§ 11.36 a.m.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Rooker, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill repeals subsections (2) to (5) of Section 5 of the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, together with a related reference in Section 3 of that Act. The effect will be to continue in force without limit of time the provisions for banning orders on complaint and summary measures relating to detention and referral to the court contained in the Football Spectators Act 1989.
Before setting out the importance of the Bill, it will be helpful if I briefly remind your Lordships of the events that prompted the Football (Disorder) Act last year.
Noble Lords who have studied the phenomenon will know that football disorder has been associated with the English domestic game since it became a mass spectator sport at the end of the 19th century. The domestic problem has not gone away, but it has been marginalised by an array of legislative and other measures. English stadia now feature among the safest and most secure in the world. That is why the primary concern in recent years has centred on the behaviour of English football fans when they travel to matches overseas. There is a legacy of disorder, which includes serious outbursts in Luxembourg in 1977, Turin in 1980, Basle in 1981, Oslo in 1981, Paris in 1984, West Germany in 1988, Italy in 1990, Sweden in 1992, Amsterdam in 1993, Rotterdam in the same year, Dublin in 1995, Rome in 1997, Marseilles in 1998, Glasgow in 1999, and Copenhagen, Brussels and Charleroi in 2000. Each incident has damaged our national reputation and together they have resulted in many thousands of English arrests and deportations.
358 Prior to the adoption of the 2000 Act, a number of legislative measures were in place. Each successive Act adjusted and expanded the measures available to the police and the courts in tackling the evolving character of football hooliganism. The provisions made a significant impact on the domestic hooligan front. However, those measures designed to combat English football disorder overseas were less successful.
In the build-up to Euro 2000, orders could only be imposed by the courts following conviction of a football-related offence. The law made a clear and in many respects artificial distinction between domestic and international banning orders. There was also provision for the courts to impose orders on the basis of convictions overseas if the requisite international agreement and legal measures were in place.
A number of such agreements had been put in place but the option was not proving fruitful, largely because host authorities continually preferred to arrest and deport offenders rather than pursue costly and often time-consuming court proceedings. This approach may be frustrating but it is also understandable. The reality is that football disorder usually involves very low level crime and disorder, the cumulative impact of which far exceeds the constituent offences.
The Euro 2000 football championship in Belgium and the Netherlands provided strong evidence of why the erstwhile measures were flawed and why a new approach was required.
In preparation for Euro 2000, the Belgian and Dutch authorities organised a comprehensive and highly sophisticated security operation. Maximising international police co-operation and minimising the risk posed by England followers were the key twin objectives. The United Kingdom provided the utmost co-operation. Our policing and other preparations were the most extensive ever for an overseas tournament. Ultimately, however, the effectiveness of those preparations was constrained by the legislation of the day, which limited the number of hooligans who could be prevented from following England overseas to around 100 individuals.
In spite of the extensive precautions, English fans were still involved in serious disturbances in Charleroi and Brussels. The measures put in place were effective to the extent that only one of the 965 England followers arrested during the tournament was subject to a banning order imposed following conviction on a football-related offence. However, subsequent police checks revealed that 40 per cent of those arrested had convictions for offences of violence or public disorder, though not necessarily connected with football.
Inevitably, only one of the 965 arrested was subsequently convicted of an offence arising out of the disturbances. That was disappointing, as UK preparations for the tournament included negotiating international agreements with both the Netherlands and with Belgium which should have enabled convictions for offences committed in either country to be deemed football-related offences for banning order purposes.
359 Your Lordships will recall that the disorder caused by England fans at Euro 2000 generated a great deal of criticism and concern. The host countries, other European countries and the international football authorities understandably felt that the United Kingdom had to do more to protect host cities and citizens from English hooligans. UEFA threatened to expel the English team from Euro 2000 if there were any further outbursts of disorder involving English supporters.
In the light of the disorder and the information collected about the perpetrators, legislative change was essential in order to demonstrate to governments, police forces and the public across Europe and beyond that the United Kingdom was taking effective steps to prevent English troublemakers travelling to matches overseas; prevent English football being banned from European and world competition; provide the police and courts with extensive powers to remove from the scene greater numbers of supporters with a track record of violence and disorder; remove the ongoing anomaly of supporters misbehaving overseas in the expectation of avoiding any punishment while abroad and any consequences on their return; and, finally, to deter potential troublemakers from misbehaving and, importantly, to deter others from getting involved and transforming minor incidents into major disorder.
A radical new approach to tackling the menace of hooliganism was required, and new and radical measures were introduced. The 2000 Act introduced four important changes to the existing body of legislation. There was widespread support on both sides of this House and in another place for the first two measures. These abolished the distinction between a ban on attending matches at home and overseas so that when a court imposed an order it had the effect of the previous domestic and international banning orders combined and made passport surrender during specified periods an automatic condition of a banning order. A safeguard was built in to enable the court to waive the condition in exceptional circumstances and the power of the Football Banning Orders Authority, or the police in urgent cases, to grant exemptions was retained.
Your Lordships will need no reminding that the Act included two more controversial measures. Section 14B empowered magistrates to impose banning orders on individuals in circumstances other than on conviction of a football-related offence. This complaint process requires the police to satisfy the courts that the person before them has caused or has contributed to violence and disorder and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the making of an order will help to prevent violence or disorder in connection with football matches.
Sections 21A and 21B provided a different route to seeking an order on complaint during control periods—that is, the five-day period prior to an overseas match involving the England or Wales national team or an English or Welsh club side.
Section 21A empowered the police to detain an individual for up to four hours (six with the authorisation of an inspector) where a police officer 360 has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a particular person has caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, and believing that imposing a banning order on that person will help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches. The purpose of the detention is to enable the police to decide whether to issue a Section 21B notice.
A Section 21B notice requires the individual to appear before a magistrates' court within 24 hours and, in the mean time, the individual is prevented from leaving England and Wales. The magistrates' court will then treat the notice as an application for a Section 14B banning order on complaint.
Many of your Lordships understandably felt that Section 14B and Sections 21A and 21B went too far. The Government did not share that perspective but it was a genuine and reasonable view. That is why the 2000 Act limited the life-span of the measures; and that is why the Act stipulated that a report setting out the impact of the Act must be laid before Parliament before the powers could be renewed by affirmative instrument for a further 12 months.
A report covering the period 28th August 2000 to 11th June 2001 was duly laid before Parliament on 20th June. It concluded with an assessment of the impact of the Act during the period concerned. The headline findings made impressive reading. There had been no significant disorder since Euro 2000, notwithstanding a number of potentially high-risk matches involving England and our successful club sides competing in the Champions League and in the UEFA Cup. Fan behaviour had noticeably improved. The number of troublemakers prevented from travelling to matches overseas had increased significantly. Governments across Europe had welcomed the Act as a demonstration of the commitment of the United Kingdom Government to tackle the menace of hooliganism before it left these shores. The legislative gaps exposed by the disorder during Euro 2000 had been closed; and, importantly, the Act was being applied in a targeted and proportionate way, just as the Government had intended.
In July this year, this House and a Standing Committee of another place each approved a resolution extending for a further 12 months the life-span of the measures in question. A statutory instrument, the Football (Disorder) (Duration of Powers) Order 2001 came into force on 28th August. There is no provision for further renewal of the provisions. They will lapse unless the relevant sections of the 2000 Act are repealed.
The impact report laid before Parliament as a prerequisite to the affirmative instrument suggested that the Football (Disorder) Act 2000 had made art immediate and positive impact on the behaviour of English football supporters, and that Section 14B and Sections 21A and 21B had quickly become important weapons in the anti-hooligan arsenal.
361 Parliament was asked to renew the powers because it was considered essential to have them in place for the high-risk England match against Germany in Munich on 1st September. Let us make no mistake as to the importance of that game. The Munich match was a major challenge to the 2000 Act. The risk of serious disorder was real. There was a strong possibility that we would witness a new chapter being added to the annals of mass disorder that had shamed our national reputation and wrought untold damage and despair on the streets of numerous cities around Europe. I am pleased to say that the Act withstood the challenge.
To assist your Lordships' deliberations, and those in another place, copies of a supplementary impact report on how the Act was used and what it helped to achieve in Munich were placed in the Library and in the Vote Office on 11th October. The report usefully outlined why the Germany game was high risk and why an extensive multi-agency security operation was necessary. The objective was to minimise the number of troublemakers travelling to Munich and, importantly, their influence on other fans. Close Anglo-German police co-operation was essential—maximising the impact of the powers we are today discussing even more so.
Those noble Lords who follow our national game will be aware that those objectives were achieved to an unprecedented degree. There were sporadic clashes between rival thugs, but the numbers involved were relatively small and the Munich police were able to contain the disorder. The anticipated mass disorder did not materialise. There have been no fresh entries in the long catalogue of major disorder involving English fans abroad and no further blemishes on our national reputation.
The German media and police have placed most of the blame on German hooligans provoking their English counterparts, but it would be naïve to pretend that a small minority of English thugs were anything other than willing participants. The problem of English hooliganism has not gone away. There is still work to be done, but the strategy now in place appears to be working. We have come a long way since Euro 2000.
Overall, 201 people were detained or arrested. Most of them were German nationals. There were 38 English arrests for various public order offences. Those arrested have all been released, though four have been charged and asked to pay a deposit in lieu of fine pending court proceedings. Policing styles vary across Europe and it would be unwise to draw conclusions simply on the basis of arrest statistics.
As I said, the 2000 Act was a response to events during Euro 2000 when there were 965 English arrests, mass deportations and much criticism of the behaviour of English supporters. Just 16 months later, we are talking about 38 English arrests connected with a very high risk match and of the good behaviour of the English supporters. That behaviour has been praised in the German and foreign press. That is in stark contrast to the headlines during Euro 2000.
362 The supplementary impact report provides a more detailed account of what transpired in Germany and the role of the legislation in minimising public order problems. It also rightly pays tribute to the Football Association for its bold new englandfans initiative.
The Act is working. It has proved an effective but proportionate response to the undoubted menace of English football disorder abroad. The facts speak for themselves. The total number of banning orders now amounts to 866. Some 780 of those prevent travel to matches overseas. That represents an increase of 250 since the Munich match and an increase of 698 since the 2000 Act came into effect. Of the 698 orders imposed since Euro 2000, 605 followed conviction for a football-related offence while 93 were in accordance with the Section 14B complaint procedure.
What of the police use of the summary powers contained in Sections 21A and 21B? Since the 2000 Act came into effect, 115 people have been detained under Section 21A. Of those, 99 were issued with Section 21B notices preventing travel and commencing banning order proceedings. The remaining 16 were released to travel. Of the 99 court proceedings prompted by Section 21B notices, 63 orders have been imposed, 24 refused and 12 cases remain adjourned.
Genuine fans have nothing to fear from the powers and much to gain. During the passage of the 2000 Act, the then Home Secretary and I, together with the rest of his ministerial team, stressed that the powers that we were seeking would be used only as they could best be used and not arbitrarily. We also stressed that personal appearance would not provide grounds for a Section 21A detention and that an isolated expulsion, unsubstantiated by accompanying evidence of misbehaviour, would not provide grounds for seeking a Section 14B order. Adequate safeguards were drafted into the legislation. As I argued then, the measures had to be proportionate. They had to strike a balance between national and international interests and the individual rights and civil liberties of those seeking to attend football matches. That must also always include the civil liberties of host populations and well behaved English supporters, who are greatly intimidated by the misbehaviour of fellow supporters.
There are other less obvious benefits for ordinary fans. The steps taken to prevent trouble-makers leaving these shores have an impact on how England fans are policed overseas. There is less chance of fans being treated on the basis of their reputation rather than their behaviour. The Munich police, aided by a UK police team in the city, adopted a targeted and low-friction but early-intervention approach that has been praised universally by independent supporter groups. The overwhelming majority of fans were able to enjoy their trip to Germany and avoid the trouble-makers.
363 What of those who misbehaved in Munich? The onus now is on the police to collate all available evidence of violence or disorder by England fans in Munich and, if that evidence is strong, to ask the courts to impose banning orders on the perpetrators. That would not be possible if the measures that we are discussing today had not been renewed by statutory instrument and it will not be possible in the future if we do not repeal the time limit by virtue of the Bill.
There is now compelling evidence for maintaining Sections 14B, 21A and 21B on the statute book. Those measures, which have withstood a thorough practical and legal examination in the past 14 months, will be lost if we do not pass the Bill. There is no suggestion that the problem of English football violence overseas has been solved for ever. That was demonstrated in Munich. In many respects, the phenomenon is a symptom of wider social problems. The Government are committed to tackling those problems on a number of fronts. However, legislation has a key role to play. The two measures under consideration today have quickly become essential components of the UK's anti-hooligan strategy. To lose them in August next year would send out an entirely negative message to our European partners, undermine the English and Welsh anti-hooligan strategy and weaken the power of the police and the courts to act against the thugs. It would also be seen as an encouragement to hooligans to resume the pattern of repeat offending overseas at a time when England is preparing to embark on its Euro 2004 campaign.
The Government believe that the measures are tailored, proportionate and effective as a response to English football disorder abroad and that they strike the right balance between national and international interests and individual civil liberties. However, it is right that they are subject to careful scrutiny. That is why they were initially introduced for a trial period. They have successfully negotiated that trial period and we believe that they should be enshrined in legislation. However, we are mindful that many of your Lordships are of the view that the provisions need to be tested for a longer period. I do not interpret that hesitation as reflecting any reluctance to tackle the menace of English football hooliganism overseas—quite the contrary. I know that all of your Lordships are committed to minimising the activities of the thugs who have brought shame to our national game and national reputation in the past.
In the spirit of openness and conciliation that has accompanied the passage of the Bill, the Government are prepared to table an amendment in Committee to extend the lifespan of the Section 14B, 21A and 21B measures for a further five years, whereupon they will either lapse or be renewed without time limit. We have opted for five years because that will enable the powers to be in place for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and, importantly, for the 2008 European Championship qualifying matches, which will take place while the measures undergo a further bout of parliamentary scrutiny. Moreover, the Government will ensure that further impact reports are submitted to Parliament before the question of renewal is resurrected and at ad 364 hoc periods during the next five years. On that understanding, it gives me great pleasure to commend the Bill to the House.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)
§ 11.58 a.m.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, this is quite like old times. The Minister may remember that, just two years ago, he and I fought happy duels. I am happy to declare the same interests again. I have my card with me. I am honorary patron of a club in Scotland, which the Minister will know well. I hasten to add to the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that, in the dark this morning, pulled out a particular tie that has caused him some trouble in the past. I assure the noble Lord that his next visit to the ground in question will pass off without any influence and that things should go well.
I am fascinated that the Minister made such a powerful speech. I wonder for whose benefit it was made. The Bill is so small that I can lift it with my little finger. I think that it has about eight lines, apart from the provisions on expenses. Perhaps it has been introduced for the benefit of the great football authorities around the world.
I think that even the Minister might admit that, in recent weeks, football's reputation has been tarnished in both the print and the electronic media. However, like your Lordships and "honest fans"—as the Minister has described them—I believe that football is usually a channel in which to make friends and enjoy oneself. It is an opportunity to make friends and to visit foreign countries.
I should be grateful if the Minister would reply to my queries in writing if he is unable to do so today. I noted that, in the ninth minute of his speech, he mentioned an "English or Welsh club side". Section 1(1)(a) of the Football (Disorder) Act 2000—which, in addition to the Bill, is the main legislation we are considering today—states that the banning orders willcombine the effect of domestic football banning orders and international football banning orders".Am I mistaken in believing that international football banning orders deal only with English and Welsh national sides, or do they deal also with particular club matches given the reputation of the fans or a perceived risk based on prior knowledge? I think that the Minister has made it clear that the Bill's provisions are based solely on geography.
Some estimates put the individual cost for British fans attending many or most of the matches at next year's World Cup in Japan and Korea—assuming that England progresses to the second, third or later knock-out stages—at not much less than £6,000. I wonder whether the average fan will be spending such a sum, and therefore whether the Minister's wise words will apply to that tournament. However, he was quite right to say that the provisions of the Football Spectators Act 1989, the updated 2000 Act and the Bill may well be needed for the 2004 and the 2006 tournaments, which will be much nearer our shores.
365 I believe now, as I did when we considered the 2000 Act, that police and experts—such as the noble Lords, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Imbert, the noble Earl, Lord Rosslyn, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Condon, who was in the Chamber a short time ago—are able to spot trouble at ports and airports and thereby nip it in the bud, so that many of the legislative powers are not necessary.
Perhaps the Minster will let me know in due course, possibly in the new year, how many banning orders have been made since 2000. He gave us a vast number of figures, but how many banning orders have been made since 2000 as a result of what he described as Section 21A of the 1989 Act? Furthermore, how many of the rather irritating orders to stop fans at ports or airports for up to six hours have been made? I thought that I heard him say, in the 19th minute of his speech, that 205 banning orders have been made since September 2001, when England played and won in Munich. Perhaps he will confirm that figure, which startles me considerably. What led to such a number? Was there an outburst of some sort? Nevertheless, I hope that the lessons learnt from 2000 and from closed circuit television have been incorporated in the Bill.
Will the Minister also tell us how a banning order can be lifted? Does the fact that a young fan marries indicate that he has matured? Although it is unlikely that a fan who is the subject of a banning order in 2002 would go on to Japan after spending a holiday in the Mediterranean, the situation might well be different in 2002 or 2004. How will a banning order or removal of a passport affect those who wish to go on holiday?
The Minister and the Government have been kind enough to provide Explanatory Notes to the Bill, paragraph 11 of which gives some interesting figures. It states:The Lord Chancellor's Department estimates that the maximum attributable court costs amount to £572,000. This is to cover the cost of any additional magistrates' court hearings (£150,000), compensation costs paid under section 21D (£375,000) and civil legal aid costs (£47,000).Do those figures refer to fans' appeals against what they perceive as unjustified detention? Is the compensation to deal with complaints arising from the Bill? It is a considerable sum. How many people do the Government think will be affected by those provisions?
I apologise for taking so long, as many other speakers—many of whom are experts and have a greater interest than I do in the particular game—wish to participate. I should, however, be most grateful for a reply to my queries either now or later, and I wish the Minister and the Bill well.
§ 12.7 p.m.
§ Lord Dholakia
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation of the background to the legislation. He and I also have something in common: we both support Brighton and Hove Albion. For those who are interested, the team is doing very well indeed.
366 The Bill deals with a procedure known as a banning order made on complaint, which gives police powers to forbid a person from attending football matches and to require him to attend a police station when matches are held outside England and Wales. The Bill provides further powers to prevent people from leaving the country while police seek a banning order on complaint.
Although the Bill makes further provisions that I support, the events of the past few weeks demonstrate our inadequacies in eradicating the ugly feature of racism in our football. The Bill is designed to tackle supporters; in no way does it deal with players who are thugs and hooligans and damage our country's sporting reputation.
We are privileged to have as a Member of this House the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, who has done so much to kick racism out of football. He has done a public service in working with all the sports bodies to highlight the necessary action, and we thank him for that.
I should like to ask the Minister why the central plank of the Government's Football Task Force on Racism has not been implemented? Should the Bill not place an obligation on all clubs to implement it? Despite all the good work, the reality is that supporters moving through ethnic areas stir up racial tension. We seem to be powerless to deal with the perpetrators, who are aided and abetted by extremists from the National Front and the British National Party. The insecurity and fear generated in our ethnic communities is the ugly face of football, caused by its so-called supporters who have brought the game into such disrepute.
My main concern is about recent events at Leeds United Football Club and our inadequacy, even with the Bill, to deal with them. Every part of the criminal justice system, the club, the manager, the Leeds board and the football governing bodies must share responsibility for those events.
In October 2000, I tabled a Question asking for the reasons for delay in the trial of R. v. Bowyer, Duberry, Hackworth, Woodgate and others. I accepted the learned Clerk of the Parliament's advice at the time that the matter was sub judice and that the Question could not be asked. I was concerned about the time lag in bringing the case to trial. On 25th October last year, I asked Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of comments by Mr Justice Henriques, they believed that the timetable for a criminal trial should be determined by the employment commitments of the accused and the club.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor was gracious in replying that the timetable for a criminal trial is set by the judge at the plea and directions hearing. In fixing the trial date, the judge takes into account the venue for the hearing, the time estimate and submissions by the parties. Such decisions are made by the judiciary in their own independent sphere and may not be called into question.
367 The learned judge issued a press release justifying his decision. That did not tally with information that I received from the Crown Prosecution Service. I wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service and perhaps I may quote from the letter which I received. It stated:The Crown Prosecution Service was surprised by the statement by Mr Justice Henriques, issued on 9th November 2000, that the first reason for the delayed trial date was that 'prosecution papers had only recently been served on the defence'".The committal papers were served on the defence at the end of May 2000, some four months before the plea and directions hearing. No criticism was levelled at the prosecution during the plea and directions hearing and neither did the judge cite delay by the Crown when giving his reasons in open court for fixing a trial date in June 2001, a delay of more than six months.
I was further told by the CPS that there was a relatively small amount of material to be served by the prosecution as additional evidence. The nature of that evidence was outlined to the judge at the plea and directions hearing. He stated that, in his opinion, that evidence was a minor aspect of the case which should not lead to any delay in the preparation of the defence case. And yet we know that the convenience of Leeds United Football Club played a part in that delay. Justice delayed is justice denied.
The issue of the timing of the trial was first raised by the defence in a skeleton argument prepared for the plea and directions hearing. That document suggested that if a trial were to be held during the football season it would have serious implications for Leeds United Football Club.
We all know that the first trial collapsed and we now have the outcome of the second trial. Those trials raise important matters which require an investigation as to why the criminal justice system behaved in the way it did and why there is nothing in the Football (Disorder) (Amendment) Bill to prevent that happening again. I believe that all agencies, including the Leeds United Football Club, should be investigated and the lesson should be learnt. I ask the Minister whether the Government, for the sake of the good name of football, will mount a searching inquiry into that matter.
This was a savage gang assault on Sarfraz Najeib, who nearly lost his life. The issues of concern are evidence for us all to see. Why was the definition of racial attack, so successfully used in many investigations in this country in the past, ignored? Why did the CPS fail to establish that it was a racially motivated attack? Was the judge justified in delaying the first trial? Is an all white jury appropriate for a fair trial of that nature? Does the sentence meted out justify the evidence and seriousness of the assault? Will the Football League examine the way in which Leeds United Football Club has behaved in handling that matter? Should not the Government amend the present Bill to ensure that not only the so-called fans but players who perpetrate such vile crimes are included in the measures? Why has Leeds United Football Club, which is shedding crocodile tears, done so little to help the victim, Sarfraz Najeib? Our 368 sympathy must go to him and his family. The young man nearly died. His family is terrified and their confidence is now permanently destroyed.
The entire justice system, the football club but, more important, all of us who hold civilised values failed to protect that family. We need a thorough investigation and appropriate legislation to deal with that ugly face of British football. Nothing less will do. In the meantime, we should thoroughly deplore the actions of the Leeds club, its manager and its chairman for the way in which they seem to be handling the matter. Surely a life is worth more than a few pieces of silver. Let us hope that the Minister will examine the legislation to ensure that any disorders perpetrated by supporters or players receive the strongest condemnation of all decent systems.
In the meantime, I know that the FA has set an example by not selecting Woodgate and Bowyer, and it is right that it should stick to those high standards.
In conclusion, the Bill does nothing to deal with the thugs who masquerade as football players. I call them the bin Ladens of British football. Is it not possible to ask them to report to the police station at 3 p.m. every Saturday afternoon? Is it not possible to take away their passports so that they cannot travel abroad as British footballers? The last thing we want is those thugs and bullies representing us in a great game which we invented.
§ 12.15 p.m.
§ Lord Pendry
My Lords, I am pleased to he able to make a contribution in this important debate and to see my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester in his place because he, in his role as deputy chairman of the Football Trust, together with his chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, did so much to bring about a climate of change in our national game.
First, I must declare an interest as I currently chair both the Football Foundation and the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, which in many ways follows the part that the Football Trust played in combating football disorder. In fact, my involvement in that field of football disorder regrettably goes back more than 20 years. During that period, I experienced many examples of football legislation in the other place. But it is surely tragic that so much parliamentary time has been spent during those years addressing the negative aspects of our national game. Here we are again, taking up parliamentary time to address the issue of football disorder which heaps so much discredit on our national game.
I recall vividly the feeling of shame and disgust as a genuine football supporter—I must say of Derby County—and indeed as chairman of the all-party football group, at the despicable actions of those purporting to be fans but who were basically no more than thugs dressed up as supporters. The horrors of both Hillsborough and Bradford caught the headlines, although those events were terrible disasters and not ac all due to hooliganism. However, it was an ever-present factor in the minds of spectators, the public and the police.
369 I am proud that in the other place I led the campaign to fight the plans to bring in an identity card system for football supporters proposed by the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. That measure would have surely branded every law-abiding football supporter as a potential criminal and could have caused enormous damage to the culture of the game.
Fortunately, football, especially our domestic football scene, is now in a much healthier state. That is in large part due to the sterling work previously undertaken by the Football Trust, particularly through its enormous investment in stadia and ancillary facilities which made genuine fans feel that they were being treated like human beings and paying customers instead of cattle being taken to market.
Much credit must go also to the National Federation of Football Supporters Clubs, of which I am proud to be patron, and the Football Supporters Association for doing so much good work in keeping the fans' agenda at the forefront of the debate.
From a security point of view, the investment programme for closed circuit television surveillance systems and the introduction of all-seater stadia requirements went a long way to isolating hooligans from the inside of our stadia. They could suddenly be readily and easily identified and could no longer hide in the shelter of the vast dark terraces.
That investment programme is now being taken on by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, launched along with the Football Foundation in July last year by the Prime Minister. Both organisations are funded by the FA Premier League, the Football Association and the Government and are committed to securing the best possible future for our game at all levels, whether participating or watching. It is both a great honour and a great challenge to be chair of both bodies. I must publicly add that I am extremely fortunate to be able to rely on the skill, experience and judgment that my chief executive, Peter Lee, brings to the table.
Domestically, additional reasons for changes for the good are that we are able to tackle some of the unsocial problems in our game, thanks to the introduction of legislation against racist chanting and touting measures that I first outlined in Labour's charter for football when I was shadow Minister for Sport. The Football Foundation continues to help fund the Kick It Out campaign and supports its work. However, it is somewhat depressing that reports of some of the most disgusting racist chanting have re-emerged in the past few weeks. They are signs, if I ever saw them, that we need now to tighten up that legislation.
On the specific point of this Bill, clearly we still have much action to take to clean up the image of our game abroad. That means tackling the small minority of so-called "fans" who travel abroad with the specific intention of causing trouble.
I have followed carefully the debate in the other place. As the Minister may know, at the time of the original Bill, which I broadly supported, I had concerns about the impact on civil rights. I urged 370 caution and review. I was therefore greatly pleased to see that the Government introduced a sunset clause so that we could all review the Act in operation. I am satisfied that the review of this legislation, which the Government have provided, demonstrates that, while it takes time to settle down, the evidence is that it has helped to make a breakthrough in preventing trouble in both Munich and Paris, as the Minister has pointed out.
So it is clear that I support the successful passage of this Bill. Furthermore, I applaud the efforts that the Football Association has made in re-launching what was previously known as the England Members' Scheme as the englandfans project, as the Minister has already pointed out.
One of the key purposes of the re-launch was to make supporting our national team more accessible to sections of the public that have not previously felt entirely comfortable with the image and the atmosphere that has surrounded the team in recent times. Now there is a membership which has a greater proportion of women and children than previously and more than a quarter of the membership is completely new. It is still early days, of course, but the signs are looking good. Cautious optimism is probably the phrase which seems most appropriate at this stage.
Perhaps I may remind the Minister that the treatment of football fans is fraught with dangers and must be handled with extreme care. Genuine supporters, who we must remember represent the vast majority of those who attend matches, must not be cast in the same role as hooligans. It is more than unfortunate that they are so often portrayed as such in the press.
I remember well the incident a few years ago when Manchester United visited Galatasary and were treated disgracefully by the authorities there. I actually led a delegation of parliamentarians to the Turkish Embassy to protest at the way genuine fans were treated by the Turkish police. I would he very alarmed if any incidents such as that led to people facing orders, rather than in fact receiving full support from the British Government in addressing how they have been treated.
Finally, I repeat that I support the successful passage of this Bill. I look forward to reviewing its impact when it becomes law.
§ 12.24 p.m.
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, at the beginning I would like to reiterate the general tenor of the remarks of my noble friend Lord Dholakia. At times it appears that in football there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. For example, the conduct of Mr Lee Bowyer would see him done down under this Bill several times over.
It is worth remembering that when the Football (Disorder) Bill was first discussed a significant number of noble Lords from all sides of the House were deeply uneasy, not as regards its admirable purposes, but at some of the means which it took unto itself in order to address those purposes.
371 Perhaps I may say why we were unsatisfied at the end of a long debate and thought that it was a bad measure in libertarian terms. It began with the fact that this is one of the new hybrid offences and a modern introduction to our law. I do not lay that particularly at the Government's door, because I believe that the previous government started the process of introducing civil offences at the outset which attracted civil tests of proof. If an order made in pursuit of that civil offence was breached, that would lead to a criminal conviction being recorded and criminal sanctions being attached. We now have before us such an example.
I also remind the House that anxieties were expressed at the time of the original debate as regards human rights legislation. Those anxieties remain. It is interesting that a case was reported in The Times last August involving a hybridity of proof leading to what anyone would call criminal sanctions where the human rights legislation was said to apply. We shall return to that point at later stages of the Bill.
I turn to another aspect of what is now the Act which continues to worry me at least and, I am sure, all those who spoke originally. That is the arbitrariness of this measure. It is odd how, from my seat, the legislation appears arbitrary, giving far too much power to individual police officers and yet the Government hold that very feature of the Act as a virtue. I do not blame the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for that because I am sure that if one is in authority it is a virtue. He referred to it as a "targeted measure". It is targeted but on a wholly discretionary and wholly unpredictable basis by individual policemen throughout the country. There is simply no doubt that if the Act were to be applied in the manner which I was brought up to believe such criminal legislation should be applied—that is to say, evenly and without discretion and fairly and without distinction between classes and conditions of men and women—I believe that everyone in this Chamber would be available for one of the banning orders.
Let us make no bones about it: one does not have to be convicted of anything. One needs only to contribute—that is a wonderfully weasel word—to disorder. One might say, "That is all right because disorder is a frightful thing". It is until one looks at the definition of disorder in this Bill. Under the definition I would he "had up" a thousand times over. It is a rude gesture. Will the good Lord Bassam say that he has never given a "V" sign to anyone in any circumstances? I doubt it. A gesture, a word or a placard or anything which is insulting through any of those media, is considered and defined as disorder under the Bill.
Those of us who spoke against the measure originally remain unassuaged. In our view the measure is far too widely drawn. It follows a tendency in legislation which we saw recently in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill. That again was far too widely drawn. It had excellent purposes, but some of us are more than a little anxious about some of the outcomes. It is no good depending on all police and magistrates behaving with the utmost wisdom, balance and proportionality. That is not the real world. It is. No 372 good the Minister saying that the Government are giving indications to the police and others that they must act with proportionality and discretion. I believe that at one point the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, said that the issue of proportionality had been written into the Bill. It has not been written into the Bill. I should he consoled if it were. The noble Lord may say that the Human Rights Act will require that it is implied in the Bill. We take no consolation from that.
The evidence the Government produce to support a five-year continuance seems to me to be extremely tenuous. In the first place one has to reflect on the fact that the panic which led to the Bill being rushed through in the summer of 2000 was itself an extraordinary piece of tabloid exaggeration. Noble Lords may remember that there was a single piece of television footage—I accept that it was alarming—of "yobbos" throwing chairs and tables at one another and passers-by. However, I do not remember seeing any other footage. The piece was repeated ad nauseam. We find that of the 965 people deported, only one has been convicted.
I am bound to say that we may have acted like mad dogs in the summer of 2000 but I do not want to go on acting like a mad dog. I am not impressed by the number of banning orders—93—which have been issued under Section 14 since the 2000 Act came into effect. Only 63 orders have been issued under Sections 21A and 21B and 24 have been refused. Of the no doubt tens of thousands of cases for the police to choose from, 40 per cent have been thrown back at them by magistrates. I should like the Minister to indicate whether any other criminal prosecution has such a high failure rate. I doubt that.
All in all, I remain unconvinced by the legislation, not as regards its intent—I emphasise that—but as regards its effect. We are far too inclined to think that we achieve anything by passing fancy laws in this House. In my view it would be far more effective if we had a few more policemen on the ground and fewer Acts on the statute hook. In any event they are so jolly complicated that you have to study them for a day in order to understand where they lead you. That is a problem for the police and magistrates.
I, and I am sure all noble Lords, are grateful to the Government for at least offering a review of the measure after five years. We are grateful for that. However, that will not stop me at any rate from saying that the whole thing should be delivered into quiet oblivion. But I again thank the Government for that concession.
§ 12.32 p.m.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, this is the third occasion on which I have directly followed the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, in speaking on this subject. I agreed with every word that he said at the beginning of his speech about the outcome of the trial at Hull Crown Court. I also agreed with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, on that matter. I shall discuss that further at the end of my remarks.
373 I do not intend to make a long speech as this is a short Bill. I take as my text the words of Sven Goran Eriksson which I heard at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award the other night. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, can vouch for the accuracy of my quotation as he sat next to me. Sven said:England football supporters are beautiful wherever they go".I wish, I wish.
I strongly supported the original legislation on which the Bill we are discussing is based, the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, and the subsequent Football (Disorder) (Duration of Powers) Order which we debated on 12th July this year, as I believed that they would make a significant contribution towards tackling the menace of hooliganism committed abroad by football fans—mostly those attached to the England national team.
There is no need for me to go over the events which gave rise to the original legislation a year and a half ago. As noble Lords will remember, that was a response to the appalling incidents of disorder in Brussels and Charleroi during the Euro 2000 championships held in Belgium and Holland. But those who have longer memories, such as my noble friend Lord Pendry and I, recall with horror some of the scenes which we witnessed constantly through the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, starting with the riot in Luxembourg in 1977. I am most grateful to my noble friend for the generous comments he made about my time at the Football Trust. I in turn pay tribute to the enormous contribution he made to the welfare of football over the years when he was in the other place, and will make now that he is in this House. I am delighted that he is in this House.
I remember saying in July that if Parliament had not passed the Football (Disorder) Act and one more incident of disorder involving England fans had occurred after Euro 2000, the national team would have been thrown out of all FIFA and UEFA competitions and our clubs would have been excluded from European competitions. In that debate I paid tribute to my noble friend Lord Bassam of Brighton for leading a working party on football disorder, on which I served, and for taking the legislation through the House. That tribute was deserved and I am pleased to repeat it, for up until then he was virtually the only Home Office Minister who had been able to make a real contribution to tackling this problem.
Perhaps the most singular success of my noble friend's working party—which was referred to by my noble friend Lord Pendry—was to persuade the Football Association to abandon the England Members Club and replace it with a new official England supporters' club known as "englandfans"—fashionably spelt as one word and with a lower case "e", but that is how these things are done these days. I have read the application form for membership and I am enormously impressed by the rigour of the inquiries the Football Association makes and its determination to enforce a code of behaviour which goes far beyond anything that it has ever attempted 374 before. We can be fairly confident that if trouble breaks out at England matches abroad in future, it is unlikely to come from the official englandfans members.
The need for this legislation to continue is, of course, that the criminals—both potential and convicted—who try to follow England will not be members of the official club and the exclusion and detention orders possible under the terms of this Bill will need to be used to try to stop them from travelling.
One of the low points in the relationship between the football world and the former Conservative government was when the then secretary of the Football Association, Mr Ted Croker, in a meeting at No. 10 was unwise enough to ask the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, to "get her hooligans out of his game". Nearly 20 years on this Government have managed to achieve some success in that direction. But despite that there is still much that is wrong within football. I have referred before in this House to the reports published by the Government's task force, on which I served as vice-chairman. As the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, said in his contribution, the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, who also served on the task force, asked a supplementary question of my noble friend Lady Blackstone during discussion on a Starred Question on 26th November. He asked:Which government department is taking the lead with regard to the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report with regard to racism and people with disabilities? It appears from my inquiries that no one in any department has any awareness of the existence of the report or of its recommendations and no knowledge about who is implementing the recommendations".My noble friend Lady Blackstone replied,On racism, my department will work with the Home Office to ensure that the report's proposals and recommendations are taken forward".—[Official Report, 26/11/01; col 4.]That is reassuring but I think my noble friend should be aware that despite considerable advances in recent years and general support for the "Kick Racism Out Of Football" campaign, there are still some appalling pockets of racism within the game.
Last Sunday week the Observer newspaper reproduced an article written by a London-based Manchester City fan, who for obvious reasons wanted to remain anonymous, who went with a young relative and friend to City's match against Millwall at the New Den. The language described is too offensive to be repeated in this House, but every racist taunt imaginable was hurled at Manchester City players from racial minorities. The writer said that at half time he asked to be moved into the family stand for the second half and was told by a steward, "It's just as bad in there". The article continues:She was right. I've been going to football for 40 years, barely missing a game home or away, and this is the worst experience I've ever had".The writer described how the six year-old girl in front of him led the racist chanting. The final sentence in the article read:I was in Turin when the Italians abused Emile Heskey last year and the FA strongly and rightly condemned it. Why are they always silent on Millwall?375 There can be no place for racism and xenophobia at home, for if it is tolerated here, it will reappear with violence and loutish behaviour when fans travel abroad.
One of the most heartening features of the "Kick it out" campaign has been the involvement of players in it. That is wholly in line with the recommendations of the Football Task Force's third report, which dealt with footballers as role models and described how they should play an important part in serving and working with the community.
Whatever one thinks of how well justice was served by the verdicts in the Leeds affray case, one wholly unacceptable feature stands out, that is, the behaviour of Lee Bowyer and his reaction to the disciplinary measures imposed by the Leeds United club since his acquittal. In another place, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has tabled two Early Day Motions on the subject. The second calls on the Football Association in no circumstances to include Woodgate in an England team and takes note of the message sent out to all the boys and young men who regard leading footballers as role models, namely, that if you are rich and famous, you can be a drunken, lying, violent lout who is able to get away with near murder. However talented those football players may be, their selection for England would send out the unmistakable message that all drunken, loutish behaviour of that kind will be tolerated. That must not happen. If it did, it would compromise much of what this Bill seeks to achieve.
§ 12.41 p.m.
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, I am very pleased that previous speakers took the opportunity of this debate to comment on some of the wider issues relating to football. Though we are talking about a short and specific measure, it can be seen only in the context of the problems facing football in general, the wider social issues that it involves and possible solutions to it.
The Minister in his opening said that since it became a popular mass sport in the 19th century, football had always been associated with crowd problems. If strongly disagree. My memory of the 1950s is of extreme order in crowds much larger than football grounds can accommodate today and great good humour and tolerance among fans. I have a fond memory of being taken for the first time by my father, who was brought up in Liverpool, to experience the great rivalry between Liverpool and Everton. My father was a lifelong and true red supporter, but a great and fond admirer of the great Dixie Dean. Many of our problems concerning race and disorder should be regarded as late 20th century phenomena—partly due to a lack of respect and order and, in terms of this Bill, partly due to the ease and cheapness of international travel.
This is the eighth or ninth measure introduced by Parliament in the past 20 years to attempt to deal with football violence. Some ideas have been good. Others, such as the passports idea of the early 1980s, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, not so good.
376 I agree with my noble friend Lord Phillips that we should disabuse ourselves of any illusion that a magic legislative process exists for solving these problems. We need to address a whole range of measures.
The Minister claimed a good deal of success for the Act. At one point I thought he was going to claim that it was because of the Act that we got the result in Munich, but he refrained from making that claim. As I said when we discussed it on the earlier occasion, there is always an element of elephant dust about an Act such as this. Your Lordships will know the story of the spreading of the elephant dust, when someone said, "There are no elephants for 600 miles", to which reply was made, "Well, it is very effective stuff, isn't it?" If the passing of an Act is followed by a period of calm and peace, there is a tendency to say, "That is because of our Act". As the Minister conceded, at present there is very little data to prove that the Act has had an impact. However, he is right to say that the data we have, such as it is, together with improvement in behaviour, suggests that it would be worthwhile to give further consideration to the continuation of the measure, to see whether it has produced these improvements.
As my noble friend Lord Phillips indicated, the problem is that we always have to maintain a balance between civil liberties and the need to protect our national reputation and our national game. I still believe, as my noble friend does, that there was an element of panic about the initial measure, and I share his welcome for the offer of a sunset clause. So effusive was my noble friend's welcome that I begin to fear he is mellowing as we go through this process. However, we have not yet reached Committee stage, so we shall see.
In considering this and related measures, those in football have to accept that football is not just a sport, not just a business. It is part of our social fabric. Those involved in it—the players, the management and the directors—have social responsibilities, in respect of which I would place the onus the other way round, on the directors, the managers and the players. Whatever the condemnation of the young men involved in the Leeds case—and they are rightly condemned—they are very young. There are much older, more experienced people, with far greater responsibility, who have not exercised proper control. We need to remember that football clubs take on youths as young as eight and develop them through various stages until they become the multi-millionaire popinjays that we see today. Those who guide them through those processes have to take a responsibility.
I was glad that the noble Lord. Lord Pendry, reminded us that not everything is bad. An excellent article was published in the Evening Standard on 18th December, listing what all the London clubs are doing in terms of social responsibility and initiatives—everything from Watford's travelling bus, to opening training grounds to visiting schools, to West Ham providing tickets for deprived Asian children. So it is not all bad.
377 Compared with a decade or so ago, the thinking of football clubs has become quite revolutionary; and all power to those who are doing it. But it has to be part of a greater effort on the part of those involved in football to provide better training and education for footballers as they move through their stages of development, to take on board the kind of wider responsibilities that their privilege gives them. There needs to be a greater sense of social responsibility by directors and management. If I cannot convince them on the social scale, let me, as someone who advises commercial companies, tell them that it will not take long for their commercial sponsors, who pour millions of pounds into football, to work out that being associated with such a tarnished brand is not a good idea.
So if it is not social responsibility that encourages them to clean up the image, pure self-interest should do so. We should build on what is already happening and have greater community involvement from the major soccer clubs. Most of them are trying but they have got to try a whole lot harder.
Several noble Lords have discussed the fact that racism has not been eradicated. There are some positive points. It is excellent that, through football, some of our most articulate black sportsmen are moving into media and management and are becoming the voices and role models for minority communities. However, each one of them will tell stories of the abuse that they have suffered. A much tougher line must be taken in that regard and in relation to the behaviour of fans in general—the way in which their behaviour has deteriorated is very worrying.
The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and I were at the "Sports Personality of the Year" award together. I am not so bold as to call the gentleman, "Sven" yet; I call him "Mr Eriksson". I was pleased that David Beckham got the award: as I said in the House Magazine this week, someone who believes in marriage, is a proud parent, does not smoke or drink and is professionally dedicated is quite a good role model for this generation. He also takes a pretty mean free kick.
I shall not abuse the fact that we are at Second Reading by going on for too long. On 29th December, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said, I shall be at Everton to see the game against Charlton with my two sons, who are 11 and eight. I want to be involved in the debate about the future of football because I want them to have as much enjoyment from the beautiful game as I have had. The building blocks for improvement are in place, but there are also dangers and threats. I am sorry that somehow the Government have become bedazzled with football without getting to grips with some of the problems. Perhaps if the authorities in football and the Government listened to their candid friends, such as the noble Lords, Lord Pendry, Lord Faulkner, and Lord Ouseley, we might deal with more practical problems. I pay tribute to the 378 work that the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, did in opposition. It was sad that he did not have an opportunity to carry through those ideas.
Racism, violence and anti-social behaviour are not just failures of the travelling fans; they are part of a rottenness that has to be removed from English football. As the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, will remind us, Scottish fans manage to travel abroad with some good humour.
In Committee, we shall examine the civil liberties aspects of the legislation. We welcome the offer of a sunset clause. There are several more very positive ideas and progress could be made if football got away from its bunker mentality and listened to its candid friends. We cautiously wish the Bill well after we have had a chance to consider it further in Committee.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, has the noble Lord, who kindly referred to me, ever thought that the reputation of the marvellous young English footballer whom I admire greatly, and who has great success because he works so hard, is due not to his manager a—fellow Scot—or his club but his wife?
§ Lord McNally
My Lords, any reputation that I have is certainly due to my wife, so I agree with the noble Lord.
§ 12.55 p.m.
§ Viscount Bridgeman
My Lords, the type of hooliganism with which the Bill is concerned has acquired, as noble Lords know, the unflattering title of, "the English disease". It is allegedly said that our neighbours in the British Isles are with some justification not associated with that term.
To convey what we have achieved so far, I recall that at the time of the Falklands War, when a military campaign was being fought 8,000 miles from home and Royal Marines were "yomping" towards Stanley, soccer hooligans were landing at Zeebrugge virtually naked and decorated in Union Jack woad. At the time, a Belgian friend of mine said that he had never understood the English and that he now understood them even less.
As the Minister said, the climax to such behaviour came, as noble Lords are well aware, in the Euro 2000 matches, when there were appalling scenes at Brussels and Charleroi. The Minister drew attention to the ridiculous situation that whereas only one individual was charged, the police found that 40 per cent of those who were arrested had records for criminal behaviour. UEFA threatened England with expulsion from Euro 2000 and the British government's actions—or lack of them—were compared unfavourably with those that were taken in particular by the German police and the German football federation.
It was as a result of the widespread criticism both at home and abroad that the Football (Disorder) Act 2000 came about. We have heard that it contains a number of stringent measures: a banning order to apply both domestically and internationally; the powers to confiscate passports; and wide powers to 379 issue banning orders including, in certain circumstances, when no offence had been committed. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, spoke with his usual eloquence on that point.
I give the Government credit for the Bill and pay tribute in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, who was closely involved in its preparation. I also take this opportunity to thank him for the help he has given me in connection with this Second Reading debate.
The Bill was widely welcomed by, among others, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Football Association and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. We have also heard from the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner, and Lord Pendry, about the other regulatory bodies that were involved. In my party's view, the legislation has, on the whole, worked well. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, drew attention to the fact that it was a panic measure. There was a certain urgency at the time, and there was a danger of it falling under the Dangerous Dogs Act syndrome. The results have been justified.
Two particularly informative reports were issued under the chairmanship of, I believe, the noble Lord, Lord Bassam. The first report was on the Act's operation during its first 12 months and the second contained an update following Munich—the first real test came with Munich. The police operation to restrain trouble was, on the whole, a success and, as noble Lords know, 79 suspected hooligans were processed at British ports and airports under the new legislation, in the run-up to the game. Fifty-eight of those were prevented from travelling to Germany, 33 were given bans, nine have bans pending, 16 had their hearings adjourned and 21 cases were unsuccessful, meaning that the fans were free to go to the match. I think that it is fair to say that the clear England victory probably took some menace out of the situation but let us give the authorities—and the legislation itself—the benefit of the doubt and adjudge it a success.
So much for the background. I turn to the Bill. Police powers were renewed for a further 12-month period in August 2001, and this Bill is drafted to extend the life of the measures beyond August 2002. In another place my party welcomed the broad aims of the Bill. However, my honourable friend Mr Dominic Grieve with the support of the Liberal Democrats drew the House's attention to the draconian powers posed by Section 14 and in particular Section 21. He pointed out that people were liable to be put through a process previously unknown in English law. I thank the noble Lord, Lord, Lord Phillips, for giving us the background to this kind of hybrid legislation.
In his amendment, my honourable friend suggested a sunset clause limiting the provisions of the Bill to five years. I also draw your Lordships' attention to another point made in that debate by Mr Simon Hughes to the effect that the permanent enshrinement in law of Sections 14 and 21 would put up a sign that the English disease was indeed incurable and would give to the world a pessimistic, defeatist and permanent signal 380 which we might well come to regret. However, the amendment was declined and defeated. I do not need to dwell further on that point since I am most pleased, as I am sure many noble Lords are, that the Government have now indicated that they will bring forward an amendment for a sunset clause of five years. The advantage is that it will not only extend the operation of the Act beyond the 2006 World Cup but that, significantly, any parliamentary consideration of either a further extension or of new legislation will also be postponed beyond it; and we will not have at that event the distraction of considering legislation while the World Cup is in progress. I note that the European championships in 2008 will probably coincide; but we cannot have everything.
Noble Lords will take some reassurance from the fact that, a challenge having been brought in the High Court that arrests under the 2000 Act were an infringement under the ECHR, those arguments failed on all counts.
I turn to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and picked up by several noble Lords. I refer to the regrettable case of the two Leeds United footballers. The point about the case—it should concern your Lordships in the context of this Bill—was not that the injuries to a young Asian were caused by footballers but by very highly paid footballers. Let us imagine the effect on potential football hooligans such as we are dealing with in this Bill—it is not the hard core but those on the fringes, those who see these Premier League players as role models and heroes—who may be excused for thinking, "Well, if they can do that sort of thing, why can't I?"
In its 12-month report, the NCIS states that people who travel to away matches want to be associated with that team and when they cause trouble they do so in some crazy belief that they are somehow fighting for their team. It states that that kind of loyalty is often one of the unedifying aspects of tribalism, and football organisations and clubs must accept their share of responsibility.
The Leeds United Football Club has taken action against the two individuals concerned. I take note of the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, of the implications if those players were ever to come near the selection process for the England team. The action of Leeds United Football Club is to be commended. However, it also highlights the need for clubs not only to work closely with the police in addressing hooliganism; they must keep control over the discipline of their own players both on and off the field. I hope that, in association with his colleague the Minister for Sport, the Minister will be mindful of that point in particular as regards racism.
I have two other questions for the Minister. First, at the time of the original Bill it was suggested that it might be easy to go through Scotland in order to make trouble abroad. Will the Minister assure us that that has not been an inhibition in the operation of the Bill? Secondly, as the report from the National Criminal Intelligence Service states, hooliganism is being used as a cover for serious crime such as drugs dealing and 381 counterfeiting. It is highly organised, often by men respectfully dressed in suits, collars and ties. Those individuals are expert in what one might call "working" the hooligan element. They make sophisticated use of mobile phones. In the recent debate in this House on the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, we were informed that it is now possible to locate a caller on a mobile phone. Can I have the Minister's assurance that the authorities are now abreast of those sophisticated techniques and that they can be dealt with under the provisions of the Bill?
We welcome the Bill and are grateful for the Government's move towards a sunset clause. We look forward to studying the amendments in Committee.
§ 1.6 p.m.
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
My Lords, in closing it is customary to say that it has been an interesting and wide-ranging debate. This has been a wide-ranging debate. The Bill is a modest measure—a simple repeal. I have enjoyed all the contributions made in your Lordships' House today. It is almost invidious to pick out any individual because all speakers made telling and important points.
Perhaps I may continue the round of tributes by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for his contribution, not only today but over a long period, towards improving many aspects of the sport. He has ensured that the quality of stadium facilities and the treatment of and respect for fans have been foremost in the minds of those who have some responsibility for the governance of the sport.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, for his kind words, his never-ending contribution to football and his continued support. We share a great affection for Brighton and Hove Albion. My affection may be slightly stronger than his. While the club is not a paragon of virtue, it is taking great steps to tackle some of the issues which have been referred to. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, made an important contribution, putting the positive side and referring to what many football clubs are doing. He placed that action alongside the behaviour of the Leeds United footballers and the difficulties in tackling racism that will face that club, those footballers and the football authorities. That issue has not gone away. We should not assume that legislation—the point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips—is the be-all and end-all. It does not provide necessary solutions but it provides frameworks and sets standards. That is what we have been seeking to do over many years with legislation regulating behaviour in and around grounds.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, for his witty contribution which was, as ever, to the point. I shall try to respond to some of the important questions he raised. I thank in particular the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. His single-minded concentration on the fall-out from the Leeds United footballers' cases is right. We need to examine those issues long and hard. He may be right that there needs to be some further 382 inquiry on how that fall-out will be managed, the implications for the game and for clubs which know that they have to tackle insidious racism. The noble Lord made an important point about looking at how the judicial process works. I undertake to ensure that those comments are reflected where they need to be reflected with regard to that case and its conduct.
As regards the future, that is for the football authorities and the clubs. It is beyond the remit of this modest piece of legislation. I also want to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, for his support. I am pleased, too, that our offer at this early stage of a five-year sunset clause on the Bill has been broadly welcomed.
This has been a very illuminating debate. As I said earlier, while law will not solve all problems, I believe that this piece of legislation has started to crack a very tough nut. The Football (Disorder) Act 2000 originally included, as does this Bill, radical measures. During the passage of the 2000 Bill, 1 said that those radical measures would not be sufficient but would need to be coupled with a strategy which considered the breadth of the game and the way in which racism, violence and disorder swirled round the game and impacted upon it.
I take some pride in the working party report produced under my guidance. I pay tribute to our officials who have been diligent in taking forward its many recommendations. I believe that over a longer period those recommendations will have an impact in changing the atmosphere that surrounds our national game.
All the available evidence strongly suggests that Sections 14B, 21A and 21B have had the impact that we expected. I believe that they have also gone a long way to repair the damage that hooligans have done to our national reputation. UEFA, in particular, is pleased. It is notable, too, that other countries across Europe have looked with some degree of envy at our measures and the way in which they impact upon the behaviour of supporters at major games.
We believe that there is a compelling case, based on evidence, for retaining the sections to which I have referred. We consider it to be right that they should continue to be subject to review and report. Since the measures were introduced there has been a dramatic reduction in significant disorder. It is also the case that the measures have been warmly welcomed by police forces across Europe as much as by governments.
I do not believe for a moment that football violence has disappeared or that it will disappear for ever. We must always be vigilant. But I take great heart from the progress that has been made. This House, in particular, has a reputation for careful scrutiny and for not giving away liberties lightly or easily, and rightly so. It also has among its Members strong civil libertarians, such as the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, to argue for those liberties. I believe that we in this House have the ability to improve the quality of legislation. Certainly, we focused the Government's mind when we considered this legislation in the year 2000.
383 A number of questions were asked and I shall respond to one or two of them. The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, asked whether the international football banning orders related only to national team games. The new combined order covers club games in Europe as well. I believe that the noble Lord asked how a banning order could be lifted. The Act allows for applications to revoke banning orders at any time after two-thirds of the period has passed. The subject of a banning order can apply at short notice for an exemption from any requirement to report to the football banning order authority or the police.
The noble Lord raised questions and concerns about the statistics. I believe, and have argued, that the statistics bear out our faith in the legislation. I also believe that the test of Munich was matched. The facts speak for themselves. Five hundred and thirty-seven known trouble-makers were prevented by the banning order conditions from travelling to Munich compared to 100 who were prevented from travelling to Euro 2000. Four hundred and ninety-two of those were banned following conviction of a football-related offence. The remaining 45 were banned in accordance with the Section 14B civil process. All 45 had convictions for violence or disorder, although not necessarily related directly to football. It is also the case that a further 58 were prevented by the courts from travelling in accordance with the Section 21B process. Again, all 58 had convictions for violence or public order offences.
I argued, and I continue to do so, that genuine fans have nothing to fear from these powers. Perhaps I may pick up a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. In putting across his argument, I believe that he suggested that the courts were rejecting 40 per cent of the applications made. The noble Lord cannot have it both ways. Either the courts are doing their job properly or they are not. We argued initially at the time of the passing of the legislation that there would he ample tests of the powers. The courts are obviously proving to be robust in the way in which they are conducting cases and, quite rightly, they are raising the right type of question when confronted with individual cases.
I have already said that many issues will fall from the case of the Leeds United footballers and all that surrounded it. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, for his continued concern on that issue. I believe that I have responded to most of the points. The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, and, I believe, the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, were concerned about the Scottish angle. We have not yet found that the Scottish problem—the leakage of hooligans through Scotland—has caused any great disruption to the working of the legislation.
§ Lord Phillips of Sudbury
My Lords, has the Minister considered making it a requirement for English and Welsh fans travelling to foreign matches that they wear kilts?
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
Not Welsh kilts? My Lords, I believe that these measures need to be put on to the statute book. To do other than that would send a wrong and entirely negative message. I believe that we can take great encouragement from the way in which these measures have worked over the past year or so. On the understanding that a sunset amendment will be tabled in Committee, I feel confident in commending the Bill to your Lordships' House.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.