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The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Government have reflected on the reasons put forward in Committee by noble Lords opposite as to why it is inappropriate to impose a football banning order on someone who has been convicted of a football-related offence but has received an absolute discharge for it. Despite the fact that this provision is carried over from earlier legislation, we have concluded that we can do without this provision, and today we have tabled an amendment which will have that effect. I thank those noble Lords who were, quite rightly on reflection, insistent on this matter and drew it to our attention. I beg to move.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, we on these Benches put down these amendments, and I spoke to this particular amendment, I believe, just before or just after midnight on Monday. I am, of course, grateful to the Government for taking up this point, but a certain amount of time could have been saved if the Government had accepted the amendment at the time instead of putting forward arguments, as they did on that occasion, as to why they should not take it on board. However, I am grateful that they have changed their minds.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 arise from a discussion at Committee stage. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, made the point that British citizens could be issued with a notice under new Section 21B but that there would be no appropriate chief officer of police to make the application under new Section 14B if the person did not reside in England and Wales. This caused the Government to look again at new Section 21B(4) and made us alive to a more general difficulty. I am very grateful to the noble Lord for alerting us to the problem.
We envisage in most cases that the powers in new Section 21A and 21B will not be exercised in the individual's home area but near a point of embarkation. In that case, it would not be appropriate for the chief officer of police for the area in which the person resides to be deemed to be the applicant for the order.
Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 therefore amend new Section 21B(4), so that the applicant for the banning order in the case of someone issued a notice under the new Section is the constable who issues the notice rather than the chief officer for the person's home address.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, I confess to having moved an amendment in Committee relating to this provision but it omitted the proposal that British citizens could be caught under new Section 21A and subsequent sections. It covered people resident in England and Wales, referred to in new Sections 14A and 14B. I pointed out, I believe rightly, that the wording in the Bill was ineffective. I very much hoped that the Government would go away and look at my amendment and decide that only the English and Welsh should be collared at the ports, rather than British citizens. The Government have come back and emphasised the fact by making this section relate to British citizens being collared at the ports.
We are looking at a Bill whose basic arrangements in new Sections 14A and 14B, and, indeed, in the underlying Football Spectators Act 1989, relate to people resident in England and Wales and to their misbehaviour abroad. All the penalties and remedies are designed for people living in England and Wales, but in new Section 21C we suddenly have the concept that those who can be collared by the police at the ports are to be British citizens. People resident in Scotland cannot be caught under new Sections 14A or
I do not believe there has ever been an explanation from the Minister as to why there is this difference in the Bill. Under what circumstances is it intended that people who are resident in Scotland should be collared by the police when they try to leave through an English or Welsh port? Why has the Bill been written in that way? Why is it wished to have jurisdiction over the Scots in those circumstances, or, indeed, over people who might be living in France or Australia or anywhere else in the world, just because they happen to leave from an English port even though they are not resident in England?
Presumably, the Government have a list of undesirable Scots and they know they cannot collar them in Scotland because the Scottish Executive will not allow them the power to do it. But if those people have the temerity to try and leave through Dover they will find themselves nabbed. If they are nabbed the consequences are quite spectacular. The remedies are designed for the English and Welsh, which means that the first thing the Scots will be told is that they cannot go home to Scotland. They will have to hang around in England and Wales until their day in the magistrates' court comes up, and that may be postponed for some while. Indeed, if they announce their intention to go back to Scotland--as they might reasonably do--the magistrates have the power to imprison them and keep them in England.
When those people receive the banning order--because presumably the police are not going to collar a Scot unless they have reasonable evidence against him--they will have to come back to England, register at a police station and surrender their passports every time England plays a match abroad. That could be 20 times or so a year, so these unfortunate Scots will be brought scurrying back across the Border 20 times a year. It is ridiculous.
What is the purpose of the extension of this jurisdiction to Scotland? It is indeed much wider, although I suspect that not many Australian football thugs will be travelling through Dover to matches in France. It may well be that people resident or working in Europe might be collared at Dover at some stage, and that may be part of the Government's intention. They may believe that there are people involved in football violence who are actually resident on the continent of Europe and want to be able to catch them any time they come through the port of Dover. It does, as an extension of the injustices done by this Bill, have an extraordinary lack of sensitivity for the feelings of those Scots who will be caught by this provision, and for the consequent feelings of their nation. This really does take the Bill into new territory even by its standards.
I urge the Minister to think again and to accept the ineffectiveness of this part of the Bill with which the Government have landed themselves in relation to Scots, or, if not, at least to make some further amendment in the Commons to make it quite clear
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Lucas drew my attention to this matter and I have listened with interest to what he has said. I am not sure how many people resident in Scotland will want to go abroad to a football match in which England play, unless, of course, it is to support the opposing team, whoever they may be. I am not saying that because I necessarily support it.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will give way. When I attended the England versus Germany match in Charleroi I saw a Scottish flag at the German end, so it is just possible that they may have travelled abroad to support the Germans.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I think the Minister is probably right. I am not saying that I approve of this attitude but I certainly recognise that it exists, so it is possible that somebody resident in Scotland might go abroad to support the opposing team. Of course, there could be an Englishman resident in Scotland who goes abroad to support the English team. Leaving aside the merits or demerits of the whole of the Bill, what happens when that person is stopped at Dover and is expected to turn up at the police station in England on future occasions to hand in his passport and therefore not be able to go abroad to a football match? That seems to me an unnecessary burden on the individual.
Perhaps it goes a little further. What happens if he uses his passport to leave directly from Scotland? What will the English policeman do about that because he will not have jurisdiction in Scotland? Indeed, I suspect travel agents may be looking into the business which can be conducted on the back of this Bill and the fact that there is a backdoor exit from the United Kingdom into Europe.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for giving way. If a native of Scotland does that he will have committed a criminal offence by breaking the banning order and presumably we can have him extradited back to England.
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