§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.
§ [Printed earlier.]
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in my judgment, when the noble Lord the Minister replied to the debate on Amendment No. 1, which was really a general debate on this group of amendments, he was not entirely inflexible. He appeared to acknowledge that there was weight in some of the arguments that were being urged upon him and he indicated that the Government would keep this matter under constant review. In those circumstances I propose not to move Amendment No. 2 or indeed the other amendments that stand in my name in this group.
§ [Amendment No. 2 not moved.]
§ [Amendment No. 3 not moved.]782
§ [Printed earlier.]
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords I think I shall take the same line as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder. We have tested the House on this, so I will adopt the same procedure.
§ [Amendment No. 4 not moved.]
Lord Airedale moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 2, line 35, leave out from beginning to ("of") in line 36 and insert ("is designed normally to hold—
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is an amendment to subsection (3) of Clause 2, which deals with the topic of which drink containers may or may not be brought into a football ground. In Committee, the Government moved an amendment to take account of criticisms which had been levelled in another place that the subsection was too tightly drawn. For instance, as originally drafted the subsection would have banned Thermos flasks for tea and hot soup. It would have banned babies' bottles, scent bottles and deodorant aerosols. Those four items were specifically mentioned by the Minister in his speech moving his amendment in Committee. The problem was dealt with by distinguishing between disposable containers and non-disposable containers, and the disposables were caught and the non-disposables were left free.
§ That amendment was fine as far as it went, but I ventured to suggest that there was a loophole in the shape of the hip flask. I suggested that a hooligan who smuggled into the ground a hip flask containing neat whisky and then consumed the contents might very well put himself in a position to be tempted to use his empty flask as a very nasty weapon, in the event of disturbances breaking out. The Minister suggested that he might be caught under subsection (1) for being in possession of alcoholic liquor, but I do not think he would because I do not believe that the alcohol inside one is in one's possession within the meaning of the Act.
§ This amendment seeks further to resolve that problem by distinguishing between containers designed to hold alcoholic liquor, and banning those entirely, whether they be bottles, cans, hip flasks or whatever, and then going on to deal with containers for non-alcoholic drink, and distinguishing between the disposables and the non-disposables, and, as the Government amendment did, banning the disposables and letting free the non-disposables. In that way one catches the lemonade can, the Coca Cola bottle, and so on, and leaves free the Thermos containing the hot drink, the baby's bottle and those other items about which the Minister was concerned in Committee.
§ I trust that this amendment puts the finishing touch to subsection (3) and achieves the result which I think we all seek to achieve. I beg to move.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I fully accept the noble Lord's argument that a hip flask, if it is thrown, could constitute a dangerous missile, even though I still seriously wonder whether many hooligans are likely to 783 bring hip flasks to football matches, either hidden on their person or more openly. There are many everyday items which we carry about our persons which can be transformed into weapons or missiles, or indeed are missiles if they are thrown. In Committee I cited coins as an example.
It is not the purpose of this clause, though, to outlaw all such items at football matches but to deal with those items primarily associated with the consumption of drink which have been found in the past to have been used by hooligans as weapons. That was the purpose of the narrower definition which the Government brought forward in Committee. There are many reported incidents of cans and bottles being used as missiles by spectators at football matches. I am not aware, however, of any spectator assaulting another with a hip flask or indeed a Thermos flask. There is little to choose between them as potential weapons or missiles because both are capable of causing injury; and it is of course to the nature of the container and not its contents that this provision is directed.
If a hip flask contains alcohol—and when I spoke about this in Committee I did not intend to indicate that it was the alcohol inside the person but the alcohol inside the flask that mattered—an offence under this Bill will have been committed because the alcohol itself is prohibited. I think it most unlikely that a person attempting to enter a ground, or who is inside a ground, with a hip flask would escape the scrutiny of the police, because they would wish to see whether it contained alcohol. It is perfectly normal for the police to search on reasonable suspicion. I do not think that it is conceivable that if they found a hip flask on someone they would assume other than that it was for the purpose of carrying alcohol. I confess that it is conceivable but not particularly likely that it may contain a soft drink instead, in which case it is no worse than a vacuum flask. But, as I said, if it contains alcohol, an offence has already been committed.
We are not aware of any mischief involving hip flasks at football matches. As I said, a Thermos flask is potentially as dangerous, and may indeed by used for smuggling alcohol into football grounds, but your Lordships have made it clear that Thermos flasks should not be penalised. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that Clause 2 catches all those containers which pose a real threat and which all our experience suggests should be prohibited. I am sure that he will bear in mind that if an article such as a hip flask is used as a missile, the person who throws it at someone else may well be guilty in any case of an assault. I hope that with that reassurance he will withdraw his amendment.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Lord Airedale
My Lords, I accept that if the whisky is still in the flask a person can be caught under subsection (1) for being in possession of the alcohol; but in that event he is not in a frame of mind to use the empty flask as a weapon if there is a disturbance.
The Minister says that there are no instances of hip flasks being thrown. I dare say that there are not. I should imagine that hip flasks to beer cans exist in the ratio of 1:100. Nevertheless, I should have thought 784 that it was worth while covering hip flasks. It is not very difficult. I do not understand the Minister's argument that a Thermos, if thrown, could be as dangerous as a hip flask. I admit that it could be, but that is an argument for banning the Thermos. The Minister's great effort in Committee, in which he succeeded, was an amendment which let in and left free the bringing in of the Thermos, and so I did not think that that part of his argument just now was very convincing.
However, I have not received that overwhelming degree of support for my amendment which leads me to suppose that I should have a tremendous victory in a Division, and so I beg leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 [Licensing hours within sports grounds]:
§ The Deputy Speaker (The Earl of Listowel)
My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 6, I should point out to your Lordships that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 7, 8 or 9.
§ [Printed earlier.]
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in the light of our previous discussions and the undertaking that the Minister gave that as a matter of policy the issue will be kept under review, I shall not move this amendment.
§ [Amendment No. 6 not moved.]
§ [Amendments Nos. 7, 8 and 9 not moved.]
Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 4, line 42, leave out ("in contravention of conditions or restrictions imposed by or") and insert ("at any time that is excluded from the permitted hours by virtue of this section or in contravention of conditions imposed").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a drafting amendment designed to ensure that a highly technical defence should not be available to be exploited by persons who ignored the ban on sales of alcohol otherwise than in accordance with an exemption order granted by a magistrates' court. It could possibly be argued that the reference to restrictions in Clause 3(10) does not apply to sales outside permitted hours because subsection (1) of the clause does not directly impose a restriction but operates to modify restrictions which already exist under the general licensing law. This amendment cures that drafting defect. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 4 [Supplementary provisions about orders under section 3]:
Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 5, line 24, leave out ("or the grant of a protection order in respect of the premises").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I undertook in Committee to consider a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, whose concern was that if a football club suffered an unforeseen change of licensee, which under the provisions of Clause 4(2) would bring to an end an exemption order granted 785 under Clause 3, the provisions of paragraph 4(b) of the Schedule to the Bill could mean that the club would be faced with a period of at least 28 days during which there would be a prohibition on the sale of alcohol and no power for the magistrates' court to determine an application for a fresh exemption order. I accept that the present provisions of the Bill could cause hardship in such circumstances, and this amendment is designed to alleviate the problem.
§ As I indicated in Committee, I am not persuaded that there is a problem in relation to transfers of licences, since it is a protection order, not a transfer, which will initially be sought where the change of licensee is sudden and unforeseen. This amendment accordingly relates only to protection orders, but I hope that the noble Lord will accept that this is sufficient to ensure that clubs will not suffer through no fault of their own. I beg to move.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, yes, I am much obliged to the noble Lord the Minister. This matter was drawn to my attention by my noble friend Lord Crawshaw of Aintree, and both he and I are grateful to him for having met our point completely.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 6 [Closure of bars]:
Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 6, line 28, leave out ("constable in uniform") and insert ("police officer in uniform of rank not less than a Sergeant").
§ The noble Lord said: I raised a similar amendment on Committee stage and, from speaking across the floor of the House, I thought we had arrived at a compromise. I hope that the Minister will accept the words that are now in the amendment because they are a version of what we considered at Committee stage.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will give way? I rise only to help. It may be that I am completely wrong but I am looking at page 6, line 28 of the Bill as amended in Committee, and no such words as the noble Lord quotes occur in it. It is only a technical point but I am therefore wondering whether he has the right line, or whether I am wrong, in which case I shall apologise. If he has not the right line, may we get the right line and therefore move on formally, otherwise I think that any amendment, if passed, will be ineffective?
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, on my print of the Bill, which is the Bill as amended in Committee, if the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, looks at page 6, line 28, he will see the last two words: "a constable"—or at least half the word "constable"—on that line. I think he will find that it is there.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, the Minister. I apologise to the noble Lord.
My Lords, I am grateful. I thought it was right. I do not want to waste any more time. I want to put this point across. I do not want to make the same points that we considered last week.
786 There is a principle behind all this. We in this country have procedures whereby every junior man or girl joining the police service takes an oath and in his or her first week of service has every power that the most senior men have. Consequently, in these early stages it is normal for the young people to be carefully looked after. However, in conditions like those at football matches, it could easily be that a junior man might find himself in a position where he is asked to carry responsibility which is more than he should be asked to shoulder in his early days. Therefore, we have here the conflict between dignity and responsibility on the one side and, on the other, the young men who may perhaps be prepared to move more swiftly—which was something that the Government suggested to us last week as being important. I should like to think that in a situation where one single police officer on the premises has to close down a bar because of a disturbance, it ought not to be necessary to rely on a very young police constable. On football grounds there are bound to be very large numbers of police officers working in small groups, serials, as we call them, probably led by sergeants. Thus there is no reason for the suggestions made by the Minister because our system should be based on that. I should like to think that we weight the argument in favour of the more experienced men, including sergeants. I beg to move.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I certainly appreciate my noble friend's concern that the power in the Bill to close bars during a match must be exercised with the utmost care. I listened carefully to his remarks, not only today but also at Committee stage, when he mentioned the difficulty about young police officers. He was supported by others of your Lordships in Committee. I have considered them carefully but I am afraid that I am not in the least persuaded that this power should be limited to officers of at least the rank of sergeant.
Constables already exercise considerable powers under the general law in the course of their duties. Under this legislation they will have further powers of arrest as well as associated powers of arrest. I am confident that they will exercise these new powers responsibly. Indeed, I am quite sure that my noble friend, with his experience, would expect them to do so.
During our discussion earlier, I referred to guidance on the Bill's provisions which will be issued to the police. I undertake to my noble friend that this guidance will refer to the need for great care in the exercise of the Clause 6 power. In principle, I agree with my noble friend that, where possible, it would be desirable for an experienced officer to take the decision. But the point of Clause 6 is that it enables the police to respond quickly to potential trouble. It may well be that a sergeant is not immediately available or is fully occupied elsewhere in the ground. It must then be for the constable on the spot to take prompt action. We must not tie his hands unnecessarily. I cannot really believe for one minute that the police would think that such a tying of hands was the right way to proceed.
If a constable sees unruly behaviour developing in a particular bar, he must be able to do what is necessary 787 to stop it. He has to do it fast. If he is able to consult a sergeant or somebody more senior first, then certainly it would be most wise for him to do so. Time permitting, he would surely seek that kind of advice. If he cannot—which is quite possible—he should not be obliged to stand helplessly by while the trouble becomes worse.
I understand the sincerity with which my noble friend moves this amendment. I believe that this would be an unnecessary difficulty so far as maintaining the kind of order which concerns us. I hope that he will understand that and not press his amendment.
My Lords, the argument has arrived at exactly the same point as we left it last week. I should not like to take up time by pressing the matter any further today. However, I should like to make the point that this is not the only country in the world where men are endowed with police powers on the very day that they are sworn in and become members of a service.
I cannot see all the arguments that the noble Lord has just given to us about the sergeant and the police constable. I am not sure that those of us who applied our minds to it could not see the police constable and the sergeant in a somewhat different position where there could be difficulty. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment rather than to pursue this argument. However, if any orders, or this Bill or any parts of it come up in a year's time, perhaps we may have the same arguments again. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 7 [Powers of enforcement]:
§ Lord Mulley moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 6, line 40, at end insert—
("The organizers of such event or events shall not be required to make any payment for a police presence in the ground or for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this Act unless the organizers request a presence in excess of the numbers considered necessary by the Chief Constable concerned for the fulfilment of such statutory and related duties.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 13. I want to make the point quite shortly that there is a new principle, in so far as the police, as set out in Clause 4, have a statutory right and duty to be present at football grounds. No one will complain about that because quite clearly it is important that when the Bill becomes an Act it should be properly enforced.
§ The present practice, which is already a matter of controversy, is that, in relation to football clubs—and, I imagine, the other sporting grounds to which the Bill refers, although we know it is the intention at the present time to deal only with football grounds—the Bill as drafted gives the police this statutory duty and right, to which we make no objection. However, at present, because football grounds are private property, although in a sense in a public domain (and that is why we are treating this Bill as an emergency measure), the clubs have to pay, and I think in some cases pay very heavily, for the presence of police at the grounds. In some cases, although they raise no objection if the police want to come, there is controversy because the police are not invited. The argument is that if the 788 police are not invited to be present on private property, no charge should be levied on the football clubs.
§ I have in mind particularly the clubs which are less well off financially and which will be faced with very considerable costs—understandably, following the tragedy at Bradford—in improving their grounds and other facilities, quite apart from any financial consequences that might flow from the Bill itself. There is no reason why sporting clubs alone should be responsible for the police carrying out what are clearly public and statutory duties.
§ 6 p.m.
§ So far as I have been able to discover, there is no other instance in which the police, invited or otherwise, attend on private property. I suspect, although I cannot be certain within a yard or two, that when there have been picketing problems during disputes involving the National Coal Board or other firms—I do not need to detain the House by going into details—the police have been properly there to enforce the law concerning picketing. There is no suggestion that anything other than normal ratepayers' funds should be required to pay the police concerned.
§ There was recently trouble at Stonehenge. I have heard no suggestion that the Department of the Environment or its subsidiary body is paying the cost. I understand that the Wiltshire ratepayers are having to pay. It is a new principle to give a statutory duty and right to the police to be present regardless of any wishes of the club. Although football clubs will raise no objection to police being there to carry out their duties and to assist, they should not be required, in my view, to pay if they have not invited the police, or asked for them.
§ This is, as I say, a new principle. Whitehall takes a long time to consider new principles. I do not expect the Minister to be able to say today that he will accept the amendment, although I am sure that it would be widely welcomed in the sporting and football world if he could do so. However, as we are to have future legislation, I understand, when some of these matters may be raised again, I hope that the Minister will say that this aspect of the Bill and its consequences will be reviewed. If he is able to do that, I would not wish to press the matter further. It is a point of great concern to many clubs. They would be interested to know that at least the responsible bodies in the Home Office are considering this aspect. I beg to move.
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him a question? How does he intend that payment should be made for special constables when they are on duty at matches wearing virtually the same uniform as regulars? The amendment suggests the words "a police presence".
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, I have moved the amendment in anticipation that there will be a reply from the Minister. I understood that the noble Lord was asking me a question under the formula, "Before the noble Lord sits down". I imagine that special 789 constables at football grounds, unless they are specifically invited by the club against the advice of the chief constable concerned, would be paid out of public funds, as for any other of their duties.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend. It was, I believe, my error. I apologise for interrupting my noble friend's flow.
I am afraid that I cannot accept the noble Lord's argument, as he has, I think, realised. The police have a general duty to preserve law and order for the benefit of the whole community, and for this reason they are funded by the whole community. It is, however, for the organisers of events such as football matches, which attract large crowds, to ensure that adequate provision is made for the maintenance of good order inside the grounds. Normally, the club and the chief constable agree together the level of policing which will be necessary inside the ground. In most cases, agreement is reached amicably. But of course, there is the possibility of a difference of opinion. If there is, in most cases agreement is reached, and that is in the interests of both the force and the club.
It has been the view of successive Governments that the costs of special police services should be paid in full by those using the service and that no part of these costs should be allowed to add to the general level of police expenditure, and thus to the burdens of taxpayers or ratepayers. It is entirely right and proper that where football clubs request a police presence inside grounds during matches the cost of their presence should be borne by the clubs themselves. Any additional policing provided outside the ground—for crowd control and traffic control, for instance—does not count as a special service and is therefore met from public funds.
These are long-standing arrangements, and my right honourable friend does not consider that this Bill should be the occasion for any change. The noble Lord has suggested that the Bill imposes a statutory duty on the police to be present at football matches. Not so, my Lords. Much of the general law already applies in football grounds, but the police are not required by law to be present at all times to enforce it. The Bill does not alter that position. The new law will be there, with the necessary powers for its enforcement. It will still be for the chief constable to take the operational decisions about the deployment of his officers. And we must be clear where the responsibility for enforcement lies. It is with the chief constable. It will not be acceptable for the clubs to sit back and expect the police to shoulder the whole of the burden. The clubs themselves, and their officials, must play their own part actively and willingly, and to the full. Anything less simply will not do.
I hope that the noble Lord will not press his amendment. From what he said, it appears that he did not expect me to be able to accept it. I understand his concern about the financial implications, especially for the smaller clubs, of having to pay for a police presence. I am not convinced, however, that the burden for what, after all, is the enjoyment of watching a game—one does not go to Stonehenge to watch hippies in the same way as one goes to a football match to watch players on a field—ought to be shifted on to 790 the ratepayer and the taxpayer at large. The cost of police officers deployed outside football grounds on match days is not, after all, charged to the club.
Certainly the topic goes far wider than this Bill, which relates only to football matches and only to one aspect of control at football matches. If we were to consider changing the Police Act provision in the way proposed by the noble Lord, we should need to consider all the special services provided by the police, including those at other sporting events. So it goes even wider, I believe, than the noble Lord thinks. That is all I have to say. I hope that the noble Lord feels convinced.
§ Lord Beswick
My Lords, the noble Lord said, rightly, that there is general agreement between the club and the police as to the number of police officers on duty in the ground. Surely, however, subsection (1) extends the position. Surely, it means that a constable or constables may insist on entering the ground if, in their view, they feel it is necessary for them to intervene for some reason, even though the club may think that the situation is all right. If a constable enters on his own volition, does that mean that the club is liable to pay for him?
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, as regards any policing within the football ground, it would be the responsibility of the club to come to an arrangement with the police on the cost of providing that service. As I understand it, the dates of the games are arranged in advance and policing is therefore arranged in advance. If extra police are required to meet a particular public order requirement, I dare say that the arrangements which have been considered earlier may be modified, but I would not necessarily suspect that in every case they would be modified. As I understand it, the cost will have been discussed beforehand with the police.
§ Lord Beswick
My Lords, how can the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, say that Clause 7(1) deals with an agreement between the club and the force? Here, surely, it is making provision for a constable to enter the ground irrespective of what other agreement has been reached. If that entry is made by a constable or constables, surely the cost of that should not fall upon the club.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may explain that the need for the constable to enter is in order to enforce the provisions of the Act. The cost of normal policing arrangements within a club are agreed upon beforehand. Essentially, as I understand it, there would be no request; the police would be entering the club to deal with an emergency. I am sure that that meets the noble Lord's concern.
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, I can well understand that the Minister cannot possibly know all the details of all the existing arrangements. However, it happens to be a fact that a number of clubs have not invited, and have made it quite clear that they do not wish to invite, the police to be present (although they have no objection to the police being there) because they are unwilling to shoulder the costs. To my knowledge, in 791 a number of cases they have not paid the police and naturally a dispute has arisen.
As my noble friend Lord Beswick said, the Bill changes the circumstances by making it a duty on the police to be present to enforce what is in essence the licensing laws, The police have a proper right and statutory duty to enter public houses, and so on, to ensure that the licensing laws are enforced, but as far as I am aware there has never been any suggestion that the publicans or breweries concerned should have to pay the policeman's wages for his execution of those duties.
Therefore, we have a new situation, and I hope that the Home Office will not close their eyes to this aspect in the wider context of public order, which I trust that they are considering at the present time, and will in due course bring forward legislation. It is a wider point than the narrower one of football matches; but the Minister has spoken entirely in the context of football grounds. I stress that the Bill is not drafted to deal with football grounds. It is a very wide Bill, and confers very wide powers and duties. No football club would dissent from the view that the police must have access, but they maintain that, just as the police have access to enter other places to enforce the law, that is part of their general duties and the cost should not fall on the club or on the spectators who attend the matches. However, because this is a wider matter—and I understand that at present the Government are unable to deal with it—I shall not press the amendment.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, before my noble friend asks leave to withdraw the amendment, if that is his intention, perhaps I may make these remarks. With great respect to the noble Lord the Minister, there is a substantial point here in regard to the charges of the police, and not only for the reasons that my noble friend has soundly given: namely, that the police are not invited but will be there, and so on. My noble friend Lord Beswick raised the point that under Clause 1 of the Bill a constable may see fit to enter the ground in order to see whether the licensing laws are being adhered to. He may then find that they are not; and that may be a voluntary step by the police.
Apart from that point, what worries me is that the practice of chief constables throughout the kingdom may well vary. There may be quite a bit of unfairness in some areas where chief constables may take the view that a great many police ought to be present, especially if they do not have any urgent matters to which their constables ought to attend. In other areas, where the police are rather more hard-pressed, an entirely different view may be taken.
In those circumstances, I wonder whether the noble Lord the Minister, without in any way agreeing to an amendment of this Bill at this stage, would consider the points that have been raised and, without waiting for legislation (and that is why I rose as I did before my noble friend Lord Mulley concluded his speech), would consider giving guidance or even directives to chief constables throughout the kingdom as to the fairness of the imposition of charges in these circumstances and as to when charges should or 792 should not be made. With guidance of that type being given to chief constables, at least we would achieve uniformity of treatment, and that would be fair.
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, I will willingly give way to the noble Lord the Minister if he wishes to intervene.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I was about to ask the leave of the House to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, who asked whether I could elucidate a couple of points. It is in that spirit that I now seek to speak.
§ Lord Wigoder
My Lords, I hope noble Lords will forgive me, but we are in the middle of the speech being made by the mover of the amendment.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, in rising to speak, I am simply trying to clear up in advance one or two points which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, made. I do not intend to confuse the House, and if the House thinks that I ought not to intervene, then I shall sit down and speak later. However, I should like to cover two matters. One concerns invitations to attend, which is the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. Because there is no invitation and the constable attends to deal with a particular emergency, that does not raise a charge; so there is no concern. As regards variations in the way in which chief constables may deal with particular circumstances, and the need for guidance, all I can do is to note the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. I honestly cannot give an undertaking on the matter now. I do not believe that there need be the concern that the noble Lord expresses, but I am sure that it is a matter that all will bear in mind.
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, it is a wider point than the matter of football clubs, and if, as the noble Lord says, it can be further considered, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 9 [Interpretation]:
Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 8, line 22, after ("section") insert ("relating to an association football ground").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I think it will be for the convenience of the House if, with this amendment, I speak to Amendment No. 15, as they deal with the same point.
Amendment No. 15: Page 8, line 24, at end insert—
("but no order in respect of any other sporting ground shall be made under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.").
I believe that we could describe Amendment No. 14 as the "Ascot" amendment in the light of our interesting discussion on Second Reading. This is the issue whether the Secretary of State should have a power to extend the provisions of this Bill beyond the game of football to other sports in this country. First, why do we have a Bill at all? We have a Bill, first, because of what happened at Brussels and the appalling loss of life that took place there; and, secondly, because that event at Brussels occurred following a series of disorders at a substantial number of football grounds within England and Wales. On this—and there is not much dispute in this respect —the Government have said that they entirely agree that this Bill is related to the game of football. In the House of Commons Mr. Giles Shaw, the Minister of State, at col. 437 on 3rd July, said:
I reiterate my right hon. and learned Friend's assurance, also given on Second Reading, that we have no immediate intention of designating sports other than soccer".
§ On the basis of that assurance, two questions arise. First, why is there any need for this Bill to extend to any sport other than football? We have not had a single argument deployed so far in the debate as to why this Bill should extend beyond football, save for the examples I propose to give in a moment. Examples which, I should have thought, indicate how fanciful this particular issue is in reality.
As the House is aware, the Bill enables the Secretary of State to extend its provisions to any sport such as cricket, tennis, speedway, golf, or to any sport at all. At Committee stage my noble friend Lady Seear asked whether it could be extended to Ascot. Indeed yes, she was told, it could be extended to Ascot. The exchanges in the Official Report are, in my view, some of the most remarkable that one has had the opportunity of reading in Hansard of either House. We start with the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, at col. 381 of our proceedings on the last occasion we discussed this Bill on 11th July. The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, said:
The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, expressed mild horror that this could, in certain circumstances, apply even to Ascot. She suggested that that was quite unthinkable.
§ Baroness Seear
I did not feel that it was unthinkable that it should apply to Ascot, but unthinkable that Ascot should need it. The Government are not bringing this legislation in for fun, but because they think that there may be a riot. Can the noble Lord seriously contemplate a riot at Ascot? That is what I was saying.
§ Lord Glenarthur
I cannot, but what I am suggesting to the noble Baroness is that we ought to be prepared to think about the unthinkable. It is our job to anticipate these things. The noble Lord"—I think he was referring to me at that stage—says that riots do not take place at cricket matches, but there have certainly been examples, I believe, in Australia".Apart from the detail that we are not, unfortunately, members of the Australian legislature—and indeed if we were no doubt we would take that matter very seriously—we are talking about provisions in a Bill which provide power for Ministers to extend it to other sports, and if and when he or any future Secretary of State does so, he creates new criminal penalties, as a result of which people can be fined, sent to a detention centre, and so on.
As I have indicated, apart from the two rather remarkable examples I have just cited, I do not believe that any serious case has been made out why we 794 should agree to allow Ministers to have these powers in the first place. As I said on the last occasion, I think we should be aware of what would follow if we agree that the Bill should be extended in this manner, say at a race meeting, which of course brings in the Ascot example, or a county cricket match if there is some disturbance at a particular game and a Secretary of State in the future decides, on the basis of that disturbance, that he will extend the Bill to cricket and thus bring in Lord's, the Oval, Headingley, Old Trafford, and Trent Bridge.
There would first be the controlled container issue. This is a matter I dealt with on Second Reading and in Committee. It would in fact literally mean that the 12 year-old with his bottle of orange squash at a cricket match lasting seven hours would be committing a criminal offence were he to have that in his possession.
Of course it would be, I would say, an even graver offence to be found with a bottle of champagne in your possession at Ascot. It is easy to make light of what is involved here, but I challenge the assumption that Ministers should be armed with powers of this sort unless they can make out an absolutely overwhelming case for Parliament providing them with those powers.
It is not just a question of the sports I have cited. There is a great deal of concern so far as speedway is concerned. My honourable friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed in another place has serious concerns in his community as to what will happen about sponsorship at speedway meetings. Whether in fact commercial sponsors are going to be quite so free with the backing they have given to this sport if they believe that Ministers are, at some stage, going to bring in these draconian powers and apply them to games other than football.
It is true that the Home Secretary has said that he will not extend the Bill in this way. But of course that assurance holds good only so long as the present Home Secretary remains in office. But as we know there is a fairly substantial turnover of Home Secretaries, and it may well be that somebody in the future will take the view that it is right and proper to extend this legislation in this way.
I know that the Minister will say that our fears and anxieties are entirely needless. But of course he is not, as he would be the first to acknowledge, responsible for the management of any of the sports that I have referred to this evening. He has not any direct financial responsibility for them. Of course he has not. But the people in these sports are seriously concerned.
Since this matter was discussed last week I have been approached by the chairman of two county cricket clubs asking why they were not consulted. They read in the weekend press for the first time that this Bill could be extended to the game of cricket. I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, this question: who has been consulted about this other than the football clubs? It was right to consult the football clubs, but have any of the other sports been told that the Government are taking powers to do these things? The House would probably be interested to have the answer to that question.
If we are going to give these remarkable powers to a Minister to extend the provisions of this Bill to other sports, it seems to me not unreasonable that he should 795 have to come to Parliament and get authority in advance from Parliament by means of the affirmative resolution procedure. That is what we are asking for in these amendments. We are not even denying a Minister the power to do this. I think he would be a particularly foolish man were he to do so, but nevertheless all we say here is that before a Minister is entitled to extend the provisions of this Bill to sports other than football, he should come to Parliament to justify it and only be enabled to do it if he got affirmative resolutions carried in both Houses of Parliament. I find it impossible to see what credible argument can be mounted in the face of that.
If indeed this is emergency legislation, and we have been told constantly from both sides of the House that it is emergency legislation, there is a clear obligation on Ministers not to take more than the bare minimum of powers necessary in order to deal with that emergency. What many of us are most concerned about in this Bill, quite apart from the way in which it has been handled, is this enormous power which we are conferring on Ministers to simply extend this to other sports, and the only protection that the sports concerned and Parliament would have would be the negative resolution procedure, which in the circumstances is, frankly, wholly inadequate. I beg to Move.
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, in view of the invitation by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, to think the unthinkable, I want him, as a member of the MCC, to recall that at the recent Lord's Test there was not only an invasion of the ground but a great Australian bowler, Mr. Thomson, was probably deprived of taking his 200th wicket. If some fanatics were there, some incident could have occurred at, in my view, the headquarters of cricket. It is not so unthinkable as he may have suggested. Therefore, if it is only about football, this seems a reasonable set of amendments.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I strongly support this important pair of amendments. The Bill as presently drafted gives a future Secretary of State quite alarming powers. I stress the word "future" because while no doubt the present Secretary of State would always try to act reasonably, there is no guarantee that his successors in the decades ahead will invariably do so. The phrases "sporting event" and "sports ground" as defined in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, and as essentially restated in this Bill, are extraordinarily sweeping. "Sporting event" means:any physical competitive activity at a sports ground"."Sports ground" means:any place whatsoever which is designed, or is capable of being adapted, for the holding of sporting events in respect of which spectators are accommodated".Cricket matches have already been mentioned, and so has Ascot, but many other sporting occasions could theoretically be swept into the net. Ascot was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, and other noble Lords on the Alliance Benches at an earlier stage. One could also extend this to horseracing at Epsom, Aintree, Doncaster and elsewhere; to greyhound racing at the White City, if it 796 still takes place there—it is more than 30 years since I first had an excellent meal there while watching the racing—to tennis at Eastbourne or Wimbledon; and to showjumping at Wembley and elsewhere; and boxing and wrestling, of course, are included. But also, as I interpret the Bill, snooker and darts could be included if any direct or indirect charge were made for admission to the competition. I suppose it is possible to visualise spectators at a darts tournament refreshing themselves with glasses of lemon barley water or nourishing mugs of cocoa. However, I find it somewhat difficult to do so.
The trouble is that whenever what one might term an "overkill" provision such as this goes on to the statute book, sped on its way by ministerial assurances that of course the sweeping powers conferred by the clause will never in practice be used in their entirety, one can be certain that sooner or later—I can see that it will probably be later—they will be so used. I urge the Minister, or, failing him, the House, to accept this wholly reasonable pair of amendments.
§ Lord Newall
My Lords, I do not wish to prolong the arguments at all, but as greyhound racing has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, I must declare an interest here. I must make it clear to your Lordships that greyhound racing would not disagree with anything that was looked into there because it is family entertainment. People take their families, and to my knowledge there has never been any trouble. But it raises the question whether it is a sport in the strict sense of the word because there are no people involved. All the sports that have so far been mentioned have involved people taking part. As we know, in greyhound racing only dogs run round the track and the people watch. There is no fear in greyhound racing, which is family entertainment, as to the provisions of the Bill.
My Lords, I rise to make two points which have not so far been made in this debate, and at the same time I must say that I agree wholeheartedly with every word spoken by my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich on this very important amendment. I believe, as he does, that if the Government genuinely believe that they will not use this power then they should not retain this power in the Bill, or should see to it that any extension should be subject to the affirmative process in both Houses.
The points I wanted to make are, first, that I see the possibility of a need arising for an extension. The sport I have in mind is boxing. There has been one example when a ring in England was pelted with beer cans on one occasion, and it is possible that on a future occasion the Government might feel that it was necessary to extend these provisions to that sport. If they do so feel, then I believe they should come back for an affirmative resolution in both Houses to do so.
My second point of particular interest which has not yet been covered but is of some importance is that the noble Lord will probably be aware that certainly two association football grounds in England and Wales—in this Bill we are concerned only with professional sport—have been used on an alternate Saturday basis by rugby league teams, which are not covered by the Bill. That kind of development might 797 continue and might even be extended. It would be an extraordinary situation if there were one set of rules and laws applying on one Saturday on one ground and on the following Saturday, when a different game was being played, the rules were entirely different. Therefore, one has to look at that point as a matter which has not yet cropped up. In general, if the Government have no intention of extending these powers to other sports, why do they wish to keep the power in the Bill? At least they should be willing to keep the power only subject to an affirmative resolution of both Houses.
§ Lord Swinfen
My Lords, I believe that these two amendments are rather unwise. It is the view of a number of people that the real troublemakers at football matches are stone-cold sober. They get their pleasure by causing the trouble, and the trouble is then exacerbated by others, who have had too much to drink, joining in. If this law is effective and cuts down trouble at football matches, those who get their pleasure by causing trouble will go to other sports and other events. Therefore, it is essential that the Government have the ability to bring in this power in relation to other sports fairly quickly, without delay and without having to come back to Parliament.
§ Lord Airedale
My Lords, what the noble Lord has just said is quite true, but we must not forget that we already have the criminal law. Disturbances of one kind or another of various degrees of seriousness are happening every day at all sorts of sporting events and other places where people forgather. There will not be a sudden change to football hooliganism overnight in some other sport. If there is, the Home Secretary will be too late, anyway, with his order. We hope it will not happen, but one can foresee the possibility that there will be a gradual build-up of greater violence and hooliganism in other sports grounds, and while Parliament's attention is being directed to this matter and Parliament is being invited to agree to an extension of this Bill to other sports, the existing criminal law is perfectly capable of coping with the situation. Good gracious!, we have been coping with riots of all kinds under the criminal law for hundreds of years, before this Bill was ever thought of. There is no need for this panic idea of extending it to other sports now.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, many of the concerns which have been expressed this afternoon were deployed last week, at Committee stage. My right honourable friend fully understands the concern expressed. He has carefully considered all the arguments which have been put to us.
There are two Acts on the statute book which might be regarded as precedents on the point which underlies this amendment: the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980. Both operate through designation by the Secretary of State. In both cases the order is subject to the negative resolution procedure. The Scottish Act was not expedited through Parliament as an emergency measure, as is this Bill. There was ample time then for its provisions to be considered in detail, and they were considered in detail.
798 I thought that it might be useful to read the Official Report of the debates on that Act to see what arguments had been raised on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris. What I found was that the point had not been debated at all. The only reference to it in the debates in another place was by a Scottish Labour Member. He was concerned that the negative resolution procedure might be too slow if an emergency arose. It is only sensible to follow these precedents. It also seems desirable that the framework of controls so far as possible should be the same north and south of the Border. There is no logic whatsoever in their being different.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, would the noble Lord agree that the licensing laws ought to be the same north and south of the Border?
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, that takes me back to the day before yesterday and it is a subject upon which I do not propose to embark now. As I have said and as your Lordships will be aware, our Scottish colleagues have made only one very limited extension beyond soccer, in that Murrayfield is designated when rugby internationals are played there.
The noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, raised the point about football grounds. He referred to two football grounds which are used for rugby matches. The situation is that we intend to designate soccer grounds for soccer matches. Other sports on Football League grounds will not be caught; for example, Rugby League at Carlisle and boxing at Queen's Park Rangers' ground are the two instances which I have.
However, next season Bradford Football Club will be using the Rugby League ground at Bradford and we intend to designate the Rugby League ground but only for soccer matches. Perhaps I should add to clarify the matter that because events designated under the Scottish Act are treated in the same way as the kind of matters that I have just described and are designated under the Bill in Clause 9(3)(b), travel in England and Wales en route to a rugby international at Murrayfield will be subject to the controls in Clause 1.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, the noble Lord brought in the question of rugby. There was a unique case some years ago where there was a plane crash. I think it was going from South Wales to Murrayfield to a rugby match. All the people in the plane were killed. The investigation showed afterwards that some had thought that it was an open cockpit-type plane where there was access to the pilot by the passengers. The theory was that somebody had thrown a beer bottle in the plane. So you have got to be careful when you are talking about other sports and thinking that they are totally free from violence. Some of them are not. There were quite a lot of people killed in that crash.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, if anything, that point strengthens the argument which I advocate. So far as aeroplanes are concerned, there is a perfectly sound precedent and measure which is internationally respected that the captains of aircraft have the right to prevent drink or drunken passengers coming on to the aircraft. As I said the other day, it is a power which I have exercised in a professional capacity myself.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, the noble Lord referred to Bradford and to the fact that if Rugby League games were played liquor would be available but would not be available for soccer matches. But coming from there myself, I believe that same set of spectators will watch both matches. They are not that different.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, if the noble Lord studies the remarks that I made to deal with the particular problem about Bradford, which is rather unusual—and the circumstances will be known to the noble Lord—his concern will be met.
My right honourable friend has made it quite plain that he intends in the initial designation order to designate only soccer and that he has no plans to designate any other sport. It is not so much a question of no intention to designate other sports, in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, addressed it. The point is that we are talking about circumstances that might arise and it is a question of no intention without due cause. No one would consider making these designations unless due cause appeared for them to be designated.
Application of the Bill's provisions to any other sport would be a step which the Government would not lightly take. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, mocked me to some extent about remarks that were made during the Committee stage. If anyone is giving weight to the Ascot argument, it is the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and not me. It would be quite fantastic to imagine this Government or any other responsible Government suddenly starting to designate different sports left, right and centre—cricket, Ascot, Henley, or anything else.
He referred to my suggesting that it was prudent to think of the unthinkable; but I really have to say to your Lordships that a few years ago the majority of people in this country would have found it quite unthinkable that the sort of scenes that we have seen on television at football matches up and down the country would ever occur in a month of Sundays, but suddenly they are with us. The noble Lord really cannot suggest that it is right to ignore the future. It has been argued that it is quite inconceivable that a need for controls should ever arise in such events. That may be right. I sincerely hope, as we all do, that that is the case.
As was said just now by the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, when he referred to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, other sports are not immune from disorder. We have already seen a few regrettable instances in this country and there have been other and more serious problems abroad. We cannot afford to be complacent, although I would be the first to say that at present we have no problem in relation to other sports on the scale of soccer hooliganism.
But, let us suppose the worst: that there was a sudden and serious outbreak of disorder which required immediate action. Are we to say that the Home Secretary should be obliged to stand helplessly by unable to do anything until the affirmative procedure had run its course? That could take weeks or even months if Parliament were in Recess. I cannot 800 believe that that is in any sense what any of us would want.
During the Committee proceedings some noble Lords were concerned that the negative procedure might not afford an opportunity for Parliament to debate the order if it were laid during the Recess. Perhaps I may clarify that. Under the negative procedure, an order may be prayed against within 40 days of its laying. The 40 days do not include any period during which neither House is sitting. If, for example, an order were laid on 1st August and both Houses were in Recess, the 40 days would not start to run until at least one House assembled.
I sincerely hope that it will never be necessary to extend the Bill's provisions beyond soccer. I think that, to some extent, if it had to be extended beyond soccer, then that would be some indication of a very serious failure on the part of all of us in this country and would go far wider than this particular measure and embrace all the other measures taken to stamp out this deplorable behaviour. If, sadly, it did become necessary, the Government would naturally wish to give as much notice of their intentions as possible so that discussion could take place. To insist on the affirmative procedure would be to tie the hands of any Home Secretary; and I believe that it goes too far. The assurances which I and my right honourable and honourable friends have given should allay the concern of your Lordships, and I hope that the noble Lord will not press this amendment.
§ Lord Boothby
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he agree that all history shows that it is nearly always advisable for the English to follow the Scots? When they do not the result is nearly always fatal.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, with the leave of the House, as another Scotsman, perhaps I may merely say to the noble Lord that I am sure that in that he is almost certainly correct.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I asked one specific question to which, unhappily, I have not had an answer. It was this. What other sports were consulted?
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord. I meant to refer to that. I can tell him honestly that no bodies have been consulted other than football.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, that is exactly the answer that I believe was going to be given. In other words, the Government have come forward with legislation and have asked Parliament to confer these remarkable powers, and they have not discussed them nor even notified the other sports, which are only now beginning to discover that this piece of legislation could be extended to them and that, if it were, it would have the most swingeing economic effects, to which I have referred already today, on many of the mass spectator sports in this country. What is the argument for the negative resolution procedure put forward by the noble Lord the Parliamentary Under-Secretary? First, there is the Safety of Sports Grounds Act which, 801 when it was initially brought in, applied to the First and Second Divisions and now it is to be extended to the Third and Fourth Divisions.
We then come to this piece of Scottish legislation. If the noble Lord, Lord Monson, will forgive my saying so—and if I may use what is an appropriate sporting metaphor—he took the Minister's stumps right out of the ground by asking why, if it was so necessary to follow the Scots in every way, we had such a remarkably different approach so far as licensing legislation was concerned. That is precisely the point. In fact, there is nothing in the Scottish point at all. There are major distinctions, as the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, will be aware. Many aspects of the criminal law are wholly different as between the law of Scotland and that of England, in any event.
If I may give another good example, there is the rather unfortunate new parole policy which has been introduced by the Home Secretary in England and Wales. But the Scottish Secretary has made it absolutely clear that he has not the faintest intention of following in Scotland what he obviously regards as a very undesirable example. That is another example where in fact the position is wholly different between England and Wales, and Scotland. The answer to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, so far as what was said in the House of Commons is concerned, is obvious. English Members by and large—it may be reprehensible—do not study Scottish legislation with apparently the degree of enthusiasm and keenness which the noble Lord has been applying in the past few days. Maybe that is very objectionable, but it is unhappily the position.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, if the noble Lord had had the advantage of being in another place, he would find that they were discouraged from doing any such thing.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
Precisely, my Lords. And what I have been saying to the House this afternoon is that it is not good enough for the Minister to say, "There is this piece of Scottish legislation. We must automatically follow the Scottish example".
§ Lord Boothby
My Lords, does the noble Lord not realise that the Scottish legal system, based on Roman law, is acknowledged all over the world as being infinitely superior to the English system; and by the Law Lords themselves?
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I am certainly wise enough not to follow the noble Lord on that particular point. I am quite sure that he would have the advantage of me in any debate on that question. Whatever may be the admirable features of the Scottish legal system, I am saying that the idea that we have to follow the Scottish example, as far as this particular piece of legislation is concerned, is, I should have thought, one of the less impressive arguments which have been put to the House.
I come now to the final point made by the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur. It is the "Recess" argument: that something happens in the months of August or September; that the Minister wants to act 802 immediately; and that he would be able to do it more speedily by the negative resolution procedure than by the affirmative one. I think that is a fairly substantial overstatement of the case, and I shall say why. It is an overstatement of the case because I do not believe that a single incident at another sport will trigger off these procedures. I think that the only way in which another sport is likely to be added to the schedule is if there is a whole series of escalating events over a period of months and, eventually, the Government feel that it is desirable to move in that direction. The idea that they do it on the basis of one event is, I think, fanciful.
One comes back to the point raised at the beginning of this debate. This Bill is essentially a Bill about football; it is a Bill about Brussels; it is a Bill about disturbances at football matches in England and Wales. That is what we are confronted with. The Government are asking that they should have the power to extend it to other sports, but admit that they have not even discussed the implications of that decision with one of the sports concerned, which seems to me wholly reprehensible if the Government are asking for powers of this sort. Only now are these sports beginning to wake up to the prospect that they could, in fact, be brought into the coverage of this Bill by an order made by a future Home Secretary. I think that it was wrong for us to contemplate giving Ministers not only the power to extend the provisions of the Bill but also the opportunity to do it without securing the approval of Parliament in advance by means of the affirmative resolution procedure. That is why my noble friends and I have every intention of dividing the House.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 14) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 39; Not-Contents, 78.803
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Airedale, L.||Kilmarnock, L. [Teller.]|
|Amherst, E.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||McGregor of Durris, L.|
|Banks, L.||McNair, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Monson, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Mulley, L.|
|Crawshaw of Aintree, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Seear, B.|
|Donoughue, L.||Simon, V.|
|Falkland, V. [Teller.]||Stamp, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Grey, E.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Thurso, V.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Hooson, L.||Tryon, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Inglewood, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Brabazon of Tara, L.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Brougham and Vaux, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Buckmaster, V.|
|Belstead, L.||Caithness, E. [Teller.]|
|Beswick, L.||Campbell of Croy, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Carnegy of Lour, B.|
|Cathcart, E.||MacLeod of Fuinary, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Mancroft, L.|
|Cox, B.||Margadale, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Denham, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Mottistone, L.|
|Elton, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Munster, E.|
|Ferrers, E.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Newall, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Gisborough, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Glanusk, L.||Portland, D.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Radnor, E.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Henley, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Hives, L.||Stockton, E.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Swinfen, L.|
|Kinnoull, E.||Teviot, L.|
|Kitchener, E.||Trumpington, B.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Vivian, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||White, B.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Long, V. [Teller.]||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative to accordingly.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ [Amendment No. 15 not moved.]
§ Clause 11 [Short title and extent]:
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 16:
Page 9, line 7, at end insert—
("( ) This Act shall continue in force for the period of five years beginning with the date of the commencement of this Act and shall then expire unless Parliament by affirmative resolution of each House determines that it shall continue in force.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not propose to spend too much time on this amendment, because the Government have given me the substance of it by the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, earlier: namely, that in any future public order Bill the Long Title will be drawn in such a form as to make this Bill amendable. I think that this is an important consideration and therefore I do not intend to pursue the amendment.
§ I have to say—and I make this admission at once—that some of my more witty friends were rather in favour of dividing the House on this question, in order to give the Labour Party the opportunity of abstaining on the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon; because this is his own amendment at the last stage of the Bill and he did not proceed with it on that occasion. However, such is our charity on these Benches that we would not dream of doing any such thing, and therefore—
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I am always glad to be interrupted by the noble Lord and I will 804 gladly give way in a moment. But if I may repeat the point, I am grateful for the fact that the noble Lord was able to meet us on this point. Obviously it does not wholly satisfy us. Quite blunty, we should have preferred the five-year amendment. Nevertheless, it is a move in the right direction. It gives Parliament the opportunity of considering this matter again and I think that that is very desirable.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I only wanted to tell the noble Lord and the House that the noble Lord looks extremely attractive in his own clothes. He looks positively dazzling when he wears mine. I would say also that I was myself satisfied by the answer of the noble Lord the Minister, in the same way that my noble friend Lord Harris was.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I am afraid that I could not quite hear what the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said, and I do not know whether or not he intends to press this Amendment. I hope that he will. I suspect that he may have indicated otherwise, but I should like to say why I think that he should persist. I suppose that this is the most important amendment we are considering this evening. We would normally spend between 20 and 25 hours in total on a Bill of this length, significance and complexity—a Bill which affects the rights of the individual. Those 20 to 25 hours would be spread over a period of five days, with plenty of time between the various stages for reflection.
As a matter of interest to your Lordships, you may like to know that we spent over 18½ hours considering the Water (Fluoridation) Bill, which has less than half the number of clauses that this Bill has and is far less complex. We have been asked, and we have reluctantly agreed, to rush this Bill through in less than half the time normally allowed, in less than half the normal number of days, with only one short interval of six days for reflection.
As the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby—who I am sorry is not in his place at this moment—pointed out on 12th July, speaking to quite a different Bill from this one, at col. 446 of the Official Report:Rushed legislation is nearly always bad legislation. In a democracy, time for consideration is desirable".He went on to point out that on other matters the Government did not think that three years was too long to spend on dealing with, and pondering upon, a complex issue. It seems to me that this amendment provides an important and indeed a vital safeguard, and I believe that if the Government were to resist it they would be behaving quite unreasonably. I trust that they will not resist it.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, there are those who would have us attach a limited life to this Bill at the outset. That I fully understand. Various reasons have been adduced why we should do so: that the Bill is experimental; that it confers undesirable, wide-ranging powers on the Secretary of State; that it places restrictions on football clubs and spectators, the need for which ought to be kept under review; and that the Bill has had to complete its parliamentary passage with unusual speed. That was the thrust of the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, just now.
805 As the noble Lord himself seemed to say, those arguments are not peculiar to this Bill. Indeed, I have heard them deployed at one time or another on various measures which have been before your Lordships' House. But it is not usually suggested, as it seems to be now, that because a Bill has what some consider an experimental flavour or because it restricts what people can do, it should necessarily be a temporary measure.
Temporary legislation is quite rightly in my view reserved for very special cases—for example, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, mentioned at an earlier stage the Prevention of Terrorism Bill which he piloted through your Lordships' House in 1974. Granted the present Bill has been brought forward in an emergency or because of emergency conditions, but there I think the comparison with the Prevention of Terrorism Bill ends. In that case there were the most fundamental implications for individual liberties. People could be detained by the police or excluded from the country. I do not think it can be seriously argued that the consequences of the present Bill are in any sense comparable to that piece of legislation.
It has been made amply clear from all sides of your Lordships' House that everybody regrets the necessity of this Bill. We should all be delighted if a time came when we could manage without it. Naturally, we all hope that its impact on crowd behaviour at football matches will be swift and effective. But what we want to achieve is a lasting change. It takes time to establish new attitudes. It has indeed taken time for the kind of conditions which we now see to come to the state that we now find. People must come to accept that drink at football matches may be had only in certain circumstances and on certain conditions. Troublemakers must come to accept that their activities will not be tolerated. Our Scottish colleagues have found that their Act has contributed to a whole new atmosphere at football grounds. This could not have been more clearly expressed than it was by the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, last week. This is what we want too, but we cannot achieve it overnight.
To argue the Bill should be a temporary measure seems to me to give entirely the wrong impression. The Government are committed to a continuing programme of firm action to stamp out hooliganism at football matches. I believe that we have the general support of all parties for that. We do not want the hooligans to think that our determination to deal with them is no more than a passing phase. We must make it clear that it is a lasting commitment which must not be put into question at any time. As your Lordships know, there will be other opportunities to debate these matters, especially during the proceedings on the proposed new public order legislation to which the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, referred. We have already undertaken to give further consideration to a number of matters in the Bill during that legislation including the question of private boxes.
I very much hope that it will be possible by then to report some improvement in the standards of behaviour at football matches; but I would certainly not favour imposing limitations on the life of the Bill at the outset. That was not considered right for the 806 Scottish Act and I do not see that the present Bill should be treated any differently.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I started off speaking very briefly, and the House will be gratified to learn that I propose to reply very briefly, too. As I indicated, I do not propose to press this amendment. The Minister met us to some extent on the Long Title of the Public Order Bill. We will be able to go through these matters again and, speaking from these Benches, we shall do so. I shall explain very briefly why.
We shall do so because Parliament has failed to do its duty in respect of this Bill. The fact that a number of Conservative Members of Parliament, led by Mr. Douglas Hogg, complained in the strongest terms about the way in which this Bill had been railroaded through the House of Commons in a single day; the fact that we have had only two days to discuss a Bill which creates a whole series of new criminal offences in this country; and the fact that we are apparently prepared to allow the Government to extend its provisions by means of the negative procedure—all this means that, in my judgment and that of many others outside the House as well as within it, Parliament has not discharged its responsibilities particularly well. We know why—because there has been a deal between the two Front Benches in the House of Commons. That is why we have had this rather unreal Committee stage and Report stage in this House. Nevertheless I do not propose to go into detail on those questions save to say that we shall go into this matter very carefully when we get the Public Order Bill in the House as will my right honourable and honourable friends in another place.
In addition to that, we shall of course be anxious to get at that stage the report of the monitoring which the Home Office apparently is going to carry out. I should be grateful for some indication—I am not asking for it tonight—as to whether or not we are going to get that information in a publishable form. For instance, it is quite clear to me that many football clubs will wish to make their representations to the Home Office, assuming that they are going to carry out the monitoring which presumably will be the case. I should have preferred, as the Minister knows, to have had an individual looking at the implications and submitting a report to the Home Secretary. That would have been better. I know that there is no precise analogy—of course there is not—between this Bill and the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. Nevertheless, it was done on two occasions so far as that was concerned. I think that by and large it worked. It worked because Parliament was giving unusual powers to the Executive as it is giving most unusual powers to the Executive in this case.
However, having said that, we do not propose to press this amendment this evening. We shall come back to it when we get the Public Order Bill. We will then expect, and I hope we will get, the results of the monitoring on the progress of the implementation of this new policy in publishable form before we have to debate that Bill in this House. With that, I ask the consent of the House to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.807
§ Then Standing Order No. 44 having been dispensed with (pursuant to Resolution of 9th July), Bill read a third time.
§ [Amendments Nos. 1 to 4 not moved.]
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.
When I moved the Second Reading of this Bill, I described it as one of a number of measures being taken by the Government to tackle problems of order and safety at football grounds. The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, warned us that it was not a panacea. He was quite right to do so. The Bill tackles but one aspect of the problem—the role played by drinking and drunkenness in what the noble Lord described today as the cancer of disorder and violence among football supporters. I am grateful to noble Lords on all sides of the House for their support for the principles of the Bill. We have vigorously debated a number of aspects of it, and I am only too aware that the Government have not been able to satisfy all noble Lords on all points. But there has been no serious doubt expressed about the need to deal effectively with the problem of drink at football grounds. I am grateful to noble Lords for their help and their contributions to our discussions.
I made it clear at the outset that the Government attached a high priority to putting the Bill on to the statute book before the start of the next football season. By the time of the first kick-off at Wembley on 10th August all first-class grounds will be dry. The dry period will end when the first exemption orders are issued by the magistrates' courts, probably in September. Neither clubs nor spectators will be in any doubt that we mean business. Football must put its house in order. I have made it clear that the Government regret the need to impose restrictions on the many law-abiding spectators who attend football matches, but if it helps to reduce violence and reduce disorder and make English football once more the respectable and respected game throughout the world that it deserves to be, it will indeed have been a modest price to pay.
We have had useful discussions about many aspects of the Bill. We have all agreed very strongly about the need to control the possession of alcohol and control drunkenness on transport to matches and on entry to the ground. The Bill deals effectively with those who arrive at grounds already "tanked up", as the expressions goes, and we trust that it will have as great an impact here as the 1980 Act has had in Scotland.
There has been less unanimity about how the sale and possession of alcohol inside grounds should be controlled. We have debated that matter at length and I do not feel that I should go into that point further now. We shall monitor the effects on club's revenue in the way that I described earlier. I have made it clear that the Government will consider the forthcoming public order legislation as a suitable vehicle for any changes that might be considered necessary.
My right honourable friend has made his own intentions perfectly clear, and that should reassure all sporting bodies that, provided they keep their house in order, they can continue to have drink at their grounds under the existing arrangements.
808 In conclusion, I commend the Bill to your Lordships. It will not in itself solve the problem of football violence and football hooliganism but it will make a major contribution. The Chief Constable of Strathclyde has said that the Scottish police forces regard the 1980 Act as a major step towards improving football behaviour in Scotland. We hope and believe that this Bill will be similarly effective in England and Wales.
The reputation of English football reached an all-time low with the Brussels disaster. Perhaps we have now turned the corner. Certainly FIFA was sufficiently persuaded of our determination to put our house in order to lift the worldwide ban it had imposed on English teams. It is now up to us to ensure that that trust is justified. The Bill is one important step in that direction. I am glad to see that other European countries also are taking steps to control alcohol at football matches.
However, that is not the end of the matter. During earlier proceedings on the Bill I outlined the other measures which the Government are taking to improve the standards of order and safety at football grounds. They will all make a most important contribution. We look to the football authorities and the clubs to discharge their responsibilities with equal energy and determination. That is what law-abiding soccer supporters want. That is what will bring them back to the grounds. That is precisely what we all want to see.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Glenarthur.)
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, I do not believe that this is the occasion for long speeches on a Bill which we have discussed at its various stages, even if there has been limited time. There are only a few observations I want to make, apart from congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, who has not had an easy task as the Minister in charge of this Bill, in taking it through its various stages in a very short space of time. He deserves to be congratulated for the way in which he has done that.
That does not mean that we invite many repetitions of legislation rushed through Parliament. It is not difficult for anybody in any part of your Lordships' House to make a protesting speech in that context. I join in the wish that we shall have very few examples of rushing legislation through Parliament. However, I am not ashamed in the very slightest degree at being a member of a party that decided to enter into an agreement with the Government, with responsiblity to the nation at large, to see to it that something was done by way of legislation before the next football season starts.
I do not carry any shame to any other Benches for having entered into that agreement, and I do not know that special glory descends upon those Benches which try to criticise others for entering into a responsible agreement of that kind.
My first observation is that we have concentrated so much on the question of what happens in the football grounds that I tend to think we may have forgotten what we have done in Clause 1 of this Bill, which is to hit at a very great evil, as we have seen it by experience: 809 that is, what happens in conveyances to football grounds before the start of the match and from football grounds after the end of the match. I am talking, obviously, about public service vehicles and about our railways.
I mention that provision specifically because I want to bring one small point to the attention of the Minister. I know that he was keen on behalf of the Government in seeing that there was not unfairness in Clause 1 so far as concerns railway employees. I notice that in Clause 1 there is an offence if,A person who knowingly causes or permits intoxicating liquor to be carried on a vehicle to which this section applies … if the vehicle is a hired vehicle"—and one knows that trains are very often hired to supporters' associations and clubs—and he is the person to whom it is hired or the servant or agent of that person".I wonder whether the guards on a railway train so hired might in fact be servants or agents of the people who have made the hiring, and whether, in spite of what the Government were intending in the Bill, railway guards would be caught by that provision. No doubt the noble Lord the Minister, in his kindness, will deal with that point. If he cannot deal with it now, I am sure he will deal with it hereafter.
I conclude by saying in repetition what the noble Lord the Minister kindly quoted me as saying before. It was no original thought of mine that this Bill is no panacea. However, I believe we have a duty to expedite legislation of this kind. I believe we have carried out our duty to the best of our ability. I am most grateful to the noble Lord the Minister—as was expressed earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Harris—for having agreed on behalf of the Government to see that the Bill's effect on the revenue of clubs is monitored.
I am sure the Minister will not mind my suggesting too that there should be regular consultation with the Football Association to see how all this is working out, and to see whether, when the public order legislation to which reference has been made comes before us, we will be able to make revisions to this legislation that will make it less odorous upon a sport that has so long been associated with this country, but associated with honour and not dishonour.
§ Lord Wigoder
My Lords, I have no doubt that this Bill will play an appreciable part in reducing the amount of hooliganism both inside and outside football grounds. To that extent the Bill is undoubtedly to be welcomed, and to that extent we on these Benches of course support it.
At the same time, when looking back at this Bill, I cannot but feel still that it is a clumsy measure. As the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, said earlier, it is a measure that is much too wide in places and much too narrow in other places. It could have been more effective, and there could have been more safeguards properly written into it.
I am bound to say that I cannot regard this Bill as one of the more elegant additions to the criminal law. The reasons are self-evident, and reference has been made to them several times this evening. There is the haste with which the Bill has been pushed through 810 both Houses of Parliament. After all, the incidents in Brussels took place in May. There was really no reason why it should be not before July that a Bill came before another place. The Bill could not have taken very long to draft; that is self-evident from the way it is drafted. I should have thought it quite unnecessary that the haste should have been as great as it was. It has meant that the Bill is not as good as it might have been.
Secondly, there has been an unhappy absence of consultation between the Government and the bodies involved; and that became clear this afternoon in relation to other sports apart from association football. That has had the result—these two factors of haste and lack of consultation—that those of us who wanted to take part in this Bill have been deprived of a certain amount of information that we might reasonably have expected to receive from interested bodies who knew they were being affected by a Bill going through the House. I would not have wanted on this Bill the volume of paper that arrived every morning while the Bill to abolish the GLC was going through your Lordships' House, but a little more factual information from some of the organisations concerned on how they would be affected would have enabled us to assist the House more in its deliberations.
Thirdly, the proceedings on this Bill—it is quite incontestable—have been bedevilled by an agreement between the Conservative and Labour Front Benches in another place on the detailed provisions of the Bill. That they should have agreed to hasten the passage of the Bill, that they should have agreed that it should go through the other place in one day, if that is what they wanted, is all very well, but the unhappy result of that agreement has been—and it is unhappy for all in your Lordships' House—that the House has been deprived of the benefit of free and unfettered judgment, particularly from Members of the Labour Front Bench, in debating this matter in this House. We had the very unhappy situation in which the noble Lord. Lord Mishcon, having tabled an amendment (obviously because he believed it was right and would improve the Bill; otherwise, he would not have tabled it) had to inquire across the Floor of the House of the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, as to whether it was within the terms of the agreement if the amendment was moved. On being told that it was not, he then had to say that, in that case, he could not move it. I sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. I venture to suggest that in the interests of good legislation, because of our role as a revising Chamber, if the parties in the other place want to enter into such agreements they should leave your Lordships free to act as individuals and to exercise our proper judgment to the benefit of revising the legislation in the best way that we can.
The only other comment I want to make is to echo the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, on how grateful we are to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, for the way in which he conducted his part in this Bill, and for the rapidity with which he arranged for consultations to take place with him, the Minister and some of us involved in these matters. I am also grateful for his invariable courtesy in dealing with the points we made. I suspect that had it not been for the fact of this previously agreed position he might have 811 been even more flexible in his responses than he was to some of the arguments put to him; but I am grateful for the flexibility he was able to show.
My Lords, I hope I can keep my few remarks within one minute. Even if critical of this rush job, nevertheless I pay tribute because I am sure that a great deal of good will flow from our deliberations. We were discussing much the same points six years ago in this Chamber, and although that seems to have been a long time ago no doubt water dripping on stone is one of the ways in which government works.
There is much work here for the police. Often, very large amounts of work are laid on their shoulders following our deliberations, and we should all think a little more about the demands made on their available strength, particularly at week-ends. A heavy burden is often placed on the families, particularly of members of the British Transport Police, who are escorting the fans and the teams right through the weekends. We must remember that, and we must see that their lives are not made impossible.
§ Lord Beswick
My Lords, it would be difficult to vote against this Bill; but I suggest, it is equally difficult to vote for it with enthusiasm. I take this opportunity, as I was not able to take part in the earlier stages of the Bill, to echo what has been said by others: that this smacks more of instant public relations than a deep study of the social issues involved.
The noble Lord the Minister said that the Bill is part of a number of measures that have been taken. I wonder whether at this stage he can tell me whether the following measures have been included, and, if he is unable to give me an informed answer, perhaps he will write to me. First, to complement this little Bill, and as part of a wider strategy, has any attempt been made to encourage throughout our schools a campaign against this antisocial behaviour and to encourage contempt for violence at sporting events? Secondly, has there been any agreement with the football authorities to insist on better behaviour by the players on the field? It is the ridiculous and excessive display of feeling when a goal has been scored—or, for that matter, more and more nowadays when a wicket has been taken—that can stoke up an indisciplined attitude on the part of spectators which finds expression, in extreme cases, in this mob violence.
Invariably it is this behaviour which is siezed upon by the television and press photographers, and it helps to get over to young people that this is normal behaviour. Can the noble Lord tell me whether this point has been discussed with the football authorities, what conclusions have been arrived at, and what action has been taken?
Thirdly, what notice has been taken by the Government of the appeals made from members of all parties for some extra diversion of funds from the money collected by the pools levy? I can well see that a reduction in the percentage now could mean, over the years, an increase in the Treasury revenue, because unless something more is done by way of investment in facilities at the grounds there could be a steady decline in attendances, and in interest in everything associated with football, which would mean a reduction in the pools and the amount of money 812 which the Government collect from them. I hope that the noble Lord can say that this is a matter which is under consideration, and will be able to say something about it.
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, I join with other noble Lords in wishing the Bill well when it becomes an Act. I, too, agree with the view expressed that it will do a lot to help football clean up its image. I say that as someone who has watched football for most of his life and who has never partaken of much drink in that process.
I find it difficult to support my noble friend on the Front Bench in congratulating the Minister on the speed with which he has put through this Bill. The deal having been done in another place, there was very little work for the Minister to do here. He had only to go through the motions. We have had two days of debate, but have been given very little on some of the major points. Some of the major points in contest still divide us greatly. I take the view, as other noble Lords have, that the less we see of this type of legislation coming through in this way the better it will be for us and for the country as a whole.
The Minister said that it had been brought forward because there was an emergency. What does he mean by "emergency"? I also agree with the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, that it has been done more as a public relations exercise for the benefit of football communities outside this country than actually dealing with the problem in the fullest and fairest sense. What happened in Brussels was totally regrettable and absolutely unforgivable.
I do not intend to detain your Lordships much longer, but I have taken the trouble to obtain a copy of the Belgian parliamentary report on what happened at the Heysal Stadium in Brussels. It nearly brought down the Belgian Government. If we take some of the arguments to a logical conclusion, are we to say that if the Belgian Government had fallen it was because of Liverpool Football Club? The club seems to have been blamed for everything in sight, and in some respects it was totally innocent. We have a whole host of clubs in this country who play every year all over the world and have never had one iota of trouble. There were around 150 games last year and there was trouble at one game. But all the clubs are banned without trial.
I should like to read a brief paragraph from the Belgian parliamentary report. It says:Summary of the Report of the Belgian Commission of Enquiry into the Heysal disaster. It should be underlined that British supporters made the first fatal charge in Block Z and must take prime responsibility for the Heysal disaster. But there is no doubt that the organisers—UEFA and the Belgian FA—knew of the problems of British fans. Liverpool [Football Club] made arrangements for their supporters to be accompanied by 10 policemen and 34 stewards. Liverpool's supporters are among the best behaved in Britain. British transport authorities confirmed this".The report goes on to say that the Belgian FA and UEFA were responsible for the security of the spectators but that they seemed more preoccupied with selling tickets to whoever wanted them. I think it is about time that people stood up to be counted to affirm that it was not all one way, and that there were grave disorders that took place there, which, even without this legislation that we are putting through 813 today, could not and would not happen in this country.
I began by saying that I supported the Bill. I hope the Minister will take most seriously the points that have been made regarding the loss of finance to the clubs if this Bill remains as it is and is enacted. I was a little disappointed that the noble Lord did not reply to the major point I made when I quoted statements from 16 of the 32 clubs that will be grievously affected by what we are doing today. Since I left this Chamber and went back to my desk, there is another club, Blackburn Rovers, which is supported by my noble friend, so there are 17 out of 32 clubs which are predicting that it will seriously affect their eonomic viability.
I close by saying that I hope that I am wrong and they are wrong, but I have an idea at the back of my mind that they will be right; and I hope that if that picture does emerge quickly, the Minister can persuade his colleagues in another place to act as expeditiously as possible.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I intend to take less than two minutes in speaking. First of all, I wish the Bill well. Secondly, I should like to acknowledge the manner in which my noble friend and colleague Lord Mishcon has made as plain as he possibly can his unease at the rushed legislation and at some of the premises upon which the legislation has been allowed to go forward.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity with other noble Lords to discuss with the Minister and his right honourable friend in another place some of the ways in which we envisage the outcome being detrimental to the financial viability of certain clubs. Let me say at once to the Minister, while looking him straight in the eye—it is not a frightening prospect for either of us, I can assure your Lordships—that I want him to understand that I appreciate his difficulties under the tight timescale in which the Government have had to act.
The Bill has been given a clean passage through this House, not against assurances (with a capital A) and not against written guarantees, but against a sympathetic understanding by the noble Lord and his colleague. That is, that if the fears which I have sought to bring to your Lordships' attention from clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, in the light of a monitoring exercise which will happen sooner rather than later, turn out to be well-founded, he will use the device, the peg or the technique of the Bill which will be promoted in the next Session, so that an amendment which will take account of those sad situations can be very carefully considered.
There can be no promises. We understand that, but we have the promise of consultation, monitoring and sympathetic and speedy action if events prove to be as foreseen. The Minister has had a difficult job, and we understand that. For my part, I accept completely his assurances that these matters will be looked at sympathetically. I am very grateful indeed not merely for the collaboration of the Labour Front Bench but also for the interest that has been shown from all round the House. No one sector of the House is entitled to claim that it has been either more militant or more solicitous than any other. We are very conscious of the 814 terrible disaster that lies behind us and we are looking forward to a better football season and further seasons year after year. I wish the Bill well.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, if I may respond without making another lengthy speech on this matter, I should first of all like to thank all those noble Lords who have spoken for their kind remarks to me about the Bill. I cannot really agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dean, that there was very little work for me to do, but that is my judgement against his. I certainly found it a fairly busy week.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, asked particularly about British Rail guards. Perhaps I may give him the assurance which I think he seeks. The answer to his query is that the guards would not be caught in the way he imagines. The hirer of a football special train is normally a football club or a supporters' club. Their servants or agents would include, for example, the stewards, whom I understand they provide to supervise the passengers on the train. The guard would not be the agent of the club because the club does not have authority to give him instructions and he does not act on behalf of the club, and clearly he is not the employee of the club because he is the employee of British Rail. I hope that that answer clarifies the point for the noble Lord.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, for his general welcome for the Bill. I think we must look forward now, and not back. He has rehearsed the arguments about agreements and other things several times in the past.
My noble friend Lord Inglewood rightly expresses a concern for the police, particularly the British Transport Police, who might be given more than their fair share of work to do if that sort of behaviour and our need to police it were to continue. I think that goes much wider than the legislation about which we are concerned, but I note his remarks.
The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, asked me three specific questions. First, he asked whether or not we would do anything to encourage schools and others, but particularly people in schools, to consider some way of preparing people for anti-social behaviour and to speak against it. As I understand it, no particular measures have been taken, but I certainly think that the noble Lord makes a good point. I think it goes a lot wider than just football hooliganism. It seems to me that it is more a matter of upbringing, and the sooner we get it across, not just in schools but to parents and into the whole foundation of society, the better. It is a difficult subject but I think that the noble Lord is quite right.
As regards talking to the Football Association about agreements on the behaviour of players, I have some personal sympathy with the views that he expresses. I understand that the Football Association has said that it will try to encourage less exuberance. That is the only encouragement I think I can offer the noble Lord.
The pools betting duty is a point which I covered at Second Reading. I know that the noble Lord was not there. I said then that the pools betting duty was a tax on gambling, not on football. The Pools Promoters' Association pays about £5 million a year for the use of the league fixtures and VAT is charged on entrance 815 fees to all places of entertainment, including cinemas and theatres. I do not think that I can necessarily develop that argument any further tonight at this stage of the Bill. If the noble Lord will read Hansard—
§ Lord Beswick
My Lords, I have read it. Is the amount that the Football Association gets 5 per cent., or can it be 6 per cent. or 7 per cent?
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, all I can do at this stage is to note the remarks of the noble Lord, because this is really a matter of a tax on gambling and not on football, as I have said. These matters do not fall only within the ambit of the Home Office, as the noble Lord will be aware.
Lastly, the noble Lord, Lord Graham, wished the Bill well. I end merely by wishing it well. It has been a hectic week for all concerned. I believe that the Bill will form a sensible part of all the provisions that we take. I sincerely hope that it will.
§ On Question, Bill passed.