HL Deb 13 April 1989 vol 506 cc433-49

6.46 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Hesketh)

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report—(Lord Hesketh).

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 5.

Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 4, line 42, at end insert ("and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 44 and 45. The effect of the amendments is to delete a provision in the Bill as introduced which would have allowed the FMA the discretion to make reasonable charges in connection with appeals by people who have been disqualified from membership of the scheme. They follow my undertaking given in Committee to consider whether we need the power to charge for appeals. Clause 5(3)(b) provides a discretionary power to charge for appeals from a decision to withhold or withdraw membership of the scheme. We envisage the FMA making a charge only where it thinks it appropriate to do so; that the charge would be reasonable; and that the FMA should be able to repay the fee in appropriate circumstances. Having taken another look at this matter, we decided that the power to charge for appeals should not be included in the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Hesketh moved Amendments Nos. 44 and 45:

Page 4, line 47, leave out ("and").

Page 4, line 48, leave out paragraph (d).

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 46:

Page 4, line 49, at end insert— ("(3A) The scheme may make different provision for different circumstances.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment has already been debated. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 47:

Page 5, line 5, at end insert— ("(4A) The application form for membership of the scheme shall include a clearly indicated space where the applicant may state his desire for the information supplied to be regarded as confidential, and if he so indicates then the authority shall not disclose the information to any third party.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we return to the issue of civil liberties and the possible intrusion into those civil liberties represented by what goes on to the identity card. The identity card must be preceded by a membership application form. When we last debated this matter I did not press the amendment because the Minister said: I have no hesitation in saying that the Government will consider the principle of this amendment sympathetically. My initial contact with the Data Protection Registrar suggests that it may not be necessary to spell out a requirement of the kind proposed in the amendment in the Bill. I understand the views of Members of the Committee that adding a provision to the Bill would remove any doubt about the rights of members. But the Bill cannot spell out any details of the scheme The Minister also then went on to talk about other important matters. He also said something hopeful: I hope that Members of the Committee will understand if I do not promise to reach a definite conclusion by Report stage".—Official Report, 14/3/89; cols. 155-156.] When I raised the issue with the Minister and asked him what progress he had been making, he said: As you know, we will be discussing the possibility of amendments concerned with Data Protection with the Registrar. He was, as you say, consulted when the Minister for Sport's working party was preparing its report but that was, of course, before the Bill was published. We now need to consult him specifically on the points which you and others raised in Committee on the possibility of specific provisions in the Bill. I can assure you, however, that we will bring forward any amendments which we consider necessary in the light of those discussions, for Third Reading". I am sure that the Minister has come well briefed in order to be helpful to the Committee, as he has always tried to be during the various stages. I simply wish to reinforce our concern in the matter. When the issue of what did and what did not go on the form was raised, a number of people, while accepting the need for a scheme, a card and an application, blanched at the possibility that their details might then be hawked around for commercial purposes.

The Minister made kind comments about the possibility that the sale of membership lists could very well be a source of income which would offset other expenditure. That is as it may be. We certainly do not want the scheme to be looked on primarily, or even substantially, as a means of commercial exploitation. We wish to make sure that any individual, who wants his name to be excluded from any such list and his details to be used strictly and wholly for the purpose of the football membership scheme, should be able to do so.

I think that the argument has been well rehearsed. I invite the Minister to tell the House what has been the result of his consultation with the registrar since we last met. I have to consider very carefully why there needs to be any delay at all. After all, the issue which I raise was anticipated by many people outside the House. It was a matter to be resolved from last July, August, September or October when the report came out. The Minister makes a fair point that since the Bill was published and since we have been specific, there needs to be consultation. I do not know what other Members of the House will wish to say. Before I decide what to do with the amendment, I should like to hear the Minister's response to this request. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

My Lords, whatever any of my noble friends said at Committee stage about the matter, I hope that your Lordships will not accept the amendment or any other amendment to the same effect or anything like it. I say that for the following reason. It is purely administrative detail. We should not clutter up our statute book with administrative detail, we do too much of it as it is. Some of it has absolutely no sanction behind it. We are supposed to be making laws for people to obey.

A matter like this concerning what is to go on an application form is something which the department can perfectly well deal with, having borne in mind what the noble Lord and anyone else may have said in your Lordships' House. Perhaps I may put forward a further point. What sanction would there be behind a provision of this kind? The noble Lord has not put forward anything which would create it an offence on the part of persons supplying the form if they fail to mention that the information is to be confidential. There is no sanction. I think that we should leave this, as we do so many other matters, to be dealt with not in primary legislation but in accordance with the usual administrative arrangements made by departments when they issue forms for the public to fill in.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, in other words, the gentleman in Whitehall really does know best, according to the noble Lord, Lord Renton. However I do not think in most cases the gentleman in Whitehall knows best. In a matter of this kind it is not a case of pure administrative detail at all. It is a guarantee that a person who does not want personal information hawked around for commercial advantage should have the right for that information to be withheld. In my view nothing could be more reasonable. It has nothing to do with violence at football grounds but a great deal to do with the rights of privacy of the individual. I therefore very much hope that on the basis of what the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, said on the last occasion we shall see some government amendment on the matter at Third Reading.

While I am talking about government amendments, perhaps I may say that we are now told—and my noble friends were told only today—that the Third Reading of the Bill will take place on Monday week. I understand that there is likely to be a significant number of government amendments, both from the noble Lord's department and from the Home Office. I very much hope that these will be tabled in good time, not later than Tuesday, so that those of us involved in the Bill will have the opportunity of discussing it with the various bodies outside the House who are interested in the measure.

Lord Monson

My Lords, I too disagree wih the noble Lord Lord Renton. I do not think that this is a matter of trivial detail; important principles are involved. I believe that it would be very wrong of the Government to oppose the amendment. They clearly take the view that a substantial proportion of football supporters are thuggish individuals of low intelligence. Many of us do not share the Government's evaluation of football supporters, but if the Government are right and we are wrong then it is clearly unethical for the Government to expose these people of minimal intelligence to a financial temptation which is likely to get them into hot water. We should bear in mind how cleverly packaged and presented these direct mailshots can be and also that mounting consumer debt is generally acknowledged to be a grave national problem.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, in the absence of a sanction referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, it is not in my recollection that when a statute says that an application form is to be in the following form, it is thought necessary to spell out a sanction in the event of the form not being in that form.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, I think that the amendment does not go far enough. I believe that there should be an absolute bar on information provided under the Bill—be it for the purpose of belonging to a membership scheme—being passed on to any other third party. After all, what are we doing here? We are not asking people voluntarily to fill in a form. We are saying to them, "If you wish to attend a football match, by law—by statute—you must fill in this form". Therefore, the giving of that information is not a voluntary act. It is an act of compulsion. When we ask people to fill in social security forms or tax forms, we give them an absolute guarantee that that information will be private and it will be an offence for it to be disclosed.

I know that this is not quite the same, but it is almost the same. People do not have to go to football. I suppose that people do not have to apply for social security benefit either. But here we are imposing on people a duty: if they wish to attend a football match they must fill in this form and give information which may be of a private nature. Therefore I think that they must be safeguarded. If the amendment has to go to a vote because the Minister will not give a satisfactory reply, I shall support it. But I have to tell my noble friend—and I appreciate that—it is my fault for not putting down an amendment to his amendment—that I do not think it goes quite far enough.

7 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I wish to give an assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, that my own personal best endeavours will come to bear to satisfy his point concerning the change in the date of the Third Reading.

This is another amendment which was moved in Committee and which I undertook to consider further. In this case, I warned your Lordships' House that we might not be ready to reach a definite conclusion by Report stage, because we had to consult the data protection registrar further. That remains the position, but I can give an undertaking that our discussions with the registrar, on this amendment and the next, are in hand and will enable us to reach a definite conclusion before Third Reading.

I should also repeat the assurance which I gave in Committee on this amendment that the Government are fully committed to ensuring that the protection of the Data Protection Act 1984 is available to members of the scheme and to applicants for membership.

We do, however, wish to consider the registrar's views in relation to this amendment and the next, on whether specific provision is necessary on the face of the Bill and, if so, what form it should take. We shall report back on Third Reading on these points.

It is the case, as the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, pointed out, that the data protection registrar was consulted about the Minister for Sport's working party on the national membership scheme. I am glad that he has been able to make encouraging comments about the Government's intentions in relation to the scheme. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, also pointed out, he had not been consulted about the specific points raised by noble Lords on this amendment in Committee. It seemed to me right that he should be consulted before we reached any conclusions. The Government are sympathetic to the purpose of these amendments. We shall come back to the House at Third Reading. On that basis I invite the noble Lord, Lord Graham, to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for his comments. Despite what I consider to be the unhelpful remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, the Minister and I are continuing the happy dialogue that had continued, virtually uninterrupted, on the previous stage of the Bill where a substantial measure of agreement was reached. I accept in good faith that there have been difficulties in resolving an attitude. The Minister has told us that he will not tell us exactly what he will do until discussions have taken place. But at least if we know before the appropriate time on Third Reading whether what he intends to do is, in our view, helpful, then we shall have the opportunity of returning yet again, and properly, to this issue.

This matter is certainly not, as the noble Lord, Lord Renton, cared to categorise it, an administrative detail. I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that for very many people outside this House this issue, more than any other aspect of the Bill, is the one that concerns them. There are other issues concerning the viability of football clubs, violence and all kinds of other matters, but people are concerned about the fact that their personal details may be traded. The Minister for Sport has, more than once, said that he envisages that the total costs of the scheme can be met by trading and selling the lists. That shows that this issue is not a pure administrative detail, but goes to the core of many people's objection to the Bill. They are entitled to take that view. I share that view.

As has been said, the registrar is in touch not only with the Minister but also with myself and others. It is clear to me from a letter from the registrar that he believes that in the context of the football national membership scheme there needs to be a specific reference to opting out of commercial uses of the information provided by an applicant for membership of the scheme.

I am very happy to leave these matters until we hear what the Minister has to say. I am certainly happy to leave them to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, who has played a major part in pursuing these matters. We may need to return to these issues, although I hope that will not be the case. I hope the Minister is satisfied that an amendment needs to be made. If he concedes that point, we will support what he says. We should also be satisfied if he gives us copper-bottomed guarantees from the data protection registrar that such an opt out is not required. We would, of course, also expect a full explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 48 not moved.]

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 49:

Page 5, line 5, at end insert— ("(4C) A membership card issued under sections 5(2)(j) and 5(3)(b) may be demanded for inspection only when the holder is on, or seeking entry to, club premises for the purpose of attending a designated match.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that the Minister can also be helpful on this amendment. Amendment No. 49 relates not only to ownership of the card, and who has the right to demand it, but also to the possible over zealous nature of policing where a card may be used as an opportunity to undertake what we consider to be difficult actions.

On 14th March the Minister said: there will be no requirement on people to produce their cards away from grounds".—[Official Report, 14/3/89; col. 164.]

If one accepts the raison d'etre for the scheme and the card, one can appreciate the requirements to carry the card and for it to be produced, certainly inside football grounds, and perhaps in order to maintain good order and discipline, outside football grounds. However, we should like an assurance from the Minister that the act of demanding a card will not be used as an excuse to apprehend and question people away from football grounds.

I shall use my favourite illustration of Tottenham Hotspur. Many people arrive at that ground from the White Hart Lane railway station, which I estimate is perhaps 250 yards away from the fool ball ground. I can envisage that, if things get a little difficult, somebody who does not have a card and who gets off a train may very well look as if he is a football supporter, and there could be a temptation for the police to use the excuse of demanding a card to question a person who happens to be 250 yards away from the ground. We are entering a difficult area here. The Government must decide how far the zone for challenge extends, not only as regards ascertaining whether people have a card but as regards ascertaining whether cards are valid.

We have changed the wording of an earlier amendment and tightened it up. The earlier amendment I moved stated that the card shall become the property of the holder. In this amendment we do not mention who a. card belongs to. On 14th March I moved an amendment which stated that a card may be: demanded for inspection only when the holder wishes to obtain entry to a football match".—[0fficial Report, 14/3/89; col. 163.] In Amendment No. 49 we are stating that a membership card should only be demanded for inspection when the holder is seeking entry to a designated match. The purpose of this amendment, in essence, is that, even if it cannot be written on the face of the Bill, we want the Minister to tell us that guidelines will be issued either by the FMA or the Government to the police as regards how they should manage themselves in a situation which could be difficult for the police, the local community and the fans. We want the Minister to tell us that he accepts what we are saying. Then we shall certainly listen to the problems of carryng out the scheme as we propose it should be carried out, or to the way in which the Government will try to meet our demands.

For a lot of people this matter would not be an administrative detail, but a grave infringement of their freedom to move about their community. I used Tottenham Hotspur as an example, but I could also mention my home town of Newcastle and the team of Newcastle United and its ground in St. James' Park. In that instance the railway station is certainly 600 or 700 yards away from the ground. The police, or someone else in a position of authority, could use the excuse of wishing to examine a card to challenge people who just happen to be in that area, and thereby create a difficult situation. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

My Lords, unlike Amendment No. 47, which could perfectly well be dealt with by a firm undertaking by the registrar, as we were told it might possibly be, this amendment is suitable for primary legislation. There are precedents for it. In the case of motor licences and gun licences, it is provided by statute that the police may demand to see whether a person has a suitable licence. The question is whether in the circumstances envisaged in this amendment that demand should be limited to inspection: only when the holder is on, or seeking entry to, club premises for the purpose of attending a designated match". I appreciate the point which the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, has made. We do not want people to be unnecessarily embarrassed on their way to a match in the case, for example, where there has been trouble in a pub on the way to a match. But to inhibit police inquiries in this way could be against the public interest. It could also be against the interests of the card holder if he cannot be asked for his card.

Suppose the police have to make inquiries about a theft during a football match on designated premises. Suppose there has been violence. Suppose there has been a disturbance by people who have climbed into the ground and it is necessary to sort out the sheep from the goats—those who have climbed in and those who are there legitimately and who hold membership cards. To say that in those circumstances the police inquiries are to be inhibited by their not being able to ask the people concerned to show their membership cards, if they have them, seems to me to be quite unreasonable. Therefore my advice, such as it is, to my noble friend on the Front Bench would be that the amendment should not be accepted.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I always hesitate before crossing swords with the noble Lord, Lord Renton, on a matter of this kind. However, I cannot for the life of me see the relevance of a football membership card to a police investigation into an act of theft. There is no remote relationship between the two. In my view it would never even cross the minds of policemen to ask to see someone's footbll membership card if they were simply investigating a theft. If the problem was a disturbance which had taken place at the ground, again I do not see the relevance of an FMA card. I may be being immensely dense, but I do not see the relevance.

Unlike others who have taken exception to noble Lords speaking twice, it would give me immense pleasure to give the noble Lord, Lord Renton, my warm approval to intervene.

Lord Renton

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. If there has been a theft at a football ground and a person who is followed up after he has left the ground gives the police a false name in order to evade his responsibility, the fact that he cannot be asked for his card may be a serious impediment to the police in their inquiries.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, if he is merely a witness, there is no obligation on him to give an accurate name and address. I do not say that it would be right and proper for him not to do so. Like the noble Lord, I should hope that he would co-operate in a police inquiry. However, in a criminal inquiry policemen cannot demand information in the way that he suggests if the person concerned is merely a witness.

My worry about this issue is a different one. My view is almost the reverse of that of the noble Lord. I am not sure whether the amendment in its present form should be carried or whether we should hope for an undertaking from the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, that there will be a Home Office circular on the subject, which would probably meet the point.

I am worried about identification cards coming in by the back door. There have been substantial debates on that issue at a number of conferences and meetings during the past 12 months. I believe that there is a very substantial degree of anxiety on the part of many people of good will and public spirit about identification cards being introduced in this country. I do not propose to become involved in the merits of that question. There are differences of opinion even within the police service as to whether it is desirable or undesirable, and there are chief officers on either side of the argument. The one thing I do not want to see is an identification card system coming in by the back door whereby a limited number of people can on almost any occasion be asked for an FMA membership card in order to prove their identity. That would be highly undesirable.

As I have already indicated to the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, I am by no means certain whether the amendment in its present form is the best approach. But if we are not to have the amendment I very much hope that at least a Home Office circular will be issued after consultation with the police. I think that there will be great anxiety on this question unless some limitation is imposed as to the circumstances in which an FMA membership card can be asked for.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Monson

My Lords, those of us who are concerned about the growing erosion of our individual liberties are, like the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, determined to resist all attempts to bring in national identity cards by the back door. In effect, we may well have national identity cards, at least for a section of the population, if this amendment or something very like it is not agreed to.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Graham, moved an amendment on this subject in Committee. He explained then that he wanted to ensure that the police or club stewards should not, as a preventive measure, be able to demand to see membership cards from people approaching a football ground. I sympathised then with his intentions but was unhappy about the effect of the amendment which he proposed. I am afraid that my reaction to this amendment is much the same.

As I said in Committee, I understand the noble Lord's wish to prevent a demand to see a card being made in circumstances unconnected with football. I also accept that there should be no general requirement on people to produce their cards away from grounds. The Bill does not provide for any such requirement. However, the effect of the amendment would be to make it impossible for anyone to demand to see a membership card except when the holder is on or seeking entry to club premises for the purposes of attending a designated match. That is much too tight a restriction.

For example, it would prevent a club official from asking to see someone's membership card when he applied at the club for a ticket in advance of a match. Say that a Tottenham Hotspur supporter wanted to buy a ticket a couple of days in advance of a local Derby match with the Arsenal and went along to Tottenham's ground to do so. I do not think that we would want to prevent the Tottenham officials asking to see the supporter's membership card in those circumstances.

Another example might involve a match to be played abroad, perhaps involving an England team or perhaps a club team when English clubs are re-admitted to European competitions. The body responsible for the sale of tickets in this country, be it the FA or an individual club, may wish to take special precautions to prevent as many hooligans as possible from travelling. It may want to refuse to sell tickets to someone who has been banned from the scheme but who has not been the subject of a restriction order. It may therefore ask to see the membership cards of all applicants for tickets. I do not say that it would be essential for it to do so, but I can understand that it might wish to do so. The amendment would prevent it from doing so.

I also fully appreciate the point which the noble Lord, Lord Harris, made with regard to the police. He mentioned the possibility of a Home Office circular to the police as a possible satisfactory alternative. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, that we shall consider that point. I hope that on this occasion the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, will be able to consider the possibility of withdrawing his amendment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, again, the value of this stage of the Bill is not to encourage the Minister to say more than he said earlier or something different. We are not in the business of trapping him into saying things that can be waived by someone else later.

This has been a helpful discussion. During our proceedings on 14th March, the Minister said: We accept that there will be no requirement on people to produce their cards away from grounds".—.[Official Report. 14/3/89; col. 164.] Surely that means that one can ask for them only inside the grounds. If there is no onus on people to produce them away from the grounds, ipso facto, they can be demanded only inside the grounds. However, not unreasonably, the Minister has pointed out some circumstances in which it is a natural reaction to ask, "Can I see your card?".

In view of what the Minister said and the illustrations that I gave of what is abhorrent to those who share my view—namely, that the card should be used strictly for entry into the ground or other related matters—and in view of his suggestion that consideration will undoubtedly be given at other stages in the other place and that the matter will be pursued, all I asked for in my original speech was that guidelines of one kind or another could be issued. I believe that, just as the guidelines will be helpful to the authorities, they will also be helpful to the police. That is a matter on which consultation will undoubtedly take place, especially with the police, to make sure that they feel comfortable with the guidelines laid down.

We shall look at what the Minister has said. It seems to us that there has been a meeting of minds on this matter, and I am very grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 50:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause:

"Phased application of scheme


  1. (1) The Secretary of State, in exercising his function of designating football matches under section 1(2) of this Act as matches in relation to which the national football membership scheme applies, shall have regard to whether it is desirable to achieve a phased application of the scheme.
  2. (2) For this purpose—
    1. (a) the Football Membership Authority shall consider the possibility of a phased application of the scheme and may make recommendations to the Secretary of State; and
    2. (b) the Secretary of State shall have regard to any recommendations so made.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 [Criteria for phased introduction of scheme]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 51:

Leave out Clause 6.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 7 [Disqualification for membership of scheme]:

Lord Hesketh moved Amendment No. 52:

Page 5, line 36, leave out from ("be") to end of line 38 and insert—

("(a) in a case where he was sentenced to a period of imprisonment taking immediate effect or of detention in a young offenders institution, five years, and

(b) in any other case, two years, beginning with such date as may be determined under the scheme.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 52, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 55.

These amendments to what is now Clause 7 of the Bill fulfil another undertaking which I made during Committee stage of the Bill. Clause 7 deals with the procedure for mandatory disqualification from the scheme of people convicted of relevant offences. It provides for them to be disqualified for two or five years, depending on the severity of the sentence which the court imposes in convicting them. There was, however, some confusion about the use of the word "standard" in the Bill as introduced in referring to the periods of disqualification. I said that I would look at the terminology.

These amendments remove the word "standard" from the Bill. This is the approach proposed by my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls when we discussed this point in Committee. I pay tribute to his suggestion. I think that the effect is to clarify the Bill's provisions in a helpful way. I hope that these amendments will clarify our intentions. I beg to move Amendment No. 52.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, we on this side of the House certainly share the Minister's view that this is amore sensible form of words to deal with the situation. We are grateful to him

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister one question. It relates to a case in which a person is sentenced to a period of imprisonment. He may be sentenced to three, four or five years, but he does not normally serve that long. Does the ban relate to the period that is given in the sentence in court or to the date when he is released early from prison?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, there are two points here. First, the two different periods refer to a criminal offence which results in a conviction and imprisonment and to a criminal offence which does not result in imprisonment. I believe that we shall deal with the second point raised by the noble Baroness when we come to Amendment No. 54, and I hope to be able to illuminate the matter for her then.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 53:

Page 5, line 36, leave out from ("be") to end of line 38 and insert ("as is determined in his case under the scheme, and shall be—

  1. (a) not less than six months and not more than two years in the case of offences specified in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (f) and (g) of the Schedule to this Act, or
  2. (b) not less than two years and not more than five years in the case of offences specified in paragraphs (d), (e), (h) and (i) of the same Schedule.

(3A) In the case of a person sentenced to or serving a term of imprisonment, the period of disqualification shall run from his discharge from prison.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, surely Amendment No. 53 seeks, in the phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, to separate the sheep from the goats; in other words, some offences are more serious than others, while others are less serious. In effect, the offences are to be treated in a blanket manner in the Bill. In our amendment we seek to show that there are serious offences and we have tried to categorise them. We sense that the Government are attempting not only to be tough and to write tough, but to act tough. The deterrent element is well understood, although not effected and certainly not accepted.

In the amendment we attempt to ameliorate the punishments that could be meted out in respect of deprivation of membership. As regards the schedule to the Bill, in the light of the various amendments, there is a great raft of what we shall in future know as relevant offences. They are all treated in the same way from the point of view of severity. Once they are held to berelevant offences, any challenge to their being relevant will be dismissed or lost and they will be found to stick; the offences will then be as in the Bill. However, we believe that there is a differentiation as regards severity. We seek to ensure that for some of the offences the period of deprivation shall be not less than six months and not more than two years and for other offences between two and five years. The various offences are listed in the schedule. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I rather hope that my noble friends will consider the amendment. I do not think that they will wish to accept it in its present form, but I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, is quite right to suggest that there should be some differentiation in the way in which the sentences for the various offences are described.

However, I must say that there is one point in the amendment that worries me a good deal; namely, the statement of minimum offences of not less than six months and in the other case of not less than two years. In order that the courts may have the desirable flexibility to achieve justice in sentencing each offender, Parliament has generally refrained from stating minimum offences, especially in respect of imprisonment. Occasionally, minimum fines have been stipulated, but very rarely. We should be a little careful before we stipulate minimum sentences of imprisonment, especially for as long as two years. However, in principle I believe that the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, deserves further thought and I shall be interested to hear what my noble friend has to say.

Lord Monson

My Lords, as someone whose name is to the amendment, I welcome the strong support in principle of the noble Lord, Lord Renton. He appeared to suggest that the amendment does not go far enough by providing minimum sentences.

The unusual rigidity of the present formula seems to show a distressing lack of faith in the ability and commonsense of the courts. One individual could have been sentenced to one day's imprisonment for a football related offence possibly because he had no money on him and no prospect of getting any to pay a fine. Another individual could have been sentenced to a fine of, say, £250 for another offence, which in all probability would have been a much more serious offence. The first individual would automatically be treated much more harshly than the second if the amendment under discussion or a similar amendment is not agreed to.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, we are not talking about imprisonment for offences; we are talking about deprivation of membership of the scheme for various offences. In the schedule the relevant offences are listed.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton. This is all mixed up with what comes into Clause 5(2). I confess that that is what led me astray.

The noble Lord is correct. Disqualification can be for minimum periods. We have shown reluctance to make minimum periods of disqualification even in the case of motoring offences. It is a pretty tough thing to do. Although I was wrong in referring to sentences, I still say that we need to be careful about periods of disqualification as long as two years.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I welcome some of what the noble Lord, Lord Renton, said and the fact that he felt it right—I agree that it is—to speak for the second time to the amendment. I am sure that that will be noted by the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, who is concerned about Members making more than one speech on Report

I was worried for a moment that the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, and I were recommending minimum periods of imprisonment. I was alarmed in case inadvertently we had strayed on to such a thoroughly undesirable path.

In fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Renton, now recognises, we are speaking of a period of disqualification. I think it will be found that there are indeed periods of disqualification for offences under some parts of the road traffic Acts. I note that the noble Lord nods in agreement.

I wish to ask the Minister one question to which I should know the answer myself but do not. We appear to be discussing amendments that are alternatives. The first lines of Amendments Nos. 52 and 53 are addressed to precisely the same line of the Bill. I may be wrong in this. Perhaps the matter can be cleared up. It may be for the convenience of the House to be told whether we can continue on this course or whether they are indeed alternatives.

Lord Kilbracken

My Lords, as Amendment No. 52 has been accepted, it does not seem sense to agree to Amendment No. 53; in fact, it will rot be possible to do so.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, I am sure that the Minister will deal with that in his reply.

I have a question with which I hope he can deal. Does the reference to sentence cover suspended sentences as well as sentences that are actually carried out? There is a difference. It would be interesting to have the Minister's view on whether a suspended sentence carries the same penalty as one that is actually served.

My second point is one that I made in Committee. I dislike both Amendment No. 52 and Amendment No. 53. We are into the business here of punishing people twice for the same offence. That cannot be right. It means that an individual is told that for an offence he is sentenced to a certain period of imprisonment. After he has completed the period of imprisonment, he may reform himself, become a better person and no longer want to involve himself in football hooliganism or in hooliganism of any kind. Despite the fact that he is a reformed character, he is then told that he may not attend a football match for a period of two to five years. That would be very unfair. Indeed, it would be against the practice of British justice.

Although I do not expect the Minister to reply to what I am saying now, it is a serious matter and I urge him to discuss that aspect of the Bill with his right honourable friend. It may well be that we are going too far in this respect and that the Government might wish to retract on this point.

Lord Monson

My Lords, would the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, not agree that his arguments about the dangers of punishing people twice apply with even greater force to the provisions of Part II of the Bill?

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, indeed, yes, I think that that is so. It is one of the problems that we find in the Bill. I hope that the Government will consider Part II as well as this part in that respect.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, we shall come to Part II shortly. The amendment would affect significantly the way in which the Bill proposes to deal with people convicted of a relevant criminal offence. The Bill provides that if someone is convicted of an offence as listed in the schedule, he should be disqualified automatically from membership of the scheme for five years if he is sentenced to a term of immediate imprisonment, and for two years if any other sentence is imposed. The court is required to notify the FMA of the conviction, and the FMA will set the date on which the disqualification is to begin under the scheme.

Perhaps I may refer here to Amendment No. 69 in my name, which we shall consider later. If fulfils my promise in Committee to provide for advance notification and appeals in relation to a declaration of relevance. I said that I would con3ider such an amendment when we discussed the procedure for disqualification in Committee, and I am happy to be able to provide one.

Amendment No. 53 would weaken the Bill's provisions in this respect. It would weaken them less than the amendments which the noble Lord moved in relation to this clause in Committee, but it would nonetheless weaken them significantly.

In the first place, it would weaken the powerful element of deterrence which the Bill offers. If the Bill is enacted as drafted, a potential hooligan will know that if he is convicted for a relevant offence, he will be disqualified for a minimum of two years. If his offence is serious enough to warrant a prison sentence, he will face certain disqualification for five years. These are real deterrents to deal with real hooligans; to deal with the people—the criminals, I should say, since we are talking of those convicted of a criminal offence—whom we all want to keep away from our football grounds.

In place of these deterrents, the Opposition have proposed three major changes here from the Government's proposals. First, the period of disqualification would not be fixed. It would be at the discretion of the FMA, within set limits. Secondly, it is the type of offence that would determine the length of disqualification, rather than the severity of the sentence. Thirdly, the actual length of disqualification would be less than the Government propose in a significant numbers of cases—as little as six months in some cases.

This could mean that someone found guilty of a serious offence such as inciting racial hatred, which the Opposition apparently consider a "lesser" offence, and sentenced to a prison term might be disqualified from membership for only six months. Anyone sentenced to a prison term following conviction for one of the "lesser" offences, as proposed by the Opposition, could be disqualified for as little as six months under this amendment. I do not believe that this is the right way to distinguish between different groups of convicted offenders. It is better, as the Bill does, to determine the length of disqualification by reference to the severity of the sentence. Those guilty of an offence serious enough to warrant a prison sentence should be banned for five years.

The amendment proposes another change from the Bill's provisions in relation to the start of the period of disqualification. The amendment proposes that disqualification should begin from the date that someone sentenced to prison is discharged. The trouble with this approach—and I have sympathy with the intention—is that the FMA may not know when someone was discharged from prison. It has seemed to us better to allow the FMA to set the date of the beginning of the period of disqualification, under the scheme and at the same time we need to be able to avoid the possibility that a period of disqualification could be used up while someone was in prison. This is an issue that we need to discuss further with the FMA. However, I am not sure that the solution proposed in the amendment is the right one. I shall consider this aspect further but can offer no commitment to amend the Bill in relation to it.

The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, questioned me specifically on the point of suspended sentence. The division will be that if it is a wholly suspended sentence it will be two years. If it is partially suspended, it will be five years. I was slightly surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is not supporting the Government on this amendment. On Monday he said: We hate football hooliganism and we would be prepared to support the most oppressive measures against football hooliganism and the football hooligans".—[Official Report, 10/4/89: col. 75.] We are now discussing an amendment that will weaken the provisions that the Government have put into the Bill which, I remind noble Lords, are rather weaker than the provisions that the football authorities wanted themselves.

I hope that I have explained why I believe that the approach that the Bill takes in dealing with convicted offenders is the right one. We need a powerful deterrent to deter potential hooligans. The amendment would weaken that deterrent and it would distinguish between groups of offenders on a basis that is less appropriate than the one that the Bill uses. On that basis, I ask the noble Lords whether they would consider withdrawing their amendment.

Lord Monson

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he agree with my contention that a fine of £250 is a much more severe sentence than a sentence of one day's imprisonment?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, we are discussing the fundamental basis of the deterrent that we feel is right. As I explained earlier—and I shall repeat again—it is very straight forward. We are half-way between what the Opposition amendment wants and what the football authorities wanted. We believe that we have to have a firm deterrent. We are talking about a deterrent which is based on people who have been convicted of a criminal offence.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, the Government create the criminal offences. Relevant offences are created here. To avoid any dispute, those that we believe ought to carry the heavier sentence of deprivation of membership are in the schedule that deals with threats of violence. The term "threats of violence" applies to four of those under paragraph (b) of my amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is certainly not out of order. He recognises that someone who uses a threat of violence to the person or to property, or in any other way, needs to be dealt with differently from someone who is, for instance, attempting to enter without a membership card. In my view that is a less serious offence than someone who threatens somebody with violence. If one talks about carrying alcohol on coaches or trains, we believe that it is a less onerous offence than someone who is using a threat of violence.

My noble friend also raised the point about a suspended sentence. We recognise that violence needs to be dealt with. The football hooligan needs to be dealt with. Our complaint about the Government's attitude to this Bill is this. The Minister used these words more than once. He wants this to be a deterrent. He wants it to frighten. In my view, he has taken a sledge-hammer to crack a nut. It is not necessary. It is certainly necessary to punish or to chastise but not uniformly and globally in the way that the Minister puts forward. I believe that my amendment is eminently reasonable. I intend to press it.

7.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 53) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents 25; Not-Contents, 45.

Airedale, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. [Teller.] McNair, L.
Monson, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Mulley, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Craigavon, V. Ponsonbv of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Dormand of Easington, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Ezra, L. Scanlon, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Shackleton, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Hampton, L. Tordoff, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Underhill, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Abinger, L. Henley, L.
Arran, E. Hesketh, L.
Beaverbrook, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Belstead, L. Hooper, B.
Bessborough, E. Kenilworth, L.
Blatch,B. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Long, V.
Burton, L. Mancroft, L.
Butterworth, L. Milverton, L.
Caithness, E. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Carnock, L. Mountevans, L.
Colwyn, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Cox, B. Nelson, E.
Craigmyle, L. Orkney, E.
Davidson, V. [Teller.] Rankeillour, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Reay, L.
Dundee, E. St. John of Bletso, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Ferrers, E. Strathclyde, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Swinfen, L.
Grantchester, L. Teviot, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Trafford, L.
Wise, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

7.52 p.m.

[Amendment No. 54 not moved.]

The Earl of Arran

My Lords, I beg to move that further debate on Report on the Football Spectators Bill be now adjourned until after the Second Reading of the Southampton Rapid Transit Bill, which in any case will not be resumed before 8.40 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

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