HC Deb 30 April 1986 vol 96 cc1054-6
Mr. Giles Shaw

In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes), I beg to move amendment No. 81, in page 17, line 6, leave out from 'may' to end of line 8 and insert 'arrest him without warrant'.

May I suggest that with this amendment it will be convenient to take amendment No. 82, in page 17, line 9, leave out subsection (5).

We are minded to accept the amendments. They have the effect of substituting a power of arrest for the power of expulsion presently in the Bill, which is exercisable when a constable reasonably suspects that a person is in breach of an exclusion order. Representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers pressed for a power of arrest when I saw them a month or so ago. I am willing to accept the amendments and commend them to the House. In most circumstances, the power of expulsion together with the power of arrest under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act would suffice. Under section 25 of that Act the police can arrest a person who is in breach of an exclusion order if, for example, service of a summons is impracticable or inappropriate, because the police have grounds to believe he may cause injury to others or damage to property after being expelled from the football ground, or because the name and address of the suspected offender is not known and cannot readily be ascertained.

These powers would suffice in most cases, but I accept that there may be cases in which an offender is apprehended at a match and the police have no grounds for believing he will cause injury or damage, but believe that he will attempt to re-enter the ground. That is the point I undertook to cover and which it is correct to present to the House in the form of an amendment. I hope the House will agree to accept it.

Mr. Hayes

May I wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologise to the House for not being present when these important amendments were put to the House. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on his swiftness of foot and for the co-operation of Opposition Members. My hon. Friend has made it clear that the Government have taken a sensible approach to the Bill. Clearly, the Government understand, in the way that we in Committee, in a sensible and amicable way, understood, that the most important point is that football must be a decent family game, and one in which we want to prevent the thuggery and the violence that takes place. We must give the police the proper powers to enforce the exclusion orders. I am most grateful to the Minister for adopting this sensible and reasonable approach.

11.45 pm
Sir Eldon Griffiths

I thank my hon. Friend, because this will avoid obstreperous football fans who have been expelled making a fool of policemen who are trying to do their job properly. This is a good example of the Government listening to the views of the police service, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for accepting the amendment.

Mr. Kaufman

Brisk and bizarre proceedings have been known in the House of Commons before, but this beats a lot that I have seen in 16 years. For an hon. Member to fail to move an amendment, and for a Minister to accept it in the absence of that hon. Gentleman, is a new level in the responsiveness and accountability of Her Majesty's Administration to the House of Commons. I very much trust that it will set a precedent for the future, based on telepathy.

The Opposition will not oppose the amendment. After reasonably assiduous attendance in Committee, the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes) has now managed to get a bit on to the statute book. Without in any way detracting from his moment of glory, I must tell him that I believe that the use of this power will be extremely rare, for the very reasons that we gave when we discussed the exclusion order procedure in Committee. In our view—and also in the view of the Police Federation—the exclusion order procedure will be difficult to assert. I do not believe that adding a power of arrest to something that is very difficult to enforce will make it any easier.

The Opposition have made it clear throughout that, despite our doubts about the efficacy of this procedure —which doubts are shared by the police themselves—we hope that it works. We believe that stringent action to deal with hooliganism at football matches will, provided it works, can only be to good of the public order and the game itself. Now that those who are subject to exclusion orders—thanks to the responsiveness of the Government—include racists, we hope that they will be caught by this as well.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 82, in page 17, line 9, leave out subsection (5).—[Mr. Giles Shaw.]

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