Jul 2000 : Column 260

In those circumstances, simply reciting the wording of the criteria in new Section 21A would not be appropriate. We are not clear that the full particulars formulation is the right one either. If the requirement is too onerous, that may lead to an extension of the detention period while a substantial notice is prepared, thus adding to the bureaucracy of it all.

We should not want to forestall evidence which came to light subsequent to the issue of the notice from being presented in court. If the police are unable to make their case at the first hearing, the person concerned should be free to travel immediately. Where there are substantial issues of fact between the parties, we imagine that the court would adjourn the hearing to a later date. I assure the Committee that there is no intention that the police should regard it as sufficient merely to cite the criteria in new Section 21A and that guidance on that point will be provided by the police. We recognise and acknowledge that it is an issue, but we believe that it should not be on the face of the Bill and that it is best dealt with in guidance.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page