§ (".-(1) Any act or omission which-
- (a) takes place outside England and Wales, and
- (b) would, if taking place in England or Wales, constitute a relevant offence within the meaning of the Football Spectators Act 1989,
§ (2) Proceedings for an extra-territorial offence may be taken, and the offence may for the purposes of those proceedings be treated as having been committed, in England or Wales.
§ (3) Subject to any contrary provision attaching to any such relevant offence an extra-territorial offence may only be commenced against a person who is either a British citizen or resident in England or Wales.")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, first, I crave the indulgence of the House to ask for a correction to be made to the amendment in my name. The words "prosecution of" need to be inserted in line 2, so that the amendment reads:
Subject to any contrary provision attaching to any such relevant offence prosecution of an extra-territorial offence",
and so on.
§ I am afraid that I have a terrible sense of déjà vu in relation to this matter—indeed, it seems like a Joycean continuity—but I am afraid that I must run over the main sinews of the justification for the amendment because many noble Lords were not present when we debated it just a few hours ago.
§ The first, important point is that the amendment in no sense works against the Bill. It seeks to add to the powers already present the Bill in order to achieve its purposes. It in no way affects or detracts from the other powers. Secondly, I should make clear that the amendment is not entirely a creature of my own imagination. For the wording, I drew on the extraterritorial arrangements in the legislation between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
§ The arguments that were adduced against the amendment in last night's debate could be summarised as follows. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, said that there should be a definition as to whom the extra-territoriality would relate. That is the purpose of 320 the addition of subsection (3), which was not in the amendment proposed in Committee. That clarifies a perfectly legitimate point.
§ The second objection was that the amendment, if carried, would represent a significant extension of the present, very limited powers of extra-territoriality. That is true; at present, they apply to offences such as piracy, terrorism and paedophilia. I think it fair to say that the justification behind extra-territoriality—or rather, against extra-territoriality—is that it is usually not in the public or national interest. If there is a theft or burglary in Portugal, why should the authorities here have any concern with the matter at all? But in the Bill there is a particular interest and objective, which is precisely to bring to heel our citizens who misbehave, usually in mainland continental Europe. One of the problems repeatedly referred to—and there is no issue between us on this—is that it is a heck of a job to get at the people whom we wish to bring to heel. The amendment would make that task a great deal easier.
§ The third objection is that there could be a problem in terms of what lawyers sometimes call the comity of nations. For example, would there be a problem between us and the Belgians with us both having the right to prosecute for the same act? The answer is no. It does not require any further legislation. All that is required in order to avoid that sort of muddle is for British authorities to converse and agree with Belgian authorities—as indeed they did, expensively over Euro 2000—and to decide between them, when offences have been committed that speak to both Belgian law and to our law, who is to take the initiative.
§ One of the problems that arose over Euro 2000 was, of course, that of the 965 British people arrested and deported, only two have been prosecuted for violence. I partly understand why that is so. I am sure that the Belgians say, "Why on earth should we go to all the trouble, hassle and expense of prosecuting these over-beered louts? Let's ship 'em out"—and that is what they did, rather indiscriminately. The amendment would mean that instead of a large number getting off scot-free, we should with evidence, as I shall set out, be able to prosecute in this country according to our own laws, in our own way, according to our own standards of proof, without any new-fangled laws, and achieve the deterrent effect without which, frankly, the Bill is a total waste of time.
§ I turn briefly to the question of obtaining evidence and the whole issue of arrest. Again, that is a pragmatic partnership matter between the authorities here and those in the country concerned. I emphasise that a great deal of co-operation goes on in main tournaments as it does in regard to important matches. I foresee the Belgians being happy with the prospect of our taking responsibility for our people by prosecuting them here. That would be a severe deterrent to bad behaviour; and that is what they devoutly hope for when British fans go over to Belgium. So I see no problem in terms of arrest.
§ Nor do I see any problems over evidence. The same evidence would be required in this country for an offence committed in Belgium as would be required for 321 any offence committed here. The simple issue remains whether there is enough evidence. It could be video evidence or direct evidence. We send large numbers of our police and security people over to the Continent for football tournaments anyhow. I do not see that the Belgians would wish to be obstructive in terms of their personnel coming to Britain to give evidence. These are all practical matters which can readily be resolved by sensible talking between the authorities in the countries concerned.
§ If one ran into a situation where, for example, the French said, "We are not having anything to do with your law, your people and the rest of it. To hell with you", so be it. We lose nothing by the Bill. It would simply mean that with regard to a particular tournament or match the Bill would be ineffective as regards extra-territoriality.
§ The question of expense was raised: would it not be frightfully expensive having to ship over Belgian police or ship over to Belgium considerable numbers of our own police? But we do that anyhow. The expense referred to is piffling compared with the ill that we seek to address and the damage to our national reputation —and indirectly to our chances of holding the tournaments in this country, the commercial benefit of which is enormous.
§ The advantages of the amendment are implicit in what I have said. It would give a second string to the bow available to the police and other authorities to combat this insidious problem. It would use existing law, and would avoid altogether the civil libertarian and other issues on which so many noble Lords have been eloquent and about which we feel so strongly.
§ Happily, Clause 3 of the Bill as it stands already contains a power to allow the necessary supplementary provisions to be made under the Bill to fill in the gaps that exist with regard to what is a relatively short provision in the amendment. Most happily of all, Schedule 1 provides a complete, work-through set of offences to which the extra-territoriality would relate—something like 23 separate categories of football-related offences are all worked through practically. This amendment simply taps into that provision.
§ Finally, the amendment would provide us with the power to deal with some of these thugs ourselves. We should not be reliant on reluctant foreign authorities. Jack Straw made clear how disappointed he was at the Belgian failure to prosecute. We should have the remedy in our own hands, in our own courts, according to our traditional protections. Publicity would undoubtedly ensure when we had had 10, 20 or even 100 exemplary prosecutions. I sincerely hope that the Government will take the amendment in the spirit in which it is intended, and that they will not oppose the addition of extra-territoriality to the Bill's provision. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I have a terrible suspicion that, regrettably, the hopes of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, will be dashed. Last night the Government were determined to introduce 322 into English law a system which will exacerbate the tendency to detain and ban the innocent, whereas if the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is accepted it is most likely that the guilty will be prosecuted. I accept the comment made last night about the slightly novel concept of extending extraterritoriality to what might be termed relatively minor offences. However, the Government do not treat these as minor offences. Basically, the Government believe that football hooligans who travel abroad are nearly as bad as the Black Death or Hitler's invasion of Europe. The Government and the newspapers are becoming hysterical about it. Why else is the Bill being rushed through in nanoseconds and noble Lords are unable to read what was said yesterday in Committee because Hansard has not yet been published?
§ Undoubtedly, the Government have panicked and produced rotten, lousy legislation. We might get somewhere if only we could persuade some of the more libertarian Tory Members of the House to vote for the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. The noble Lord has provided a rescue helicopter for the Government. Here is a lovely way to identify the guilty, prosecute them and punish them in a way that deters others. If that leads to a lack of hooliganism in this country it may be translated into a lack of hooliganism overseas. I wish that I had not heard as much as I did last night, which was depressing beyond peradventure.
§ Lord Desai
My Lords, much as I admire the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, as a civil libertarian. I cannot understand his amendment. It emerged last night in debate that the use of extra-territoriality to deal with football offences is a step too far. The noble Lord has, as it were, internalised his rhetoric against Football hooligans and sought to provide a super-solution which is more violent than the Government's proposals.
Noble Lords will be aware that I do not like the Bill. I believe that the Government make too much of the issue of football violence. Be that as it may, to extend the concept of extra-territoriality, which is normally concerned with serious offences like paedophilia, to football hooliganism is very worrisome.
I should like to ask three questions to aid my understanding since I am not a lawyer. First, I do not know whether under subsection (3) of the noble Lord's amendment a British citizen who is resident abroad is subject to extra-territoriality. Secondly, the noble Lord said that if the French wanted to punish football hooligans, so be it; we should not bother. However, I see nothing in the noble Lord's amendment to prevent double jeopardy. If the French punished football hooligans and the British press reported the presence of English thugs abroad those individuals could be punished here on their return. Thirdly, I put a quest ion to my noble friend purely out of curiosity. I believe that the Bill does nothing to prevent English foot ball fans from travelling to an international game in the Republic of Ireland via Northern Ireland. Perhaps my reading of the legislation is entirely wrong. However, one does not need a passport to visit Northern Ireland, 323 and to travel to the Republic via Northern Ireland is very easy. Perhaps I am pointing out a loophole which will strengthen the Bill at Third Reading. However, while sitting here that thought has come into my mind.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I opposed a broadly similar amendment last night and shall not weary noble Lords by repeating my arguments this afternoon. I spoke at about 11.25 p.m. and so my reasons are already in print—in the unlikely event that anyone will be remotely interested. Of far more interest is that at least two noble and learned Lords have opposed the amendment, largely on the ground that it is undesirable to create extra-territorial offences over and above the very limited grave offences of murder and sexual offences against children. Despite the very persuasive arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Desai, that this is a step too far. As I said at Second Reading, I believe that a better way to deal with the matter is to encourage more prosecutions on the Continent by offering to accommodate and feed convicted prisoners in this country, as the law already provides.
The noble Lord, Lord McNally, in reply to criticisms last night suggested that the Liberal Democrat amendment was the lesser of two evils as compared with Sections 21A and 21B. That is so. I do not, however, see why we should put up with either of them, provided that at Third Reading tomorrow we can have another go at watering down Section 21A, even though we are no longer in a position completely to defeat it.
§ Viscount Astor
My Lords, this is the last amendment to be dealt with today which we debated yesterday. All of the amendments to be dealt with after this were debated earlier today. That gives noble Lords a small advantage, in that the report of that debate is now available. There is a draft of Hansard in the Library, as the Government Chief Whip informed us earlier, but there is only one copy of it. When I sought to steal it I had to return it rather rapidly. I have not had an opportunity to study it. Therefore, it is not able to assist us in later debates. However, for the purposes of this amendment we have the benefit of the report of the debate last night.
When the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, moved his amendment last night I had some sympathy for it. However, two noble and learned Lords pointed out that the amendment gave rise to problems. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, has returned with subsection (3). Since I am not a lawyer, perhaps when the Minister winds up he will inform me whether that subsection deals with the question raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick; namely, whether if a Belgian hooligan arrived in this country for, say, a holiday he could be arrested when he next came to the UK and be made subject to an English banning order.
324 We are aware that extra-territorial jurisdiction works for serious offences. There are provisions to deal with terrorism as between this country and the Republic of Ireland, and there are also provisions to deal with paedophiles. However, there is concern as to whether, if we suddenly widen the power to include this specific offence, we shall begin a new trend.
My noble friend Lord Onslow was concerned about someone who hurled a brick in the Champs Elysées. Most of my noble friend's analogies last night concerned that part of Paris, which says something about his holiday destinations and the style that he adopts when there. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, has also been to the Champs Elysées—or even the Left Bank. Perhaps Montmartre is more suitable. The Government could reassure noble Lords in one respect. Last night we asked what the Government were doing to encourage prosecutions in the country where the offences were committed.
I do not want to repeat the debate. From listening to the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, we know that many of the vast numbers of people arrested were simply caught up in the sweep. Nevertheless, out of those vast numbers there have been only three prosecutions. The view on the Continent seems to be, "Arrest them; put them on the train and ferry; get rid of them as quickly as possible and we don't have to deal with them". That must be unsatisfactory. The Government said that they wanted people to be prosecuted. However, the Minister did not say what help the Government were giving to encourage prosecuting authorities in those countries. Noble Lords might be reassured if the Minister were able to do so. The Minister said that there would be difficulties. If someone were prosecuted because he was filmed on CCTV would the Government have access to that film? These are not strong reasons. Reasons of principle are perhaps stronger arguments against the amendment.
We started off by being sympathetic to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. However, we are concerned about creating a whole new raft of extraterritorial offences. Therefore we shall listen to the Minister's reply with an open mind. It would help if the noble Lord could expand on how the Government can encourage the conviction of more hooligans in the country where the offence is committed.
§ Baroness Ludford
My Lords, I support my noble friend's amendment which fits into an increasing trend in the European Union towards mutual assistance in criminal matters. The amendment concentrates on gaining convictions—a point that we on these Benches have made consistently. As regards the lesser of two evils, when attempting to steer a path between the devil of continental deportations and the deep blue sea of summary justice it seems valid to provide for a practical and effective way forward.
The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, makes a valid point about seeking to ensure that the Belgian authorities gain convictions. The problem is that that aim is more in our self interest than that of the Belgians. It will always be easier to deport. After all, that country has had the expense of keeping people in 325 custody. It has suffered its worst part whereas for us the damage to our reputation continues. The onus is on this country to do something about it.
The problems regarding access to evidence could also be addressed within the EU context. It was one of the areas identified for greater effort at the summit meeting of heads of government on justice and home affairs last October in Tampere in Finland. It is not necessarily a question of the harmonisation of criminal law—that alarms many people—but of mutual assistance and more recognition regarding convictions and orders relating to evidence.
That is a good way forward. The convictions can be secured in Belgium, Holland, France, or wherever. Alternatively, recognising that it is more in our interests than those of the other countries, we should consider the evidence collected and secure convictions at home. I believe that this is one of a narrow range of offences for which extra-territoriality should be considered.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, as the Minister gathers his brief, I hope that he will respond with an open mind. As the Bill progresses, I have a growing suspicion that we may be finding some of the solutions to soccer hooliganism. But the Government will not regard as key parts of the Bill some of the solutions which will work.
I suspect that hooliganism will be weaned away from soccer not by the policeman exercising these powers at the points of departure but by a range of measures instituted by clubs and others. I agree with the noble Viscount's point that soccer hooliganism has lacked any kind of "truth and consequence". Individuals go away and cause mayhem and no one is ever prosecuted. The Minister needs to consider how to establish truth and consequence both at home and abroad. The Minister describes the powers that he wants to give police at the points of departure as preventive. I am not so sure that they will be as preventive as the Government hope. When hooligans see their friends being prosecuted, convicted and paying a price for soccer hooliganism, that will be the real deterrent. The Minister should devote his attention to that aspect. That is why I hope that his response indicates an openness of mind.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I shall try to be as encouraging as I can. It was an interesting debate last night. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour which made me sound more negative than I did when we discussed the issue at Second Reading.
I thought that I had made plain the problems with extra-territorial jurisdiction. The views expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, were telling. It remains the case that extra-territorial jurisdiction exists in only fairly limited circumstances—murder, certain serious sex crimes, and piracy, which I think was mentioned during the debate. It is fairly constrained territory.
I am quite attracted to the amendment. It has had some currency with debate within the Home Office and with the football authorities. It has the benefit of 326 convenience in the sense that perhaps it will add greater certainty to outcome. I recognise the strength of the noble Lord's argument on that point. There are problems. Burdens and standards of proof, transportation of evidence and witnesses, the less easy transposition of like offences, and so on, would be real difficulties.
There is another difficulty. The extra-territorial jurisdiction procedure would relate to criminal offences and therefore to criminal law and procedures. That is an important point. That would mean that retrospective evidence would be excluded from such proceedings. We believe that one of the strengths of new Section 14B(2) is that it is a civil and not a criminal proceeding. That means that the use of retrospective evidence is far more easily squared with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Finally, extra-territorial jurisdiction in our view could never constitute a strategy against football hooliganism. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, saw it almost as the answer when he passionately put forward his argument. We believe that we need these proactive and preventive powers to try to stop likely troublemakers from travelling overseas in the first instance. I think that we are right to push for that. Punishing them afterwards will, for us, always be a second best option. In politics one should never say "never". This particular amendment falls carefully into that category.
I suggest to the noble Lord that he withdraws his amendment on the basis of an undertaking that we shall bring back a report on the discussion of the first sunset clause so that we can consider what merit and value there is in extra-territorial jurisdiction. I believe that it will be one year for the first period of the sunset clause. Then some further consideration can be given to this matter with a view perhaps to considering legislation at some later date when the opportunity arises.
I recognise that that is perhaps not what the noble Lord wants and that that undertaking is not as firm and crisp as he would like. We have a measure of interest and sympathy with the direction of the amendment. It may well be part of a wider armoury of measures which we need to consider.
The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, quite properly asked what we were doing to encourage prosecutions abroad. When I visited the mayors and police chiefs of Charleroi and Eindhoven, I was pretty fulsome in my encouragement that they should adopt a zero or a low-tolerance approach and back that up by using their courts to prosecute those apprehended during the course of the Euro 2000 tournament. They gave me their assurances that they would, as they always do in such circumstances. We had a very happy signing ceremony of protocols where it was agreed that that would take place.
The Belgian authorities chose to use the exportation route. Because the offence for which arrests were made was "administrative", to use their own description, no prosecutions are likely to ensue except in the few and limited cases which have been widely discussed in the 327 British press and to which much reference has been made. That is a great disappointment. I believe that it would be better for justice to be done, and be seen to be done, across Europe when instances of hooliganism take place. That would send a very loud and powerful message and make the hooligans extremely uncomfortable about being prosecuted in another jurisdiction and having to put up with all the inconvenience and unpleasantness that that sometimes brings. We as a Government are keen to work closely with our European partners to encourage them to make full use of their powers within their own jurisdiction where there are similar offences and where persons have been arrested for acts that constitute hooliganism.
I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment. I hope that he will treat my comments as encouraging, sympathetic and practical because that is how I intend them. I trust that the amendment will be withdrawn.
§ 6 p.m.
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister's response. There is a slight problem in that there were five questions addressed specifically to me. Perhaps I may give one-sentence replies. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, asked whether their would be double jeopardy. I think not. He asked about British citizens abroad. They would be within the Bill, but it is highly unlikely that we would bother about them. The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, asked about Belgian tourists here. They would not come within the territoriality provisions. The objection of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, is covered by subsection (3) of the amendment. As regards the misgivings in principle of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, we did not know what his views were after I had endeavoured to persuade him that there was no problem. He did not speak after that.
I am not worried about the trend towards extraterritoriality because the circumstances warranting that will be few and far between. I believe that the rationale of traditional extra-territoriality will be found consonant with this proposal.
As regards encouraging others to deal with our hooligans, I hope that at least the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, got a good lunch out of his protocol signing because he got very little else. I fear that that is how it is going to be. Finally, his "problem" as he put it, of the burden and the standards of proof is precisely why we are keen on this amendment. It overcomes the problem which for us is that the burden and standard of proof under the Bill is not as we would have it.
Having said that, I am grateful for the Minister's comments which were constructive. I accept that such a major incision into the Bill now is problematic. I like to believe that mature consideration will lead to the Government wanting to introduce an amendment such as this fairly soon. I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.328
§ Clause 3 [Supplementary]:
§ Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 2, line 19, after ("Act") insert ("or affirmative instrument")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend I move this amendment and speak to government Amendment No. 6. Perhaps I may also speak to Amendment No. 7 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. I can be brief as regards Amendments Nos. 5 and 6. They fulfil the Government's intention as regards Clause 3 of the Bill in complying with the recommendation of the Select Committee's report on the delegated powers.
§ The considerations are explained eloquently in the Select Committee's report, which I am sure noble Lords will have read. Therefore, I simply commend the amendment to your Lordships. I shall speak briefly to the noble Lord's amendment. It would make all orders made under Clause 3 of the Bill subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, even those amending orders which themselves were subject only to the negative resolution procedure.
§ Perhaps I may attempt to assist the House by emphasising the limited nature of the power to make amendments under Clause 3(1) of the Bill. The suggestion that it gives the Government complete authority to make any changes that they wish in the Bill is unfounded. The power is limited to supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitory, transitional or saving provisions. I have undertaken to advise the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, on the arcane legal thinking underlying the difference between transitory and transitional. I said yesterday that I would do that as soon as possible. However, in the time available to me this morning, I have been unable to do the necessary research. The important point is that we accept that any amendments to primary legislation must be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. That is already provided for by Clause 3(4) of the Bill.
§ I have now brought forward an amendment which fully complies with the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee on the point now that we have been able to ensure that it poses no obstacle, as it was feared it might, to the availability of legal advice and assistance to those who may need it. Therefore, I suggest to the noble Lord who is a great expert in this field, that his amendment would not necessarily improve the Bill. I ask him to consider not moving it.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, the purpose in tabling the amendment was to seek the very tight, analytical exposition that we have just received and to have it on the record. It seems to me to be wholly satisfactory. The other point in tabling the amendment is the very extraordinary width of powers and the arcane distinction which rather foxed me, too. Even 329 without elucidation of that matter, I am wholly content. I thank the noble Lord. I shall not move my amendment.
§ Lord Mayhew of Twysden
My Lords, as a member of the devolved legislation committee, and speaking only for myself, perhaps I may express my own gratitude, which is neither transitory nor transitional, for the way in which the Government have responded to our recommendations. They were inspired by exactly the considerations that my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway had in mind when he tabled his amendment. The present position will be very satisfactory.
§ Lord Goodhart
My Lords, like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, I am grateful to the Government for accepting the Committee's recommendation.
§ Viscount Astor
My Lords, when I moved my amendment earlier this morning the noble Lord, Lord Bach, intervened and said that I would be pleasantly surprised by what he had to say. He has fulfilled his promise by coming forward with Amendments Nos. 5 and 6. We welcome them and thank him.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 6:
Page 2, line 21, at end insert-
("In this subsection, "affirmative instrument" means a statutory instrument a draft of which was laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament or the House of Commons.").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 7 not moved.]
§ Clause 5 [Commencement and duration]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.]
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 9A:
Page 2, line 43, leave out ("four") and insert ("three").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 9A has been tabled by the Government this afternoon during the course of our deliberations. It reflects the Government's intention to take on board some of the concerns and criticisms raised about the extent of the widely noted and acknowledged sunset clause. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, made a valuable contribution to our deliberations. When the Home Secretary had a lively, useful and entertaining meeting in the Committee Room upstairs, the noble Lord suggested that there should be a sunset clause. The Home Secretary, quite within character, said that he thought it was a good idea and that he would take it away and think about what such a clause might look like. We now have two sunset clauses on the face of the Bill. One comes into effect after one year and the second after four years.330
§ Yesterday, a number of Members of the Committee were critical of the proposal. They believed that there should be a six-month sunset clause followed by a one-year sunset clause. During the course of the Committee I managed reasonably to persuade Members that that was too short a period of time for us to examine, analyse and consider the impact of the legislation. Members of the Committee realised that we had a fair point.
§ There are few international football matches within the next six months. Yes, there are some important ones—football fans would say that all international matches are important—but there was a recognition that, perhaps with the exception of the one in Paris in September, they would not attract major problems and that we needed a longer period of time to examine the effectiveness of the measures after enactment of the Bill.
§ We rightly made the point that we needed to see how the measures would work over a number of years. Two important competitions are coming up. The run-up games to the final of the World Cup 2002 will provide a severe test—
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Lord wants to see whether the system is working effectively. Is there any prospect of the evaluation being carried out by an agency independent of the Home Office? That would provide many of us with great reassurance.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that intervention. It is a matter to which we could give careful consideration as it has some merit. However, we must carry out a proper appraisal. A measure of independence, and certainly advice independent of the Home Office, would add value.
In addition to the World Cup 2002 there will be the Euro 2004 games which are to be played in Portugal. That is an important competition and qualifying for it will be a major test. The location and time of the matches is yet to be determined because the draw has not been made. But they will obviously be against other European countries and the matches might be a lightning rod for the kind of hooligan acts we have seen during the past few months.
It is the view of the Government, which will probably be shared by NCIS and the police, that we need to have these measures in place in the run-up to the qualifying games for the World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004. It would be a poor reflection if we had in place a sunset clause which provided only limited cover for that period. If the measures which we believe will be effective were to be removed during the run-up to Euro 2004, no doubt our European competitor countries would have something important to say. They made their views volubly known during Euro 2000. They felt that perhaps we had not gone the extra mile towards putting in place measures which would deal effectively with the hooligan problem.
331 For that reason, and because we have carefully reflected on what noble Lords have said, at page 2, line 43, we propose to leave out "four" and insert "three" for the second sunset clause contained in the legislation. That will take us up to 2004 and will provide us with ample opportunity to see whether the measures have been effective; perhaps to have a degree of independent evaluation and to receive those views; for us to work closely with the National Criminal Intelligence Service; for us to continue our close working relationships with the UK-wide police service; and for us to ensure that those measures enable us to make good use of the powers contained within them.
I recognise that the amendment we have tabled today does not go as far as some Members of your Lordships' House would like. I know that some of them take the view that the measure, because it is in some respects an infringement of civil liberties, should remain on the statute book for only the shortest possible time. We take the view that it needs to be there somewhat longer so that we can evaluate its effectiveness.
I say that based on the history of the football-related measures which have been passed in this country. As I have said on several occasions, we have seen the steady creation of legislation which has attempted to deal with different aspects of the problem of football hooligans. Collectively, that legislation has become effective. The legislation we seek to place on the statute book during this Session adds another element to that. We need to have a careful, thought-through, constructive evaluation of the impact of the legislation.
I recognise that another amendment on the Marshalled List would dramatically reduce the sunset clause by halving it from four to two years in its accumulated effect. I believe that that would be a mistake. I do not believe that it will enable us to make the type of judgment that we need to make on the value of the legislation; nor do I believe that it will give us the time to discover what impact it has had.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, perhaps the Minister will give way on that point. I am not sure whether my question is addressed to him, to the Table or to the Chair. We are debating Amendment No. 9A. If it is carried, does that mean that Amendment No. 10 cannot be moved? We are often told that—
§ Lord Carter
My Lords, the answer is that, if Amendment No. 9A is accepted, Amendment No. 10 can also be moved.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, that means that we would have two contradictory measures. I sometimes believe that we walk into the bacon slicer in this place.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I was looking forward to yet more learned debate and discussion about matters of procedure.
332 The other important point with regard to our amendment is that it will provide a first year review. I believe that it would be wise for annual reviews to be built into the whole of the sunset period so that we may have a rolling programme to monitor the effectiveness of the legislation. In a sense, we already do that with other pieces of legislation, examining the impact of particular measures. I am not afraid for us to go down that route.
I believe that this legislation requires a period of stability. It is important and the measures are proportionate. I recognise the civil libertarian concerns, and we have brought forward amendments which actively pursue some of the points raised in another place and in your Lordships' House to match that concern. We have also given assurances. I believe that this longer sunset clause period is needed in order to carry out the important job of understanding whether the legislation is effective. That type of approach has not been adopted previously. It is a new approach and I believe that it says a great deal that it has been developed from your Lordships' House. I believe that the measure is right and proportionate and I urge your Lordships most strongly to adopt it.
§ Lord Cope of Berkeley
My Lords, the Minister has explained that Amendment No. 10, standing in my name and those of my noble friends and the noble Lord, Lord McNally, addresses the same point. It seeks to reduce the second half of the sunset period to one year, making a total of two years.
Last night I advanced a more restrictive formula but did not press it. The Minister suggested that we should try to obtain a greater measure of agreement. There is agreement between the Liberal Democrat and our own Benches but, unfortunately, that does not include the Minister. However, he has—and I acknowledge and am grateful for this—moved from four years to three.
My point is that, first, in any of its formulations the sunset clause affects only the powers in new Sections 14B, 21A and 21B. Those who were with us through the night now know those sections in detail. We know that they are novel—the Minister has just said so. We know that they are dangerous from the libertarian's point of view, and we know that they are full of practical problems to an acute degree. In some respects, they are also suspect in relation to European legislation, the European Convention on Human Rights and so on.
In particular, to start with new Sections 21A and 21B appeared to be essential to the Bill. However, a few minutes ago in a previous debate the Minister described them as "longstop" measures. Therefore, their importance in the Bill has retreated somewhat, but they are still important for their novelty, their libertarian problems and their practical problems. However, the question is: how long should they be allowed to run for this experiment? As I made clear during debate on an earlier amendment, our acceptance of the experiment is based on the notion that it is an experiment and that, given the nature of the 333 problem, it is worth trying. The Government proposed and examined the measure. Therefore, it is worth trying, but not, I suggest, for very long.
Last night we understood that the provisions will apply to approximately 20 international games a year, involving England playing overseas in various competitions and friendly matches and also significant British clubs playing overseas. All those games may give rise to problems. Therefore, over the two years as a whole some 40 games will take place, together with some 40 experiments relating to the provisions. During that time we shall be able to discover whether the libertarian dangers are as great as are supposed and whether the practical and legal problems can be overcome.
From what we read in the newspapers, apparently two years will easily clear the next election and take us into the next Parliament, whatever that may bring. I believe that a two-year period provides the best solution; that is, one year until the affirmative order, which is agreed on both sides, and one further year until the expiration of the primary legislation which will require further legislation to renew it. That further legislation should not prove too difficult if the experiment works well.
Finally, I want to clarify my understanding of the position concerning these two amendments. Amendment No. 9A—the manuscript amendment recently moved by the Government—provides for three years. Whatever the result of the House's decision on that amendment, we can still move Amendment No. 10 to reduce the period to one year. As I understand it, that is the advice of the Clerks, which the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip gave us. Of course, we believe that three years are better than four and, so far as I am concerned, we shall accept Amendment No. 9A, although I must let the noble Lord, Lord McNally, speak for himself. However, I believe that we shall also wish to press Amendment No. 10 to reduce the whole of the sunset clause period to two years.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, perhaps I may ask a further technical question. Is this how the process works? In goes three years. There is then a new amendment which states two years. Out goes three years and in pops two? Is that how it works? If so, that would be the shortest period that I have ever heard stated in an Act of Parliament.
§ Lord Cope of Berkeley
My Lords, I believe that my noble friend has stated the position correctly. Amendment No. 9A will be put. If my opinion prevails, it will be accepted and the figure will be lowered to three. Subsequently, I shall move formally Amendment No. 10, reducing the period to two years in total—that is, one year plus one year. The House will then no doubt decide whether or not we should take that further step which I recommend.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, although I do not want us to get into barrack-room "lawyery" on this matter, I believe that it is now clear that, if we want the period 334 to be one year plus one year, we must carry Amendment No. 10. If we carry Amendment No. 10, that will go into the Bill and not the provision for one plus three years.
From the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, I believe that it will have been noticed that there is now among those of us who were here in the wee small hours a certain camaraderie, rather like Henry V's troops at Agincourt—we band of brothers. Indeed, there was a point last night when I started to feel brotherly love towards the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit—something that I was not expecting.
§ Lord Tebbit
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord. Perhaps he would say whether that was during my presence or my absence.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, after the earlier decision yesterday on Section 28, I had better keep that to myself.
I do not know whether it is by accident or by design that the usual channels have allowed us to make our decision in this way. As it seems a rather ingenious solution, I assume that it must have been an accident. We have an opportunity to balance the two arguments. One, which was made last night by the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, who has spoken with increasing authority during the passage of the Bill, is about giving the Bill time to bed in. The other, made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and others, stresses the concerns that the civil rights implications of the Bill are so fundamental and the way in which it is being taken through the House at a gallop is so worrying that it should stay on the statute book for the shortest possible time before it is examined again with the full rigours of parliamentary scrutiny.
The Liberal Democrats come down in favour of the latter argument. We shall acquiesce in the passage of Amendment No. 9A, but only to give it the shortest parliamentary life, because we intend to seek the House's approval for Amendment No. 10. Given the way in which the Bill has been put through and the civil liberties issues that it has raised, it should be brought back to Parliament at the earliest possible moment.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, I welcome a new Tory Peer, the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit of Philadelphia—the city of brotherly love. I even extend a fraction of brotherly love to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, on this issue, although it is up to him whether he accepts it. He has at least moved a small way, which is an improvement. As the noble Lords, Lord McNally and Lord Cope, have said, there is too much that is wrong with the Bill and too much that is bad in it. If it had been up to me, it would have gone the way of the Test Acts, but it will probably go through. At least if we do not get two years, we have got three. For that and for very small mercies, let us be grateful.
§ Lord Borrie
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, said that the Opposition would support 335 the Bill as an experiment. If it is an experiment and there is agreement that there should be a sunset clause, surely it is essential that there should be sufficient time to see whether the experiment is good, bad or something in between.
I am no fan of the Bill, but it seems that it will be passed, so we should allow the reasonable time that the Minister has suggested for the sunset clause. I doubt that the purpose of the Bill will be achieved, although I also have a somewhat conflicting fear that it may be, but at the price of unreasonable and dangerous damage to the civil liberties of a number of innocent people.
The period allowed by Amendment No. 10 would be inadequate. The issue is not just the number of international matches that would be covered—let us say 24. We will not necessarily be able to tell whether the Bill is useful, effective and valuable—or otherwise—immediately after a match.
A number of points have been made on that issue by the noble Lords, Lord Cope and Lord McNally. There will be challenges in the courts and questions about the European Convention on Human Rights, which may not be resolved as soon as the match is over. After we have spent however many hours it was that your Lordships spent in Committee last night and further hours today, it would be unwise to leave an inadequate period for an experiment—to use the word of the noble Lord, Lord Cope—to see whether the Bill has good effects.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Cope, may have used the word "experiment", but I do not believe that Mr Straw would associate himself with the idea that the Bill is an experiment. That is why I asked about independent evaluation. The problem is that civil servants will be under immense pressure to say that it has been a triumphant success. That is why we need an independent agency to evaluate it and publish a report to the Home Office. I hope that the noble Lord agrees that it is best to persuade the Minister that that is desirable.
§ Lord Borrie
My Lords, I can see great value in that suggestion. If the Home Office did not engage independent researchers to inquire into the issue, no doubt the noble Lord and many others would ask questions about it so that the Home Office was well aware of the issue.
§ Lord Tebbit
My Lords, the procedure by which we are going to vote is peculiar, but we have agreed it and we should not reopen the issue. However, if we come to a similar situation in future, it would be wise to take the most restrictive amendment first, because if that was passed, there would be no need to go further. However, that is a side issue.
The assessment of the Bill will be conducted not so much by officials in the Home Office or outside as by the press, the television and the public, who will look to see whether the provisions have worked.
336 I shall not say that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, delivered an Exocet to his case, but he certainly had a bit of a shot at his foot when he said that if we had only a very short period, only one match might be affected, which would not be enough to tell whether the provisions were effective. We have had this extraordinary procedure of being up all night because he claimed that that one match was of such massive importance that it was vital that we got the Bill through in great haste, which could result in rather muddled legislation. He should reflect on which case he is making. He cannot make both.
§ Lord Clinton-Davis
My Lords, I fear that I was not present at 5 o'clock this morning. I was in another place. The Opposition can have their cake and eat it. The three-year period that is being proposed can be abbreviated. There is nothing wrong with that. I have strong reservations about the Bill, but Ministers could make a judgment within three years or within two years. They would not be short of representations from organisations such as Liberty.
It is as though Ministers are psychic. They are not. I was a Minister myself in the period of Wilson, Callaghan and Blair, so I know that Ministers are not psychic. They have their own views. It is not as though this evening the view has been expressed that Ministers take whatever is presented to them. They do not. That being the case, I believe that three years is a reasonable period of time. That does not mean that a period of three years will necessarily be applied.
If Ministers believe that the Bill is worthless, they will come to that view. First, a period of three years will give Ministers an opportunity to hear about the merits of the Bill from outside. Secondly, it will give the public the opportunity to express their point of view, which is not an unimportant part of what the Government have to consider. Thirdly, it will give the Opposition the opportunity to consider the situation as it is.
Both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives should view this from the point of view of the efficacy of the proposal, and not from the point of view of party advantage. I do not see that there is any party advantage in this matter. We can best make it work by ensuring that the Government have a period within which they can come to a proper and a considered point of view. I believe that that is the only point of view that is important.
§ Lord Desai
My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Borrie, although I do not much like the Bill, I believe that a longer period is preferable for the following reasons. If people's civil liberties are affected, lawyers being what they are, it will take a long time for us to find out that that is the case. The headline numbers of hooligans caught or not caught will not be an effective test of the Bill in relation to civil liberties. Only when such people have been prevented from travelling and they proceed through the civil courts will we see the result. Lawyers would be poor if they did not take a long time to decide such matters.
337 A longer period would also give us a larger sample of the rights and wrongs of the matter and not much will be lost by waiting. I hope that when we consider this matter again it will not be in the last week of July.
§ Lord Woolmer of Leeds
My Lords, I too do not like many aspects of this legislation. I want to address my remarks to the particular proposal for the one-plus-one-year period. The effect of that would be that the current legislation would end two years from now, as I expect these provisions to be triggered within days. That means that legislation will have to be provided in the Government's legislative programme commencing in the autumn of next year. Presumably, any review of the legislation would take at least two or three months.
The kind of careful consideration that we would want to see for such legislation, as opposed to this unseemly rush, would take a number of months and not a number of weeks. Therefore, I would have expected that a review of the process would be completed by the end of next year and that the consideration of draft legislation, if any, would take place in the spring and summer of 2002. Effectively, that means that for the review to be completed by the end of December next year, it would have to commence by September next year. The one-plus-one period would mean that the decisions taken in two years' time would be based on not more than 12 months of football.
Continually I have expressed the view—I am delighted that the Minister has accepted this—that the so-called short route will be only a modest contribution to the effect of this legislation. In my view, the legislation will have an effect of substance only if the longer route—that is the long process of identifying hooligans and bringing them before magistrates' courts in a proper manner—bears fruit. That will bear fruit only by consistently following hooligans, identifying them match after match, month after month, over two or three years.
To noble Lords opposite and to those minded to go down the one-plus-one-year route I say that they will not give themselves or anyone else a fair opportunity to assess how this legislation works. I do not like the speed of this legislation, as those who have followed the debates on this Bill will know, but the next time it is reviewed, it must be reviewed properly, carefully and at length with a fair ability to assess whether or not it has worked. In my view it will be assessed on whether or not the long route has worked. I believe that the short route will not be used frequently because, if it is, it will rapidly fall into disrepute.
I hope that, despite the agreement made in the early hours of this morning, noble Lords can reflect on whether the one-plus-one-year route really makes sense if we have the common objective of ensuring that next time the legislation is properly considered.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Lord has made many valuable contributions during the passage of the Bill. The reality is that the word 338 "review" that he has used carries weight only if a review is an independent review. The Government, through the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, have not yet committed themselves. He has indicated some interesting ideas, but he has gone no further. When I put the matter to the noble Lord, Lord Borrie, he said that we would be in a strong position to complain and to criticise the Government if a review was not independent. That again is totally useless.
We want a clear undertaking from the Minister that any review of this Bill will be conducted by an independent agency and not by civil servants who will be placed in a ludicrous position because they would be invited to say that all this effort that we have applied to this Bill had been proved totally worthless because we did not have the opportunity of insisting that the review should be carried out by an independent agency.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, during the course of the debates on the Bill the noble Lord put to me the use of what he describes now as an "independent agency". We had not given earlier consideration to that point, but I am prepared to consider it. Perhaps the noble Lord would share with us his thoughts on what that independent agency may be.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I do not believe that it is for me to name any particular organisation that would carry out the review.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I gave way to the Minister and now I am replying to the point that he made.
§ Lord Pearson of Rannoch
My Lords, I was about to chide the noble Lord, Lord Harris, about exactly that.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I do not believe that the noble Lord need trouble himself with that. I am well aware that we have reached Report stage. I have intervened only twice to ask a question. I am now addressing myself to the issue. This afternoon I made the point to the Minister and he has an opportunity to consult his advisers, who are not a thousand miles away from the Chamber, and to indicate to us whether the Government are prepared to accept this point. Without such an assurance the review is worthless. That point must be appreciated by everyone in the House. So far I have not heard any words of comfort from the noble Lord, Lord Bassam.
§ Lord Woolmer of Leeds
My Lords, I took that to be an intervention as I was sitting down. I say only that, if the noble Lord, Lord Harris, is satisfied on that point, then an independent review would be of no value unless it was over a long enough period for it to have a chance of properly reflecting whether or not the 339 measures had had any effect. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to ask him in turn, if he had that reassurance, whether he would be willing to move from the position of one-plus-one to one-plus-three.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, the tail end of that debate was more interesting than what preceeded it. I sensed we were almost getting into the process of negotiations. They would be welcome and perhaps they should continue. I am certainly more than prepared to take away the notion of an independent review. My noble friend Lord Woolmer made an important point. If the House were to accept the one-plus-one proposition, given that the legislation will in effect be in place for just two years and given that a review would have to take place during that time, it is likely that the period of time reviewed would be extremely short, much less than the two years which the sunset clause one-plus-one suggests.
§ Lord Clinton-Davis
My Lords, perhaps my noble friend will give way. Is it within my noble friend's experience, as it was within mine and I am sure within the experience of others who have had the opportunity to be in office, that solid representations are made to Ministers—they can accept or reject them as they choose—by Liberty and similar organisations. It is therefore wrong in principle that Ministers should shut off their minds to the idea of listening carefully to a whole variety of propositions made to them and simply make up their own minds on the basis of A, B and C which seem to be substantive arguments for or against a renewal.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, my noble friend helpfully reminds us about representations. Of course, we want to take careful account within any review period of representations that are made, particularly those made by the organisation to which my noble friend referred.
Going back to the point of the independent review, of course we shall give it careful consideration. But it needs a decent period of time over which to be conducted. We may want to contract to an academic institution with experience in this area. I asked the noble Lord, Lord Harris, the question because I thought he had an agency in mind that might reputably be able to assist us. Clearly, he does not. But that is something to which both he and I can give further thought.
We need a longer period of time to see whether or not this legislation is effective. I come back to a point I made during my earlier contribution. If the one-plus-one proposition succeeds in your Lordships' House this evening, this legislation will effectively run out at this stage of the year 2002. In 2002 we begin the European competition for Euro 2004. Given the unfortunate, unpleasant, disgraceful, shaming scenes that we saw on the streets of Charleroi, Brussels, Copenhagen and elsewhere during the concluding part of the last football season, what sort of message do we 340 honestly think we will be delivering in 2002 if at that point we cease this piece of legislation? What message will that send to the European football authorities?
Before noble Lords make a decision on this question, they should think long and hard about that point. It is also worth taking into account the important words of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon. After all, it was he who proposed to the Home Secretary during that historic meeting, the valuable consultation, that we should have a sunset clause. He was most impressed by the Home Secretary's response; he described it as "graceful". He said also that he thought that it was extremely important that there should be an annual report received by the House—something which we in the Home Office are happy to provide—on the operation of the Act.
The noble Lord went further during the course of our Second Reading debate. He said:I also feel that a sunset provision is very important. I personally would prefer to see a sunset provision of three years".—(Official Report, 20/7/00: col. 1216.)There we have it: the respected noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, the chairman of a powerful and important committee, offered his advice to your Lordships, not once, but twice. He proposed the sunset clause; we accepted it in good faith. He also suggested and made the powerful and important point that we needed to have an annual report and review. We accepted that point too. And during Second Reading he suggested a sunset provision of three years. That perfectly makes the case.
§ Lord Cope of Berkeley
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, that was three years in total: one plus two. Whereas what we are offered this afternoon is either four—one plus three—or two.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, I take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Cope. But the point I return to and make most powerfully is this. We need a longer review period so that we can see just how effective these measures are. I insist that one plus one is not long enough.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 10:
§ Page 2, line 43, leave out ("four years") and insert ("one year")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.
§ The Deputy Speaker (Lord Methuen)
My Lords, the Question is on Amendment No. 10: Page 2, line 43, leave out the words "three years", as just inserted, and insert "one year".
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 10) shall be agreed to?341
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 174; Not-Contents, 136.343
|Division No. 3|
|Ackner, L.||Henley, L. [Teller]|
|Addington, L.||Higgins, L.|
|Alderdice, L.||Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.|
|Alton of Liverpool, L.||Hogg, B.|
|Anelay of St Johns, B.||Holderness, L.|
|Arran, E.||Howe, E.|
|Astor, V.||Howell of Guildford, L.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||Hunt of Wirral, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Hurd of Westwell, L.|
|Baker of Dorking, L.||Hylton, L.|
|Barker, B.||Jacobs, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Jenkin of Roding, L.|
|Biffen, L.||Jopling, L.|
|Blaker, L.||Kimball, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Kingsland, L.|
|Bledisloe, V.||Knight of Collingtree, B.|
|Boardman, L.||Lamont of Lerwick, L.|
|Bowness, L.||Lang of Monkton, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Lester of Herne Hill, L.|
|Bradshaw, L.||Lindsay, E.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Linklater of Butterstone, B.|
|Brittan of Spennithorne, L.||Liverpool, E.|
|Burnham, L. [Teller]||Lucas, L.|
|Buscombe, B.||Ludford, B.|
|Butterworth, L.||McColl of Dulwich, L.|
|Byford, B.||McConnell, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.|
|Carlile of Berriew, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Carlisle of Bucklow, L.||McNally, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Maddock, B.|
|Chadlington, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Chalker of Wallasey, B.||Mar, C.|
|Clark of Kempston, L.||Mar and Kellie, E.|
|Clement-Jones, L.||Marlesford, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Methuen, L.|
|Cope of Berkeley, L.||Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.|
|Cox, B.||Miller of Hendon, B.|
|Craig of Radley, L.||Monson, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Montrose, D.|
|Dean of Harptree, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Deedes, L.||Naseby, L.|
|Denham, L.||Newby, L.|
|Dixon-Smith, L.||Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.|
|Eccles of Moulton, B.||Northbrook, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Northesk, E.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Norton of Louth, L.|
|Elton, L.||Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.|
|Ezra, L.||O'Cathain, B.|
|Falkland, V.||Onslow, E.|
|Ferrers, E.||Onslow of Woking, L.|
|Flather, B.||Palmer, L.|
|Fookes, B.||Park of Monmouth, B.|
|Forsyth of Drumlean, L.||Pearson of Rannoch, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Peel, E.|
|Garel-Jones, L.||Phillips of Sudbury, L.|
|Geddes, L.||Plumb, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.|
|Glentoran, L.||Rawlings, B.|
|Goodhart, L.||Razzall, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Reay, L.|
|Greaves, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.|
|Hamwee, B.||Rennard, L.|
|Hanham, B.||Renton, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Roberts of Conwy, L.|
|Harris of Richmond, B.||Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.|
|Hayhoe, L.||Roper, L.|
|Rotherwick, L.||Taylor of Warwick, L.|
|Russell, E.||Tebbit, L.|
|Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.||Thomas of Gresford, L.|
|Sandberg, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Sanderson of Bowden, L.||Thomas of Walliswood, B.|
|Scott of Needham Market, B.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.|
|Seccombe, B.||Tope, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Tordoff, L.|
|Selsdon, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Sharman, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Sharp of Guildford, B.||Tugendhat, L.|
|Sharples, B.||Vivian, L.|
|Shaw of Northstead, L.||Waddington, L.|
|Shutt of Greetland, L.||Wallace of Saltaire, L.|
|Smith of Clifton, L.||Walmsley, B.|
|Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.||Watson of Richmond, L.|
|Stodart of Leaston, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Strathclyde, L.||Wilcox, B.|
|Swinfen, L.||Young, B.|
|Acton, L.||Goudie, B.|
|Ahmed, L.||Gould of Potternewton, B.|
|Allenby of Megiddo, V.||Graham of Edmonton, L.|
|Alli, L.||Grenfell, L.|
|Amos, B.||Hardy of Wath, L.|
|Andrews, B.||Harris of Haringey, L.|
|Archer of Sandwell, L.||Harrison, L.|
|Ashley of Stoke, L.||Haskel, L.|
|Ashton of Upholland, B.||Hayman, B.|
|Bach, L.||Hilton of Eggardon, B.|
|Barnett, L.||Hollis of Heigham, B.|
|Bassam of Brighton, L.||Howells of St. Davids, B.|
|Berkeley, L.||Howie of Troon, L.|
|Bernstein of Craigweil, L.||Hoyle, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Hughes of Woodside, L.|
|Blease, L.||Hunt of Kings Heath, L.|
|Borrie, L.||Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)|
|Brett, L.||Islwyn, L.|
|Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.||Janner of Braunstone, L.|
|Brookeborough, V.||Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Burlison, L.||Judd, L.|
|Carter, L. [Teller]||Kirkhill, L.|
|Chandos, V.||Layard, L.|
|Christopher, L.||Lea of Crondall, L.|
|Clinton-Davis, L.||Lipsey, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Cohen of Pimlico, B.||Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.|
|Crawley, B.||Longford, E.|
|Currie of Marylebone, L.||Macdonald of Tradeston, L.|
|David, B.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Davies of Coity, L.||[Teller]|
|Davies of Oldham, L.||McIntosh of Hudnall, B.|
|Desai, L.||MacKenzie of Culkein, L.|
|Dixon, L.||Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L|
|Donoughne, L.||Mallalieu, B.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Dubs, L.||Massey of Darwen, B.|
|Elder, L.||Mitchell, L.|
|Evans of Parkside, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Evans of Temple Guiting, L.||Morgan, L.|
|Evans of Watford, L.||Morris of Castle Morris, L.|
|Falconer of Thoroton, L.||Morris of Manchester, L.|
|Farrington of Ribbleton, B.||Nicol, B.|
|Faulkner of Worcester, L.||Orme, L.|
|Filkin, L.||Patel of Blackburn, L.|
|Fyfe of Fairfield, L.||Plant of Highfield, L.|
|Gale, B.||Prashar, B.|
|Gavron, L.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Gilbert, L.||Puttnam, L.|
|Gladwin of Clee, L.||Ramsay of Cartvale, B.|
|Goldsmith, L.||Rea, L.|
|Rendell of Babergh, B.||Tomlinson, L.|
|Richard, L.||Turnberg, L.|
|Sainsbury of Turville, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|St. John of Bletso, L.||Uddin, B.|
|Scotland of Asthal, B.||Walker of Doncaster, L.|
|Sewel, L.||Watson of Invergowrie, L.|
|Shepherd, L.||Weatherill, L.|
|Simon, V.||Whitaker, B.|
|Smith of Gilmorehill, B.||Wilkins, B.|
|Smith of Leigh, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Stone of Blackheath, L.||Williams of Mostyn, L.|
|Strabolgi, L.||Williamson of Horton, L.|
|Symons of Vernham Dean, B.||Winston, L.|
|Taylor of Blackburn, L.||Woolmer of Leeds, L.|
|Thornton, B.||Young of Old Scone, B.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ The Deputy Speaker (Viscount Simon)
My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 11 I must advise the House that, if it is agreed to, I shall be unable to call Amendments Nos. 12 to 21 due to pre-emption.
Schedule 1 [Amendments of the Football Spectators Act 1989]:
§ Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 11:
§ Page 5, leave out lines 27 to 43.
The noble Earl said: My Lords, a sunset clause may be very welcome, but the question about some parts of this Bill is whether the sun should ever rise upon them. If it does, I believe it should be greeted with the proverbial words:
Busy old fool, unruly sun".
I seek by way of this amendment to apply those words to new Section 14B, which contains the "anti-social behaviour order", as the Home Secretary has described it.
§ On these Benches, we have always had misgivings about the anti-social behaviour order. It is a curious mixture of the criminal and the civil. In fact, one might describe it as the "genetically modified" order. It has never been popular on these Benches, but, similarly, it has never been popular in many other places. My noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury said last night— rather later than I care to remember—that he believed that 500 such orders had been granted nationwide. I trust that the Minister is in a position now to confirm or deny that figure. In any case, it is agreed not to be very much; indeed, the Home Secretary admitted as much on 10th July when he addressed a meeting in Committee Room 5.
§ The Home Secretary explained then why he had made the provision of the anti-social behaviour order in new Section 14B mandatory. He has done so because the courts do not like it and because they do not think that it is satisfactory. Therefore, with all the authority vested in him—and with all the authority vested in us, if he can get it—the Home Secretary is insisting that the courts must do it. The word "must" in legislation is always put in where we do not want it, but never put in where we do want it.344
§ I am allergic to mandatory sentences. If they should happen to be just for the particular crime to which they are applied, they can only be so by coincidence. A good sentence should take into consideration the following: the type of crime; the aggravating or mitigating features of the particular offence—and there may be many of them; the likelihood of re-offending, or previous convictions; and the aggravating or mitigating circumstances affecting the criminal.
§ I shall give your Lordships one example of the sort of case where such mitigation may be necessary. A parenting order was imposed a couple of weeks ago on a mother whose son was persistently truanting from school. She said that it was particularly difficult for her to supervise his departure for school because her job began at 4.30 in the morning. I should have thought that might be a considerable mitigating circumstance. However, where you face a mandatory sentence, there can be no such thing as a mitigating circumstance.
§ Isolating one of those things which should make up a sentence is always unjust. Also I foresee particular difficulties with a mandatory sentence as it may affect those, whom we have mentioned many times from these Benches, who live or work outside the United Kingdom. With freedom of movement and freedom to work anywhere in the European Union, that may become steadily more common. I asked the Minister last night—and I ask him again today—to consider what happens if these provisions are applied to an employee of the European Court of Justice. I am not sure that they would like that.
The grounds in new Section 14B on which the order can be imposed are, I think, not particularly clearly worked out. The first one in subsection (2) looks all right at a glance; namely, those who have been involved in violence or disorder. At least that appears to be recognisable, which is a start. However, it is extremely rigid and it allows no room for mercy. Even there, the clarity disappears with the words,
caused or contributed to any violence or disorder".
The Minister will remember that I pressed him hard last night on the meaning of the words "contributed to". I believe that he did his level best to be helpful, but I do not think that the advice available to him enabled him to be nearly as specific as we need to ask him to be. I wonder whether he is in a position to do any better today.
§ The Minister appeared to be saying—I think that I have him right and I am sure that he will put me right if I have not—that "contributing to" meant being part of the crowd which had caused the disorder. Of course, it is awfully hard to be certain in a crowd exactly who is doing what. Can the Minister be just that little bit more specific? To be held to be contributing to violence or disorder, must one perform a criminal action, or incite others to perform a criminal action, or be an accessory before or after the fact? With those provisions, the measure should be specific enough to use. Without them, it could be extremely vague and could be applied to people whom others might consider not to have done anything wrong except be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is an important point though it is a fine distinction. I want to know the answer rather badly.345
We get into greater difficulties with regard to subsection (3) where the court has to find,
that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches".
An awful lot of people—I think of some of my former pupils now in distinguished and responsible positions—have been at some time in their lives in a position where they might be held to have contributed to violence or disorder. In not all of those cases would it be just, reasonable or helpful to impose a banning order on them under the Bill, especially if they wished to travel during one of the many periods of football matches for some completely different purpose. What will single out those who are likely to contribute to violence or disorder from all the rest in the opinion of the court? I have asked the Minister that question a great many times. I think that I asked him last in an intervention in his speech today in reply to Amendment No. 3. The Minister said that he would come to that in due course. Due course did not come in the course of that amendment. I think that it is time for due course to come now. This is a question that the Minister must be able to answer if he is to convince us of the case for the Bill.
§ The Minister has perfectly properly pinned his case on the argument that prevention is better than cure. So it is, if it is possible. What the Minister needs to convince us of is that there is some way in which we can differentiate those people who are likely to cause disorder from all the many thousands in a similar statistical category who are not. Many individual cases were discussed last night. I refer to that of Mr John Gummer, for example, who wondered whether when he had been an undergraduate he had taken part in activity which might make the provision apply to him. We did not get a clear answer. In many of these cases the spent conviction amendment introduced last night—which we welcome warmly—will remove the pressure. But, of course, it takes time for a conviction to become spent, and during the years before it becomes spent the principle is the same.
§ We discussed, for example, the case of Mr Peter Hain sprinkling tin tacks on the pitch at Twickenham. That, I imagine, is disorder within the meaning of the Bill. If the Minister tells me that it is not, I shall be interested to hear that. Clearly in Mr Hain's case the conviction is spent, and rightly so. However, if this legislation had been introduced in 1975, when his conviction was not spent, whether it would have assisted Mr Hain's rehabilitation into a respectable citizen to be caught and be subject to a banning order and reminded of past misdeeds which had faded in everyone else's memory is a question that I leave to your Lordships' consideration.
§ The key question is that which was asked by my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury; namely, is it possible to recognise those who are likely to contribute to such disorder, or are they, in his words, "beyond prediction"? If they are beyond prediction, the measure cannot succeed. I beg to move.346
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Viscount Astor
My Lords, we cannot support the noble Earl in his amendment to remove new Section 14B. However, he has asked a number of extremely important questions which deserve an answer as they will certainly affect our thinking on further amendments to new Section 14B in the next group of amendments.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, unlike my noble friend on the Front Bench, I enthusiastically support the noble Earl, Lord Russell. The new section can be interpreted and read in the following manner: we suspect but cannot prove that someone might do something we do not like and so we are going to lock him up—"internment" is the word for it.
The whole of Irish history has been full of internment. Every single time that internment was used there were cries of, "They have the wrong chap". A feeling of injustice welled up and it was regarded as a great failure. Every time that a new Northern Ireland Minister came to office it was reputed that he used to ask his security advisers, "We know all the IRA men, why cannot we just lock them up?". The answer was always given that that could not be done without proof. All Northern Ireland Ministers failed to change the correct existing law. We are now proposing exactly the same procedure. This procedure is so abhorrent that it is difficult for me to dislike it more.
We can get away with this because there is not a great green swathe of football hooligan supporters living in Boston, Massachusetts, or in Dublin. If there were, the political damage would be seen to be great. This is why at Second Reading I said that it is easy to protect the civil liberties of the rich and the powerful; that it is easy to protect the civil liberties of those who have great friends and influence overseas. It is not easy to protect the civil liberties of the majority of these people who, as the noble Earl said, come from the disaffected, white, not very well paid, not very well educated working classes.
Their civil liberties need defending more than most because they are unpopular. It is ironic that this should be done by Liberals and old-fashioned high Tories—but that is the difference between new Labour and old Labour.
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, I have not participated in the debate on the Bill up until now because, I confess, I did not particularly like it. However, the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Onslow, has convinced me that I should vote for the Government on the amendment.
The noble Lord spoke of internment. I looked at the Bill to see where is the Maze; when do the doors open; for how long will someone be locked up—but I find that it seeks to stop someone going to a football match.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, a person can be locked up under proposed new Section 21B and he can be banned under this proposed new section. The noble Lord is a lawyer.
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, the proposed new Sect ion 14B is a banning order. In my ignorance, I looked to 347 see what a banning order means. Inflamed by the oratory of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, I looked to see what terrible fate would befall those people who were subject to a banning order. What did I find? I found that a banning order means,an order made by the court … which … in relation to regulated football matches…prohibits the person who is subject to the order from entering any premises for the purpose of attending such matches".To talk of that type of penalty in the same breath as internment in Northern Ireland is frankly ludicrous.
I make merely one other point to the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I listened to his speech, as I always do, with great care and attention, and I had the Bill in front of me as he made it. He made a great point about the obligation of the courts to make a banning order; that he and his party do not like the fact that the word "must" is there and not the word "may". I should like to test that by inserting "may" where "must" appears in line 43.
The Bill states:The application is to be made by complaint to a magistrates' court … if"—the first condition—it is proved on the application that the condition in subsection (2) above is met"—and the noble Earl made his points about causing or contributing to any violence or disorder. That is an entirely different point. I heard what he said about that and one could argue about it for a long time.
The second condition that has to be satisfied is,and the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds"—there must be "reasonable grounds" and the court has to be satisfied, so there is an immense discretion there in the way in which the court approaches a particular defendant in particular circumstances—to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder … the court must make a banning order in respect of the respondent".Perhaps the noble Earl can help me: can he envisage any set of normal circumstances in which, if the court was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder, they should not make that banning order? If the two conditions are satisfied—particularly having regard to the fact that there is a discretion in proposed new Section 14B(4)(b) on the reasonable grounds argument—once a court had got to the stage of saying "Yes, there are reasonable grounds" and "Yes, we are satisfied that subsection (2) is met", I find it very hard to envisage circumstances in which it would not be right for the court to make the order. In which case, it seems to me, a large part of the noble Earl's argument goes.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for making his point so clearly. Perhaps I may say to him, first—and this is a preliminary to an answer—that I cannot imagine 348 grounds on which the court can be so satisfied. If the noble Lord could give me such grounds I could answer him more clearly.
Secondly, supposing hypothetically that the court was so satisfied, imagine that the person was going to a European town in which his mother was dying; imagine that he was going to a European town which was the place of his regular employment. I do not say that in either case the person should go without penalty, but I do say that the court may wish to consider the possibility of an alternative penalty.
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, with respect, if one looks at the definition of a banning order, it deals precisely with the point made by the noble Earl. A banning order prohibits the person not from going to a town where his father is dying but from entering any premises for the purpose of attending a football match. It seems a little fanciful to argue that someone is going to Charleroi or wherever for the purpose of seeing his father who is on his deathbed, if the person has a ticket for the west stand for the England v. Belgium game taking place in that city on that day. One has heard it often in the case of grandparents' funerals and the office boy, but the short answer to the noble Earl's point is that the person does not get banned from going to Charleroi; he gets banned from the ground.
§ Lord Bach
My Lords, I am going to be a spoilsport, I am afraid. This exchange is amusing the House, of course; but this is Report stage. The noble Earl will have the chance to reply to my noble friend in due course—no doubt he will do so extremely adequately—but I do not think we should allow the exchange to develop any further.
§ Lord Clinton-Davis
My Lords, before my noble friend responds to the amendment, I rise, very briefly, to support the noble Lord, Lord Richard. I do not see why the court should be regarded as a cipher any more than should civil servants. The whole burden of the argument adduced by certain members of the Opposition is that the court would have no option but to act in a certain way. I do not think that. The court will have a duty to listen carefully to what the officer has to say. The officer is defined as,the chief officer of police for the area in which the person resides or appears to reside".That being the case, why should the court have any obligation to listen only to that officer?
That is not what proposed new Section 14B states. The court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help. That gives the court sufficient power to look at the whole situation described by the officer. I do not think that my noble friend would dissent from that. That is the burden of the argument properly adduced by the noble Lord, Lord Richard.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, this has been a lively and entertaining debate. It has been a better debate this evening than the one yesterday. Certainly for our part it has been much easier to follow.
349 The amendment tabled by the noble Lord would delete proposed new Section 14B from the Bill altogether; it would take a fundamental part out of the Bill. I wish to demonstrate that that would be a very grave mistake. The section which has become proposed new Section 14B has a long and, some may say, controversial history. It has gestated rather well over its lifetime. It was first introduced by Sir Norman Fowler in the debates on the Crime and Disorder Bill in 1998; it certainly attracted a lively debate the following year when the Football (Offences and Disorder Bill) was going through its paces in the House with government support. The Government made clear that they were sympathetic to the principle that banning orders should be capable of being imposed otherwise than as a punishment for football-related offences. But in the light of opposition to the measure among some members of the other place, principally but not entirely on the Opposition side, it was decided not to proceed with the measure at that time, but to wait and see how effective the other measures contained in the 1999 Act would turn out to be.
We now know the result of that wait-and-see strategy. Euro 2000 has demonstrated that we cannot rely on the measures contained in the 1999 Act to prevent further disgraceful outbreaks of the kind that many of us have described during the long course of our debates and deliberations. The frequently quoted statistics—just a handful of people subject to domestic banning orders, and no one subject to an international banning order, among those who came to notice in Belgium—show that we cannot rely on a strategy which confines its attention to those people on whom bans can currently be imposed. The police need to look at the much wider group of people who have been involved in violence or disorder. They need to make a judgment on whether a football banning order in respect of any such person would help to prevent violence or disorder in connection with regulated football matches. The police will be able to make that judgment through their use of intelligence, their observation of the people concerned, video evidence, both from the UK and overseas, and no doubt many other sources of information.
Noble Lords opposite have claimed that the procedure we envisage is in all its essentials criminal and that we are designating it as civil only in order to benefit from a lower standard of proof. That is incorrect. To be the recipient of a banning order on complaint does not create a criminal record. The procedure will be civil, and the burden of proof which applies will be the balance of probabilities. Because the procedure is civil, the use of evidence obtained before the Act came into force will not, we believe, be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The procedure, as we have emphasised, resembles that in force for anti-social behaviour orders. We make no apology for using the resources of the civil as well as the criminal law in appropriate cases to prevent people from behaving in loutish and disorderly ways.
350 The fact that we introduced a sunset clause must be of considerable reassurance to noble Lords who have concerns about aspects of new Section 14B. That power, like the powers in new Sections 21A and 21B, will not continue beyond year one if the House does not pass an affirmative resolution to that effect. In any event, the case will lapse when the sunset clauses come to a conclusion.
Unless one takes the extreme view that the UK Government and criminal justice system should take no interest whatever in disorder committed by their citizens abroad, then I would suggest that one has some responsibility to look for proactive, protective ways of preventing such outbursts of hooliganism. New Section 14B offers a procedure which is both fair and likely to be effective, both in its own right and as the essential follow-up to the exercise of the summary powers in new Section 21B. To remove it from the Bill would emasculate the whole measure.
I heard the interpretation of the measure from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson. We had a bitingly effective analysis from the noble Lord, Lord Richard. There is now a widespread understanding in your Lordships' House of the measure and why it is needed. All the arguments during the debate point to the need for a measure which will be both effective and publicly welcomed.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, before the Minister sits down and before I reply to him, perhaps he will answer my question. I asked whether he would give me an explanation of how the court will recognise the people whose presence would be likely to lead to violence and disorder?
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, the noble Earl did indeed ask me the question. I shall do my best to answer. Contributing to violence or disorder requires something more than simply being in a place where violence or disorder is occurring. The noble Earl will probably agree with that. The individual must have done something concrete that contributes to the violence or disorder. Certainly, in our view, aiding or abetting would be caught and inciting would be caught. But I cannot give a full opinion of all the circumstances in which a court would find a person to have contributed to violence or disorder. At the final point it would obviously be a question of judgment. That judgment would depend on the facts of the case presented to the court at the time.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that answer. He has not told me what I hoped to hear; that it would be confined to conduct which was itself criminal. The Minister is—if he reads the speech of Mr Peter Lilley in another place—impaled on what I now regard as "Lilley's fork". Mr Lilley says that either the conduct concerned is itself criminal, in which case it should have been charged, or it is not criminal, in which case it should not be the ground of a banning order. In response to my first question about "contributed to" in new Section 14B(2), the Minister 351 still did not answer my much more important question, which is about subsection (3). How will the court recognise among the throng of people who might possibly be suspected which ones are likely to cause violence and disorder if they go to a football match? If the Minister has an answer to that I am very willing to give way to him now.
His silence on the matter is becoming deafening. His persistence in carrying on with the Bill without being able to answer it is beginning to worry me very much. I enjoyed the exchanges with the noble Lord, Lord Richard. I think that he was perhaps a little harsh on the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. Of course, a banning order itself does not amount to internment, but there are very severe penalties for breaches of a banning order. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, has perhaps underestimated the passion—I can use no other word—with which some people follow their football. Some people will take very great risks indeed in order to attend a football match on which they have set their hearts.
I know it is classic new Labour thinking that if there is a penalty, one will not need to impose it because people will comply anyway. We heard that in the course of the Child Support, Pensions and Welfare Reform Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, shakes his head.
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, I shake my head because the noble Earl has never heard that argument from me. He has never heard me suggest that you do not need to worry about penalties or the draconian nature of the penalties because they will never be imposed. I never used an argument like that. I would regard it frankly as totally illogical. I should have thought it was rather beneath the noble Earl to raise it.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I did not intend to imply otherwise. When I said "we", I referred to the House as a whole. I am sure many noble Lords remember the debates on Clause 63 of the Child Support, Pensions and Welfare Reform Bill. I did not intend to reflect on the noble Lord personally. If I gave any appearance of doing so, I withdraw unreservedly and with apologies.
As to the matter of the ticket for the west stand at Charleroi, I do not see any impossibility in the idea that someone may have both a sick father in Charleroi and a ticket for the west stand. Such combinations have happened before, and I am sure will happen again.
In deciding whether people who come before a court are liable to create violence or disorder, it still seems to me that a court is being asked to take a bet. I said last night that I know of a lot of rich bookies; I do not know of many rich punters. My noble friend Lord Goodhart, with his usual carefulness, says that there are a number of rich punters. The trouble is that most of them were a lot richer when they started. I accept my noble friend's correction, but I think that the point stands in spite of it.
352 The Minister recited the pedigree of the anti-social behaviour order. With respect, I am not convinced that an order is justifiable simply because it has a respectable pedigree. This is not the form book in that sense. I also accept his argument that relying on records of known convictions will not catch all those we would wish to catch if we can find a reasonable way to do so. I ask the Minister to accept that this is a matter of priorities. Either we risk not catching some people who should be caught or we catch people who should not be caught. I have a personal preference—call it prejudice, if you will—in favour of acquitting the innocent even if I sometimes have to let some guilty go as well. If the Minister's preference is the opposite, he should say so. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.