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Viscount Astor: That is interesting. I shall have to look at the reference again. When the Bill was debated in another place it was said that 2.5 million foreigners live in this country. The complaint was made that they would not be covered by the Bill. My noble friend is saying that they are covered in a certain way. Perhaps the Government will respond on that point and tell us whether European Union citizens or citizens of other countries come under the Bill if they are resident in this country. I understood not, but I should be grateful for clarification.
Viscount Astor: I am grateful to my noble friend. My noble friends seem to have studied the Bill with great care. I hope that the Government have studied the Bill with equal care and will be able to confirm what my noble friends have said.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said that we want people prosecuted, not deported, when they commit offences in Europe. Sadly, there is no evidence that that has happened in the past. We have seen vast numbers of people--900--being arrested. We then saw three people in court and the one case of conviction was a failure. It reminds me of the problem we had over asylum seekers with regard to previous Bills that we have discussed. Sometimes the authorities in Europe turn a blind eye to asylum seekers because
If there is a certain reluctance to prosecute, what can be done to help local police services? If it was possible for criminals to be charged and for their cases to be heard here, they might be charged more frequently. British police officers attend major European football matches. A huge number of video cameras, CCTV and news reportage cover such events. Indeed, we have seen horrendous film of known, recognised, named thugs--if I may so call them--blatantly committing acts of violence in front of the television cameras. Those people were not charged in Belgium, nor were ways sought to extradite them.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, said that the amendment as it stands could catch foreign hooligans when next they came over here. I presume that the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, could redraft his amendment to sort out that point. In any case, it would depend on the prosecuting authorities and whether they wished to pursue such an action. I doubt that they would.
The amendment has revealed a new aspect of the Bill. It is one in which noble Lords should take an interest. It seeks to have cases heard where the offences are committed. Failing that, it would enable them to be heard in this country. That would be a great deal better if hooligans who go abroad and behave badly were convicted on that rather than go through this unknown, tortuous, untried process--we can see already that this will be fraught with difficulties--of being banned from a match.
This kind of process has been used in the past, although I accept that it has been used in relation to terrorism. It has worked well between this country and Ireland. The legislation has been useful and has thrown up few problems. Noble Lords should consider whether such a provision should be added to the Bill.
Lord McNally: I recall an American saying that when you are up to your neck in alligators, it is sometimes difficult to remember that the original idea was to drain the swamp. Listening to our debates this evening, I think that the Minister is up to his neck in legal alligators. Indeed, that is one of my major concerns as regards the Bill.
On Second Reading the Minister and I shared the objective of wishing to find a way of cutting away from football the yob culture that has attached itself to the game. As I listen to the debate, and in particular to the interventions of our legal colleagues, I am filled more and more with foreboding that the Government are trying to take action in this manner and with such haste. That feeling has become stronger since listening to the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, speaking from his experience.
When my noble friend Lord Phillips put forward the notion of extra-territoriality in the debate on Second Reading, I tended to side with the Minister, who was of the view that that would be shutting the stable door too late and that the Government's proposals would be pre-empted; the action proposed by my noble friend would be only reactive. But the more I have heard about the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, and from my own experience, the more I have realised that there is very little trouble at the airports and docks. It is not while these characters are travelling that the trouble occurs. If the police start trying to extract individuals--particularly those protesting their innocence--at airports and docks, that could well be a recipe for disturbance rather than a cure for it. So perhaps the Minister's solutions are not so pre-emptive as they seemed at first blush.
As to the solution proposed by my noble friend Lord Phillips, it has annoyed me as a football fan, in relation to both domestic and international games, that one reads of extensive disturbances but then the number of arrests or prosecutions is minute. The big danger is that it removes any sanction or fear from such characters. The idea they receive is: the odds are stacked in your favour; you can go abroad and misbehave and you will come back home again with no sanction at all.
We should at least explore this option. Remembering about draining the swamp, one of the things that would begin peeling off the yobs from soccer is if they were hit, and hit hard, by prosecutions. I agree that we should encourage and attempt to obtain the co-operation of host nations to use their laws and their police powers to prosecute in their countries. But we should also look at this option and make people pay for their disturbances. That is way that we can peel them off.
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that I would much prefer us to go down the road of going after real hooligans who have committed real crimes than the Government's alternative of an entirely speculative "sus" power which they believe will act as a deterrent.
Turning to the objection raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, it is odd that, given the whole range of reasons why people can go abroad to cause disturbances, we should focus on football. But that is what we have decided to do. Therefore, this does not disbar the suggestion by my noble friend Lord Phillips.
At Second Reading, the Minister showed a degree of sympathy for this proposal. We are trying to get to the root of the matter; we are trying to peel the yobs away from soccer. This seems to be one method of making them pay, in a way that they are not presently experiencing. It could be the most effective way of draining the swamp.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The debate has been interesting; I do not say that merely for the sake of it. It is the case that at Second Reading I expressed some interest in the argument advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. I recognise that it has merit. However, the debate needs to be set in a broader context. I suspect that it takes us to the heart of the some of the discussions and debates that have begun to develop around the notion of corpus juris, in which the Liberal Democrat Benches have expressed great interest. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, voiced the idea: why should it apply only to football; why should it not apply in other areas? That argument comes into play in the whole debate about corpus juris.
I also have misgivings to which the noble and learned Lords, Lord Donaldson of Lymington and Lord Lloyd of Berwick, have given good expression. Extra-territorial jurisdiction is not a regime with which our courts are at all familiar. It exists for murder, some terrorist offences and serious sexual offences, as well as for a few offences established under international conventions, but not very many. It remains rare for offences committed overseas to be tried in British courts. Before we create a whole new raft of circumstances to which extra-territorial jurisdiction might apply, considerable discussion and preparatory work will need to be undertaken with our international colleagues in the judicial field to make it effective.
The Earl of Onslow: If someone is seen throwing a brick through a window in the Champs-Elysees by an English policeman who happens to be on the scene and it is on television so the evidence is cut and dried, I do not see why we cannot prosecute him almost without reference to the French authorities. Where do they come into it?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I believe that the French authorities would have a great deal to say about it. Perhaps the noble Earl will permit me to develop the argument. The noble Earl needs to think hard about the views of the French authorities. I am sure that they would want to protect the right to prosecute in their own jurisdiction.
To go further, one of the reasons jurisdiction has not been extended is the profound problem of securing evidence. The noble Earl makes a case based on an event that is witnessed by a British police officer and may be recorded on a CCTV system. First, that system would not be ours and it would be one to which we would need to gain access. Secondly, the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, paints a picture in which there are many, if not hundreds, of police officers abroad during an exercise in which they monitor people who are, or may be, football hooligans. I do not believe that the British police are in a position to allow hundreds of officers to travel abroad to monitor events in those circumstances. Certainly, that has not been the case in
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