§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I beg to move amendment No. 6, in page 5, line 27, leave out—'caused and contributed to any violence or disorder'and insert—`been convicted of an offence involving violence or any other relevent offence
Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:
No. 7, in page 5, line 28, after 'or' insert—`caused or contributed to any violence or disorder'.No. 8, in page 5, line 28, at end insert—'(2A) A conviction under subsection (2) above does not include a spent conviction.No. 9, in page 6, line 2, leave out from 'football' to end of line 5 and insert—'(3A) In this Part, "violence" and "disorder" are limited to conduct which constitutes a crime under the law of any part of the United Kingdom, or conduct which, if committed outside the United Kingdom, would constitute a crime under the laws of the United Kingdom if committed in any part of the United Kingdom.'.
§ Mr. Hughes
I shall speak first to amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 9. When I have finished my relatively brief remarks on those, Mr. Deputy Speaker, perhaps you would be kind enough to say whether you wish me to take amendment No. 8 together with them or separately.
In the bizarre, Alice in Wonderland world of this debate, we have moved from a Committee stage in which we debated one important issue—summary detention—but could not debate how to deal with banning orders into a Report stage in which we may debate banning orders but will have no opportunity to reflect on the debate on summary detention.
As the Report stage began, my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) said to me that crucial issues affecting the police relate to both issues, and there has been absolutely no chance for anyone to talk to any representative of the police between the first debate and the second—
§ Mr. Hughes
No representative, that is, except those available to us locally, who deal with parliamentary hooligans.
Amendment No. 6 is extremely important. My colleagues communicated our agreed position to the Home Secretary and the Government before Second Reading. We want to replace the general and dangerously wide provision in schedule 1 with a more specific provision.
At present, there are two conditions for a banning order that is triggered other than by a court decision on punishment. The order can happen on conviction or by complaint. The post-conviction order is non-controversial, if I have judged the mood of the House correctly. The order triggered by complaint is more controversial. It was anticipated by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford and others, but we had not seen the exact wording involved.
A banning order may be made on the complaint of a police officer who has detained someone summarily and who, after four or six hours, must serve a notice saying that he or she intends to seek a banning order. That notice, in writing, indicates an intention to seek an order within a further 18 or 20 hours, the total period being 24 hours. My colleagues and I strongly hold the view that to say that it is sufficient for a police officer or a court to think that someone's past history qualifies that person for a banning order on the basis that the person may have caused or contributed to any violence or disorder, but without having been convicted, goes dangerously wide. We reject that as a trigger for a banning order.
Instead, we offer the House a straightforward statement that a banning order can be considered if someone has previously been convicted of an offence involving violence or any relevant offence. That takes the law further than at present, when banning orders happen only if there has been a football-related offence. My hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Jackie Ballard) and I are of the clear view that it is part of the job of politicians to deal with violence in our society, and it is reasonable that someone convicted of violence unrelated to football might be regarded as having a greater propensity to violence in a football-related context than someone with no convictions for violence.
157 Unlike the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins)—who is not in his place—we do not think that domestic violence should be excluded. It is not reasonable to say that violence in the home does not show a propensity to violence elsewhere. Indeed, we think that it is clear evidence of violence. A conviction for domestic violence must be part of the material background.
The third issue relates to amendments that have been selected for debate later and on which we have similar views to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell). It would be wrong for the measure to recriminalise a person whose other convictions were spent. Under rehabilitation of offenders legislation, if a date has been specified after which a person can put his crime behind him, it would be wrong to resurrect that crime simply for a banning order
§ Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
The hon. Gentleman said that people's previous convictions for violence should be taken into account and they should be arrested on that basis. Unless I have misunderstood him, that is surely a departure from the normal principle that previous offences should be taken into account only when sentence is imposed. They cannot be considered in any initial action by the police against an individual.
§ Mr. Hughes
I understand the point the hon. Gentleman makes. I am dealing with proposals for banning orders, which, as he is aware, are in effect an injunction. If that injunction is breached, a criminal action will be triggered. We have tried to be reasonable and to co-operate with the Government. As Parliament has accepted banning orders in the past—on a "Let's see if they work basis"—and as several councils have used that procedure, it is reasonable to use it in the measure, in certain limited circumstances.
There are two strands that have to come together before a banning order can be imposed. The first is a consideration of the person's history and the second is that we must believe that the person is about to do something—I shall come to that point in a moment.
Our view is that we should not base the first strand on the fact that the person has a general association with violence or disorder in the past. The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) pointed out that the fact that people had been on a demonstration where there was violence—even though they were not personally involved—might mean that they were swept up under the measure. We should not be able to get over the first hurdle unless it can be verified that the person has committed a criminal offence. The offence must be football related—including offences involving alcohol—or violence related.
§ Mr. Corbyn
I am grateful for that explanation. However, I am not entirely happy. Surely any police action or arrest has to be based on the fact that an offence has been committed. The court should take account of past offences only after guilt has been proved and sentence is being considered. The danger with the hon. Gentleman's suggestion is that it would seem to give the police the power to interpret previous but wholly unrelated offences according to the action that they proposed to take.
§ Mr. Hughes
That is why the Liberal Democrats—and some Labour and Conservative colleagues—have resisted 158 a provision that would permit a banning order when there was neither a previous nor a current offence. Amendments tabled in Committee and on Report would meet the hon. Gentleman's requirement. They provide that people should not be detained unless they are committing an offence.
That point returns us to an earlier debate. Most relevant offences are those for which people can currently be arrested—the use of racial abuse, or violent or drunk and disorderly behaviour. The power of arrest already exists for such offences. No one has satisfactorily answered the question: what are the offences for which a person would currently not be arrested that would cause the police to act in the context of football? I do not think that there are any. Dropping litter is technically an offence, but it cannot be considered relevant in these circumstances. I share the hon. Gentleman's view that the test must be that a person has committed an offence in front of a police officer.
§ Ms Ward
I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman and he might have been planning to come to this point later. However, will he explain how the amendment would assist when someone is arrested abroad and there is evidence—it may be documentary or video evidence—to suggest that he was involved in an offence? That person might not be charged but would be deported, so how would the amendment assist in such a case?.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Lady asks a perfectly proper question. I suggest that she looks at the other amendments in the group. 1 do not want to deceive the House because amendment No. 7 is controversial. It would allow for a slightly wider past history to be taken into account for offences that take place abroad. We had an interesting and important debate on Second Reading and in Committee, and amendment No. 7 keeps the Bill's current wording for offences committed outside the United Kingdom.
There must be a conviction for offences committed in the UK, but the question is how we deal with offences, such as those that we saw on television being committed in Charleroi, for which no one is convicted. Clearly any sensible person would regard hitting someone over the head with a chair in a town square or throwing something through a window as an offence.
I do not pretend that amendment No. 9 is perfect, but a similar amendment was tabled in Committee by the Conservative party and ourselves. It attempts to deal with the second half of the question that the hon. Lady reasonably asked. We wanted to find a way that ensured that something that happened abroad could be prayed in aid as long as it passed the test that it was a criminal offence. The amendment states thatviolence" and "disorder" are limited to conduct which constitutes a crime under the law of any part of the United Kingdom, or conduct which …would constitute a crime under the laws of the United Kingdomif it had been committed here.
I am slightly nervous about that proposal, but it is only a probing amendment. 1 am nervous about it because of a point raised by Conservative Back Benchers last week. We do not know what the tests of a foreign court might be. Let us take an extreme example. In China, one might be convicted by processes that we would regard as 159 anathema to us and as entirely unacceptable. We would not want to sign up as a Parliament to the automatic importation of a conviction that took place abroad. We have tabled that probing amendment to try to discover the Government's view because we have not yet had a chance to find out their thinking.
§ Ms Ward
I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is trying to make, but I read from the amendment that he accepts the principle that someone in this country can be stopped under the provisions in the Bill without having been convicted of an offence. We are referring to offences that were committed abroad and would have constituted a crime in the UK if they had been committed in the UK. In this very amendment, he accepts the principle that someone can be caught by the provisions in the Bill without actually having a conviction.
§ Mr. Hughes
As it happens, we do not. We intend to press amendment No. 6 to a vote later and it insists that the precondition should be a conviction in the courts of this country. Amendments Nos. 7 and 9—the latter was originally tabled by the Conservatives in Committee—are probing amendments. We are not persuaded—certainly my colleagues in the other place are not persuaded—that what might or might not have been an offence abroad is sufficient reason to trigger the powers in the Bill. Our view is that the precondition—part one of a two-stage process—is that there must have been a relevant conviction in the United Kingdom. That would be achieved by amendment No. 6. The second part of the process is that a offence needs to be committed if someone is to be marched off to the magistrates court for a banning order.
§ Mr. Browne
I have been following the hon. Gentleman's remarks closely, but it seems to me that amendment No. 6 would not achieve that objective because it leaves the word "elsewhere" in proposed new section 14B(2). If amendment No. 6 were made, the Bill would read:That condition is that the respondent has at any time …been convicted of an offence involving violence or other relevant offence in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.
§ Mr. Hughes
To be fair, the hon. Gentleman is right. I do not pretend that the amendment is perfect; we have been acting under the same time constraints as he has. We want to ensure that there can be action by the police and in the courts in the United Kingdom—or England and Wales—only if there has been a conviction. The hon. Gentleman may be right to imply that we should have sought to delete the word "elsewhere", and if amendment No. 6 is not made, we should seek to delete the word in amendment No. 7
§ Mr. Corbyn
I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could help me because I have become completely puzzled by his arguments. I cannot understand why he has tabled amendment No. 9 at all because he appears to be speaking strongly against that amendment, which in effect would 160 allow a prosecution to take place in Britain for an alleged offence in another jurisdiction, where the quality of evidence and prosecution is unknown and it would be hard to collect any serious evidence other than photographs in newspapers. I gently suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he may be better off withdrawing that amendment.
§ Mr. Hughes
That is a perfectly reasonable objective, and we have been trying to tease out all the issues so that we can debate them. I reassure the hon. Gentleman that amendment No. 9 is a probing amendment and we will not pursue it.
In a debate triggered by the Government, it was said that video footage and evidence of activities abroad could be prayed in aid and would be sufficient, but we do not accept that—it is a dangerous view. I gave an extreme example, and we may not play football against China very often, but there are countries closer to home where we would be suspicious about evidence. In Euro 2000, some of the activities and administrative procedures carried out by the Belgians gave cause for concern.
The hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill) referred to such a case. Some of us heard the contribution on the "Today" programme on Monday morning from the father of the one person who has been charged by the Belgian authorities, and he said that his son had an alibi and was not even on the scene. I do not want to prejudge that case, but there are good reasons for arguing that such activity should not be imported into domestic law.
I reassure the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) that our objective in the debate is to make sure that the first leg of the process is achieved by a previous, relevant conviction in the UK. We accept the Government's argument that relevant convictions should not only be alcohol related, but we believe that those convictions should be limited to violence, football and alcohol and should not include spent convictions. The Bill certainly should not import activity from abroad that has not resulted in a conviction in the United Kingdom. I hope that that is clear, and we shall ask the Committee to divide only on amendment No. 6.
§ Mr. Leigh
I like amendment No. 6 because it has a certain neatness. It deletes the provision that has always worried me about the Bill, which is that one can be subject to the measures if one hascaused or contributed to any violence or disorder.It is terribly hard to define exactly what that means in terms of bad language, gestures, demeanour or actual violence.
The strongest part of the speech made by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) was his point that amendment No. 6 will make it clear that if one is to be the subject of an order, one must have been properly convicted in a court of law. All of us have confidence in our courts, so we believe that that provides a clear basis. Therefore, I am perfectly happy with amendment No. 6.
I hope that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey does not mind my saying that the weakest part of his speech was that relating to amendment No. 9. 161 I do not blame him for that because he is working under time constraints that are unfair to him and others who have sought to table amendments. His provision would apply—he may certainly interrupt me if I have this wrong—a very different test abroad from that applied here.
I accept the part of amendment No. 9 that states:violence" and "disorder" are limited to conduct that constitutes a crime under the law of any part of the United Kingdom.That is sensible. The hon. Gentleman is right that there are jurisdictions not in Europe but elsewhere in the world of which we are very suspicious and in which civil liberties are infringed. Why is he not also insisting that the conduct is of such a nature that it would not only constitute a crime here but result in a conviction abroad? Would not that be a double test, a belt and braces approach?
If the hon. Gentleman had tabled amendment No. 9 in such terms, he would be insisting that the person would have had to be subject to a conviction either here or abroad for such an order to be made. I do not know why he has not made that clear.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To put it bluntly—I am not trying to defend an attempt to cover all bases without an opportunity for consideration—amendments Nos. 7 to 9 were fall—back positions to test the water if we did not succeed with amendment No. 6. I repeat that the only amendment in the group to which we want to be signed up and will go through the Lobby to support is amendment No. 6.
§ Mr. Leigh
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has made that clear. Amendment No. 6 is a very important amendment. It is rather a pity that we are discussing it at eight minutes to 1 o'clock in the morning, but that is the procedure that we have been given. That is not the hon. Gentleman's fault. I commend him for moving the amendment.
§ Miss Widdecombe
I have some sympathy with some of the amendments, but, oddly, I am not totally convinced of the wisdom of amendment No. 6. Effectively, amendment No. 6 would ensure that unless somebody has been convicted of an offence involving violence or any other relevant offence, that person will not be caught by the provision. We are specifically asked toleave out "caused or contributed to any violence or disorder".I know that the provision is controversial, but it is possible that somebody who could have contributed to violence or disorder could, for example, have organised violence or disorder but not been convicted of it. If intelligence and the use of material known to the police and others is to mean anything at all, clearly the only test applied to it cannot be that somebody has been brought before a court and convicted. So, in fact, amendment No. 6 goes against the spirit of much that we are trying to achieve.
However, I have very substantial sympathy with amendments Nos. 8 and 9. Amendment No. 9 is more or less a re—presentation of amendment No. 4 that we tabled in Committee, which was not reached. We tabled that amendment because there was then in the Bill a very clear statement that behaviour on which police would make a judgment as to whether it deserved detention and an 162 application for a ban need not be confined to behaviour that constituted an offence. That rang tremendous alarm bells on the Conservative Benches—we were talking about behaviour that might not be criminal.
I am quite happy to say that the behaviour might not have resulted in a criminal conviction because, as the Home Secretary pointed out, such offences were committed abroad but no prosecution took place, or because, under the law of that jurisdiction, the behaviour was not as easily definable as an offence as it would have been in the UK. The Home Secretary made that clear and I understood that difficulty. However, that is why we made a provision that behaviour would be judged according to UK law, not the law that might prevail in whatever jurisdiction in which the behaviour took place.
Perhaps I became confused during the rash of Government amendments taken at the end of Committee, but I got the impression that a Government amendment was made that took care of the problem, simply by eliminating that chunk of the clause—restricting the definition to violence and disorder and eliminating the offending provision whereby the behaviour had to constitute a crime. There appears to be a flurry of activity on the Treasury Bench—perhaps the Minister will be able to confirm that that amendment was made. If so, I am happy not to support amendment No. 9, because the matter with which it deals has already been addressed; if not, we shall support amendment No. 9 if it is pressed to a Division.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
I was checking the number of the amendment; it was, in fact, amendment No. 29, made in the final flurry of amendments in Committee.
§ Miss Widdecombe
I am grateful to the Minister for that confirmation—I thought that that was what happened. In that case, I see no point in the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) pressing amendment No. 9.
That brings me to amendment No. 8. Before committing Conservative Members, I should be interested to hear what justification there might be for relying on a spent conviction. If it is to be relied on, it will have to be made public and be the subject of discussion, with all that that implies for the rehabilitation of offenders. It would be an extremely serious proposition to say that spent convictions could be used for the purposes of the legislation. I remain to be convinced, but, for now, I believe that amendment No. 8 and amendment No. 12—which, for some reason, appears separately and stands in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell)—are wise amendments, which we might support depending on the Minister's reply.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
We have had a helpful debate, the nub of which has been amendment No. 6 moved by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), which I shall address later.
First, the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) is right to say that amendment No. 29 was passed in Committee. We believe that it 163 satisfactorily addresses the issue she raised, and I am sorry for the delay in providing the exact number of that amendment.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
Like everyone else, I am trying to keep up. Amendment No. 29 was tabled by the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) and it only partially deals with the problem. It merely removes the second part of the definition of "violence" and "disorder" on page 6. I acknowledge that, at some point during the final group of amendments made in Committee, we might have passed a new definition, but that certainly was not achieved through amendment No. 29, which was certainly not a Government amendment.
§ Mr. Clarke
I know that amendment No. 29 was not a Government amendment. I believe that, in his opening remarks this afternoon, my right hon. Friend the0 Home Secretary stated his intention to accept the amendment tabled by the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell). The Government accepted that amendment, rather than table our own, because we felt that it was correctly phrased and dealt with the issue—although it might not have done so to the satisfaction of the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey—and we were keen to accommodate the point made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman both on Second Reading and in his amendment No. 29.
§ Mr. Hughes
I accept that, and I did not intend to misrepresent the Home Secretary. I am not trying to put the Minister on the spot, but can he tell us where we have amended the Bill to put back in another definition of previous convictions, the first definition of which was removed by amendment No. 29?
§ 1 am
§ Mr. Clarke
I shall come back to the hon. Gentleman on that in a moment, if 1 can, but first I shall respond to the various points that were raised. On amendment No. 8, to which the right hon. Lady spoke, I accept the intention behind it, but the amendment is not necessary by virtue of section 4(1 )(a) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, under which no evidence relating to spent convictions will be admissible in proceedings before a judicial authority.
When we debate amendment No. 12 in a moment, I intend to tell the House that we accept the spirit of that amendment, and also of amendment No. 8, but we will table amendments in the other place to put them in precisely the wording that we consider correct.
The motive behind amendment No. 7, as we understand it, is to provide further clarification of the conditions set out in new section 14B(2), but I am advised that the purpose and meaning of the conditions are already explicit, so I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press the amendment.
Amendment No. 6, as the hon. Gentleman said, is the nub of this group of amendments. It is fair to say also that 164 it was at the core of the debate on Second Reading. As I said when replying to that debate, the issue is key and clear. By proposing amendment No. 6, the hon. Gentleman is effectively seeking to ensure that the only evidence relevant to a banning order by complaint would be a previous conviction.
We believe that although there are perfectly reasonable arguments for that, which I understand, that would undermine the basis of the banning order by complaint. It is necessary for the courts to be able to impose banning orders on people who, for example, have been filmed causing trouble overseas, yet were not prosecuted in that country. Unless we are able to make the change, we would effectively preclude the police and the courts from tackling much of the football hooliganism of the type that we witnessed in Brussels and Charleroi. The intelligence issues highlighted by the right hon. Lady are correct and raise the same sort of questions as do film.
§ Mr. Corbyn
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Does he agree that this is an enormous departure from the normal legal process, and that we are in effect encouraging prosecution on the basis of circumstantial evidence imported from another jurisdiction? Would it not be better to seek international agreement so that, instead of countries merely deporting everyone who causes trouble—as happened in the case of Belgium as we understand it—they should be encouraged to undertake prosecution within their own jurisdiction? After all, that is where the offence has been committed. Does my hon. Friend further agree that there is a risk involved in the use of video evidence, which can be confused, inaccurate and dangerous, and can result in innocent people being convicted of serious criminal offences?
§ Mr. Clarke
My hon. Friend makes two important points. First, I agree that it would be far better to get international agreements. That is the best way to proceed on all the international jurisdictional issues. The right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) said on Second Reading that the best way to deal with these matters is to ensure that the forces of law and order in the jurisdiction of the country concerned deals with the situation. I understand the point, and it is a legitimate one.
However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) will understand from his own experience, there can be a long wait for international agreements to be secured. What do we do in the meantime? Do we say that no action can be taken until we have those international agreements, or do we say that, even in the absence of such agreements, some action is necessary? I acknowledge that that is a matter of judgment.
That brings me to the second point that my hon. Friend raises, which has emerged as the key debate in relation to the Bill today and on Second Reading. When we consider the proportionality of the relevant issues, we must weigh up the view that there should be no violation of individuals' civil liberties in the circumstances that we are discussing—a perfectly fair point of view—and the need, 165 which the Government perceive, to inhibit the hooliganism. The penalty is not ultimately very great because only limited sanctions are available. One has to make a judgment. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North has been clear about his judgment, which I respect; I also respect that of the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. However, it is not our judgment.
§ Mr. Tyler
Does not the Minister recognise that the fact that this country could put the Bill on the statute book in its current form will delay and dilute the likelihood of international agreement? Other countries will reasonably ask, "Why should we bother? If we deport people back to the United Kingdom, it can deal with the problem under its legislation."
§ Mr. Clarke
I do not accept that. The Government have worked hard to develop a stronger international jurisdiction, especially in the European Union. My right hon. Friend stressed that at the EU Tampere summit, and will do so in all the debates that he will attend later this week. He is keen to achieve mutual recognition of jurisdictions, and we have worked hard to that end. I therefore do not believe that the Bill will inhibit progress. For that reason, we will oppose amendment No. 6.
§ Mr. Corbyn
In the event of football supporters from another country arriving here to watch a match and causing all sorts of trouble, is it normal practice to prosecute or simply to deport without prosecution? In view of the obvious urgency with which the Government are pursuing the issue, will my hon. Friend at least open discussions with major neighbouring European countries and ask them whether they are prepared to prosecute in the event of drunken and disorderly behaviour such as that in Brussels, and thus abandon the incredibly complicated and possibly unsuccessful attempt to pass the Bill?
§ Mr. Clarke
I am prepared to assure my hon. Friend that we will discuss the matter with our allies in the EU. However, it is generally acknowledged that events at Euro 2000 and the fact that English so-called supporters were predominantly, although not uniquely, involved, to our national disgrace, puts us in a different position from some other countries in trying to deal with the issues that we are discussing. On prosecution or deportation, I am not familiar with the relevant legislation in detail, but I believe that prosecution rather than deportation is the normal course.
We had memorandums of understanding with Belgium and Holland in which they agreed to prosecute those committing offences. We also made Orders in Council that set out corresponding offences to enable banning orders to be made here. In the event, those involved were not prosecuted.
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey made another point about the position on section 29 of the Football Spectators Act 1989.
§ Mr. Chope
Does the Minister accept that unless amendment No. 6 is passed, someone who is prosecuted and acquitted will be in double jeopardy? On the basis 166 which the Minister outlined, of someone who has a spent conviction being let out, it is surely more important to accept amendment No. 6 and ensure that people who are prosecuted and acquitted are not subject to double jeopardy.
§ Mr. Clarke
I shall answer that point directly later. However, I want to deal with the specific point raised by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. Proposed new section 14C defines violence clearly in the context of the Bill.
I intended to conclude by saying that while I do not accept the position that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey presented, I respect it, as I respect that of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North. I also respect the comments made by the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald on amendment No. 6. She is right to take that stance, although, to be blunt, that has been difficult for her as there are clearly different views in her party, as the remarks of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) have shown. Conservative Front Benchers are right to have made such a judgment and I pay respect to her for that.
I know that there have been differences and disagreements in the Conservative party, and I return to the point made by the hon. Member for Christchurch. We have to decide whether a previous conviction alone is the only test and the only evidence relevant to making a banning order by complaint or whether we accept that there is a wider test. He says that a conviction should be the only test. I understand that point of view—I made a similar response to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey—but I do not accept it.
§ Mr. Clarke
We have to make a simple choice: should we allow other forms of evidence to be taken account of? We say yes, clearly and categorically. That is our judgment.
§ Mr. Browne
I am concerned that confusion between civil proceedings—proceedings by complaint—and criminal proceedings and convictions is creeping into the debate. My experience of the law north and south of the border and throughout the United Kingdom is that there is a healthy and growing jurisdiction under which people take proceedings to the civil courts even though a complaint to the criminal courts may have been unsuccessful. The Stephen Lawrence case is a prime example. Were we to accept the Liberal Democrat amendment, we could be in a ridiculous situation: citizens of the United Kingdom could be subject to civil proceedings and prevented by injunction or interdict from attending football matches in this country, but the Government would be unable to use civil proceedings to prevent the same people from travelling abroad to create mayhem. That would be nonsensical.
§ Mr. Clarke
That extremely helpful intervention has helped to clarify the discussion and I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has set out the situation clearly.
167 I have responded to all the points and I hope that amendments Nos. 7 to 9 will not be pressed. If the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey presses amendment No. 6 to a vote, I urge my hon. Friends to reject it and support the Government.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The choice is clear, and the Minister has been fair about that. The present law covers people with a previous football-related conviction, but the Government argue that we will be able to catch more people if the range of activity is extended to include people who have no convictions. However, that would lead to the anomalies to which the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) referred, to his credit. The most extreme and bizarre would be that a conviction for a violent or football-related offence secured under the "beyond reasonable doubt" rule would be blotted out if it fell outside the period for the rehabilitation of offenders, which varies according to the offence, whereas a person who had appeared before the court, but whose case was not proven, could find himself in double jeopardy.
May I deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. Browne)? North and south of the border, the United Kingdom allows civil and criminal proceedings. Indeed, injunctions secured in civil proceedings have been available for a long time. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman should bear with me. On the balance of probabilities—often in domestic cases, in which I have acted myself—a person has to persuade a judge to make an order prohibiting another person from going within a certain distance of, or from interfering with, him. That triggers a criminal conviction only if that individual disobeys the injunction. That then represents an offence and the individual can be arrested. The same applies here. Do we want the fact that someone has a track record of bad behaviour to be sufficient to allow an injunction-type order and a criminal sanction?
We should proceed gradually, because there is a big danger that we will catch not just people who have caused trouble at home or abroad, but those against whom the evidence has never been tested to a satisfactory conclusion. We can argue about the right procedure, but Liberal Democrats do not think that we should move in one leap from people with convictions for football-related offences, past people with convictions for all violence-related offences, to people with no convictions at all. That is not a justified leap to take in legislation that has been through the House in two days, that has had no chance to be assessed externally, that many organisations are unhappy about, and that has not been proved necessary on the experience of Euro 2000 or anything else. It is a step too far. It is of course much more likely that people will be prevented from going abroad, but do we want to have the power to do that on the basis of thin, arguable and marginal evidence?
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
It is my understanding that if there is no conviction on which the magistrates can base a banning order, they have to have evidence and proof of the circumstances. They cannot simply have something mentioned: it must be established. I believe that it must be established to the criminal standard of proof.
§ Mr. Hughes
The legislation is silent on that matter. On Second Reading, the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised the question whether the criminal balance of proof will be required to establish the second head. The court, as well as knowing the history of previous activity, must besatisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches.The combination of those two leaves unclear what the balance of proof must be. The right hon. and learned Gentleman properly argued that this was another matter for which we should have explicit, not implicit, law.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I think that it is the criminal standard of proof. The two ingredients in new section 14B(4)(a) provide that the application can be made to a magistrates court only ifit is proved on the application that the condition in subsection (2) above is met.The condition of subsection (2) is that the respondent has been guilty of violence or disorder.
§ Mr. Hughes
I tend to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's view. I did not do as much in the courts as he did, and I was not as eminent as he was—[Interruption.] Yes, I was cheaper. My recollection of the civil courts is that one did not have to prove the circumstances but merely had to satisfy the judge on a balance of probabilities. It was a "more than 50 per cent." test. Therefore, that question remains unanswered.
The experience that justifies the Government's case has not been proved to our satisfaction. I ask the House to proceed cautiously. We should not legislate if we are in doubt about whether we should take away people's liberties, their passports, their right to go abroad, or their ability to be detained or to walk free.
I understand that the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) feels obliged to support the Government on this provision, because it provides a tougher power. The leader of her party often seems to set the agenda on law and order for the Government to follow. Some of us are arguing that we must defend the Liberty position and ensure that the case for prosecution and for further extension of the criminal law is made.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 43, Noes 196.170
|Division No. 273||[1.20 am|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Brake, Tom|
|Allan, Richard||Brand, Dr Peter|
|Baker, Norman||Breed, Colin|
|Ballard, Jackie||Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)|
|Barnes, Harry||Burnett, John|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Burstow, Paul|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Chidgey, David|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Oaten, Mark|
|Cotter, Brian||Öpik, Lembit|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Rendel, David|
|Fearn, Ronnie||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Sanders, Adrian|
|George, Andrew (St Ives)||Stunell, Andrew|
|Gidley, Sandra||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Hancock, Mike||Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)|
|Harris, Dr Evan||Tonge, Dr Jenny|
|Harvey, Nick||Truswell, Paul|
|Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)||Tyler, Paul|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)||Willis, Phil|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|McDonnell, John||Sir Robert Smith and|
|Moore, Michael||Mr. Donald Gorrie.|
|Ainger, Nick||Drew, David|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Alexander, Douglas||Edwards, Huw|
|Allen, Graham||Efford, Clive|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Fitzpatrick, Jim|
|Banks, Tony||Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna|
|Barron, Kevin||Flint, Caroline|
|Battle, John||Follett, Barbara|
|Beard, Nigel||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)||Gibson, Dr Ian|
|Best, Harold||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Betts, Clive||Godsiff, Roger|
|Blackman, Liz||Goggins, Paul|
|Blizzard, Bob||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Boateng, Rt Hon Paul||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Grogan, John|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Hain, Peter|
|Browne, Desmond||Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|Burden, Richard||Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)|
|Burgon, Colin||Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet|
|Burns, Simon||Hawkins, Nick|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Hayes, John|
|Caborn, Rt Hon Richard||Heald, Oliver|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Healey, John|
|Cann, Jamie||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Heppell, John|
|Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)||Hesford, Stephen|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Hinchliffe, David|
|Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)||Hoey, Kate|
|Clelland, David||Home Robertson, John|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Hope, Phil|
|Clwyd, Ann||Howarth, Alan (Newport E)|
|Coaker, Vernon||Howells, Dr Kim|
|Cohen, Harry||Hoyle, Lindsay|
|Colman, Tony||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Connarty, Michael||Humble, Mrs Joan|
|Corston, Jean||Hurst, Alan|
|Cousins, Jim||Hutton, John|
|Cox, Tom||Iddon, Dr Brian|
|Cranston, Ross||Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)|
|Crausby, David||Jamieson, David|
|Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)||Jenkins, Brian|
|Cummings, John||Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)||Kemp, Fraser|
|Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire||Kidney, David|
|Darvill, Keith||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Davidson, Ian||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)||Kumar, Dr Ashok|
|Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)||Ladyman, Dr Stephen|
|Dawson, Hilton||Lepper, David|
|Day, Stephen||Levitt, Tom|
|Dismore, Andrew||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Dowd, Jim||Love, Andrew|
|Luff, Peter||Smith, Angela (Basildon)|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)|
|McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Snape, Peter|
|MacShane, Denis||Soley, Clive|
|Mactaggart, Fiona||Squire, Ms Rachel|
|McWalter, Tony||Steinberg, Gerry|
|McWilliam, John||Stewart, David (Inverness E)|
|Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Martlew, Eric||Stringer, Graham|
|Meale, Alan||Sutcliffe, Gerry|
|Michael, Rt Hon Alun||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Mitchell, Austin||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Moran, Ms Margaret||Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Mountford, Kali||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Mullin, Chris||Tipping, Paddy|
|Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)||Todd, Mark|
|Naysmith, Dr Doug||Truswell, Paul|
|Olner, Bill||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|O'Neill, Martin||Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Palmer, Dr Nick||Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|Pickthall, Colin||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Pollard, Kerry||Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Pound, Stephen||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Prosser, Gwyn||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Quinn, Lawrie||Ward, Ms Claire|
|Randall, John||Watts, David|
|Rapson, Syd||Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann|
|Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Rooney, Terry||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Rowlands, Ted||Woolas, Phil|
|Roy, Frank||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Ryan, Ms Joan||Wright, Tony (Cannock)|
|Salter, Martin||Wyatt, Derek|
|Savidge, Malcolm||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Sawford, Phil||Mrs. Anne McGuire and|
|Shaw, Jonathan||Mr. Tony McNulty.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.1.30 am
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I beg to move amendment No. 12, in page 6, line 19, at end insert—'(4A) A court shall not take into account any conviction which is spent pursuant to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or conduct which took place more than ten years prior to the relevant control period.'.I shall be brief. Under proposed new section 14B(2), the court can make a banning order on the basis of a conviction, or on the basis of evidence brought before it. However, the Bill contains no time limit in relation to such a conviction or to evidence. The amendment would make it clear that the court could not take into account a conviction that had become spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.1 am sure that the House will find that reasonable. It would also mean that the court could not take account of evidence that related to an event more than 10 years before the relevant control period.
It is wrong that the Bill should contain no limitation. The limitations in the amendment are reasonable, and I commend them to the House.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
The position on spent convictions is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, as the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire said. Section 4(1)(a) of that Act provides that no evidence relating to spent convictions is admissible in proceedings before a judicial authority, including a magistrates court. Section 7(1) makes an exception of criminal proceedings, but proceedings under proposed new section 14B will be civil, not criminal, proceedings.
It follows that the effect of the amendment would be the same as the effect of the law already. However, I accept that the amendment would add clarity and certainty. Although we believe that the amendment is not necessary, we accept the spirit in which it was moved.
I also agree that the point about conduct of more than 10 years before is legitimate, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I will consider it further. We will table amendments in another place to give effect to the proposal, and we believe that we can do so in a way satisfactory to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire. On the basis of that assurance, I hope that he will be prepared to withdraw the amendment.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I and my colleagues are grateful to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire for tabling the amendment. We hope to be associated with the consideration of a proposal to ensure that an amendment along the lines of amendment No. 12 finds its way into the Bill.
§ Mr. Lilley
The amendment covers spent convictions, but will the Minister say whether it will be possible for the court to consider unspent convictions? Proposed new section 14C(4) states:The magistrates' court may take into account the following matters … so far as they consider it appropriate to do so.The first of those matters isany decision of a court or tribunal outside the United Kingdom.None of the four prescribed matters relates to decisions of courts in the UK, so it is not clear whether the court could consider a conviction, spent or unspent.
I tabled an amendment to proposed new section 14C(4)(a) to include courts inside the United Kingdom, but Madam Speaker was unable, in the time available, to include it for consideration. That is certainly no criticism of Madam Speaker or of you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is the fault of the Government that we have had no pause between Committee and Report, when these matters could have been given proper consideration. However, it is clear that there is a very odd feature in the Bill, and I hope that the Minister will explain why that is.
§ Miss Widdecombe
As I indicated in the debate on amendment No. 8, we have enormous sympathy with the proposal of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell). However, in 172 view of the Government's promise to address the matter in another place, if my right hon. and learned Friend were to withdraw his amendment, we would be equally happy.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
I appreciate what the right hon. Lady has said. I can give her and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) the assurance they seek—on Front-Bench spokesmen will be involved in discussions about the nature of the amendment in the other place.
Proposed new section 14C(4), referred to by the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley), says:The magistrates' court may take into account the following matters (among others)…The purpose of the provision, as I understand it, is to make clear the power of the magistrates court to look at those wider areas. I believe that the magistrates court's right to look at unspent convictions is covered adequately in other parts of the Bill, and I will write to the right hon. Gentleman with the details at a later stage if he wishes.
With that, I hope that the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) will consider withdrawing his amendment.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I am grateful for what the Minister has said. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 6, line 48, at end insert—'( ) If it appears to the court that there are such circumstances, it must in open court state what they are.'
To give the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) the credit that she is due—and which she seeks on every occasion—the amendment gives effect to amendment No. 5, tabled in Committee by the Opposition. As proposed by the right hon. Lady and agreed in Committee, the Government accept in principle that if the court does not impose a requirement of passport surrender when making a banning order, the court should state in open court the relevant exceptional circumstances. The amendment gives effect to that proposal, and I have no hesitation in commending it to the House.
§ Miss Widdecombe
I thank the Minister for those few kind words and for accepting the spirit of the amendment, which was important to us. One of the reasons why the Government have had to toughen up considerably on banning orders is that they have not been used by the courts as often as they might have been. We therefore strongly believe that it is only in exceptional circumstances that they should not be used, and that, where such exceptional circumstances are deemed to exist, we should have the full reasons.
Will the Minister please explain why our amendment No. 5 in Committee and his amendment No. 5 on Report differ so substantially as to make a significant difference? I am not sure that I see why, although the spirit of the hon. Gentleman's reaction is gratefully received.
§ Mr. Burns
I know that it is late and I hope that the House will forgive me, but I have a genuine concern. It is not about the intention of the amendment but about its 173 working and meaning. Perhaps the Minister will be able to explain and the answer will be very simple: unfortunately, I am not a lawyer.
The intention of section 5(3)(5A) of the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999 was to make the courts impose international banning orders on those convicted, unless, in the courts' mind, there were exceptional circumstances which meant that such an order should not be imposed. The court would have to give a reason, in open court, as to why it had not used the powers in the 1999 Act.
We have seen, in the evidence since September last year, that the courts have been reluctant to do that, so the Government have rightly decided to toughen up the provision. However, I do not understand how amendment No. 5 to proposed new section l 4E(3) would do anything different from what the 1999 Act provides, except that "shall" is used in the 1999 Act, whereas "must" is used in the Bill. I cannot believe that that is of paramount significance. We can tell the court that it must do something, but that is diluted by the rest of the Bill. If the court believes that there are exceptional circumstances not to do that thing, it will, as a result of the amendment, have to give reasons why, exceptionally, it is not using the powers.
What is the difference between the 1999 Act and the Bill? And, if there is little difference and no statutory duty on the courts to impose orders except in exceptional circumstances, how will the Government actually be tightening matters to ensure that banning orders on conviction of hooligans become the norm rather than the exception, as has been the experience under the 1999 Act?
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
First, on the point made by the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe), we are all in the hands of the parliamentary draftsmen, who said that our version was better because it was simpler, shorter and clearer than the otherwise excellent wording proposed by the right hon. Lady.
On the point made by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), what has happened so far has not been good enough, and we need to strengthen the provisions. "Must" is a stronger word than "shall", and our amendment, in response to the Opposition's wishes, will strengthen the powers further. We shall monitor matters and report to the House. This debate and the tighter legislation that has resulted give reason to believe that we shall achieve more rigorous adherence to what the house wants than the has been the case under existing provision. As with the rest of the Bill, however, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and we shall assess that at the appropriate time.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Order for Third Reading read.1.42 am
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
I am acutely aware of criticisms about the time taken to address the Bill and consider its various aspects. Let me return to what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said earlier—we have had a substantial and full discussion of the points of principle. Moreover, we have 174 sought, as the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) have acknowledged, to work in the most consensual way possible—for the practical reason that we wanted to get the Bill through both Houses as quickly as possible, and for the equally practical reason that the more consensus there is in the House, the easier it will be to put the Bill into effect.
Important judgments remain to be made. Ultimately, the important question is whether we are determined to do all in our power to stamp out the football hooliganism that has so disfigured our society. The Government are determined to do so, and to ensure that international and club games can take place in a more positive and constructive atmosphere than has existed until now. We are determined to carry the Bill through, and I hope that it receives the unanimous support of the House so that the other place may consider it in its entirety. I commend the Bill to the House.
§ Miss Widdecombe
After a fairly consensual approach, I hate to end our proceedings on a note of dissent: the procedures that have been inflicted on the House today—although not those debates that we have been allowed to hold—amounted to a farce.
We have tried to discuss the Bill responsibly. The Government obtained a Second Reading with no difficulty, in the same time that would have been taken if we had debated it on the Friday originally proposed by the Government. We have been in constant discussion with the Government about possible or agreed amendments. We have done all we could. All we wanted today was the opportunity to debate some major issues in Committee.
We wasted more than two hours discussing the ill-considered guillotine motion when we should have been discussing the Bill. As a result, half the amendments tabled in Committee were not debated. If we had been allowed to complete the Committee stage properly, it would not have been necessary to return to some matters on Report: we could have debated and voted on some important issues.
When the Bill was introduced, we made it clear that, if we were to support it at later stages, certain matters were extremely important to us—for example, the presence of magistrates in the ports. Today, we held an important discussion on magistrates warrants. We were not able to vote on that matter—not because there had been no debate, but because the guillotine fell at midnight and we had not yet reached that point in the order of consideration.
The same point pertained in another important discussion on magistrates in the ports. The debate was held, but we were not allowed to vote. We have not been able to amend the Bill to our satisfaction. What is even worse is that we did not even debate the amendment on the criminal standard of proof. That issue is central to the Bill. It came up tangentially in other discussions, but the amendment was not debated.
Against that background, we have made it clear throughout the Bill's proceedings that we will not obstruct its further consideration. We shall not obstruct sending it to another place. However, it goes there in a much less 175 satisfactory form than if there had been no guillotine today and if we had been allowed to co-operate as we have done all along.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
Does the right hon. Lady agree that the political divisions in the Conservative party are the main reason for today's guillotine? We saw those divisions on Second Reading, when Conservative Members voted against the right hon. Lady's lead. Moreover, certain Conservative Members have made a practice of disrupting the business of the House. It is the Opposition's failure to control their Back Benchers that has led to what occurred today—there are splits and divisions in the right hon. Lady's party, as she is aware.
§ Miss Widdecombe
That is utter tosh. The Minister is well aware that we made it clear through the usual channels that we did not expect any undue delay in tonight's proceedings and that we expected to conclude them at a reasonable hour—although certainly not by 10 pm, which would have been the effect of the original guillotine that the Government had the gall to table. We gave such assurances as we could in the circumstances, having talked to all the people who had difficulty with the Bill.
The Government had no grounds other than their own muddle and incompetence for tabling the guillotine motion. The hon. Gentleman should not say that it had anything to do with divisions in the Conservative party. There have been divisions over the Bill in the Labour party, too—a fact which the Minister persistently ignores. The Bill will receive quite a rough passage in the other place—and not only from the Opposition. Considerable disquiet will be expressed by Labour Members; they will not say that they want to curtail discussion of the measure because they fear dissension in one particular party. I am sorry that it has come to this, for the simple reason that, until the guillotine motion was tabled, we were proceeding in a spirit of co-operation. We could have had a sensible debate tonight and we could have reached and voted on the other issues. The Bill that is being sent to the other place would have been in better shape, and that would have been better for the Government had they wanted it to receive the quick passage through the other place which I suspect it is most unlikely to receive.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I note that three hours and 10 minutes remain to debate the Bill, but it may be for the convenience of the House to learn that I anticipate that we shall finish this debate in 10 minutes and not three hours.
§ Mr. Hughes
I know that other hon. Members wish to speak. I share the general view, as expressed by the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe), about the procedure that has been used. It is nonsense that Parliament has been asked to take all the Bill's stages in two days and, in particular, that in the past 12 hours we have taken its Committee and Report 176 stages and are debating its Third Reading with no chance to consult people between those stages. We have not been able to consult key people such as the police, the courts, the football authorities and the rest. The House has been asked to consider amendments on Report to a Bill that was not even before us simply because it had not been printed as amended in Committee. People who had not been here would not have been able to follow debate on the Bill that we were amending, and those of us who were here all day have found it difficult to follow the implications of each and every amendment.
It was not necessary to take all these stages today. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) said last Thursday, and as the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis) argued earlier, we could have held the Committee stage today and the remaining stages on Wednesday. The whole House could have participated and we would have completed the Bill in time for it to go to the other place. The Lords could have completed its consideration on separate days and that would have still left some days before the end of term. Not only was the guillotine motion bad practice, but it has probably resulted in bad legislation.
On the policy issues, we have always said that we wanted further legislation to deal with football hooliganism. We have always said that the problem was particularly an English one and that it was logical, because of the procedures that we use, to have a Bill that covered England and Wales. We have always said that we would support a Bill that would make international a domestic ban and that, in such cases, the courts could make it a requirement to surrender a passport.
However, we have also made two points very clear. We said that banning orders must have the precondition of a conviction. We moved an amendment to that effect on Report, but we were not able to carry the House with us even though Members from both the other main parties supported it. We also said that we were not willing at this stage—without testing for toughened legislation with further bans and further entitlements to remove passports—to intrude so much into the individual liberties of the citizen that we would introduce summary detention on the basis of a record that might not have involved a conviction or that might never involve a conviction. That would be a piece of legislation too far. We tested that proposition and, again, we had support from Members of both parties, but we were unable to carry that point in Committee.
It would be inconsistent of us to say that we were now happy with the Bill. Let me be honest with the Minister. If this were a single-Chamber Parliament, we would have the crude choice between voting against the Bill, knowing that we had no chance to improve it, and seeing no Bill on the statute book. This is not a single-Chamber Parliament and another Chamber will give the Bill significant consideration next week. We hope that it will pick up many of the unresolved issues that have been left from these debates.
It would be churlish of me not to acknowledge that the Government have moved their position and not to accept the co—operation that they have offered and that there has been between the three parties. That has improved the Bill, but it is still not a good Bill and, in some respects, it is still a dangerous Bill. The dangerous, extended 177 provisions, which my colleagues and I do not think are good law or good drafting and which are not justified, mean that we feel obliged to vote against Third Reading.
If the Bill is passed tonight and goes to the Lords, we hope that they will amend it and teach the Government that it will be better to have the Bill without the fourth provision than to have a badly drafted Bill with the fourth provision included against considerable opposition in this House and elsewhere. The Government have about nine days to think again; we hope that the other House will persuade them to do so.
§ Mr. Banks
It might be regrettable that the House has had to consider football hooliganism again today, but that does not mean that we are passing bad legislation.
The arguments that we have heard today have been well rehearsed over a long period. The 1989 legislation and the Act introduced by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) have contributed to the argument about how we deal with football hooliganism, and we have moved on stage by stage in a reaction against the behaviour of the minority of fans who still do so much to damage the game abroad.
My feeling is that this Bill will not be the last because, whatever the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) thinks, it would not be worth anything at all without the fourth provision. He shakes his head, but we will see who is right in the long term. We will probably have to revisit the subject in the House—so be it. We will have a chance to assess whether the Bill is effective. We must get it right, and the important point is that if we keep getting pushed by hooligans, we will keep pushing back.
We have had a short debate, but the arguments have been well heard and well rehearsed and we have answered them very well.
§ Mr. Burns
Like the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), I suspect that this will not be the last legislation on football hooliganism that a Government have to pass. I do not believe that legislation alone will solve the problem, but it is an important part of the equation in minimising hooliganism.
If one studies the record and considers the seven pieces of legislation since 1985, one realises that there has been a significant drop in incidents of hooliganism at domestic matches. As the Home Secretary said earlier, the problem has now shifted overseas with a vengeance. Last year, I introduced the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999, but was unable, as a private Member, to include the provision for a court to take away the passports of unconvicted football hooligans if it was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for believing that if those people travelled abroad, they would cause problems. As a result of that debate, that provision has been included, and the Bill will now move from this House to another place and hopefully become law before we rise for the summer recess.
It would have been perverse of me not to support the Government's proposals because I have been arguing for over 15 months for most, but not all, of the Bill's provisions. Some of them have built on my Act; some are 178 measures that I desperately wanted in my Act, but could not, as a private Member, achieve; and some are totally new. On Second Reading, I expressed concerns about some of those new provisions. I am not opposed to them in principle because, like the hon. Gentleman, I think that if we removed the fourth provision, we would gut the Bill, and that would mean that we would return to the House to deal with further legislation far sooner. I had some reservations about certain aspects, as did many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, but I am pleased that, as a result of the concerns that were expressed on both sides of the House on Second Reading on Thursday and—presumably—in discussions since then, the Government have proposed changes to build in greater safeguards. From a purely personal point of view, I am satisfied with those safeguards.
I genuinely hope that, when the Bill reaches the statute book, it provides the state with a significant weapon with which to deal with those people who have caused so much misery to so many other people and ruined the reputation of the game of football and enjoyment of it among innocent citizens of this country.
I conclude by saying what I said on Second Reading: of course the House has a proper duty to safeguard and protect the civil liberties of the minority, but there comes a time in the affairs of state when the civil liberties of the majority, which have been infringed for so long in this area, must be protected and strengthened so that they may also enjoy them free of fear, intimidation or violence.
§ 2 am
§ Mr. Corbyn
After 10 hours of debate, it is a little odd to call this Bill a rushed piece of legislation. However, although what happened in Charleroi and Brussels was appalling, as is the violence associated with England playing international games, the House ought to ask whether pushing a Bill through in two days on a ludicrous timetable is a sensible way to deal with the issue. Quite why the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) suddenly tabled an amendment so that we could talk until 5 am on Third Reading but curtailed debate in Committee by speaking for so long on the timetable motion beggars belief. One wonders about the Conservatives' intentions.
I hope that the Bill is significantly amended in the Lords because it is a very bad piece of legislation. There ought to be a great deal more examination of its long-term and very serious implications.
§ Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington)
Does my hon. Friend agree that, although everyone shares the shock and horror at the outrageous scenes in Charleroi in Belgium, legislation passed in a hurry on a wave of popular outrage is inevitably shoddy? Sadly, that may prove to be so with this Bill.
§ Mr. Corbyn
I agree with my hon. Friend because it is a serious issue to condemn—rightly, as everyone does—the violence associated with Euro 2000 and the abominable racism that surrounded much of the violence not just in Brussels and Charleroi but earlier in Copenhagen and at other events surrounding matches between Leeds and Galatasaray and Arsenal and Galatasaray. I was pleased 179 that the Home Secretary yesterday started to address the chauvinism, nationalism, racism and violence associated with so much of the trouble.
We must ask some serious questions. If other countries are capable of playing international football matches without their newspapers leading up to them as though it were the start of a war, perhaps we have some lessons to learn. Perhaps football commentators could say and do a little more, rather than merely reporting with glee that the England fans at the game were playing the music from "The Dam Busters", singing "Rule Britannia" and behaving as though Britain could never be defeated at anything—as if England suddenly became Britain at a football match. I welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has opened up that debate because it is high time that was done.
I still think that the Bill is dangerous and misguided. If anyone commits an offence at a football match—drunken behaviour, violent behaviour, racist violence or some other offence—there are laws to deal with such behaviour both in this country and in all the western European countries on which our debate has focused. It is only right that prosecutions should take place within the jurisdiction in which the offence is committed.
My objection to the Bill is that it gives a great deal of power to individual police officers, based on their own perception and on suspicions arising from evidence of what individuals may or may not have done abroad, to apprehend people, remove their passport and deny their right to travel. It might be said that no more is involved than those people missing a football match which they can watch on television—provided that they can afford to subscribe to Sky—but the reality is that it is a serious matter to give such powers to the police.
When I first entered Parliament, there was a campaign to get rid of the sus laws introduced in 1824, which gave the police the power to apprehend people on suspicion. The people whose behaviour in Brussels and elsewhere that we have discussed do not sound like especially nice people or people with whom one might have much sympathy, but I urge the House to think about the serious implications of giving such powers to the police outside any judicial process.
We must also ask the simple question, will the legislation work? It does not apply to the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland or Scotland, so there are obviously enormous loopholes. If trouble surrounds the England-France game in September—after the Bill has been pushed through both Houses of Parliament—what will we do then? Will we come back and give the police even more sweeping powers of arrest? Will we prevent people from travelling at all? Will we ban everyone from watching the games? There is a danger that the Bill will not work.
I recognise that the House will pass the legislation—both major parties are agreed on it and a majority of Members have been whipped to pass it. However, our experience of rushed legislation is that it is ineffective and inaccurate. Legislation passed in haste means that, at some point, we shall have to return to the subject and repeal parts of the legislation.
180 Finally, the statements made by Liberty and the Law Society suggest that the Bill is outwith the European convention on human rights. A case will end up before the European Court and I suspect that the British Government's position will prove untenable. We should remember that the civil liberties we want for ourselves should apply to everyone else. If we give powers to the police without considering the implications, we shall have done an extremely bad job in the House today.
§ 2.8 am
§ Mr. Lilley
On Second Reading, I expressed my fear that all five of the conditions that typically give rise to bad legislation prevailed in respect of the Bill and accounted for its poor quality. It has been carried through in undue haste; it was introduced after cries that "Something must be done, " even to influence events that take place outside our jurisdiction; it is the subject of Front-Bench collusion; it is driven by an orgy of sanctimonious vilification of an unpopular minority; and it will be carried through because the Government lack any firm commitment to the principles of liberty and individual freedom.
I am afraid that all those conditions still apply. The result is a Bill that, although somewhat improved, is not a great deal better than the one we started with, and certainly not a Bill that is good enough to command the support of the House. As for the process by which the measure has been considered, it is fair to say that it has been carried through with unnecessary haste. We have had time enough to see how bad the Bill is, but not time enough to make it better. Above all, we have not had time before Committee stage to seek advice and amendments from our constituents, interested parties and experts outside the House, and no time at all between Committee and Report. Indeed, nobody could table an amendment after Committee stage and before Report—we had to table them before the end of Committee stage. If they were tabled late, they were too late for consideration by the Speaker, so could not be included in the rather brief Report stage that we eventually had.
The Home Secretary gave a devastating indictment of his own case when he was at the Dispatch Box earlier and considered the question whether the Bill had been introduced with undue haste. First, he said that the ideas for such legislation had been around for months and people had had plenty of time to consider them. Then he said that no proposal such as that tabled by the Government today could have been conceived before the events at Charleroi. It was only those events that made us see the need for such a Bill.
So, far from there having been months to consider the proposal, it is only since the proposal arising out of the events at Charleroi was presented to the House a few days ago that there has been any opportunity for anyone to consider the issues on which we are legislating, allowing the House to give the police powers to arrest on suspicion, to detain, and to remove people's civil liberties, even though they have never committed a crime or been tried according to standards of criminal proof.
The Secretary of State went on to note that in his experience, proper consideration was never given to a set of proposals until concrete proposals had been published, which in the case of the Bill was not until last Thursday. 181 It is only since last Thursday that we have had an opportunity to spark off detailed consideration of the truly offensive nature of the proposals before the House.
As an example of how bad the legislation is, the central issue is whether we should remove people's right to travel and their passport only if they have been convicted in a court of law, or should we remove those rights on some lesser basis, if they have never been convicted of any crime?
That is the central issue, yet a few moments ago the Minister could not even tell us why, in the clause in which the courts are invited to consider relevant evidence as to whether someone has behaved in a way that means that he should not be allowed to have a passport and travel abroad to a foreign football match, the courts are invited to consider any decision of a court or tribunal outside the UK, but they are not invited to consider the decision—that is, the convictions—of a court within the UK.
The Home Secretary could not tell us why. He will write to me—very nice. After the Bill has been passed, we will know something about the central matter that we have debated for a few brief hours and on which the liberties of British citizens are to be taken away. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Bill did not need to tell the courts that they could take into account the decisions of British courts—they could take that for granted. However, the very next item on the list of factors that courts can take into account isany decision of a public authority, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.The courts can take into account decisions by public bodies that do not result in the conviction of a citizen, but we are not invited to take into account the convictions of courts.
That is how bad the legislation is. Ministers do not even know and cannot explain to us what it means. They could not explain in the final part of the Report stage whether the courts would have to be convinced of a standard of criminal proof, or merely of civil proof, whether a person had committed an offence of violence and disorder, or done something equivalent to an offence of violence and disorder. My right hon. and learned Friend the former Attorney-General thought—he was being helpful to the Government—that the Bill probably required a criminal standard of proof, but others, including the Front-Bench spokesman for the Liberal party, thought that only a civil standard of proof was required. That was what the Home Secretary himself had been suggesting up till now.
On the Bill's central issue, we do not know the standard of proof that will be required of the courts. Even now, the Minister cannot tell us that. In their heart of hearts, Labour Members believe at least as passionately as I do in the rights of the individual citizen, and they were elected on a manifesto to uphold the liberties of their constituents. Yet they will go blindly into the Lobby to vote for a Bill that will enable the police to arrest on suspicion someone who might have committed an offence, which may not be a criminal offence, and will not have to be proved to the standard of criminal proof. Are they happy that the Bill will be passed? Are not they relieved that we have a second Chamber, which will—I hope—turf it out or alter it before it returns here and give them a chance to reconsider before their Front-Bench Members get them into real trouble?
182 The measure will be operational by the autumn. Hon. Members will witness innocent people being caught by the Bill. Some doubt that, and believe that the Bill will not affect too many innocent people. I prefer to proceed on a basis of legislative certainty rather than hope. The third factor that leads to bad law is legislating on the cry that something must be done, especially about events overseas. The Home Secretary said that the measure could not have been foreseen, and that it was provoked by the events that took place in Charleroi when 965 British citizens were arrested. Only one was charged and convicted. However, the Home Secretary said that they were obviously a bad lot because 40 per cent. had criminal convictions, many of which, as the right hon. Gentleman helpfully showed the House, were for violence and disorder offences. Many of them are, therefore, bad lots.
The essence of our debate is deciding whether we should, as is right and proper, deprive people who have committed an offence and been convicted in a court of violence and disorder, of the right to travel to football matches and remove their passports, or whether we should extend the power to cover people who have never been convicted of an offence. If we are considering stopping only the 40 per cent. of the 965 people from travelling abroad, we do not need extra powers such as the fourth power for which the Bill provides. We could do everything on the basis of those who had been convicted. As the Home Secretary said, a large minority had been convicted.
The Bill invites us to go far beyond considering whether people have convictions from United Kingdom courts and to consider whether they have been arrested and expelled from countries such as Belgium, and whether they are part of the 60 per cent. who had no convictions. The Bill provides for the courts to take into account the fact that people have been arrested and expelled from abroad even though they have never been charged with or convicted of any offence abroad or at home. Under the Bill, those people can be deprived of their passports.
The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) assured me, during a friendly debate that we had on television at midnight, that the Home Secretary had assured him about the innocent ones at Charleroi—among whom he nearly found himself because he was there, but, happily, was not in the square and was not rounded up. The hon. Gentleman is patently innocent—a vegetarian, teetotal Scot—who is therefore incapable of wrongdoing. However, if he had been in the square, he might have been caught up, arrested and expelled. He assured me that the Home Secretary assured him that the names of people who were expelled but had no convictions against them would not be made available to the courts.
I ask the Minister, who is covering his eyes to help him better to concentrate on my words, to say whether the rest of the House can have a similar assurance that the details of those who were expelled from Charleroi despite having no convictions against them in English courts—indeed, they had no convictions against them in Belgian courts, nor were any charges made under Belgian law—will not be given to the courts should a policeman stop them, detain them, take them to a magistrate and seek to prove that they are the sort of people who might get involved in trouble abroad. I hope that he will make that clear; he had better do so if the debate is to be meaningful.
183 The fourth aspect that gives rise to bad legislation is collusion between Front Benchers, which is often used to curtail debate. The Minister himself said that he had curtailed the debate only because he saw opposition coming from the Conservative Back Benches. Had Conservative Front Benchers been able to prevent that opposition, he would have allowed full debate. Ministers subscribe to the wonderful doctrine that there will be full debate on a Bill only if there is no opposition to it or if those on the two Front Benches have conspired to curtail or prevent opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] If the Labour Members who have taken no part in these brief proceedings and who want to curtail the rights of their constituents would care to tell me their constituencies, I shall read them into the record so that their constituents will know how lightly and trivially they take citizens' rights. [Interruption.] The more they go on, the longer I shall go on pointing out what is wrong with the measure—until 5 o'clock if need be, with your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and as long as that is in order. This serious matter deserves serious consideration, but otherwise I do not intend to prolong the debate unnecessarily.
The fifth aspect that gives rise to bad legislation is a sanctimonious orgy of vilification of a currently unpopular minority. Hooligans, thugs, racists and drunks are unpopular, and rightly so. We are all happy to see legislation introduced that bears exclusively on those who commit crimes so that they can be brought to court and properly and duly convicted. What worries Conservative Members is that innocent football fans are likely to be caught up by these measures. Some will be suspected by a constable because of their demeanour or behaviour in front of him, which is what the original draft of the Bill said. They will be taken to court and deprived their liberty on a standard of proof less than that required to convict them of any crime, even though they may have done something that may not be a crime according to the Bill.
We know why the Government are happy to risk a lot of perfectly innocent young working class white males getting caught up with the thugs, whom we would all like to be caught by the law. That is part of the new Labour strategy. The Government can take the working class for granted, but they have to pander to middle class susceptibilities. The Prime Minister's memo made it clear that he wanted dramatic measures—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin)
Order. The right hon. Gentleman will know that he must talk about the content of the Bill. He must not go into matters relating—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman should remain in his seat when I am standing. He cannot go into what happened in Downing street today or the other day. That is not in the Bill.
§ Mr. Lilley
Obviously I abide by your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was endeavouring to explain why this is such a bad Bill and its origins in the memo leaked to the newspapers today. The memo called for precisely 184 such a Bill and said that tough measures were needed to deal not with a real problem, but with the Labour party being perceived as weak on crime and crime that affects the middle classes. However, I shall not elaborate for fear of incurring your displeasure.
The final aspect of bad legislation—a Government's lack of firm commitment to any principles—prevailed in this example. The Government have made a principle of not having principles, and have admitted that this measure will curtail the rights of innocent as well as guilty people. It will affect the innocent, and it will abrogate the normal assumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty. It requires a lower level of proof than that normally required. It is retrospective in some respects, and has an element of double jeopardy. It may infringe the human rights convention. It possibly curtails the rights of free movement under European law.
At no point was the principle brought to bear that says beyond this no sensible Government ought to go, because alas the Government put spin above substance. They put the desire for a soundbite and for a measure that bites above real measures that properly target only the guilty and protect the rights of the innocent. I for one shall not support the Bill.
§ Dr. Lynne Jones
People across the length and breadth of the country who have campaigned for the past three years for the introduction of worthy legislation will be amazed that the Government have been prepared to rush this Bill through the House simply because an international football match is being held in September, and a friendly game at that.
Hon. Members arrived at the House today not having seen the amendments that were to be debated during our consideration of the Bill. A guillotine was imposed between the Committee stage and Report. Such a procedure is unacceptable, and I am surprised that the Government were prepared to abuse the procedures of the House in that way. I have no problems with the use of the guillotine, but to use it to ensure that there is no opportunity for the House to take stock of the debate in Committee before moving on to Report is unbelievable.
I support many of the provisions in the Bill. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) that the most important part of the Bill is the fourth pillar—the ability for police officers to detain people at ports simply because they have suspicions that they may have participated in violence or disorder. When I queried that, I had no answer to my question about the grounds on which a police officer may have such suspicions. As it has been ruled out that those grounds could relate to the appearance, clothing or demeanour of the individual, one has to assume that they must relate to some intelligence or information about the past behaviour of the individual concerned. If that information is available, why could not other powers that are provided in the Bill be used to take that individual through the courts and to ban him from participating in overseas football matches? I disagree entirely with my hon. Friend. I believe that measures in the Bill could ensure that if there is appropriate evidence or information that people would be likely to cause violence, their cases could be taken to the courts.
185 I cannot support the Bill as it stands. I hope that amendments in the other place will mean that when it comes back to this House it is in a much better state than when it leaves.
§ Mr. Jim Murphy (Eastwood)
I listened with interest to the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley). I cannot help feeling that some of his frustration is explained by the fact that he may hope to travel to France this summer, as I understand that he has a house there.
I wish to refer to the summary measures and the fact that the Bill does not apply to non-UK residents living in the UK. There are approximately 2.5 million non-British residents living in the UK, many of whom are passionate football supporters. I am not alleging that there is a disproportionate criminal element among them, but I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to keep the issue under review, as this is a potential loophole.
§ Mr. Chope
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) who makes the case for a UK Parliament—a Parliament in which we can discuss all at once football hooliganism as it affects Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, the Bill is confined to England and Wales. Despite that, it will be voted upon by right hon. and hon. Members from all four parts of the UK. That must cause concern.
I cannot support the Bill, for the same reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley), and because of some of the arguments from Labour Members. One of the advantages of voting on the Bill is that I have had the opportunity of speaking to people such as the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn).
The Bill combines the worst elements of gesture politics and rushed emergency legislation. That was encapsulated by the Minister's earlier remark that the Government were determined to do all in their power to stamp out football hooliganism. If that is how he feels, why does he not say exactly the same thing about stamping out the truly terrifying increase in violent crime in London, as announced today by the Government? If he had the same approach to violent crime as he says he has to football hooliganism, we might have expected a knee-jerk reaction and instant legislation to reintroduce the sus laws, to change the advice on Macpherson and so on.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. In a Third Reading debate, hon. Members must speak about the Bill and not other matters.
§ Mr. Chope
Absolutely, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
The reason why the Government are concentrating on this Bill is because they think it is a soft target and a diversionary tactic that enables them to avoid the much more serious issues. My constituents will think that the Bill demonstrates the Government's failure to grasp the real priorities. My constituents are interested in dealing with hooliganism, but they are much more concerned about hooliganism at home than abroad. They want to 186 make sure that the anti-social behaviour orders brought in by the Government can be implemented. I am told that it costs £20,000 per order.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying again. Even though we are into the early hours of the morning, I am still sharp enough to notice that.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. [Interruption.] Let the Deputy Speaker deal with the matter. This is a Third Reading debate. I am bound by the rules of the House. The hon. Gentleman must not talk about anything other than the Bill. He will have another opportunity at some other time to speak about these matters.
§ Mr. Chope
I am against the Bill because it introduces infringements of liberty that are not justified by the mischief that the Government have described. They said that the mischief involves about 900 people who were arrested on the continent during the recent international football season. That represents fewer than two people per constituency. The Bill is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and a total overreaction by the Government, who have wasted valuable parliamentary time that could have been better used to deal with other priorities affecting people and their liberties.
§ Mr. Hawkins
The Minister must respond to some important questions as the Bill proceeds to another place. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) drew attention to some of the continuing issues relating to national boundaries and nationality. The Minister and the Home Secretary have been pretty co-operative in responding to and accepting amendments. I hope that the Minister recognises that there are still substantial concerns among both Opposition and Government Members. Those concerns will be reinforced in the debates in another place.
In particular, I hope that the Minister will confirm that he continues to keep under review what we may call the national borders loophole—the fact that, even if all the powers become law in more or less their current form, it will still be possible for people to go to Scotland or Northern Ireland in order to try to evade what the Government suggest will be a tough new law.
We welcome the fact that the Government have accepted the idea of sunset clauses. It was suggested earlier that there should be a shorter period before the legislation is reviewed, and we were grateful that the Home Secretary and the Minister agreed to keep under review the period after which it will be further considered.
The Minister said that the Government's report on the legislation would deal with the costs, but I think that he will concede that the costs set out in the explanatory notes will already have increased as a result of amendments that the Government have tabled or accepted. Will further explanatory notes be provided before the Bill goes to another place, updating the estimate of what the costs will be?
187 As my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) said, the guillotine was entirely inappropriate and unjustified. Because of it, some matters were either never discussed or not voted on. Amendment No. 1 on Report was not selected for debate and, more significantly, we debated amendment No. 10 in Committee but were not able to vote on it. With the benefit of hindsight, the Minister may recognise that the Government were very unwise indeed to impose a guillotine.
To correct a misunderstanding that cropped up on Third Reading, it was the Government's original intention to try to curtail debate at 10 pm, and it was only because they accepted an Opposition amendment to the guillotine motion that we were able to continue until midnight in Committee and could have gone to 5 am to complete Report and Third Reading. My right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald was right to say that the proceedings today have been something of a farce. The Government suggest that, through the Modernisation Committee, they will introduce changes to the procedure that will mean that all debate must end at 10 pm every night. However, they also said that they needed to rush this Bill through, and that meant that the House sat into the night last Thursday and tonight. That is indecent haste.
Finally, I shall deal with some points raised by other speakers. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) raised his fervent concerns and said that the Government were providing only crude choices. That will be a grave worry for the House of Lords.
The hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) said that he was worried that this would not be the final Bill on this matter. He may be right, and the House of Lords will have concerns about that.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) spoke of the valuable work in his private Member's Bill, but he also mentioned the importance of protecting the law-abiding football fan. I am sure that he is right.
The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) misunderstood the fact that it was the Opposition who tabled the amendment to the original timetable motion and who therefore gave us a few more hours for debate. However, his contribution reinforced the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald that there is opposition to the Bill among Labour Members. That was also made clear by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Dr. Jones). The hon. Member for Islington, North made it clear that he considered that the Government were introducing the sus laws, or even "sus plus".
My right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) pointed out that the background to the Bill lies in the Prime Minister's memo. He also drew attention to some of the issues that the Government have not yet resolved, and which no doubt will be raised again in another place. He also pointed out the dangers to innocent football fans of bad legislation. 188 The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) referred to the important position of non-British citizens resident in the UK, and he asked the Minister to deal with that point, which has not yet been addressed. It is clear that problems remain.
The Opposition made it clear that we would not stand in the way of a Bill that dealt properly with the issues relating to football hooliganism. We have kept that promise, and we have even managed to bring the debate to a conclusion a fraction earlier than the Government's revised and amended timetable motion set out. However, substantial concerns remain. Even before we saw the first draft Bill or its revision, we said that the measure had to receive proper parliamentary scrutiny. I have no doubt that that scrutiny will continue in another place.
We shall not stand in the way of the Bill proceeding to another place, but we think that a great deal of work remains to be done.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
Almost all the issues raised in this Third Reading debate were dealt with earlier, so I shall not speak to them in detail.
My hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) asked about UK citizens. We considered extending the Bill to citizens of all countries, but the complications involved persuaded us to go for the simplest option.
I think that the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) acknowledged that amendment No. 10 was not drafted perfectly, for reasons of which I have no criticism. However, she will also accept that we stated that we would try to take into account in later amendments the principles that she established in amendment No. 10.
The review process has been set out clearly. I do not accept the contention that there will necessarily be an increase in costs as a result of the amendments that we have accepted, but I shall monitor the matter carefully.
Questions were raised about the guillotine. I am advised that the Government's original proposal was for a seven-hour debate, which would have ended after 10 pm. However, we were happy to accept the Opposition amendment on that matter.
Points have been raised about the procedure, but I can tell Liberal Democrat Members that the House of Commons is the primary Chamber in our parliamentary system. They should accept that the law of the land is made in this House, and not take a provisional view, based on amendments that may be passed in another place.
It is not surprising, given the speeches of the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) and the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) that the official policy of the Conservative party has been to abstain on the Bill. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) said a number of times that the Conservatives would not stand in the way of the Bill. In the words of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), the Leader of the Opposition, the Conservative party would give the Billour full support and co-operation in Parliament …Full support and co-operation is different from not standing in the way. The official Opposition are abstaining on the matter because they have no unity within their party, and a 189 decision to vote for the Bill, as the right hon. Lady would have wished, would, not have commanded the support of Conservative Members.
§ Question put, that the Bill be now read the Third time:—
§ The House divides: Ayes 171, Noes 42190
|Division No. 274]||[2.45 am|
|Ainger, Nick||Gibson, Dr Ian|
|Alexander, Douglas||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Allen, Graham||Godsiff, Roger|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Goggins, Paul|
|Banks, Tony||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Barron, Kevin||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Battle, John||Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)|
|Beard, Nigel||Grogan, John|
|Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)||Hain, Peter|
|Best, Harold||Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)|
|Blackman, Liz||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|Blizzard, Bob||Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet|
|Boateng, Rt Hon Paul||Healey, John|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Heppell, John|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Hesford, Stephen|
|Browne, Desmond||Hoey, Kate|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Home Robertson, John|
|Burden, Richard||Hope, Phil|
|Burgon, Colin||Howarth, Alan (Newport E)|
|Burns, Simon||Hoyle, Lindsay|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Caborn, Rt Hon Richard||Humble, Mrs Joan|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Hurst, Alan|
|Cann, Jamie||Hutton, John|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Iddon, Dr Brian|
|Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)||Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Jamieson, David|
|Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)||Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)|
|Clelland, David||Kemp, Fraser|
|Coaker, Vernon||Kidney, David|
|Cohen, Harry||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Colman, Tony||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Connarty, Michael||Kumar, Dr Ashok|
|Corston, Jean||Ladyman, Dr Stephen|
|Cousins, Jim||Lammy, David|
|Cox, Tom||Lepper, David|
|Cranston, Ross||Levitt, Tom|
|Crausby, David||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)||Love, Andrew|
|Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Darvill, Keith||McGuire, Mrs Anne|
|Davidson, Ian||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)||McNulty, Tony|
|Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)||MacShane, Denis|
|Dawson, Hilton||McWalter, Tony|
|Dismore, Andrew||McWilliam, John|
|Dowd, Jim||Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)|
|Drew, David||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)||Martlew, Eric|
|Edwards, Huw||Meale, Alan|
|Efford, Clive||Michael, Rt Hon Alun|
|Ellman, Mrs Louise||Miller, Andrew|
|Fitzpatrick, Jim||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Flint, Caroline||Mountford, Kali|
|Follett, Barbara||Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)|
|Foster, Michael J (Worcester)||Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|Olner, Bill||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Palmer, Dr Nick||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Pickthall, Colin||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Pound, Stephen||Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Prosser, Gwyn||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Quinn, Lawrie||Tipping, Paddy|
|Rapson, Syd||Todd, Mark|
|Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)||Truswell, Paul|
|Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Rowlands, Ted||Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Roy, Frank||Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|Ryan, Ms Joan||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Sarwar, Mohammad||Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Savidge, Malcolm||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Sawford, Phil||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Shaw, Jonathan||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Smith, Angela (Basildon)||Ward, Ms Claire|
|Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)||Watts, David|
|Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Smith, John (Glamorgan)||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Soley, Clive||Woolas, Phil|
|Squire, Ms Rachel||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Steinberg, Gerry||Wright, Tony (Cannock)|
|Stewart, David (Inverness E)||Wyatt, Derek|
|Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Stinchcombe, Paul||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Stringer, Graham||Mr. Robert Ainsworth and|
|Sutcliffe, Gerry||Mr. Clive Betts.|
|Allan, Richard||Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)|
|Baker, Norman||Keetch, Paul|
|Ballard, Jackie||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Beith, Rt HonA J||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||McDonnell, John|
|Brake, Tom||Marshall-Andrews, Robert|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Moore, Michael|
|Breed, Colin||Oaten, Mark|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Öpik, Lembit|
|Burnett, John||Rendel, David|
|Burstow, Paul||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|Chidgey, David||Sanders, Adrian|
|Chope, Christopher||Stunell, Andrew|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Cotter, Brian||Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Tonge, Dr Jenny|
|Fearn, Ronnie||Tyler, Paul|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Webb, Steve|
|George, Andrew (St Ives)||Willis, Phil|
|Hancock, Mike||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Harvey, Nick||Sir Robert Smith and|
|Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)||Mr. Donald Gorrie.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to. Bill
§ read the Third time, and passed.