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Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I am sorry to intervene and I am most grateful to the Minister for giving way. He referred to the intention to bring forward an amendment to Clause 3. Does he propose to introduce amendments to cover the other recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee?
The Government believe that the Bill is a proportionate and measured response to a problem which requires determined and effective action. It balances the liberties of the individual against the well-founded rights of decent people both here and abroad to go about their business without being subjected to drunken insult, racism, xenophobia and violence. I commend it to your Lordships.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, he mentioned amendments which are to be tabled by the Government. In order to clarify the position, can he tell us whether the civil or the criminal standard of proof will apply? It appeared, having read the Hansard report of the debates in the other place, that Ministers, even at Third Reading, did not know the answer to that.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, we all look forward in the course of this debate to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Hodgson, especially those of us who have heard him speak as a colleague in another place and on other occasions since.
I should perhaps say at the start that I am not a regular attender at football matches and I cannot offer first-hand experience of hooliganism in that respect. However, I know how much I hate to see our nation's reputation dragged down by so-called supporters who have nothing whatever to do with those who built and served the British Empire.
Those so-called supporters appear to view football violence as a legitimate sport in its own right. I understand that they travel without a ticket and, frequently, with little hope of obtaining one when they arrive to see the match. Some apparently view the
However, we are here today to consider this Bill, given that background. My first point is that I believe that we all hate legislating at this speed. The history of rushed legislation, cobbled together in haste in response to an event, is pretty rotten. I am not making a party political point. Some on this side of the House have scars to prove the point that I am making. The difficulty comes down partly to a question of time-scale and partly to one of emotion. There is little time for reflection and little time for people outside Parliament to take on board what is happening and to comment on it. Ministers, officials and parliamentary draftsmen must all rush their work, and that is made all the worse in this case because the Home Office is trying to cram through Parliament an enormously long list of legislation.
The Minister and I, and many others present today, yesterday evening finished consideration of a version of the extremely complex Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill--a very different version, I may say, from the version that we received, but that is another matter. Yet the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, is the Minister with personal responsibility for the topic of this Bill. Presumably for several weeks he has been trying to prepare the Bill and oversee debates in the Commons, as well as conducting business here. It is difficult for all of us to get legislation right in those circumstances. During the so-called spillover, when we come back from the recess, we shall have no fewer than seven Home Office Bills to deal with.
This extra Bill comes on top of a very heavy burden for all those concerned with the preparation of Home Office legislation. It has inevitably had to be rushed and it is no surprise that it has already been through several versions.
Not only are we legislating in haste, we are doing so under the emotions generated by seeing the dreadful scenes in Brussels and Charleroi. It is natural to say that something must be done. We all sympathise with that emotion, but the difficulty is to get the right legislation, not just any legislation on the subject. The Bill is the Government's attempt to do that. We should all be careful about such hasty legislation. That is why my noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon suggested a sunset clause during a meeting with the Home Secretary about the Bill. The Government have inserted a five-year sunset provision for the most controversial and novel aspects of the Bill. We believe that five years is too long, but we shall return to that point later.
However, not all of the Bill is novel and controversial. There are four main aspects to it. First, domestic and international football banning orders are being combined into one. We accept that proposition, which has been around for many years, having originally been advanced by one of my right honourable friends in another place.
Secondly, the withdrawal of passports for the period of specified football matches from those with banning orders against them will become mandatory in all but exceptional cases, rather than being at the discretion of the courts. We also accept that.
Thirdly, there is a proposal to allow the police to apply to the magistrates' court to seek a football banning order against someone who may not have committed a football-related offence, but who has been involved in violence and disorder in another way.
As the Minister emphasised, the fourth proposal is the difficult one. A police constable will be able to detain a suspect for four hours on suspicion while he investigates. It is a sus law. A police inspector can extend that period by a further two hours to six hours. When they have investigated, they can serve an order, with reasons--the Bill has been properly amended in that respect--to appear before a magistrate within 24 hours, when the banning order will be considered. That means that the police can detain for six hours and limit travel for 24 hours on suspicion.
I was glad to hear the Minister refer to the arrangements for legal advice and assistance for people faced with such applications. The circumstances can sometimes be difficult. The events will often take place over the weekend while someone is away from home, travelling overseas. We are dealing with strong powers--all the more so because of the circumstances in which they are likely to be used.
I appreciate that the police will often wish to apply for a banning order in advance of a match, before anybody has had a chance to travel even as far as an airport, but they will often seek to detain someone who is about to travel by air or by sea. In these days of cheap flights, a delay of even one hour usually means losing one's seat and one's money. I was glad to hear that the Government will propose a scheme, as suggested by my right honourable and honourable friends in another place, to allow claims for those deprived of their trip and their money, if the magistrates subsequently decide that a banning order should not properly be made.
Being deprived of the right to travel is a considerable deprivation of liberty. We shall press for stipendiary magistrates to sit at airports when the powers are likely to be used. That will speed up the process of judicial decision-taking and minimise the time that people are held under suspicion by the police.
We have to decide whether the strong powers in the Bill are justified by the mischief to which they are addressed and whether they will work. We know that there are some serious loopholes. The first is the well documented Scottish loophole. Someone who has not yet had a banning order can avoid going through an English or Welsh airport or port by going to Scotland to travel to the continent, or wherever the match is taking place. Ministers suggested at an earlier stage that that loophole could be closed if the Scottish Parliament enacted similar legislation. Since then, Scottish Ministers have made it clear that they have no intention of doing so. Besides, they cannot possibly do so now, because the Scottish Parliament has already gone into recess.
The Government are aware of the problem. That is why Englishmen--and, indeed, Scotsmen--will be prevented from travelling from Scotland while they are subject to restrictions by the police. This is not internal exile, but internal control of a type that the Government abolished for Northern Ireland comparatively recently with great trumpets. I am not sure what the precedents are for a Scotsman being prevented from travelling to Scotland by an English policeman on suspicion.
There is a similar Northern Ireland loophole. People could fly or drive to Northern Ireland and then go on to a European destination. Alternatively, they could cross over the land border to the Republic of Ireland and either go on from there or go directly to Dublin, if a match was being held there.
When challenged, the Home Secretary said that he understood about the Scottish and Irish loophole, but claimed that it did not matter much, because people could go to Spain in any case. That is true. If someone travels to Spain first when the match is in Germany, they are not likely to be picked up. That widens the loophole even further.
There is also a problem--I do not know whether it is a loophole--of recognition. Not all football hooligans will turn up at the airport dressed in their war paint and all the necessary gear for causing trouble. They may well come disguised in suits and carrying briefcases and, Lord preserve us, probably even mobile telephones. It will be difficult for the police to identify them in the crowds, particularly as they will need to be identified on first arrival at the airport, before they check in. Stopping someone after any baggage has been handed in and the ticket preliminaries have been dealt with at the check-in desk means stopping the whole flight to sort out the relevant baggage. I am sure that your Lordships will sometimes have seen this done when someone fails to turn up and one lot of baggage has to be taken out and everything else is spread out on the tarmac. If that should be caused by the police trying to stop a probable football hooligan dressed in a suit with a briefcase, I do not think it would make the police very popular on a busy weekend.
However, given all this and given the difficulties of the legislation, I hope that the noble Lord the Minister will tell us when he winds up, at least in broad terms, how many individuals he expects or believes will become subject to these orders in the first 12 months, or whatever period is deemed suitable. He gave us some figures, and the Home Secretary gave more figures, of those who went to Belgium and what happened to them and so on. We have had quite a lot of figures of a historical nature, but we do not know how effective this legislation is likely to be in terms of the numbers of people being prevented from going overseas and damaging our national reputation.
The noble Lord has made very clear once again the reason for the Government's sense of urgency over this matter; that is, the urgency they feel of the need not only to get this Bill through but also to get Parliament away for Recess perhaps before anything else goes wrong--and certainly before there are any more leaks from Downing Street. There are a number of questions to which I hope the noble Lord the Minister will be able to respond when he winds up. First, what is the opinion of the European Union authorities of this restriction of movement within the European Union? They have quite strong opinions about that and about freedom of movement, and this is clearly a restriction.
I find it difficult to understand, although I have read several clever bits of paper on the subject, how these very arbitrary powers can be consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. It would be helpful if we were told more about that and, for that matter, whether any of these powers are consistent with Article 12 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which also covers this kind of area.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I would be interested to know whether the Government intend to implement this of their own volition or whether we shall have to press for the implementation of all three of the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. They are all sensible recommendations, and your Lordships' House has a long tradition of carrying out sensible recommendations from that particular very distinguished Select Committee.
This Bill, as I say, is very much a rushed affair. It has important and very difficult--probably irremediable--loopholes. Nevertheless, we are prepared from these Benches to let the Government try this as an experiment, but not to place it permanently on the statute book. We shall also be doing our best in the limited time that will be available to us next week to improve the Bill but we are not going to stand in its way at this stage.
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