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Viscount Astor: My Lords, as always we are grateful to the noble Earl. It explains the difficulty for Government in trying to bring forward proper legislation. The Government have not been helped by the Scottish Executive which has said that even if it had the time, and the Scottish Parliament were sitting, it has no intention of bringing forward similar legislation in Scotland.
I shall comment briefly on some of the legal aspects of the Bill. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, is concerned about the drafting defect. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Lord, Lord Monson, ask why the powers apply only to football and find extraordinary single purpose legislation.
It is particularly odd when one looks at the European dimension. I find it extraordinary that if a European suspected hooligan arrives in this country we do not deport him or prevent him or her arriving, but only prosecute if an offence is committed. It is also interesting that this Bill does not apply to a non-British resident living in this country of which, I am told, there are two-and-a-half million such persons. I understand the Government considered this as a proposal but rejected it. It would be interesting to know from the Minister what other EU countries have similar legislation or have plans to introduce similar legislation. Many noble Lords have mentioned what
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, mentioned the failure to prosecute--four prosecutions and 900 arrests constitute an extraordinarily low percentage. We know that some countries have been slow to implement alcohol bans. We know that alcohol is a main factor when it comes to hooliganism.
My noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon was concerned at how this proposed legislation would fit in with the Human Rights Act, and he cited Justice. It seems that it may not be compatible with EU treaties and the European human rights law. I think that the Government will have to explain how that is going to work. The Minister is going to have to have help from his noble and learned friend the Attorney-General.
Will the Minister confirm that the Government are bringing forward an amendment to address the issue of compensation? The noble Lord, Lord Borrie, is concerned that any amendment may make the Bill less effective.
I think that the most important thing on our side is the sunset clause. We believe that the sunset clause should apply for six months--with a review in a year--and no longer. It was supported in another place by Tony Banks, Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott who all said that legislation passed in a hurry always posed problems and that there should be a review. My noble friend Lord Tebbit was concerned about banning orders. My noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew described the Bill as a serious infringement of civil liberties. There are serious issues of liberty and standard of proof.
One of the main reasons why I believe that a sunset clause is crucial is that--and I hope that Ministers on the other side of the House know about this because it was something we discovered when in government--courts do not always act in the way that Ministers intend they should. That has been the experience of many Home Secretaries and the Secretary of State for Education experienced that recently over teachers' pay.
There seems to be confusion--and as I am not a lawyer I look forward to the Minister explaining this--as to how this Bill is "civil" in effect but "criminal" in character. The Government must clarify this matter. Is it a civil or criminal level of proof that is to be required?
There are other concerns, for example, out of the 965 arrests, only 30 persons were known to the NCIS. So, how are these persons to be spotted? There are concerns about procedures at airports and railway stations. How is the Bill going to work? Are we to have policemen interviewing lines of people waiting to check in, perhaps inadvertently causing congestion and travel delay? This Bill needs to be revised. We need to get it right. We may not get it exactly right, which is the reason why a sunset clause is so crucial.
The Minister is going to have a difficult task this evening in saying, "I shall write to the noble Lord". Unfortunately, with the timetable that the Minister faces, he will not be able to do that. We have
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it is some five hours since I sat down. During that time we have had an interesting, illuminating and on occasions helpful and valuable debate. I have greatly enjoyed the contributions made from all sides of the Chamber. I want to refer in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, whose contribution was witty, wise, informative and helpful. He raised two or three useful and interesting questions and I am sure that he will have a most distinguished future in this House.
We also heard a number of interesting confessions during our long debate. Some people confessed to being Darlington supporters, Newcastle fans and Forfar Athletic fanatics. Someone mentioned Lincoln City and the noble Lord, Lord McNally, made a notable reference to Blackpool. Leeds received a very good showing from the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, and there was reference to Queens Park Rangers, which I believe is a better team than the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, demonstrated. We also heard a confession from the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, who, sadly, has left us. He is now, apparently, a civil libertarian. That is indeed profound and important news and the nation needs to know it.
I also discovered other interesting facets to the debate. A degree of consensus emerged; the first two measures which we seek to introduce are broadly acceptable to Members of your Lordships' House. That is an important consensus. Furthermore, most Members accept that legislation is necessary. There was criticism from some speakers that the legislation was "knee-jerk". I reject that suggestion. I believe that it is--to use one of my favourite words--"proportionate" and right in the circumstances.
During the past 15 years, since 1985, there have been eight pieces of legislation which in one form or another have had an important bearing upon the problems associated with football; often described as "football hooliganism". The Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol Etc.) Act 1985 set us along that course. As an official I was responsible for preparing evidence for submission to Mr Justice Popplewell in his inquiry. The previous administration passed six pieces of legislation and the present Government have passed two in order to try to deal with aspects of football hooliganism. This Bill is a third attempt on our part.
Undoubtedly, each piece of legislation has contributed to improving the nature of the domestic football game. In 1984-85 attendances at league football matches were close to 18 million and there were 40 arrests per 100,000 attendances. Now there are
The new legislation follows on from events in Euro 2000 but debate on its principal purpose, which is to curtail the freedom of movement of some individuals--some individuals--who can reasonably be recognised as likely to cause problems abroad, has been taking place during the past year and a half to two years. It was certainly raised during the Home Office consultation which took place prior to the last piece of football-related legislation and was widely debated during the course of that legislation. However, as a government, we were urged to take action in that field prior to, during and after Euro 2000. We reflected carefully on the nature of the problems that were experienced and decided that it was right to act again now. I believe that we are right to do so because a new football season is approaching. Five or six top English clubs will be playing in major European competitions which will involve between 20 and 40 matches. I do not consider that to be a small number of matches, and many of them--at least 50 per cent, I suspect--will be played in Europe. There will also be a match against France and the beginning of the World Cup qualifying matches. Given the events in Charleroi, Copenhagen and Brussels, I believe that if we do not act, we shall be looked upon by our European counterparts as being rather strange. I consider that to be a position which is widely supported throughout the country.
Having listened carefully to the arguments during this long debate, I recognise that there is a need to balance the civil rights of individuals and to combat football hooliganism and salvage our national reputation. As a Minister and as a campaigner before I became a Minister, I have long argued for civil rights to be protected, and I believe that we have an important job to do in that regard. I pay tribute to Members of your Lordships' House who, rightly, have raised those concerns. During our debates on this legislation we need to focus on that important issue.
I believe that the Bill strikes a balance, although it is difficult to do so. Throughout, we have demonstrated that we are willing to listen to concerns and respond with amendments where appropriate. I believe that that says much for the quality of the approach that we have adopted; it says much for the Home Secretary's attitude; and I believe that it will be reflected well in your Lordships' House.
Many points have been raised during the debate, some more important and serious than others. I shall attempt to deal in turn with as many of them as I can, but I apologise in advance if I miss one. However, I
The noble Lord, Lord Cope, rightly asked me to try to identify the number of individuals who may become subject to the orders under the legislation. I believe that it is probably not possible to be precise. However, our estimate of court and enforcement authority costs is based on an expectation that the numbers are more likely to be in the hundreds than in the thousands. I cannot be more exact than that and I do not believe that the noble Lord would expect me to be.
The noble Lord also asked about the Bill's compatibility with EC law, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act--a recurrent theme throughout the debate. I acknowledge that Justice has done a good job in obtaining an opinion in a short time. We have only just received that opinion and obviously we shall need to study it closely. We take the view that we can match the obligations placed upon us and I am very conscious of those obligations. We shall have to study Liberty's opinion very closely. However, I am satisfied that the Bill is fully compliant with the obligations. In our view, a banning order, for example, is a preventative measure and is not penal in nature. Therefore, we do not accept that issues will arise under either Articles 6(2) or 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
So far as concerns Article 5, we believe that the powers of arrest and detention set out in the Bill are within the terms of Articles 5.1(B) and 5.1(C) of the convention. The Bill requires the person concerned to appear before a court within 24 hours, and the requirements of Articles 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 in that respect are fully satisfied.
We are also satisfied that the Bill complies with Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That article secures the right to leave any country, but it is subject to exceptions for measures that are in the interests of public order and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. That is an important consideration for the Bill.
The noble Lords, Lord Cope and Lord Goodhart, asked about our response to the report of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation. I have had an opportunity to study the report and I am happy to confirm that we intend to amend the Bill to give effect to the committee's recommendations on Clause 2 and new Section 22A(2) to the Football Spectators Act--that is Recommendation 3. The Government's only reason for hesitating in accepting the second recommendation on Clause 3, that amendments to affirmative instruments should be by affirmative instrument, is that we need to be sure that we can make provision for legal advice and assistance to be available from commencement. If we are satisfied that we can make the necessary changes without amendments to affirmative instruments, we will bring
The noble Lord, Lord McNally, recognised in his supportive speech--I thought that it was supportive, although he might not agree--the importance of consulting supporters. That is why the Government fund the Football Supporters Embassy, which did a sterling job during Euro 2000, providing advice and information to football supporters from England, some of whom got very confused about their own travel arrangements. I am very impressed with that work and we will want to consult and work carefully with the Football Supporters Embassy and the other organisations that represent football supporters. I shall invite the Football Supporters Association to participate fully in the working group on football hooliganism that I am chairing, which is tasked to prepare a report by the autumn.
In his maiden speech, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, made a couple of important points. One was about police and public relations. He rightly asked about the effect of the powers in the Bill and whether they might damage the important relationship of trust between the police and the public. I am glad to reassure him that the police enjoy high levels of public confidence that would be the envy of most other professions, including politicians. I believe that the safeguards in the Bill and the general disciplinary code under which the police have to operate, together with the fact that compensation will be payable in appropriate cases, will ensure that the public will have confidence in the exercise of the powers. It is worth putting on record that the police have expressed strong support and desire for the powers. The National Criminal Intelligence Service in particular regards them as of immense value.
The noble Lord also referred to the loophole of individuals who would be stopped from leaving an English or Welsh port slipping through the net through Scotland, Northern Ireland or Dublin. If anyone tried to travel in breach of a banning order, the Scottish police would be able to arrest them and they would face criminal charges. There is no realistic prospect of hundreds or thousands of potential football hooligans migrating northwards at every opportunity to travel to the Continent. The pattern of movement to matches in Europe is from southern and south-eastern ports and from the three major airports that transport people to the Continent. We have to be realistic about that. No doubt the good co-operation between police forces in England and Wales and those in Scotland will serve us well. There is good intelligence between them, which was well used during the England-Scotland Euro 2000 play-off matches.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, made a number of helpful detailed points about drafting, particularly on new Sections 21A and 21B. We are of course going to pay very close attention to his advice, and I should like to place on record our thanks to him for the advice and encouragement that he gave us during the open session with my right honourable
The noble Earl, Lord Russell, asked what could justify the suspicion that a person may have been involved in violence or disorder. There are a number of circumstances that could justify a check: disorderly conduct at a port or airport or being part of a group which contained known troublemakers might well constitute such grounds. To say that we are introducing that concept into English law is quite wrong. These things are well precedented, particularly in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. I am sure that the noble Earl will be very familiar with that legislation.
The noble Earl also asked: why only football? It is the case that representations have been made to me in the past by representatives of other sports, but this Bill is limited to association football. The answer is partly that problems of this nature have so far been largely associated with that game. I think that is patently clear. I should point out to your Lordships that paragraph 7 of Schedule 2 to the Bill adopts a provision which is currently in the Public Order Act 1986. That power allows the Secretary of State to apply the provisions of Part II of the Football Spectators Act 1989, with modifications in relation to other sporting events. I should say that the power is subject to the draft affirmative procedure.
The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, raised an important point when he addressed the issue of those who were arrested in Belgium and the level of criminal convictions. We had an interesting exchange during the debate about those figures. NCIS analysis showed that 40 per cent of those arrested in Belgium had criminal convictions and 391 out of 965 were mostly for violence or disorder. Convictions for violence involved 133; disorder, 200; possession and use of offensive weapons, 38; and criminal damage, 122. Some have records in more than one category.
These are precisely the kinds of people who misbehave in town centres at weekends--just the sort, I think, the Bill is likely to target. The fact that that same group had not been connected with football offences in large measure indicates the size and scale of the problem we are trying to grapple with. The legislation will go a long way towards dealing with those problems.
The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, in an important speech, made some very helpful and constructive comments. He questioned the purpose of the proposed new Section 14G. The additional power in that section is not new. It was contained in the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999 in relation to international banning orders. New Section 14G simply replicates that provision for the combined order. I trust that explains the reason for its presence in the Bill. The imposition of additional requirements would be a matter for the courts in a particular case. Obviously it must be a requirement relating to attendance at
The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, also asked whether the legislation was not a sort of reintroduction in another form related to football of the "sus" law. I do not see it as being similar to the old "sus": I really cannot see the similarity. That made a criminal offence of merely being suspected. The criminal offences in this Bill are clear cut and objective. That makes a very big difference. There is a significant difference between how "sus" operated and how we propose to operate this legislation.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made what I thought was a rather heroic assumption when he said that offences committed by hooligans in Belgium would have been prosecuted if they had been serious. I am afraid experience tends to show that this is not the case. That is part of the problem. There are far too many examples of hooligans simply being deported and dumped back here in the United Kingdom without effective action being taken against them, even when we have undertakings given by the country concerned that prosecutions will take place where criminal offences have been committed.
The noble Lord referred to the possibility of extra- territorial jurisdiction, which was in effect his solution to the problem. That would be acting after the event. The legislation is partly designed as a preventative measure. However, I accept that there is a case for following through the notion of extra-territorial jurisdiction--complicated and difficult to operate though it may be, particularly in collecting evidence and securing the attendance of witnesses. As a strategy it has severe limitations but I thank the noble Lord for raising it.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, suggested that foreign jurisdictions could be encouraged to prosecute offenders with the promise of returning them to British prisons within one week. A large number of prisoners lodge appeals and those must be determined before they can return home. We shall, however, continue to urge governments overseas to prosecute British offenders wherever possible.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, made a good point about standards of proof in evidence, which will be an important element in our debates next week. The burden of proof under new Section 14B will--as with anti-social behaviour orders under Section 1 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998--be on the prosecution. As in those proceedings, the standard of proof will be the civil one. However, it is well established in case law that the burden of proof in civil proceedings is flexible. I quote Lord Scarman in Khawaja:
The noble Lord, Lord Borrie, mentioned in his important contribution that the police and courts might be deterred from applying the provisions of the Bill. The compensation amendment will make clear that compensation costs are to be met centrally and will deal with maximum amounts and possible appeals. The noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, believes that the British police would never fail to do their duty because of a fear of litigation. Given the noble Lord's reputation and knowledge, we must take that view on board.
The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, brought thoughtful reflection to our deliberations. He asked, at least by implication, whether any thought had been given to ensuring that English fans were denied tickets to overseas games. Serious thought needs to be given to ticketing arrangements, which will be examined by the working party and by myself in the next few months. Travelling football supporters believe that they can always buy tickets on the black market. Experience shows that they are probably right. A strategy based solely on the denial of tickets cannot be the entire answer.
I was also asked whether the power was a supplementary power. I am happy to confirm that I agree with the point made by my noble friend Lord Woolmer. The summary procedure, referred to as the "fast-track procedure", should be seen as a supplementary power. It is far better to use the power to lay a complaint in the magistrates' court where possible. The fast-track power is intended to be used only where new information or new considerations come to light during the control period and where the police believe swift action is necessary.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, asked why people are not prosecuted abroad. That returns us to a range of issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. I agree with the noble Baroness; indeed, her point is well made. It would be preferable if those British citizens who commit offences abroad were prosecuted rather than deported. As I said earlier, that is a point we shall continue to press and upon which we need to work very closely, and in co-operation, with our European partners.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, asked about prior clearance. We shall be discussing with the police service how best to respond to people who ask in advance whether they are likely to be prevented from travelling abroad. It may not be possible to give a cast-iron guarantee. However, I am sure that the police will wish to be as helpful as possible, as they are in most circumstances.
I hope that I have covered most of the points raised. I said at the outset of my remarks that I did not expect to be able to cover each and every angle highlighted in this wide-ranging debate. This Bill is a proportionate and measured response to a problem that we believe requires determined and immediate action. Clearly, that view was shared by the right honourable gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when he made an important speech to the editors of Newsquest. He made the point then that he thought that known hooligans should be prevented from travelling abroad. He also said that it was a matter of political will that we should ensure that that sort of measure was introduced.
The Government are fully of that view. We believe that we need to take swift, effective and firm action. This legislation will enable us to do so; it will enable the police to do so; and, indeed, it will enable the courts to enforce it. We believe that 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 insults and racism as well as the sort of the xenophobia we saw on the streets of Charleroi and Brussels and the sort of mindless acts of violence and hooliganism that accompanied it. That is the spirit in which the Bill is put forward. That is the spirit in which I hope noble Lords will give the Bill a Second Reading tonight.