§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)
I beg to move amendment No. 20, page 1, leave out lines 17 to 20.
§ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael J. Martin)
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: amendment No. 21, in schedule 1, page 9, line 4, leave out from beginning to end of line 21 on page 10.
Amendment No. 28, in schedule 1, page 9, leave out lines 5 to 19.
Government amendment No. 42.
Amendment No. 7, in schedule 1, page 9, line 8, leave out—'If it appears to a constable in uniform'and insert—If a constable in uniform has reasonable grounds to believe'.Amendment No. 6, in schedule 1, page 9, line 9, after "him", insert—'(being behaviour which the constable has reasonable grounds to believe constitutes a criminal offence under the law of England and Wales)'.Amendment No. 33, in schedule 1, page 9, line 14, leave out—'until he has decided whether or not'and insert—'for such time as is reasonably necessary for him to ascertain whether or not it is necessary'.Amendment No. 36, in schedule 1, page 9, line 15, at end insert—'if authorised to do so by an officer of at least the rank of superintendent'.Amendment No. 37, in schedule 1, page 9, line 15, at end insert—'and shall give the person his reasons for detaining him in writing.'.Government amendment No. 43.
Amendment No. 38, in schedule 1, page 9, line 19, leave out "24 hours" and insert "12 hours".
Amendment No. 34, in schedule 1, page 9, line 19, at end insert—'; and the grounds for, and continued necessity of, such detention shall be reviewed by an officer of at least the rank of superintendent every three hours, and by a chief officer of police after 12 hours.'.76 Amendment No. 35, in schedule 1, page 9, line 19, at end insert—'(5) No person shall be detained under subsection (3) above more than once in any period of 48 hours, nor shall any person be subject to detention under subsection (3) above for a total period of more than 24 hours within any one period of seven days.'.Government amendment No. 44.
Amendment No. 8, in schedule 1, page 9, line 20, leave out—'If it appears to a constable in uniform'and insert—'If a constable in uniform has reasonable grounds to believe'.Amendment No. 9, in schedule 1, page 9, line 23, leave out—'an officer of at least the rank of inspector'and insert "a magistrate's warrant".
Amendment No. 11, in schedule 1, page 9, line 24, leave out "inspector" and insert "superintendent".
Government amendments Nos. 45 and 46.
Amendment No. 39, in schedule 1, page 10, line 21, at end insert—'21D—Where a person, having been detained under section 21A(3) or having been issued with a notice under section 21B(2), appears before a magistrates' court as respondent to a complaint for the making of a banning order, and the complaint is dismissed, the court may on the application of the respondent order that the appropriate chief officer of police shall pay to the respondent such sum as, in the opinion of the court, is justified to compensate the respondent for any costs incurred as a result of any delay in, or cancellation of, a journey being undertaken by the respondent when he was detained under section 21A(3) or issued with a notice under section 2IB(2), as the case may be.'.
§ Mr. Hughes
I shall speak specifically to amendment No. 21. As a warm-up, may I point out to the Committee that at 6.52 pm we are beginning the first of 17 scheduled debates, all of which must be finished by midnight? If ever there was a nonsense, this is it. The first group contains 20 of the 46 amendments, including one significant amendment tabled by the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell), the former Attorney-General; 11 amendments tabled by right hon. and hon. Members on the Conservative Front Bench, all of which relate to important issues; two amendments tabled by my hon. Friends and me; and five Government amendments, tabled on Friday to a Bill that the Government published on Thursday.
A Government change of mind is sometimes welcome, but one does not usually see such a speedy transition in legislation—[Interruption.] In case the Hansard writers did not hear the sedentary comment, I shall repeat it, as it deserves recognition: new Labour, new amendment. One might add new Labour, new tough measure every new day. Nevertheless, all the amendments are a move in the right direction.
The debate takes us immediately to what the Home Secretary called in the previous debate the core and important new proposal in the Bill, not floated before, not discussed before, not trailed before: Parliament is asked to agree to a new form of summary detention, whereby people can be stopped when they fulfil certain conditions. At the end of the debate, I shall ask the Committee to agree to the two things that we can do to take out that proposal and start again.
77 There are two parts to the proposal—a trailer in clause 1(1)(d), which my hon. Friends and I seek to delete, and the substantive matter, which appears in schedule 1, paragraph 4, under the heading "Summary measures: detention", the first part of which the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire has also proposed we should delete. He goes part of the way towards what we seek to do, but we believe that it is better to start again.
I pray in aid, because it is so supportive, the editorial in The Guardian on Saturday, which appeared after my hon. Friends and I had held our discussion. It was entitled:MPs play a blinder but hooligan bill should go to extra time.Having agreed that three bits of the law need to be changed—which is the view taken by my hon. Friends and I and many other members of the Committee—the editorial continues:But more important, are two issues of civil rights.Government Ministers must be more specific in the bill about the conditions under which people can be banned for behaviour which falls short of criminal actions. It is far too vaguely worded at present ("there are reasonable grounds for believing that a banning order would help prevent football-related violence or disorder"). Second—this is the matter that we are debating—the trigger which allows a police officer to arrest and detain someone for up to 24 hours, simply on the basis that their behaviour is such that immediate inquiries should be made—that is the only justification required—must be totally rewritten.My hon. Friends and I agree. We formed that view last week. We would end up with a nonsense, badly drafted and still arguably inconsistent, even if we carried all the good amendments on the amendment paper. We ask the Committee to send to Report stage and on to the other place a Bill without that provision, so that the other place can start again and try to get some decent drafting, with a decent proposal that commands the support of Parliament.
As a result of debates in recent days, the proposal has been shown to be bad law. I refer not so much to the enabling provision in clause 1 as to the substantive provision in the schedule. I shall try to persuade the Committee of why those parts of the Bill should go.
The Bill breaks down the procedure as follows: a constable in uniform does not believe that the behaviour of the person in front of him is a criminal offence or even that the person is violent. All that is necessary is that the person's behaviour makes the constable decide that immediate inquiries should be made as to whether various conditions, which appear elsewhere in the Bill, are met.
The conditions that must be met are, first, that the person in front of the police officer at Dover, Newhaven or any other port or airport has at any time, whether before or after this Bill becomes law, caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere—in other words, the issue is whether the person has, at any time, anywhere in the world, done anything that may or may not have been a criminal offence, and which has caused or contributed to violence or disorder. That is the trigger, and the police officer has only to decide whether the behaviour of the person in front of him makes him want to make inquiries as to whether that is the case.
I have described the first trigger. The police officer then has to decide that he or she will detain somebody, potentially for 24 hours. During that 24 hours, the police 78 have to decide whether to serve a notice, for which they have to see a senior officer. The notice states that the person who has been detained must appear before a magistrates court, cannot leave England or Wales and may have to surrender a passport. If the police believe that the person will disappear before the notice is served, they can make an arrest. They therefore have the power to detain, arrest, hold, consider for 24 hours and go to a magistrates court.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, for precisely the reasons that he has outlined, the police should be required to take the person to an immediate magistrates court hearing? They would then know that their tackle was in order and that there were substantial reasons for preventing the person from leaving the country.
§ 7 pm
§ Mr. Hughes
I agree with that. [Interruption.] It is worth repeating the sedentary comment that whether their tackle is in order is not the first question that the police should ask themselves. If it has been a long night and a hard day, that might be a relevant question. We could speculate on that; it might enliven an otherwise tedious and difficult shift.
Let me paraphrase the suggestion of the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh). The right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) has tabled an amendment which proposes that there should be a magistrates court or sitting wherever a person can be detained. Although that is a good idea in theory, my hon. Friends and I believe that it is not a good idea in practice, given that the Government are closing magistrates courts throughout the country. We would end up with no magistrates courts apart from those at every airport and seaport, and any other point of departure abroad for a football hooligan. That is probably not a good idea.
Our view, which I hope that the hon. Member for Gainsborough—who is so competent in such matters—shares, is that the person should be taken to a court as soon as possible. Courts, magistrates and judges can sit during the evening or the night, especially if they are alerted. To be fair to Conservative Members, they have tabled another amendment which would provide for a warrant to be issued to begin the process. Like Conservative Members, we believe that if we are going to start taking liberties away from people, it should be done on good, independent authority. If the police wanted to raid the house of the hon. Member for Gainsborough or that of the Home Secretary, we would expect them to go a magistrate to get a warrant to do that. I accept that judicial, not administrative, authority should be required for the process that we are discussing.
The whole procedure breaks down into two stages. The first can be described as, "I'll think about it, with nothing to go on other than behaviour." How are police officers meant to judge behaviour? We debated that at length on Thursday. What constitutes behaviour? Does wearing a shirt with colourful language printed on it constitute had behaviour? Does being rowdy, or with others who are rowdy, or saying nothing when asked a question, constitute bad behaviour? The Bill does not answer those questions. It is merciful that the Government have had second thoughts about some proposals.
§ Mr. Mike Hancock (Portsmouth, South)
If a person who was stopped by the police said, "I've decided not to 79 go abroad; I want to go home", would the person's desire to leave constitute a breach, which would be an arrestable offence because the man was resisting the policeman's attempt to detain him against his wishes?
§ Mr. Hughes
Yes. I am not being arrogant, but I have been here for a ridiculous number of years—more than 17—and I honestly do not believe that we have considered more nonsensical drafting than that for this Bill. If people detained under the power that we are considering resisted detention, they would be committing an offence for which they could be arrested and then charged, even though the police officer was not satisfied that they had behaved violently, or reached a conclusion about whether they might behave violently. Prospective criminality can thus be created because someone says, "Excuse me, I've given up. I was going shopping abroad by taking a coach with mates who were going to the match, but I'm actually going to go home because I don't want the hassle." That is nonsense.
As well as nonsense, there is huge uncertainty in the Bill. With every day that passes, people realise what nonsense the original Bill was. More and more drafting and other changes have improved it. That suggests that there is something wrong—or that it is business as usual—in the Home Office. Producing a Bill that contains so many flaws is hardly acceptable. However, the next unanswered question is where the detention can happen. It is not obvious to me that it must happen at a port or any embarkation point. It could happen at the gates of Fratton park, Old Trafford, Roker park, St. James' park, Anfield or any football club in the country.
§ Mr. Hughes
My hon. Friend is much more knowledgeable than me. I was about to end with the great denouement that one could be detained outside the New Den, off the Old Kent road. It may be sufficient to stop people outside those football grounds. There is a question about where the power can apply.
§ Ms Claire Ward (Watford)
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the Bill has to be drafted sufficiently widely to stop an individual on his way to ports as well as at ports? The relevant person could be on the Heathrow express; police officers at Victoria station therefore need powers to detain.
§ Mr. Hughes
I believe that the Bill allows anyone to be stopped anywhere. If the hon. Lady came out of her house behaving madly, badly or oddly—
§ Mr. Hughes
I have never seen such behaviour from her, so I am not in a position to comment. She could leave her house early in the morning or late at night and risk being nicked. She supported the Bill on Thursday; I hope that mature reflection over the weekend means that she is a little less able to support it without significant amendment.
80 A person could be stopped anywhere—on the Heathrow express, at a railway station, on the road to the railway station or in the coach park on the way. We did not originally believe that we were legislating for that.
As the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) said very effectively on Thursday, the proposal affects a series of important constitutional points. Detention on the say-so of a police officer, without any previous charge or conviction, could lead to a further loss of liberty, to being taken to court and receiving a banning order—not on the ground of beyond reasonable doubt, but on the balance of probabilities. That could remove further liberties for up to 10 years, the breach of which could make a person liable for imprisonment for several years. That could happen to someone who has no previous conviction at home or abroad, for something that was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. The House must consider carefully whether it wants to go down that road. The whole process could be triggered by a police officer's view of someone's behaviour or words.
It is absolutely certain that we need to amend the Bill. Steps have already been taken to allow us to move in the right direction. The hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) is present. My hon. Friends have tried to emphasise that we are considering a point about liberty that is as important as several other points that have taken up much of the House's time when we understood the significance of our actions.
The Terrorism Bill and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill included proposals that shifted the burden of proof. They have taken much time in both Houses because both have said no to that proposal, and the Government have altered the definition to make it clear. There has been opposition in both Houses to the proposal that the right to jury trial can be taken away. The other House threw out that proposal and this House will give it a hard ride when the measure returns from the other place. Those constitutional proposals about the criminal justice system are no more or less important than determining when and on what basis people can be detained, arrested and charged. The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) has made a point about the basis on which an unconvicted free citizen can be given a criminal record.
I ask the Committee to throw out clause 1(1)(d) and paragraph 4 of schedule 1 for the reasons alluded to earlier. We work on the assumption that, constitutionally, people are allowed freedom of movement in the country. Freedom of movement between the countries of the European Union is part of the treaty of Rome. People are entitled to move by virtue of their passports, unless good reason is shown to stop them doing so because there is a challenge to the state as well as to the citizen. We should ensure that no legislation reduces any of those rights without its being clear and precise. On the point made by the hon. Member for Gainsborough, any such legislation must include provisions for judicial review at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Committee should consider amendments Nos. 20 and 21 and decide that the best way to proceed is not to tinker with the summary detention power as drafted, but to remove it and start again. I shall give two reasons why those provisions are so ridiculous, and I choose that word advisedly. Proposed new section 21B, which will be inserted into the Football Spectators Act 1989, includes several different tests that must be passed before police officers can act. The constable involved will be asked to 81 judge whether it appears to him that someone's behaviour should trigger certain action. He will be asked to consider whether it appears that the person has met the condition that he has a pedigree of trouble in the past. However, unusually in legislation, proposed new section 21B(2) states:The constable may give the person a notice in writing requiring him…to appear before a magistrates' court…and giving the constable's reasons for thinking that the condition is met.I do not know about other colleagues, but rarely, if ever, have I seen the phrasegiving the constable's reasons for thinkingincluded in legislation. Normally, phrases such as "reasonable belief" or "reasonable suspicion" are used to provide a test of reasonableness. Something more than the fact that a little thought has popped in and perhaps out of a constable's mind is necessary.
The Government and the draftspeople have mercifully realised that another odd proposal must go. Suddenly, as if from the heavens, proposed new section 21B(6) states:A person may not be arrested under subsection (5) … after he has appeared before the magistrates' court.Does that mean that he cannot be arrested ever again for anything in any part of the country? That cannot be the intention. That is the second example of the nonsense in the Bill, and it is why we should not pass such legislation.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell (North-East Bedfordshire)
I believe that that provision will be deleted under Government amendment No. 46, but does not that raise the further issue of whether someone can be immediately rearrested on another allegation?
§ Mr. Hughes
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is correct that the provision will be deleted under Government amendment No. 46, but that does not answer his question. It is not clear whether people could be detained under the provision and miss the ferries, planes, trains or coaches that would have taken them to whichever match they wanted to attend, effectively vitiating the purpose of the journey. Even if police officers then decide, in whatever time is allowed to make such a decision, that it was wrong to stop those people and that they should be let go, they could decide to rearrest them because of new information, a hunch, a new idea or speculation. That would be nonsense, and we should not have such legislation.
I am conscious of the time, so I shall deal with the other amendments in the group. I have dealt with amendment No. 28, tabled by the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire.
§ Mr. Hancock
Before my hon. Friend moves on, can he explain what he understands to be the position of someone who has been detained, but is released by the police before the magistrates court hearing? Will that person be entitled to ask the policeman to put in writing the reasons why he was originally detained and to ask the arresting officer to put in writing the reasons why the case has not been pursued? If not, why not?
§ Mr. Hughes
The answer to my hon. Friend's perfectly good question is no. The Bill does not require the person who is stopped to be given notice in writing. That 82 requirement would be added under an amendment. Certainly, it is proposed that people should be given the reasons for their detention within 24 hours, but they would not necessarily know those reasons at the outset. The police officers will not have to give any reason explicitly; they will just have to form a view. That is a dangerous and broad provision.
§ Mr. Hancock
Would the police officer have to tell people why they have changed their minds and on what evidence they have based their decision not to pursue the matter?
§ Mr. Hughes
The more questions my hon. Friend asks, the more likely I am to be caught out. I think that the answer is no. The Home Secretary has accepted that an Opposition amendment is good in principle. Under that amendment, there would be a right to compensation if someone were unlawfully stopped, detained and arrested. We would support that proposal. However, to challenge such decisions, people need to know the reasons why they were made, although they might be compensated if they were given no reason and then released, especially if they had missed their planes or whatever. My hon. Friend's sensible questions show exactly that the Bill is nonsense.
I shall allude to two more dangerous provisions. First, to trigger the process, the coppers involved have to decide whether the person in front of them has at any time in their lives caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. People need not have been convicted, shown to be likely to have been convicted, or convicted if they had been tried here for an offence that occurred abroad. The test simply involves the policeman deciding whether someone has caused or contributed to any violence or disorder, and then only on the balance of probabilities.
§ Mr. Hughes
I beg your pardon, Mr. Martin. I was trying to deal with my hon. Friend, but I accept what you say.
There is a second trigger. People must fulfil not only that very general requirement, which has never been seen before in English law. I stand to be corrected by more learned lawyers than me. The copper has to fulfil a second test, which the court has to fulfil later, and show that, after the 24-hour detention, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder from occurring at or in connection with any regulated football match. That extremely wide provision should not be included if we want the law to be clearly interpreted by the citizen—our constituents, who may make representations about it—as well as the state.
§ Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway)
The hon. Gentleman raises the issue of the police officer's state of mind, namely, that he should have "reasonable grounds to believe", which is of course incorporated in Government amendment No. 42—the compromise amendment. For the benefit of those of us on the Labour Benches who will support the hon. Gentleman's amendment relating to 83 reasonable grounds, would he like to reflect on whether those reasonable grounds will be objective or subjective, given that the Bill is silent on that matter?
§ Mr. Hughes
In the words, I think, of Edward Lear, I was coming to that; I was about to turn to the Government amendments. The hon. and learned Gentleman is right that the Bill is silent on the matter. Under Government amendment No. 42, which is supposed to improve the Bill, but which is difficult to justify, the constable in uniform must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the first condition has been met—that is, someone has a history of violence.
Furthermore, he will have to have reasonable grounds not for suspecting, but for believing that a banning order should be made. Imagine a group of lay magistrates deciding at short notice whether a succession of people appearing before them as speedily as prostitutes appear before the magistrate at King's Cross on Monday mornings—[Interruption.] I think that someone on the Conservative Benches said, "Oh happy days, " but I may be wrong. Perhaps experience that I had not anticipated being discussed will be brought to light. [Interruption.] Indeed, some of those on the Conservative Benches are not even lawyers.
Magistrates would have to judge individuals on their merits with no guidance and according to those two criteria because they would have to decide there and then, and on the balance of probabilities, whether to make a banning order which would stop a person travelling. Magistrates would not even have to be certain. That represents a huge intrusion on civil liberties. The Bill, even with the amendments, would be impossible to interpret properly and fairly in terms of logical drafting, sensible English and dealing with the issues in a logical order.
§ Mr. Desmond Browne (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
I return to what the hon. Gentleman has described as a conversation we had on Second Reading on that issue. I happen to agree about the need to clarify the reasons for detention and when detention can be repeated, but I part company with him when he describes the power of summary detention as a constitutional innovation. Police officers in Scotland have enjoyed the power summarily to detain in all police investigations since 1980, when it was introduced by the Conservative Government. Similar legislation—the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995—was introduced subsequently. I venture to suggest that the hon. Gentleman voted for it, although I am not certain. More interestingly, I understand that the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), the Minister for Justice in Scotland, has no intention of changing those powers, because of their constitutional implications.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman properly reminds us of his intervention on Thursday. To be honest, I have not had the chance to read the Scottish legislation. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), to whom 1 have spoken about the Bill, is responsible for those matters in Scotland. Even the hon. Gentleman would concede that my hon. and learned Friend has been busy in the past year introducing lots of 84 good, reforming legislation. He may have it in mind to change those powers, but all I know is that, as the Home Secretary rightly said, the proposal has not been adopted by the Scottish Executive or by my hon. and learned Friend, as acting First Minister. [Interruption.] Nor has the Bill. In fairness to my hon. and learned Friend, I cannot say whether he has it in mind to change the law.
§ Mr. Hughes
Let me deal with the hon. Gentleman's substantive point before he intervenes again. Scottish law and English and Welsh law have allowed both the power of detention and the power of detention for a particular purpose, but I think I am right to say that there has never been a power of detention in the absence of a previous conviction or the belief than an offence has been or is about to be committed. Under the Bill, the whole process could be gone through and a ban introduced without an offence having been committed and no view being formed that a person would ever commit an offence. That is mischief. Surely the hon. Gentleman does not accept it as good law.
§ Mr. Browne
I want to engage the hon. Gentleman on his contention that summary detention is a matter of great constitutional significance in the United Kingdom. In fact, it has been the norm since 1980 and was legislated for in Scotland by this Parliament. In Scotland, it is possible for a police officer with reasonable cause to suspect that an offence may have been committed to detain a person. It is possible—[Interruption.] Wait a minute. A detainee may breach the terms of the detention and accumulate a criminal record, although no offence was ever committed.
§ Mr. Hughes
If I may say so, the hon. Gentleman makes the point better than I. Of course there is a power of detention in Scottish law, as there is in English law, but people are detained on the basis of a reasonable suspicion or a belief that an offence has been or will be committed. There is always a link between the detention and the offence. Under the Bill, a person could be detained without having committed an offence or without ever having been likely to commit an offence, because the threshold does not have an offence on the radar screen. Not only that, the Bill would not require it to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that an offence had been committed. That represents a significant difference.
I say to the hon. Gentleman that were we going through normal procedures and were the Committee meeting upstairs today and again in two days, I would be able not only to take advice, talk to my colleagues and his in the Scottish Executive and check the Scottish legislation, as would all other hon. Members, but to confirm all that with authority outside the House. That is why these are important matters. I would not want him to mislead the Committee by saying that there is a precedent for this proposal, because I do not think that there is, although there is a precedent for detention.
That leads me to the important point that my hon. Friends and I have never said that there should not be a power of detention in English law. That is not our argument. Our argument is that powers to detain have to be carefully given, clearly circumscribed by judicial authority and tightly defined so that there can be no uncertainty. On all those tests, the Bill fails.
85 Let me deal with the remaining points quickly as I am hugely conscious of the deadline that the Government have imposed on us, in spite of my colleagues and me resisting it as much as we could. Government amendment No. 42, to which the hon. and learned Member for Medway referred, is an improvement because it would introduce new tests. However, it also gives rise to the set of questions with which we dealt a few minutes ago. Government amendment No. 43 is an improvement, but that makes me wonder about the original drafting. Since last week, the Government have changed their view: a person could have been detained for 24 hours, but could now be detained for only four, which could be extended to six with authority. That is a significant improvement
§ Mr. Hughes
We are going in the right direction, but if the Government now believe that four hours is the right proposal, how could they believe last week that 24 hours—six times as long—was right? I would find that change difficult to justify and it is another example of dangerously bad legislation. To be fair to the Government, a six-hour detention would need the authority of an inspector.
§ Mr. Hughes
Not only did I write that phrase down when thinking about today's debate, but it keeps coming back into my mind and has done so ever since we first saw the Bill on Thursday. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State is being unreasonable.
The Government have tabled amendments to proposed new section 21B, which make the case for getting rid of it and proposed new section 21A and rolling them together to achieve a clear provision that includes all the different parts of the offence. I have made the point that the removal of that extraordinary arrest provision and the phrase "constable's reasons for thinking" represents a welcome improvement.
The Conservatives' amendment No. 7 represents an improvement, but it would retain the behaviour test. Amendment No. 6 would keep the behaviour test, but it also refers to an offence. I am not clear as to what offences the Conservative amendments would deal with. Would they cover football violence offences that do not merit an arrest under present law? Perhaps the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald will explain. We are not discussing people who will be nicked for dropping litter, although that is an offence, because clearly such an offence is not covered by the Bill.
Amendment No. 33 would produce a nonsense provision. There would be two tests of the words "reasonably necessary". It would have to be "reasonably necessary" for the police officer to discover whether it was "reasonably necessary" to detain a person. That would not make good law.
The right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald has proposed that the officer who has to give authority should be of a higher status, which would be an improvement. Her amendment to place on the person an earlier requirement to give reasons in writing deals with 86 the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) raised. If there is to be an earlier stage, that is certainly something we should provide.
The Tories have proposed a 12-hour detention period. The Home Secretary has gone further than that and has dealt with the criticisms that my hon. Friends and I made by making it three hours. The Tories suggested a three-hourly review. They would probably accept that that may not be necessary if there is a four-hour maximum period. The Tories have made a good point in their amendment No. 35, which is that no person should be detained seriatim. We must prevent vexatious detention. If a police officer realises that he has made a mistake, he cannot continue to detain that person. We need to put that in the Bill somehow.
The "reasonable grounds to believe" provision in amendment No. 11 is better and more consistent, but still does not wrap everything up coherently, and is open to the criticism that the hon. and learned Member for Medway made. We may need to consider the requirement for a warrant, but there is no consensus on that yet. We welcome the sensible compensation provision.
We welcome the proposed changes to the Bill. We welcome the fact that the Government propose to reduce detention from 24 hours to four or six hours. We welcome the fact that the Government propose that detention should be with the authority of an officer of a higher rank, and that detention will be on the basis not of someone's behaviour, but of reasonable grounds to believe or reasonable grounds to suspect.
The Home Secretary knows that we have at all times been willing to try to get the Bill right, whether we liked it or not. The Bill as amended still contains a lot of nonsense and inconsistency, and it raises but never adequately answers the question why we need the power to detain. If someone is going to commit or has committed an offence, he should be nicked. Arrestable offences already exist. If the Government want a banning order, let us have one. The burden of proof is on the Home Secretary to make the case, and he must satisfy the House that this power is needed. He must explain whether anyone would be caught by it without a breach of their civil liberties who would not have been caught by the other three provisions. We think that we need to remove this provision and start again, and we believe that the other place will support us.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Jack Straw)
It may be of assistance to the Committee if I explain the approach that the Government intend to take to the amendments. I should first like to deal with the gravamen of the hon. Gentleman's remarks, which is whether it is appropriate and proportionate to have the powers of summary process in what is described as the fourth part of the Bill.
My understanding, not least from the relative silence of the Liberal Democrats, is that they support in principle the idea of a football banning order available through civil process, in slower time.
§ Mr. Straw
I am glad to have that agreement. In that case, the hon. Gentleman's argument that one should never have a power of arrest unless it leads to a criminal 87 conviction falls away. The football banning order is a civil process, and is similar to that of an anti-social behaviour order—that was accepted by the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) when it was originally proposed two years ago, and by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) in discussions last year on the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999.
If there is a process by which an order can be made by the court under a civil jurisdiction, there has to be a process to get those people into court. In extremis, the only way of getting people into court is by a coercive power, which amounts to the issue of a warrant by a court or other more summary process. When a football banning order is being dealt with in slower time, if a respondent fails to respond to the complaint, the court can issue a warrant for his arrest and it is for the police to execute it. I accept that there is a difference between the bench issuing a warrant and its being executed by the police and an individual police officer, off his own bat, deciding to make an arrest, but there is no difference in principle in those circumstances. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) suggested that a power of arrest should never apply when only the civil process is involved, and the process does not lead to the prospect of a criminal offence. That is simply not the case.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I am having enormous difficulty understanding how a process can be described as a civil process if it allows someone to be arrested and detained—in other words, locked up—even for a comparatively short period as the Home Secretary now proposes, and makes him subject to an order of the court that restricts his liberty to travel, which is contrary to European law, or at least requires strong reasons under European law. The Home Secretary is well aware that the European convention considers the substance, not the language, of the process. Could the Home Secretary explain how he maintains the notion that it is a civil rather than a criminal process?
§ Mr. Straw
The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that there is a difference between the civil and the criminal process. He also knows that the House, with agreement from both sides, including his own party, has accepted the principle of the anti-social behaviour order, which is that there should be civil process.
§ Mr. Straw
I realise that there were deep divisions in the Conservative party on this issue, but I remind the hon. Gentleman that during the debates that took place almost exactly two years ago on the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the principle of the anti-social behaviour order was supported from the Opposition Front Bench by the then shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield. The House accepted that civil jurisdiction of the magistrates was an appropriate vehicle to constrain the anti-social behaviour that is described in the 1998 Act. That is a civil process. It leads to the courts making a coercive order, which amounts to a restraining injunction.
§ Mr. Straw
I shall not give way to the right hon. and learned Gentleman again, because I must make progress.
88 The House has accepted the coercive orders issued by magistrates courts exercising a civil jurisdiction with regard to anti-social behaviour orders, yet they are just as oppressive as, if not more oppressive than, the restraint that is exercisable by a football banning order.
As the right hon. and learned Gentleman very well knows, the civil courts have long had powers of injunction against individuals to restrain a commission of nuisance and many other public and private acts. They are coercive, but there is not the least suggestion that they are outwith articles 5 or 6.
Sir Nicholas LyeII
I am most grateful to the Home Secretary for his courtesy in giving way. With all respect, I believe that he is confused on this matter. The comparison with anti-social behaviour orders is a fair one, but there is a fundamental distinction between an injunction, which orders someone not to do something illegal but does not restrict his liberties—it is not a restriction of liberty to have to obey the law—and the Bill, which enables someone to be arrested and detained on suspicion or on reasonable grounds that they have committed a criminal offence. The Home Secretary has rightly indicated that he will accept that aspect. There is a fundamental distinction there, and the Home Secretary should take advice—even if he does not want to answer that point now—on how he calls the two things the same.
§ Mr. Straw
With great respect, I do not accept that there is a fundamental distinction. Many injunctions issued by the courts—regarding nuisance, for example—prevent somebody from doing what they want to do or from going about what they think is their lawful business. We see this order and the anti-social behaviour order as similar to injunctions; they are preventive and not penal in nature. When a court has decided that there is a risk of a person contributing to violence and disorder at a football match, I do not happen to believe that preventing him from going to that match is a penal sanction. It is a minor and modest restriction of something that he wanted to do, but it is pretty minor and modest, given that he can watch the match on television.
In terms of proportionality, the courts are well versed in balancing rights under the convention, because the public have rights under the convention, as well as individuals. We are balancing the rights of an individual to go abroad and commit violence and disorder at or around a football match against the right of the rest of the country, for example, not to have the reputation of the country so vilely abused as it was at Charleroi and Brussels.
§ Mr. Browne
Under the Scottish equivalent of an injunction, it would be possible to restrict someone's movement with an interdict. Would it be possible for Chelsea, for example, to seek an injunction against named supporters to prevent them from attending football matches?
§ Mr. Straw
Since Chelsea is a private company, it could, if it wished, go to court and seek injunctions against any of its supporters who sought to gain entry to its ground without permission.
The right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) may not accept the principle of the football banning order as a civil process, but the 89 Liberal Democrats do. If he believes that there are no circumstances in which civil process should ever be used to deal with this kind of problem, he must accept that we have to wash our hands of taking effective action against what we saw in Charleroi and Brussels. Obviously, the view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman is shared by a number of Conservative Members. However, there is no point in the Conservatives' complaining the next time trouble occurs, because they will have decided that no other process is available to restrain such behaviour.
The Liberal Democrats take the view that the civil route to a football banning order ought to be available. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey has accepted that there has to be a process for getting respondents into court if they do not wish to go there. In slow time, the process is a summons or complaint served against the person. If he refuses to comply with the summons, a warrant is issued for his arrest. The fourth part of the Bill deals with circumstances where someone is in the process of leaving the country—although not necessarily at the port—and when there are reasonable grounds for believing that he will get involved in violence or disorder at or around a football match.
If we want to deal with that, we must have a process for getting those individuals into court as quickly as possible—if that is what the Committee wants. We have thought about this matter and we have shown that we are open to suggestion on amendments. However, I cannot conceive of any other means by which we can get individuals into court for consideration of whether or not a football banning order ought to be issued except by giving the police powers, however constrained, that are ultimately coercive to require that person to go to court.
Moreover, because the alternative is to do nothing and let the person go abroad and commit mayhem, there has to be a court process and a means of getting people to court before there has been a court process. That is why we have suggested that the police should have a power to stop someone, question them—to form a proper judgment about whether they ought to be subject to a court process—and get them to court. If there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person will not comply with the notice given, we should arrest him and deliver him to the court, as the bench does in other circumstances. The structure of this part of the Bill is, I suggest, perfectly coherent. Some may disagree, but we have thought the process through.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
That is a perfectly proper point, and I have not argued that there could not be detention. If the precondition were a previous conviction, for example, and if detention immediately followed—based on action that was authorised by judicial process and on reasonable grounds—we could have one process, rather than two. If the Home Secretary is willing to look at that, he will be moving in the right direction.
§ Mr. Straw
We have one order. At the time of Charleroi, many suggestions were made that we should take powers similar to those used in Germany, where it appears that the police had a power simply to stop people and turn them back, partly on the basis of lists that they had maintained.
We know from experience in Belgium that, in certain circumstances, the police there have an administrative power of arrest under which they need no grounds 90 whatever to pick someone up and detain them for 12 hours. I never thought that such a process was appropriate; it is quite inconsistent with the rule of law and traditions of this country to give the police a power to pick people up without that ending in court action. There are limited circumstances—I am not suggesting that they are parallel—where the police have the powers to detain and that does not end in court process, as under the Prevention of Terrorism Acts and immigration legislation. Those are different circumstances.
Given the desire to deal with the mischief of people not previously known as football hooligans going abroad and causing the kind of mayhem that we saw in Charleroi, there is a process by which the police could intercept those people—but that has to be linked to a court process. We have proposed to deal with that by the football banning order: one order with two routes—one slower and one more urgent—to achieve that end.
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey cannot have it both ways. I have tried to be as open as possible and I put a draft before the House as early as possible to be the subject of discussion. Legislation is an iterative process, and so it should be. I have sought to respond whenever right hon. and hon. Members have made suggestions.
As this is a faster process than usual, we have had to act quickly. I listened to the debate on Thursday, discussed the matter with the Minister of State and came to the view that we had not got the Bill right and that we should therefore table amendments. Since we had formed that view, we decided to respond straight away, rather than dragging things out until today.
Government amendment No. 42 changes new section 21A(2) in a way that I hope will command widespread agreement. It makes it clear that a constable must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person before him hasat any time…caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewherbefore detaining him to make further inquiries. He must also have reasonable grounds to believe thatmaking a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches
New section 21B is similarly amended so that the constable must also have those grounds before directing someone not to leave the country.
§ Dr. Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
What possible reasonable grounds might a constable have for believing that somebody hadcaused or contributed to any violence…?
§ Mr. Straw
That goes to the heart of the measure. It depends on the evidence. The constable must believe that there are reasonable grounds for such a suspicion and for believing that a banning order would help to prevent such violence or disorder. The phrases are directly paralleled by powers that have been in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 for more than 15 years, and the courts are well used to interpreting them. As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. Browne) said, such powers are also paralleled in legislation in Scotland. We decided to make this important change in the light of comments made on Thursday.
91 The inclusion of "reasonable grounds" aims to dispel any lingering notion that the measure could be used to detain and issue a notice to people solely on their appearance or on the basis of meagre evidence. The constable is effectively required to ask himself the same question as the magistrate and consider whether the evidence would justify a banning order before issuing a notice.
Government amendment No. 43 responds to concerns about the maximum period of detention for further inquiries as originally drafted. Originally, there would have been 24 hours, either for inquiry or for process to the court, or both. It would not have been possible for someone to be detained for more than 24 hours overall.
I accept the concerns that have been expressed, and I am satisfied—and so, more importantly, are the police—that four hours, or six if authorisation is received from an inspector or above, is sufficient time to enable the constable to make his inquiries. At the very latest, a decision on whether to issue a notice will have to be made on the evidence before the constable when the period expires. I feel that that strikes an acceptable balance between the rights of the individual and the operational imperatives on the police in the necessary effort to combat hooliganism.
Government amendment No. 44 is consequential on the foregoing two amendments. Government amendment No. 45 further tightens up the procedures. There will now be a requirement on the constable to state the grounds for issuing a notice directing someone not to leave the country and to appear before a magistrates court.
The additional safeguards that the Government amendments put in place should go a long way to reassuring those who have been concerned about the powers granted to the police that they are no more than is required in order to tackle the problem of hooliganism effectively. They are no more than is needed to ensure that, when there are reasonable grounds for believing that a banning order should be made, the individuals can be got to court quickly so that the court can make the decision.
We cannot accept amendments Nos. 20 and 21, as they would entirely remove the measure that empowers a constable to issue a notice. Similarly, we cannot accept amendment No. 28, which would remove the power to detain to make immediate inquiries to ascertain whether a person hasat any time…caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.Amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 8 are superseded by the Government amendments about which I have just spoken, and I hope that the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) will not press them to a Division.
Amendments Nos. 9 and 11 are not acceptable because operational practicalities are such that an inspector may well be the senior officer present at the scene. Authorisations for many parts of PACE used always to be given at the level of superintendent or above. As a result of a process that began under the previous Administration, with our support, of providing greater empowerment to ranks lower down, some of the powers are now authorised 92 at the level of inspector. My recollection is that we made proposals to extend authorisations at inspector level as amendments to PACE in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and I believe that those amendments carried the support of the whole House.
Inspectors are senior and experienced police officers, well used to making difficult decisions, and I think it wholly appropriate that they should be able to authorise the use of this new power. Those who are worried about some continental police practices should bear it in mind that all these powers take place in the context of strong powers—to be made stronger in due course, when we fulfil our commitment to introduce firmer arrangements—that already exist in the Police Complaints Authority to investigate complaints against the police.
§ Mr. Straw
I will come back to that in a moment.
Amendments Nos. 33, 34 and 38 are superseded by Government amendments reducing the maximum period of detention, and I hope that they will not be pressed to a vote.
Amendment No. 35 is designed to ensure that the police are unable to detain a person on more than one occasion in 48 hours and to limit the maximum aggregate period of detention in any seven-day period. I am not sure that the first limb is helpful. The second is unnecessary in the light of the Government amendment restricting detention periods to a maximum of four hours.
Providing that someone shall not be detained more than once in 48 hours has the following consequence: if someone is detained and then released and a direction not to leave the country is issued, and that person seeks to breach the direction and leave the country from another port, it becomes illegal for officers at that port to detain him while inquiries are made. That would not be a sensible outcome.
I understand that amendment No. 35 is designed to ensure that the power is not used oppressively. I am certainly ready to consider the matter further, and if I conclude that a serious mischief has been left undealt with, we will arrange for suitable amendments to be introduced in another place.
Amendment No. 36, as it relates to authorisation of an extended period of detention, is superseded by Government amendment No. 43. I hope that that will be accepted.
Amendment No. 37 is not strictly necessary. It is a long-established requirement of English law that reasons for detention must be given. However, I am content to accept this additional safeguard and agree to the amendment, so we will have belt and braces.
Amendment No. 9—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah! He has found it."] Like a genie out of a bottle. I have suddenly remembered the answer. Luckily, I can read my handwriting for once. The amendment would require a magistrate's warrant before a notice could be issued. That is simply impractical. The Bill is designed to get the person before the court as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Straw
That is how we read the amendment, even if the hon. Gentleman thinks otherwise.
93 Amendment No. 39 deals with compensation. I accept that the Bill would be improved by explicit provisions on compensation, going beyond the provisions of common law, and we are currently preparing an amendment on the subject to be introduced in another place. Among the matters to be covered that are not covered by amendment No. 39 are the maximum amount and the possibility of appeal against refusal to grant compensation. I spent 18 years in opposition and I well recognise the difficulties of drafting amendments, so I make no complaint about the amendment. It raises an important principle, but I hope that in the light of what I have said the right hon. Lady will withdraw it.
I have spoken as briefly as I can to cover the ground and I hope that hon. Members on both sides will accept that we have gone a long way to meet the spirit and, in some cases, the letter of the amendments that have been tabled, except those that simply seek to remove a major, operative part of the Bill, which we cannot accept.
§ 8 pm
§ Miss Widdecombe
This is an important group of amendments, many of which go to the heart of the doubts and queries that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have about the Bill. So important is this group of amendments that I regret that we were obliged to spend more than two hours debating a completely unnecessary guillotine motion: that time would have been much better spent debating the merits of the Bill's various clauses.
It is true that both my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and I—not to mention other right hon. and hon. Friends—have called for some time for measures to be taken. However, if the Home Secretary is frank, he will admit that the fourth of the four options that he set out in his statement had never been sought; was completely new; and is the source of most of the concern that has surrounded our debates. The right hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that on no occasion did my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition or I urge him to introduce that particular power. I have never suggested that that power does not have merit, but I have said that it is new and unexpected and has serious implications for the civil liberties of innocent people and for the police vis-a-vis the courts, and that there should therefore be a full and proper examination of that power. What the Home Secretary sees as a contradiction in the Opposition's position is not in fact a contradiction at all.
§ Mr. Straw
I do not disagree for a second with the right hon. Lady about the need to debate the issue properly, or that our proposal is new. However, she said last month that my position would have been very much strengthened if Ihad taken all measures that other countries have taken.—[Official Report, 19 June 2000: Vol. 352, c. 38.]I took her to mean such powers as the German police had taken, and that, while at that stage we did not have such powers in mind, she did.
§ Miss Widdecombe
I admire the elegant wriggle that the Home Secretary has just performed, but it does not take us any further forward.
I shall, with as much brevity as the Home Secretary, turn to the amendments before us. Amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 8 stand in my name. I recognise that Government 94 amendment No. 42 seeks to cover the sources of concern, which were the grounds on which a constable or an inspector could detain, delay or prevent somebody from travelling. I recognise that Government amendment No. 42 takes care of many of my concerns, and the Home Secretary will be relieved to know that I shall not press my amendments.
I must, however, take up an issue which I find puzzling—and which the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) also found puzzling. I do not believe that the Home Secretary gave a response to it in his contribution. In Government amendment No. 42, the Government use the phrase "reasonable grounds for suspecting". In our amendments, we offer the phrase "reasonable grounds to believe". The Government have also used "suspect" and "believe" in different places in the Bill. Is there a distinction between those words? Are we being asked to accept a lower standard in Government amendment No. 42—or is it just an accident that the Government resort to the two different words in different places? The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey also raised that point and I should be grateful for clarification. Even in the absence of clarification, however, we will not press amendments Nos. 6, 7 or 8.
Amendment No. 33 makes an important point which the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey appeared unable to understand, but which is in fact rather obvious. We sought to apply the test that detention should last only as long as reasonably necessary, and not until the officer had decided whether to proceed. If detention could last only as long as reasonably necessary, that would introduce an objective test. A police officer detaining somebody until he gets round to deciding whether to proceed is not an objective test. I accept that some of the Government's amendments cover that point and I shall not press amendment No. 33.
I listened carefully to what the Home Secretary had to say about amendments Nos. 36 and 11, when he took issue over the suggestion that the appropriate rank to grant authorisations should be superintendent. Amendment No. 36 also seeks to introduce an authorisation process: there is an authorisation process for the new powers in proposed new section 21B but not for the exercise of powers in proposed new section 21A. I await the Home Secretary's comments before deciding whether to take the matter further.
I thank the Government for accepting amendment No. 37, but I do not think that it is as superfluous as the Home Secretary tried to suggest. As the right hon. Gentleman is in emollient mood, I shall not press him further on that. Similarly, I accept that Government amendment No. 43 goes beyond what we propose in amendments Nos. 44 and 38, in which we sought to limit the time of detention and to reduce it from 24 hours. We shall not, therefore, press those amendments.
§ Mr. Straw
It may be helpful if I pick up the right hon. Lady's point about the use of the words "suspect" and "believe" in different places. It is deliberate, I am relieved to tell the House, and—more important—it minors and draws on the provisions of PACE. The phrase "reasonable grounds to suspect" is appropriate for the powers of detention and to make immediate inquiries. Once the inquiries have been made, the constable needs to have 95 "reasonable grounds to believe" that the conditions for a banning order have been met. That is consistent with PACE.
§ Miss Widdecombe
I am glad that the Home Secretary's brain caught up with him. It did not have far to travel. I note his explanation and, as I have said, we shall not press those amendments. However, I ask him to accept that amendment No. 35 has merit in that it would provide that the power of arrest and detention in proposed new section 21A should not be used repeatedly. Without that safeguard, it could be used seriatim as a power of preventive detention. The Home Secretary has acknowledged that there could be merit in the proposal, and I will accept his offer of considering it further and perhaps seeking to introduce an amendment in the other place. If he does not, others may seek to do so.
I note the Home Secretary's comments on amendment No. 11. I retain some doubt about whether proposed powers of such gravity should be left in the hands of the inspector, but the right hon. Gentleman has described operational reasons and I am prepared let that rest.
We shall, however, press amendment No. 9 to a Division when the appropriate time comes, unless the Home Secretary can persuade me that I am in deep error. The right hon. Gentleman lost his response to that amendment, then found a relevant bit of handwriting in the margin to his notes, but he did not go on to explore it very thoroughly. He has therefore not convinced me that I am in any error.
Amendment No. 9 would make the issue of a notice to appear authorisable only by judicial warrant. That process is not unknown in law. The amendment would modify what at present is an arbitrary power. Unless the Government can give me a good reason to the contrary, we shall feel constrained to press the amendment to a Division.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The right hon. Lady knows that I am sympathetic to the thrust of her argument. Does she not agree, however, that the correct process should be that the police officer who stops a person initially must have formed the view that he has sufficient justification to convince a magistrate that his action is appropriatein—in addition to his obtaining the judicial authorisation of a magistrate's warrant? If the Bill provided that the same test had to be applied by the officer making the initial decision to stop a person and by the court, the measure would be simpler and clearer.
§ Mr. Straw
I want to help the right hon. Lady on amendment No. 9. The conundrum concerns the need to get people into court, and to instigate a process that will ensure that matters are properly considered by the court. For the purposes of this argument, at least, it appears to be accepted that the police will have to intercept people about to leave the country who are intent on hooliganism. However, there will then be a need to get those people into court, and for the court to have an opportunity to consider the case against them.
96 First, the Government propose that the constable should have a power to stop people, to make inquiries about them, and to stop them disappearing while those inquires are made. The time limit governing that power is now to be four hours, extendable to six, but the inquiries may only take a short time. Secondly, it is our view that, if the constable is satisfied, on the basis of previous convictions, that further action is necessary, he must be able to issue a notice to get people into court.
The right hon. Lady appears to be saying that, if a constable forms the view that people have contributed to violence and disorder in the past and that there are reasonable grounds for believing that they will contribute to violence and disorder at a football match, those people must be taken to a magistrate who will issue a warrant to get them into court. I hope that she will consider—
§ The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Lord)
Order. I remind the Home Secretary that he is making an intervention.
§ Mr. Straw
The right hon. Lady's proposal would mean that magistrates would have to be on hand day and night wherever the power was exercisable. That would simply not be practicable.' see that the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell), the former Attorney-General, is nodding, so I think my point about practicality is accepted.
§ Miss Widdecombe
I do not agree. What is impracticable about having a stipendiary magistrate on duty? If there were a real will to safeguard the rights of innocent citizens, there would be a much greater will to involve the courts and judicial processes at all stages. Therefore, I still intend to press amendment No. 9 to a Division. By the end of the debate, the Home Secretary may have thought up some even more impressive arguments, but at the moment I cannot believe that the amendment is impracticable.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I nodded at the Home Secretary because he was raising a practical problem, but my right hon. Friend is right to raise this issue. Enormous practical problems will arise from the Bill. A person can be under arrest for up to six hours, but what happens if he walks off before being called before the court?
§ Miss Widdecombe
My right hon. and learned Friend makes a valid and helpful point.
I hope that the Home Secretary will deal with amendment No. 39, which would provide for compensation to be paid if a person prevented from travelling abroad did not qualify for a banning order. The right hon. Gentleman said that he accepted the principle of the amendment but not its drafting, and that he would raise the matter in another place. On that basis, I am happy not to press the amendment.
We welcome Government amendments Nos. 42 to 46, which do much to improve the Bill and which reflect some of the sentiments in our amendments. We are glad that they have been taken on board.
I have given much consideration to Liberal Democrat amendments Nos. 20 and 21, and also to the amendments tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member 97 for North-East Bedfordshire and my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis). I do not think that we on the Opposition Front Bench can support or press them, although my right hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. Friend are entitled to make their own decisions. The amendments would effectively negate this part of the Bill. We continue to want to try to improve the Bill instead of throwing it out altogether. That is why we shall not stand in the way of Third Reading tonight, although very substantial improvements must still be made before we can have confidence in the Bill.
§ Mr. Browne
I shall be brief. I made clear my feelings about summary detention when I intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). As to whether the phrases "reasonable cause to suspect" or "reasonable cause to believe" would generate difficulty for magistrates, my experience in the summary criminal courts in Scotland leads me to believe that there is plenty of help with their meaning to be found in road traffic legislation. For years, those phrases have been used liberally in that legislation, and they have been well chewed over by lawyers north and south of the border. They are clearly and well understood.
I wish to speak to two issues—the right to re-detain, about which I have some concerns, and the absence in the Bill as previously drafted of any requirement for constables to record the reasons for stopping a person, or to supply those reasons to the people detained. I hope to make clear to the Committee why I think that those issues are related.
Now that amendment No. 37 has been accepted, I am satisfied that the requirement to record the reasons for stopping a person has been incorporated in the Bill. That is important, but so is protecting people from the misuse of the power of summary detention. That is why the Bill should contain a clear provision preventing constables from using the four or six-hour power of detention to prevent a person from travelling, when those constables do not have the power to move to the next stage of the process—in other words, where there is no evidence to support a statement or warrant application under proposed new section 14B.
I agree with the principle of amendment No. 35, but not with its wording. I suggest that a simple amendment should be incorporated in the Bill requiring that, where a person is released at the termination of a period of detention under the relevant provision in the Bill, he will not thereafter be detained under that provisionon the same grounds, or on any grounds arising from the same circumstancesThe purpose of such a simple amendment—and I understand the Home Secretary to have indicated that he has an open mind about the issue—is to prevent someone from being detained again for exactly the same reason as he was detained before. If information or reasons additional to the information or reasons previously recorded come to the constable's attention, such an amendment would allow him to exercise his statutory power again.
That suggestion to the Government is in response to the problem identified in amendment No. 35. I have nothing further to add.
I wonder whether I might raise with the Minister a few nuts-and-bolts issues about the amendments in connection with detention and reference to court. By way of preamble, it is a tragedy that a Bill of this importance should be debated in such a short time. Many in the House could contribute at length to debates on amendments to improve the Bill. I was given a draft Bill on Wednesday, then a further draft, and then I sat down to work out some amendments. To cut a long story short, it was not until this morning that I knew that they had been selected, and I had them in my hand—what a way to do business. If people could see what we were doing, they would be ashamed of us.
Let me give the Government an example of practical problems that might arise when England plays football against France and 20,000 people from this country decide to go to France to see the match. Some 10,000 have tickets, 10,000 have not. The match is on a Saturday, so people will travel to France on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, or Saturday morning. Of that 20,000, let us say for the sake of argument that a fifth—4,000—will be travelling from Dover, spread over a few days, and that the police and authorities will be seriously concerned about 10 per cent., or 400 people.
Let us picture the scene. Four hundred people will be stopped by the police at Dover—or around Dover, because they are going there by different routes. Unless the police wait outside the front door of their home—I understand that under the Bill it is entirely possible for the police to stop them at any time they want to—we shall assume that all those people get to Dover. What on earth will the practical situation be?
I pause now to ask whether the Government have taken advice or soundings from the bodies that could advise on detention and trial. There are so many of them—the stipendiary bench, the Magistrates Association, immigration officers, the court service, magistrates clerks, the Law Society and the Bar Council. Will the Minister tell us informally how many of those bodies were consulted before the Bill was presented on Thursday? Will he tell us formally? Perhaps the answer is that no real consultation took place with any of them.
Let us picture the scene at Dover. If one spreads those 400 people over three days, that is 130 or 150 per day. Each of them is, in simple terms, taken into custody by a police officer who is suspicious of them. Are there enough police at Dover to do that? Will the immigration authorities at the point of exit have any powers given to them in this respect?
§ Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal)
My hon. Friend fails to point out that these 150 people will be among a large number of other people. I still find it difficult to understand how, in the absence of any previous conviction, one could form a reasonable consideration that one had reasonable grounds, at that point, to detain a particular person among so many. It seems a fiction from the imagination of the Home Secretary that such a situation could arise.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. We shall be coming on to that a little later. How can an officer make a judgment? Even so, he or she will make a judgment and the person will be taken into custody. Can the Minister confirm that that person can be in custody 99 for up to six hours only? If that is right, what happens to the person then? He has so far been treated under a criminal umbrella in that he has been placed in custody. Will the Minister tell me how many custody suites there are at Dover, and whether the police believe that they can cope? Given that the person is in a criminal situation, will the Minister confirm that he has to be released after six hours?
If that person is released, is he given bail under the Bail Act 1976, with all the criteria that apply; or is his case simply adjourned civilly, without there being any duty on him under the 1976 Act to return? If it is under the 1976 Act, and he does not return to face the court case, will the Minister confirm that all the powers of arrest and 1976 Act offences can and will be used, and that they will be used in the same proceedings as the civil complaint?
§ Mr. Browne
Has the hon. Gentleman looked at proposed new section 21C(2), which appears to answer his question? It provides that if people do not comply with notices under proposed new section 21B—presumably the notices that will be issued to people who are released from detention if they are not then free to go—they will be guilty of a criminal offence and may be arrested.
Yes, I have seen that. However, I am going through an exercise to find out what will happen. The position remains that a person will be taken into custody by an officer. has to be released after six hours, and has to go before the court within 24 hours. If the person is released, is he on bail, it being an offence under the Bail Act 1976 not to return to court? Can conditions be imposed under the 1976 Act for someone to return to court the next day?
If 150 cases are to take place in one day, a serious handling problem will arise. If 150 defendants are to come before the court, their cases will not be handled in one court building or in 10. Does the Minister understand that dealing with such cases will require, on those dates, certainly 10 and possibly 20 acting or full-time stipendiary magistrates in court buildings that can take them.
What happens when one gets to court? Does the case automatically go ahead? What happens if the Crown—if it is the Crown—says, "We would like to put this off; our paperwork is not in order"? There could be a huge handling problem at our ports of exit in relation to detention and reference to court, which has not been discussed sufficiently.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
Am I right in assuming that what will be required under the law is not just that people be brought before the court within four or six hours, their names read out in court and the cases adjourned, but that the court actually deal with them; otherwise the power of detention expires? That means that there would have to be a substantive hearing
I think that the hon. Gentleman is right. I think it is the case—I am trying to draw it from the Minister—that when the person appears before the court, that is the substantive hearing which is dealt with on the spot, rather than adjourned for a month; otherwise, one 100 would be in a state of complete chaos. Again, I want to know that the Minister has thought the matter through and that the nuts-and-bolts problems of mass exit from our ports over two or three days have been considered in terms of lack of staff, court space or detention space.
My final point is important, although it is very much a Committee point. What will happen in ports where port authority police work? What will their role be? In Harwich, for example, the port authority police have certain functions and powers. How will those officers overlap with ordinary police officers in cases of this sort?
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I shall try to speak briefly. I am grateful to the Home Secretary for, in effect, accepting amendment No. 28. My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis), who tabled it with me, made it clear before putting his name to it that he would be here for a limited time this evening because of a longstanding constituency engagement.
The Government are accepting that an officer may detain an individual for only four to six hours with a view to bringing that individual before a court. As my hon. Friends have asked, should an individual be brought before the court on the say-so of an inspector, or should there be a warrant from a magistrate? That is a sensible question, and the answer is not easy. There are practical advantages—swiftness for one—in having a police officer undertake that function, but if it is done in summons to a warrant, it may be easier to hold the person until the court can hear the case.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Matins) that there is a real danger of chaos in our courts and ports when the Act is put into operation. That is one reason why it is so sad that we are trying to rush the Bill through. Acceptable legislation can be crafted, although it is difficult to do so, but I doubt whether it can be done on the timetable before us and the other place. There is a real risk that we shall end up with an Act that is unworkable.
I shall discuss briefly whether this should be a criminal or civil process. Detention in order to bring someone before a court smacks much more of criminal than civil procedure. With respect, I ask the Home Office to reconsider that aspect. I am much comforted that the Home Office has indicated that it will accept, in a later amendment, that whatever the individual is accused of must constitute criminality. I am grateful for the effective acceptance of amendment No. 28, which will mean that someone can be brought before magistrates only on the basis of reasonable grounds for suspecting that the condition in proposed section 14B(2) of the Football Spectators Act 1989—that the person must have caused or contributed to violence or disorder—is met.
I wish to make two points of substance, on which I shall probably table amendments on Report. I shall probably go to the Public Bill Office to table those amendments during the next hour or two. First, it should not be possible for someone to be subject to an order of the court if the only basis for it is a spent conviction under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. 1 do not believe that it can be fair to place a football banning order on someone on the basis of a conviction that is out of date.
101 Secondly, there should be some time limit on the conduct that caused or contributed to violence or disorder. As I look around the Chamber with the deep respect in which I always hold Parliament, I expect that 98 per cent. of us—I do not discriminate on grounds of sex—have at some stage in our lives contributed to violence or disorder. There are no mirrors in the Chamber, but, if I saw one, I might find myself in that category.
The definition in proposed section 14B(2) is astonishingly wide. Happily, it is qualified by the proposal that actual criminality must be required. However, anyone who has been caught up in a football crowd that is becoming slightly out of hand will fall within the definition. Any ancient piece of video tape that showed them there, perhaps the worse for wear or a little merry, could be brought forward as evidence, and I am sure that there are many such tapes. That would be going too far and would be oppressive. Some time limit—five, seven or 10 years—should be established to keep the use of such evidence under control.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I support the right hon. and learned Gentleman's last two points. May I draw his attention to amendment No. 41, which deals with the spent conviction point, although I do not pretend that it is perfectly drafted?
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing my attention to that. One of the problems with the time scale facing us is the difficulty of finding time to read the amendments and spot exactly how they fit into the tapestry of the Bill.
I welcome Government amendment No. 46, but must return to practicalities in the magistrates courts. Can the Minister explain how the process will work? Let us suppose that someone is arrested because an officer believes, because of that person's demeanour at the port or airport, that he is the kind of person likely to cause trouble and may well have a previous conviction. If the officer finds that the person does have a previous conviction—a relevant one, which all of us agree should cause the person to be brought before a court and banned—how will the person be kept available to the court once the six hours in which he may be held in detention has passed? What practical arrangements will be made? If, having been let out after six hours, a person may walk away or even board a later P&O ferry, the Act will fall into disrepute. I hope that a sensible answer can be found to that question, and I should be happy to co-operate with the Government in seeking one. For now, however, the position is not clear.
§ Ms Ward
Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman studied the detail of schedule 1? New section 21B(2)(b) refers to what the notice may require of the person who has been detained. It states that the person would be requirednot to leave England and Wales before that time—and, under (2)(c), might be requiredto surrender his passport to the constable.That would take place before the person's appearance at a magistrates court.
102 Unless I misheard the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I do not see how someone released after six hours, and before appearing at a magistrates court, could wander on to a ferry. Could he explain his point again?
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
The hon. Lady may have a good point, provided that there are enough police to spot what is happening. The individual certainly could not be detained in a cell after six hours on the basis of that provision. If there were enough police officers to keep such individuals under surveillance and to spot them making for a boat, and if they have been summonsed—
§ Ms Ward
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, under the provision to which I referred, they would be required to hand over their passports? After the six hours—whether or not they had been detained—they could not physically leave the country, because they would have no passport. It would also be an offence for them not to appear at the magistrates court. That would clearly be a further consideration for people who believed themselves innocent and wanted to prove that point.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
That may be correct. To take the passport may be the practical answer, but I should like to hear it from the Minister. I should like him to piece those points together to show that they produce a coherent whole. My objective is not to make clever points, but to try to ensure that we produce coherent legislation. The hon. Lady plays a useful role—at least in educating me—and I thank her for that.
Amendment No. 35, tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe), would prevent repeated arrest and deserves careful consideration. The simple removal, under Government amendment No. 46, of a safeguard in the measure—the provision that someone could not be rearrested within 24 hours—could leave too little protection.
We are all struggling to achieve a balance so that the measure is workable and fair, but there are real difficulties. My main reason for speaking to the amendment was to highlight questions on spent convictions and time limits.
§ Mr. John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington)
I want to follow up the pragmatic approach taken by the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins), and to seek some reassurance from my hon. Friend the Minister of State on a constituency point.
Heathrow is in my constituency and a large number of people might be detained there at any one time under this measure. I have visited the facilities available there for the detention of suspects and others; they are extremely limited—at the most there are a dozen cells. It is thus possible that overspill detainees might be transferred to police stations in my constituency. That would require additional police resources to supervise the cells and to assist in processing the detainees to the magistrates court. Uxbridge magistrates court is also in my constituency.
I am anxious to obtain assurances that before we implement the legislation, there will be a full review of its resource implications in constituencies such as mine. It could be a significant drain on police resources that would have an impact on the ability of the police to tackle crime and disorder generally in my community
§ Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal)
I am concerned because, if there is a need for sub-paragraph (4), it means that a considerable number of people would have to be apprehended under that provision. If it were to apply only occasionally, it is unlikely that we should be dealing with the matter in that way. The more people who come under that category, the more difficult it is to explain or to defend the whole procedure, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) suggested.
We are in danger with this measure, because, as none of us like football hooligans and naturally want to stop them travelling abroad and lowering the reputation of our country, we start with the assumption that the Home Secretary must be right in trying to find an answer to the problem. However, many of us are concerned that he has found not one answer, but several. After each successive attempt to find the right answer, he has found that his previous answer was wrong.
It is not possible to believe that, if a period of 24 hours was considered essential three days ago, a period of four hours, with a possible extension to six hours has now become practicable. I suspect that it has not. I suspect that the Home Secretary has discovered that perfectly reasonable, decent, sensible, law-abiding, non-hooligan Members of the House recognise that detention for 24 hours is intolerable if it takes place because a constable believes that someone may have done something in the past that does not—or will not until the Bill is amended—constitute criminality or may in future do something that does not constitute criminality, but that may contribute to violence or disorder.
If we bring the period down to four hours, we shall face the problem that my hon. Friend the Member for Woking raised. At places where we expect large numbers of people to congregate to go to a match abroad, we shall need not only large numbers of police officers but new arrangements for magistrates to operate. I do not believe that there will be all those policemen or the arrangements for the magistrates. The provision will not work. The same people will return to the same ports and travel abroad to make the same row and the Home Secretary will return to the House and say, "I am frightfully sorry. I did my best, but the provision did not work." That is what worries me about this clause.
The House appears to be saying that there is a problem for which there must be an answer. Any answer will do—the period can change from 24 hours to 4 hours—because if we do not have an answer, people will say that we are not doing our job. However, the worst job that we can possibly do is produce an answer that we know will not work just because we think that we must do something.
§ Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)
If one reads the Bill, one might imagine that the court procedures will take five minutes. However, court procedures with the opportunity, I assume, of some form of representation for those brought before the court are likely to take days. Individual cases will take hours and, if they are not resolved in that period, they may take days, with adjournments, so that the necessary evidence may be adduced.
§ Mr. Gummer
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Because that might happen, the tendency will be to treat 104 such cases like speeding offences. It does not matter whether one gets the cases wrong because the important point is to get them through. The provisions in the Bill are serious because I fear that local magistrates will have no alternative but to proceed at a pace that does not fairly give people an opportunity to ensure that they put their case and are heard properly. Magistrates will be tempted to think, "I'm sure this officer is doing the best thing. Indeed, if I do not accept that, I shall undermine an important provision that is necessary if the reputation of my country is to be defended."
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The right hon. Gentleman makes a good point. The implications are that if someone cannot be brought before the magistrates within 24 hours—a notice being served after he has been held by a police officer for four or six hours—he is bound to be released. That will discredit the earlier part of the process and, in reality, many people will probably be in that category.
§ Mr. Gummer
The hon. Gentleman is not only right, but does not go far enough. I hope that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but my reading of the clause is that the constable may give the person a notice in writing that requires that person to do several things and the constable can take the passport away. In the debates on Second Reading and in those held so far today, we have not been clear enough about what that would mean. Passports are not granted through the grace of Governments, but are owned by citizens as the result of their being a citizen of the European Union and the British Isles.
§ Mr. Gummer
I shall give way in a moment. I want to restate that that is an important issue. Taking away someone's passport is not a mere passing matter, and the House should be extremely concerned if they cannot get it back because the process takes longer than the period that we are discussing. I am not sure to which boiling pot on which side of the House I should give way, but I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) first and then the hon. Member for Watford (Ms Ward).
§ Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford)
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has recently looked at page 3 of his passport, which states that the passport is the property of Her Majesty's Government and that an individual may keep it only as long as Her Majesty's Government wants him or her to.
§ Mr. Gummer
I have certainly read that, but I am also aware of the fact that, in this country, we have always felt that the passport is a disagreeable necessity which is required because other people tend to stop our citizens if they are unable to present one. One does not need a passport, which is just a convenience for making sure that one does not get stopped. It is true that, in this House, we have always felt that the passport is a matter not of grace, but of right. I do not wish the provision to undermine that fundamental belief, which is why the amendments are crucial to ensure that the Bill is not a pain.
§ Ms Ward
Would the right hon. Gentleman accept that there are already precedents in law for the removal of 105 passports that may not relate to criminal convictions? For example, a court can remove a passport on the basis of a bail condition or in relation to a feared child abduction. Under existing law, courts have the power to remove a passport under football banning orders. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that a passport cannot be taken away, but it can be removed under certain circumstances.
§ Mr. Gummer
Not for the first time, the hon. Lady has mistaken the position. She referred to occasions on which the courts remove passports. We are considering a position in which policemen remove passports. I am merely saying that if one holds a passport as a matter of right and importance, taking it away is of considerable concern, and I want due process of law. If one follows the matter through, the court will not be in a position to undertake such action within the reasonable period to which the Minister referred.
The Minister is trying to get there, and has spent a lot of time altering his first thoughts to second, third and fourth thoughts, but he is not there yet. At the moment, if the power is to be used sensibly, it will have to be used for more than the occasional person. It could be used for a significant number of people—after all, we were talking about 300, 400 or 500 people being sent back, let alone the ones who were prevented from going out—and the numbers that we talked about when discussing the reasons for this rushed legislation lead us to believe that there will be many people in one place and the courts and the police will not be able to deal with them. The provision is therefore not tolerable unless there is significant alteration.
Unusually, I find myself in some sympathy with the amendments tabled by Liberal Democrat Members, who do not normally table amendments for which I have any sympathy and, of course, they belong to a party with which it is difficult to sympathise.
On this occasion, however, as must be true in the random nature of life, they have hit on something closer to truth than is their habit. They have suggested that it would be a good idea if we did not introduce the Bill in this way but went away and thought about it again.
We have suggested a number of ways in which we could do that, such as having a small gap between the different stages in this House. We were told, rather unconvincingly, by the Home Secretary that he had had a few words with people and they thought that it could not be done. Well, they ought to have found a way of doing it. I worked out the number of days, and it is perfectly possible to do it. There is no reason why the Government should not have given us more time, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) pointed out. We are subject to the disagreeable necessity of asking the Home Secretary whether, given that by his own admittance he has got the legislation wrong several times in a short period, he should not give himself the benefit of the doubt and allow himself more time to think about it.
I do not want to be churlish to the Home Secretary because it is kind of him to have given way on a number of issues, although he probably did so because he realised that he was wrong. That is why I want to argue with his position on the amendments, particularly those that my right hon. Friend has said that she may press if he does 106 not give her a better answer. We can argue about parties disagreeing on amendments and about Members being in favour of guillotines when they are in government and against them when they are in opposition, but sometimes the Opposition are trying to help the Government. On this occasion, the official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats wish to help the Government to avoid getting themselves in a pickle, and no doubt the Welsh nationalists, Ulster Unionists and others would share that wish if they were here.
I remember that, from time to time, the previous Government tabled legislation that had the universal support of the House. If anyone asked them whether they were quite sure that it was right, they said that it must be right because everybody wanted it. I have been in the House for about 25 years and I have come to suspect any proposal that everybody seems to be happy with. I find that the press are very happy with a measure until they start to wonder whether it would not be better to do something else, which they start to do the moment that something goes wrong.
I end with a message to the Minister which I hope he will pass on to the Home Secretary. The worst task in the House is that of the Minister who has to defend actions that were popular when proposed but which turn out to be a disaster. All those people who supported him when he proposed the measures do not turn up, and the only ones present are people such as my hon. Friends. We will all turn up and tell the Minister, "I told you so. We tried to be helpful and you didn't listen to us."
I simply say to the Minister that it would do the Government good to step back and give themselves more time by accepting amendments such as those in the names of my hon. Friends and of Liberal Democrat Members. I suppose, therefore, that I hope that they will not accept them, because obviously they will get in a mess and I ought to be pleased that they will be in yet another mess—they are getting into a mess most of the time. On this occasion, however, I must try to help the Government simply because this is not a trivial matter but one of considerable importance.
I have young sons, and many hon. Members have young sons and daughters who, with their friends, could so easily and quite innocently be affected by the Bill, and their first brush with the law should not be in circumstances so ill conceived, ill thought through and badly drafted as the fourth proposal in the Bill. I hope that the Government will think again, even though if they do not, I suppose that we might have a drink on the fact that within six months they will feel very silly indeed and wish that they had listened.
§ 9 pm
§ Mr. Vernon Coaker (Gedling)
Having spoken on Second Reading and from listening to the debate in Committee so far, I think that we have not only improved the Bill but are significantly continuing to do so. That should make us all proud of the procedures that we are adopting. As we saw, dialogue, debate and discussion between my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe), led to considerable improvement. Such constructive dialogue and opposition is the House working at its best.
I want specifically to speak against Liberal Democrat amendment No. 20, to which the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) spoke, 107 which would delete the fourth option. I want to address the point that he made—and made well, although I fundamentally disagree with it. It is a very important point for the Committee to consider. I made the point on Second Reading and do so again under the amendment.
With such legislation, there is always a clash between public interest and individual liberty. Law in general often infringes the rights of individuals to pursue their actions or freedoms without constraint. We do not allow people so to behave because we believe that, for the common good, in the public interest, there must be certain constraints on the actions and freedoms of individuals. We therefore legislate on different issues to constrain individuals. We have one such piece of legislation before us.
The Bill is about how we as a Parliament and a Government consider the problem of football hooliganism and deal with it. We have the serious problem of a number of individuals who are exercising their freedoms in a way that impacts on the law-abiding majority not only in this country but in other countries. That presents us with the difficult question of whether, because such people are infringing the rights of the majority—the rights of the majority of those conducting business, of countless families to enjoy football matches or go abroad without feeling harassed, and of huge numbers of people to feel free from fear—a limited number of individuals should forfeit some rights that we would normally wish to convey to them.
I think that the honest answer to that question is yes. Although the majority of people in this country would not wish their Government to legislate for the fourth option, I think that they would reluctantly conclude that, if the law is not to fall into disrepute, it must deal with the unacceptable behaviour that they have seen and the awful way in which some people have abused their freedoms.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The hon. Gentleman makes a very clear point, but would he take it to this conclusion: that it is justifiable for some people who are innocent either to have their liberties taken away or to be convicted, rather than that some people who are guilty should be let off? The existing criminal process always tends to let off some of the guilty rather than convict some of the innocent. Which side of that line does he fall?
§ Mr. Coaker
My point is that we have to curtail the individual liberty of some to protect the liberties of the many. That is why I support the fourth option—not because it will be popular or because it is something in which we can glory, but because it is a measure that people feel is necessary if we are to protect the law-abiding majority.
§ Mr. Gummer
If the hon. Gentleman could be assured that everyone made subject to the Bill will be guilty, the views he expresses would be perfectly right, but our concern is that the Bill will result in large numbers of people who are not guilty finding themselves subject to a process that will be extremely damaging to them, and that they will have few means of averting that damage.
§ Mr. Coaker
First, I do not believe that the number of people will necessarily be large; and, secondly, the police 108 will ultimately have to take individuals involved before the courts. Any law has the potential to affect individuals who are accused of doing something that they have not done, or who have not done anything wrong.
My point is that I believe that the majority of people in this country feel that it is necessary for Parliament to reflect their concern about the way in which some so-called football supporters conduct themselves. They believe that Parliament needs to act. I believe that the majority of people outside and inside the House accept the necessity of our taking actions that, in an ideal world, we would not want to take. In other words, the curtailment of the liberty of some individuals is necessary if the law-abiding majority is to be protected. If the law fails to protect the majority who conform to it, that brings the law into disrepute.
Of course, the individual must be protected under the law and we must respect people's rights, but we cannot do that at the expense of public disorder, which flies in the face of the public interest. We cannot allow the law-abiding majority to feel that their rights are being usurped and that the rights of those who do not respect the law are being put before theirs.
§ Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet)
My name appears above the lead amendment, along with that of the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) and others. If the hon. Gentleman chooses to press it to a Division, I shall support it, and I shall outline the reasons why.
I am especially glad to have waited long enough to be speaking after the hon. Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker), because he has, inadvertently, articulated all my fears. Those fears were mentioned the other night by my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), and no one doubts that he has worked extremely hard to respond to those issues. The hon. Gentleman has, in effect, echoed something that my hon. Friend said on Second Reading: that, in the interests of the greater good, the liberties of a few may need to be curtailed.
I represent a constituency in east Kent—one of those constituencies that is closest to the continent; one of those constituencies with greatest access to the channel ports of Ramsgate, Dover and Folkestone, and to Le Shuttle; one of those areas where the innocent law-abiding citizens are extremely likely to be affected by the legislation. Those are not, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford and the hon. Member for Gedling, the minority. They are the majority.
Thousands of people travel daily through the port of Dover, and millions of people travel annually through the south coast ports. Most of them are law-abiding citizens, with no convictions in any court anywhere in the world, going about their lawful business. Under the Bill, those people are just as likely to be picked up as those whom the Home Secretary described as going abroad with a view to causing trouble. Unless we issue the Kent constabulary with crystal balls, I do not see how those policemen are to distinguish one from the other.
§ Ms Ward
Surely the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that a large majority of his constituents act in a way that might reasonably be considered to arouse the suspicion that they will cause disorder or behave violently, or that 109 they have convictions for violence in the past. Is he suggesting that a large majority or all of his constituents, as I understood him to say, fall into that category?
§ Mr. Gale
I am grateful to the hon. Lady because she leads me to my next point. During the timetable debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) suggested that although the Bill is supposed to deal with football hooligans, the overwhelming majority of people travelling across the channel during potential closed seasons, which the Bill will introduce, are not going anywhere near a football match and have no desire to do so.
Those people are travelling from all over the south coast of England and beyond, from London and East Anglia, to spend a couple of days across the channel, to go shopping in Cité de l' Europe or Océan or wherever, to buy their duty-free goods and put our traders in east Kent out of business. That, at present, is their lawful right. They have nothing at all to do with football.
Having travelled frequently on channel ferries, I can say, and the hon. Lady may agree, that not all those travellers are endearingly attractive. One or two, on the passage out and on the passage back, have been known to consume alcohol. It is just possible that some of them may attract the eye of Mr. Plod.
The Bill places on the Kent constabulary a duty somehow to discern the day-trip traveller, the two-day traveller, the person visiting northern France, and others who may or may not be going to a football match, some of whom may or may not have an aura about them that suggests unpleasantness.
The Home Secretary said at the Dispatch Box earlier that the Bill would give the police powers to apprehend and detain people who had no convictions. As I said, I am not sure how the police will work that one out. The other night the Home Secretary told the House that of 950-odd people arrested during Euro 2000, only about half had criminal convictions. Therefore, he said, we need to control the others who had no previous convictions, implying that all the people who had been pulled in by the police were guilty—of what? It is of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and, as a result, under the Bill, having a stain on their character that could lead to their being pulled in by the police next time they wanted to go abroad.
§ Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham)
The hon. Gentleman should not create a largely mythical monster against which he can rail. I do not understand his point; perhaps he can explain it. Why does he believe that police officers would detain large numbers of people? The Bill does not require them to pick up large numbers. The hon. Gentleman should also answer the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Ms Ward) made. What makes him believe that large numbers of people would be caught? If many people were detained by a police officer, what would be the impact on them? If they were innocent, they would not end up with a criminal record.
§ Mr. Gale
For good reasons, of which I am aware, the hon. Gentleman was not in the Chamber when my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) spoke about likely numbers. We were considering the possibility of 110 400 people being apprehended. If the Bill is of any value, which I doubt, and each of the 400, some of whom may be on a day trip and thus have their entire day ruined, is detained for up to six hours—
§ Mr. Gummer
If not many people are apprehended, and mayhem ensues in some football match abroad, will not the public demand, "Why were not more people stopped?" It would be almost impossible thereafter for the police not to stop more people. That will continue until The Sun suddenly decides that it is on the wrong side, and twists right round and tells us that we have dealt with the rights of the individual in a cavalier manner. That will happen, and my hon. Friend should say so.
§ Mr. Gale
My right hon. Friend is right. The police are between a rock and a hard place. They will either pull people in, which entails the great danger of pulling in people who should not be apprehended, or they will not, and be blamed the moment another riot occurs abroad. I am concerned on behalf of the Kent constabulary. Neither the chief constable nor any other Kent policeman has said to me, "Roger, this is a wonderful Bill. You've got to get behind it because it gives us a power that we've really been waiting for." Not one police officer has said that.
§ Mr. Gale
As my right hon. Friend says, there has been no time. It is significant that the police have not woken up to the fact that, as well as policing economic migrants and contraband goods, they will be lumbered with deciding who should be detained under the powers that the Bill gives them.
I do not like the blackmail that always accompanies measures such as the Bill: the assumption-which minor, share—dealing tabloid editors will pick up—that anyone who does not support the measure is soft on football hooliganism. My right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) clearly said that we would support any Bill that reasonably tackles football hooliganism. However, the Bill does not tackle it because it has no writ north of the border or in Northern Ireland.
The Bill is holed below the waterline before it has even been launched. Anyone who is seriously intent on making trouble will not go with the innocent through Dover, Folkestone or via Le Shuttle; they will go where they know that they will not be stopped. The hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) is an expert on the subject and has frequently said that we are considering organised hooliganism. It is folly to believe that people who are so organised that they carry briefcases and wear pinstripe suits will not travel through Glasgow, Edinburgh or Belfast. Meanwhile, those who use our ports in Kent will pick up the wreckage of a bad measure.
I shall go with the Home Secretary on the Bill's initial provisions, which we can all support, but when the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey presses the amendment to a Division, as I trust he will, I shall support it. It will take the rotten guts out of a bad Bill.
§ Mr. Hancock
The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) spoke with conviction and referred to a Minister having to return to these matters; he seemed to be speaking from personal experience. Ministers should take careful note of what he said might happen because there was more than a true word in his comments. The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) began to explore the scenarios that might arise not only in Kent, but in other parts of the south of England and elsewhere. Heathrow is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell), and he made a similar point. I represent another port of entry to, or exit from, the United Kingdom.
Let us consider the scenario of a weekend game being played in France. Let us start in London. Eurostar trains leave Waterloo at the rate of one an hour throughout the day and, on the way, stop in Kent—the county of the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale). Policemen would be needed at Eurostar in Waterloo and at Ashford International. Let us consider the ferry ports. People would be needed at Ramsgate as ferries go from there to Dunkirk. There are dozens of ferries a day from Dover, all of which would have to be manned by policemen. The same applies at Folkestone and, a little further along the south coast, at Portsmouth.
§ Mr. Hancock
Ferries do not currently operate from Newhaven, but I hope that they will return in time. Up to 12 ferries a day regularly travel from my constituency to four ports of entry in France. Ferries also cross to France from Poole, which is a little further along the coast. All those sites will have to be manned.
Three shuttle trains leave this country every hour. I have often travelled on Le Shuttle and have seen perhaps 30 transit vans on some trains. Most of the people in them are going over to France to buy booze, but I suspect that, in future, they will be full of people who want to watch football matches. Every car and person will presumably have to checked.
If policemen had to be at all those ports during the three or four days leading up to a match, an enormous strain would be put on the resources of the police forces of Hampshire and Kent and on the Metropolitan police to ensure that all those trains, ships and cars were properly inspected; otherwise the law would be unfair: it would not operate universally.
Let us consider what could happen if a policeman were to detain someone—the point made by hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins). If a policeman had reason to believe that someone was worthy of detention, what would happen at that moment? Would the policeman have to spend a considerable time with that person? Would he have to take the person to a place where he can be detained, perhaps in a room somewhere at the port, which would have to be manned by other policemen who would ensure that the paperwork would be done? Would the policeman then simply return to his place at the front of the queue to look for other people, or would there be other policemen waiting to fill his place so that the process could continue, ensuring that people were properly checked?
How will the selection process take place? Obviously, the police will use their network of sources, and those sources will point out known offenders who have not got 112 convictions. Will those people be put on the list and identified? At least a dozen ports and airports would have to be covered by that process and policemen throughout the country would have to be briefed extensively over a long period to ensure that they picked out the right people.
Let us suppose that a busload of football supporters turned up wearing their England jerseys, jeans and sneakers with their jumpers tied around their waists, and they had all drunk a can of beer on the way to the port. The policeman would say, "I have a reasonable belief that one of you 30 could be a problem on the other side." What would happen to the other 29? What judgment would the policeman exercise? Would the passengers all have to get off the coach at Le Shuttle, although that does not have to happen at present? Would the other 29 be paraded in front of the Kent constabulary and would those who look more suspect than the others be picked out? That would be nonsensical.
§ Mr. Browne
Again, I seek clarification. In Scotland, drinking in a coach on the way to a sporting event is a criminal offence. Is it not an offence in England and Wales?
§ Mr. Hancock
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has the better of me. I am not sure whether that is a criminal offence in England, but no doubt the Minister will put us right. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I have passed or travelled on many a coach on which a can or two has been taken. The provision would open the door to all sorts of scenarios that would be difficult to police, difficult to control and difficult to resource.
§ Ms Ward
Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman. Under the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985, that is an offence under English law, as it is under Scottish law.
§ Mr. Hancock
The hon. Lady once again refers to sporting events, but people may be travelling abroad on a coach for another purpose. Presumably that would not be covered.
§ Mr. Burns
The hon. Gentleman must not criticise the hon. Member for Watford (Ms Ward), because his story involved people in football strips wearing jeans, sneakers and sweat shirts around their waists. People do not usually go shopping dressed like that. [HON. MEMBERS: "They do!"] One or two perhaps, but not 30 on a coach.
§ Mr. Hancock
If the hon. Gentleman represented a city with a football culture, he would have seen many people shopping, going to church or doing myriad things in a football strip.
§ Mr. Banks
The hon. Gentleman is changing the scenario to suit his speech, which is all over the place. There will not be as many difficulties as he makes out. The provision would be used at designated times—not at any time during the year—when the England team played abroad. If he has travelled with English—
§ Mr. Banks
In that case, the hon. Gentleman will know that it is not difficult to spot people who sing "No surrender 113 to the IRA" as they are usually abusive, plastered out of their minds and shouting racist comments at airports or ports of exit. There will not be as many difficulties as he suggests to the Committee.
§ Mr. Hancock
The hon. Gentleman does not do justice to thousands of supporters who go to matches, sing, enjoy themselves, have a drink and do not cause problems. Many Members have tried to explain to the Government that they still have time to address that issue. They have already moved considerably.
§ Mr. Gummer
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) has given the game away? If the provision were confined to those who behave as he describes, we would have no problem with it. However, it does not so confine itself, which is why we are in this mess.
§ Mr. Hancock
I could not agree more. Many Members who under previous Governments held high office in Departments dealing with the law have experienced the difficulties of hastily conceived legislation—and paid the price. They had to try to dig their way out trouble after the legislation was passed. The hon. Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker) said why he supported the Bill. Those who have been to a football match or travelled with their team or the national side know that events do not take place over 24 hours. People travel to away internationals over three or four days, using different modes of transport, and arrive at grounds at different times. Some stay for a long time afterwards.
The hon. Gentleman described hooliganism and explained why we should do something about it. I have been at football matches in this country and abroad, and have been subjected to the worst side of hooliganism next to me, across the terrace from me and across the other side of the pitch. As a city councillor in Portsmouth, I represent the area where the football ground is located. For 30 years I have represented people who for long periods were victimised by football hooligans who thought nothing of throwing a dustbin through the front door or window of a flat-fronted terraced house as a passing gesture on their way home, simply because Portsmouth had done their team on the park that afternoon. That happened week after week. I understand the problem, and I want something done about it.
I want resources to be provided so that we can achieve what we are trying to do. It is sometimes difficult to police football matches properly, because the police are hard pressed and the clubs do not want to pay the cost of policing. Hon. Members who have raised the issue of resources are dead right.
We want to ensure that the police officers who make the initial stop are fully able to do their part of the job within the law—that is, they must have good reason. In the four-hour process, when does the clock start ticking? Is it the minute the policeman stops the person, or the minute the person is in a place where he can no longer exercise free will and has been removed from the port, airport or train station? Those questions must be answered tonight.
114 I doubt whether, at 12 o'clock when we finish the Committee stage, any Member or Minister, including the Home Secretary, could honestly report to the House what the Bill can do. The Minister will report that we have been through the Committee stage and have amended the Bill. What does the Bill do, and what does it not do? The Home Secretary was honest enough to say that between Thursday and Monday he had changed his mind and accepted that there were some good ideas about how the Bill could be amended. The amendments offer him the opportunity to go that little bit further. They do not say, "Come back at a later stage when you have got it right." They say, "For goodness sake get it right. Get three quarters of the Bill, do what most of us want to do, but if you are going the whole hog, ensure that the system is robust enough to stand the test of time, that it can be resourced properly and that it can deliver what the nation expects." A good headline tomorrow will not be sufficient to prevent trouble in September.
§ Mr. Lilley
I shall make clear what I am in favour of before I explain what I am against. I have no objection in principle to banning orders that prevent people from attending domestic or foreign football matches if that is part of the punishment for a criminal offence of which they have been convicted. I have no objection to giving the constabulary the powers to enforce such banning orders, and ensuring that they can do so effectively and efficiently. However, the Bill goes far further than that, and some of the amendments would rein it back. I favour amendments that try to restrict the powers of the police to enforcing bans on those who are convicted of criminal offences from attending football matches, either here or abroad, as part of their punishment or as a consequence of their criminal conviction.
Before amendment No. 42 was tabled, the Bill referred, as a ground for restricting the movement of someone through the ports, to behaviour of the person present before the constable. If a person is behaving in the port, or on the way to it, in a manner which constitutes a criminal offence—for example, if he is behaving in a drunk and disorderly fashion, committing a breach of the peace or indulging in racial incitement—the constabulary already have the powers to charge that person with an offence. They do not need any special powers. Just the process of charging and arresting them will stop those people going abroad and, in effect, will prevent them from attending the football match.
If those concerned are doing something which is not a criminal offence—they may be a bit merry, raucous or rowdy—it is hard to say that they should be prevented from travelling further to the football match. One is effectively reducing the level of offence if one gives the powers to the police to stop people going to a football match when they are not doing anything which, in itself, is a criminal offence.
If amendment No. 42 is accepted, reference to the behaviour of a person before the constable is omitted and ceases to be the primary consideration in determining whether the constable should detain them. The amendment would mean that if a constable in uniform had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the respondent had at any time caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, the constable could detain that person in his custody.
115 There seem to be five possible circumstances in which the constable could subsequently be justified—and the magistrates court could conclude—that the person detained had caused or contributed to any violence or disorder. The first is if they could show that the person had been charged and convicted of a crime that would be relevant to the circumstances of travelling to a football match. I would have no objection, in such circumstances, if the banning order were part of the punishment. However, if we are to add retrospectively to the punishment of people who, in the past, have been guilty of crimes, we will be guilty of retrospection and double jeopardy.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) asked, what if the previous offence's time had expired? In general, if a person has been charged and convicted of a crime, it is perfectly reasonable that he should have restrictions imposed on his right to attend football matches.
The second circumstance might be if the person has been charged with a crime, but not convicted. Are we saying that, in such circumstances, the constable would be reasonable in detaining the person—and the magistrates would subsequently be able to prevent them from travelling—because, under a lesser, civil burden of proof, the magistrates might think that although the person was acquitted on a criminal charge, there was a reasonable basis for thinking that they were reasonably guilty and, therefore, that we should stop them going? Is that what the Home Secretary is saying?
The third circumstance might be if the person had been arrested for something that constituted a criminal offence, but had never even been charged with it. Are we now to say that as an arrest took place, there must have been reasonable grounds for thinking that the person committed that offence and that he is responsible for causing or contributing to violence and disorder, so we will stop him? It is an enormous step in our law—that merely having been arrested for something can be a cause for having one's liberties restricted. The Home Secretary referred to the 965 people who had been arrested—but only one charged and convicted—by the Belgian police. The Bill specifically says that an arrest that is not even made by a British authority can constitute a reason for believing that the person has committed an offence of violence or disorder.
Fifthly, the person may be found to have caused acts of violence and disorder that are not in themselves crimes. The Bill specifically says that people can have their passports removed on the basis of acts that need not be a criminal offence anywhere in the world. It even says that they need not even themselves have caused the violence or disorder, but only have "contributed to" it—perhaps by being present or joining in the singing.
§ Mr. Gummer
My right hon. Friend must labour that point. In 1961, I was one of the leaders of an anti-ugly march, protesting against an appalling building in Cambridge. If, on the edge of that march, there had been some disorder—and there was—I could evidently have "contributed to" it as one of the march's leaders. Is that a 116 sufficient reason for my being prevented, today, from going to a football match? That is precisely what the Bill allows.
§ Mr. Lilley
That is a very good point. I hope that the Home Secretary will tell us what he means by "contributed to", as distinct from "caused". For example, if someone had organised a coach tour on which some people behaved in a thoroughly reprehensible manner, is he held to have contributed to the offence and will he be prevented from travelling to football matches? What if someone had contributed in his youth as a student organiser to events that turned a bit unruly, and possibly at which an excessive amount of drink was consumed?
It is pretty offensive that we should be introducing to the law of our land the right of the constable to detain and of the courts to restrict the liberties of people who have done something that falls short of being proven a crime. What is most reprehensible of all is that the Bill allows the magistrates to double-guess, on a lower standard of proof, people who have previously been charged and not convicted, or even merely been arrested and not charged, and take that as evidence that they were guilty of an offence. That is bad not only for the individuals whose liberty may be infringed but for respect for the law, as doubt is cast on the conclusions of the courts and the forces of law and order.
For all those reasons, I strongly support the widest of the amendments, which would comprehensively remove the offensive aspects of the Bill. I also support the narrower amendments. I do not want us to be reduced to the converse of the famous anti-Australian story that causes such offence to my Australian relatives, about the chap who arrived in Australia without a visa. Immigration officials asked him all sorts of tedious questions about his place of birth and his mother's maiden name, and he got more and more irritated, so that when they asked whether he had any criminal convictions, he unwisely said, "I didn't realise they were still required to get into Australia." Under the Bill, one does not even need a criminal conviction to be prevented from leaving the United Kingdom. That will give the last laugh to the Australians.
I have some factual issues that I would like the Home Secretary to address on the amendments. How many people does he believe are likely to be affected, or are being targeted by the Bill? How many people do not have banning orders against them but are believed to be the sort of people whom we should stop going abroad to football matches because they might provoke the sort of disorder that we saw on our television screens occurring in Belgium, although not in Holland? How many of the people that the Home Secretary expects to fall within the ambit of the legislation are likely to be restricted from travelling not because of a previous conviction for a criminal offence, but because they have caused or contributed to violence at a lower level than would constitute a criminal offence?
I suspect that the Home Secretary will say that he does not know how many, but that legislation is necessary to stop all who might do such things. However, he was able to be quantitative when it came to justifying the Bill as a whole. He referred to the 965 people arrested in Charleroi 117 and the fact that 42 per cent. had a conviction. Earlier today, he said that the only reason the Bill was justified was the events in Charleroi. Before that, he claimed, one could not have predicted the need for the Bill. It is only because of those 965 people, 42 per cent. of whom had a conviction, that we are considering the Bill today.
I would like to know a little more about those convictions. What proportion had criminal convictions for violence? What proportion were for disorder and what proportion for motoring offences? The Home Secretary is not listening at the moment, but I hope that his officials will wake him up and ask him to tell us more about those 42 per cent. with some sort of conviction.
§ Mr. Lilley
I am sorry that I was not listening and I shall go back to the debate and find out whether the Home Secretary did tell us how many had motoring offences. Perhaps he can remember and remind those of us who were inattentive so that we have that fact, which he thought important enough to give us then, to consider now. If he does not remember it, perhaps he could withdraw his accusation that I am somehow reprehensible for forgetting it too. [Interruption.] It appears that the Home Secretary does not know, any more than I do.
If we took a random sample of football fans—not the general population—what proportion might we reasonably expect to have some sort of conviction?
§ Mr. Lilley
I am grateful to the Home Secretary for what is important information, which is why I wanted it before us now. That leads to my next point: how do those figures compare with those that might be found for a random sample of football fans? We heard on Second Reading that a surprisingly high proportion of the general population have some kind of conviction against them.
§ Mr. Gale
It is a pity that the Home Secretary did not continue his quotation. He also said that97 per cent. of those arrested were not convicted or known football hooligans. That is of great importance in framing further legislative measures to tackle the phenomenon.—[Official Report, 13 July 200; Vol. 353, c. 1182.]His assumption is clearly that those 97 per cent., unconvicted of any offence anywhere in the world, were guilty.
§ Mr. Lilley
Indeed, there was a presumption that on the balance of probabilities any one of those 965 was guilty of some offence because they had all been arrested by the Belgian authorities, even though 964 of them were never charged or convicted of any offence. I think that it is rather important for the Home Secretary to give the House information as to how many people will fall foul of the Bill if it targets only those whom he intends it to target.
118 The Home Secretary should also consider whether other people might fall foul of the Bill unintentionally. My hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) said that not all ferry travellers were "entirely endearing" in their behaviour. I use the ferry to France at least six times a year, and my hon. Friend's description of some of my fellow passengers is correct. Under the influence of drink, some behave in a way that is a little too effusive, but they do not necessarily commit any criminal offence.
If the constabulary consider that those people are travelling to a football match, will they be detained and brought before a magistrate? How often could that happen? What harm might the fear of that action do to the relations between the police and the general public?
For those and other reasons, I hope that the various amendments restricting the excessive powers in the original Bill will be accepted today.
§ Mr. Donald Gorrie (Edinburgh, West)
I wish to make three points in support of the amendments tabled by the Liberal Democrats. First, I see no mention in the Bill of the police being required to ask if people are going to a football match. That seems a basic point because otherwise they will have to guess where people are going.
Secondly, it has been suggested that alleged hooligans might leave the country via Scottish airports. If a Scot making a brief visit to England is detained by a policeman who thinks that he is a potential football hooligan, will the policeman be able to prevent the Scot from returning to his domicile in Scotland if there happens to be a football match somewhere in the area? That would not seem right.
The right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) touched on my third point, which concerns the phrasecaused or contributed to any violence or disorder.Many people innocently cause or contribute to disorder. Pop and rock groups cause an enormous amount of disorder. A policeman might reasonably assume that, because a rock group had caused riots in the past, they might do so again if they attended a football match. Would that group be prevented from going to the match?
Throughout history, from Helen of Troy onwards, attractive females have often caused disorder—wars, or something less. Will a lady who in the past has caused men to behave riotously be prevented from going to a football match where she may again cause such behaviour?
§ Mr. Banks
I am intrigued by what the hon. Gentleman has just said. He mentioned Helen of Troy and said that many wars had been caused by attractive women. May I test his historical knowledge and ask him to give the House a list of all the wars caused by attractive women? I thought most wars were caused by very ugly men.
§ Mr. Gorrie
My point was that one can quite innocently be the cause of violence. Helen of Troy misbehaved herself in leaving her husband, but she did not fight the war. The hon. Gentleman makes my point for me.
Suppose that the management or board of a football club was very unpopular and there had been riots at that club protesting against their incompetence. A policeman 119 might believe that there might be another riot if they went to a match and their team lost yet again. Should the policeman stop the management of the club going to the match? As for some of the more violent football players—whose conduct on the pitch is violent in the strict sense—the police may think that if they take part in the match there is liable to be trouble on or off the pitch. Should the police stop them going to the match?
An enthusiastic policeman who had read the Bill carefully and was on duty in Downing street might even believe, if he had looked at television coverage of Prime Minister's Question Time, that the Prime Minister had caused or contributed to disorder. If the policeman believed that Britain or the Prime Minister personally was very unpopular in the country to which the right hon. Gentleman was going for the match, he might believe that the Prime Minister could cause further disorder.
§ Ms Ward
I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman is managing to say all this with a straight face. Is he really suggesting that the Prime Minister or—I will be generous here—the Leader of the Opposition could be classed as potential football hooligans on the grounds of their conduct on a Wednesday afternoon? I can only hope that the hon. Gentleman is trying to amuse the House.
§ Mr. Gorrie
I am trying to illustrate the absurdity of the Bill's wording and the fact that people can innocently cause or contribute to violence or disorder. That is what the Bill says, and it leads to all sorts of absurdities.
I have great regard for the Prime Minister, and I am quite sure that he is not a football hooligan. However, the Bill will catch many people who are not football hooligans—that is my point.
§ Mr. Banks
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie), in trying to find absurd situations, has done the police no great service. We must be realistic. There is no way the police will stop all these people, ranging from the Prime Minister to attractive women, leaving the country on the grounds that they might cause an affray when they reach their destination. One must assume that police officers have a modicum of good sense even if the hon. Gentleman does not have much.
§ Mr. Banks
That is certainly true. I do not have the statistics in front of me, but I doubt whether very many women have been included in the number of those arrested for football disorder or offences. One of the good things about football these days is the civilising presence of so many women and families at matches. We are trying to ensure that that happens when our supporters go abroad, when we have dealt with the problem of hooliganism at home.
To accept amendment No. 21 would be to destroy the whole purpose of the Bill. The police need these powers. People who understand about football hooliganism know that unless we have the powers to stop people travelling, 120 trying to deal with the export of hooliganism is bound to fail. Having said that, I am not certain that even this Bill will work in the way that we want, because I believe that there are enough hooligans or potential troublemakers who will see what we are doing as a bit of fun and will find ways around any legislation that we introduce. But that does not mean that we should not make it as difficult as possible for them to do so.
§ 10 pm
§ Mr. Lilley
In a genuine spirit of inquiry, since I do not purport to know much about football hooliganism, may I ask why we need more severe powers to stop hooligans travelling abroad than we possess and have used domestically to reduce the incidence of hooliganism in the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. Banks
The answer to that is simple. The right hon. Gentleman should go to football matches more often. There have been improvements in the law, in policing and in stewarding inside football grounds. The clubs segregate supporters, the police stop supporters going into grounds if they are drunk and many other means have been used to deal with the problem at home. That is why we find it so perplexing when a problem largely dealt with here is exported abroad.
I do not suggest that there are any easy solutions. No one in the House says that. However, instead of Opposition Members—and some of my hon. Friends—popping up to say that all sorts of strange things may happen, they could acknowledge that we need to do much more than we are doing now. At times, I hear strange words coming from my own mouth: we must sometimes rely on the good sense of police officers at certain specified times to stop people travelling whom they genuinely suspect of being likely to cause trouble if they go abroad. As I said to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) a few moments ago, the problems we face are difficult, but not as difficult as some hon. Members are suggesting.
§ Mr. Hancock
When he was Minister for Sport, the hon. Gentleman made great play, particularly during the world cup, of not wanting English fans without tickets to travel to football matches abroad. Would he think it right for a police officer to ask a group of fans whether they had tickets for a game? If some did and some did not—and given that incidents abroad in the past have sometimes been caused by fans without tickets—would that be a good enough reason for the police not to allow a person to travel?
§ Mr. Banks
That could be a further piece of evidence that a police officer could use to detain an individual or group of people. Of course it could be that the people involved were not on their way to a football match. Clearly, the police officer would have to ask whether they were. Whether an individual chooses to tell the truth is another matter, but a police officer who was trying to ensure that someone did not travel could use several means to filter information so that he or she could feel reasonably confident that a particular individual should be detained for long enough to find out whether there was any further reason why a magistrate should prevent them from travelling. 121 We must give the police credit by believing that, at the times designated in the Bill, officers would be looking for potential football hooligans rather than for ordinary, decent, honest citizens who were not interested in football but were going to France for a day out. Why would a police officer make trouble for himself by scooping up large numbers of the constituents of the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) just so that he could say that he had made his contribution to anti-hooliganism by arresting people trying to leave that area?
§ Mr. Gale
The hon. Gentleman makes my point. Many hours ago, when this debate began, the Home Secretary said that the purpose of the Bill was to catch people who were going abroad to make trouble. How the blazes can a Kent policeman know that someone is going abroad to make trouble? How can he know that until a person who probably had no intention of making trouble has been abroad, had too much to drink and made trouble?
§ Mr. Banks
I accept that that is a problem. The point is not that a police officer knows that someone will make trouble. How can he or she know what will happen in future? However, an officer can suspect that someone may cause trouble.
The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) pointed out that, if the measure went wrong, Opposition Members could say, "We told you so". That could apply the other way round. If the amendment is accepted and if there is trouble because the powers provided for the police under the Bill have been removed, what will Opposition Members say? They will have removed from the Bill the one provision that would give the extra filter at the port of exit that police officers require to try to prevent from leaving the country those people who it is suspected might cause disorder.
Of course, the use of such powers is conditional. That is why it is so difficult to draw them up. However, it is worth taking the risk. That is the important point. Opposition Members and some of my hon. Friends should realise that identification of troublemakers would not be as difficult as they seem to think. Many clubs keep lists of such people even though they do not have convictions. That information could be given to the police.
If the Bill is enacted, the police could use their discrimination and discernment, with information from other sources, to try to stop people travelling if they are likely to cause trouble.
§ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael J. Martin)
Order. Hon. Members should not make these interventions.
§ Mr. Banks
I must pick up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) about the miners' strike. My hon. Friend and I, and other people, ferried supplies to coalfields in Derbyshire. We were stopped regularly by the police—I do not know under which powers—and had to explain 122 what we were doing. I was offended by that because I was—and am—a law-abiding citizen. That might come as a surprise to some Opposition Members.
However, any law-abiding citizen who is stopped under this measure will not end up with a criminal record. There is sometimes a price that we have to pay as law-abiding citizens to stop those people who are intent on breaking the law, either in this or another country. I am prepared to pay that price.
§ Mr. Burns
In that context, should we not also remember that, if the measure does give rise to problems, there will be an annual review by the House—as there is for the prevention of terrorism Acts? The sunset clause also affords additional protection in case the legislation is not as ideal as we hope.
§ Mr. Banks
The sunset clause and the review are important, because if the measure is wrong, we can do something about it. Although I support the Bill because I have seen the damage that football hooliganism has done to our reputation all over the world, I point out to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that this will not be the last time that we deal with the subject. This Bill is not the complete answer but I am sure that, if the Liberal amendment were accepted, there would be nothing in the Bill to prevent hooliganism abroad—[Interruption.] I am asked if I have read the amendment: of course I have.
§ Mr. McDonnell
Does my hon. Friend appreciate that the argument that the innocent have nothing to fear was also used to justify all the stop and search measures that were used so prejudicially against the black community in London?.
§ Mr. Banks
I did not say that the innocent have nothing to fear, because some innocent people will undoubtedly be caught by the legislation. There will be inconvenience. However, in this place, we have to draw lines—we have to decide on the issues. Although there are times when I would wholly agree with my hon. Friend's point about the use of sus laws to stop black youths in our community, I can also see a reason for the Bill. We have to draw lines. Sometimes we cross or fall short of a line, but we ultimately use our judgment. Our judgment may prove to be wrong.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The hon. Gentleman misrepresents one point. Those of us who argue that we should remove this measure from the Bill would leave three of the other four measures in it. We would also give the other half of a two-Chamber Parliament a chance to do a much better job than the Government have so far done with this measure.
§ Mr. Banks
I understand that point. Obviously there is no argument about three of the measures in the Bill. This measure is the crucial one, and that is why we are spending so much time on it 123 To return to what I was saying to my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell), our judgment is as good as that of those in another place. Why do we not trust it? I trust our judgment and I trust my judgment on this point. I believe that we should pass the Bill tonight. If we get the Bill wrong, we shall test it against the reality of practice and change it if necessary.
We are dealing with people who will find their way around the legislation, but we must never give up. If we give up, they will make fools of all of us. Quite frankly, enough of us have already made fools of ourselves.
§ Mr. Grieve
I had not originally intended to speak on this group of amendments, but the debate has developed with a genuine exchange of views. I have therefore been prompted to speak.
I have now had a chance to examine the Bill carefully and I think that some of the Bill's basic thrust on banning orders is misunderstood. It is interesting that the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) seems to misunderstand aspects of that. Leaving aside the summary procedure to which I shall come shortly, it is clear that it will be a searching and ponderous procedure to secure a banning order against someone when it is not immediately linked to his being convicted by a court.
One only has to examine the procedures in schedule 1 to learn that the process will not take one, two or three hours; I suspect that, in some cases, it will involve a court case that will spread out over several days. That is even before we come to the process by which one goes to the Crown court on appeal. [Interruption.] The Minister of State, Home Office, the right hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng), is making suggestive gestures—that might be the best way of describing them—but he knows the reality.
A complaint will be made, a summons will be issued, an individual will be targeted and he will be told that, notwithstanding the fact that he is not standing trial for an offence, he will be brought before a court because the police have accumulated sufficient evidence that they consider to be valid to obtain a banning order against him. There will then be a substantial hearing. That hearing will take place—[Interruption.] I shall continue for as long as necessary to make the Home Secretary understand the importance of the point that has to be made. That procedure will take time and it will involve witnesses being called. Undoubtedly, character witnesses will be called for the person against whom the allegations are made and, if we are dealing with video evidence, I am sure that there will be issues of identity and a host of other problems.
Notwithstanding those points, I do not think that the procedure that the Home Secretary is introducing for banning orders for people against whom a complaint is made will in any way be unfair. I think that individuals will be targeted who have previously escaped conviction and on whom the courts can make an order and enforce it, which will be regarded as right. In view of that, 124 the summary procedure to bring someone before a magistrates court appears to be all the more remarkable, as it places on a police officer the burden of making a snap decision—it cannot have been made previously; otherwise someone would have gone off and sought a banning order—and applying it to a form of public order control on the spot. The two are not easily reconciled.
Those who will have banning orders brought against them will be few in number. However, the summary procedure is being depicted as a measure that will result in large numbers of people being picked up at a port or place of exit from this country and prevented from leaving on a general hunch of the police, backed by a few hours of investigation. I therefore hope that the Home Secretary will pay careful attention to amendment No. 9, which would at least require the intervention of a magistrate before such an order is made. He may also wish to consider carefully whether the summary procedure marries easily with the safeguards that he has introduced in the main procedure for getting the banning orders. I cannot help but think that, in reality, when such a situation arises the police will have to make on-the-spot decisions and will have plenty of time to repent at leisure as they subsequently discover that they have inhibited the exit from this country of those against whom they do not have sufficient evidence to obtain a banning order.
§ Mr. Straw
May I respond to some points that have been raised in our debate, which has gone on for three and a half hours and which, I hope, has been as helpful for the Committee as it has for me?
May I return the compliment to the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), who invited me to listen? I shall not follow up everything that he raised as, although I am sure that he had good reason for not being here earlier, I have been into considerable detail about the reasons for the orders. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman accepts that the procedure will not be unfair. Whether it turns out to be ponderous depends on the nature of the court, but it is proper that it should be searching, as our courts established.
The hon. Gentleman suggested that a limited number of people will be processed under the civil procedure in the third part of the Bill, which allows me to answer in the negative the question asked by the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) about whether I knew how many orders would be processed in the ensuing period. Of course the answer is that one cannot tell. However, I must tell the hon. Member for Beaconsfield that I suspect that how long a particular case takes depends, as in any other case in the civil or criminal courts, on the strength and complexity of the evidence. It does not follow that, in every case involving an individual who is subject to the civil process, he or she—although typically he—will resist the complaint or have much of a case to make in defence.
In situations in which it turns out that the application is founded on thin evidence or there is argument about identity, it is perfectly possible that proceedings may take some time. However, we have learned from the process for anti-social behaviour orders that as courts gained experience of the process, they obviously became more skilled in dealing with the matters before them.
125 In my opening remarks, I made the point at length that the summary power needs to be seen as supplementary to the core power, which involves obtaining a banning order by a civil process. It is to be hoped—the police have this hope—that, so far as possible, candidates for banning orders will be dealt with by the slower process of a normal complaint issued in the magistrates court, where, if a matter is adjourned for a week or so, it will not materially affect the risk that the individual poses.
There has also been much speculation about whether the police in Dover or any other port will be able to identify every person who will cause trouble abroad. Of course they will be unable to do that because, as the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) said, they are not clairvoyant. The Association of Chief Police Officers, superintendents and the National Criminal Intelligence Service strongly support both the powers because they believe that they will assist them in better controlling hooliganism.
I make it clear to the Committee that the Bill will not in itself end football hooliganism abroad any more than the Football Spectators Act 1989, which was the subject of a guillotine exactly 11 years ago today, led to an immediate reduction in football hooliganism in this country. Over time, however, the powers should greatly assist in reducing the threat of football hooliganism abroad.
There is another effect, which I point out in response to the hon. Member for North Thanet. There are people who would be intercepted by the police if better information were available, but at present they may slip through the cordon, go abroad and cause trouble. If there is evidence against them that we can use, it can retrospectively be brought into play to obtain a banning order by the slower process when they return to this country.
§ Dr. Lynne Jones
Earlier, I asked my right hon. Friend to explain what would be reasonable grounds on which a police officer might believe that an individual had caused or contributed to violence. He responded that provisions such as these are available in other legislation. He has dismissed the idea of tattoos or slogans on clothing being grounds for suspicion, so is it not clear that a police officer would require—
§ Dr. Jones
I was drawing my intervention to an end, Mr. Martin. Is it not clear that the police officer would have to have intelligence to have reasonable grounds for suspicion, and if that intelligence is available—this is the point that the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) was making—surely the proper procedure would be to use the other provisions for acquiring a banning order?.
§ Mr. Straw
My hon. Friend has two worries. First, she is worried about whether the police will use the power arbitrarily. Secondly, she is concerned that if there is not good intelligence, which is normally inadmissible in a court because of its nature, but there is good evidence, that should be used to obtain a criminal conviction.
On the first point, we have in amendments Nos. 42 to 46 considerably narrowed the grounds on which the police can intercept someone, make inquiries of them, hold them 126 while their inquiries are taking place and issue them with a notice to attend court. Those grounds now parallel those in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 on reasonable suspicions and beliefs. The reasonable belief must be that if the person concerned is taken to court, which must happen within 24 hours, the court is likely to grant a banning order against them. That power is very constrained, and the police will not, except in very exceptional circumstances, misuse it because whether they have exercised it reasonably will be a matter of judgment within a court process that will begin 24 hours later.
My hon. Friend's other point raises the central issue of whether banning orders by the alternative route of civil process should be available. As she will notice from schedule 1 on page 10, banning orders by criminal process are available only where there are football-related convictions. We are proposing—it receives the general approbation of the three main parties—that there will be a basis for a banning order when there is evidence of someone's past involvement in violence or disorder, which typically will be convictions not for football-related offences but for violence, and when there are reasonable grounds for believing that if, for example, they go abroad, they will cause further violence or disorder around the football ground. I think that that will work fairly and proportionately.
I shall deal briefly with some of the other matters that have been raised. I understand, although I am afraid that I was not present to hear it, that the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) asked about a power of arrest after a notice had been issued. That arises under proposed section 21B(5) if, in the opinion of the police officer, reasonable grounds make it necessary to arrest the individual in order that the notice is complied with.
Several right hon. and hon. Members have asked about the practicalities of the summary procedures. If grounds for detention under proposed section 21A are met, the constable may detain for immediate inquiry for a maximum of four hours on his own decision and up to six hours in total with the approval of an officer of the rank of inspector or above. As soon as a decision whether to issue a notice is reached, the person is either released, if it is decided that there are no grounds to issue a notice, or the notice is issued. The notice will contain conditions for the person to appear in court within 24 hours, not to leave England and Wales before then, and to surrender his passport if the offence relates to the control period. If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that it is necessary to ensure compliance with the condition of the notice, there is, as I have explained to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire, a power of arrest. In other cases, the person will be released.
On appearance in court, the case may be dealt with immediately and dismissed or dealt with immediately and a banning order made. Alternatively, the court may adjourn the case and remand the person either in custody or on bail, as in normal circumstances. Bail may be subject to conditions not to leave the country and to surrender his passport.
I gather that a number of hon. Members asked for figures on the number of custody suites available and on the additional manpower required. There are custody suites all over the country and, obviously, provision will 127 be made proportionately, according to available police resources. That is always so because that, by definition, determines the amount of police activity.
Several questions have been raised about the 24-hour limit. We have consulted the Lord Chancellor's Department, and it believes that the 24-hour limit for a magistrates court hearing is doable. Plainly, it is in everyone's interest to get the individual into court as quickly as possible, and in under 24 hours if possible.
§ Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)
I may have got the wrong end of the stick, but I understand that a ban would at one point require someone not to leave England and Wales. I may be at the limits of testing the legislation, but if a resident of Scotland passes through an English port and is then suspected by the police, will that person be banned from returning to their home in Scotland?.
§ Mr. Straw
The legislation applies to United Kingdom citizens, who include residents of Scotland as well as of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, so the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question is yes. However, if the person happens to be a Scottish supporter, it is extremely unlikely that they will be caught up in the legislation. [Interruption.] I make a serious point; we have a good deal to learn in England from the behaviour of Scottish fans.
§ Mr. Malins
We understand that the Home Secretary is unable to cover every point that has been raised by Opposition Members, but, as many important points will remain unanswered at the end of the debate, will he undertake during the next week to send detailed written responses to those of us whose points have not been answered?.
§ Mr. Gummer
Is the Home Secretary saying that, for the first time in British law, we are going to stop people going from England to Scotland? Even if it were to be invoked only rarely, that would constitute a real constitutional change. If that is what he is telling the Committee, he is putting before us an entirely new fact of considerable importance.
§ Mr. Straw
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but it is often the case that people are required not to leave the jurisdiction for a certain period. I shall write to him if further inquiry into the matter proves me wrong on that.
We are dealing with new powers. By definition, any legislation passed by Parliament is new; if we never had to change things, we would never need to sit. They are new powers for new circumstances and, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) pointed out, the 128 process of legislation involves speculation about the future. We have to use what intellectual and political resources we have to speculate as accurately as possible.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. Browne) asked whether a person could be arrested more than once in the same 24-hour period. Plainly, it would be wrong to make repeated arrests to circumvent the time limit on the arrangements that we have provided, and we shall consider whether that should be made more explicit. However, I ask the Committee to consider the following case: the police intercept a person on his way to port X; they make inquiries of that person, but conclude that there are not sufficient grounds to serve him with a notice requiring him to go to court; that person then moves off to a different port and, at that port, more evidence emerges as a result of different police officers following different lines of inquiry; it is decided that there are good grounds to serve that individual with a notice; that individual is served with the notice and, in due course, the court endorses the banning order. I do not think that would be inappropriate police action, any more than it is inappropriate for the police to stop and search someone who has committed a crime but who has managed to evade detection in a previous stop and search. However, I accept that we need to ensure that there are provisions to prevent gratuitous exploitation in circumstances which, although unlikely, might arise.
Finally, I promised to address Opposition amendment No. 9, which would require a magistrates warrant rather than an inspector's authorisation before an officer could issue someone with a notice not to leave the country and to attend a magistrates court within 24 hours. Our judgment is that insisting on a magistrates warrant before notice is issued is likely to lead to longer delays and longer periods of detention by interposing another procedure between the initial decision to issue the notice and appearance in court. It would complicate matters and I am not sure that it would necessarily be welcomed by the magistracy. It would give magistrates summary powers of arrest and detention which, in our system, are typically given to the police, and then made the subject of proper adjudication by the courts.
I hope that I have dealt with the burden of the main issues raised by right hon. and hon. Members. I have explained the Government amendments and invited the withdrawal of Opposition amendments. I commend the Committee for a constructive debate.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
If ever there were an argument for not going from Committee stage to Report without interruption, the past three and three quarter hours have made the case. Like the Home Secretary, I commend colleagues in all parts of the House—Scots and English colleagues—for making important contributions on various matters, demonstrating the need for us to proceed slowly and with caution if we are not to produce legislation that we will live to regret.
The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) reminded us that although we can speak at length about the drafting, we are discussing real people—often young people—going on innocent journeys, who might find themselves face to face with the law.
That is why I take a different view from that of the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), with whom I often agree, the hon. Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker) 129 and the hon. Member for Watford (Ms Ward), who, in summary, argued that we must provide the powers so that when the authorities suspect people who, in the words of the hon. Member for West Ham, might cause the trouble, they can take their liberties away. That is not a view that we share.
The hon. Member for Gedling seemed to suggest that protecting the liberties of the many is sufficient justification for risking the liberties of the few. That is not the principle on which we have worked. Historically, we have been willing to let off the few in order to protect the liberties of the many. The hon. Member for Watford said that it was all about what people had done in the past. It is not; it is about what the police might think that people had done in the past, which is an entirely different question.
In a way, this is back-to-front legislation. We should have decided in what circumstances a ban is appropriate, decided whether a previous conviction should be the precondition of a ban, and then decided what power we wanted to give the authorities to detain people, with the prospect of a ban being imposed.
In their contributions, our two Scots colleagues, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. Browne) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Sir R. Smith) suggested that in some respects we could learn from Scotland, and that the Bill would benefit from the inclusion of those points.
My hon. Friends and I will shortly ask the Committee to vote on amendment No. 20. The Committee has a straightforward choice between accepting the fourth power, amended as it may be by Government amendments, or deciding that there is now such a muddle and so many unanswered questions that it is better to take it out, not necessarily for ever, but until there is some agreement about what it might do, what it might mean, how it might be enacted and what the practical implications might be. I hope that in a few moments colleagues in all parts of the House, other than those who take the Government pay and are on the Government payroll vote, will join us and decide that we should not support the measure.
To address the question posed by the Home Secretary, of course there must be a power so that people can be apprehended and dealt with in the courts. However, we take the view that people should be apprehended in certain circumstances, and that it must be clear that they have a record of violence before the authorities have the power to detain them.
Although the police might have said in principle that they supported the Bill, one of the obvious outcomes of the debate is that if they had heard the questions raised by colleagues from the courts, I am not sure that they would have been at all happy, but there is no chance to ask the police or to speak to the Association of Chief Police Officers or the Police Superintendents Association. There is no chance to discuss with them the objections that have been raised.
The right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) slightly misrepresented us. We think that amendment No. 33 is an improvement. We are in favour of amendment No. 37 being accepted, and we think that amendment No. 35 is worth considering. We entirely understand why she may want to move amendment No. 9 later in our oh-too-limited proceedings.
130 Four colleagues raised questions of practicality—the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins), the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell), my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) and the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell).
Practicalities are as important as anything else. Will the courts and the police be able to handle the measure? We are not simply considering Euro 2000 or a world cup tournament, but every year's European cup or cup-winner's cup. The measure will be used regularly, and it will affect all the ports and airports. As the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire said, it contains a sweeping definition that covers anyone who might have been guilty of violence and disorder.
The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal reminded us that the Bill will take away not only a few hours' liberty, but people's passports and potentially their ability to travel abroad for many years. The right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) reminded us that it may be sufficient for someone to have contributed marginally to violence and disorder. Someone who was around the edges of, for example, a student demonstration or civil rights protest in the past could be picked up under the Bill. We do not claim that the police will necessarily intervene, but if they are in the front line and getting some grief, they will have the power to do so.
The choice for the Committee is whether we want to go along with such a Bill or whether we have a duty to say that we shall not make such legislation, that we cannot ignore the plethora of objections or risk people's liberties. When so many hon. Members from different parties have raised so many objections to what one colleague described as the tapestry of the Bill, I hope that the Committee will realise that we are not considering fiction but fact, and that we owe it to people to get the measure right. I hope that a great coalition, consisting of those who want to remove the provision and those who want to go back to the drawing board and start again, will support the amendment.
I hope that the Government realise that they cannot continue to legislate in such a manner. In the words of the hon. Member for West Ham, we have had enough.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 58, Noes 211.132
|Division No. 270]||[10.42 pm|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Fearn, Ronnie|
|Allan, Richard||Flynn, Paul|
|Baker, Norman||Foster, Don (Bath)|
|Ballard, Jackie||Gale, Roger|
|Barnes, Harry||George, Andrew (St Ives)|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Gidley, Sandra|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Gummer, Rt Hon John|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)||Hancock, Mike|
|Brake, Tom||Harris, Dr Evan|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Harvey, Nick|
|Breed, Colin||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Hopkins, Kelvin|
|Burnett, John||Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)|
|Burstow, Paul||Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)|
|Chidgey, David||Keetch, Paul|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Leigh, Edward|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)|
|Livsey, Richard||Skinner, Dennis|
|McDonnell, John||Stunell, Andrew|
|MacIennan, Rt Hon Robert||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Marshall-Andrews, Robert||Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)|
|Moore, Michael||Tonge, Dr Jenny|
|Oaten, Mark||Tyler, Paul|
|Öpik, Lembit||Willis, Phil|
|Ross, William (E Lond'y)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Russell, Bob (Colchester)||Sir Robert Smith and|
|Sanders, Adrian||Mr. Donald Gorrie.|
|Ainger, Nick||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Field, Rt Hon Frank|
|Alexander, Douglas||Fitzpatrick, Jim|
|Allen, Graham||Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Flint, Caroline|
|Banks, Tony||Follett, Barbara|
|Barron, Kevin||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Battle, John||Galloway, George|
|Beard, Nigel||Gibson, Dr Ian|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)||Godsiff, Roger|
|Best, Harold||Goggins, Paul|
|Betts, Clive||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Blackman, Liz||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Blizzard, Bob||Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)|
|Boateng, Rt Hon Paul||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Grogan, John|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Hain, Peter|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)|
|Browne, Desmond||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)|
|Burden, Richard||Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet|
|Burgon, Colin||Healey, John|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)|
|Caborn, Rt Hon Richard||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Heppell, John|
|Cann, Jamie||Hesford, Stephen|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Hewitt, Ms Patricia|
|Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)||Hoey, Kate|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Home Robertson, John|
|Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)||Hood, Jimmy|
|Clelland, David||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|
|Corbett, Robin||Hurst, Alan|
|Corston, Jean||Hutton, John|
|Cousins, Jim||Iddon, Dr Brian|
|Cox, Tom||Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)|
|Cranston, Ross||Jamieson, David|
|Crausby, David||Jenkins, Brian|
|Cummings, John||Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)|
|Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)||Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)||Kemp, Fraser|
|Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire||Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Khabra, Piara S|
|Darvill, Keith||Kidney, David|
|Davidson, Ian||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)||Kumar, Dr Ashok|
|Ladyman, Dr Stephen|
|Dawson, Hilton||Lammy, David|
|Dismore, Andrew||Lepper, David|
|Drew, David||Levitt, Tom|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)||Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen|
|Edwards, Huw||Love, Andrew|
|Efford, Clive||McAvoy, Thomas|
|McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)||Sarwar, Mohammad|
|Macdonald, Calum||Shaw, Jonathan|
|McGuire, Mrs Anne||Short, Rt Hon Clare|
|McIsaac, Shona||Smith, Angela (Basildon)|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)|
|MacShane, Denis||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Mactaggart, Fiona||Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|McWalter, Tony||Snape, Peter|
|McWilliam, John||Soley, Clive|
|Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)||Squire, Ms Rachel|
|Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Stewart, David (Inverness E)|
|Martlew, Eric||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Meacher, Rt Hon Michael||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Meale, Alan||Straw, Rt Hon Jack|
|Michael, Rt Hon Alun||Stringer, Graham|
|Miller, Andrew||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Moran, Ms Margaret||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Mountford, Kali||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie||Tipping, Paddy|
|Mullin, Chris||Todd, Mark|
|Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Naysmith, Dr Doug||Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Olner, Bill||Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|O'Neill, Martin||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Palmer, Dr Nick||Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Pickthall, Colin||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Pollard, Kerry||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Pope, Greg||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Pound, Stephen||Ward, Ms Claire|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)||Watts, David|
|Prescott, Rt Hon John||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Purchase, Ken||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Quinn, Lawrie||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Rapson, Syd||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)||Woolas, Phil|
|Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff||Worthington, Tony|
|Rooney, Terry||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)||Wright, Tony (Cannock)|
|Rowlands, Ted||Wyatt, Derek|
|Ruane, Chris||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Ryan, Ms Joan||Mr. Jim Dowd and|
|Salter, Martin||Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.