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More seriously, I suppose that the Secretary of State might want to introduce some amendment or alteration relating to a particular match or period and the Bill would enable him to do that. I do not want to encourage that, but I do not believe that the power does us any harm. If he had good cause to do that, it would be a pity if he did not have the power.
Lord Lucas: If the Minister will agree to provide me with the official government explanation before I lose any chance to table an amendment on Report, I should be most grateful. Will he agree to do that?
Lord Lucas: It is an interesting extension of the principle in Pepper v. Hart that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, can make policy for the Government. I require an official statement of government policy. I know that it is not forthcoming from the noble Lord, Lord Bach, or he would have given it to me much earlier. May I please have it in writing before Report stage? I do not think that that is an unreasonable request. Some explanation should be given of a word that is in the Bill and the use that the Government intend to make of it.
The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to leave out "one year" and to insert "six months" in the provision setting out the initial period. With it is grouped Amendment No. 12 which reduces the subsequent period of the length of this legislation to one further year.
There has been ample demonstration already this evening, in the past few hours, of the problems of this legislation. They flow in part from the very great speed at which the legislation has been put together; at a time of great strain for the Home Office because it has a vast amount of legislation; at a time when our Summer Recess is approaching; and when there are some football matches to which the Government want this legislation to apply. The first match which has been mentioned is the match in Munich on 4th August. That was referred to by the Home Secretary as a match with regard to which it would be valuable to have these provisions in place. The next is in early September, in France. In those circumstances, the legislation has had to be extremely rushed. I doubt whether it will be possible to implement it fully by 4th August, even if everything happens as the Government hope in Parliament. However, that seems to be the aim.
The case is very simple. In these circumstances of haste and pressure on the Home Office, the Bill should not last long before coming back for reconsideration. It should be tried out in practice. Many practical questions have already been exposed and no doubt more will emerge in the course of the evening. But in these circumstances, let us see the Bill tried out for a short while; then, when we see how it works in practice, we can come back to the underlying points of principle, as well as points of detail.
There are a number of matches over the course of the next six and 18 months. So the Bill will have been thoroughly exposed to the practicalities of the matter during that period. At the same time, that also gives enough time for the Government and the rest of us to think further about this so as to try to achieve the aim
The Earl of Onslow: I support this amendment. I rather wish that the period suggested was three months because the more I have listened this evening, the more this Bill appears to me to be very unpleasant from the point of view that the civil liberties arguments have not been addressed. The impracticalities and the fact that nothing will work have been highlighted even by those Members of the Committee who were vaguely in sympathy with the Bill. For example, the opposition of the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, is far more valid than mine because I do not believe in the Bill in principle. But coming from where the noble Lord does, his opposition is extremely powerful.We have had no real answer from the Minister as to the who, how, when or where of this Bill or how many people will be stopped from travelling or put into preventive detention. It is an extremely unpleasant and unworkable Bill.
If the Bill has to become law, surely we could try it out between now and State Opening, by which time we may have an answer. There is a match in Munich, the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1914 war, the anniversary of the collapse at Sedan of the Second Empire in September and the fall of the Third Empire in Paris, so there are lots of historical analogies which the beautifully educated football hooligan can apply. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, points, with elegance, to myself. There are plenty of occasions when this Bill can be put to trial. Those noble Lords who really do not like it may be slightly tempted to go away and hide in their tents if the Minister cuts the time allowed to the barest minimum.
Lord Woolmer of Leeds: I rise to oppose this proposition for two or three reasons. I am unhappy about the haste with which this legislation has emerged. Once it has passed through the Committee stage, it would be extremely unfortunate if we were equally hasty in forming a view about how it was working. It seems to me to be impractical to expect to be able to judge whether it is working within a six-month period. Every few months, we could be invited to change our minds and to play around with the legislation. I hope that it is given a fair wind for 12 months.
At Second Reading I said that I believed that noble Lords should tell the public that there is no quick fix and that this is a matter of concentrating on the application of this legislation year after year. I should prefer to take the slow route which means looking at it year after year. Nothing dramatic will happen after a few months. If over the next 12 months the Bill results in an improved situation and many of my concerns about it do not arise, I shall not be surprised, but pleasantly pleased. I hope that in its second year there will be improvements, and in the third year also.
Lord Lucas: The scenario painted by the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, that the less successful this Bill is, the longer it should carry on, is truly horrific. We are looking at granting the Government powers over our civil liberties that we should hardly contemplate; and the more we go into the Bill, the more horrific it becomes. To revise this Bill properly we must look at shortening the time-scale, although six months may be rather a short period. I am not enamoured with Amendment No. 10, but I believe that Amendment No. 12 is essential. I hope that that will find favour on the Government Benches. It would certainly cut short a lot of later discussion and I hope would please the Chief Whip among others.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: I support the amendment. I shall give my reasons tomorrow as it is far too late now. This Bill is approaching emergency legislation; it is the nearest thing to emergency legislation that I have seen since the war. This emergency could well be over in six months' time.
Lord Lyell: Can the Minister or the noble Lord, Lord Bach, advise me at which fans new Sections 14 and 21 are aimed? We are looking at the football calendar. Most of the speeches from the Government Front Bench, and indeed comments that have been made since Euro 2000, have been directed at fans attending matches where England is playing.
I believe I am right in saying--no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, will be able to confirm this--that there is a plethora of club matches taking place in Europe and the final of the European championship will be the last Wednesday in the coming May. Should an English club work its way to the final it will have some impact on what we are discussing tonight. But, as I understand it, there is a great cry for 2nd September 2000 when England play Paris in France in a friendly game. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, will be able to advise the Minister on that. Perhaps therefore the period of 12 months may be too long. But a period of six months may be too short.
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