HL Deb 14 March 1989 vol 505 cc163-223

House again in Committee on Clause 5.

[Amendment No. 63 not moved.]

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 64:

Page 4, line 47, at end insert— ("(4C) A membership card issued under sections 5(2)(h) and 5(3)(b) shall become the property of the holder and may be demanded for inspection only when the holder wishes to obtain entry to a football match.").

The noble Lord said: In the pre-Bill publicity and arguments it was suggested that the police or stewards would be able to confiscate the cards of alleged troublemakers; in other words, they would be able to take them away. That instant disqualification is in our view unnecessary and arbitrary, as anyone causing trouble at a match is liable to be arrested and will be disqualified if the offence warrants it.

The amendment would also deny the police the right to see the cards of those approaching the ground. The Bill does not envisage such a procedure and it should not be allowed to happen by default. In other words, we are mindful of the possibility—no more than that—that there may be some over-zealous policemen or stewards who see it as their prime responsibility to stop trouble before it starts. Quite frankly, people must be given some licence in order to be able to approach the ground and to get into it. Moreover, they should be allowed to hang on to something which is a personal possession; namely, the card. Of course such people will lose their cards if the courts, or the tribunal procedures under the FMA, say so. I beg to move.

Lord Hesketh

This Amendment has two effects: the first to determine that a membership card is the property of its holder; the second to stipulate that a card can be inspected only when the holder wishes to obtain entry to a match. The Minister for Sport's working party took the view that membership cards should remain the property of the body which issued them—the Football Membership Authority—or that the authority might wish to pass ownership to the club. In making this proposal, the working party had it in mind that it should be possible to withdraw cards from those who are disqualified from membership in the interests of limiting the number of invalid cards in circulation. That strikes me as a sensible proposition.

The effect of the second half of the amendment is very different. It would restrict severely the circumstances in which a membership card could be demanded for inspection. I understand the noble Lord's wish to prevent such demands from occurring in circumstances unconnected with football. But the amendment would remove the possbility for the police or the club stewards to require, under the terms of the scheme, to inspect the card inside football grounds at times when it was wholly right to do so.

Clause 2 of the Bill makes it an offence to enter or to attempt to enter or to remain in a ground during a designated match except as authorised by the scheme. If this offence is to be enforced effectively, it is essential that membership cards should be available for checking not only at the point of entry to grounds but inside them as well. Even more important, the police and stewards need to be able to invoke the rules of the scheme to enable them to check the cards of those who may be involved in disorder inside the grounds. One of the great benefits which the scheme offers to effective policing is the way in which it will enable the police to identify troublemakers inside football grounds by their membership cards.

The football representatives on the Minister of Sport's working party put such emphasis on the importance of this point that they recommended that it should be a criminal offence for anyone to fail to produce his or her card on demand to a police officer or authorised officer inside the ground or to a police officer outside the ground or upon arrest for a football-related offence. They also argued that it should be an offence for anyone to fail to surrender his or her card when ordered to do so by a police officer in or around the ground.

The Bill does not create these offences. The Government believe that it is more appropriate that it should be a condition of the scheme that members should be required to show their cards on the demand of an authorised person inside the ground; and as a requirement of the scheme, this condition will apply only inside football grounds, not away from them. We accept that there will be no requirement on people to produce their cards away from grounds. But it is essential that the police should not be prevented from inspecting membership cards inside grounds if we are to deter people from trying to attend matches without joining the scheme and to enable the police to identify those whom they may arrest inside the ground. We believe that the amendment could weaken seriously the effectiveness of the scheme and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, will feel able to withdraw it.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I think that I understand some of what the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, has just said. Indeed, I accept what he said about the police or a steward having the right to look at a card within the ground. However, I am not clear about this aspect. If in fact the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, dealt with the situation both in terms of obtaining entry and in terms of requiring a person to show the card to the police within the ground, does that meet his objections?

I am concerned that a steward who does not understand the limits of his responsibilities will, in certain circumstances, confiscate a card. If a policeman were to do so, he could render himself open to a complaint which would be investigated under the police disciplinary processes. However, stewards are in an entirely different category; indeed, they are accountable to no one. I must say that I am troubled about this matter. I can see an over-zealous steward deciding to confiscate a card and I consider that situation totally unacceptable because it would be done without any form of due process.

I am not asking the noble Lord to commit himself on the matter but I hope that he will consider it between now and the Report stage. I do not think that there is a massive gulf in principle between us, but there is a matter of some concern here and if he would undertake to look into it I should be most grateful.

Lord Hesketh

I should very much like to read what the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said on the matter so that I may consider the points he made.

Lord Winstanley

I welcome what the noble Lord said in response to the point made by my noble friend about the possible confiscation of cards by a steward, and so on. Indeed, I think that what he said is most reassuring. However, the noble Lord said in his earlier answer that the Government had no intention of requiring or demanding the inspection of these cards other than inside the football ground, or outside the football ground; in other words, other than in connection with a football match. I heard the noble Lord say that, but where does it appear in the Bill?

Lord Hesketh

I said inside the ground; I did not mention outside the ground.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I think that the noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, misheard what was said. Indeed the Minister was most clear on the matter and satisfied one of my points; namely, that inspection of the cards shall not be sought other than inside the ground, and not outside. However, the noble Lord has made a valid point: who in actual fact said that that is how it will operate? I am sure that the Minister is telling us that it is in the mind of the Government that when the FMA is established that is one of the conditions which it will lay down. Indeed, I can see that.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has made a most sensitive point about the extent to which football fans, the vast majority of whom are sensible, will react to demands to see cards from people who are wearing a uniform or from people who are doing their best but who have not got the full backing of the law. Nevertheless, like the Minister, I shall read what has been said. He has certainly taken away the sting from one of my main arguments; that is, that it would be absolutely reprehensible that this should apply to people who were behaving in a way which may be seen by the police to demand their inquiries near to a football ground but who may very well not be part of a football scene; in other words, they were walking up the high road and yet were asked to produce their cards. It is not ipso facto a fact of life that, if you are in Tottenham High Road between 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock on the day of a big football match, you are going to or, indeed, are part of the football scene.

However, I take the point that the whole basis of the Bill is that if a person is involved in trouble the police will then have the right to say that they want to see that person's card. If he does not have a card, he is in real trouble; and if he has a card that he should not have, he could be in trouble. If the card is invalid, it is a means of identification. Because of the one in 10,000 instances where that may prove to be necessary, the other 9,999 spectators must carry a card. That is ridiculous; but I shall read what the Minister said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to Clause 5(5), which lays down: any person commits an offence who, for the purpose of being admitted to membership of the national football membership scheme—

  1. (a) makes a statement which he knows to be false or misleading … or
  2. (b) produces, furnishes … or otherwise makes use of a document which he knows to be false or misleading in a material particular",
and so on. A number of chief officers of police have expressed concern about this matter. Their concern is not about the existence of the provision but about who precisely will be responsible for investigating the matter.

Police resources are extremely limited. Many chief officers who have substantial limitations on their manpower and who have major crimes to investigate do not want to find themselves being sucked into a number of criminal inquiries on this matter. Their view is that if the scheme proceeds and the clause remains unamended, the matter is one for the FMA and not the police. We are talking about crime. The FMA can lay an information against an alleged offender. As I have said, it is the view of a number of chief officers of police that that is how the subject should be dealt with. They are concerned that they should not be asked to take on yet another responsibility which could be manpower intensive in a number of respects. I hope that the Minister will say that on this point they are pushing at an open door.

Lord Hesketh

If it has evidence of a criminal offence, the FMA, like any private individual or body, should present it to the police. The police will then report the person for summons if they consider that appropriate, but the conduct of the proceedings will be taken over by the independent Crown Prosecution Service. There is nothing to prevent the FMA from taking a private prosecution. The normal procedure would be as I have outlined. However, I should like to study further what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I am obliged to the Minister. As I have said, there is serious concern about this matter. It is the view of many of those to whom I have referred that this is primarily a question for the FMA. The sheer pressure on police resources at present is substantial. They do not want to find themselves being pushed into investigating offences of this character. They take the view that it is a matter that the FMA can take the major responsibility for pursuing. The Minister has said that he will consider the point, and I hope that he will. I can assure him that the police service is seriously concerned about this subject.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I support what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said about the police concern over the manpower implications. The police would need further resources to police the Bill. The Home Office is denying county police forces the number of policemen that they require at the moment. For instance, I have a letter from the Cambridgeshire County Council Director of Administration to Mr. Moynihan, which states: Cambridgeshire has two Fourth Division football clubs—Peterborough United and Cambridge City". He continues to talk about the scheme, and on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, relating to police unease he says: The Council believes that rather than proceed with the introduction of the scheme, the Government would be better advised to ensure that police manpower levels were increased to enable the police to better control the situation outside football grounds. In this respect the Council has noted with some disappointment the recent decision of the Secretary of State for Home Affairs to authorise only 15 of the 40 additional police officers requested by the police authority". The noble Lord, Lord Harris, raised the subject on clause stand part. I want the Minister to take on board the fact that we shall hear more about the police attitude to this matter.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 65:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause:

("Criteria for phased introduction of scheme.

. The administrator's investigation and report referred to in section 5(1)(aa) above shall examine in particular whether the phasing of the scheme should be achieved on the basis of one or more of the following—

  1. (a) ground capacity;
  2. (b) present membership of the club;
  3. (c) average attendance at home games over the past three seasons.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment was spoken to with the amendments accepted on the first day of the Committee. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 [Disqualification for membership of scheme]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Grantchester)

I have to announce that if Amendment No. 66 is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 66A to 68 inclusive.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 66:

Page 5,1ine 18, leave out subsections (2) to (9) and insert—

("(2) A court by or before which a person is convicted of a relevant offence or, if a person convicted of such an offence is committed to it to be dealt with, the Crown Court on dealing with him for the offence, may make an order (membership disqualification order) disqualifying him from becoming or continuing to be a member for the national football membership scheme.

(3) No membership disqualification order may be made unless the court is satisfied that making such an order in relation to the accused would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with designated football matches.

(4) The offences relevant for the purposes of subsection (2) above are those specified in the Schedule to this Act as relevant offences with a declaration of relevance.

(5) A membership disqualification order may only be made—

  1. (a) in addition to a sentence imposed in respect of the offence of which the accused is (or was) convicted; or
  2. (b) in addition to a probation order.

(6) Membership disqualification order may be made as mentioned in subsection (4)(b) not withstanding anything in sections 2 and 13 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 (which relate to probation orders).

(7)(a) A membership disqualification order shall have effect for such period as is specified in the order.

  1. (b) The period shall be not less than three months, or in the case of a person already subject to such an order, not less than three months plus the unexpired period of the earlier order or, if there is more than one earlier order, of the most recent order.
  2. (c) The period shall not be more than twelve months or, in the case of a person already subject to such an order, a total aggregate of eighteen months.
  3. (d) In the case of a person sentenced to or serving a term of imprisonment, the period shall run from his discharge from prison.

(8) The court shall, on making the order in relation to the accused, explain its effect on him.

(9) Where a court makes a membership disqualification order, the clerk of the court (in the case of a magistrates court) or the appropriate officer (in the case of the Crown Court) —

  1. (a) shall give a copy of it to the person to whom it relates;
  2. (b) shall (as soon as reasonably practicable) send a copy of it to the administrator of the scheme and to the chief officer of police for the police area in which the offence was committed;

(10)(a) A person may appeal against both the court's declaration of relevance and the making of a membership disqualification order under subsection (2) above.

(b) In section 10(3) of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 (appeals against sentence by Crown Court) in paragraph (3), after sub-paragraph (iii) there shall be inserted "or (iiia) a membership disqualification order under section 6 of the Football Spectators Act 1989").

The noble Lord said: Those who follow the Bill closely will see that the amendment removes a substantial chunk from the Bill and inserts a comparable number of matters. The amendment's raison d'etre is to remove the present mandatory disqualification on the membership of a person convicted of a football-related offence.

In many situations there is discretion, latitude or flexibility. The Bill provides that a person convicted of a football-related offence will be automatically disqualified. In the amendment we say we want to give the court rather than the FMA the discretion to order disqualification. Only the courts will hear the full facts of the case and it is therefore appropriate that the courts be given the power to sentence according to the nature of the offence.

I also want to say something about the period of disqualification. It should be more flexible. In other words, it should not be less than three months—the present minimum figure for exclusion orders—and not more than 12 months. Again, the disqualification needs to be related to the nature of the offence. The fourth matter we seek to introduce is to allow appeals against a court's declaration that an offence is relevant and the making of a membership disqualification order. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

As the noble Lord, Lord Graham, pointed out, the amendment proposed would replace most of Clause 6 with a significantly weaker provision. Clause 6 concerns the disqualification from membership of people who are convicted of relevant offences. Relevant offences are defined in the schedule to the Bill to include offences which are committed at football matches and offences which are committed en route to football matches, subject in the latter case to the courts making a declaration that the offences are relevant.

Under Clause 6 as drafted a convicted hooligan who is sent immediately to prison for his offence would receive an automatic ban of five years. A person who receives a non-custodial sentence on conviction is banned automatically for two years. It is for the administrator appointed as the FMA to set the date on which the ban is to begin in the scheme.

It has been suggested that these are tough penalties, but football hooliganism is a tough problem, the football representatives on the Minister of Sport's working party would have preferred longer bans. We are, after all, talking about people who are convicted of a criminal offence. If a football-related offence is serious enough to warrant the offender being sent immediately to prison, it is equally reasonable that he should be banned automatically from attending a football match for five years. If the offence is a lesser one and a prison sentence is not involved, a shorter period of disqualification is appropriate. But the person concerned has nevertheless been convicted of a criminal offence and a two-year ban is appropriate. These are the people whom we must keep away from our football grounds. For far too long hooligans have been allowed to ruin the game for law-abiding spectators.

The exclusion order provisions of the 1986 Public Order Act, which the amendments of the noble Lord, resemble, had some effect but they did not go far enough. Where exclusion orders were served, it was often for relatively short periods. The hooligans were soon able to return and cause trouble again. I am not criticising the courts; they operate the law as Parliament makes it.

This amendment would curtail significantly the penalties available under the Public Order Act since it would impose a maximum of 12 months where the Act itself imposes no maximum. This is simply not enough of a deterrent or punishment to bring about the end of football hooliganism.

Clause 6 provides for disqualification from membership to follow automatically on conviction for a relevant offence. In that respect, it differs from the Public Order Act, which gave the courts discretion as to whether to impose an exclusion order. It differs from the Public Order Act in that it introduces an element of certainty in the penalty that football hooligans will face. They will know that if they are convicted of a relevant offence they will have all the normal rights of convicted people to appeal against their conviction. But if the conviction stands they will be banned from attending a football match for two or five years depending on the sentence which the court imposes.

I believe that the approach which Clause 6 takes is essential if the Bill is to succeed in deterring hooliganism. The amendment would weaken that effect because it would shorten the length of disqualifcation following conviction and remove the automatic link between conviction and disqualification.

There is, however, one aspect of the amendment with which I have some sympathy. That is the proposal to allow a convicted person to appeal against a declaration of relevance. As the Bill is drafted, certain offences are treated as relevant for the purposes of disqualification only if the court declares them to be relevant. The offences concerned are those which occur when the accused or the victim is en route to or from a football match. There may be genuine doubt in such cases as to whether the offence concerned is relevant to football or has some other cause altogether—hence the requirement for a declaration of relevance.

I have argued that it is right that disqualification from membership should follow automatically if someone is convicted of a relevant offence. The offender has the right to appeal against his conviction and against his sentence. Since it will be for the court to decide whether a declaration of relevance should be made in appropriate cases, I accept that it is also right that an offender should have the right to appeal against the making of such a declaration. I also accept that the defendant must have advance warning that the court will be asked to make a declaration that the offence of which he or she is accused is relevant to football. We will consider how best to provide for these points.

I believe that to provide for an appeal against a declaration of relevance in the way I have just described could improve the Bill. It is certainly a possibility that I wish to consider further. I am always keen to improve the Bill where possible, as the noble Lord, Lord Graham, knows well. The rest of the amendment we believe would not improve the Bill. It would weaken it significantly. I invite the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am grateful for small mercies. What the Minister has said in his concluding remarks indicates that we have drawn to his attention—though perhaps not originally—and we have confirmed in his mind and those of his advisers that there is a lacuna in the Bill in respect of that narrow point. It is something which needs to be corrected. We all have our definition of terms.

The Minister is also quite correct; the series of amendments weakens what we consider to be the punitive nature of that part of the Bill. I believe that many of the people who will be convicted will not be beyond redemption. As regards an offence which carries a five-year sentence, disqualification from driving or being confined inside prison for five years is an inordinately long time. I can understand the thinking of the Minister and his colleagues; it does not surprise us. But this is not a short, sharp shock; it is a long, sharp shock. In other words, a man has offended, he has been found guilty and he will suffer. That is one way in which we can seek to bring good order and discipline into a situation which the Minister believes requires that.

I honestly do not think that the nature of these offences merits that punishment. I am not talking about violence, which in certain instances will occasion grievous bodily harm and damage to property. I am talking in terms of the ability to take what I consider to be a sensible view. I know what the Minister wishes to do from the outset. He wishes to put the fear of the Government into us, the fear of penalties. The Government put the fear of something else into me at times when we look at how they are performing. They wish to frighten people off. I think that will help to bring the Bill into disrepute. The wording is far too strong and disproportionate to what I believe will be the situation. The Minister talks in terms of exclusion orders not having taken off. In 1987–88, 1,000 exclusion orders were issued. In my view, an exclusion order is the litmus paper to test whether someone has really offended against the code.

The Minister mentioned 6,000 arrests. That was significant. He was trying to frighten people by suggesting that was the real state of affairs. However, only 1,000 people finally appeared in court and had an exclusion order served against them. That latter figure is a much better test of the real situation. I shall read what the Minister has said. Clearly there is a sharp difference of opinion between the Minister, myself and those outside the Chamber whose views I seek to represent. I shall read the Minister's words very carefully. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, now wishes to be helpful to the Minister.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I do indeed hope to be helpful. I hope the Minister will consider one rather bizarre element of the Bill as currently drafted. Admittedly in a minority of cases, and admittedly in relatively unusual cases, a judge may wish to indicate his approach to a case before him by giving a man who has been convicted a nominal one day's imprisonment. The noble Lord will recognise that in that case the man would be banned from entering any football ground for five years.

In the next case before him, the judge may take a more serious view. He may say that he has decided to make a probation order against the accused for a period of three years. In that case, the person would be banned for a period of two years. That raises some substantial questions regarding whether that is sensible. However, I have made my point and I shall leave it at that.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Before my noble friend decides what he is going to do with the amendment, I must say that I am very concerned about what we are doing in this matter of football and football hooligans. We seem to be treating them entirely differently from any other section of society. I think, for example, of a person who goes into Marks and Spencer, steals a jacket, goes to make off with it but is stopped by a shop assistant whom he then beats up in a most violent way. That person goes to court and he is sentenced to two years' imprisonment. That is the end of it. When he comes out of prison, there is no ban on his going to shop at Marks and Spencer. Why are we here imposing a double penalty on football hooligans? That cannot be right.

I have heard the Government argue on several Bills in this way. On the Police Bill in 1976, when I was the Whip, the Opposition in that case argued that one must not put the police in double jeopardy. But it seems to me that the double jeopardy principle applies very much in the case of this Bill and in the case of this clause. I do not think the amendment of my noble friend goes nearly far enough. However, it offers something in mitigation. I hope that the Government will take the point of double jeopardy and double punishment very much into consideration. We are entitled to have equity before the law. This does not give equity before the law. It makes fish of one and fowl of another. It is entirely wrong.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

We shall not make any more progress on this matter tonight, as I said earlier. We shall read what the Minister said and take advice from those outside the Chamber who will study this very carefully. There is clearly a division of thinking and attitude which we must reflect upon. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 66A and 66B not moved.]

Lord Graham of Edmonton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 67:

Page 5, line 30, leave out from ("offences") to end of line 31 and insert— ("6) A court may not make a declaration of relevance in respect of an offence specified in Schedule I of this Act unless the court is satisfied that making such a declaration in relation to the accused would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with designated football matches.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 67 concerns a declaration of relevance. At least the amendment touches upon that declaration. I know it is not a question of appeals against a provision. However, I would rather not move this amendment now, not only to save the time of the Committee but also to allow me to consider, perhaps with the Minister outside the Committee, whether I can bring back at a later stage my intention here, in the light of what the Minister decides to do with the declaration of relevance matter.

I understood that it was for the convenience of the Committee that we should take Amendments Nos. 90 to 93 with Amendment No. 67. The Minister will see that these relate to the declarations of relevance. I shall not move those in order that we can have a chance to look at what the Minister has done. To be quite clear, I shall not move Amendments Nos. 90 to 93 when we come to them.

[Amendment No. 67 not moved.]

9.15 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 67A:

Page 5,1ine 36, leave out ("standard") and insert ("maximum").

The noble Lord said: This is a reasonably important amendment about the standard period of disqualification applicable to a person who has been convicted. The amendment is to leave out the word "standard" and to insert the word "maximum". The Minister's advisers will certainly have briefed him well on the matter. The purpose is to understand the proper meaning of the word "standard". Although we do not accept what is contained in subsection (7) because we think it very punitive, we want to have an understanding of the word "standard". I beg to move.

Lord Hesketh

This amendment, and Amendment No. 66B which was not moved, take us over ground we have covered in other proposed amendments to Clause 6. The clause as drafted provides that there should be two standard periods of disqualification from the scheme for convicted offenders. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, is primarily concerned to have the answer to what the word "standard" means. I had intended to say on Amendment No. 66B that I would be willing to consider the word "standard" and that if it was not considered the best that could be used, I would hope to come back with more satisfactory terminology.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

That is fine so far as it goes. However, this is not just a question of terminology; it is what precisely the Government's objective is. Is the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, saying that he will simply choose a word rather than the word "standard", or is he telling us that he will use a different word because the different word will have a different meaning within the Bill? Perhaps he can help us on that point.

Lord Dean of Beswick

Both my noble friend Lord Graham and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, have made the point that under the Bill people who are found guilty will be dealt with quite arbitrarily with no variations allowed. On other points of law, Members of this Chamber have asked the Government to consider certain courses of action relating to certain crimes. I have always been told by the Ministers involved that all criminals have the same rights within the law.

Some time ago, following a number of very serious crimes of rape—and I am talking about repetitive rape—I argued in your Lordships' House (I also wrote to the Prime Minister on the subject) that rape ought to be considered as a non-paroleable offence. The answer I received from both the Minister in this House, the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, and the Prime Minister, was that you cannot treat a rapist differently from any other criminal. If parole was available, it had to be available to anyone having a prison sentence. Yet here the Government are proposing to deny people who are convicted under the Football Spectators Bill rights which are available to rapists. It takes some believing.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

Why do we need the words "standard" or "maximum" in this clause? Why cannot the clause read "the period of disqualification" without either word?

Lord Hesketh

What my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls has just said is what I was trying rather poorly to explain earlier.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I assume that that means we can look forward to an amendment on this point at Report stage.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I accept the Minister's point. He has been honest enough to say that there have perhaps been second thoughts that the word in the Bill may not be the appropriate one. I shall withdraw my amendment, acknowledging that my word may not be the appropriate one either. Whatever the words on the face of the Bill, we shall be interested to see what the Government intend the word to convey to the ouside world. We hope that the term can be interpreted as allowing a provision along the lines of the amendment to which I have been speaking. The Minister has given us no promise, although he has been gracious enough to say that, if I withdraw my amendment, he will, without commitment, consider what we have said and bring forward an appropriate rewording or an addition to this part of the Bill at the next stage. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 67B and 68 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 69 not moved.]

Clause 7 [Offence of admitting spectators to unlicensed premises]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 70:

Page 6, line 36, leave out ("or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both").

The noble Lord said: This amendment would make the offence of admitting spectators without a membership card a non-imprisonable offence. It takes some doing, but in effect the Bill says to a great many people who already have enough on their plates that a responsible person who admits spectators without a licence or in other circumstances can be found guilty of an offence and consequently subjected to a period of imprisonment.

The Minister explained earlier how that charge can be negatived by pleading that the spectators were admitted without the consent of the person concerned or that he took all reasonable precautions. However, we believe it is absolutely horrendous that the punishment of imprisonment should be visited on the kind of people whom we are discussing. The prospect of football club directors being liable to imprisonment for up to two years because non-members have gained entry to their ground and the court considers that their arrangements for preventing entry were inadequate appears draconian. We believe that a fine—I do not say a heavy fine—would be more suitable. We do not believe that such an offence merits a term of imprisonment.

I can see the Minister trying to frighten the hooligan. I can see him trying to frighten the non-hooligan—namely, the 9,999 out of every 10,000 spectators who do not cause any trouble and have an unblemished record. I fail to see why he should extend his frightening powers to those who are trying to run football to the best of their ability. They may very well be at fault in one respect or another, but, given the overcrowding in our prisons, I should not have thought that the Government would want to add to the number of crimes punishable by imprisonment. I admit that it would be a crime because it would be against the law, but I do not believe that imprisonment is the punishment to fit that particular offence. Therefore we want to delete the possibility that a director of a club or someone who is responsible should face the prospect of imprisonment. I beg to move.

Lord Monson

I confess that I had not studied Clause 7 previously. It was only when the noble Lord, Lord Graham, rose to speak that I realised that it was being seriously proposed that a person might be sentenced to two years' imprisonment for allowing somebody into a football ground. As he said, this is extraordinarily draconian, in particular as football, in one form or another, has been a public spectacle open to anybody for hundreds of years. I urge the Government to think again on this point.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord, Lord Graham, produced a persuasive argument. He said that the Government were trying to frighten people. I think that what he said has even frightened the noble Lord, Lord Monson—so much so that he rose to his feet. Perhaps I may explain the position, because I do not believe that it is all that frightening.

The amendment seeks to reduce the maximum penalty for admission of spectators without a licence by removing the option of imprisonment. This is not a case of the Government wanting to fill the prisons up, as the noble Lord suggested. In the Bill imprisonment is available only on conviction on indictment—that is to say, in the Crown Court. On summary conviction—in other words, in a magis- trates' court—only a fine would be available up to the statutory maximum in the magistrates' court. At present it is £2,000.

The power in subsection (3)(b) to impose a sentence of imprisonment is there to deal with the worst possible cases, namely, the deliberate and repeated admission of spectators by a club with no licence in force. That would not only be a flagrant challenge to the Bill but also to Parliament and to the law. I do not expect this to happen, but Parliament must, I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, have regard to the possibility that it could. I would only make the point that there is an important difference between the maximum sentence that it is necessary to provide in legislation and the actual sentence that courts would be likely to impose in individual cases. The maximum penalty available must be severe enough adequately to punish the most serious case. Sentencing in an individual case would take account of all the circumstances that arise and would normally be much less.

The purpose of having this offence and its proposed maximum penalty is, by deterrence, to help to persuade those who are responsible for running grounds and clubs to keep to the law. One could envisage the scenario of a rogue club which said "We may be prosecuted if we ignore the licensing requirement but it can only end up as a fine and the club will pay that". The penalty would be greatly weakened in its effect if that were so. In such a case the possibility of imprisonment would have a very particular and important part to play both in deterrence and in punishing properly a deliberate and sustained defiance of the scheme.

It is always right to stop and consider whether a maximum penalty is too severe, in particular if it includes imprisonment. I emphasise only that there is a difference between the maximum which could be applied and the level which is likely to be applied. I hope that the Committee will agree that the maximum penalty which is provided is justified. It does not mean to say that it will always be applied.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The noble Earl referred to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, being frightened, and said that he rose to his feet to protest. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, who is well known for his care of individual liberty, is often on his feet when individual liberty is threatened. All the more power to his feet when he does so. If this place is not about that, what on earth is it about? There is no doubt that people are frightened of this kind of provision.

The noble Earl said that we must have this kind of provision to make the Bill workable; that if somebody is told the fine is £2,000 and that the club will pay that, there has to be the draconian possibility of a prison sentence as well. But I point out to the noble Earl that there are other offences far more heinous than this which attract only a fine. I believe that under the Road Traffic Acts, where lorries are not properly roadworthy a fine is the only penalty available. Yet here we say that anybody who cannot show—that is my point—that he inadvertently admitted these spectators to the ground shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for up to two years.

The Bill has been described as a most illiberal measure. The more it is studied, debated and questioned the more it becomes obvious that it is a very illiberal measure indeed. I have a great deal of respect for the noble Earl, but he must understand that many of us are genuinely concerned about the draconian measures contained in the Bill and the draconian punishments which are proposed. He is a decent, honourable, caring man and I implore him to think about what he and the Government are doing. I believe that in the end measures such as this, with such draconian punishments, will undermine the democracy and the rule of law which we all cherish and wish to sustain and improve.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I believe that that kind of contribution is an attack on the courts rather than on the Bill.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon


Lord Harmar-Nicholls

The Bill does not say that everybody who is brought up under its provisions will be sent to prison for two years. It lays it down as a maximum. If it were a minimum or even a guidance, there must be a ceiling on it to prevent it from being completely illiberal. Who knows the circumstances surrounding the detail of such a case? If it is to be left to our courts, I have enough confidence in their interpretation. All they have to adhere to is a maximum. I believe they will use their judgment, as our courts invariably do, to see that the punishment fits the crime, not that it fits the wording of the Bill.

The maximum does not indicate that that is the kind of fine or punishment one would expect to be dished out regularly, if at all. But the courts must be given powers if they are to assert their decisions under the Bill.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

I do not believe that the noble Lord understood what I was saying. It is not a question of the punishment fitting the crime; it is what punishments are available to the court. I was saying that in these circumstances and for this offence the punishment available to the court will be excessive.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

The examples that the noble Lord gave about where they could not go to prison could be wrong. In the light of what is happening in many parts of the country, it may be not that the maximum should be weakened but that the examples he gave to run alongside should be strengthened. There is a good argument for that.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I respond to what the Minister has said with considerable disappointment. Despite all the problems and burdens which they carry in trying to keep football alive, the directors of clubs will be required once the Bill becomes an Act to operate in a certain way. They may not personally carry the responsibility, but as directors they are responsible if one of their servants breaks the licensing law. The Bill provides for "any responsible person", so a director can be certain that in future he will face the possibility of being sent to prison.

I take account of what has been said by the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls. The punishments are open to the courts and in the light of their consideration of the gravity of the offence they will decide on them.

In trying to run the club, I am sure that directors would not have believed that they would be faced with an Act of Parliament which would place upon them duties the contravention of which would carry a term of imprisonment. It is not that they have done anything wrong. They will appear in court as a result of a contravention of the Bill when it becomes an Act. I believe it is sad that the Government are adding to that.

I suggested that because the prisons are already full, we do not wish to add to the burden. However, the Minister is saying that it is a decision for the courts to make. It is up to the Committee and to Parliament to decide whether they wish to give the courts such a power. If they do not have the power, they cannot send people to prison.

The Minister said that he anticipated that the punishment could be inflicted as a result of repeated or deliberate contravention. I cannot believe that there will be many, or any, such contraventions. Once offences have been committed a director or chief executive will appear in court and perhaps be fined up to £2,000. The words spoken by the noble Earl will be part of the history of this matter. It is possible that, if the offence is repeated, the director will be imprisoned. The man would be a fool if he put himself in the position of appearing again before a court with the possibility of a sentence of imprisonment. As my noble friend Lord Stoddart said, this is a sad and disagreeable aspect of the Bill. I shall give way to the noble Earl.

Earl Ferrers

I should like to try to help the noble Lord because he is concerned about the matter. I do not want his concern to be misplaced arid I realise that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is also anxious.

The position is that if a scheme exists there must appear in the Bill penalties applicable to people who deliberately disregard it. If there are no penalties, people will say, "There is no point in having a scheme and we can do what we like".

One must start with the premise that there must be some penalty and, therefore, Clause 7 contains the penalties which will apply. It provides that: if persons are admitted as spectators to, or permitted to remain as spectators on, any premises during a period relevant to a designated football match without a licence to admit spectators being in force, any responsible person commits an offence". In other words, if people who should not be allowed are admitted to football grounds—if the scheme has deliberately been disregarded—an offence has been committed. Even though some Members of the Committee may not like the scheme, it can be agreed that if a scheme exist there must be a penalty.

What happens? A person is charged with an offence under subsection (2). He puts forward a defence if he can show, first, that the spectators were admitted without his consent and, secondly, that he took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of such an offence. That is a defence. If, at the end of all that, he is shown not to have taken all those precautions, then he has committed an offence.

What happens? He is convicted summarily at the magistrates' court. He can receive a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, which I have explained is £2,000. It is very unlikely that a first offence would be charged on an indictment. If he constantly committed the offence then it may be that he would be charged on indictment. Only then would the maximum penalty be imprisonment. That is very unlikely to happen. However, if there was a scenario whereby a person continuously disregarded the scheme, the penalty of imprisonment should be available to the courts. I believe the chances of that taking place are minimal. However, it is only reasonable that if someone is prepared to totally disregard the scheme and the will of Parliament that penalty should be available.

Lord Winstanley

Is the noble Earl in a position to tell the Committee whether the penalty of imprisonment is available to the courts in respect of directors of a football club found to be in breach of the fire or safety regulations? That is a much more serious breach: yet I believe that when the noble Earl looks into the matter he will find that imprisonment is not available in those circumstances.

Earl Ferrers

I do not have the slightest idea of the answer regarding the fire and safety regulations. I am quite happy to find out the answer and to write to the noble Lord. However, that is a totally different matter. Here we are concerned with making a scheme work. We are then concerned with what happens if the people who operate the scheme deliberately prevent it from working and refuse to make it work. I have tried to explain to the Committee that the first penalty will almost certainly be a fine. However, if a person flagrantly disregards the law and believes that the club will pay the fine and therefore it does not matter, then one has to have a higher penalty.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I beg to leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 71:

Page 6, line 41, at end insert ("; but no such licence will be needed for football matches at Wembley Stadium").

The noble Lord said: We have arrived at Wembley. During our discussions we have had an opportunity to consider the nonsense of trying to apply the provisions of the Bill to a stadium like Wembley, with all its manifestations.

The Minister tried earlier to justify the non-exemption of Wembley stadium. Although some exceptions will be made, this matter is an absolute nightmare for the country and for those who administer football to understand. Even if it is difficult, awkward and perhaps capable of causing some distress within the Department of the Evironment, the Minister should concentrate on finding a means of excluding Wembley. It may be that someone has to have egg on his face and that someone has to reflect. But that is the purpose of the Committee stage of a Bill. Powerful cases have been made by my noble friend Lord Northfield, by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and by other Members of the Committee that people who attend football matches at Wembley should not be subject to the provisions of the Bill. I beg to move.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Renton

I have to confess that I have not been a spectator at a first-class football match since attending the Cup Final at Wembley about 30 years ago. Moreover, I have not taken part in the proceedings on this Bill until this moment and therefore I hope the Committee will agree that I approach this amendment with a fresh and open mind.

If the principles of this Bill are sound, which I think most Members of both Houses consider them to be, it is difficult—

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Did the noble Lord say "sound"?

Lord Renton

That is a matter of opinion. I am judging by the operation of the democratic process by which we vote with our feet in both Houses.

Lord Dean of Beswick

I welcome the intervention from the noble Lord, Lord Renton, but he must be aware from the Committee proceedings on this Bill that the Bill has so much support that he is the first to speak in support of it, from either side, other than speakers from the Front Bench.

Lord Renton

With great respect, I do not think that statement is accurate. It pays little regard to the excellent speeches made by my noble friends on the Front Bench.

The point is this. If the principles of the Bill are right and if this discretionary clause is sound in principle, it is difficult to see why exceptions should be made for those matches which take place at Wembley stadium, which is one of our largest football grounds. It would be a mistake to assume that passions are not roused by matches at Wembley stadium. We all know, for example, that matches between England and Scotland arouse passions which take us back hundreds of years to before the Act of Union.

I should have thought that one would need to be especially careful about the granting of licences at Wembley stadium when matches take place which arouse rivalry and passions between the spectators. Therefore, if I may say so, I believe that my noble friends on the Front Bench would be wise to resist this amendment. Frankly, I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, with respect—as I so often do, sometimes agreeing with him—but the case he put forward in favour of this amendment was not a strong one.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Perhaps I may say a few words in welcoming the noble Lord, Lord Renton, to our proceedings. It may be 30 years since the noble Lord has been to a football match but that is not necessarily a reason for disqualification from our debates. I say to him only that unfortunately he has not had the opportunity of being at some of our previous discussions. If he had, I suspect that he would have found it difficult to make the speech he has just made.

The noble Lord would have a good, logical case were all the potential spectators at Wembley to be members of the scheme; but of course we know they are not. The noble Lord referred to issues of ancient history between England and Scotland, but he does not appear to recognise that Scotland is not covered by the Bill.

Lord Renton

Matches in which Scottish teams play in England are covered by this scheme, as I understand it.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

They are not.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

With great respect, if the noble Lord follows the argument, I am sure that he will be able to agree with me at the end that what I have said is factually accurate. Let us discuss the situation that we have already debated, of international matches taking place at Wembley. That is exactly the issue that the noble Lord has just mentioned; namely, England against Scotland at Wembley. If the Bill is not amended, English supporters have to be members of the scheme; Scottish supporters do not have to be members of the scheme. Therefore, if you are a Scot travelling to Wembley to watch the game between England and Scotland; there is no obligation on you to be a member of the scheme. I can assure the noble Lord that that is the position.

What happens? Will there be large notices saying, "Scots enter here"? Notices for the English will appear somewhere else. That is an absurdity and pure farce. Can anyone imagine some of the public order implications of a procedure of this kind? Can one imagine the anger that will affect many young men from England and possibly Wales—we do not yet know the outcome of the Welsh situation—when they see for the first time in the clearest way possible that all young Scots of precisely their age group are going to be allowed in without being members of the scheme? It is absolute nonsense. I know of no other law in this country where there is such a nonsensical provision. There is no precedent whatever. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, has substantial expertise in this matter and I shall be very interested if he wishes to intervene later to tell me that I am wrong. I know of no precedent for such an approach.

That is one issue. Now let us come to the question of the ticket tout, where people buy tickets outside Wembley stadium. In doing so they do not commit a criminal offence. If you buy the right Scottish ticket, it will be possible to get in at the Scottish end of the ground, again without being a member of the football membership scheme. It seems that provisions of this kind are absurd. The most sensible approach for the Government would be to exclude matches at Wembley from the provisions of this scheme.

Some people may be worried about the public order situation at Wembley, as the noble Lord, Lord Renton, implied by his intervention. He will be surprised to hear that last year when there was a public order problem there, twice as many Scots were arrested as English—yet the Scots are excluded from the scheme. What is the justification for that? It may be that the Government's certain lack of popularity in Scotland is one possible explanation for this rather strange approach. There can be few others.

I should like to go on to the interesting question of what happens as regards other international matches at Wembley; for example, against Italy or West Germany. Presumably on the basis of people coming for one match and one match only, all West German supporters will be able to get in without difficulty. I presume that they will have to produce their passports or some other national identity document. Is that a sensible approach? I very much doubt it.

As I have said, there is a whole series of major problems relating to the situation at Wembley. I raised another one earlier, as the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, will be aware: that is, the interesting question of the Sunday Observance Act. At the moment there is a statutory obligation on the authorities at Wembley to have a free gate on Sunday because they cannot require people to pay an entrance fee. Therefore there has to be a free gate.

I believe I asked the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, earlier what the arrangement was to be as regards that matter. Is the free gate to go? Is it consistent with the government scheme or is it not? As the noble Lord has now had at least a week to consider the matter, I am sure that he will be eager to explain it to the Committee. I think I said enough to indicate that there are rather more problems associated with Wembley than the noble Lord, Lord Renton, appeared to imagine.

Lord Northfield

As I indicated on a previous occasion, I have a slight advantage in that I was in charge of running Wembley for at least a couple of years. I saw for myself the problems of running cup finals and other events. The Minister and the Government should realise that Wembley does not have a history of violence. Despite the example mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, Wembley does not have problems of violence. It has not had the troubles that have led to the introduction of the Bill. That is a good starting point. Despite its size and despite the number of people who go to matches there, Wembley has learnt over the years how to handle the bouyancy and exhilaration of the spectators and to channel those feelings into something better than killing or harming each other. I should not like anyone to think that Wembley is a paragon, but it has no reason to have vengeance wreaked upon it.

I should like to see what the FMA recommends about the special problem of Wembley. The FMA will have to have a special study because, as I have made clear, the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, has already misled the Committee into believing that Wembley was consulted on the Bill. It was not consulted, and I should like to put that on the record for the second time. The FMA will need to consult the Wembley authorities and ask about the special problems attached to that great stadium in holding its national and international events. If the FMA then recommends that, because the problems are so hideous and so complicated, it would be much better to find a way out of this morass of difficulty for Wembley, can we have an assurance—this is an important point in view of earlier amendments—that that recommendation will not be vetoed by the Secretary of State? It is important to get that on the record as a background to the kind of study which I suspect the FMA will need to make.

I shall not go over the problems in great detail because they have been mentioned so well by previous speakers. However, we must recognise the unique position of Wembley. First, 90,000 people pour into that stadium on Cup Final day. Imagine the chaos at the turnstiles for a match of that size. Imagine the excitement on that day. The least sign of people being refused entry because they do not have cards will create riots outside the stadium and not inside it. That is the first problem the Government should face. There is such huge excitement on those great days that the trouble is more likely to occur outside as a result of the Bill than inside during the match.

Secondly, with 90,000 people coming into the stadium, imagine the number of staff Wembley will need to have on duty. People will have to examine passports if foreigners come to games. People who do not go to the ordinary matches—I am sorry about that—want to go to Wembley if they can get hold of a ticket. It is a great national occasion to which they will go, perhaps without being definite followers of particular clubs. How are they to get in? We must somehow find a way for them to be guests of whom? Perhaps they could be guests of Wembley, guests of the two cup finalists or guests of the English or Scottish teams, or whatever. How do we cope with the sort of people who come here for this great national occasion, but who are not necessarily regular football supporters or parts of a football crowd?

We should also look again at responsibility. The Bill says that anyone who breaks the law—this is in Clause 7 with which we are now dealing—will have a defence if he or she can prove that reasonable precautions were taken to ensure that people who got in the ground had cards of some kind. Let us pause here for a moment. In some cases that is nothing to do with Wembley, because Wembley does not sell all the tickets for a Cup Final; they are sold by the participating clubs. Therefore, who will be held responsible in the case of Wembley? Will the chairman of Wembley Stadium be sent to gaol because the Liverpool club in the Cup Final allowed a person to enter the ground with one of its tickets who was not a bona fide holder of a membership card? We must know what the responsibility of the administrators of Wembley Stadium is, compared with that of the administrators of the clubs which are playing on that day. That fact is not at all clear in the Bill.

I have heard it said, although I do not know whether it is true, that a Minister of the Crown told the chairman of Wembley Stadium that if something were to go wrong he is the man who would be in gaol. I should like to know whether that is the case, because in many cases it will not be his responsibility at all; it will be the responsibility of some of the people who brought the teams to the stadium and who issued cards to the wrong types of people.

Further, on top of all the chaos at the gates, the dangers of riots outside the ground and the difficulty with the various kinds of people who want to come to Wembley, we have the supreme ridicule of foreigners versus Englishmen. It would seem that the average Englishman who wants to go to the great cup finals or the great international matches is the man who must be penalised and involved in delay, trouble and inconvenience to a great extent, while anyone else will be able to get in the grounds, presumably by some other gate, by just showing a passport, or something else. Is that the way we are going to encourage people to be interested in football, this great national institution, and the great matches that take place?

I shall now make my final point. It is one which I have made before, but I shall make it again. The way out for Wembley is this. If the FMA or the Minister is satisfied that Wembley can produce an agreement or a control system—and it has one—that is satisfactory to its local authority, it should be left alone and not be brought into the provisions of the Bill. Wembley has taken, and is taking, great steps to ensure that that is always the case with everything that happens at the stadium.

I shall not go on any further because the case has already been made out in detail by my noble friends about the kinds of ridiculous events which could occur under the Bill as drafted. I only hope that as I gave warning on the last occasion, in a more general debate, that I would raise these points about Wembley, the Minister has come here this time with some proper answers. Moreover, I hope that he will not fumble over the issue and that he will give us a clear indication that Wembley will in some way be allowed to be excluded from the Bill's provisions.

10 p.m.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, has been most consistent on this point. Right from the beginning, as he is entitled to do, as one who has been in charge of Wembley, he has talked with some authority and some detailed knowledge on the matter. He has put up a very strong argument which shows conclusively that Wembley is a special case. However, having said that, I do not think that the amendment as it stands could be accepted by the Government, because if they accepted it they would in a way be making a nonsense of the Bill.

The amendment suggests that Wembley should not have to have a licence and should be completely outside the Bill; and yet it is where one of the biggest football matches takes place. It is a magnet for the crowds which we say are a problem. The Government have said that we are to have a Bill. The Committee knows my views about its detailed application. If all at once it is said, rather as in Euclid, by a hypothesis that it is not so—we can exclude Wembley as the amendment seeks—that will be asking too much of the Government.

The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, said that Wembley needs special consideration. Some way, short of saying that it need not have a licence, should be found to give it that special consideration which it requires for the reasons that the noble Lord gave. We must be reasonable about this matter. We are parliamentarians. We know how a Bill becomes a statute. To ask the Government to accept the amendment is to ask them to say that their Bill is a nonsense.

Lord Hacking

It is.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

Many people may believe that, but it is unreasonable to expect the Government to say so. Heed should be taken of the effective arguments put forward by the noble Lord, but we should not push the amendment to a Division. It is unreasonable to expect the Government to accept it.

Lord Dean of Beswick

It was interesting to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, indicate the difficulties that Wembley will experience as a result of the Bill. He said that Wembley does not control tickets for the Cup Final. It does not. The FA controls the sale of the tickets. A large proportion goes to the participants in the final, although never as many as they would like, and the rest are distributed by various means. Even the smallest amateur club affiliated to the Football Association can apply for Cup Final tickets. Such clubs usually receive one or two tickets. I know that because I was associated with a club just after the war. People go in ones and twos from small clubs all over the country to attend the Cup Final. They do not have the time to be registered supporters. Some of them are running amateur and youth teams and performing a social service in their area. It is asking too much to expect them to provide an identity card to go to Wembley.

The Cup Final is probably the one match of the year where one oftens finds representatives of another place and this House. How will they be catered for? They have cup tickets. It is no secret. The matter is open. They pay for them. How will they stand?

I asked the Minister a question last week. It is not unknown for the Prime Minister to be invited to present the FA cup. I cannot see the present Prime Minister being invited given the current friction between the Government and the Football Association, but, if she went, how would she gain admittance? Would she have an identity card or would she be invited in as a guest? An overwhelming case is being made out to give Wembley special treatment. It is football's national home. Most people know how Wembley works. It would be unworkable to try to involve Wembley in the scheme. I hope that the Government will have some regard for the amendment, will examine it and will bring it back in a form more acceptable to them. They should do the best they can for the most famous football ground in the world.

Lord Hesketh

This amendment would mean that Wembley stadium need not obtain a licence to admit spectators to designated matches played at Wembley. Its effect would be to exclude international matches and cup finals from the national membership scheme. This would run the risk that the stadium could become a focus for hooligans banned from other matches under the scheme. I remind the Committee that some international matches played at Wembley can be a particular focus for trouble and call for huge police reinforcements to be deployed.

I have explained to the Committee that it is therefore the Government's intention that international matches and cup finals played at Wembley should be designated and the stadium should be licensed. The majority of spectators visiting matches at Wembley will be members of the scheme. We accept that special arrangements could be made to enable foreign visitors, who are not members of the scheme, to attend matches and that that will be a feature of the scheme.

This need not present an insurmountable problem. After all, special segregation arrangements for foreigners are made now at international matches. The Football Membership Authority and the Wembley authorities will wish to consider what checks, if any, should be made on foreign visitors entering at the turnstiles. We should bear in mind here that most foreign supporters will have purchased their tickets abroad and travelled in groups to the match.

I make no apology for the fact that we are looking at the possibility of providing special arrangements in the scheme for Wembley different from those that will be operated at club grounds. Wembley is a unique football stadium. It provides the venue for the England team's home international matches and for the major domestic cup finals. It also stages many other events unconnected with football but which also attract very large and different types of crowds.

I think the sensible course here is to allow the FMA to draw up those special arrangements in consultation with the Wembley authorities and the police. The Minister for Sport has met the Wembley authorities in recent months and so too have his officials. I am sure that consultation between the interested parties as the detailed scheme is being worked up is much the best way of devising sensible arrangements by which Wembley can be fitted into the framework of the membership scheme.

Of course the Government will wish to be satisfied that any arrangements that are proposed in the scheme are as secure as possible. It is important too that the Wembley authorities are held responsible for the efficient and effective operation of such arrangements as are approved. The licensing system will ensure that this is the case.

As regards what may happen if the FMA should recommend that Wembley be excluded, of course we shall consider that recommendation. But our present position is that excluding Wembley would attract hooligans banned from all other matches in the United Kingdom towards that stadium like a magnet. We should need a great deal of persuading that that could be avoided. However, as I have said, we shall listen to any FMA proposal, although I cannot go further than that.

The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, raised the matter of responsibility at an individual match. We cannot hypothesise on what might happen if there were trouble at an individual match because that would depend on the facts of the case. Clause 7(2) allows the licence holder to defend himself on the grounds that he took all reasonable precautions to avoid the commission of an offence. The argument of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, concerned tickets acquired overseas or in Scotland. That would obviously be a very different situation from a club granting a membership card knowingly to someone who would cause trouble. The noble Lord, Lord Harris—

Lord Northfield

Would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I did not raise that point. The problem I raised—perhaps the Minister is coming to it—was that Wembley does not sell the tickets. The tickets are sold to a considerable extent by the participating clubs. I want to be clear as to who will be responsible in the case of a breach of the legislation. Will it be Wembley or the participating club? How do we apportion responsibility between the two?

10.15 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

The Government have agreed that Wembley is a special case. So we cannot definitively pre-judge what the FMA and Wembley will arrive at as their recommendations to go to the Secretary of State. I am sure that the noble Lord will concede that part of the point.

I now return to the Lord's Day Observance Society, a matter which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. I understand that the Sunday Observance Act is concerned with the payment for entertainments on a Sunday. Because of that Act Wembley maintains a free gate, as the noble Lord pointed out, for matches on a Sunday. But the national membership scheme is not concerned with the question of payment for admission. Provided that a spectator is a member or otherwise authorised by the scheme, the terms of the Bill are satisfied. It is entirely up to Wembley, or any other individual club, to admit people free of charge on a Sunday or any other day they wish. The scheme will not prevent that.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, drew to our attention the matter of Scottish and English football supporters. With respect, I point out to him that Scottish and English supporters are segregated at this moment. That segregation is already in force. If the noble Lord is saying that Wembley's present procedures are absurd, I would only say that the situation as regards segregation would probably not change very much. The Bill will allow for special arrangements for matches at Wembley, including matches involving England v. Scotland.

The key to the Government's position is the fact to which the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, very rightly and properly drew our attention—Wembley does not have a history of violence. He is absolutely correct. But what worries the Government is that when suddenly 92 football grounds in this country become off-limits to soccer hooligans, we do not want the focus of attention to be turned on to Wembley Stadium, which might have a most unfortunate result at a ground with a hitherto impeccable record. Therefore, I ask noble Lords to consider withdrawing the amendment.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Does the noble Lord really believe that this great mass of football hooligans who are waiting to demonstrate at some football ground which is outside the scheme will get tickets for the Cup Final, for example? Does he have any idea what he is talking about on this subject? Has he himself ever tried to get tickets for the Cup Final and experienced the substantial difficulties in getting them?

The idea that clubs will say, "Only football hooligans need apply for these tickets", seems to me a little far-fetched. The situation is quite clear. It is extremely difficult to get Cup Final tickets. The problem which has been identified is the risk that the 'Wembley authorities face, given the way in which they sell their tickets. The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, was good enough to say he thought it very unlikely that any director would be sent to prison for two years. But, as far as I am aware, the noble Earl is not a football club director and therefore he does not face a substantial risk in this regard. However, the people on the board at Wembley are concerned about this. They face the risk of being subjected to serious criminal charges if something goes wrong as a result of the way in which tickets are distributed at Wembley.

Let me return now to the position of Scotland v. England matches and indeed to Northern Ireland v. England matches. The Northern Irish are a well-known peaceful group of people who would not consider involving themselves in any violence in any circumstances whatever. They of course are also outside the scheme. Therefore, people from Northern Ireland can get into Wembley without any difficulty, whereas again young men from England cannot.

As I indicated earlier, young men from Scotland can get in without being members of the scheme, whereas young men from England cannot. There have indeed in the past been a number of very unpleasant assaults carried out in motorway service areas and elsewhere. Young hooligans from England have attacked coaches carrying Scottish supporters down to Wembley. A number of cases have been publicised in the press over the last year.

Does the noble Lord not recognise that by making these massive distinctions between people living in different parts of the United Kingdom, he is encouraging precisely the violence which, when we have been discussing other parts of the Bill, he has deplored so vigorously? I can think of nothing more likely to add to tension between young men from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland than the different approach of the Government to international matches.

If these arrangements are not changed there is a real risk that far from lessening the level of violence, the Government's action will sharply increase the level of violence. I hope very much that before making a final decision, the Government will reflect again upon the wisdom of their policy.

Lord Northfield

Before my noble friend speaks from the Front Bench, may I say that it seems I guessed correctly when I forecast that the Minister would say that he is to ask the FMA to make a special study of Wembley. I am much obliged; that will help. I should like to think about what the noble Lord has offered. I note that he said that the Government would need a good deal of persuading-I think those were his words—before they would accept any recommendation from the Committee that Wembley be totally excluded.

I understand the noble Lord's position. I should like to hear from my noble friend on the Front Bench who has been thinking more than most of us about this problem. That would guide us in what we do at the next stage of the Bill. At least we have made one step forward tonight. I hope that our discussions conclude in agreement. I would hate Wembley—if I may coin a phrase—to become the political football on this issue when the whole reputation of a great national institution is at stake. I hope that we can find a solution, but I am still chary of accepting the noble Lord's remark that he will take a good deal of persuading over exclusions.

Lord Winstanley

I wonder how we can possibly come to an agreement in the way the noble Lord has said. I warmly welcome what the noble Lord has said. This is a special case; it must be looked at as a special case. The FMA will be asked to look at it and perhaps come forward with a scheme. That I welcome. But we will never see that scheme; so how can we come to an agreement? We are being asked to withdraw this amendment because, clearly, it cannot be applied to Wembley. The FMA is to be asked to devise a scheme which it will submit to the Secretary of State who will approve it or not approve it. We will never see it, so how can we come to the kind of amicable agreement that the noble Lord hopes we will arrive at?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

We have had a good debate. When the history of the Committee's proceedings is looked at, those who are concerned about the future of Wembley can be satisfied that we have done our level best. I am grateful to the Minister for using words I cannot recall having heard earlier; namely, that Wembley is a special case, that it is unique. He talked at earlier stages about the peculiarities and the difficulties. However, if he recognises that Wembley is special and unique, the very least we can expect is that the solution for Wembley will be special and unique, too. Whether it will be acceptable to the FMA, to Wembley or to football in general, we will have to wait and see.

I was interested that the Minister, stung by the words of my noble friend Lord Northfield that no consultation had taken place, was able to refer to some meetings between the Minister for Sport and Wembley. I am not privy to any of these things but one of the sadnesses is that there are groups of people who could have made a good contribution to the shape of the Bill if there had been meaningful discussions beforehand.

It is quite clear that the Minister's aspirations for the future of Wembley would not have seen the light of day unless we on this side of the House had pressed him. The noble Lord is right. I shall withdraw the amendment. I am touched by the faith of the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, in the Minister's ability to accept the outcome of considerations by the FMA. We firmly believe that it is possible for the Football Association and the Football League, which will form the FMA, and the Wembley directorate to hammer out something that is not only acceptable to them but seeks to interfere as little as possible with the integrity of the Bill.

The Minister has said more than once that he is concerned above all to maintain the integrity of the Bill. However, against that background—given that we are seeking a special, unique and separate way of dealing with Wembley—I believe that this is about as far as we have to go. Let us assume that the Wembley people—that is not an offensive phrase—work hard, that they convince the FMA that their case for being allowed to opt out has been substantially made, and that the FMA buys it and recommends the proposal as part of its scheme. It would be a deplorable act on the part of the Minister, who wants the scheme to work, to superimpose his will on the method of its working which will have been arranged by the FMA and Wembley.

We have gone as far as we can tonight on this matter. I recognise that the Minister has given a great deal of thought to how best to satisfy us with regard to this amendment. He has done as much as he can tonight and I am very grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Licences to admit spectators: general]:

[Amendment No. 72 not moved.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Licences to admit spectators: revocation and suspension]:

[Amendment No. 72A not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [The licensing authority]:

[Amendment No. 72B not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 10 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Northfield

I wish briefly to press a point that I raised earlier. This clause sets up the licensing authority. As the clause reads, that body appears to be entirely a creature of the Secretary of State. The clause states that the Secretary of State shall appoint those persons and that the terms of appointment shall be agreed by him. He shall give them directions, "whether general or specific", regarding their functions. Clause 10(3) states that it shall be a duty of the authority to comply with any such direction. The remainder of the clause is not relevant to the point that I wish to make.

I want to know whether, if the measure becomes the vehicle for licensing—I realise that this is only one of the options available as a vehicle for licensing—we are dealing with a purely Civil Service body which will not be open to outside pressure or representations to take evidence and understand the problem. How much freedom to manoeuvre will that body have? From the drafting of the clause it seems to me that it is purely a rubber-stamp operation performed by a little committee set up as a creature of the Secretary of State. The clause does not define the real duties of the body in a way that indicates whether it has authority and room to manoeuvre and carry out investigations so as to guide Ministers about whether the Act is working, should be amended or should be repealed. It has become a hidebound body, with very narrow terms of reference. I think that that is a mistake, if I am correct in my interpretation of the narrowness of the way in which the clause is drafted.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

It may be helpful to the noble Lord to say that we discussed the matter earlier this evening. The Civil Service alternative—to which he referred—is the last option that the Government would like to see. We said earlier that the Government's preference would be for the Football Membership Authority to be the agency. I also pointed out to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, when we were discussing the amendment with regard to the local authorities being licensed, that if the local authorities—the AMA or the ADC— wish to make a case for being the licensing authority, we should certainly listen to them.

Lord Northfield

The noble Lord has not taken my point. I was here for that debate. The point is that if he ends up with this option it is too narrowly drawn. It is not the body that we should end up with as the vehicle for licensing. If it is to be the body, it should have much clearer terms of reference. Its duties should be more clearly defined. Its ability to take evidence, to undertake research and to report to the Minister on recommendations about the future operation of the Bill should be put down in the statute if we are going to end up with this kind of body. Am I not correct to say that, as it is drawn at the moment, its duties and powers are extremely narrow?

Lord Hesketh

I shall certainly read what the noble Lord has said, and quite possibly I shall be expecting a substantial amendment from him at Report stage.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 73:

After Clause 10, insert the following new Clause:

("Suspension of scheme in emergencies.

. In a case of emergency the senior officer of police attending premises at which a designated football match is being or is intended to be played shall have power to direct that the national football membership scheme shall be temporarily suspended in its application to those premises and to that match and, where a direction is given under this section, sections 2 and 7 of this Act shall be of no effect during the period of suspension.").

The noble Lord said: I shall be interested to know the Government's position on this matter. The noble Earl, Lord Arran, and I had some exchanges last week about the attitude of the Association of Chief Police Officers to this measure. I have subsequently received a letter from him which explains his position. I quote from it. He says: ACPO's main concern, as I said in debate, is whether or not the mechanics of processing membership cards through the turnstiles actually can be achieved". Its view is that, were there to be a breakdown of the system when between 20,000 and 35,000 people are trying to enter a football ground just before the kick-off, there could be substantial public disorder.

As I explained during the Second Reading debate, the position of a number of grounds is this. They directly abut the highway. There may be a major hold-up as a result of a breakdown of the system. There is no point in the Government saying that systems do not break down. One has only to look at the moment at what is happening on the London Underground. It has just introduced a new entry system. One can see the constant breakdowns which are taking place within that system— and no doubt London Underground was given all kinds of assurances from the manufacturers that that could not take place.

The concern of the police is that if at one of these grounds that abut directly on to the highway there was a total breakdown of the system, someone would have to act immediately in order to defuse a dangerous situation. The only way in which that could be done would be to allow people into the ground by means of simply paying an admission charge.

The purpose of this amendment is to put the responsibility on a clearly defined individual who should be the senior police officer at the ground. That may not be the right way to draft the amendment. One may have to give an officer of a particular rank the opportunity to make that decision, but someone has to make it.

I must make it clear that any suggestion that it will be left to the Football Membership Authority is frankly nonsensical We are discussing here a major public order problem. Decisions on major public order situations are not left to a group of people involved in the football industry, however distinguished they may be. We certainly want a clear provision in the Bill. The present amendment may not be properly drafted. I am prepared to accept any suggestion from the noble Earl, who I assume will be replying to the amendment. We cannot, I believe, allow the Bill to leave this Chamber without a clear requirement being introduced into the Bill giving a defined police officer the right to suspend the membership scheme at a particular match if there is a breakdown in the computer system. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord has introduced the interesting concept of what would happen if the computer system were to break down. The obligation for the safe operation of a football ground is, and should remain, with the club or offical responsible. The noble Lord said that it would not be acceptable for it to be the responsibility of the Football Membership Authority. It is not. It is the responsibility of the club operating the ground. That is not to say that that type of person should not consult the police and listen to what they may wish to say. In many cases they would do so, as that is the sensible approach. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent them from doing so.

Once a provision is introduced into a statute for the police to intervene if difficulties arise—the term "emergency" could cover almost every serious problem imaginable—to some extent there is a new obligation on the police to consider the management of the premises so that they could step in. The responsiblity of the senior club official then becomes diffused. I cannot help finding it slightly wry that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, who has been so concerned about the demands placed upon the police by the Bill, should now be seeking to burden them with the responsibility of deciding whether or not the scheme should be suspended.

I see dangers in providing for the criminal offences of unauthorised entry and admitting spectators to unlicensed premises to be waived whenever a so-called emergency is deemed to have occured. That might be an incentive for a group of disqualified hooligans to cause enough trouble outside the turnstiles precisely in order to have the system of membership checking dispensed with entirely, as the amendment envisages.

I do not wish to give the impression of dismissing the possibility of difficulties in the operation of the scheme. Of course there is always the chance of difficulties. I have merely tried to establish that, as I see it, there are difficulties in the solution that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, proposes. I suggest that a better approach would be for these potential difficulties to be solved in a different way. To my mind the club's licence and the circumstances which are laid down in the national football membership scheme for checking cards and unauthorised admission should be broadminded and realistic enough to cope with both the smooth and the rough going.

I should expect the scheme to make clear how the reasonable integrity of membership checking would be preserved at all times consistent with safety, if the computer system at the club were to fail completely 10 minutes before the kick-off, or at some juncture like that, and with a press of spectators clamouring for admission. One thing is sure: I certainly would not expect the scheme to say words to the effect that, "Thou shall admit no more spectators until the computer has been restarted". Of course you cannot do anything like that. If that unlikely situation were to arise, the answer would be to admit spectators for a while on the visual inspection of their cards. Detected or not, anyone who entered without a valid card would continue to commit a criminal offence.

I hope that a serious failure of all pieces of computer equipment at the same time is unlikely to occur. It is possible but it is unlikely. We are anxious that all reasonable steps should be taken to make that impossible. However, if it occurs the eventuality should be catered for inside the scheme in the way I propose, rather than the responsibility being placed upon the police.

I see the noble Lord, Lord Harris, rising to his feet, and I assume that he is doing so to say that he agrees with me. I hope that he will do so.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Strangely enough, I am not. I rise to say that that is, without doubt, the most unpersuasive speech I have heard from the noble Earl since he became a Minister in the Home Office. We are talking about a major public order problem. I do not know how detailed a discussion the noble Earl has had with the Association of Chief Police Officers. As he will recognise, its members know a fair amount about the potential public order problem which will arise if, when 30,000 people are trying to enter Manchester United football ground, for example, there is a major breakdown of the system.

As the noble Earl suggested, the system could be sabotaged by men of ill will, or there could be a breakdown of the system. However, one is dealing with a situation in which thousands of people will be delayed in trying to enter a ground in a limited space of time. The question is: what will happen in such a situation? It is no use the noble Earl saying that it is almost inconceivable that such a situation will arise. All Members know that computer systems break down regularly. There is no point in the Government uncritically accepting everything that they are told by self-interested computer manufacturers. There exists deep scepticism among many people who are not opposed in principle to what the Government are doing as to whether a fault-free system can be established.

I understand the position to be that if such a situation arises the club will be obliged to make a decision about what to do. However, it will be putting itself at a substantial risk in doing so. We are talking about its licence and possible criminal penalties being imposed on its directors. I believe that the noble Earl, who, like me, is not a director of a football club, has a strangely relaxed attitude towards the unhappy position of a director of a club placed in such a situation.

The noble Earl said he is most surprised that I am placing a new burden on the police. I am doing no such thing. I am giving some senior police officer the opportunity of preventing a potential public order problem from getting out of hand. Many police officers take the matter extremely seriously. I hope that between now and the Report stage of the Bill he will look at the point and discuss it with the Association of Chief Police Officers. There is serious concern about the matter.

Obviously, the problem does not affect every football club. At some small Fourth Division clubs it will probably not arise in any conceivable circumstance. However, a major public order problem could arise in some of the larger First and Second Division clubs. Someone will be required to make an almost immediate decision about what to do if there is a breakdown of the system.

To say that that is a matter for the club and the club alone is, given the criminal penalties being introduced in the Bill, a pretty rough approach. I believe that a more sensible approach is to give the police the power to suspend the system if it is the view of the senior police officer that the situation is getting out of hand. I ask the noble Earl to agree to discuss this matter with the Association of Chief Police Officers between now and the later stages of the Bill to see whether it has any views on the matter. It may be that he will be able to persuade the association without difficulty to leave the matter to the clubs. If he is successful in that, so be it. However, I believe he will meet some very concerned people who are seriously troubled about the matter at present.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that the Minister's reply is wholly unacceptable. He is inviting club directors to take upon themselves the responsibility for abrogating their responsibilities under the licence in the circumstances outlined. Let us bear in mind that the noble Earl earlier told me that the punishment of imprisonment will be visited on those directors shown to be regularly and deliberately flouting the scheme. There will be clubs regularly flouting the scheme because they are physically incapable of carrying it out between 7.15 and 8 p.m. for a match starting at 7.30. The defence for directors that they have done all they can and that they have tried to comply may be accepted the first time. However, a club like Manchester United, which is known by many Members of the Committee, will regularly come before a court or tribunal saying, "It was not me, guv. I did my best but I had to let them in." The Minister needs to take very seriously what we are saying.

Manchester United has written to me. The letter states: We have yet to be shown computer hardware that will do the work successfully. Manchester United has run a computerised Box Office for more than fifteen years now and it is well known that what is promised by computer companies rarely, if ever, performs to anything like its supposed potential in 'real' situations where they may have had no experience. Average attendances at Old Trafford are around 40,000 but on occasions this figure can go as high as 56,000. Experience shows that around 50 per cent. arrive in the last 30 minutes before kick-off and this number increases substantially for evening matches". I was quite surprised but at a ground which opens at 6.30 for a 7.30 match, by 7.20, 10 minutes before kick-off, less than 40 per cent. of the people are inside the ground. It is not a question of computers breaking down but of computers working well but unable to take the weight of the traffic.

It is a nonsense to talk in terms of not involving the police. I know why the Minister does not wish to add to the burdens of the police. But at the end of the day, whether or not they have responsibility, they will be involved.

Perhaps the Minister will allow me to draw his attention to a Question tabled on 28th February by the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux. It is: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the statement made by Lord Hesketh on 20th February 1989… during the Committee stage of the Football Spectators Bill [H.L.] that 'We shall not implement the scheme until we are satisfied that it will work effectively and efficiently' … 'and the football authorities have it in mind to test equipment' they will state when and where these tests will take place". That is a real and possibly tragic Question. It is no good the Minister saying that we have a scheme which we believe will work well. Until it is worked in the circumstances of Manchester United or Arsenal, how can he know that the scheme will work well? Therefore, when that Question is answered—and it is a very perceptive Question—I believe we shall find that the Minister will have difficulty in putting flesh on the bones of what he said.

I beg the Minister to consider seriously giving a better answer than the one he gave tonight. As I indicated recently, I went past Arsenal when the club was at home to Liverpool in an evening match and the ground was unable to cope. All that the Minister appears to have said is that the solution for such conditions is wholly within the province of the club. The clubs are the licence holders and they must see that their obligations under the licence are carried out. If they decide that they are going to allow people into the ground without being able to check their credentials they will be responsible as licence holders for doing so.

Is the Minister saying that it is up to the club to decide when it should suspend the operation of the licence? If so, that is driving a coach and horses through the Bill. Therefore, we invite the Minister to reconsider this amendment in a real and practical way.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

Perhaps I may add a few words. I have spoken within the past two or three months with chief police officers who have the job of controlling the crowds and their own men at football grounds. At the moment if there are a lot of people waiting to get into the ground the police ask the club officials to delay the kick-off for a quarter of an hour, or whatever, in order to admit them.

I have specifically asked the police officers this question: if you found the computer system, or whatever system is in operation, was not working properly, would you suspend the system and let in the crowds? They said that they probably would.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord, Lord Graham, makes a serious point which is of concern to us all. Will the system work? What will happen if it does not work? My honourable friend the Minister for Sport made it perfectly clear that the scheme will not be brought in until he is satisfied that it will work. I agree with him that if the scheme does not work there will be chaos.

One must start on the premise that the scheme will not be brought in unless everyone is fairly certain that it will work. Accepting that, one then asks what will happen if something goes wrong and the system breaks down. I have the greatest admiration for the talents of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, which appear in multifarious different capacities. One of the talents of the noble Lord that has appeared during discussion of this Bill is that he has become more belligerent towards Ministers standing at this Dispatch Box than I have ever seen him before. He hammered at my noble friend Lord Arran; then he set about my noble friend Lord Hesketh; now he has started on me. He said that I had made my worst speech ever since having had the privilege of being made a Minister. That accolade is perhaps not difficult to achieve, but the noble Lord is being slightly unfair and marginally blinkered.

I ask the noble Lord to look at the position in this way. He asks what will happen if all the computers break down. I do not know whether the noble Lord has any idea of how these systems work. They do not work on an electric light circuit where, if the fuse is blown, everything goes duff. Each entry point has a computer which operates on its own. If one of the computers breaks down, very well, that entry point comes to an end. It has to be closed and the spectators must go to another entry point.

The scenario suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, is that all the individual computers might break down. He asks what would happen if the crowds built up outside and could not get in. If that were to occur—it is unlikely but I accept his point that all the computers might break down—he asks what would happen. I suggest that all those responsible for the club would then say, "Let the people in". Instead of the membership cards being looked at by computers they would be looked at individually. It is possible that some people would gain entry who ought not to. If they did and were found within the club grounds without a proper membership card they are committing an offence. Of course there is the possibility that some might get in. The real point which the noble Lord is trying to make is that the decision on whether or not to let the crowds in should be taken by the police, not the club, and that the burden of responsibility should be removed from the club to the police. It is not a question of fudging or making a bad speech but of having a point of view. The responsibility for the running of the club should be that of the club officials. Of course they will discuss with the police if they find a great build-up of people outside the ground. The police will say that the club must do something and let the people in; but it is the club's responsibility to do that, not that of the police. I believe that when the noble Lord has simmered down from his immediate response at the end of my previous speech and he reads what I have said in Hansard, he will realise that just for once he is wrong.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I am always prepared to admit that I am wrong. I have yet to hear any member of the Government admit in this debate that there is the remotest possibility of the Government being very wrong on this piece of legislation. I would never wish to be bad tempered with the noble Earl. He is far too agreeable an individual. I had to say a few perhaps slightly harsh things about some of his colleagues only because they appeared at the time to be incapable of answering any of the questions addressed to them. I believe that a certain level of competence is necessary for Ministers of the Crown.

Turning to the point that the noble Earl has made, I say this. He appears to imagine that some kind of leisurely discussion can take place between the police officers outside the ground when the breakdown of the computer system is leading to a situation where large numbers of people cannot get through the turnstiles. The computer system cannot interrogate the national data base. That is one of the possibilities and it is one that concerns many police officers.

I asked the noble Earl whether he had had any discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers. I do not suggest that I have a detailed knowledge of what its position is. I shall be grateful if he will answer the question that I put to him: have the Government had discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers on this precise point? If they have not, will they have them before the next stage of the Bill?

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord likes to ask quite simple questions and I shall give a perfectly simple answer. I forgot to reply to that point simply because I was trying to answer the other point that he had made because I believed it to be one of considerably more substance. We are aware of the concern of the Association of Chief Police Officers as regards this Bill and the views that it has. We shall certainly consult it before the next stage as to its views.

Let us be perfectly clear. What the noble Lord is doing—and this is the only point of disagreement—is seeking to remove the burden of responsibility from the club to the police. I am suggesting to the Committee that if a situation such as he has envisaged were to come about, it would be the club's responsibility to say, "All right, we will let the people come in", as opposed to the police saying, "You have to let the people in".

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I do not want to persist in this matter because the noble Earl has done what I asked him to do; namely, to indicate that he will have discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers. I would not in any circumstances wish to upset him in the slightest way. I hope he will forgive me for putting to him that he does not appear to appreciate that the difficulty I am raising is not simply a question for the football club. The problem may arise not within the football ground but in the streets ouside. Therefore, the police have the most direct interest in ensuring that immediate action is taken to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

The noble Earl said on the first occasion, and he repeated it on the second, that I am seeking to transfer the responsibility from the club to the police. In my view matters of public order are for the police and not for football club officials. Earlier he was justifying criminal sanctions against football club directors who may be thought to have committed offences under the Bill when it becomes an Act. In that situation it seems that there will be some hesitation among football club directors or senior officials before they make a decision in this matter. If they get it wrong, they could find themselves in a criminal court. Many men would shrink from that outcome. I suspect that the noble Earl would shrink from it, and I would certainly do so. In a position of that kind I would hesitate and say to myself, "By jove, if I suspend the scheme in this fashion I could find myself facing criminal charges in a court of law".

I am perfectly content that the noble Earl should have these discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers. What he should not underestimate is the understandable hesitation among some of the directors of football clubs if the position I have described were to arise. I am not asking him to intervene again, although if he wishes to do so I shall be glad to listen to him. He has indicated that between now and Report stage he will speak to ACPO. On that basis, I should be perfectly content to withdraw the amendment.

11 p.m.

Lord Northfield

Before the noble Lord decides whether to withdraw the amendment, perhaps I may make this point to the noble Earl. I am fortified in what I am going to say by having noticed in the newspapers in the past 24 hours that when the new chairman of London Transport went to see the operation of the computer-controlled turnstiles at Victoria station he found them all out of action. He was told by the people in charge that they go out of action every week and that the staff are fed up with them. These things are difficult to get right.

I suspect that the truth lies somewhere between the noble Lord and the noble Earl. There must be consultation between the police and the football authorities at the grounds if the police can see the danger of a riot occurring outside because of delays in opening the place or because of delays in the flow through the turnstiles. Because of the draconian penalties involved in the Bill, it is not right that this should be left on the basis of the statement which the noble Earl has just made about how to proceed. Before the Bill becomes an Act there should be clear guidance from the Home Office or the appropriate authority on what is to happen in those circum stances. That would be much better than leaving the matter where the noble Earl has left it.

Earl Ferrers

I would not seek to minimise the difficulty. The noble Lord produced an example. Of course it is possible for these things to go wrong. However, if we follow up the noble Lord's analogy, I wonder whether it would be the responsibility of the police to tell London Transport to open up the turnstiles and let everyone in, or whether it would be London Transport's responsibility. I shall certainly look into the matter because we want to get it as right as we possibly can.

There have been occasions when people went to grounds and were unable to get in. This happened at Old Trafford in Manchester. People were turned away. There was not a fracas or a riot. It has happened before. I shall certainly look at the matter because we want to have it as near right as we possibly can.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

The noble Earl is quite correct. I am sure that there have been incidents of that kind at Old Trafford and elsewhere. As a child, I remember going to Stamford Bridge and being unable to get in. There were significant numbers of people in the streets outside. However, there is no comparison between that situation, where a relatively limited number of people found it impossible to gain entry to a ground, and a situation where 15 minutes before the beginning of a match many thousands of people are moving remorselessly towards the turnstiles and suddenly something goes wrong.

As the noble Earl will recognise, there is no point in pretending that computer systems do not break down. We all know perfectly well that they do. It may be that the effects of such a breakdown will in most cases be more limited than I suggested earlier. However, there is undoubtedly a view among many with whom I have consulted on this matter that if there were a breakdown it could be a total breakdown of the system. In those circumstances people could be spilling on to the highway in substantial numbers and a disturbance might arise.

All I am saying to the noble Earl is that the whole object of the Bill, as I understand it, is to lessen the risk of violence at football grounds. Further, I have indicated that unless we get this right the consequences of a breakdown in the system could be to substantially increase the level of violence at football grounds. In that situation the Government could be held entirely responsible for not having anticipated this precise problem.

I do not propose to continue with this issue. We have been discussing it for some considerable time. That is right because it is an important issue. The noble Earl has indicated that he will consult the Association of Chief Police Officers. I have indicated that I cannot pretend to know its view on this precise matter, but I look forward very much to hearing from the noble Earl at the next stage of the Bill's proceedings. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 [Scope and interpretation of this Part]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 74:

Page 10, line 20, after ("in") insert ("paragraphs (d), (e), (h) and (i) of").

The noble Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No. 74, I should also like to mention Amendment No. 76. The genesis of these amendments relates to what is held to be a relevant offence. The noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, indicated earlier that he would bring back some amendments at a later stage after considering the possibilities of an appeal against the relevant offences. I honestly feel that at this time of night it would be sensible for me not to move Amendments Nos. 74 and 76 so as to allow the Minister and his advisers complete freedom to look at the whole issue of what is relevant. I say that because the punishment for what is held to be relevant, and therefore the basis of a charge which upon conviction means that a person convicted of a relevant offence would lose his membership is very harsh indeed.

It is not just a question of losing one's membership; it is the imposition of restriction orders. We are now into Part II of the Bill. In my view there is a great deal to be welcomed in the principles contained in this part of the Bill. It deals with people who have been found guilty. We have some questions to ask in that respect. However, at this time of night, and on the understanding that the genesis of the two amendments will form part of the consideration that the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, said that he would give to the issue of relevant offences, I shall not move Amendment No. 74.

[Amendment No. 74 not moved.]

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 74A:

Page 10, line 26, at end insert ("and section 1(7) above applies for the interpretation of references to periods relevant to designated football matches.").

The noble Earl said: I was just considering the ingenuity of making a speech about an amendment and then not moving it. In moving Amendment No. 74A I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 75A, 79A, 79B, 79E, 79F and 79G. The purpose of Amendments Nos. 74A, 75A and 79B is to correct minor drafting omissions and their effect will be clarification rather than change.

Amendment No. 74A is concerned with the way that a relevant offence is interpreted in Part II of the Bill. Subsection (6) of the clause already applies the schedule to Part II, so specifying the offences at designated matches in England and Wales which allow a restriction order to be made. As published the Bill has no mechanism for determining who is to discharge the functions of the designated reporting agency as laid down by the Bill. Amendment No. 75A allows for the designating order to make such a determination.

Clause 13(2) establishes the duty to report initially to the agency specified by the court and thereafter as required by the agency. Amendment No. 79B, suspends that duty to report on the occasions when an exemption has been granted by the agency. The clause establishes the duty to report initially to the agency specified by the court within 30 days of the making of a restriction order, or, where a custodial order is imposed, within 30 days of the date of discharge. That period also applies to the registration with a new agency or transfer. The purpose of Amendments Nos. 79A, 79E, 79F and 79G is to reduce the period specified from 30 days to five days to avoid abuse of the provision. I beg to move.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Will the Minister say a little more about the whole nexus of the designated reporting agency? There is nothing in the Bill which tells us what or who the designated reporting agency will be, let alone why there is to be one. What is the reporting agency? Is it the police? Is it the probation service? Is it the football club? Clause 11(7) provides: A person is a 'designated reporting agency' if that person is specified in an order". I am not quibbling with the Minister. I take the point that he has made. He has said that many of the amendments are technical. One of them provides for a body corporate to act as reporting agency. We wonder what research the Minister's advisers have done since the Bill first saw the light of day. Can we be told what has been the result of the consulations about these matters that must have taken place with the police and the probation service?

Although there has been a change in the speed with which a restriction order must be complied with—a reduction from 30 days to five—I did not hear the Minister justify that reduction. I fully understand that the Government have reflected on the Bill, but the Committee is entitled to receive explanations.

Earl Ferrers

I apologise if I did not give that Explanation. It was done merely in an effort to be accommodating to the Committee and to be a little more hasty than perhaps prudence would have dictated.

At the moment, if a person has a restriction order placed upon him he has 30 days in which to register the fact with the reporting agency. That means that he can spend the following 30 days going around being a hooligan at other matches before he has to report to the reporting agency and register. The idea is that, if a person is so convicted, he should have to register within five days rather than 30 days. I suggest that that is reasonable.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, asked what or who is to be the reporting agency. No decision has yet been taken as to what the reporting agency shall be. It will not necessarily be the same throughout the country. The obvious example, which the noble Lord mentioned, is the police. The police could be the reporting agency, but that does not mean to say that they will necessarily universally be so. The noble Lord mentioned the probation service, and that is one possibility. It has not yet been decided what is to be the reporting agency or whether the same reporting agency should be universal throughout the country.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am grateful to the Minister. He has knocked 30 days down to five. The Bill initially provided for 30 days, and so at some stage 30 days must have seemed sensible. I can understand that subsequently the Minister and his advisers felt that it should be five days. What has caused the Government's first thoughts, which must have been the result of a great deal of discussion, to be changed from 30 to five?

As regards the reporting agencies, I asked a direct question: what was the product of the consultations that the Government must have had with the police and the probation service? They are the prime possibilities for the reporting agencies. What have they said about the proposal? I could make a very good case, the police and the probation service will make a good case as to why they should not have this burden. Perhaps the Minister can help us.

11.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

As to why we have gone from 30 days to five, the answer is because the Government are flexible in their approach to these matters. It is all very fine for the noble Lord to laugh and I am glad he finds humour in what I say; that is always encouraging for the ego. However, he and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, have spent the whole time saying that the Government are being obstinate and will not move at all. We have shown that the original provision was a little excessive. We had thought that the 30 days would be generous because it would give everyone fair time to find the reporting agencies at which to register. However, we then realised that it gave the person who had been found guilty of a relevant offence the opportunity to spend the next 30 days committing other relevant offences before he had even registered. So we took the view that five days would be better. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, in his generosity, will agree that that would be more suitable.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham asks, "What about the police and the prison and probation services, what are their reactions?". I think it is perfectly true that nobody likes to take on extra work. I do not think that there is any argument about that. But I have no doubt that, if the police or the probation service or any other groups are invited to do so, they will do the additional work in the same excellent way as they undertake all their other responsibilities.

It is one thing in discussion to say, "We don't want to do this", but it is another matter, when invited to do it, to say that one will not do it. I am certain that neither the police force nor the probation service will take that attitude. The whole purpose of the discussion is to try to find out which is the best agency to do the work under the Act. We are still seeking an answer to that.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am grateful to the Minister but twice I have asked him what was the product of the consultations. By being silent on that I think he indicates that no consultations have taken place.

Earl Ferrers


Lord Graham of Edmonton

The Ministers shakes his head and says "No". If there have been consultations, I ask him for the third time, what is the product of those consultations?

Earl Ferrers

I do not know whether the noble Lord is hard of hearing. I tried to explain to him that I could not tell him the dates on which the consultations took place, but I can tell him that we are aware of the view of the police. I think that we are aware of the view of the probation service. I do not know whether the noble Lord would feel that is consultation. I do not understand how one can be aware of somebody's view without having any consultation.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I know that the noble Earl has done his best. I shall be charitable.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Harris of Greenwich moved Amendment No. 75:

Page 10, line 27, after ("person") insert ("(who shall not be a chief officer of police)").

The noble Lord said: The amendment deals explicitly with the position of the police. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, the police were not consulted on the matter at all. They heard about the possible requirements regarding themselves only when the Bill was published. That seems to me rather unfortunate, to put it mildly.

Before coming to the precise terms of the amendment, perhaps I may point out that last week I had a series of exchanges with the noble Earl, Lord Arran, which apparently upset the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers. I was trying to establish, without a great deal of success at that stage, I fear, what were the concerns of the Association of Chief Police Officers. I subsequently received a letter from the noble Earl, Lord Arran, of which I assume the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers has a copy. The letter stated: I should also acknowledge strong reservations about the implications for the police of Part II of the Bill. They do not see why the reporting agency function should fall to the police and have raised with the Home Office a number of practical difficulties". That, I think, is an entirely accurate statement of the position. Let me make sure that everyone is entirely clear what we are discussing. Under Clause 11 a "designated football match" can be designated for the purposes of the legislation by the Secretary of State. A "restriction order" means that a court can order an individual offender to: report to a designated reporting agency on the occasion of designated football matches". Clause 11(7) states: A person is a 'designated reporting agency' if that person is specified in an order made by the Secretary of State by statutory instrument". The police are concerned at the very severe manpower implications, or the possible serious manpower implications—I do not want to overstate the case—of this obligation. They take the view that many hundreds of people could be subject to orders of this kind. Indeed, possibly over a period of time, the number could run into four figures.

In some areas substantial numbers of young men would be required to report to a designated reporting agency, some of them in highly urban areas and some of them in rural areas. The question arises as to what happens when a young man against whom an order has been made does not appear at a designated reporting agency. The concern of the police is obvious. If on a Saturday—we are often talking about Saturdays—when possibly England may be playing Italy in Florence or Rome for example, and the Secretary of State designates that match, what are the police to do if one young man or possibly a number of young men do not report?

There is no difference between us on Part II of the Bill, as the noble Earl will be aware. We recognise that the objectives of Part II of the Bill, unlike Part I, are unexceptionable. But the question arises of what happens when someone does not report to the designated reporting agency. As I have indicated, the concern of the police is that they will then have to carry out an almost immediate investigation. There is no point in waiting for a day or two to pass. By that time, if the young man concerned has travelled outside the country and gone to watch the match in defiance of the order, he will be back in this country and can simply say that he was unwell on the day in question and was not able to report. The only way, therefore, that there could be any means by which the police could ensure that he was ill, assuming that he was pretending he was ill, would be for them to go to his home. But of course he may not be at his home. He may well be staying with his aunt in a different police force area.

These are not quibbling points. I hope the noble Earl recognises that. This is the concern of the police. They are concerned about the implications of this provision for their manpower at times of the day when they are already under extremely heavy pressure. For instance, to state an obvious example, if the match is played at the weekend, the drain on police resources on a Friday and Saturday night is well-known as they have to deal with the risks of violence at public houses and other places. There is always the risk of disorders on those two days of the week. They may face a situation in which they had to redeploy their resources in a substantial manner in order to follow up with proper inquiries to find out whether young men had not reported to them, if they were the designated reporting agency. These are some of the principal concerns of the police and I should be grateful if the noble Earl could help us.

I was rather troubled by his earlier statement when pressed by the noble Lord, Lord Graham, as to who would carry out this task. He suggested, if I am right, that in some cases it could be, for the sake of argument, the probation service, while in other cases it might be the police. If he will forgive me saying so, I would find it very surprising as a piece of administration were we to have a situation where totally different agencies were responsible in different parts of the country.

It seems to me to be a very confusing situation indeed, but it may be that I misinterpreted what the noble Earl said. What I want to get from the noble Earl is an indication that he recognises the degree of concern among members of the Association of Chief Police Officers on this question, and I want to ask him, in the light of their very serious concern, what he proposes to do about it. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord, Lord Harris, has made some interesting observations. I do not know whether he specifically addressed himself to the amendment, which states that whoever is to be the reporting agency it shall not be the police. There are a number of points about this. On Part I of the Bill, I think the noble Lord and I disagree as to the need for the scheme at all. But on Part II it seems to me that there is an important job to be done in making restriction orders provisions effective. The key to this is bound to be the reporting agency which is designated for the purposes of Part II to administer the arrangements. Where the offender does not register with the agency or does not report as directed, or makes a false statement on an application for exemption, he is liable to prosecution. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, was concerned about this. He asked: what happens if somebody does not turn up? He is guilty of a criminal offence and if the noble Lord looks at Clause 13(5) he will see that it states: A person guilty of an offence under subsection (4)"— subsection (4) refers to people who without reasonable excuse fail to comply with a duty to report— shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale". So if people do not report they commit a criminal offence and the operation of the police has to be undertaken in order to find them, to charge them and to take them to court.

There are a number of practical considerations about this. If the requirement is to report, for instance, on a Wednesday evening at 7.30 p.m. when England are playing France in Paris, the reporting place must be within reasonable reach. It would not be right to ask someone to travel from, for example, Penzance to Plymouth for that purpose. So the agency has to have a spread of offices and at least some of them must be open out of hours as necessary. In some areas where there may be no existing services available other than the police to take this on, that would prove to be more difficult. A private sector agency may not have the right structure in all parts of the country, though it may have the right structure in some. It is for reasons of this sort that we have deliberately left the matter open.

We are discussing the details with the police and these discussions are in progress at the moment. They are not yet complete and therefore I cannot inform the noble Lord, Lord Harris, any more about that at the moment. I know he has always been anxious to know whether we are considering matters with the Association of Chief Police Officers, and I can tell him that we are doing so.

It would be wrong to assume that it must in all cases fall to the police to do that job, but I do not make that assumption. Nor do I think it would be right to say on the face of the Bill that there would be no circumstances at all in which it would be appropriate for the police to be the designated agency. It is no good saying that it must be someone else if one is not satisfied that the alternative would work in practice. Some flexibility is required and the Bill provides for it. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, will realise that we are at the moment trying to hold the discussions that he wishes us to hold in order to try to find the best possible venue for taking on that task. However, I believe that it would be wrong in the circumstances to include the amendment proposed by him.

11.30 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I did not intend to press this amendment today. I was more concerned to find out the Government's position. It is unfortunate that the police read about this proposal for the first time when the Bill was published. I do not want to labour the point, but it is most unfortunate that that situation arose.

The noble Earl will find, given his own direct, personal ministerial responsibilities, that the level of concern in the police service about this matter is very considerable. There is a belief that, if the task is imposed exclusively or to any degree at all on the police, the distortions so far as concerns police manpower are potentially serious. I welcome the fact that the noble Earl is discussing this matter with the Association of Chief Police Officers and I hope that he will meet its representatives himself. I do not know whether that is possible. However, the noble Lord, Lord Knights—who wished to be here today but who unhappily is unable to be with us because of family problems—wanted to join me in pressing the noble Earl on this matter. I very much hope that between now and the next stage of the Bill the noble Lord, Lord Knights, and I may perhaps meet the noble Earl to discuss the matter in greater detail without debating it on the Floor of the Chamber.

Earl Ferrers

I should be happy to accommodate the noble Lord on any occasion that he wishes, within reasonable bounds. By that I mean that if he wished to see me I should be delighted to see him every day, although that might be excessive. However, I shall be delighted to see him to discuss this matter if he wishes me to do so.

I sometimes think that this matter of the reporting agency may be exaggerated. A person must first of all register and say who he or she is. Thereafter, when he is told that there is a certain match overseas for which he is required to report, he has simply to go into the agency, say who he is and come out again. That task may take a minute. I agree that there is a certain amount of administrative work to do, but I do not think that the problem is as great as the noble Lord suggested.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I am afraid that the Minister will be told by the police service that the matter is just as I have described it. Let me deal briefly with an analogous situation; namely, the position of courts making orders to the effect that people on bail should report to police stations. It is not a totally dissimilar issue, as the noble Earl will recognise. That caused problems for the police service. A considerable amount of persuasion was necessary before some courts were eventually discouraged from making orders of that sort because of the substantial implications for the police.

The problem here is that potentially hundreds if not thousands of young men could be involved in that situation. That is what concerns the police service. I believe that the noble Earl has understood the point. He need not fear that I shall ask to see him every day. It would always be a pleasure to meet him in almost any conceivable circumstances, but it would be slightly excessive to ask to see him every day. However, it would be helpful if the noble Lord, Lord Knights, and I met the noble Earl to discuss the problem, perhaps with someone from the ACPO or perhaps not, as the case may be. If the Government can meet the anxiety of the police service, we shall all be greatly relieved.

Earl Ferrers

As soon as I had mouthed the qualification that I put on seeing the noble Lord, I realised that it was an indelicate one. I did not wish him to think that I was putting a constraint. Of course I should be delighted to see him with the noble Lord, Lord Knights, and members of ACPO.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I am very grateful. Perhaps I may speak on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Knights, and members of ACPO. They will be very glad to hear what the noble Earl has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 75A:

Page 10, line 31, at end insert ("and make provision, where that person is not a body corporate, for the discharge of the agency's functions.").

The noble Earl said: Amendment No. 75A has already been spoken to. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 11, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

Perhaps I may deal with one issue. I am not asking the noble Earl to deal with this point now—I have not given him notice of it—unless he chooses to reply to it, in which case I shall be very glad to hear what he has to say.

I am unclear as to what will happen when the Secretary of State designates a match such as England versus Italy in Rome. How is that information to be carried to those against whom restriction orders have been made? Are they to be sent some form of communication? If so, who will be responsible for sending it? Clearly, if they are not notified that the Secretary of State has made a designation order, they will in many cases be entirely ignorant that he has done so. It seems to me that, accepting that there are criminal penalties involved for a breach of this section of the Bill, it is essential that these people should be notified of the Secretary of State's decision. Perhaps the noble Earl could help me on that matter.

Lord Monson

Following the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, what happens if the individuals are on holiday, not in Italy, but in Spain, when the date of the match is announced? This is a question that I do not think has been raised before. It will be interesting to hear the answer from the noble Earl.

Earl Ferrers

It will be not individual matches but the category of match which will be designated. It will be up to the agency to communicate to the individuals who have to report which matches they are expected to report for. That will almost certainly be done by post.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

If that is what the Bill is designed to achieve, subsection (2) and other subsections of this clause are not too felicitously drafted. Certainly I had assumed that a designated football match meant a match specifically designated by the Secretary of State for that purpose. As I understand it, he will now designate a group of matches.

The same question arises if the Secretary of State designates a group of matches. Will people against whom restriction orders have been made receive a communication that the Secretary of State has designated that group of matches? Perhaps the noble Earl can help us.

Earl Ferrers

The people who have to report will be told which designated matches they have to report for. Different people may have to report for different matches.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I shall not press the noble Earl. If I had been going to make more of this point today, I should have wanted to tell him in advance. I have not done so. I shall be grateful if he will consider the record of what I have said in the Official Report and perhaps write to me. It would be very helpful by the time we discuss this measure on Report to have a clearly expressed letter from the noble Earl explaining the matter in rather more detail than it has been possible to do this evening.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 [Restriction orders]:

[Amendment No. 76 not moved.]

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 77:

Page 11., line 8, at end insert— ("() No restriction order may be made in respect of any offence of which the accused was convicted before the passing of this Act.").

The noble Lord said: I think it is fair to say that retrospection is a dirty word in this country, as in most Western democracies, and that all political parties in Britain are at one in deploring retrospective legislation, even if some of them when in office regrettably stray from the path of virtue on occasion. The amendment is designed to make it clear beyond doubt that retrospective legislation will not be a feature of this Bill.

As the Committee will have noticed, Clause 12(3)(a) provides that, A restriction order may only be made … in addition to a sentence imposed in respect of the offence of which the accused is (or was) convicted". It is the significant phrase "or was" with which the amendment is concerned.

Without Amendment No. 77, or something very like it, there is a danger that a restriction order could be imposed in respect of an offence for which the individual had been convicted before the passing of the Bill, and quite possibly a long time before the Bill became law. Nobody can deny that a restriction order is a form of punishment, less onerous in practice than a community service order, but a good deal more onerous in practice than being bound over or being given a conditional discharge.

When the Bill becomes law, judges and magistrates will be able to take the prospect of this additional punishment into account when deciding what sentence to impose for the original offence and they may accordingly slightly decrease the fine or the term of imprisonment that they would otherwise have imposed. But until the Bill is enacted this subtle balancing act will not be available to them. It will not be within their powers. There is a danger, therefore, that people may be punished twice for the same offence—double jeopardy, I believe the phrase is—unless the amendment, or one similar to it, is agreed to. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, is concerned that this power should not be retrospective. I believe that I can satisfy his anxieties. Clause 12(1) makes it clear that the courts consider making a restriction order only on conviction for a relevant offence. It will be impossible to have committed a relevant offence before the introduction of the Act which defines a relevant offence. Therefore I believe he will find that it is impossible for it to be retrospective.

Lord Monson

I am heartened by that answer. I still cannot understand why the words in brackets, "or was", are included in subsection (3)(a), because, if the restriction order is made concurrent with the sentence passed, why is not the present tense sufficient? That is the reason for my amendment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

What has been pointed out is that, whatever the problem in understanding the words on the face of the Bill, we now have the interpretation of those words from the noble Earl. Like the noble Lord, Lord Monson, I was concerned about the possibility that there was retrospection, but not only has the noble Earl assured us that there is no such intention, but he has pointed to a part of the Bill which makes that crystal clear. I believe that we shall have to see the words on the paper, take advice from outside the Committee and come back again if we are not satisfied. However the noble Earl has satisfied me as to both intention and integrity.

Earl Ferrers

I am glad that I have satisfied the noble Lord, Lord Graham, but I still have not satisfied the noble Lord, Lord Monson. He is worried about the inclusion of the words "or was", which appear in brackets. They do not produce a retrospective effect. They appear becaue they refer to the case of a committal for sentence to the Crown Court where the offender has been convicted in the magistrates' court. That situation is already covered by Clause 12(1).

Lord Monson

It is a pleasure to say that I am entirely satisfied with the noble Earl's answer. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Effect of order]:

[Amendments Nos. 78 and 79 not moved.]

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 79A:

Page 11, line 41, leave out ("thirty") and insert ("five").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 79B:

Page 11, line 43, after ("(b)") insert ("subject to any exemption").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 79C:

Page 11, line 46, after ("(3)") insert ("or which is substituted for that agency under subsection (4A)").

The noble Earl said: I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 79C, 79D, 79L, 79M, 79N and 79P. In Clause 16(3) the Bill provides for a permanent transfer to another agency where a person changes his place of residence or his place of work. It also provides in Clause 17 for the reporting agency to exempt someone from reporting in relation to a particular match if the agency is satisfied that he would not attend it. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said, the Bill does not at present cater for the offender who is away from home for a relatively short period, perhaps on holiday, who cannot satisfy the agency that he should be exempted, but who ought to be permitted to report to an agency nearer the place where he will stay temporarily. The Government propose to meet this point by providing that the duty to report may be fulfilled by reporting to a substitute designated reporting agency with the agreement of the agency with which the offender is registered.

These amendments would provide more flexibility in the operation of the restriction order provision. I am sure that they will meet with the approval of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and I beg to move.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

The proposed amendment meets the position of a young man who may be in a different part of the country on holiday or for some other reason. I may have been rather dense and missed what the noble Earl said but I am not clear about the situation of a young man going with his parents on a family holiday to a country other than that where the designated football match is taking place. What is the situation so far as he is concerned?

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord is not being at all dense—he never is. If the young man is abroad he cannot go to the reporting agency. He must first go to the reporting agency and ask to be excused reporting because he will be abroad. The agency will, in its wisdom, permit him not to report because he cannot do so in another country.

Lord Monson

Can the noble Earl define the phrase "in its wisdom"? Does it mean that the reporting agency has the option to say, "No, you may not go abroad", or is it compelled to grant permission?

Earl Ferrers

If the person concerned will be on holiday he will have a reasonable excuse for not being there. Clause 17 allows him to apply for exemption in advance.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

As the noble Earl is probably aware, there is a relevant provision in the parole scheme. If someone is on parole there is often a requirement in the licence that he notifies the Parole Board before he goes outside the United Kingdom and receives the consent of the board. That is not done in all cases but it is done in many. Obviously a parolee, by definition, has committed a far more substantial criminal offence than a young man in this category. He has served a significant period of imprisonment, otherwise he would not be liable to receive parole in the first place.

One looks for an answer to the question just posed by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, because it seems to me that there will have to be a form of national criterion to determine on what basis the reporting agency either accepts or rejects the application of a young man to go abroad, possibly with his family. I do not press the point but perhaps the noble Earl will reflect on this matter and write to me and perhaps to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, for which I should be grateful.

Earl Ferrers

I am obliged to the noble Lord for saying that he does not wish to press me. Normally I welcome that, as I do on this occasion, but the point which he makes will be met later by Amendments Nos. 81, 82 and 83. Amendment No. 81 suggests that the word "may" is left out and the word "shall" is incorporated. Had the noble Lord contained himself a little longer, he would have heard me say that I accept Amendment No. 81, which makes that change; in other words, the position will then be as Clause 17(2) states: The agency to whom an application is made by a person under this section may exempt him from the duty to report if he shows to the agency's satisfaction—(a) that there are special circumstances which justify his being so exempted". Such a circumstance may be that he is going on holiday, perhaps to the Caribbean. Amendment No. 81 changes the "may" to "shall".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 79D:

Page 11, line 46, at end insert (", as the case may be.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 79E and 79F:

Page 12, line 3, leave out ("thirty") and insert ("five").

Page 12, line 7, leave out ("thirty") and insert ("five").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Information]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 79G:

Page 13, line 23, leave out ("thirty") and insert ("five").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 16 [Functions of agencies]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 79H:

Page 13, line 46, leave out ("transfer that person") and insert ("grant him a transfer").

The noble Earl said: With this I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 79J, 79L, 79Q, 79R and 79S. In order to be flexible, Clause 16 makes provision for the transfer, on application, to a more conveniently located agency. However, the provisions as currently drafted inadvertently contain an oversight in that the person subject to the order ceases to be required to report at the old agency when the transfer has been agreed and is given a period of grace within which to register at the new agency. A determined hooligan could conceivably obtain successive periods of grace by moving about the country.

The Government believe that the solution here is to provide that the duty to report to the first agency continues until the offender has registered with the new agency. Accordingly there will be no need to impose a time limit within which to re-register and consequently the offence of failing to report within that time becomes redundant. These amendments simplify the reporting arrangements and seek to close a loophole. I beg to move.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

I have to point out to the Committee that., as the noble Earl mentioned, this amendment is grouped with Amendment No. 79S and if Amendment No. 79S is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 80.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

On the basis that Amendment No. 79S will be carried, perhaps I may be permitted to make a point in relation to Amendment No. 80.

At present the Bill states that if a person is found to be guilty of an offence and has a duty to report but fails to do so without good reason, he can he sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one month or he can be fined an amount not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, or both.

The probation officers feel, as I do, that a fine would be ample to deal with such an offence or indiscretion. If a person wilfully refused to pay the fine, he would be liable to imprisonment on default. However, it would be highly unusual at present for a person to be imprisoned for failing to keep a probation or a community service appointment. This is yet another illustration of where a person convicted under this Bill for a soccer-related offence and given a sentence which could be compared to those for other offences could be dealt with more punitively.

Probation officers tell me that if a probation order or community service order is broken, that merits a fine and not imprisonment, but under this Bill it is possible to be imprisoned. Probation officers tell me that normally a person would be referred back to court for the magistrates to take further action. I should like the Minister to explain why he considers that again the punishment of imprisonment for failing to comply is appropriate.

Earl Ferrers

The penalties in the Bill are there only as maxima, as I explained previously. The courts are always encouraged to sentence as lightly as they consider necessary in order to punish an offender. Of necessity the maximum must cater for the worst and possibly the most persistent of offenders.

The penalty under Clause 16(1)(a) exactly mirrors that under Clause 13(5). Both are in respect of offences of failing to report to the agency. In Clause 13 that is either initially, when the restriction order is imposed, or on the occasion of a designated match. In Clause 16 it is initially on re-registration with a new agency; for example when the person subject to the restriction order moves house. It would be anomalous for that one element of the arrangements to be denied the possibility—only if appropriate—of up to one month's imprisonment on failure to report. I can only repeat the assurance I gave the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, that these are maxima and it is up to the courts to decide at what level to place the punishment within those maxima.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 79J and 79K:

Page 13, line 48, leave out ("transferred") and insert ("granted a transfer").

Page 14, leave out lines I to 6 and insert— ("

  1. (a) it shall be that person's duty to report for the purposes of registration to the other agency;
  2. (b) on his doing so his duty to report to the transferring agency shall cease; and
  3. (c) his registration with the transferring agency shall be cancelled as from the date of his registration with the other agency;

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 79L to 79P:

Page 14, line 8, at end insert— ("

  1. (4A) With the written agreement of the agency with which a person is registered and for a period specified in the agreement, the duty of that person to report on the occasion of designated football matches may be discharged by his reporting to an agency so specified which is a designated agency for another area ("the substitute agency").
  2. (4B) The agency shall, in taking any decision under subsection (4A) above, have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State under section 18 below.").

Page 14, line 14, after ("agency") insert ("or, as the case may be, the substitute agency").

Page 14, line 23, after ("agency") insert (or, as the case may be, the substitute agency").

Page 14, line 26, leave out ("to it").

The noble Earl said: I have already spoken to these amendments, and with the permission of the Committee I beg to move them en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

12 midnight

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 79Q to 79S:

Page 14, line 41, leave out subsection (9).

Page 14, line 44, leave out ("or (9)").

Page 14, line 47, leave out from ("scale") to end of line 50.

The noble Earl said: I beg to move these amendments en bloc. They were spoken to with Amendment No. 79H.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 80 not moved.]

Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 17 [Exemptions from requirement to report as respects a match]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 80A:

Page 15, line 1, leave out subsection (1) and insert— ("(1) A person who is subject to a restriction order may—

  1. (a) as respects a particular designated football match, or
  2. (b) as respects designated football matches played during a period,
apply to the designated reporting agency with which he is registered to be exempt from the duty to report as respects that match or matches played during that period.").

The noble Earl said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 83A and 83B. Clause 17 enables the reporting agency to exempt someone from the requirement to report on a particular occasion if there are special circumstances which would mean that he would not anyway attend the match in question. At present it does not deal with the offender who may be unable to report in relation to a series of matches because he proposes to take a holiday abroad. Nor does it address the problem of the person who moves to a jurisdiction where there are no reporting agencies.

The Government believe that the answer would be to enable the agency to suspend the duty to report for a particular period. That is what these amendments seek to do. At the same time it also seems sensible to enable an offender to apply for exemption in advance of being called up for a particular match or matches rather than only once a notice has been served. I hope that these amendments will simplify the procedures while increasing the flexibility. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 81:

Page 15, line 6, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall")

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendments Nos. 82 and 83. These three amendments hang together. They lessen the burden of proof on a person to show why he should be exempted. Under the existing Bill there would be little point in a person applying for an exemption as it would be practically impossible for him to show that, though he would be abroad at the time on holiday—that is to say, he could show special circumstances falling within paragraph (a)—he would not attend a match, particularly if he were on holiday in the same country. That puts some of the burden back upon the agency to show that it has reason to believe that the applicant will attend the match for which he is seeking exemption.

I believe that the noble Earl has already indicated that we may hear good news particularly as regards Amendment No. 81. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

Clause 17 is in the Bill specifically because it would be unfair to oblige someone who is not subject to a custodial sentence to report under this Bill irrespective of circumstances, on pain of a criminal offence in default. For example, the person concerned may have suffered a family bereavement and may have to stay at home to comfort relatives or to attend the funeral. He may marry a wife. I should not wish to advance the argument to the Committee that he would commit the offence of failing to report if he devotes his attention to those other obligations provided that is agreed with the agency.

Perhaps I may draw the attention of the Committee to the deliberate drafting of Clause 17(2)(b). The agency does not have to be satisfied that the special circumstances will actually prevent the person from attending the designated match, but only that he would not attend the match because of those circumstances. For example, how could he conclusively prove in advance that he would attend his mother's funeral instead of causing trouble at a match abroad? He cannot. But the chances are that he will attend the funeral, and the Bill allows for that in Clause 17(2)(b)

Nevertheless, I urge the Committee to agree on reflection that Amendments Nos. 82 and 83 go unnecessarily far. These amendments would mean that as soon as the person could demonstrate any special circumstances the onus would be thrown immediately on to the agency to show reasonable belief that, despite those circumstances, he would attend the match. Under those terms special circumstances would be very easy to demonstrate or to allege. It is not the general intention that the agency should have to decide whether somebody would in fact travel to a particular match. But the amendment could have the effect of putting the agency in just that position on most occasions. That would be a difficult burden of proof and we believe that it is entirely reasonable and equitable to the individuals concerned not to frame the arrangements in that way.

Amendment No. 81 is, as I explained earlier, different. Provided that the substantive tests in Clause 17(2) remain as they are at present provided in the Bill, if the noble Lord were graciously to withdraw Amendments Nos. 82 and 83, it would be right for the Government to accept Amendment No. 81.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am grateful to the Minister for accepting Amendment No. 81. In those circumstances, I shall not be moving Amendments Nos. 82 and 83.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 82 and 83 not moved.]

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 83A and 83B:

Page 15, line 11, after ("match") insert ("or matches").

Page 15, line 14, at end insert— ("(3A) Where an exemption is granted by the agency to a person under subsection (2) above the duties of the agency under section 16(5) above and of that person to report shall be suspended as respects the match or matches to which the exemption applies.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 18 [Functions of agencies: supplementary provisions]:

Lord Harris of Greenwich had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 84:

Page 16, line 2, leave out from ("instrument") to end of line 3 and insert ("but no regulations under that subsection shall have effect until approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament").

The noble Lord said: The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, and I are disposed not to move the amendment. Fewer than 15 noble Lords are in the Chamber at the moment. This is an issue of high principle and it would be absurd to debate the matter in a Committee so sparsely populated. We shall certainly come back to the issue, but on that basis I do not propose to move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 84 not moved.]

Clause 18 agreed to.

Clause 19 [Restriction orders arising out of offences outside England and Wales]:

[Amendment No. 85 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 19 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Monson

I am afraid that my intervention at this point is unlikely to have the same amicable and satisfactory outcome as that resulting from my Amendment No. 77. I am staggered by the fact that the Committee does not seem to have woken up to the essential illiberalism of Clause 19. I say "illiberalism" because in Clause 19 it is seriously proposed that someone who has been duly convicted of an offence committed abroad, quite possibly a minor offence, and has served his sentence in full in that foreign country, so that for that country the slate is wiped totally clean, should nonetheless be hauled before a court, very probably after having been arrested beforehand as provided by subsection (2)(b), in order effectively to be punished a second time for the same offence.

As I said when speaking to Amendment No. 77, a restriction order is undeniably a form of punishment. This constitutes what lawyers term double jeopardy, which is anathema to most democratic countries. It is interesting to note that the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution specifically outlaws double jeopardy.

Quite apart from the power of arrest contained in Clause 19, it is vital to recognise the other ways in which this clause is unique within the Bill as a whole. There is no comparison with restriction orders being imposed by English courts in respect of football related crimes within the United Kingdom where such orders will effectively form part of the sentence imposed. This will not apply in the case of foreign courts. Any sentence that they impose will be complete in itself. Outside Western Europe most courts will not even have heard of this legislation, assuming that the Bill duly becomes law, and even within Western Europe courts dealing with minor offences under paragraphs (f) and (i) of the schedule—for example, drunken behaviour on the way to a match—will not necessarily make the mental connection with football, ascribing it instead to the generalised English yobbishness, which is nothing to do with football and of which they have been painfully aware for many years.

In other words, even in those countries closest geographically and in other ways to us—the Netherlands, Belgium, France and West Germany—there is no guarantee that the courts will take the probable future restriction orders in the United Kingdom into account when passing senences for those crimes committed on their soil. I should like to ask the Minister whether there is any precedent in our legal history for what is proposed in Clause 19.

Earl Ferrers

As the noble Lord knows, the background to the matter is that we think there should be an effective means of preventing our hooligans from attending matches abroad which involve our teams, because they have brought such disrepute to English football overseas. Indeed, it would be quite indefensible to introduce a means of controlling our hooligans at home while at the same time allowing them to run rampage around the football grounds of Europe. The restriction order provision in Part II is the means by which the Government propose to meet that objective.

In Clause 19, to which the noble Lord has drawn our attention, the provision will come into effect only after we have had negotiations with countries which are of a like mind in this respect. He pointed out that a person may have completed his course of imprisonment elsewhere in a foreign country and therefore it is unfair that when he returns he should be given a second dose of punishment here.

I ask the noble Lord to consider this. If a person in this country is convicted of a relevant offence and is given a punishment by the court, he is excluded from matches for two years. Further, if he is given a term of imprisonment for that offence, he is excluded from matches for five years. Therefore, in the scenario with which the noble Lord is concerned, if a person goes abroad and is convicted as a result of an offence committed at a match in a foreign country—for example, in Germany—when he has done his time he would then come back to England, but unlike the person who had committed the offence in this country he would be entitled to go back and commit more offences in Europe.

The point I am trying to make is that if Clause 19 comes into operation, after we have negotiated with other countries, it means that when a person has committed an offence and received punishment in another country, the authorities there will inform this country and the person will be taken to court when he comes back merely to have a restriction order placed upon him. That would happen in much the same way as would have been the case had he committed the offence in England. Therefore, it is simply a matter of ascribing to the person who has committed the offence abroad the same punishment—if punishment it be—of not being allowed to attend matches as would have been imposed had he committed the offence in this country.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

The purpose which lies behind what the Government are striving to do here is not, in my view, unreasonable—although I am bound to say that I am extremely sceptical as to how many restriction orders would be enforced as a result of the acceptance of Clause 19. I say that for a very simple reason. When British football supporters have misbehaved outside the United Kingdom and have been arrested, in the overwhelming majority of cases they have not been brought before the courts. Indeed, they have been put on a train, often under police guard, and sent by boat-train back to this country. That is what has happened.

Therefore the idea that we shall be seeing large numbers of British football hooligans appearing in European courts is, I think, highly unlikely. It is certainly not likely on the basis of past experience. Quite inevitably police forces outside the United Kingdom have many other problems with which they are confronted and they want to get rid of such tiresome people as speedily as possible. That being so, they do not in normal circumstances bring them before the courts. However, a very substantial case has been going on recently, but obviously that is an exception.

I am bound to say that I wonder whether this very substantial procedure—negotiations with foreign governments, Orders in Council, and so on—is not a rather exaggerated response to the problem. As I have indicated, I do not oppose in principle what the Government are endeavouring to achieve here, although I repeat that I am extremely sceptical as to whether it will have any beneficial result.

12.15 a.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I share the abhorrence felt by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, for the fact that punishment is apparently being visited twice upon a person who commits an offence abroad. I tabled an amendment, which I did not move, which would have dealt with the point contained in Clause 19 upon which he has decided to focus. It would have been my intention to table an amendment at the next stage of the Bill, to which we could both have put our names, to take care of the major point that he has made. That is neither a threat nor a promise. I want to assure the noble Lord that he and I are at one in trying to improve the way that the Bill deals with British citizens who are convicted and serve their sentences abroad but who return only to find that, as a result of the Bill, they are convicted again. The offence is not the original offence but is the result of having been convicted abroad. That is wrong.

Earl Ferrers

I do not wish to prolong the debate, but I must tell the noble Lord, Lord Graham, because I believe that he is wrong, that if a person commits a relevant offence at a football match in England, is taken to court, sentenced to imprisonment and serves his sentence, for five years he is not allowed to go abroad. The noble Lord says that that can happen in England but that if he commits the offence abroad and serves his term of imprisonment and returns to England, unlike his English counterpart, he does not have a restriction order for five years placed upon him and can continue to go to matches abroad. The only purpose of the provision contained in Clause 19 is to make the offence committed abroad the same as it is in England so as to prevent people going to matches.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

The Minister referred earlier to agreements with foreign governments on these matters. I can see the point if a European manner of dealing with offences of a like kind emerges and there is agreement which must be validated through both Houses of Parliament. However we are saying that if a man commits an offence in England it will carry a certain punishment. If a man commits an offence in a foreign country he will be dealt with under the law of that country. He will serve the sentence. In normal circumstances, having committed a crime in another country, having been convicted and sentenced and having served the sentence in that country, that would be the end of the matter; but the Minister has said that in this case it is not the end of the matter. That appears to be unjust. I may have it wrong. I may be looking at the issue differently from the Minister. We shall return to this matter at a later stage.

Lord Monson

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, for sharing my unease over this matter. Like him and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, I fully understand the Government's motives, which are admirable; I am just unhappy about the means they propose to achieve the end.

As the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said when deciding not to move Amendment No. 84, the Committee is thin and it is not the right moment to pursue this matter in great detail. However, we must revert to it at a later stage. Meanwhile, I shall study in Hansard what the Minister said. I hope that in turn he will study what I said, especially in regard to the danger of double jeopardy. I should be grateful if he could write to me in the meantime and let me know if there is any precedent in our legal history for what is proposed in Clause 19. The time being what it is, I shall go no further.

Earl Ferrers

Perhaps I may answer that question from the noble Lord, Lord Monson. There is a precedent, because we already have provision for enforcing orders here which are made abroad in relation to drug trafficking.

Clause 19 agreed to.

Clauses 20 and 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Citation, commencement, consequential repeal and extent]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendments Nos. 86 to 89:

Page 18, line 11, leave out ("2 and 7 and").

Page 18, line 13, leave out ("Part I and").

Page 18, line 14, at end insert— ("Provided that the Secretary of State shall not make an order under this subsection bringing into force sections 2 and 7 of this Act unless he is satisfied, as a result of carrying out appropriate trials and after consultation with the Football League and the Football Association, that the national football membership scheme approved under section 4 of this Act is effective.").

Page 18, line 14, at end insert— ("(2) Part I of this Act shall not come into force until the administrator shall have investigated and reported to the Secretary of State on the desirability and feasibility of implementing its provisions in four stages, stage I applying to football clubs belonging to the First Division of the English League, stage 2 to clubs belonging to the Second Division, stage 3 to clubs belonging to the Third Division and stage 4 to clubs belonging to the Fourth Division,").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 86 to 89 have already been dealt with in earlier debates. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.

In the Schedule:

Lord Graham of Edmonton had given notice of his intention to move Amendments Nos. 90 to 93:

Page 19, line 5, at end insert ("and as respects which the court makes a declaration of relevance").

Page 19, line 14, at end insert ("and as respects which the court makes a declaration of relevance").

Page 19, line 18, at end insert ("and as respects which the court makes a declaration of relevance").

Page 19, line 22, at end insert ("and as respects which the court makes a declaration of relevance").

The noble Lord said: These amendments have already been spoken to and will not be moved in the light of assurances from the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, that they would form part of the consideration of the whole matter.

[Amendments Nos. 90 to 93 not moved.]

Schedule agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 94 and 95 not moved.]

Lord Graham of Edmonton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 96.

After the Schedule, insert the following new schedule:



The rights of a member of the scheme for the purposes of section 5(2) of this Act are the following—

  1. (a) the right to participate in the election of representatives to a body which may be established by the administrator for the purpose of advising him on the management of the scheme;
  2. (b) the right to participate in the election of a committee to monitor the operation of the scheme at any one premises, licensed under the Act, of his choice;
  3. (c) the right to call a meeting of members of the scheme;
  4. (d) the right to be notified in writing of the reasons for any proposed withdrawal of membership;
  5. (e) the right to present a defence before any decision regarding withdrawal of membership is made;
  6. (f) the right of appeal against any withdrawal of membership and the right to be represented at such an appeal.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 55A regarding the rights of members of the national football membership scheme. The Minister expressed some sympathy with the idea, but it was left to the FMA to encourage clubs to take the matter into account and work out a scheme. I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 96 not moved.]

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.