HC Deb 03 July 1985 vol 82 cc425-39 10.47 pm
Sir Eldon Griffiths

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 6, leave out from beginning to 'is' in line 8.

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

With this it is convenient to take the following amendments: No. 2, in page 1, line 6, after first 'vehicle', insert passenger-carrying ship or aircraft'. No. 6, in page 2, line 14, leave out paragraph (a).

Sir Eldon Griffiths

The amendment would leave out the words that confine the clause to public service vehicles and railway passenger vehicles.

I hope that the reasons for my amendment are self-evident. It is entirely wrong to say that the offences that the Bill creates and the powers that it gives to the police to intervene to prevent those offences should be confined to those who operate or travel in public service vehicles or railway trains. On the face of it, if it is wrong to carry liquor to a football match on a bus, it must be equally wrong to carry liquor to the football match in a transit van, a jeep or a farm vehicle. What we are after is not the nature of the vehicle that carries the liquor, but the fact that the liquor is being carried. Therefore, it seems absurd to limit the offences and the powers simply to what happens on a bus or railway train.

Mr. Pike

The hon. Gentleman is making an important point. When the Minister of State replied to the Second Reading debate, it was significant that he stressed it. If the supporters' club had vehicles that were not for hire commercially, and had liquor — I accept that most supporters' clubs would be run responsibly and would not do that — they would not be caught by the law.

Sir Eldon Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman is entirely right. I wish to attract the Minister's attention to the matter. It is not only me who is making the point — it is widely supported on both sides of the House. It can be put in practical terms.

Two or three vehicles are proceeding down the road towards a football match, carrying football supporters, manifestly in their football gear. One vehicle up front is a bus that has been hired — perhaps a minibus. If that vehicle is thought by the police to be carrying liquor, the driver is committing an offence, and the persons who put the liquor on board and those who possess it are committing an offence. The second vehicle may be a beat-up old Ford Transit van, but belongs to a group of football supporters. If they are doing any of those things, the police are helpless. The third vehicle may be of the kind suggested by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike). It may have been purchased by the fans, and belongs to them as a club. That is a private vehicle, and it is not covered by the public service vehicle rules or by the railway carriage rules.

I wish the Bill well, but it places the police in an intolerable position. My hon. Friend the Minister is opening the doors to those who wish to carry and possess liquor when they go to a football match. They will be able to run rings around the Bill. The House cannot intend that, and my amendment therefore simply applies this clause to all vehicles that are being used for the principal purpose of carrying passengers for the whole or part of a journey to or from a designated sporting event. That must be logical and practical. Even if my hon. Friend cannot agree to it now, I hope that he will have a good look at it, discuss its provisions with the police, and amend the clause when the Bill gets to the other place.

Mr. Pendry

I have tabled amendment No. 2 because it is a nonsense that clause 1 should apply only to two sets of vehicles. I support what the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) has said. It is not good enough for the Minister to say that captains of ships and ferries, or pilots of aircraft, have discretion to take action. Therefore, the Government must beef up the provisions of the Bill. They must ensure that this clause is much more watertight. Many of the people that we want to stop going to football grounds and causing problems will travel by other vehicles than those set out in the clause. I hope that the Government will look at this again. Mine is a probing amendent, and I hope that the Government will clarify their thinking on this matter, and take action in the other place.

Mr. Maclennan

If amendment No. 2 is passed, will it apply only to ships carrying the British flag, or shall we be seeking extra-territorial jurisdiction over foreign vessels proceeding from British ports? That might be rather difficult in practice, but I have no doubt that there are precedents, and I should be grateful for the Minister's advice.

Mr. Pike

This group of amendments illustrates the problems caused by the haste in which the Bill had been drafted. While everybody is broadly in support of the Bill's principles, there are difficulties. It seems illogical to include buses and trains in clause 1, but not ships or aircraft. I do not accept the Minister's argument that the captain of the boat or the plane has the right to close the bar facilities. That is not an adequate solution, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) said. If the law says that one cannot sell drinks on a train that is principally taking people to or from a football match, the same should apply to a plane carrying passengers from Newcastle to London to watch Newcastle United play.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) made the point clearly. It is illogical that road vehicles that are for hire, whether they are minibuses or whatever, will be caught by the law but that any vehicle that is privately owned will not. Side by side on the motorway there could be two vehicles one of which is caught by the law and one of which is not. No one can argue that it is right for a person to be able to drink in a vehicle that is privately owned and not in one that is available for hire. Those who have to apply this measure, when enacted, will be in an invidious position.

I accept that the wording of amendment No. 2 could be improved and I hope that the Government will be prepared to give some thought to trimming the wording of this group of amendments so as to arrive properly at their objective. We are debating the principle and not precise wording.

Mr. Lawrence

My objection to this sort of provision, which I think my hon. Friend the Minister of State will concede has been conceived in the most unseemly haste, is that it might result in the law being brought into disrepute, for reasons which have already been advanced.

I have perceived that one of the functions of Back Benchers is to ensure that new legislation does not attract criticism that will lower appreciation of the law in the minds of those for whom the House is legislating. If we introduce an exclusory and narrow form of restraint and ignore the ways in which those who wish to take advantage of the law will be able to do so, I fear that the public will laugh at this measure. That will result in the Government having done a disservice to society.

I am not saying that we should follow all the suggestions which have been made in this short debate and on Second Reading, but the issue before us requires further consideration. We should consider the suggestions that others have made. It is clear that the issue should be weighed and balanced with care. Our discussions on this group of amendments and others will serve principally to underline the fact that we are introducing speedily law that in the end will be bad law that will be laughed at by the public. In introducing and implementing it, we shall bring our system of law into disrepute. I beg my hon. Friend to take closer consideration of the arguments that are being advanced, so that we can place a better measure on the statute book.

Mr. Giles Shaw

I respect the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) and the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) advanced their arguments. I understand why they feel that it is necessary to extend the range of vehicles that are to be covered by these provisions.

The prime purpose of the clause is to deal with those who are journeying to a designated event. I suspect that there will be a relevant infrequency in the aircraft that are used for the conveyance of persons to certain designated sporting events. The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde will recognise that there will be an element of difficulty if we seek to control those who are travelling on a British aircraft to a designated sporting event within the United Kingdom. That would be a relatively infrequent use of this measure, and I accept the principle behind his argument.

As for journeys by ship, the Government feel that the master's authority will be sufficient. It is fairly widely used in the operation of the cross-Channel services, and the police have said that they have received good cooperation from that source. I shall take a view on that. I take on board the argument of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) that the Bill, when enacted, will apply to British vessels only. Passengers might transfer to other boats and that might bring them outside the competence of the Bill.

11 pm

The main issue was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds. I sympathise with the argument that the measure should be extended to cover privately owned vehicles which carry many spectators to grounds. However, such an extension would cause difficulty for the police, although if my hon. Friend suggests such an extension he must believe that the police would be happy to handle it.

We have modelled the provision on precedent. We have followed the public service vehicle definition, which has operated since 1980. I do not think that I can be accused of acting with undue haste.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds will not press his amendment. I ask him to bear in mind that we are anxious to pass the legislation before the start of the next season. He will be aware that the Government expect to introduce public order legislation next Session. That legislation could be an appropriate vehicle for reconsidering the issue if there is shown to be a significant gap in efforts to contain alcohol being consumed by those in transit to designated events. We could examine the clause in more detail if that were thought appropriate after consultation and after we have had time to assess how the Bill works in practice. I hope that the amendments will not be pressed to a Division.

Mr. Denis Howell

The Minister gave an inadequate and tortuous explanation which has nothing to do with the problem that will face the country at the end of the ban on British teams going to Europe. As I said on Second Reading, this is a Bill for all time. It is a Bill of permanency, like all legislation. The ban on our teams going to Europe is not for all time, so I agree that the ramifications of the Bill deserve more attention than we can give them tonight. I make no party point. The Bill has the agrement of all parts of the House.

We must consider the effect of the Bill in five years time when the ban on English football is lifted and when people will be travelling to the continent to watch English teams play there. All that we can do today is examine past experience. All Ministers responsible for sport have had to deal with the problem. People travel on trains well tanked up and then board boats. That will stop when the legislation is in force.

Mr. Lawrence

Why does the right hon. Gentleman think that getting tanked up on trains will stop merely because of the legislation? Clause 1(1)(b) states that the measure applies to a vehicle which is being used for the principal purpose of carrying passengers for the whole or part of a journey to or from a designated sporting event. What is to stop a supporters' club deciding to travel by inter-city or scheduled train which is not for the purpose of carrying passengers and on which they can get tanked up? It is optimistic to say that that will be stopped by the Bill, because it will not. The problem will merely be transferred to a different type of train.

Mr. Howell

The hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely right. He anticipates my next point. In my experience there is a much greater problem on ordinary passenger trains than on trains likely to be covered by the designation procedure. That will be extremely important in five or 10 years' time, when most people have forgotten these debates.

Equally important, what is to be a designated event in terms of European football? The Minister has said nothing about that so far. If he says that no match on the continent can be designated under the Bill, he is saying that the Bill will have no effect on British supporters going to matches on the continent if and when the European ban is lifted.

We are trying to deal with a problem, but the approach that we have taken is leading us into a tortuous mess. If the European ban is lifted in five or 10 years' time, how will the Bill help to deal with the kind of people who caused the trouble in Brussels? So far as I can see, it is completely irrelevant and could even be dangerous. I do not suggest that the amendment should be pressed to a Division, but I hope that the Government will agree to consider the points that have been raised, as the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) has requested. The Minister has agreed to reconsider one matter. Why will he not reconsider other aspects, when good and wise advice is being given to him about the nature of the problems that will be created if he does not do so? We can agree to do that without jeopardising the timetable, but we must get this right. At present, the Bill gets nothing right in relation to European football. We must know whether matches in Europe can be designated and how the Government explain the omission of boats and aircraft from the Rains of transport covered by the Bill.

Mr. John Evans (St. Helens, North)

My right hon. Friend refers to the possibility of the European ban on British league clubs being lifted in five or 10 years' time, but some of the most disgraceful and appalling scenes have been caused by so-called fans following the England team, which has not yet been banned. That means that supporters of that team can still go to Europe in their usual drunken fashion, wrecking grounds and cities on the continent, which will no doubt result in a speedy decision by the European authorities to ban that team as well.

Mr. Howell

Further evidence of the Government's superficial approach to these matters is the fact that, when the England team played in south America, Fascist thugs and National Front supporters got on to the plane and insulted coloured members of the England team. I am told that the longer the journey continued and the more drink they had, the greater the problem they caused, with very damaging effects. Account must be taken of that kind of incident. Is permanent legislation of this kind relevant to that kind of incident, or is it not? If it is not, the Minister must tell us.

It is even more difficult for the Football Association to control English supporters than it is for individual clubs. I received today a memorandum from the Football League which contains three pages of incidents of the kind that we are bewailing, which have nothing at all to do with English clubs. They all took place on the continent, but little has been heard about them. Of course we must deal with our problem, but it must be dealt with in the context of the wider European problem.

Mr. Giles Shaw

It is only right and courteous that I should seek to respond to the point made by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). The Bill applies to events in England and Wales which are so designated, but there is a distinction between the ground and the event, as the designation procedure makes clear. Therefore, it would be possible for my right hon. and learned Friend — and I believe he intends to do so— to designate an overseas soccer match. The provisions relating to travel would then apply, but only within this country. We cannot legislate for travel on the continent of Europe. That is outside this country's jurisdiction. The right hon. Member for Small Heath knows that very well.

Mr. Denis Howell

I do not know it very well. If a football match on the continent of Europe is to be designated, I do not understand why the Bill's provisions should not apply to the aircraft or ship that carries passengers to that event. This is a technical point, which may not have been considered. The Government ought to consider it, together with the other points that have been raised.

Mr. Shaw

It would be possible for a British aircraft or ship which was carrying passengers to a designated event in, say, Brussels to be policed by the British police, but they would not have any rights at the point of landing. The usual procedure is for the carrier to assume this responsibility.

Sir Eldon Griffiths

I do not believe that my hon. Friend has disclosed to the House all the reasons which his Department has suggested for opposing my amendment. He said that he had a good deal of sympathy for the view that this ought to apply to private lorries, trucks, Land Rovers and transit vans, but that if it does not work it can always be dealt with in the public order Bill which is to be introduced later in the year. That is odd, because it means that my hon. Friend whatever his officials say, has some doubt about whether we have got it right am.' thinks that there might be another method of getting it right, but later. Why not now? I do not understand the logic which says that the House must press on to compel people who hire a van or bus to be caught by the Bill when those who own them are not. I do not understand the enforceability of it either.

11.15 pm

I shall not press the matter to a Division, because I rather rely on the good sense of the Government to consider and deal with the matter between now and the Bill reaching the other place. Tomorrow, I shall take a group of 250 mentally handicapped athletes to Dublin for the special Olympic games there. Many of them will travel in buses, which will go on vessels, and be followed by smaller vehicles, including Land Rovers, many of which are owned by the families involved. Those Land Rovers will carry the luggage and sporting gear.

The House should apply those circumstances to a designated football match in Belfast. The hired or public service vehicle will fall within the remit of the Bill and the police will be able to deal with it, but the wholly owned truck behind, into which the booze might have been put falls outside the Bill and cannot be dealt with by the police. The fact that they are both on a ship underlines what the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) said. We are apparently in difficulty.

I do not think that I need to press the point further, but I beg my hon. Friend the Minister of State to note what I said on Second Reading. The police have come to the House many times and asked for this legislation and they have been dismissed. Seven or eight times I have gone to Home Secretaries in different Governments asking for action. We were always told that the police were wrong and that the Government knew best. We are acknowledging today that the police were right and that successive Governments did not know best.

I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to take account of what I am saying, not because it is based on my judgment, although I was a Transport Minister and know something of it, but because it is based on the experience related to me by the Police Federation, which is involved daily in road traffic policing on motorways. It was intimately involved with the difficulties with the miners' strike and the rest. These are practical men and they tell me that it would be extremely difficult to enforce a law which applies to public service vehicles but not to private ones.

The problem is the carriage of liquor, not ownership of the vehicle. I hope that the Government will find some way in which to apply the Bill to all vehicles carrying liquor to sporting grounds.

Mr. Evans

I thought that the Minister told my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) that the Home Secretary will have the power to designate sporting events abroad. Presumably that means that he could designate a match in Brussels.

All of our friends in Europe who are interested in football will be watching what is happening here tonight with great interest. They will be aware that the House of Commons is rushing through a Bill ostensibly to deal with the terrible problem of football violence. We all know that this was brought about by the appalling events in Brussels a few weeks ago when 38 people lost their lives. If the Home Secretary were to designate another football match in Brussels, presumably fans who intended to go to that match would have to travel to the port of Dover, and the application of this Act would mean that no alcohol would be available on the bus or train taking them there. However, the moment they got off the train or bus at Dover, they could join the ship and embark on appalling binges all the way across the Channel. They would then disembark in France or Belgium and carry on in a drunken manner until they wrecked the city of Brussels or whichever city in Europe in which the match was to be played.

Surely the Minister will accept that the European civic, parliamentary and football authorities will not be able to make any sense out of the measure by which the British Government are presumably hoping to solve the problem in England. The Bill will not solve the problem. Nothing has been done about the English supporters in Europe, where some of the worst and most appalling problems have occurred over the last few years. That seems to be an absolute nonsense and another good reason why this Bill should have a proper Committee stage when all these issues can be looked at and proper amendments carried out. A better measure could come out of a thoughtful Committee stage.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I listened very carefully to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths). Often I agree with him, but on this occasion what he is proposing may complicate the duties of the police because the prohibition and effect within clause 1 apply to a vehicle which satisfies two criteria: first, that it is a public service vehicle, and, secondly, that its principal purpose is that set out in subsection (1)(b). My hon. Friend is proposing that it should apply to any vehicle being used for the principal purpose". That is precisely the point. In respect of a public service vehicle or a railway passenger vehicle, it might be relatively easy to ascertain and then prove the principal purpose, because inevitably there will be documentation and such like which will establish the principal purpose, subject to the important point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence), which arises only when potential spectators get into a public vehicle which is also going off somewhere else. That is the important point. In the majority of cases there will be hiring documents which will establish the purpose. The police may stop a private vehicle which is trundling down the motorway — a vehicle containing potential spectators — but it can be jolly difficult for them to prove the principal purpose. Unless people have got scarves and caps on their heads, they will say "A football match? I never go to football matches." The burden on the police is considerable.

Sir Eldon Griffiths

I am astonished that my hon. Friend has not been following events. We have just had the dispute in the mining industry. The police had to take a view about the purpose of people travelling in private cars, who were not wearing football uniforms, who they judged were going to a picket line, and the courts sustained them. I do not understand how my hon. Friend could fail to recognise that.

Mr. Hogg

I was very uneasy about that particular practice. The courts sustained it, but I do not like what they did in that context. I am dealing with a specific offence. We have to ask not whether it is possible but whether it is easy for police first to determine and then to prove the primary purpose of a journey being conducted in a private car by people prepared to lie. I say that it is not easy. My hon. Friend is making the task of the police rather more difficult than he currently contemplates.

Mr. Pendry

Many people here and abroad are listening in to this debate. At the beginning they might have thought that this was Parliament at its best, with the Front Benches agreeing the basic principles of the Bill, but as the debate has progressed Parliament has come out in a worse light. The Minister does not seem to be listening all the time, but I hope that he will take seriously the points that are being made. I said at the outset that I hoped that before the Bill completed its passage through the other place the Minister would reflect on what has been said.

It is difficult to get through to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) when he is having another debate, but I agree with a great deal of what he said. It is difficult for people to argue about Britain's good name abroad when part of the reason for our bad name emanates from the ferries that go from here to other countries. I disagree profoundly with the Minister when he says that we have a good record there because captains have taken the right sort of action. Much of our bad name abroad stems from our licensing laws and from the fact that when these so-called supporters get on a ferry they get steadily drunk. By the time they get to the foreign football ground they have treble vision.

The Minister will be irresponsible if he does not take account of the points that have been made. We were objecting earlier because the House of Commons is dealing with an important Bill at such a rapid pace. It is incumbent upon the Minister to reflect on the points that have been made before the Bill goes to another place.

Mr. Maclennan

I listened carefully to what the Minister said about the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) concerning the passenger-carrying ships or aircraft. There are serious practical difficulties in the way of operating the ban which is the purpose of the amendment. An extremely important point has been raised by the amendment. We ought not to leave it on the basis that we can rely upon the good sense of captains of British vessels who may be empowered to, and sometimes do, stop the sale of liquor.

Mr. Evans

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been a number of well recorded cases of drunkenness on ferries, where the captain has shut the bar and the drunken thugs have actually broken down the shutters and proceeded to rob the bar? The captain was behaving with perfect propriety, but, unfortunately, the drunks were not taking account of that.

Mr. Maclennan

Enforcement of the law is a practical problem. I see that there is a difficulty in exercising jurisdiction over foreign vessels leaving our ports and in dealing with cases such as the hon. Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Evans) has described.

The Bill is designed to reduce the incidence of drunkenness associated with football matches. Certainly the Brussels tragedy had that dimension. If we are to make progress in limiting the damage of drunkenness to international sporting events, we need to approach the problem by means of international agreements and understandings, and some arrangement which does not apply only to British vessels.

There is a further difficulty about the amendment. It is my understanding that very few vessels are principally engaged in carrying football fans to matches abroad. The amendment probably does not cover the issue in the way that it needs to be covered. In his winding-up speech the Minister referred to the importance of the Council of Europe treaty arrangements which his Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport brought back from Strasbourg. I do not think that this matter was touched on in that treaty. It is a matter which ought to be discussed in that context, and there ought to be international agreements about the provision of alcohol on vessels or cross-frontier transport being used primarily for carrying people to spoiling events.

Although we do not see this as a means of stopping a gap in the Bill, none the less it raises an extremely important issue and one which we should not simply dismiss as being dealt under the powers given to captains of vessels. There is the further point that not only is the alcohol available at bars, but that it is available in the duty-free shops at a price which most people find extremely attractive. That makes it the more hazardous and the more urgent to do something about it in an international context.

11.30 pm
Mr. John David Taylor (Strangford)

The Bill applies only to England and Wales, and I had not thought that it would be necessary for a member from Northern Ireland to speak at this stage. The amendment extends the issue to ferry boats. I was thinking simply in terms of ships sailing from the southern English coast to the continent, but the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) mentioned ships going from England to Northern Ireland, and that raised a dfferent ussue in my mind upon which I would like some clarification.

As the Minister knows, I represent the east coast of County Down, and between there and Engand and Scotland we look upon the waters as United kingdom waters, colloquially known as British waters. As the Bill affects England and Wales only, presumably if we accept the amendment we will be talking in terms of the waters around England and Wales. Could someone please explain to me where the waters around England and Wales end and the waters around Northern Ireland commence, because up to now they have all been one?

Mr. Giles Shaw

I recognise the important point which the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor) has just put to me, but it would be very tricky for me to give an instant answer. I shall draw the point to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and ask him to comment on it. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Bill does not extend to Northern Ireland.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) and to the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) that I do not intend arty discourtesy in suggesting that we could at some time consider extending the provision to private vehicles There is a major difficulty, and this was touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), in the extension of what would virtually be a stop-and-search operation to private vehicles, on the understanding that they may or may not be going to a designated sporting event. It would be an extension of policing which could be very broad and very time-consuming, quite apart from the difficulties of stopping and searching many people. To me, at any rate, it would not be something which we could entertain immediately, but would wish to take advice upon it.

The transport provisions in the Bill are meant to deal with public sector transport which is available for hire and licensed. That is why they do not cover a privately owned mini-bus, for example, or other similar vehicle in the ownership of private citizen who may have three or four other persons with him. That is how the Bill was conceived, and, of course, it was conceived in that way in the Scottish Act.

Mr. Tony Banks

I understand what the Minister says about a privately owned vehicle, but what about a vehicle hired from a hiring company? Would that be included?

Mr. Shaw

I believe that that would still constitute a privately owned vehicle. The vehicle would be owned by a private company. It would not be plying for hire in the normal sense. I shall take advice on that and write to the hon. Gentleman about it.

Mr. Banks

This is very important. I intervened on Second Reading to remind the Minister that a number of supporters are in the habit of hiring mini-vans and coaches. It is clear that they will try to get round the legislation. They are getting round the existing prohibitions on the travelling of supporters which official supporters' clubs are imposing. If the Minister does not include a provision to this effect in the Bill, he will leave a very large loophole.

Mr. Shaw

I give notice to the hon. Gentleman that I shall look at that against the background of the problem which we are seeking to contain, which is the provision of alcohol on public transport vehicles arriving for designated sporting events.

The hon. Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Evans) asked a question relating to matches abroad. The powers of the Bill will apply to the United Kingdom portion of journeys to designated events abroad. However, we could not take responsibility for what occurs between the port of arrival on the continent and the eventual destination. The ports of departure of ferries under United Kingdom control will be able to continue to take advice on how they should run their bars. The police frequently ask them to close bars, but the responsibility will be with the ferry operators. The existence of this legislation and the importance attached to it will provide a legislative background which I imagine ferry operators will wish to see. From the point of view of a United Kingdom ferry operator, I am sure that that would be so when transporting spectators to a designated event abroad.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

My hon. Friend has been good enough to say that he will look again at various parts of the clause. Will he consider the important point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence), that clause 1 does not apply when a large number of prospective spectators get on to a train whose primary purpose is not to convey those spectators to a football match?

Mr. Shaw

We considered that with some care. The transport control arrangements in the Bill derive largely from the special coach or special train arrangements which our transport operators provide. We have added other vehicles for hire — vehicles which are licensed and available for hire. However, we have not sought to extend the provisions of the Bill to scheduled services. It would be impossible to say that a scheduled service was designed purely to convey persons to a designated event. My hon. Friend will be aware that for example, on scheduled rail services British Rail byelaws enable it to cease providing alcohol, and frequently it does just that.

Mr. Pike

As I understand it, when the Millwall supporters were travelling to Luton, many of the problems did not arise on special trains. They occurred on trains running on the normal service. They would not have had bars, anyway, because of the short distance that they were travelling. People took their own drink on to the trains. If they did that, they would not be covered by this legislation.

Mr. Shaw

The hon. Gentleman will realise that should the Bill become law, as I sincerely hope it will, it will be an offence to arrive at a football ground drunk.

Mr. Pendry

I found the Minister's reply wholly unsatisfactory, as I am sure other hon. Members did. I hope that because Members of the other place will be able to read the debate they will reflect on it, note the Minister's unsatisfactory reply and take positive action. I do not at this stage intend to press my amendment to a Division, but I hope that the other place will read our debate and take appropriate action.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 1, line 10, leave out 'designated'.

The First Deputy Chairman

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 4, in page 1, line 10, at end insert 'to be held within the area of a designated sports ground'. No. 36, in clause 9, page 7, line 11, leave out lines 12 to 37 and insert 'falling within part I of the Schedule to this Act'. No. 37, in page 7, leave out lines 23 to 25.

No. 41, in the Schedule, page 9, line 3, at beginning insert 'The following sports grounds shall be treated as a "designated sports ground" for the purposes of this Act:— All grounds at which matches between teams in the first and second divisions of the Football League may from time to time be played.'

Mr. Hogg

This group of amendments is designed to achieve two purposes. The first is to delete from the Bill the phrase "sporting events", and the second is to seek to define within the Bill the sporting grounds to which the Bill applies. I had the advantage of advancing my arguments in favour of both propositions on Second Reading, and therefore I shall not speak in detail.

It is important to remember that the mischief with which we are dealing is hooliganism at football matches. I am opposed to any suggestion that we should extend the scope of the Bill beyond that mischief, but that is what we are doing, because the Bill enables the Secretary of State to extend the provisions on criminal offences and sanctions to any sporting event and any sporting ground that he cares to designate. He will be able to do that by secondary legislation which is subject to the imperfect control of the negative resolution, which I criticised earlier.

I should prefer the Bill, first, to exclude sporting events, because it is not necessary to bring sporting events within the control of the Bill. Secondly, and more important, the Committee should define the classes of ground to which we shall extend the Bill, rather than leave it to the discretionary powers of the Secretary of State, who can use the enabling powers which the Bill confers upon him. In summary, I wish to cut the scope of the Secretary of State's powers.

Mr. Christopher Chope (Southampton, Itchen)

I support the amendments, because I am worried about the scope of the Bill. I should like to see it confined to soccer matches. In my constituency I have the Saints' football ground and the Hampshire county cricket ground, which celebrates its centenary this year. If these provisions had applied during the first day of the recent match against the Australians, during which not a ball was bowled and much alcohol was consumed — that was the only consoling event of the day — nobody could have consumed any alcohol.

The powers being taken are too extensive. I know that the Bill is based on the Scottish experience, but I am suspicious of that, because the Scots do not play cricket. Cricket is an English factor which must be considered. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friend will feel able to restrict the scope of the Bill specifically to soccer grounds.

11.45 pm
Mr. Maclennan

I have considerable sympathy with the view expressed by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) on the undesirability of extending the criminal law by subordinate legislation. I admit, however, that what is proposed has already been done in Scotland in the 1980 Act. But it would be preferable, should the Secretary of State want to use these powers over a sport other than football, that Parliament should have an opportunity to express its view by debating an affirmative resolution.

I am not altogether in sympathy with the view about the designation of sporting events. Occasions may occur when this type of control may be needed in sport and when it would be necessary for the Secretary of State to act quickly, without reference to Parliament.

Regrettably, we do not have an opportunity to vote on whether this type of provision should be subject to the negative or affirmative resolution procedure, so the hon. Member for Grantham was right to draw the attention of the Committee to the undesirability of proceeding in the way proposed.

Mr. Giles Shaw

My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) has produced a series of amendments clearly designed to confine designation not only to the game of soccer but to the first and second divisions of that game, and I appreciate why he seeks to do so.

It would not be acceptable to the Government to limit the Bill, for two reasons. First, the case that he has chosen — of limiting the measure to first and second division football — would prevent the reasonable use of the Secretary of State's power to extend designation to other divisions and other sports stadiums, should he so wish.

Secondly, as my right hon. Friend explained on Second Reading, the occasion could arise when it would be desirable to add other sports to those covered by the Bill. The ability to do so should the need arise is, in our view, an important part of the primary legislation that the Committee is discussing. I reiterate my right hon. and learned Friend's assurance, also given on Second Reading, that we have no immediate intention of designating sports other than soccer.

A further objection to the amendment is that it would catch all sporting events, whatever the sport, at first and second division stadiums. Rugby league matches, greyhound racing and even athletics might be caught should they take place inside a first or second division stadium, and I am sure that my hon. Friend would not wish that to happen. I hope that he will appreciate why I cannot recommend acceptance of the amendment and that he will take the assurance that there is no present intention to extend the designation beyond soccer.

The answer to the point raised by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) is that, should there be orders designating other sports, they would be subject to the negative resolution procedure and laid before the House.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I welcome the Minister's assurance. In seeking to designate first and second division clubs, I was pointing out that the Bill should enumerate the clubs, games or grounds to which the measure applied. I accept that I should have set out more clubs or divisions.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in clause 1, page 2, line 11, leave out subsection (4).

The First Deputy Chairman

It will be convenient to discuss at the same time amendment No. 16, in clause 2, page 2, line 28, leave out subsection (2).

Mr. Hogg

The amendment is designed to delete from the Bill the offence of being drunk on a vehicle or on entry to a designated ground. My reason for wishing to do this was advanced on Second Reading by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Ashby), who rightly pointed out that drunkenness was an extremely subjective offence. It covers a wide band of inebriation. It is not easy to prove in a court of law. In principle, I am opposed to the creation of offences which are difficult to establish as matters of evidence. There are already relevant offences such as that of being drunk and disorderly, which is somewhat easier to prove than the simple offence of being drunk. I am therefore opposed to the creation of offences which are difficult to prove.

Moreover, the Bill already contains prohibitions that go a long way to achieving what the Minister of State would like to achieve—a restriction on excessive drink. Those clauses, of course, contain the prohibition on the possession of intoxicating liquor and on intoxicating liquor being consumed in public service vehicles. I think that these two offences are too subjective to be included in the Bill. For that reason, I wish them to be deleted.

Sir Eldon Griffiths

I wish that my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) were not sitting quite so close to me because I have to say that I hope that the Minister will resist the amendments.

It is a common problem for the police to deal with the offence of drunkenness. The advice to me is that the amendments would handicap the police in administering the law and in handling the problem.

Mr. Ashby

I spoke on Second Reading on this point. There are existing offences of drunkenness in public places in any event. This does not add a great deal to the existing law. A public place is a place to which the public have access. I should have thought that, right up to the gates of the sports stadium, if not within it, those being places to which the public have access, the offence of drunkenness is an existing offence.

The offence of drunkenness in a public place is very difficult to prove. We now have intoximeters. It is very simple to put an intoximeter limit on this. Why not create a specific offence, if we are to have such an offence, and let people know that they cannot drink, say, more than three pints of beer and go to a sports ground, rather like driving a car? One would have to have a licence to go to the sports ground and the offence would be that one was drunk in charge of a sports ground. Then we would know where we were.

Mr. Giles Shaw

I fully understand the desire of my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) to remove an offence that he finds it difficult to prove; that must be an embarrassment in many ways to a lawyer of his distinction.

One of the main principles of the Bill is to eliminate drunkenness on arrival at a designated sports ground, which is what we are discussing.

Mr. Chope

Is it not already an offence to arrive at a sports ground drunk? Section 1 of the Licensing Act 1902 states: If a person is found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not … and appears to be incapable of taking care of himself, he may be apprehended and dealt with according to law. There is the further offence of being drunk and disorderly. Can my hon. Friend say why these offences, which are already on the statute book, are not being enforced to a greater extent?

Mr. Shaw

I am coming to that. As my hon. Friend says, there has existed since, I think, 1872 the common offence of drunkenness. I am not entirely convinced whether, after more than 100 years, it has been difficult or impossible to prove in courts of law. It has certainly stood the test of time.

We are not entirely clear yet that the public place element, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire, North-West (Mr. Ashby) referred, applies to all parts of a football ground. We have had certain cases in relation to the pitch which have been accepted as being public, but not on an alcohol offence. To make it clear that this will be the case, we have thought it necessary to make this provision.

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham will recognise that if we are to provide proper legislation we must deal with drunkenness within the context of the designated sporting event and stadium. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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