§ Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald)
I beg to move,That this House condemns unreservedly the actions of hooligans purporting to support the England football team at the Euro 2000 championships; hopes that there will be no repetition of these actions and that UEFA's threat to expel the England team from the tournament will not be acted upon; notes that UEFA and others have criticised the Government's lack of action to tackle football hooliganism; further notes that proposals to stop unconvicted hooligans from travelling to international matches were brought forward by Opposition honourable Members during proceedings on the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999 but were not taken up by the Government, despite the Minister for Sport's statement that such powers were necessary; calls on the Home Secretary to explain the inaction and delay that has characterised the Government's approach, despite the undertakings given by Ministers to bring forward their own proposals; and calls on the Government urgently to take the action it has promised for two years to tackle the problem of the thugs who are a disgrace to this country's proud footballing tradition.Members on both sides of the House will deplore the violence that has been seen on the streets of Brussels and of Charleroi over the past few days. The hooligan element—who may describe themselves as football fans, but are nothing of the sort—are a disgrace to this country. They have brought shame to it and to our national game. They have, very sadly indeed, detracted from the magnificent win that our team managed against Germany, which we hope to see repeated on many occasions.
I pay tribute to our team, who have played their boldest and their best, and to our law enforcement agencies, including the police, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and those in Belgium and the Netherlands who have worked so hard to ensure that the scenes that we witnessed did not deteriorate into something worse. I also pay tribute to the work of the Football Association and the England coach, Kevin Keegan. They have rightly called on the hooligans to back the efforts made by the team on the field of play and to cease their actions off it. We must all hope that the scenes witnessed last week are not repeated, either tonight or in coming days, and that UEFA's threat to expel the so very well performing England team from the tournament is not acted on.
§ Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)
Has the right hon. Lady noticed that for England's games, the Belgian police prepared for a riot and allowed the sale of double strength beer whereas the Dutch police prepared for a party with pop music and half-strength beer, and by encouraging the use of a drug that has a calming effect? The expectations of both police forces were fulfilled. Should not the Belgian police take a leaf out of the Dutch book?
§ Miss Widdecombe
I am not sure whether we have heard the genuine voice of the Labour party; I suspect that 160 Labour Front Benchers would probably say not. I shall refer to beer later on, but shall not comment on those other matters.
During a debate in June 1998, after the violence in the world cup, the Home Secretary said:Last Monday, I spoke to Mr. Chevenement to apologise on behalf of the British Government and people for the events in Marseilles. We are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure that such disgraceful scenes are not repeated in future soccer tournaments.— [Official Report, 22 June 1998; Vol. 314, c. 720.]Yesterday, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister spoke of their deep apologies to the people of Belgium, and promised action to reinforce our determination to stamp out hooliganism overseas. Those words were worryingly familiar.
Two years separated those statements and those events. During that time, nothing has been done to effect the Home Secretary's promises. Yesterday, in his statement to the House, the Home Secretary showed the muddle that he had got into. It is not surprising that he is in a muddle. He cannot even agree with his junior Minister on the best policy.
Yesterday, the Home Secretary told the House—this may interest the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn)—that he hoped that the Belgian authoritieswill follow the lead of the Dutch authorities. Alcohol was not banned in the Netherlands, but regulations were laid down requiring the sale only of very low-strength alcohol. That seems to have worked satisfactorily.—[Official Report, 19 June 2000; Vol. 352, c. 43.]Will the Home Secretary clarify the Government's policy? Last month, Lord Bassam, who is responsible for the matter, called for a complete ban on the sale of alcohol in Euro 2000 host cities. He said that he did not want beer-fuelled fighting on the streets. Is Government policy in favour of a complete ban, or is it that alcohol should not be banned? The policy is unclear.
What has been happening the past two years is even less clear. There is an enormous difference between the Government's rhetoric and their actions. In view of specific statements by the Home Secretary in the past few days, it is worth putting on record the course that the debate has taken in the past two years.
First, I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler). He had the foresight to raise the matter of sanctions against unconvicted football hooligans as long ago as June 1998. He tabled amendments to the Crime and Disorder Bill more than two years ago. Those amendments would have allowed the courts to place restrictions on anyone whoacted in such a way as to give reasonable cause to believe that an order … is necessary to prevent him from disturbing good order at any designated football match outside the United Kingdom or during the period before or after any designated football match outside the United Kingdom …I must give the Home Secretary some credit because he was not wholly unreceptive. He said that my right hon. Friend's proposal for a football behaviour order was an important idea and that the Government would sit down and work on it. He has certainly been sitting down ever since.
In a subsequent letter to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield, the Home Secretary said:I feel that this proposal is very important.161 Last night, the Minister of State, Home Office, the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), told "Channel 4 News" that there was "a very strong case" for the proposal. However, it seems that the case has not been strong enough until now, and the proposal was not sufficiently important for the Home Secretary to include it in any of the 10 Home Office Bills this Session.
Following the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield, Conservative Members did not give up. The proposal was again made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), to whom I also pay tribute for his work, during Second Reading of the Football (Offences and Disorder) Bill. In a letter to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield, the Home Secretary said:a number of Members taking part expressed their concernduring the debate. Subsequently, the Home Secretary, his Ministers and his spin doctors have tried to perpetuate the unsustainable contention that it was exclusively Opposition Back Benchers who expressed that anxiety. The right hon. Gentleman has claimed that this "important provision" wasdropped because the bill was disrupted by a minority of Conservative backbenchers.In a letter to me, the Home Secretary condemned what he had the audacity to call "Conservative wrecking tactics". He should tell his spin doctors not to claim what the record so easily disproves—or, as the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) said yesterday with admirable straightforwardness, he should not "rewrite history". However, the right hon. Gentleman did not instruct his spin doctors that way. Instead, he grasped hold of that ludicrous spin like a drowning man clutching at straws—[Interruption.] No pun intended.
§ Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)
I thank the right hon. Lady for giving way. Was it not totally wrong, on a issue such as this, to state on Second Reading that there would be a major amendment to a private Member's Bill? On an issue of such importance and on which there was a consensus across the House, would not Government legislation have been more appropriate, to ensure that it would gain Royal Assent and become law?
§ Miss Widdecombe
The hon. Gentleman is right and speaks a good deal of sense. He will see that that matches what we expected to happen. For although it may be true that some of my right hon. and hon. Friends raised concerns, so also did several Labour Members, including the hon. Gentleman. The Home Secretary and his spin doctors have never even hinted at that, yet the hon. Members who expressed concern included the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), who warned that the orders could be made to apply to what he described as "innocent" fans, and the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley), who said:I would be extremely concerned if … we went further down the road of giving greater powers to the police in cases where convictions have not been confirmed … We should allow nothing … to compromise our commitment to civil liberty.The hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Edwards) urged consideration of what he described as "the human rights implications" and warned of the creation of "a serious 162 precedent", and the hon. Member for Burnley said that the course of action proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford was "dangerous", and added:I have always been quite strong on civil liberty and human rights issues.—[Official Report, 16 April 1999; Vol. 329, c. 491–99.1
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I endorse everything that she has said but, bearing in mind that the debate results from what has happened in Euro 2000, does she accept that to those of us who have studied all the press coverage, it appears that a number of people who have been deported back to the United Kingdom and who seem to have been involved in loutish and unacceptable behaviour were drawn into it quite innocently?
§ Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)
If the right hon. Lady is coming to that, perhaps she will spend a little time this afternoon considering why we have hooligans. Many people outside believe that the problem exists because of a collapse of values in the 1980s, which occurred during the period of Thatcherism—a collapse in education, a collapse in law and order, and a collapse in every value in society. That is what the public are saying. 1 know that the right hon. Lady is well aware of these matters. Why does she not speak about them?
§ Miss Widdecombe
If I were to have an argument with the hon. Gentleman about the origin of the collapse of values, I would point to the 1970s and 1960s as the period when that occurred. The hon. Gentleman's comment is a distraction from the debate. We are raising the problems that the Home Secretary has not addressed, for which he has faced international condemnation. Whether the right hon. Gentleman likes it or not, the fact that the Government have not addressed the problems will be rehearsed time and again on the Floor of the House this afternoon, and he will have to sit and listen.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)
The right hon. Lady is discussing what the Government have and have not done. Does she support a policy whereby one restricts the liberty of people who have not been convicted in the courts? If so, what limit is there to the proposition that people will have their rights taken away before they have been found guilty?
§ Miss Widdecombe
It is my position that, subject to certain safeguards, it is desirable that we take a very serious look at doing just that.
I should have liked the Home Secretary to have fulfilled the promise that he and his Ministers made on several occasions: they said that this was an important issue to which they would return in Government time. They did not—
§ Mr. Phil Woolas (Oldham, East and Saddleworth)
Will the right hon. Lady give way? Miss Widdecombe: No, I wish to make progress. No one can deny that I have already given way extensively. I shall give way no more until I have finished this particular passage.
§ Miss Widdecombe
No. Given that I have just refused to give way to the hon. Member for Oldham, East and Saddleworth (Mr. Woolas), I must refuse to give way to the hon. Gentleman as well, because I am egalitarian in my refusals.
Perhaps the Home Secretary, his Ministers and his spin doctors will end this campaign of completely unsustainable statements, which have been twisting the reality of what happened in the House some 14 months ago. In Committee, the issue was discussed at great length, although no amendments were tabled on the subject. My hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) made crystal clear the Opposition's support for what we believed was the Government's plan to introduce a measure in Government time, after the Minister for Sport, told us:The power to make banning orders in respect of people without conviction is necessary … the Government will want to return to the matter … We need to find a way of dealing with these people.
§ Miss Widdecombe
The more important question is, where on earth is this measure?
The Minister for Sport continued:We accept that the issue is complex and that the Bill—that is, the private Member's Bill tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford—is not the right place to deal with it … we may be able to deal with this issue later in a Government Bill.Still, the Government had the opportunity to include the powers in the Bill.
However, the amendment to the Bill that dealt with this subject was not a Government amendment, as the Home Secretary's spin doctors have claimed. It was tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean)—one of those whom the Home Secretary has accused of attempting to wreck the Bill. My right hon. Friend gave the Home Secretary a warning, which he would have done well to heed. He said:With the Euro 2000 championships coming up, it is important that we do not have gaps in legislation.That was as long ago as May 1999.
§ Miss Widdecombe
If the hon. Gentleman will contain himself, I have almost finished this part of my speech; I shall then give way to him.
In Committee, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe) warned that he wasslightly worried that we will lose the legislation in the long term.He was right. He went on to say:I hope that the Minister's assurance is correct … People will question our judgment if incidents in the coming months or years show that we have let the loophole remain.—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 5 May 1999; c. 5–7.]The Government have given commitments on this issue which they have utterly failed to fulfil. On that basis alone, the Home Secretary's judgment must be called into question.
§ Mr. Woolas
I thank the right hon. Lady for giving way. Does she stand by the comments made by the 164 Conservative party spokesperson and reported in The Times of 30 May of this year? He or she—some mysterious spin doctor—said:Only once these measures are being fully used can we start to assess whether there is need for further legislation.The Conservative party spokesperson at the time accepted the Government's position. Is not the right hon. Lady trying to rewrite history?
§ Miss Widdecombe
Had those measures been in place, we would now be in a position to assess them. However, the measures are not in place, so we cannot assess them.
§ Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)
As we are exchanging newspaper banter across the Floor of the House, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend agrees with the comments of Charlie Whelan, the former new Labour spokesman? He said in The Observer that Jack Straw hadpassed the buck to the Belgians,that he hada lot to answer for,and that the Belgians were "rightly furious".
§ Miss Widdecombe
I think that, for once, Mr. Whelan has hit the nail on the head.
Let me return to the Home Secretary's statement. He could not have been more explicit about the need to plug the loopholes that have been left as a result of his own inaction. He claimed yesterday that the majority of those who had so far been deported were not known hooligans, and that only 15 were. Setting aside the observation that that is still 15 too many, let me add that reports today indicate that as many as half those who were deported had criminal convictions. How many of those who were known hooligans travelled to Belgium and the Netherlands, contributed to the trouble and were not detected by the police in those countries?
Tonight the BBC will screen a "Panorama" programme which purports to give answers on that front. The BBC states today that it hasfor the past eight days been covertly filming known football hooligans who have evaded checks and controls to get into Belgium and Holland.Yesterday, the Home Secretary told the House:We are pretty certain that, in all but 15 cases, our work has been effective in ensuring that those people did not travel abroad.He made the ludicrous statement that his actions hadworked almost completely to prevent those people from travelling abroad.—[Official Report, 19 June 2000; Vol. 352, c. 40–44.]Today, however, the BBC reports that the head of the British police hooligan spotting team has said thatthe majority of people that UK authorities hoped would be denied entry to the host countries are now in Belgium and the Netherlands.Analysis of that kind does not square with what the Home Secretary told the House yesterday. Who is giving us the facts, the right hon. Gentleman or the head of his anti-hooligan team?
The Home Secretary has claimed that he is leading a new crackdown on hooligans, with tough new powers to ban hooligans for life from English football matches. Why, the House might ask, was the crackdown not initiated before the Euro 2000 tournament?
165 Is the Home Secretary aware that the chief executive of UEFA responded to his statement yesterday by saying that he did not believe that the Government could not have done more to stop hooligans from making it to Euro 2000, and that if new measures were being announced, they could have been taken previously?
If the new powers are so necessary, why were they not introduced by the Home Secretary earlier? He knew about Euro 2000: my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border had warned him about it as much as a year ago. If new legislation is now needed so urgently, why did the Home Secretary even last month reject the calls for emergency legislation on the issue from the FA and others? Why has the Minister with responsibility for the issue, Lord Bassam, said this to the BBC? He said:We will need to revisit the range of powers we have. We need to learn the lessons from all these events.Will the Home Secretary tell the House what progress Lord Bassam has made since taking up his post in regard to the commitment from the Minister for Sport to introduce new Government legislation? The answer is presumably none.
Why were the lessons not learned from Marseilles in 1998? Why did the Home Secretary allow the law enforcement agencies to go into the Euro 2000 tournament with what he and his Ministers now admit were inadequate powers to combat hooliganism? The answer is that the right hon. Gentleman has got himself into the most terrible fix—but the House does not have to take my word for it. It should take the word of the German Interior Minister, who said that he was "concerned" at the lack of legislation from the Government. It should take the word of the president of the German Football Federation, who is also chairman of the Euro 2000 committee, who said:It is not the best idea by your country to do nothing. We have confiscated passports to try and avoid trouble.The chief executive of UEFA has said:It is regrettable that the Government in the United Kingdom has not introduced legislation which would make it possible to stop registered hooligans from travelling.The mayor of Brussels commented:There was an agreement between the British Government and our Ministry of the Interior to stop as many people as possible who might commit offences. It has not been implemented. I do not understand why they were allowed to come here. Too many dangerous hooligans have reached the Continent.The UEFA executive committee said in a statement on Sunday:The actions over the last 48 hours have left a scar on the tournament and left us wondering why more was not done to prevent them from travelling … Other governments have shown that it can be done and we call on the UK government to take the necessary steps as a matter of urgency.
§ Miss Widdecombe
166 Let us take the word of the chairman of the National Federation of Football Supporters Clubs, Mr. Ian Todd, who has said:The government is struggling to recover from a situation they made for themselves when they chickened out of introducing that legislation,or even—dare I say it—the word of a man who knows both the worlds of politics and football, and who has already been quoted in the debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant):Straw passed the buck to the Belgians and they are rightly furious.If the Government had done more, then we wouldn't be in the position we are today.The Home Secretary has no one but himself to blame for that catalogue of condemnation. He cannot blame the Opposition—indeed, he should be congratulating my right hon. and hon. Friends on ensuring that the House had the issue of known but unconvicted hooligans brought to its attention.
The Home Secretary has had more than a year to introduce the legislation that he is now spinning as a massive crackdown on hooliganism, but it comes far too late. In the Government's response to the consultation on football-related legislation, published on 31 March last year, it was stated:On recommendation 24—providing a power for the court to issue restriction orders on known hooligans without conviction—the Government sees merit in the proposal but requires further consideration on ECHR implications before taking the matter forward,yet in a letter to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield, dated 29 April, the Home Secretary said:I have given careful consideration to whether the issue of domestic and international bans without conviction would in principle be compatible with our obligations under ECHR and the EU Treaty. I have concluded that they would.The only identified obstacle to the Government bringing forward the proposals was overcome, by his own admission, more than a year ago. However, the matter has not been taken forward as the Government said that it would be.
Only yesterday, in his statement, did the Home Secretary finally undertake to move forward on the issue—and even then he was equivocal. He had the opportunity to legislate in 1998. He had the opportunity to legislate in 1999; that was when we brought forward those proposals. He could have introduced his own Bill in the current Session. We would have supported him. Even now, I repeat my offer of yesterday: if he wishes to table amendments to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill in another place, the Opposition will support him.
§ Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that, during the passage of my Bill, I worked closely with the Home Office? I can confirm that legal advice was taken on the compatibility with the European convention on human rights and it was found that neither of the aims of the Bill would be incompatible. Although I took the decision not to proceed with the legislation on unconvicted hooligans, the Government desperately wanted that legislation and saw my Bill as the first legislative vehicle to do it. When they accepted that I was not going to press that, it was my firm understanding from discussions with Ministers that they would do it as soon as parliamentary time was available to them.
§ Miss Widdecombe
That is my understanding from the information that my hon. Friend and others have given 167 me. All I can say is that, if that was the understanding, it has not been honoured, but no doubt we will hear more about that from the Home Secretary.
Will the Home Secretary now, finally, institute measures to restrict known but unconvicted hooligans from travelling to matches to cause trouble—measures for which the Opposition have been calling for more than two years? Will he at least acknowledge that that would have the merit of convincing UEFA and the international community that we are as serious about dealing with our hooligans as other countries are about dealing with theirs, and that it would at least provide us with a defence to the threat that we now face of being expelled from the tournament if there is any more trouble?
I am sorry that Labour Members consider that funny. I do not think that our team, after the way in which they played, consider it funny. I do not think that the numerous fans who went there simply to enjoy a game of football consider it funny. I do not think that law-abiding mortals who were caught up in all that trouble consider it funny. I do not think that other Governments consider it funny. Let us place it on the record, however, that Labour Back Benchers on the Government's second Bench think that it is hilariously funny.
Will the Home Secretary now consider extending restrictions on attending international matches to those hooligans who are subject only to domestic banning orders? Will he also take a long, hard look at the sanctions that the United Kingdom can impose on hooligans and at whether they are adequate?
We should be looking, in the long-term, to the 2002 world cup qualifying campaign, in which there will be further England-Germany matches. In September 2001, England will travel to Germany to play in what may well be a crucial qualifier. We can only hope that whoever is Home Secretary at that time—I do not believe that it will be the right hon. Gentleman or any of his colleagues—will not have to make further statements to the House about hooligan violence that could and should have been averted.
Two years ago, and one year ago, we were warning about Euro 2000. Today, I warn the Home Secretary about the 2002 world cup, and I hope that he will take that rather more seriously than he took previous warnings. Meanwhile, the Opposition will give the Government our full support in planning and legislating to close the loopholes for that campaign. However, on the evidence of Euro 2000, the Government's track record is worryingly patchy.
The Government's record of inaction has been roundly and rightly criticised across the board. Yesterday, the Home Secretary all but admitted that his policy had failed and that he would have to close the stable door after the horse had well and truly gone. However, he cannot say that he was not warned.
The Home Secretary must take responsibility. He must take responsibility if we should, heaven forbid, be expelled from the tournament. He must take responsibility for doing nothing. He must take responsibility for the way in which our name has become mud because of the way that the matter has been handled. He is a Home Secretary who should now come to the Dispatch Box to apologise, and he should do so without any reservation.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Jack Straw)
I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:wholly deplores the violence in Belgium during the Euro 2000 competition perpetrated by United Kingdom citizens, and condemns the irresponsibility and criminality of those involved; welcomes the good co-operation between the British police and National Criminal Intelligence Service with the law enforcement agencies in Belgium, the Netherlands and France by which a large number of individuals with banning orders from football-related convictions against them have been prevented from travelling to Belgium and the Netherlands; strongly supports the many measures already taken by Her Majesty's Government, the police and other agencies; and endorses the further measures announced by the Secretary of State for the Home Department yesterday.As I made clear yesterday in my statement to the House, we condemn unreservedly the outrageous behaviour over the past weekend, in Brussels and Charleroi, of the so-called English football fans who brought such shame to our country and to our national game. The nation's sense of outrage at the disgraceful behaviour of a boorish minority of our fellow countrymen has not diminished in the past 24 hours; nor has our apprehension that their misdeeds could still ruin the pleasure which many of us anticipate from further English success in Euro 2000.
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) for the tribute that she paid to our police forces and police officers who are working in Europe and to our football authorities.
I believe that all true football fans can only be horrified that, once again, events off the field have so overshadowed the performance of the English football team on it. The Government understand and share the anger and frustration of the football authorities in Europe.
The action that UEFA has now taken in response to the violence in Brussels and Charleroi is, I believe, unprecedented. England is, effectively, on a yellow card. Some may feel that UEFA's action is too harsh, seeking to penalise a nation for the misdemeanours of a small minority. I do not share that view. UEFA itself has a responsibility to its host country. The people of Belgium and the Netherlands were entitled to expect a festival of football. When instead the inhabitants of two Belgian cities were subjected to drunken chanting, frequent outbursts of racism, intimidatory behaviour, and then violence, UEFA felt that it had a responsibility to act.
There are those who say that English supporters are not the only ones who have misbehaved, or who claim that they were provoked. Of course, it is true that international hooliganism is not an exclusively English phenomenon. Other football supporters misbehave, but none have disgraced themselves with the monotonous regularity of so-called England followers. I remind the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald that football hooliganism did not start in 1997, but has been a serious problem that has concerned successive Governments over at least three decades.
As I also said in my statement yesterday, the first major disturbances involving England supporters took place in Brussels last Friday, 16 June, and the next day further disturbances occurred in Charleroi as well as in Brussels.
§ Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)
While I do not disagree with the Home Secretary's sentiments about 169 UEFA's action, can he assist the House in understanding why UEFA refused to act after the death of two Leeds United fans in Turkey following a match there?
§ Mr. Banks
Of course no one blames UEFA for its rightful anger—we all feel it. However, it is extraordinary that, before the press conference, the chairman and the chief executive of the Football Association were not given an opportunity to discuss the matter. There comes a point when one feels that an element of politics has entered the situation, and that would be disastrous for the English game—and for world football.
§ Mr. Straw
I understand my hon. Friend's concerns, and he has much greater knowledge than I do of the internal workings of international and European football associations. However, the House will agree that it is unruly so-called English supporters who have provided the occasion for the decisions that UEFA has made so far and of which it has warned us.
The latest figures that we have are that 916 British citizens have been arrested in the course of the tournament, many in disturbances in Brussels and Charleroi last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The majority of those arrests were what the Belgians call "administrative arrests", with a great many people being picked up for failure to carry a passport or other identification. In such cases, no charges have followed, but many—although by no means all—of the individuals concerned have been subject to deportation. Some 464 of them have so far been returned to the United Kingdom, being flown back either to Manchester or Stansted airports. Some of the remainder are likely to be deported direct to the UK, but many have been released without any further charge in Belgium, and that includes a majority of those arrested in Charleroi. The British consul in Brussels knows so far of six—of the more than 900 arrested—who are subject to criminal proceedings in Belgium, although that figure may rise.
§ Sir Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield)
Is it true that a substantial number of the more than 400 people who have been deported have criminal convictions?
§ Mr. Straw
The information I was given this morning showed that 16 of those 464 were on the list of 1,000 provided by the National Criminal Intelligence Service of known football hooligans or those with football-related convictions. An analysis is being made, and I shall provide it to the House when it is available, but it is true that a substantial proportion of the total number arrested had criminal convictions against them that were not related to football. In order to put that into perspective, however, I should also like to explain—I shall provide more details in a moment—that a third of all young men have a criminal conviction of one kind or another by the age of 30. That is a dreadful commentary on our society, 170 but it happens to be the case. A quarter of a group born in 1968 who were subject to analysis had convictions by the age of 24.
§ Sir Norman Fowler
Does the Home Secretary feel that it would have been franker and better had he made that clear in his statement yesterday? As it is in the press this morning, I assume that it was in the knowledge of the Home Office when he made the statement.
§ Mr. Straw
Had I had the information, I would have made it available. I have never sought not to make available information of that kind. The fact that it is publicly known that a third of all people have convictions by the age of 30 would have led people to say that, of any random sample of 1,000 men picked up anywhere in the country, at least a third were likely to have had criminal convictions.
§ Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)
Of the 97 Britons so far subject to international banning orders, how many are known to have breached those orders? Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what assessment he has made of the criteria for, and of the resources allocated to, surveillance operations on suspected football hooligans?
§ Mr. Straw
I think the total, which I was given this morning, of those subject to international banning orders is 99. We have checked, and the latest information is that 94 of them have fully complied with their reporting conditions. The police are making inquiries about the whereabouts of the other five. They have committed an arrestable offence of failure to report, and the police will be following that up.
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman an exact answer with regard to surveillance resources. I shall be happy to write to him or see whether my hon. Friend the Minister of State can provide the information when he winds up. We have sought to ensure that the police have adequate surveillance methods and equipment, and also, of course, that they have adequate powers.
§ Mr. Burns
In the light of the right hon. Gentleman's answer about the criminal records of a number of people in Europe at present, will he reconsider the answer he gave me yesterday? Does not this new fact of which the Home Secretary is aware make the case that if we had had banning orders for unconvicted football hooligans before Euro 2000, we could have stopped most of them leaving this country for the tournament?
§ Mr. Straw
With great respect to the hon. Gentleman, I shall come on to who said what to whom during the proceedings on his Bill if he wishes. But the central truth, which means that the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald was almost entirely off the point in her speech, is that the police have a list of 500 or so against whom there are banning orders of one kind or another. They include the international banning orders that the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) mentioned, of which there are 99. The other 400 are made up of other kinds of banning orders; the hon. Gentleman will know that there are three kinds.
Those names have been provided to the Belgian and Dutch authorities. In addition, the names of 500 other hooligans known to have football-related convictions 171 against them have also been provided to the Belgians and the Dutch. Where there has been an attempt by individuals on either list to travel to Belgium or the Netherlands, we have, thanks to a very effective spotting system, provided that information to the Belgian and Dutch authorities, and those people have been turned round at the port of entry.
Of course I accept that we would have preferred to have on the statute book the full range of orders available through the vehicle of the Bill promoted by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns). We have never pretended otherwise. However, the work that has been done means that we have achieved by other methods the ends sought—by the hon. Gentleman and by the Government—in that Bill, and that the people involved have been dealt with effectively. As I shall explain, the problem is that the football-related violence that has happened in Belgium is caused by people who are not on those lists.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
My right hon. Friend referred to the central point in this matter. Millions of people believe that that central point is the appalling statistic that my right hon. Friend produced—that one third of all young men under 30 in the United Kingdom have been the subject of a criminal charge. That shows what the values of the 1980s and 1990s did to a generation of young people. They are the children of Thatcher, and we are paying the price for the damage done in those years.
§ Mr. Straw
If I may, I shall give my hon. Friend and the House the precise information on that matter. For a cohort of men born in 1968, 26 per cent. had convictions by the age of 24, and 10 per cent. had convictions for violence against the person, sexual offences or robbery. In comparison, among men born in 1953, 34 per cent. had some convictions by the age of 40, and 10.5 per cent. had convictions for violence, sexual offences or robbery.
In the interests of complete accuracy, I must tell the House that a note just passed to me states that the total number of people subject to international football banning orders is 101, not 99.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) raised the underlying issue, but I wish to return to a matter of fact. Given the fear of violence in Belgium or Holland, will the Home Secretary say whether the Home Office considered intervening to prevent people with previous convictions for violence—in the past seven years, for example—from travelling on the basis that there was reasonable cause to believe that an offence might be committed? Would it not have been possible under our existing law for our police to stop such people leaving the country, or for the Belgian or Dutch police to stop them entering their countries? That approach would cover a range of people who may turn out to have been involved in the violence and to have been sent back from those countries, but who have never had football-related offences recorded against them.
§ Mr. Straw
A good deal of attention has been given to that matter, and to the provision of intelligence about people who were identified, through being questioned at ports, as having previous convictions that were not football-related. That information has been provided to the Belgian and Dutch authorities. In the main, those authorities have decided that their laws mean that it is not possible for them routinely to turn those people back.
172 I of course considered carefully whether powers existed in the United Kingdom that would have allowed people seeking to leave the country to be peremptorily turned back on the basis that it appeared that they might cause trouble abroad. However, the House knows that powers to restrain United Kingdom citizens from leaving the UK are not available to any Secretary of State. Whether such powers should exist is a very large question, as they would give individual police officers huge discretion.
A point that I have raised repeatedly in discussions with my Belgian and Dutch counterparts is that, in Europe and around the world, it is always easier peremptorily to refuse entry of a non-national to a country than it is to prevent the exit of national from that country. It is routine, on my direct signature or by delegated authority, for all sorts of people to be refused entry to the United Kingdom because their presence is not regarded as conducive to the public good or because they fall foul of other criteria. We hope very much that the Belgian and Dutch authorities will follow suit.
§ Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way, and hope that I can be helpful to him. I remember from my dim and distant days as a law student, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does as well, that under the civil jurisdiction, judges of the High Court can in civil cases issue orders called ne exeat regno, which prevent people without criminal convictions but who have something to do with a civil case from leaving the kingdom. Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries of the Law Officers to see whether that power is available to be used in the circumstances that we are discussing, and whether it is available to be used either civilly or in the criminal jurisdiction in the circumstances that he and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) have just been discussing? It may be worth looking into.
§ Mr. Straw
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his recollection of his law lectures. I am afraid that I do not recall that particular aspect and, as I have been asked to offer apologies, I will offer an apology about that. However, I will certainly take up the hon. and learned Gentleman's point.
Given that passports are issued under the royal prerogative, two years ago we looked carefully at the possibility of withdrawing the facility of a passport by the royal prerogative as well—in other words, by Executive fiat. However, as the hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware, the strong advice that we received, with which it was impossible to disagree—apart from the fact that there were major issues of principle—was that as Parliament had already intervened to modify the exercise of that royal prerogative by, for example, other statutory measures to restrict the exit of people from this country, the use of the prerogative for such purposes was not possible; there was also a query as to whether it was desirable.
In the 1970s and 1980s, this country suffered terribly from criminality and hooliganism in football grounds and away from those grounds but in the United Kingdom. Over time, a combination of increasingly effective police action, better design and security in the grounds and a greater acceptance of responsibility by the clubs has led to a great diminution in trouble here at home.
173 It has also meant that our police service has built up unrivalled expertise in dealing with the hooligan problem in this country. That expertise, relying on the traditional British policing virtues of careful targeting and careful planning, has many times shown its value in the course of joint operations such as the one put in place in this country for the Euro 96 tournament.
Last November, I established a co-ordinating group to make preparations for Euro 2000. That group brought together officials from Government, with representatives of the football authorities, the police service and NCIS. It also co-ordinated the efforts being made with the Belgian and Dutch authorities to ensure effective co-operation in the run-up to, and during, the tournament.
I have had many meetings with my Belgian and Dutch counterparts over the past few months. I signed a memorandum of understanding with the Belgian and Dutch Ministers in February, and I have in recent days had regular contact, in person and on the telephone, with Klaus de Vries, the Dutch Minister of the Interior, and Antoine Duquesne, the Belgian Minister of the Interior.
The measures in place are the most extensive ever made prior to any similar major sporting tournament abroad. Central to this strategy has been effective police co-operation between ourselves and the police in Belgium and Holland. As a result, the Belgian and Dutch police sought and received from our police service the most detailed and extensive operational advice about arrangements that they were putting in place for Euro 2000.
As well as providing operational advice, British police officers have been deployed in Belgium and Holland, and on Eurostar, to act as spotters to help police operations here and abroad. NCIS has collated details of individuals convicted of football-related offences in the past—and those whom it has suspected of causing trouble. The list of names, as I told the House, was passed to its counterparts in France, as well as those in Holland and Belgium, well before the tournament began.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold)
I am grateful to the Home Secretary, because he has been very generous in giving way. Most of the 460-odd people whom he described as having been administratively deported will presumably not have been charged with any offence, and will therefore have no record in the future. Will the Home Secretary say whether the Belgian authorities, in conjunction with the co-operation that he has described, are continuing their inquiries against any of those 460-odd people, and whether any further charges are likely to arise?
§ Mr. Straw
I understand that no charges have been laid at any stage against any of those 464, which is why they were subject to administrative deportation. We have only the barest details—if this needs to be added to, I shall ensure that my hon. Friend the Minister of State does so when he replies—of the site at which they were subject to arrest. We have no further details. There is no evidence of any kind that could be used in any court at all—
§ Mr. Straw
If the hon. Gentleman will wait for a moment, I shall answer the question asked by the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown).
174 The hon. Member for Cotswold may have heard this morning, as I did, the police chief from Belgium. I am trying to turn up the transcript. He may have heard Colonel Blickie answering a question from Mr. Edward Stourton on "Today". Mr. Stourton asked:Do you accept that some of those who were arrested were innocent?Colonel Blickie replied:Yes of course, yes of course.Mr. Stourton asked:Do you regret that?The colonel replied:Of fact, a fact you regret it that's the problem. When we are doing our operations in the street, it's rather difficult to make the difference between those who committed some crimes in the street and those who were together with them and did nothing.He added that people should have kept away from potential trouble.
§ Mr. Fabricant
On that point, and further to it, will the Home Secretary be making representations to the Belgian police, to request copies of video tapes that they will have taken, to add to the files of NCIS? Were members of the British police or their agents in Belgium at that time making their own video tapes? If such video tapes will be made available, will the right hon. Gentleman eventually introduce Government legislation so that we can impose banning orders on those individuals or withdraw their passports—powers for which we have been asking?
§ Mr. Straw
I understand that NCIS will be seeking whatever evidence it can secure from the Belgian authorities. British police officers have certainly been acting as spotters in Belgium as well as in the Netherlands, and have been present in the bi-national police control operation.
As I have already said, the majority of those arrested in Charleroi were not deported. They were released without any further action or charge being taken. We must accept that—as I shall be making clear later—different police services operate in a different way.
I was explaining about the lists with which we were provided by NCIS. They included individuals subject to international banning orders, those subject to domestic banning orders and—to deal directly with the point relating to the civil order which we had hoped to see provided for in the Bill introduced last year by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford—the 500 people who have been convicted of football-related offences in the past but who are not subject to banning orders of any sort.
We asked the authorities overseas to refuse entry to Belgium and Holland to all those on the lists during the duration of the tournament, and that operation has largely been effective. Of the 464 individuals so far deported, having been arrested in Charleroi and Brussels last weekend, the latest information of which I am aware is that only 16 were suspected football hooligans and one was subject to a domestic banning order.
We can debate what happened to the Bill of the hon. Member for West Chelmsford until the cows come home. The reality is that the same effect as the effect of including provisions for such civil orders in that Bill, which we wanted and which many Opposition Members—although not all—wanted has been achieved by another route.
175 A larger question is what to do with those who have not been the subject of football-related convictions but who have other convictions of violence. That is a new issue with which we must deal.
§ Mr. Straw
I should like to make some progress. I shall then give way to the hon. Gentleman, who speaks from the Opposition Front Bench.
Much has been made of the efforts of the German authorities and police to prevent known hooligans from travelling to Belgium and or the Netherlands. I applaud the commitment of my counterpart in Germany—Interior Minister Otto Schilly—and his colleagues in the action that they have taken. There are, however, two points of difference for the House to note. First, each police service in the European Union operates in a wholly different judicial framework and has a different framework for the accountability of the police. The police in one jurisdiction may long have had powers of arrest and detention that may appear peremptory and unacceptable in other jurisdictions. Secondly, we are not the only nation to suffer football hooliganism, but our hooliganism is different both in its scale and in its provenance.
In an interesting report on Radio 4's "Today" programme this morning, German hooliganism was described as "highly organised". Part of our hooliganism is also highly organised and premeditated. Where that is the case, our police have been able to take effective action to prevent those involved from travelling. More than 200 people arrested in Charleroi were UK citizens, but I remind the House that 130 German citizens were arrested too. The efforts of the German police have not stopped the travel from Germany of those who have subsequently got into trouble.
The difference with our country is this: the evidence suggests that a significant part of English hooliganism abroad is much more difficult to detect and prevent in advance because it is not organised, and nor is much of it specifically premeditated. That does not excuse hooliganism one bit, but it does pose much greater difficulties in dealing with it. The dismal truth is that the vast majority of those arrested during last weekend's outrageous events did not have previous convictions for football-related offences, and nor were they suspected of having been so involved. That is perhaps the most depressing aspect of what happened in Belgium. The problems were not created by a tiny minority of well-organised, hard-core thugs.
§ Mr. Heald
Does the Home Secretary intend to introduce legislation to enable international banning orders to be made if there is evidence that someone who has not necessarily been convicted is a risk? The Home Secretary said that he would have liked such provision introduced in the Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), so when will he do it himself?
§ Mr. Banks
I by no means seek to excuse unacceptable and inexcusable behaviour, but I can back up my 176 right hon. Friend's point. Is he aware that judges in Argentina recently closed down the football season twice because of deaths by shooting inside and outside football grounds? That sort of thing happens, tragically, around the world, but we tend not to read about it quite so much in our newspapers.
§ Mr. Burns
I am grateful. The point that I am trying to make is that, as about 35 per cent. of those people had criminal records—albeit not football-related—we could, if we had had the power to withdraw passports from hooligans unconvicted of football-related offences, probably have removed their passports because the courts might have been satisfied that they might offend abroad.
§ Mr. Straw
That proposition needs thought, for it goes way beyond anything advanced in any part of the House during the passage of the hon. Gentleman's Bill—which was about taking powers in respect of individuals convicted of football-related offences.
We have to be careful about proportionality. Removing a person's passport in any circumstances is a significant sanction. The fact that a substantial minority of those arrested in Charleroi have criminal convictions should come as no surprise. because it simply reflects the proportion of men aged 30 in the population as a whole who have convictions—although I accept some may be serious. My central point is that a majority of those arrested had no convictions. Those persons arrested in Belgium did not, overwhelmingly, have football-related convictions. Nor were they subject to banning orders. No legislation predicated on stopping or preventing convicted and suspected football hooligans would have made much difference to the number who travelled abroad. That is a fundamental shortcoming of the argument advanced by the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald.
As I made clear yesterday, the Government are committed to examining the powers and arrangements for dealing with football hooliganism in the light of events. The Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999, implemented last September, followed widespread consultation about the adequacy of football-related legislation—which had grown up piecemeal over the previous decade. None the less, that statute has limitations. When we have a serious debate, we can go into who said what to whom at the time. The fact is that the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst 177 (Mr. Forth) accepts that he said things in opposition to the propositions of the hon. Member for West Chelmsford—as did other hon. Members. The right hon. Lady said that opposition did not come "exclusively" from Conservative Members. I noted with care her use of that adverb—but significant opposition came from Conservative Members and was the reason for the legislation's limitations.
Although there are 101 recipients of international football banning orders, there are 400 domestic banning orders in force. The public may see no reason for allowing a person on whom a court has seen fit to impose a domestic ban to attend football matches abroad. I share that view. Almost certainly the right way to proceed is to merge international and domestic banning orders—but I will consider representations from right hon. and hon. Members and the police before reaching a final view.
§ Mr. Straw
I cannot speak for Burnley but a large amount of information—[Interruption.] I am told that the Prime Minister's press secretary speaks for Burnley.
As to spinning, I may tell the right hon. Lady that I am the most unspun Minister I know. The only spinning in which I am ever involved is at 8 o'clock on Monday mornings, in the gym—when I have a spinning lesson that goes on for three quarters of an hour.
§ Mr. Ashton
I am a former director of a premier league club, so may I point out to my right hon. Friend that the Data Protection Acts inhibit the exchange of information tremendously? As my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) said, every club has about 50 or 60 names and addresses of the people who have been arrested, evicted or convicted. The clubs are forbidden from trading such information because of the Data Protection Acts, and the police are forbidden from letting them have such information. If my right hon. Friend could slightly amend the Data Protection Acts to allow for the trading of that information so as to prevent crimes or hooliganism, that would be very helpful.
§ Mr. Straw
I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised this issue. There are many myths about the Data Protection Acts and we are seeking to deal with them. We sought to deal with them by an amendment to the law in section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to ensure that there can be proper data sharing not only by 178 law-enforcement agencies, but by others involved in the prevention and detection of crime. I have talked directly to Elizabeth France, the Data Protection Commissioner, about the issue and she has made the point that the data protection legislation is there not to prevent the transmission of data, but to regulate the circumstances in which it takes place.
I am happy to take the matter up with my hon. Friend's club and with the football league and the premier league. As I understand it, there is no reason at all why such information should not be made available to the police. There is a different issue about whether the police can make information available in return, but the purpose will be served if information is made available to the police.
As I have told the House, only a handful of the 464 people who have so far been deported from Belgium were known to the National Criminal Intelligence Service as confirmed or suspected hooligans. That again raises the point about the limitations of such orders. Even in those cases, it cannot be assumed—not least given what Colonel Blickie of the Belgian police said this morning—that the evidence against them would have been sufficient to satisfy a court that a banning order ought to be issued to the civil standard of proof.
As I have also told the House, NCIS is carefully analysing the lists of those deported to check on previous convictions and on occupations better to profile the kind of individual who gets involved in hooliganism.
§ Mr. Straw
No, I have given way to the hon. Lady once and other Members wish to speak.
With the benefit of experience, we shall sit down with the police, NCIS and others to see what further legislative and other changes may be needed in the future. As I made clear yesterday, the disgraceful scenes that we have seen over the past few days require a more immediate response. That is why I announced yesterday further measures to put pressure on would-be hooligans.
First, we have taken steps to ensure as far as possible that none of the several hundred people who have been deported from Belgium in recent days may slip back into that country or the Netherlands without the knowledge of the authorities. We have intensified the scrutiny of passengers leaving ports and airports en route for France as well as for Belgium over the critical period before tonight's match at Charleroi.
§ Mr. Heald
The Home Secretary will recall that my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) made the point that Eddie Curtis, who is the head of the anti-hooligan spotting team, has said that most of the undesirables that they do not want in Belgium and Holland are actually there already. Is that right?
§ Mr. Straw
I have not seen that remark from Mr. Curtis. However, I repeat that my information, which has been provided by NCIS this morning, is that, of the 464 who were deported—by definition, much more information is known about them than about those who may happen to be in Charleroi—only a handful were known to NCIS as confirmed or suspected hooligans.
179 Secondly, I have asked that contact be made by our police with all those deported over the past few days to warn them not to try to return to Belgium or the Netherlands and to ensure that they understand the likely serious consequences of their returning. Thirdly, building on the significant British presence already in Belgium, we have asked whether there is any way in which the operational value of the British police's contribution to the Belgian operation can further be enhanced.
Fourthly, we have suggested that the Belgian and Dutch authorities mark the passports of the people whom they deport.
Fifthly, we have asked the Belgian authorities to take action to restrict the consumption of alcohol which, in the end, is a matter for the municipal authorities. However, I understand that the mayor of Charleroi has decided in response to the hooliganism to prohibit drinking in cafés in the main square. I am glad that he has done that and am grateful to him.
Finally, more can be done to deter football violence overseas by bringing it home to people that the consequence could well be expulsion for life from the ground of the team that they support. I was glad to report yesterday that the Football Association and premier league clubs have decided that any supporter convicted of hooliganism, or against whom there is good evidence of hooliganism, should be banned for life from attending football matches in England.
The events of last weekend serve as a shocking reminder of the potential for serious disorder from young men who have attached themselves as supporters of the England team. We must take action to deal with that and are doing so. Only when the nation can feel as proud of all our fellow England supporters as we did of our team on Saturday can we be confident that we have defeated the dreadful criminal scourge of English hooliganism.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)
It is obviously good to have the opportunity afforded by this timely debate. I join colleagues from the other parties in congratulating the England team on their success last Saturday, wishing them well in their match this evening and thanking them for the manifestly good way in which the team and the management have behaved and dealt with the press. Indeed, they have represented England as well as anyone could have wished and have done us proud.
We clearly share in the embarrassment, agree with the condemnation and share the regret that, by and large, it is English supporters and British citizens in Belgium and Holland who have brought discredit to those who follow the game. It is a tragedy that what should be a festival of football and one of the great pleasures of the sporting season has been tarnished again and that England has to take collective responsibility for that.
The central question has already been referred to, and involves men almost exclusively, predominantly English men. Why do so many young English men display unacceptably loutish and intolerant behaviour, not just in connection with football games, but regularly in so many places? Why do we often see drunken and arrogant behaviour, which is frequently racist, xenophobic and intolerant on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in towns and cities throughout the country? Why do so many 180 people make a pastime of going away regularly for loutish weekends on the British coast and behave as if continuing a stag night? Why do we often export such behaviour to Mediterranean and other resorts, where being loutish, boorish, crude, offensive and vulgar is regarded as an acceptable part of holiday culture? People behave like that regardless of the effect on their hosts and other visitors. That behaviour is no different in connection with football than it is in Malaga, Ibiza, Ayia Napa and other coastal resorts of the Mediterranean or, to be honest, Blackpool, Bournemouth and other coastal resorts in this country.
We are focusing on a particular sporting event but, unless we get to grips with this issue, we are leaping on a passing bandwagon and ignoring our wider responsibility.
§ Mr. Martin Salter (Reading, West)
The hon. Gentleman spoke about the central question. Surely, that question is why are only three Conservative Members taking part in this Opposition day debate on the important issue of football violence?
§ Mr. Hughes
Though not central, that is surprising, given that this is one of some 14 days of the year on which Conservative Members choose the subject for debate.
The other paradox is that many of the people who get caught up in this hooliganism live a Jekyll and Hyde existence, and to be fair, the Home Secretary suggested that too, in his speech. From Monday to Friday, they do a decent job, work hard and behave as respectable members of society, and from knocking-off time on Friday, they adopt another life style. They are hooligans not all week, but on weekends and on holiday, where some of their family, colleagues and friends cannot see them.
§ Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. Does he agree that the apologists for such behaviour do nobody any favours by suggesting that it is the fault of the police in the country concerned for being over-enthusiastic or under-enthusiastic in policing events, or—this point ties in with what my hon. Friend is saying—that boys will be boys and that alcohol-fuelled loutishness is acceptable under any circumstances?
§ Mr. Hughes
I agree, and I shall return to that point in a moment.
I declare my interest as someone who, like the Home Secretary, goes to football matches regularly. I go to my local club, Millwall, which has also had problems. It has worked extremely hard and successfully and has almost entirely solved those problems, which is to its credit because the club's tradition was not one to be proud of. Like many colleagues, I have seen and heard bad behaviour in football grounds. We need to be clear that such behaviour is often accompanied by the language of racism, homophobia and sexism.
Those antagonistic, aggressive attitudes are often a short step from physical violence. The people who will use such language are often those who, let us be blunt, are violent at home, to their partners and children, and elsewhere. I hope that we will return soon to that wider agenda because we must take care to focus on dealing with those endemic fundamental problems, which the 181 Government, to their credit, are seeking to tackle. I am not especially critical of the Government on this issue, but we have not rooted out such behaviour, and we will not root it out by having this debate or by introducing legislation that focuses only on people who go to football matches or on football supporters abroad.
I return to the point made by my hon. Friend. Parliament spends a great deal of time discussing drugs and drug-related crime, of which there is a huge amount. I have always argued that the fewer drugs—whether NHS-supplied, legal or illegal—there are in society, the better. The fewer people addicted to substances that vary their natural behaviour, the better. We have often concentrated on a range of drugs, particularly illegal drugs, but not on alcohol. It is important for us to realise that, whereas roughly two thirds of property-related crime is linked to illegal drugs, many offences against the person are alcohol related. They occur in the street, after closing time, and at home. We need to put higher up the British political agenda the issue of how we are to deal with alcohol-related crime. I am not being critical of the Government for not recognising that issue, but I want there to be parity between the responses to alcohol-linked crime and crime that is linked to other drugs, because alcohol is a drug as well.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Charles Clarke)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we have held two significant seminars on alcohol and crime, which were chaired by myself and involved all the relevant organisations, and we are now developing detailed action plans to deal with precisely those issues? The hon. Gentleman's remarks are absolutely right, and the matter is a priority for the Government.
§ Mr. Hughes
To be honest, I was not aware that there had been two seminars. I do not think that I was invited; if I had been, I might have come. I am happy to discuss the issues with the Minister, in a seminar or elsewhere. I hope that I was not unfair to the Government. I said that they recognised the issue, and we need collectively to highlight it because so many crimes are alcohol related.
§ Mr. David Drew (Stroud)
Obviously, the consistent theme is the role of alcohol. Is it worth us saying to all the authorities that it may be good to maximise television and other revenues, but they ought to consider changing the time of matches because the ability to drink all day and all night is always the cause of all the aggravation?
§ Mr. Hughes
That is a good point, and my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell) has just told me that derby games are often arranged to accommodate that. Again, I declare an interest: I was brought up the son of a brewer and my grandad was a brewer. I am not against alcohol. Indeed, my mother's pension would not be paid if it were not for the profits of the Whitbread brewery company.
The problem is that we in this country often do not manage to combine the responsible use of alcohol with normal civilised behaviour. A couple of weeks ago, I spent two days in France. I was in Avignon on a Saturday night and there was no loutish behaviour. People were enjoying their evening out; they were having meals and 182 drinking sensibly. There is a cultural problem in this country that allows the normal use of alcohol to spin over into completely irresponsible activity.
On the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), I do not criticise the Dutch and Belgians for responding significantly differently, but I take the point made by the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn); there is a quiet moral story in that access to low alcohol beer and less dangerous drugs was perhaps a far more helpful combination at Eindhoven in Holland than access to the stronger beer on which the Belgians pride themselves and no drugs in Charleroi. It is good that the mayor of Charleroi has said that he will restrict the sale of alcohol. As the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) says, we must always ensure that people are not encouraged to drink more than they would otherwise or to spend the time waiting for kick-off drinking.
Another important question, which has not been mentioned, is that of liberty but, in this context, it is not entirely straightforward. I will defend—perhaps not quite to the death, although I hope that I would—people's right to walk the streets freely if they have no conviction preventing them from travelling. Indeed, there is a duty in the European Union to allow people to travel freely. We are, however, permitted to curb access to private venues. Football clubs are private venues, and international football matches are also private in that sense. Therefore, it is entirely possible, if it is thought appropriate, to curb liberties involving fee-paying activities—whether going to bars to drink or going to football matches to watch football.
We must be careful always to distinguish between restricting the liberties of people to walk the streets, travel freely and live their lives, and particular activities such as going to a football match, which is not a right and can be subject to conditions, just as driving is not a right and can be subject to conditions. What action should be taken? I presume that that is the question that the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) wanted to put on the agenda.
As the Prime Minister said yesterday or the day before, the first responsibility is that of the individual. We can legislate day in and day out but, until individuals realise that they must take responsibility for their actions, we have not got the message across. In addition, it is the responsibility of the family, the friend, the colleague or whoever to say, "That is not acceptable." It is their responsibility to restrain the friend who might get out of hand, or to say, "I am not going with you if you do that." It is their responsibility to say, "I think you have had enough to drink." Those in any group have a responsibility to manage one another, but I am afraid that, increasingly, we have a society in which far too many people walk away from that responsibility. It is sometimes difficult, painful and dangerous, but we must stand up for people's right to walk the streets in safety—a phrase that the Prime Minister has also used. That means that people may have to intervene to stop someone else behaving badly.
What should Parliament do? This morning, The Independent published a useful table in which the relevant laws of the 16 countries participating in Euro 2000 were summarised. It made it clear that, apart from Germany, we already have the toughest legislation. Therefore, the suggestion that we have no decent 183 legislation is based on a false premise. We have much legislation and we have done a lot. We should remember that recent Governments of both parties have made progress. My colleagues and I support the idea that we should move as quickly as possible to ensure that all such bans apply domestically and internationally; there is no logic in simply saying that people cannot go to a match at home. We support the Home Secretary in wanting to go down that road.
It is also clear to us that there are some things that we should not do. My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, who looks after sport for our party, my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), who did this job before me, and I have all made it clear, in letters to the Home Secretary and in other ways, that we do not believe that it is either consistent with the British tradition or appropriate or proportional in the circumstances to legislate to take from people without convictions the right to travel. In passing, let me say that I am sure that the House feels great solidarity with my right hon. Friend after the tragic loss of his son last week. He would otherwise probably have been with us today. We would oppose legislation that would take away that right. There is no consensus for it, it would be wrong to assume that Parliament would willingly go down that road and there would be opposition from those on the Tory and Labour Benches and on our Benches. I am not sure that such a Bill would get through the other place, even if it got through this place.
We must be clear that there is legislation that we could enact and legislation that we should not enact, but, as the Home Secretary said yesterday—I take his side rather than that of his Conservative shadow—even if we had pursued the proposals that have been made over the past two years, they would not have dealt with the majority of the people who caused trouble in recent days. It is no good pretending that the proposals would have been a solution, as many of those involved either had no convictions or had no relevant convictions. That is why I asked the Home Secretary whether we should also consider those with convictions for violence, not just those with football-related convictions.
What action should others take? We made the point yesterday that the Belgian and the Dutch authorities could take certain additional action. In addition to limiting the availability of alcohol, the Home Secretary may have pursued the suggestion of cordoning off various areas, not only around a football stadium, but, if necessary, around the squares in Brussels or elsewhere. All that we can do is make suggestions, as the Dutch and Belgian Governments are sovereign, but such action could be carried out perfectly legally. The police in this country regularly cordon off areas and allow through only those with a right to go through, such as people who live and work in those areas, people with tickets for the match, the teams and their supporters.
I must refer to our police. I understand that it is easier to stop people coming into this country than to stop people leaving, but it seems entirely consistent with the law for our police or police in other countries to be entitled to apprehend a person whom they have reasonable cause to believe might commit an offence and, in this example, to prevent that person from travelling. On that basis, I assume that the Dutch and the Belgians can stop specific people from coming into their countries. [Interruption.] I should be grateful if the Minister of State, Home Office, 184 the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke)—if I might have his attention for a second—would confirm that our authorities are empowered under the present law to stop people leaving if there is reasonable cause to believe that they might commit offences and cause trouble. We could question someone with a conviction for a violent offence committed during the past seven years—not a spent conviction—and ask for guarantees. We could also even say, "Sorry, we are not allowing you to go any further."
Yesterday, in summary, I raised the point about spotters with the Home Secretary, simply on the basis of information from people who were in Belgium last weekend. I am told by somebody who works in this place—a perfectly responsible adult who went to the game—that many people on the train from Charleroi to Brussels invited others, by telephone and in conversation, to join them later at a venue in Brussels for a ruck and to cause trouble in the town after the match. We must make sure that we have enough of our police listening, watching and acting with the other intelligence services to enable all such information to be fed to the Belgian and Dutch authorities. I have travelled on those trains often, as I lived in Belgium for a while. The more that we can police the main train routes in Holland and Belgium, the more likely that we are to pick up on action co-ordinated by the mobile phone, which is increasingly used in crime, not just in relation to football.
What action should UEFA take? My colleagues and I have a clear view: it would be wrong for UEFA to eliminate the English team. The hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) made the linked point exactly. UEFA was wrong to have had a three-hour meeting in the past two days without having the FA present. That is completely unacceptable. The FA should have been present, not only at the end of the meeting to allow it to put its case, but throughout. It would be absolutely unacceptable for UEFA to take the decision to disqualify without laying down clear criteria and ensuring that they apply to every country. Also, the same penalty should apply to each country. UEFA should also ensure that there is every chance for a case to be put, heard and argued.
More than that, it would be justifiable for UEFA to eliminate England—if the team qualifies tonight for the quarter finals—only on grounds of crowd safety or that of the team or its supporters. Otherwise, as the England manager clearly said, disqualification would not only be disproportionate, but could produce a reaction, and perhaps greater antagonism. I therefore hope that UEFA will not go down that road. I am sure that there is some internal politics, but even if there were not, the Football Association has done everything that it was asked to do. I have not read a single report of a ticket holder behaving badly. If the team, the management and the supporters have behaved respectably, it would be inappropriate for our team to pay the price for the recent events.
What else should others do? The Sunday People, reporting Saturday's match, carried the headline "Hun Nil". That is unhelpful. An opinion piece in The Mirror referred to the so-called good old days whenThey used to bite yer legs, have beards and moustaches, wear Cossack after-shave and live on steak and chips with lager.It clearly had nationalistic overtones. As my noble Friend Lord McNally said in another place yesterday, the tabloids and, sometimes politicians, are responsible for hyping 185 xenophobia and thus aggression. In that context, some of the language, particularly of Conservative Members in recent months, on immigrants, foreigners and asylum seekers has fuelled those who are tempted to be xenophobic or racist.
I am as patriotic about England's success as anybody else. That does not mean that I do not respect the Germans' or the Turks' right to be patriotic, or even that of difficult countries such as Yugoslavia. They have as much right as us to be patriotic and we have a duty to respect that right. I am reminded by your presence in the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the home internationals give us plenty of chances to learn that we can be patriotic while respecting the fact that we have four countries in one kingdom. Some of us have learned that, and enjoyed the ups and the downs of it for many years.
If we pander to prejudice and raise the anti-foreigner game, we will pay the price. When such behaviour becomes frequent, it produces reactionary results in politicians. It leads them increasingly to call for liberties to be taken away and to support increasing numbers of bans on people who have no convictions. It leads to a new consensus, which is not liberal or progressive, but reactionary, restrictive and inhibiting. We would be taking away the liberties of the many because of the actions of the few, to use the Government's phrase in a different context. Some may rejoice in that. Fascists like the idea of continually curbing people's liberties. They like aggressive societies that curb liberties and kick people's heads in. I believed that we had got rid of such societies in Europe; we fought world wars to prevent them.
We must provide the other alternative and respond responsibly. We do not want a society in which we say, "I'm sorry, but we can't do anything about this." The Government are trying to respond to difficult issues; but we all have responsibilities as well. It is not somebody else's problem; it is the responsibility of every single one of us. From now on, whenever we witness the sort of behaviour that we are discussing, in our families, friends, peer group, neighbours and constituents, we must say that it is unacceptable. We can thus begin to change the cultural attitude of the past decades. It can be done, and we must lead. In the meantime, it would be wrong for the English team to pay the price for a problem that goes back far longer than this tournament, these matches or the events of the past few days.
§ Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham)
I begin by saying to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) that the House needs contributions such as his. The points that he made, some of which I shall echo, are precisely the points that the House and the country need to address. The subject is not one to be treated lightly. It should not be treated as a political football, so to speak.
I have a great deal of time for the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe), but I must say to her—although I can say it only in her absence, as she is no longer in her place—that I expected something better from her in her speech. I do not say that in a carping way; I genuinely admire the right hon. Lady, particularly for her stand on other issues that are close to my heart, such as animal welfare.
186 This is a time when we need to present a united House—a united front—to the problems facing us. This is the first time that I have spoken in the House as a Back Bencher since the general election. I was looking forward to making a speech, although perhaps the House did not share my anticipated enjoyment. I would have preferred to choose almost any other subject for my contribution, but obviously I want to comment on the impact of recent events on our 2006 world cup campaign.
The crisis faced by English football is the greatest in its long, proud history. We gave the game of football to the world. That is one of the things that we have been saying in our 2006 campaign—we gave the game of football to the world, and we want to welcome the world to the home of football—yet here we are, on the threshold of becoming pariahs in the world of football. As I said, at such a time, football and the country need the parties in the House to present a united front. Playing politics with the subject, by either side, is dangerous and plays into the hands of those who wish us ill.
I understand UEFA's anger. After all, trouble breaks out only when the English fans turn up. It does not happen with the Scottish fans, or those from other countries. There are some difficulties with Turkish fans at present, but if we look back over recent years, it has tended to be the English fans who turn up and spoil the party. We can well imagine UEFA's anger, but I repeat what I said in an intervention—that it was extraordinary that Lennart Johansson, the president of UEFA, and Gerhard Aigner, the general secretary, did not see fit to call in Geoff Thompson, the chairman of the Football Association, and Adam Crozier, the chief executive, who were in Charleroi. I have just come back from Belgium. We had a meeting there last night, and I came straight back. I did not know that there was to be a debate, but I came back because there are other matters to be dealt with to keep the 2006 campaign on the road.
I find it extraordinary that the chairman and chief executive of the FA were not called in. UEFA officials talk about the family of football: I have heard them say time and again, "We are the family of football." When problems arise, they should call in the family to discuss them. There may have been a similar outcome, but at least the FA would have been party to it and would have been consulted in reaching it. I find UEFA's behaviour extraordinary. I trust that it is due to nothing more than clumsiness and political naiveté, rather than anything more sinister.
UEFA has no right, any more than anyone in the House, to play political football with such a serious issue as that now facing English football. I say to the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), that I find it extraordinary and unacceptable for an international football federation to attack the policies of a sovereign Government. It is not for UEFA to do that. It is entitled to its opinions, but the way that that was done is unacceptable. I use that word yet again. It is a matter for the affiliate associations—in this case, the English Football Association—to maintain contact with the national Government. It is not a matter for an international body. UEFA is not the United Nations. Although I understand the anger that it felt, which we all share in the House and which all sensible people share, UEFA must be careful not to exceed its brief.
187 I hope that the telephone call which I know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made to Lennart Johansson, and the call which I think was made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to Gerhard Aigner, will restore decent relations between the British Government and UEFA. I repeat that, on this occasion, UEFA exceeded its brief in some measure.
As always, I listened carefully to the speech of the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald. She seemed to attach little blame—perhaps I missed it—to the drunken yobs who disgraced football and the nation at Charleroi. In the end, that is what it is all about. The blame cannot be passed on to the Government or the football authorities; in the final analysis, we are all responsible for our own conduct. It is no good those people saying, "Well, I didn't realise that the Government had not passed strong enough legislation. Had they done so, perhaps I wouldn't have acted as I did."
Whenever I listen to the "Today" programme, everything always seems to be the Government's fault. Perhaps it is because I am now on the Government rather than the Opposition Benches—who knows?—or perhaps I am now listening properly. I begin to wonder whether, if those who blame the Government turned up late for work, they would tell the boss, "Unfortunately, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment did not give me my wake-up call and I blame the Government for making me late for work." That is a caricature, but, increasingly in this country, when a problem arises we pass the blame on to the Government and ask what they are going to do about it.
The Government can and must take action. Perhaps they should have done more, but, ultimately, responsibility for the scenes that we saw was entirely that of the yobs who created the mayhem and havoc. We must ensure that, whatever points we make in this House, we never lose sight of that fact.
The right hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes)—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Hon. Member."] Perhaps one day he will be a right hon. Gentleman, but it will be for long service on the Opposition Benches.
§ Mr. Banks
Yes, like me. It is surprising how fast time goes when one is enjoying oneself.
The hon. Gentleman touched on a crucial point: there is a yob culture in this country, and it goes beyond football. It dispirits me to say that. We saw who those people were and we have, more or less, a picture of them—they are overwhelmingly young, white, male, drunk, xenophobic and racist. Short of locking up everyone in the country who fits that description—unfortunately, they might be a minority, but they are a substantial minority—we cannot deal with the problem in terms of football or any other part of our society, sporting or otherwise.
The hon. Gentleman was also correct to say that we see the same sort of people in town and city centres around the country every Saturday night. Our town centres are being turned into no-go areas for respectable citizens. As the hon. Gentleman said, we also see them in Spanish and Greek resorts. How often have we felt ashamed to be 188 English when we have been there ourselves and seen the loutish behaviour of those street trash? That is exactly what they are.
We must do more than simply get angry about the problem. We must try to analyse how it happens, rather than simply throw blame backwards and forwards. We must try to find a sophisticated way of dealing with it because, ultimately, these people are a problem for us all.
There is no easy legislative way to deal with these people. No one could describe me as a governmental brown noser, but I accept what the Secretary of State has said. I believe that we could have done more. In the end, however, one has to hope that people will behave better—that they will behave like responsible human beings. I get angry when people say that they behave like animals. Animals never behave in that way, so let us not use that description again.
We must now consider what further measures we can take. However, the House and the country must accept that, every time we take more measures, we scoop up people who are innocent. Further measures will also make injustice apparent to the innocent people who are caught up and will take more civil liberties away from us. We are English and proud to be English, but, frankly, those yobs who call themselves English have no right to use such a description of themselves. We must deal with them in the strictest and strongest way possible, while never losing sight of the fact that a much deeper-seated problem in our society encourages those people and fosters their behaviour patterns.
As I have said, we all have responsibility—the Government, football and, obviously, the House. But who are these people? They did not just appear. There are times when we feel that they are aliens, and that we do not want to share the planet with them, let alone a football ground, a continental street or a continental beach. Nevertheless, they have mothers, fathers, sisters and girl friends. It is about time that the families of these people started to put some pressure on them as well.
As I would never have behaved in such a way, I suppose that what I am going to say is a bit of a nonsense; but I can imagine what my father's reaction would have been if the front page of a newspaper had shown a picture of me coming back, having been kicked out of Belgium, Ireland, France—which hosted the World cup in 1998—or any other place in the world where we have caused mayhem in recent years. No one can exonerate himself, and the families of those yobs and thugs have a responsibility to deal with them. No one can walk away and say that it is someone else's fault—that the Government, or football, should do something about it.
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey also made a good point about the language used by the tabloids. They, too, are responsible. Let me make it clear that I do not blame them, but it is a fact that language such as "Hun Nil!"—which was the headline on the front page of the Sunday People after the result—is racist and offensive. It encourages contempt for foreigners.
That is where all this problem stems from. As kids at school, we were brought up with the idea of the British empire—the empire on which the sun never set. There was a subtext: the English—I say "the English" because of the way in which we responded to the Scottish, the Irish and the Welsh—were the master race, created in 189 God's image, and God had made a big mistake when he created foreigners. As mature individuals, we can deal with that; it need not infect us. I am afraid, however, that some of those semi-educated mindless yobs do not see it that way.
No doubt whoever wrote that headline thinks that it was just a bit of fun, but unfortunately it is necessary to be reasonably intelligent to appreciate humour. In fact, I do not find the headline particularly funny—I find it offensive—but to the weak, febrile individuals of whom we are talking, it constitutes almost a justification for the things that they do. "We beat the Hun": how offensive that is to Germans, both those in Germany and those who live and work in this country.
The Sun used a similar headline: "Heroes 1, Jankers 0". No other newspapers in the world describe football results in that way. Indeed, the language of most countries does not include insults to foreigners, and certainly does not include the range and complexity of insults that ours does. We cannot even engage in a debate about the European Union without using tabloid language and talking about Frogs and Krauts. As I say, I do not blame the tabloids, but tabloid journalists cannot write racist rubbish of that sort and then write editorials or features condemning the behaviour of the very people whose attitudes they have, in my view, fostered and, in certain cases, encouraged. No doubt I shall be ripped to pieces by some of the tabloid editors tomorrow. It will not be the first time, and I am sure that I can live with it. We know that what I have said is true, and it is about time that tabloid editors and journalists realised that they cannot whip up such behaviour and subsequently condemn it. They must realise that they are part of the problem.
Even if we are booted out of Euro 2000, that will not solve the problem of the yob culture described by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey and me. We, as a country and as a Parliament, must come together to seek ways of dealing with what I consider to be a cancer in our society. Toughening up legislation is one way, but securing changes in attitudes and putting peer pressure on these people is another matter.
We have dealt with the problem on our domestic football scene. That is the irony: all this only happens when people go abroad. The manifestations are here, but they are controlled in a far more organised way. When these people go abroad, all the restrictions are off, and they revert to the crude and nasty type that we recognise. We tackled racism inside our grounds through campaigns but, in the end, the thing that stops people is peer pressure. People used regularly to jump up and start to make strange monkey noises at a black player on the pitch, even at the club that I have supported for 50 years, Chelsea. "We are the only white club in London", used to be the song. British National party and National Front literature was openly sold on the terraces. We have dealt with that through peer pressure. In the end, that is what will deal with the yob culture in this country.
I want to say a few words about my work, as all Members know—well, I hope that they know, because if they do not I do not know what I have been doing for the past 12 months—as the Prime Minister's special envoy. I have felt many times that I have become that legendary Member for 30,000 ft. I have been working with others on England's campaign to ensure that England hosts the 190 world cup in 2006. I stood down as Sports Minister precisely to represent the Government on that campaign; I felt that it needed my full-time attention.
My heart sank when FIFA, the world governing body, changed the decision date for 2006 from March to July. Immediately, I thought, "Oh no. My God. Euro 2000." I knew that there would be problems, not least in England qualifying. We managed to scrape through, but I thought, "We will have real difficulties now." It is a tragedy because—I do not say it in any jingoistic way; all the FIFA members have acknowledged it—we have the best bid. England has the best bid in terms of our facilities, the atmosphere in our grounds, our stadiums and the excitement and passion of our football. It is such a tragedy that that might all be wasted if England is thrown out of Euro 2000.
As I have said, if that happens it will be difficult to see a way forward. If the decision had been taken, as it was originally meant to be taken, in March by FIFA, frankly, we would have won. We could still win, just, but it now depends on what happens not on the pitch, but on the streets of Charleroi tonight and, if we get through against Romania, when we play Italy in the quarter final.
It is a tragedy. It is not special pleading for myself—I have a job and I will just carry on doing other things. But a sizeable chunk of my life and the lives of a whole group of people, young men and women, have been spent working on the campaign for four years. Those people include Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst, Alec McGiven, the campaign director, and all the people at the Football Association. They have made a great effort. We should be proud of what they have all done. I do not want that effort to be absolutely wasted by what has been done to our reputation in Charleroi and elsewhere.
It still is a wonderfully well-organised, effective and professional campaign. Incidentally, we spent no more money on our campaign—none of it is Government money—than the South Africans and Germans have spent on theirs. I hope that they are not enjoying our predicament, but how much more optimistic they must now feel about their chances than they did only a couple of weeks ago. If anything goes badly, we will be in real trouble.
§ Mr. Heald
Does the hon. Gentleman think that all this is very sad for the children of this country who love soccer and go out and play in divisions, championships and tournaments? One of the great memories of my childhood was England winning the world cup at home. Our children will be deprived of that because of a bunch of real oafs and yobs.
§ Mr. Banks
The hon. Gentleman makes that point and gives his age away because some of the newer Members probably were not even born when England last won the World cup. I hope that I do not go to my grave before we win it again. I might add that trying to host the world cup in 2006 was not some foolproof way of ensuring that we won it again. We can still win it, but we will probably have to do so somewhere else. The hon. Gentleman was right in those comments.
Part of the campaign for 2006 is "England's Welcome to the World", which involves inviting 12 young people under the age of 15 from every one of the 203 countries that are affiliated to FIFA—which has more affiliated 191 countries than the United Nations does—to come to England for two weeks, with up to four adults and carers, to stay in our homes and to share the experience of the 2006 World cup in England. It is an imaginative scheme, and it has received great acclaim around the world. The world cup is about our children and about passing on the legacy. We are still talking about the 1966 world cup, which many people still consider to be the greatest sporting event that this country has ever enjoyed. Some people, however, would say that it goes even further than that.
As I said, this is a very sad day for English football. I am hoping that, if things go well today and on Saturday—if we beat Romania—we shall be able to get things back on to an even keel, proceed with our game—with our clubs in European competitions and our national team in international competitions—and keep our world cup 2006 bid on the road. However, if that does not happen, I know who I will blame—that street trash and dog dirt who disgrace not only the name of English football, but this country itself. They will never, ever, be forgiven.
§ Sir Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield)
I congratulate the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) on his return to making Back-Bench speeches—his have always been extremely good and entertaining. He is, obviously, going to continue in that tradition. I also pay tribute to him for the work that he has done for football. I agree very much with his comment on yob culture—which I shall return to later in my speech.
There seem to be essentially three questions in this debate. The first is whether the Government should have introduced legislation to widen police powers particularly to prevent suspected football hooligans from travelling abroad. In my view, the Government should have done that. They seem to support the principle of doing so, or at least that is my understanding of their rather convoluted letters and statements.
As everyone, I think, must recognise and know, only the Government could—or, arguably, should—introduce that type of legislation. We all recognise that such legislation would be controversial. Liberty still condemns even the prospect of such legislation. It is absurd, however, to think that one can leave such legislation to a private Member, even one who is as skilled as my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns). It was also incredibly weak for the Government, with their overwhelming majority, not to pass such legislation.
I have no doubt whatsoever that such legislation is a Government responsibility. I do not think that either the Home Secretary or Lord Bassam—who, extraordinarily, is the Minister in charge of football safety—has done himself any great credit with the argument that such legislation was defeated by Conservative Members. Yesterday, the Home Secretary was at least cautious on that bogus argument. Nevertheless, I listened yesterday as Lord Bassam repeated the argument on radio.
It is tempting to write off Lord Bassam as a one-man argument for reform of the House of Lords, but the issue goes rather wider than that. I find it difficult to take seriously the Government's intent on football safety as long as he is left in charge of it. Frankly, I think that the hon. Member for West Ham would do a much better job of it than Lord Bassam could.
192 About two years ago, the Government were warned about the prospect of what has now happened. When I moved new clause 10 to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, I said:Last week, the vast majority of this country felt shame at the behaviour in Marseilles of so-called English supporters—who comprised only a small number of the English people in Marseilles, and in no way represented genuine English football supporters, any more than they represented the people of this country itself.Nevertheless, we saw for ourselves the damage that was done and the violence that was committed.—[Official Report, 22 June 1998; Vol. 314, c. 710.]Two years later, all those words could have been used about the events in Belgium. The Government have had two years to act, but they have failed to do so. Regardless of whether it would have had an impact on recent events, the Government should have introduced legislation—that is their responsibility.
The second question is whether such powers would have had any significant effect on the events at the weekend. I was not happy with what the Home Secretary said, because he seemed to choose his words carefully on that subject. He said:Of the nearly 400 now being deported, just 15 have been identified as previously known hooligans and of those, one has had a domestic exclusion order against him.—[Official Report, 19 June 2000; Vol. 352, c. 37.]That led the Home Secretary to the conclusion that legislative changes, of the kind that the House has had before it recently, are not necessary. However, had the House known then what the Daily Mail reported today—that 80 of the first 200 deported had criminal convictions—that would have changed the flavour of our reaction to that statement.
There is a great difference between being told that only 15 of those deported from Brussels were previously known hooligans and learning that some 80—if not more—convicted criminals were among them. That was revealed not by the Home Office, but by a national newspaper. We should have known that yesterday and it is not necessary or justifiable to point to the criminal conviction rate on average among young people generally. The Home Secretary went on to conclude that legislation was not required and would have had no impact in any case.
§ Sir Norman Fowler
I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I hope that he has been present for the debate.
§ Mr. Caplin
I have been here for some of the debate. I wanted the right hon. Gentleman to clarify his point about criminal convictions, and whether they were football related, because that is an important aspect of the legislation promoted by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns).
§ Sir Norman Fowler
With respect, that is why I made the point about the hon. Gentleman not being here for the relevant part of the debate, because I was talking about convictions that are not related to football. We have been exploring in the debate to what extent the commission of an offence not related to football can have an impact on an exclusion order to prevent a person from going 193 overseas. That is what my new clause was about two years ago and it is the issue that the Home Office has been considering for the past two years.
I am unconvinced by the case made by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary that some of the people involved were undetectable first offenders. That is not a sustainable point. The Home Secretary made the same point, somewhat disingenuously, when he said that barristers and engineers were among those who were arrested. Doubtless they were, but they were not typical.
The Home Secretary said yesterday that it is not because of a lack of resources that hooligans are not detected but, if a power had existed, the police might have investigated more thoroughly. My conclusion is that such a power could and would have prevented some of the hooligans from travelling to Europe.
My third question is whether all our aims in this area can be achieved exclusively through new legislation. My answer is the same as that given by the hon. Member for West Ham and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). They cannot be achieved simply by legislation, and that should be recognised.
We should also recognise that there is no single remedy. We need a series of measures if we are to tackle this problem, because it is fanciful to believe that those who riot overseas lead a blameless life in this country, and that the only time that they ever commit any offences at a football match is when they go overseas. I do not believe that.
I strongly agree with an article, not in one of the Conservative supporting newspapers, but in today's Daily Mirror, by Paul Routledge, who wrote that what happens in our British towns and cities, withYoung English males … gripped by an urge to get drunk and violentis then exported over the channel.It is fashionable to be a lout. And to be a lout abroad is very heaven.That is the kind of issue that we now have to tackle.
There is an additional factor. Not only are those concerned, as the hon. Member for West Ham put it so well, yobs and louts, but they believe that they can get away with it. That is the missing part of what the hon. Gentleman said. They feel that their actions will have no consequences in terms of the law.
Here I do not make a party point. Over the 30 years that I have been in this House, under different Governments, various parts of the law of this country have fallen into disuse—not minor parts, but major parts. For example, traffic laws are now substantially unenforced. Everyone knows that that is the case. It is to the benefit of the aggressive and to the disbenefit of the young and the vulnerable, who are injured and killed as a result.
Crimes such as burglary receive little police attention, and crimes such as breaking into vehicles receive next to no police attention. I shall give just two small examples. On Sunday, I returned to my car and found that the car parked behind mine had the door ominously wide open. I rang the police to report a break-in. I got an operator, but was initially told, "I'm sorry, sir. The line is engaged. Do you wish to hold?" as if it were like reporting to Direct Line Insurance. There was no interest, although 194 ultimately, when I got through, there was some. When I had my own car broken into in my constituency, there was no interest whatsoever in that deeply boring crime, apart from my being given a report number for my insurance.
I use those examples to make the point. This has happened over a period of years—from the second world war onwards. It has happened at no particular time, but over years, and I am in no way trying to make a party point about it.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that over recent years, right up to the present, in the west midlands as elsewhere, the number of burglaries and the number of vehicle crimes has continued to go down?
§ Sir Norman Fowler
I am delighted to hear that that is so. I can only report what happened. If the Minister is trying to make a party point, he will concede that the investigation of burglary and of car crimes is very cursory. There is no conceivable question about that. I am not blaming the police. They clearly have a list of priorities and have to go for the first priority. In my own street, there has been a murder and that has been investigated with tremendous use of resources by the police. I am not trying to make any party points.
§ Mr. Ivan Henderson (Harwich)
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned that he had been in Parliament for over 30 years. I previously worked for a shipping company, and I saw some of the damage and disastrous vandalism caused by football fans who travelled on ships over those years. I wonder why the right hon. Gentleman and his party did not leave it to companies then to select whom they took on their ships. Why did they not introduce legislation to prevent those people from travelling abroad on those ships when they were in charge?
§ Sir Norman Fowler
It is always dangerous to make a party point, because then one is countered with another straightforward party point. If the hon. Gentleman wants to go down that course, I would reply that I have strong memories of the 1980s, when we sought to introduce various restrictions to try to deal with football hooliganism and were strongly opposed.
I am not trying to ascribe blame to one party or another, least of all to the police, but if people think that they can break the law without consequence, some will do so; if people with good jobs—banisters and engineers—feel that they can get drunk and riot, some will do so. It is a simple consequence of the fact that they are not prevented by detection.
In both cases, part of the solution is to raise the prospect of detection and conviction. That could have most effect on the kind of people that the Home Secretary has been talking about—the people with good jobs who we assume do not want to lose them. If greater detection is part of the solution, the House had better face the prospect that there is no alternative to having more police. We are under-policed, and our cities and towns are now paying the price. Many would argue that the country areas are also paying the price.
The Home Secretary used to talk about zero tolerance. He went to New York to look at the situation there, and I followed in his footsteps. I spent a few days with the 195 New York police looking at zero tolerance. There is no question but that the policy of zero tolerance—it is not a particularly good description—had a dramatic effect in New York. New York is infinitely better than it was five or 10 years ago, when it was a drug-ridden and crime-ridden city. What the police have been able to do has been built on the fact that an extra 7,000 police were put into place before the policy was introduced. That is why it was successful; that is why they were able to have an impact; that is why they were able to bring crime down. It has been the success of the New York police, but a success based upon more police.
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
We have debated police numbers in the House to a great extent. Is the right hon. Gentleman arguing that the football hooliganism that we are debating today is a direct result of the reduction in police numbers in the years 1992 to 1997, when he was a member of the Government?
§ Sir Norman Fowler
That is one of the silliest arguments that the Government have put forward. Why does the Minister choose the years 1992 to 1997? Why do Ministers use the argument about 1992 to 1997? Do they not normally use the argument about 18 years of Tory Government? Do they not normally go back to 1979? The hon. Gentleman knows extremely well why he does not go back to 1979. It is because, if he takes the years 1979 to 1997, the period of the last Conservative Government, he finds that it ended with over 15,000 extra police. The Minister should not make these cheap party political points. That is a silly point, one that the Home Secretary makes, and nothing makes me angrier or more irritated, because it is completely spurious and foolish.
§ Mr. Clarke
I had no intention of raising the subject in this debate at all, but the right hon. Gentleman put on the agenda the question of police numbers in relation to soccer hooliganism. I am responding to his point.
§ Sir Norman Fowler
If the Minister is not going to talk about police numbers, crime prevention or the relationship between what hooligans do overseas and in this country, he should get another job, as he is not making the right connections. He asked about the period 1992 to 1997—five years of the 18 years of Conservative Government.
§ Sir Norman Fowler
No, as I am sure that the Minister will wind up the debate and avoid mentioning this subject. When the Conservative Government left office, there were 15,000 more police officers than when we came to power. When I was in government, there was no question about the priority given in the 1980s to recruiting more police and adding to police strength.
§ Mr. Heald
Does my right hon. Friend agree with the recent Audit Commission report, which criticised the Government for reversing the trend evident throughout the Conservative years, including the period 1992 to 1997, when the numbers of police constables and front-line police officers rose? The report found that, under this Government, the number of officers had fallen.
§ Sir Norman Fowler
That is right: police numbers have fallen, not risen. However it is defined, the problem 196 must be resolved, but my argument goes beyond police numbers. If we want to prevent people from going abroad and causing problems, we must do something at home. As the hon. Member for West Ham said, we must ensure that peer pressure is exerted on those responsible, but we must also increase detection rates. That would have a preventive effect on crime in general, and especially on the type of crime that is the subject of the debate.
If I needed any confirmation of my determination to vote for the Opposition motion, the Minister has provided it. To cope with the problem that we face, we must give the police more powers. The responsibility for doing that lies with the Government and Home Office Ministers. At the same time, we need to have more police officers.
The Government have failed to introduce the necessary legislation, and to recruit and retain police officers. Above all, they have shown themselves to be deeply complacent, and that is why I and my colleagues will vote for the motion this evening.
§ 6.3 pm
§ Mr. Derek Twigg (Halton)
It goes without saying that I condemn the shameful violence at the weekend, for which there can be no excuse. It is a pity and a disgrace that it should have overshadowed the victory over Germany for which we have waited so long.
The debate is not about political point-scoring, but I want to consider what the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) said, and to look back at the record of the Conservative party on this matter. The previous Conservative Government introduced four Bills relating to football violence and disorder—the Public Order Act 1986, the Football Spectators Act 1989, the Football (Offences) Act 1991 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It took them seven years to get their first Bill on to the statute book, yet they have the cheek to tell us that we have not done enough to solve the problem of football violence. They had four attempts and still failed to achieve anything. It is a disgrace that Conservative Members should have the cheek to accuse the Government of not doing enough.
I should add that, even after the 1994 Act was passed, we saw the disgraceful scenes in Dublin in 1995. What did the Conservative legislation achieve to stop that sort of violence? We will take no lessons from the Opposition, given the disgraceful way in which they dealt with the problem.
How many times have hon. Members and Ministers debated and condemned violence by English football fans abroad? It is a terrible and continuing problem that has no easy solution. We must work out how to reduce and control the problem, and how to deal with the perpetrators. The newspapers print many intellectual, soul-searching articles asking whether the problem is an English phenomenon or whether it has to do with the loss of empire or with the fact that we won two world wars. I do not know the real reasons behind the problem: all I know is that the violence is wrong.
There is no getting away from the English mentality which says that we are superior to other nationalities. According to that way of thinking, it is all right to go abroad, abuse the people there and subject them to violence. That violence is directed not only at males but at women and children as well.
197 As has been noted, the people involved come from a drunken yob culture that is not acceptable. A sizeable minority of people believe that it is all right to go abroad and behave in that way. That is a disgrace.
There are many positive things to be said about our country, and some negatives. The same is true of all countries, and I do not understand the English conviction that we are superior. English people should be able to behave properly in other countries, and the violence that takes place is a disgrace.
I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will correct me if I am mistaken, but I understand that the Belgian authorities assured my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that they would deal severely with people who were violent or disorderly. The measures used against them were to include prosecuting them, bringing them to trial and, if necessary, jailing them. Will my hon. Friend confirm that that assurance was given?
One of the biggest problems is that English yobs abroad think that they can get away with crimes of violence and abuse because they know that they will not be sent to jail. Some will not even be formally arrested, and the ones who are sent to jail are released quickly. I accept that people should not behave violently in the first place, but should not strong action be taken by the authorities in the countries concerned?
That strong action has been supported by my hon. Friend the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and by former Tory Ministers, but it never seems to be taken: people are merely removed from the streets and then sent back home. We can deal with the problem by making sure that people know that they will be arrested for what they do, and that they will be shamed. That would deter many of them from violent behaviour, and I shall be interested in my hon. Friend's response to that proposal.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary mentioned Colonel Blickie, the man in charge of the Belgian operation. He made the worrying admission that many of the people arrested over the weekend had not committed any offence. It is a double tragedy if genuine, peaceful football supporters who have done nothing wrong have been caught up in the problem. I do not blame the Belgian authorities for a problem that is caused by English people, but I hope that everything is being done to deal with the violence.
Many political points have been made in the debate, but certain elements have been missed. For example, an important factor in the violence is that strong beer has been sold all day to fans. Why was that allowed to happen? I am not sure that the weaker beer and other options available in Holland would have prevented trouble if England had played Germany there, but elsewhere strong beer was on sale all day and people were able to get drunk on it.
Moreover, why were large crowds allowed to gather in one place? Containing trouble in one area may be a good tactic, but the question remains an interesting one.
Flashpoint matches take place in the British domestic game, and the game against Germany was considered to be just such a match. In this country, games between Liverpool and Manchester United, Newcastle United and 198 Sunderland or Celtic and Rangers are often played at midday or in the early afternoon. That stops the all-day drinking that causes people to get fuelled up and cause trouble, and it seems to bring about a significant reduction in violence.
I know that there is no excuse for the behaviour that we have seen, and that international matches are often required to fit in with the television schedules, but why has not the same approach been adopted with those games? Again, I hope that my hon. Friend will comment on that.
I was interested to hear the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) talk about people who, although they have not been convicted of football-related offences, may have convictions for other offences. The right hon. Lady said that we need to safeguards but, when challenged, would not say what those safeguards should be. We need to know what those safeguards would be, otherwise the right hon. Lady's remarks are just the usual rhetoric from the Conservatives attacking the Government.
If a yob is shown on video to be throwing a chair or a bottle or punching someone, that seems pretty good evidence to use to prevent more of those people from travelling abroad and stopping more trouble taking place, as many right hon. and hon. Members have suggested in this debate. I think that there are ways of ensuring that there is evidence that can and should be used in the future.
The Home Secretary pointed out that it is easier to stop people at the point of entry than to stop them leaving. That important point should be taken up more strongly with our counterparts in Europe, and I hope that something will be done about it.
It is important to football in general, and to football in this country in particular, that we host the world cup. This is the home of football—we invented the game. We have excellent stadiums and facilities, the support is fanatical and everyone who comes here from abroad comments on the good atmosphere at matches. It would be a travesty if we lost the opportunity to host the world cup because of what has happened recently.
Our police, authorities and organisations seem much better able to control any disorder or trouble. We have a strong record in dealing with trouble efficiently. I am not sure that there would be any trouble—there were some incidents at Euro 96 but, overall, with the Germans in Manchester and the Dutch and French in Liverpool, there was a good atmosphere. People enjoyed themselves, and it was a good occasion. I am quite sure that that could be recreated. I hope that we do not lose our opportunity to hold the world cup here because of the behaviour of these yobs.
This is a very important issue—it causes great national anxiety, and it shames the country. My constituents are absolutely sick and tired of it. There are measures that can be taken, but it ill behoves the Conservative party to suggest that the fault is the Government's. We must all share some of the blame but there is no simple remedy for solving the problem totally. The previous Government had at least four attempts during their time in office—
§ Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford)
We had the Home Secretary's statement yesterday, and we are having this debate on the Floor of the House today, against the backdrop of a minority of thugs and louts going abroad and committing violence and mayhem once again. It is a national humiliation, and it drags the reputation of our national sport into the gutter.
We must look at what more can be done to minimise the disgraceful behaviour that we have had to suffer over the past two weeks or so. As a number of right hon. and hon. Members have said, very little can be done with regard to first-time offenders. There will be terrible problems preventing them from doing anything because, by definition, they are unknown to the authorities. That applies not simply to football-related incidents, but to any walk of life and any crime. However, I believe—a point to which I alluded in earlier interventions on the Home Secretary—that there is one area of the law which should have been tightened up by now and which must be tightened up as soon as possible. I refer to the omission in the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999 concerning the removal of passports for unconvicted football hooligans in certain circumstances.
I never envisaged the state using such a power willy-nilly and irresponsibly. During the proceedings on my private Member's Bill, I understood the Government to agree with me 100 per cent. that there should be a power in law to allow unconvicted individuals to have their passports withdrawn before an international match or championship if an application was made to the courts by the police and it was proven to the court's satisfaction that there were reasonable grounds for believing that if those individuals travelled abroad, they would engage in acts of violence, vandalism or hooliganism.
§ Mr. Burns
I am sorry but I will not, because time is limited.
A number of people have referred to civil liberties. I will give two examples to show that that principle is already engaged in our legal system. Anyone on bail pending a court appearance or a court case—who is, of course, innocent until proved guilty—can be asked to surrender their passport, and must do so. Secondly, in difficult child custody cases, if a court suspects that a child may be taken beyond the jurisdiction of a British court, the passport of the parent can be withdrawn, although no crime has been committed and no crime may be committed. Those are examples of taking action prior to an event whose consequences would be difficult to rectify.
I believe that it would have been right to provide the power to withdraw the passport of unconvicted individuals, under certain circumstances and when a court was satisfied. I also believe—even more strongly today than I did when I asked the Home Secretary about it yesterday—that that measure should have been taken in time for Euro 2000. So that there could be no 200 misunderstanding, I specifically asked the right hon. Gentleman in an intervention today whether it was right that about 30 to 35 per cent. of people who have been arrested in Belgium over the past two weeks have criminal convictions—not for football-related offences, but simple criminal convictions. The Home Secretary said yes.
No doubt, when we have the proper information and data in the coming weeks, we will be able to study this in greater detail. However, I suspect that a number of the individuals who were arrested have been convicted of crimes of violence, possibly even hooliganism or other anti-social behaviour. Those would have been valid grounds for a court to withdraw the passport of such individuals so that they could not travel abroad. Even though such convictions were for criminal offences and were not football-related, it shows that such people are minded to commit acts of violence during a football riot in any town or city in Belgium or Holland.
The Government have made a mistake by not using their majority and legislating for those powers, after the Queen's Speech, in time for Euro 2000. That is what I thought was their intention when I discussed the matter with the Home Office during the Committee stage of my Bill. I said that I would not proceed with that proposal because I was fearful, for the reasons that I outlined to the Home Secretary, that it might mean that the whole Bill would be lost last summer, either in this House or, more probably, in another place.
I urge the Government, even at this late stage, not to forgo taking those powers. If I have understood my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) correctly, the Opposition have pledged to assist the Government in allowing those provisions to come into force in time. It is important to have that power for future football matches and, as the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) said, we desperately want to host the world cup in 2006. Events of the past two weeks have meant a setback, but we must prove to the world not only that are we determined to do all that we can to minimise and tackle football hooliganism—there is a common will about that on both sides of the House—but that we are backing our words and good intentions with positive acts. That would be a good act, and a signal both to the community outside this place who engage in football hooliganism and to those who will determine the awarding of the 2006 matches that we are determined to do all that we can within the law.
I find encouraging and welcome some of the comments made by the Home Secretary in his statement yesterday about international bans on convicted hooligans under the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999, and the courts then adding the extra penalty of banning those individuals for up to a maximum of 10 years from travelling abroad to football matches.
That legislation was passed last summer, and I suspect that no Member taking part in the debates that preceded its enactment doubted that the courts would ruthlessly use the powers that it provided when football hooligans were convicted. We seem to be finding—it is still early days because the Act has been in force only since September last year—that the courts are reluctant to use the powers. There is anecdotal evidence to that effect. For that reason, I was encouraged by what the Home Secretary said about tightening procedures and encouraging the courts to use the powers that are available to them more extensively.
201 I am not a lawyer, but I think that I am right in saying that one of the most effective and immediate ways to try to redress the tardiness of the courts is for the Lord Chancellor immediately to issue guidance to them reminding them of the powers in the Act and telling them that they are expected to use those powers unless there are exceptional circumstances and compelling reasons for them not to impose international bans.
It would be a travesty, and a snub to the House, if the courts were to ignore the intention of Parliament, which is clearly specified in the 1999 Act. We are not talking of a section that is badly drafted and open to doubt. To strengthen the courts' resolve, the Act states that if the courts do not impose a banning order, they must in public state their reasons for not doing so. That part of the Act shows that we expected the courts to use the powers vigorously. I hope that the Lord Chancellor will remind the courts of that.
If the courts do not start doing what Parliament intended, I urge Home Office Ministers to give serious consideration to taking the next step forward and saying, "All right, we have tried. The courts are reluctant to do what Parliament wants, so we shall make it crystal clear to them by introducing a mandatory sentence for anyone who is convicted of a football-related offence. There can be a longer time for those who are convicted and sent to prison, and possibly a shorter time for those who are not imprisoned, to differentiate between the seriousness of crimes and the punishment that ensues." That must be done.
We shall not overcome or minimise the problem solely by means of legislation, although legislation is an important weapon in the armoury. However, something that I was reading today struck me as perhaps worthy of consideration, and that is naming and shaming football hooligans. I cannot claim credit for the suggestion. The practice started in the United States about 15 or 20 years ago, and it related to other crimes. Local newspapers would name and shame individuals who engaged in certain criminal activities or anti-social activities, to bring peer pressure to bear on those involved to improve their behaviour and social attitudes. It may be worth considering that local newspapers should name and shame those individuals who may not have a conviction but who have been arrested or deported from a foreign country, or who have been apprehended in this country, for hooligan or anti-social behaviour.
The Home Secretary has mentioned the extent to which middle-class people, such as lawyers and accountants, are being arrested for football hooliganism in Europe. Most people do not want to be named and shamed. They do not want their anti-social, drunken or violent behaviour drawn to the attention of their neighbours and the members of their local community. If naming and shaming could bring peer pressure to bear on them to take a more responsible attitude, it would be worth a try. That would be in addition to all the other measures that are needed and those that are set out in the legislation.
I hope that tonight, and for the rest of competition, we do not see a repetition of what we have had to put up with for the past two weeks. I am not confident that that will happen, but I hope that it will. Sadly, we are dealing with a minority of morons, who do not have the intelligence to 202 behave rationally: it must be the big stick rather than the carrot if we are to get them back on track and stop the nation being repetitively and constantly shamed.
§ Mr. Martin Salter (Reading, West)
I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this sadly topical debate on football hooliganism. I am grateful also to the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) for giving me just enough time to make my contribution. However, I caution against the effectiveness of naming and shaming. Some of the so-called fans of whom I am aware who are involved in organised football violence do not consider naming to be shaming. Instead, they consider it to be a badge of honour. That is the awful truth with which we must deal.
I am not an impartial participant in the debate. I speak as a long-term football supporter and as a regular attender of football league matches for more than 30 years. I recently had the honour to be made vice-president of Reading football supporters' club, something of which I am particularly proud, as many people in Reading well know. However, I am ashamed to admit that, over the years, my town has produced some especially violent football hooligans, whose behaviour was highlighted in the recent BBC documentary entitled "Maclntyre Under Cover".
I was in the Chamber yesterday during the exchanges following the statement of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on Euro 2000, and on the disgraceful scenes of violence and mayhem that occurred over the weekend at Charleroi. With a few exceptions, the quality of the contributions did none of those present any favours. For example—I say this in all kindness—what does the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) know about football fans? How many football matches has she attended? Does she seriously think that football violence started when the Government were elected? Does she recollect events at places such as Turin, Heysel, Malmo and Dublin, which occurred when Conservative Governments were in power? It is not a party political matter. It is a damning indictment of the conduct of a significant minority of fans and of a rich seam of thuggery towards, and contempt for, people from other nations.
I say to the Government that it is a bit lame to try to pin the blame for the failure of the Football (Offences and Disorder) Bill promoted by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford on the actions of the lunatic right on the Conservative Benches, when many Labour Members had reservations. The lunatic right, or the extreme right, have a responsibility, but that is not only in this place. Its role is in the public promotion of racism and xenophobia, which is, sadly, a hallmark of certain aspects of English football.
I have spent a good deal of my political life working with anti-racist and anti-fascist groups in fighting organised and violent racism. I pay particular tribute to my colleagues from the Searchlight magazine for their invaluable work in exposing the strands of evil that link the extreme right wing in British politics with organised violence, both on and round the football terraces and against black, Jewish and Asian members of our community.
I return to our home-grown thugs from Reading. I am talking about Danny Walford and Andy Frain. We learn much about what motivates these people from the 203 company that they keep. Frain is a member of Combat 18—the name is derived from Hitler's initials—which provides bodyguards for holocaust apologists and other right-wing, racist speakers. He runs—I am sorry to tell my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks)—with the Chelsea headhunters, and he has been prosecuted for the dissemination of Ku-Klux Klan literature. He dreams, I fear, of establishing a white homeland in Essex. Walford, as the documentary showed, glories in violence. He has no political affinity with any one football club, and he boasts how easy it is to organise nicks and riots on the internet and via mobile phones.
Instead of trying to score political points, the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald and some of her colleagues would do well to consider how their own public comments and actions affect the situation. They have helped to fuel the atmosphere of racial intolerance that lies at the heart of the problem.
In case any hon. Member doubts that the major problem underlying football hooliganism relates to the behaviour of English fans abroad rather than at domestic competitions, it is worth quoting House of Commons Library figures for arrests and attendances at football league and premier league matches. There has been a welcome reduction in football-related violence. In 1984–85, there were 7,000 arrests from 17 million attendances. Last year, the arrests fell to more than 3,000 while attendances rose to 24 million.
That is a tribute to the behaviour of the vast majority—the genuine football fans—and the efficiency of the police and clubs in tracking, identifying and banning known troublemakers and those involved with organised football violence. What happened in Charleroi at the weekend had absolutely nothing to do with football, and everything to do with alcohol-fuelled racism and xenophobia. How else can one explain comments made by a spokesman for the National Criminal Intelligence Service, who said on Sunday:The bottom line is that there were a lot of young men aged between 18 and 30 who get drunk and like to cause trouble. They talk about provocation but to these people someone speaking German is considered provocation.That is a damning indictment.
Practical measures could be taken to isolate the thugs. I shall not use up time by listing them, but they offer only part of the answer. We must address the whole conduct of our politics. I want to associate myself with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, who condemned the street trash who have done so much to blight our national game and our reputation as a footballing nation.
§ Mr. Tony Clarke (Northampton, South)
I appreciate that we are pressed for time but does my hon. Friend agree that we are hindered in tackling the street thugs and trash by the media's comments about Kraut-bashing and analogies with the second world war? Does not the media's little Englander attitude, which also, sometimes, expresses itself among those on the Conservative Benches, hinder our progress towards being less anti-European and not such little Englanders?
§ Mr. Salter
I agree. Sections of the tabloid media must bear their share of the responsibility.
We have proved that football hooliganism can be tackled effectively at home. The challenge is to take further practical steps to prevent known hooligans from 204 travelling to games abroad. We must also tackle the racism and xenophobia that spews out filth in the back rooms of certain of our political parties, in the pages of some of our tabloid media and in far too many of the hearts and minds of young English males masquerading as football fans.
§ Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire)
We have had an excellent debate on this important subject. The hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) talked about the yob culture and its effect on the innocent. We must all realise that the hopes of many people, particularly the young, are tied up with the England football team as they face Romania tonight. I recently attended a football tournament for under-13s at which there was remarkable enthusiasm for Euro 2000 and for seeing England and our best players do well. Most of the nation will be glued to television, hoping that England will do well. We hope that our players, who have done rather better than usual so far, will be able to progress.
However, at the same time there is the dread thought for the people of Belgium and Holland that the violence might return. In an article earlier this week, a journalist put the matter rather well, writing:The politicians ought to front up in the midst of a riot to see for themselves what it feels like to be intimidated, abused, roughed up, vomited on, stolen from and, in every sense of the word, offended. Then, perhaps, they would not talk quite as much about civil liberties and nets, but instead find the guts to eradicate this plain yobbery.Both sides of the House have offered strong condemnation of the oafs, yobs and louts who commit these acts and humiliate our country.
As a Conservative, even I feel that having our Prime Minister snubbed by the Belgian Prime Minister when he attempted to hold a meeting in front of the television about football hooligans displays the depths to which our country has sunk. We are being shamed and humiliated. In 1998, at the world cup in France, we saw a glimpse of the same thing. At Marseilles, a dreadful riot involved English fans, but it was not only the English who were to blame. At Lens that year, German fans went on the rampage, beating a gendarme almost to death.
There were, however, different reactions in England and Germany to those shocking events. The German reaction was to take emergency measures to try to stop that happening again. In England, within a week of the incident, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) tabled amendments in Committee on the Crime and Disorder Bill in which he sought to make it possible, in the cases of those known to be likely to cause riots, damage and insulting behaviour, for a court, on the application of the police, to be able to say that, for specified persons and matches, the risk of allowing travel would be too great. There is a civil liberties price to pay, but if refusing someone the ability to go to a football match abroad for three weeks every four years will save England the humiliation that we all feel at the actions of oafs, it is not too high a price.
My right hon. Friend made a suggestion back then with which most commentators agree. The same suggestion has been made on both sides of the House tonight. The Home Secretary said two years ago that he would sit down and work on the idea. I know that he has been busy; many problems have crossed his desk since then, and we have 205 all heard the numerous statements that he has had to make about them. However, he has spent two years sitting down and working on it, and nothing has emerged. That is unacceptable. He had an opportunity in 1998, in 1999 and again this year before the European championships began to pass legislation through the House with the support of the Opposition. He refused to do so.
We need to know whether the Home Secretary supports legislation. If he does, when will he do something about it? He has slurred the Opposition disgracefully by saying that it is all our fault. The fact is that he holds the job of Home Secretary and he is the man who can introduce legislation with unlimited time. He has failed to do so. The outside world—Europe, the football supporters and others—criticises him, and is right to do so. UEFA and the football supporters are entitled to say that the right hon. Gentleman has not done enough because he has not done enough.
It is feeble for the Government to say that they gave 1,000 names to the Dutch and the Belgians and that they sent warning letters to half that number, telling them that it would be rough for them if they went to Holland or Belgium. The German reaction to a similar problem was to turn back 2,500 people. They visited each of them and either marked or took away their passports. The Germans compiled good lists of the likely football hooligans, and set up border controls to ensure that those people did not get through. The result was that only 31 German, but 800 England, supporters were arrested.
The same problem was identified in 1998, but there was a different response. As both countries had that problem in 1998, it would hardly be surprising if people in UEFA wondered what had happened since then. They might compare the proactive approach of the Germans, which resulted in far less criminality by their supporters, with the lackadaisical approach of the Home Secretary, which led to 800 English people being deported from Belgium—the figure is rising all the time.
To say that this national humiliation is the fault, among others, of UEFA—as did the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes)—he criticised alcohol, which is fair enough—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman says that he did not criticise UEFA, but he did. He said that it was quite wrong of the organisation to make that threat, but the fact is that UEFA has had enough. His speech deserves little comment—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell) says that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey beat me once, which is true but not relevant to this debate.
Several hon. Members—including the hon. Member for West Ham—pointed out that tabloid language was most unhelpful. We all agree on that. It was said that alcohol is a problem, as, of course, it is. It was said that the yob culture was all wrong and that we must do something about it, but no one knew quite what we could do.
We were left with some clear conclusions from my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield. He said, first, that the Government had not done enough to change the law and that, secondly, a culture had developed in which yobs and oafs could get away with their behaviour. He pointed out that the number of police had been cut dramatically by the Government.
206 My right hon. Friend said—fairly—that he was not trying to make a party political point on the matter, but I want to do so. The Government have cut police numbers by 2,500; there are 3,500 fewer specials and 90 police stations are closing every year. In such an atmosphere of slack law and order, it is not surprising that people think they can get away with it.
My right hon. Friend said that there should be a policy of zero tolerance towards football violence. During the years of Conservative Government, constant attempts were made, year after year, to meet the problems as they emerged and to clamp down on them—the hon. Member for Halton (Mr. Twigg) criticised that. The reason that the hon. Member for West Ham could say that we had sorted out the problems in the grounds was partly due to the action of the FA—of course—and partly to that of the clubs. However, in large part, it was due to measures passed in 1985 by the Conservative Government to crack down on alcohol abuse in grounds and to the Public Order Act 1986, which created new offences that cut down on the abuses that had been occurring.
The Football Spectators Act 1989 for the first time imposed restrictions to prevent people from going to international matches by compelling them to attend police stations during the match. The Football (Offences) Act 1991 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 were passed. As each problem emerged, the Conservatives passed laws to ensure that it was addressed.
No one claims that all the problems can be solved at a stroke. As soon as one is resolved, another emerges. However, we need a rigorous attitude. We need a Government who are prepared to take action when it is needed. Football violence and yobbery is a national curse; it must be dealt with rigorously. It is no good for the Government to say that they will look at the problem and then to fail to do so. It is no good for them to say that they will solve the problem one day and that they have held another seminar—as the Minister almost always does—sweet words, but no action. We need a commitment to legislation now. Will the Minister tell us that he will introduce legislation and, if so, when? We want action and we want it now. The Home Secretary said that only a small number of those who were deported were known to the authorities as football hooligans. What about the football hooligans we know about? Eddie Curtis, the head of the hooligan spotting team, said that most of the main undesirables—the criminals on the NCIS list—had got into Holland and Belgium. I do not want to read more headlines, because the Government have failed to curtail the liberties of such people for three weeks every four years. Let us have some action—let us solve the problem.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Charles Clarke)
We have debated a serious subject, and I genuinely thank the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) for tabling it. I welcome the debate. We have heard some outstanding speeches, and I hope that no one will be offended if I pay special tribute to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), who made an excellent speech, and to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), who made a first-class speech. I shall not follow him in his speculations as to the motives of UEFA 207 and so on, but I am sure the whole House wishes him well in his efforts with the 2006 world cup. I pay credit to the intelligence with which he so powerfully addresses the issues.
It was a shame that the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald and the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) descended to crude party politics.
§ Mr. Clarke
No, I shall not give way—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way, give way."] When the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) spoke about small numbers, I thought that he might have been referring to the fact that, at times during the debate, only one, two or a maximum of three Opposition Back Benchers were in the Chamber. I wondered whether that reflected a general unhappiness with the stance taken by the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald.
As the violence two nights ago demonstrates, the key point is that international football hooliganism is not the exclusive property of English troublemakers. However, the record of English hooligans outstrips that of all their competitors. We have all noted, in various ways, that we are heartily sick of their boorish, offensive, threatening and sometimes violent behaviour.
Several hon. Members rightly asked what individuals could do in such circumstances. To avoid individual responsibility is absolutely wrong. Individuals must take responsibility for their acts; they must behave in a sportsmanlike way; they must focus on good conduct and respect others. That is critically important, as several hon. Members pointed out. The question being debated today is what the Government can do about those matters. That is a legitimate subject for debate, and I shall respond with three points. First, I shall describe what the Government can and should do operationally. Secondly, I shall set out what can be done legislatively—referring especially to the issues raised in a good speech by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), who has a fine record of fighting for such matters. Thirdly, I shall discuss the general social and cultural issues that were raised by several hon. Members.
On operational matters, policing is extremely important. The achievement of effective policing of football in this country and our expertise—manifested during Euro 96 and in our domestic games—are powerful. My hon. Friend the Member for Halton (Mr. Twigg) used those points to make a good argument for holding the 2006 world cup in this country. We want to lend that expertise to other countries. We discussed with Denmark, Holland and Belgium how policing could be strengthened throughout the continent. That is important. I had two meetings with Turkey's Minister of the Interior to discuss those matters in relation to his country's policing issues.
The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow)—who is not in his place—asked about intelligence. The police devote extensive resources to keeping close tabs on the most active football hooligans—often at great risk to the officers involved. The House will understand that I cannot reveal details, but outstanding work is done by spotters and intelligence liaison officers, and the whole House will share in paying tribute to the National Criminal Intelligence Service.
208 It is worth highlighting the work done in the European Union—by my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State, in Tampere, and the Prime Minister in Feira—to ensure closer liaison between criminal justice systems: not something the previous Government would have done. We are committed to effective joint working, which is critical in this, as in so many other respects. An important element is the international agreements with Holland and Belgium in particular and the operational discussions. Our police have a strong and positive relationship with forces in the rest of the European Union; the UK ports operations, which we continue to intensify, is an example of how joint working operates. I am sure that Opposition Members wish to encourage that work, which is critical to everything that we do and to which we are greatly committed.
We have done a lot, but much more needs to be done at every turn—including the international environment, both judicially and operationally. The right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald and the hon. Members for North-East Hertfordshire and for West Chelmsford focused on legislation. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey said that our legislation is already among the toughest in Europe. There is an argument as to whether Germany's laws are tougher in some respects, given that country's different political and judicial traditions, but Britain is at the cutting edge of tough legislation. The Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999 built on the work of the previous Government and reflects a consistent tradition across all parties of seeking to strengthen effective legislation against hooliganism.
I acknowledge that more can be done. The passports legislation associated with the hon. Member for West Chelmsford was the subject of a party knockabout in today's debate, but we are looking at doing more in an appropriate way. My right hon. Friend referred to merging domestic and international banning orders. We have made announcements about stopping people from returning to the Low Countries and partnerships with clubs. My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham also made a number of specific proposals for strengthening existing legislation.
I assure the hon. Member for West Chelmsford, who put his points extremely effectively, that we are prepared to legislate—including on naming and shaming. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Mr. Salter) made important points in that respect. Key to that is that any legislative change that we might have made would have had little or no impact on events in the Low Countries at this time.
§ Mr. Heald
Does the Minister accept that it is necessary to have the sort of football behaviour order that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) proposed two years ago? If so, when will one be introduced? Is it correct—as was said by Eddie Curtis, head of the spotting team—that most of the undesirables are in Holland and Belgium as we speak?
§ Mr. Clarke
That is not the information we have from NCIS. Mr. Curtis made it clear that he is deeply frustrated with the failure of the courts to use their existing powers to impose banning orders—a point also made by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford. We are considering tightening or extending legislation—including football behaviour orders. There is plenty of scope for partisan knockabout, but any serious review of recent events in the 209 Low Countries and what must be done shows that legislative change of the kind that preoccupies the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire would not have resolved the current situation.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey made effective points about yob culture. Twenty six per cent. of men born in 1968 had convictions by the age of 24, and nearly 10 per cent. had convictions for violence against the person, sexual offences or robbery—an appalling picture of the society that has developed and that reflects convictions that did not necessarily have anything to do with football violence. We have to turn that around.
The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield mentioned law and order in the community. Other issues that need to be addressed include the way in which young people are brought up, xenophobia in the media, law and order, education and alcohol. One Opposition Member sneered about seminars that bring together people dealing with alcohol-related issues, but over 18 Tory years nothing was done. Alcohol is a big factor in crime. The alcohol industry, retail and licensing trades want to work on that connection—and the White Paper on licensing addresses some of the issues. Alcohol is important is looking for the motive force behind crime—almost as important as drugs, in some respects.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham and others mentioned peer pressure and families. Individualism is to be found in some people but—I am not making a party political point—the phrase, "There is no such thing as society" was extremely damaging. It might be argued that it is okay to say, "There's no such thing as society," but I fundamentally disagree. Government policies on crime reduction partnerships put in place by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and the initiatives in education—by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment—in health and in other areas are aimed at building communities and getting people to work together in an acknowledgement that society is important.
There are no quick fixes, but we must work in that direction rather than in the opposite direction that we inherited. That will be difficult, but we are introducing a series of measures focused on all the issues that I have mentioned. I urge right hon. and hon. Members to vote against the Opposition motion—which is all about short-term, blame-culture fixes—and to vote for the Government amendment, which identifies the real problems and supports measures to change society in a way that will eliminate football hooliganism in future, which is what we all want.
§ Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:
§ The House divided: Ayes 132, Noes 363.213
|Division No. 235]||[6.59 pm|
|Amess, David||Bercow, John|
|Ancram, Rt Hon Michael||Beresford, Sir Paul|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Body, sir Richard|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)||Boswell, Tim|
|Baldry, Tony||Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Loughton, Tim|
|Brady, Graham||Luff, Peter|
|Brazier, Julian||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||McIntosh, Miss Anne|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew|
|Burns, Simon||Maclean, Rt Hon David|
|Butterfill, John||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Cash, William||Madel, Sir David|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney||Maginnis, Ken|
|(Chipping Barnet)||Malins, Humfrey|
|Chope, Christopher||Maples, John|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)||Mates, Michael|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth||Maude, Rt Hon Francis|
|(Rushcliffe)||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||May, Mrs Theresa|
|Collins, Tim||Moss, Malcolm|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Cran, James||Norman, Archie|
|Curry, Rt Hon David||O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)|
|Davies, Quentin (Grantham)||Ottaway, Richard|
|Duncan Smith, lain||Page, Richard|
|Evans, Nigel||Paice, James|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret||Paterson, Owen|
|Faber, David||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Fabricant, Michael||Prior, David|
|Fallon, Michael||Randall, John|
|Flight, Howard||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman||Robathan, Andrew|
|Fox, Dr Liam||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Fraser, Christopher||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Gale, Roger||St Aubyn, Nick|
|Garnier, Edward||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Gibb, Nick||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Gillan, Mrs Cheryl||Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Soames, Nicholas|
|Gray, James||Spelman, Mrs Caroline|
|Green, Damian||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Grieve, Dominic||Spring, Richard|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Steen, Anthony|
|Hague, Rt Hon William||Streeter, Gary|
|Hammond, Philip||Swayne, Desmond|
|Hawkins, Nick||Syms, Robert|
|Heald, Oliver||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David||Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)|
|Horam, John||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Taylor, Sir Teddy|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Tredinnick, David|
|Hunter, Andrew||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael||Walter, Robert|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Waterson, Nigel|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Johnson Smith,||Whittingdale, John|
|Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann|
|Key, Robert||Wilkinson, John|
|Laing, Mrs Eleanor||Willetts, David|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Lansley, Andrew||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|Leigh, Edward||Yeo, Tim|
|Letwin, Oliver||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)|
|Lidington, David||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Mr. Stephen Day and|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)||Mr. Peter Atkinson.|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Atkins, Charlotte|
|Ainger, Nick||Ballard, Jackie|
|Ainsworth, Robert (CoVtry NE)||Banks, Tony|
|Allan, Richard||Barnes, Harry|
|Allen, Graham||Barron, Kevin|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Bayley, Hugh|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary||Beard, Nigel|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Begg, Miss Anne|
|Ashton, Joe||Bell, Martin (Tatton)|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)||Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Davidson, Ian|
|Benton, Joe||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)|
|Berry, Roger||Davis, Rt Hon Terry|
|Best, Harold||(B'ham Hodge H)|
|Blackman, Liz||Dawson, Hilton|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Dean, Mrs Janet|
|Blizzard, Bob||Dismore, Andrew|
|Blunkett, Rt Hon David||Dobbin, Jim|
|Boateng, Rt Hon Paul||Dobson, Rt Hon Frank|
|Borrow, David||Donohoe, Brian H|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Dowd, Jim|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Drew, David|
|Bradshaw, Ben||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth|
|Brake, Tom||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Breed, Colin||Edwards, Huw|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Efford, Clive|
|Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Ennis, Jeff|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Field, Rt Hon Frank|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Fisher, Mark|
|Burden, Richard||Fitzpatrick, Jim|
|Burgon, Colin||Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Flint, Caroline|
|Byers, Rt Hon Stephen||Flynn, Paul|
|Caborn, Rt Hon Richard||Follett, Barbara|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|(NE Fife)||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Fyfe, Maria|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Galloway, George|
|Cann, Jamie||Gardiner, Barry|
|Caplin, Ivor||George, Andrew (St Ives)|
|Casale, Roger||George, Bruce (Walsall S)|
|Caton, Martin||Gerrard, Neil|
|Cawsey, Ian||Gidley, Sandra|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Chaytor, David||Godman, Dr Norman A|
|Chidgey, David||Godsiff, Roger|
|Clapham, Michael||Goggins, Paul|
|Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Clark, Dr Lynda||Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)|
|(Edinburgh Pentlands)||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Grocott, Bruce|
|Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)||Grogan, John|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Gunnell, John|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)||Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)|
|Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|Clwyd, Ann||Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)|
|Coaker, Vernon||Hancock, Mike|
|Coffey, Ms Ann||Hanson, David|
|Cohen, Harry||Harris, Dr Evan|
|Coleman, Iain||Heal, Mrs Sylvia|
|Colman, Tony||Healey, John|
|Connarty, Michael||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)|
|Cooper, Yvette||Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)|
|Corbett, Robin||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Heppell, John|
|Corston, Jean||Hesford, Stephen|
|Cotter, Brian||Hill, Keith|
|Cousins, Jim||Hinchliffe, David|
|Cranston, Ross||Hood, Jimmy|
|Crausby, David||Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)||Hope, Phil|
|Cryer, John (Hornchurch)||Hopkins, Kelvin|
|Cummings, John||Howarth, Alan (Newport E)|
|Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|(Copeland)||Howells, Dr Kim|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)||Hoyle, Lindsay|
|Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire||Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Darting, Rt Hon Alistair||Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)|
|Darvill, Keith||Humble, Mrs Joan|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Hurst, Alan|
|Hutton, John||(B'ham Yardley)|
|Ingram, Rt Hon Adam||Mountford, Kali|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||Mudie, George|
|Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)||Mullin, Chris|
|Jamieson, David||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Jenkins, Brian||Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)|
|Johnson, Miss Melanie||Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|(Welwyn HaWeld)||Norris, Dan|
|Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)||Oaten, Mark|
|Jones, Helen (Warrington N)||O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)|
|Jones, Ms Jenny||O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)|
|(Wolvem'ton SW)||O'Hara, Eddie|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Olner, Bill|
|Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)||Öpik, Lembit|
|Keeble, Ms Sally||Osborne, Ms Sandra|
|Keetch, Paul||Palmer, Dr Nick|
|Kelly, Ms Ruth||Pearson, Ian|
|Kemp, Fraser||Pendry, Tom|
|Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Khabra, Piara S||Pickthall, Colin|
|Kidney, David||Pike, Peter L|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Plaskitt, James|
|King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)||Pollard, Kerry|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Pond, Chris|
|Ladyman, Dr Stephen||Pope, Greg|
|Lawrence, Mrs Jackie||Pound, Stephen|
|Laxton, Bob||Powell, Sir Raymond|
|Lepper, David||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)|
|Leslie, Christopher||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Levitt, Tom||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)||Prosser, Gwyn|
|Lewis, Terry (Worsley)||Purchase, Ken|
|Linton, Martin||Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce|
|Livsey, Richard||Quinn, Lawrie|
|Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)||Rapson, Syd|
|Llwyd, Elfyn||Raynsford, Nick|
|Lock, David||Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)|
|McCabe, Steve||Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)|
|McCafferty, Ms Chris||Roche, Mrs Barbara|
|McCartney, Rt Hon Ian||Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Macdonald, Calum||Roy, Frank|
|McDonnell, John||Ruane, Chris|
|McFall, John||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|McGuire, Mrs Anne||Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)|
|McIsaac, Shona||Ryan, Ms Joan|
|McKenna, Mrs Rosemary||Salter, Martin|
|McNulty, Tony||Sanders, Adrian|
|MacShane, Denis||Sarwar, Mohammad|
|Mactaggart, Fiona||Savidge, Malcolm|
|McWalter, Tony||Sawford, Phil|
|McWilliam, John||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Mahon, Mrs Alice||Shaw, Jonathan|
|Mallaber, Judy||Sheerman, Barry|
|Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Shipley, Ms Debra|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)|
|Marshall-Andrews, Robert||Singh, Marsha|
|Martlew, Eric||Skinner, Dennis|
|Meacher, Rt Hon Michael||Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Meale, Alan||Smith, Angela (Basildon)|
|Merron, Gillian||Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)|
|Michael, Rt Hon Alun||Smith, Miss Geraldine|
|Michie, Bill (Shefld Heeley)||(Morecambe & Lunesdale)|
|Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)||Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|Milbum, Rt Hon Alan||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Miller, Andrew||Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)|
|Mitchell, Austin||Southworth, Ms Helen|
|Moffatt, Laura||Squire, Ms Rachel|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)||Stevenson, George|
|Moriey, Elliot||Stewart, David (Inverness E)|
|Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Stinchcombe, Paul||Tyler, Paul|
|Stoate, Dr Howard||Tynan, Bill|
|Straw, Rt Hon Jack||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Stringer, Graham||Wareing, Robert N|
|Stuart, Ms Gisela||Watts, David|
|Stunell, Andrew||Webb, Steve|
|Sutcliffe, Gerry||White, Brian|
|Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)||Williams, Rt Hon Alan|
|Taylor, David (NW Leics)||(Swansea W)|
|Taylor, Matthew (Truro)||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)||Willis, Phil|
|Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)||Wills, Michael|
|Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)||Wilson, Brian|
|Timms, Stephen||Winnick, David|
|Tipping, Paddy||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Tonge, Dr Jenny||Wood, Mike|
|Touhig, Don||Woodward, Shaun|
|Trickett, Jon||Wooias, Phil|
|Truswell, Paul||Worthington, Tony|
|Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Turner, Neil (Wigan)||Mr. David Clelland and|
|Twigg, Derek (Halton)||Mr. Clive Betts.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.
§ MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
That this House wholly deplores the violence in Belgium during the Euro 2000 competition perpetrated by United Kingdom citizens, and condemns the irresponsibility and criminality of those involved; welcomes the good co-operation between the British police and National Criminal Intelligence Service with the law enforcement agencies in Belgium, the Netherlands and France by which a large number of individuals with banning orders from football-related convictions against them have been prevented from travelling to Belgium and the Netherlands; strongly supports the many measures already taken by Her Majesty's Government, the police and other agencies; and endorses the further measures announced by the Secretary of State for the Home Department yesterday.