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Lord Borrie: My Lords, I can see great value in that suggestion. If the Home Office did not engage independent researchers to inquire into the issue, no doubt the noble Lord and many others would ask questions about it so that the Home Office was well aware of the issue.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, the procedure by which we are going to vote is peculiar, but we have agreed it and we should not reopen the issue. However, if we come to a similar situation in future, it would be wise to take the most restrictive amendment first, because if that was passed, there would be no need to go further. However, that is a side issue.
The assessment of the Bill will be conducted not so much by officials in the Home Office or outside as by the press, the television and the public, who will look to see whether the provisions have worked.
I shall not say that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, delivered an Exocet to his case, but he certainly had a bit of a shot at his foot when he said that if we had only a very short period, only one match might be affected, which would not be enough to tell whether the provisions were effective. We have had this extraordinary procedure of being up all night because he claimed that that one match was of such massive importance that it was vital that we got the Bill through in great haste, which could result in rather muddled legislation. He should reflect on which case he is making. He cannot make both.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I fear that I was not present at 5 o'clock this morning. I was in another place. The Opposition can have their cake and eat it. The three-year period that is being proposed can be abbreviated. There is nothing wrong with that. I have strong reservations about the Bill, but Ministers could make a judgment within three years or within two years. They would not be short of representations from organisations such as Liberty.
It is as though Ministers are psychic. They are not. I was a Minister myself in the period of Wilson, Callaghan and Blair, so I know that Ministers are not psychic. They have their own views. It is not as though this evening the view has been expressed that Ministers take whatever is presented to them. They do not. That being the case, I believe that three years is a reasonable period of time. That does not mean that a period of three years will necessarily be applied.
If Ministers believe that the Bill is worthless, they will come to that view. First, a period of three years will give Ministers an opportunity to hear about the merits of the Bill from outside. Secondly, it will give the public the opportunity to express their point of view, which is not an unimportant part of what the Government have to consider. Thirdly, it will give the Opposition the opportunity to consider the situation as it is.
Both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives should view this from the point of view of the efficacy of the proposal, and not from the point of view of party advantage. I do not see that there is any party advantage in this matter. We can best make it work by ensuring that the Government have a period within which they can come to a proper and a considered point of view. I believe that that is the only point of view that is important.
Lord Desai: My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Borrie, although I do not much like the Bill, I believe that a longer period is preferable for the following reasons. If people's civil liberties are affected, lawyers being what they are, it will take a long time for us to find out that that is the case. The headline numbers of hooligans caught or not caught will not be an effective test of the Bill in relation to civil liberties. Only when such people have been prevented from travelling and they proceed through the civil courts will we see the result. Lawyers would be poor if they did not take a long time to decide such matters.
A longer period would also give us a larger sample of the rights and wrongs of the matter and not much will be lost by waiting. I hope that when we consider this matter again it will not be in the last week of July.
Lord Woolmer of Leeds: My Lords, I too do not like many aspects of this legislation. I want to address my remarks to the particular proposal for the one-plus-one-year period. The effect of that would be that the current legislation would end two years from now, as I expect these provisions to be triggered within days. That means that legislation will have to be provided in the Government's legislative programme commencing in the autumn of next year. Presumably, any review of the legislation would take at least two or three months.
The kind of careful consideration that we would want to see for such legislation, as opposed to this unseemly rush, would take a number of months and not a number of weeks. Therefore, I would have expected that a review of the process would be completed by the end of next year and that the consideration of draft legislation, if any, would take place in the spring and summer of 2002. Effectively, that means that for the review to be completed by the end of December next year, it would have to commence by September next year. The one-plus-one period would mean that the decisions taken in two years' time would be based on not more than 12 months of football.
Continually I have expressed the view--I am delighted that the Minister has accepted this--that the so-called short route will be only a modest contribution to the effect of this legislation. In my view, the legislation will have an effect of substance only if the longer route--that is the long process of identifying hooligans and bringing them before magistrates' courts in a proper manner--bears fruit. That will bear fruit only by consistently following hooligans, identifying them match after match, month after month, over two or three years.
To noble Lords opposite and to those minded to go down the one-plus-one-year route I say that they will not give themselves or anyone else a fair opportunity to assess how this legislation works. I do not like the speed of this legislation, as those who have followed the debates on this Bill will know, but the next time it is reviewed, it must be reviewed properly, carefully and at length with a fair ability to assess whether or not it has worked. In my view it will be assessed on whether or not the long route has worked. I believe that the short route will not be used frequently because, if it is, it will rapidly fall into disrepute.
I hope that, despite the agreement made in the early hours of this morning, noble Lords can reflect on whether the one-plus-one-year route really makes sense if we have the common objective of ensuring that next time the legislation is properly considered.
We want a clear undertaking from the Minister that any review of this Bill will be conducted by an independent agency and not by civil servants who will be placed in a ludicrous position because they would be invited to say that all this effort that we have applied to this Bill had been proved totally worthless because we did not have the opportunity of insisting that the review should be carried out by an independent agency.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, during the course of the debates on the Bill the noble Lord put to me the use of what he describes now as an "independent agency". We had not given earlier consideration to that point, but I am prepared to consider it. Perhaps the noble Lord would share with us his thoughts on what that independent agency may be.
Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I do not believe that the noble Lord need trouble himself with that. I am well aware that we have reached Report stage. I have intervened only twice to ask a question. I am now addressing myself to the issue. This afternoon I made the point to the Minister and he has an opportunity to consult his advisers, who are not a thousand miles away from the Chamber, and to indicate to us whether the Government are prepared to accept this point. Without such an assurance the review is worthless. That point must be appreciated by everyone in the House. So far I have not heard any words of comfort from the noble Lord, Lord Bassam.
Lord Woolmer of Leeds: My Lords, I took that to be an intervention as I was sitting down. I say only that, if the noble Lord, Lord Harris, is satisfied on that point, then an independent review would be of no value unless it was over a long enough period for it to have a chance of properly reflecting whether or not the
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