HL Deb 12 July 2001 vol 626 cc1234-47

7.29 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 20th June be approved [First Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend the Minister.

The order, which was approved by a Standing Committee of the other place earlier this week, extends from a period of one year from 28th August 2001 the powers conferred upon the courts and the police under Section 14B (banning orders made on complaint) and Sections 21A and 21B (summary measures) of the Football Spectators Act 1989.

The early evidence strongly suggests that the measures are making a significant contribution to tackling the longstanding menace of English football disorder. That is why a Bill removing the "sunset" clause contained in the 2000 Act will be introduced shortly. This order is required to cover the period during the passage of that Bill through Parliament. There are a number of high risk matches on the horizon and the provisions of the 2000 Act need to be in place to help minimise the risk of serious disorder in Munich when Germany plays England on 1st September and, of course, during the Euro 2004 qualifying matches. There are also bound to be a number of potentially difficult overseas club matches to be navigated in the months ahead.

In accordance with Section 5(5) of the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, a report on the working of the Act during the period from 28th August 2000 to 11th June 2001 was laid before Parliament on 20th June. The report, a prerequisite of the introduction of this order, briefly outlines the background and circumstances which led to the 2000 Act, along with its aims and key provisions. It concludes with an assessment of the impact of the Act during the period concerned.

If I may, I remind your Lordships of the measures that we are seeking to extend and briefly explain why we think it necessary to keep them on the statute book for a further 12 months. Section 14B empowers magistrates to impose banning orders on individuals who have not previously been convicted of a football-related offence but in relation to whom there is evidence of involvement in violence or disorder.

This complaint process requires the police to satisfy the courts that the person before them had caused or contributed to violence and disorder and—I stress the word "and"—that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the making of an order would help to prevent violence or disorder in connection with football matches.

Sections 21A and 21B provide a different route to seeking an order on complaint during control periods—this 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 empowers the police to detain an individual for up to four hours (six with the authorisation of an inspector) where a police officer 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 for believing that imposing a banning order on that person would 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 meantime 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.

The need for these powers can be found in the catalogue of shame that has been inflicted on our national reputation by England followers overseas. The most recent and best documented example was provided during Euro 2000. Notwithstanding extensive precautions, English fans were still involved in significant disturbances in both Charleroi and Brussels. Those preparations were successful to the extent that only one of the 965 England followers arrested during the tournament was subject to a banning order imposed following conviction of a football related offence. Yet subsequent police checks revealed that 40 per cent of those arrested had convictions for offences of violence or public disorder not necessarily connected with football. This provided strong evidence for empowering the courts to impose banning orders (that is Section 14B orders) in circumstances other than on conviction of a football related offence.

The need for the Section 21A and 21B powers was also based on the experience of Euro 2000, which confirmed that the police would not always have sufficient time to pursue the banning order process before the control period for a regulated match or tournament had commenced. For example, although the local police may be aware that an individual has caused or contributed to violence or disorder, they will not necessarily know that the individual concerned has an interest in football and intends to follow the national team overseas. We now believe that there is compelling evidence for maintaining Sections 14B, 21A and 21B on the statute book for a further 12 months. It is the Government's view that the provisions of this order are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The need for adequate safeguards was recognised when the 2000 Act was drafted. As I argued at the time, the measures had to be proportionate. They had to strike a balance between national and international interests and—this is important—individual civil liberties. This, of course, must also include the civil liberties of host populations and well-behaved English supporters who are intimidated by the aggression and xenophobia of some of their fellow supporters.

I am sure that noble Lords will agree that the impact report confirms that the police have adopted a highly targeted, intelligence-led approach to using the new powers. During the passage of the 2000 Act, the then Home Secretary stressed that the powers we are now seeking to extend would not be used arbitrarily: that personal appearance, for example, would not of itself 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. No orders have been imposed solely on the basis of a deportation from Belgium during Euro 2000.

I am also pleased that the measures have been warmly welcomed by governments and police forces across Europe. Indeed, governments across Europe are now considering a recommendation of European experts on football hooliganism that there is a compelling need for an instrument at European level to encourage member states to pass comparable legislation. No doubt we shall hear more of this during the Belgian Presidency.

I am equally pleased that UEFA has been impressed by the good behaviour of English fans since the measures came into force. The threat to exclude English football from European competition was real and remains in place. UEFA has stressed the importance of that good behaviour being maintained. Perhaps most of all I am pleased that, despite potentially high risk England matches in Paris, Turin and Athens and the vast number of fans—I believe that it is in excess of 100,000—who have traversed Europe over the past year in support of our national club sides, there have been only 43 arrests and no significant disorder since Euro 2000. Since Euro 2000, the number of troublemakers prevented from travelling to matches overseas has increased significantly from around 100 to over 450 and the legislative gaps exposed by the disorder during Euro 2000 have been closed.

There is no suggestion that the problem of English football violence overseas has been solved: as I said, a number of potentially high risk matches lie ahead. The Government made clear when the measures were proposed that legislation alone could not eliminate the risk of football disorder: in many respects the phenomenon is a symptom of wider social problems. That is why the Working Group on Football Disorder, which I chaired, was asked to identify what could be done to tackle the attitudes and behaviour that prompt disorder. And that is why the Government are committed to seeing its 55 recommendations taken forward. Therefore, we welcome particularly the launch of "Englandfans"—the FA's new England Members Club. The vetting arrangements put in place should ensure that all persons with recent convictions for violence or public order offences will be denied membership and, as a consequence, tickets for England matches overseas.

In respect of the order, the Government recognise that the police and courts are still exploring how best to use the complaint procedure. But the actual number of orders imposed is but one measure of the Act's effectiveness and is by no means the most important. The key aim was and must remain to minimise the risk of further disorder. The early indicators strongly suggest that the measures we are seeking to maintain have made a significant and important contribution in that respect. There have been no significant outbreaks of disorder; fan behaviour has improved; the number of troublemakers prevented from travelling to matches overseas has increased significantly; governments across Europe are considering the introduction of similar measures; and legislative gaps exposed by the disorder during Euro 2000 have been plugged. Importantly, the Act is being applied in a targeted and proportionate way. To lose the powers at this early stage would send out entirely the wrong message both to any supporter tempted to misbehave and to authorities and police forces across Europe.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 20th June be approved [First Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

Viscount Bridgeman

My Lords, we on this side of the House supported the fast passage of the original Bill. The order, which is a holding order until the new Bill comes before us, is very much to be welcomed.

I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, on the comprehensive report which will form a useful tool for the formulation of the new Bill. We agree with the Minister that the operation of the measures has been remarkably successful overall. However, with the increased sophistication of electronic communications and the use of mobile telephones by known troublemakers, we must always be on our guard. I am sure that the new Bill will take account of that.

My honourable friend Nick Hawkins, who should have declared an interest as a keen cricketer, pointed out in another place that, since the order has come before us, there has been a regrettable and unexpected series of disturbances at cricket matches. Will the Government consider extending the legislation to include other sports, of which cricket is the most topical? In other respects, we very much welcome the order.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

My Lords—

Lord McNally

My Lords, I shall probably have to have a restraining order on my noble friend Lord Phillips. I thought that I had better get in first to make it clear that the Liberal Democrats accept the need for a renewal. It would be wrong not to give an extension at this point. However, as I suspect that my noble friend is about to tell the Minister rather more forcefully, we are still worried about some of the civil liberties implications of orders that can sweep up the innocent as well as the potentially guilty. We also feel that the issue goes wider than sport. Some of the people who are the prime causes of anti-social behaviour are not really connected with football, but use it as a vehicle for violence.

I should like the Minister to elaborate on a number of points. The order provides for a one-year extension. He said that legislation would come shortly. Will he give us an idea of how short "shortly" is? As the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, asked, is the new legislation likely to have a broader focus on sports disorder rather than dealing only with football? The disturbances at recent cricket matches show that the problem could spread to other sports.

Is there any pattern in the discretion used by police forces? Have some been more zealous than others in using their powers? Has that been examined?

Looking around the Chamber, this is a little like a reunion. It is nostalgic to see the Minister in his place. Our doubts about the legislation centre on the fact that some of the claims for it are still like the old claims for elephant dust—you spread the dust around and there are no elephants. We have passed an Act and, lo and behold, there is no disorder. I am not sure that the relationship is quite so direct. Let us keep the Act on the statute book, but I hope that the Government keep up the momentum that the Minister's committee produced.

In some ways, I would like that committee to sit again in the medium term to take stock of what is happening. There are other issues to consider. Has there been any study of best practices by host countries? Should bars be open or closed? I imagine that host countries will have mixed feelings about that, because we are talking about a lot of custom for them. Are there any lessons to be learnt from countries that have closed bars within a certain radius of grounds? Ticket touting has also been a cause of disorder and conflict, with tickets getting into the wrong hands and segregation being broken down. As well as looking at the hooligan element, there are some best practices that should be encouraged across Europe.

One example of best practice that we welcome is the introduction of Englandfans. The old so-called supporters association was a cover for some very nasty elements. The action that has been taken is welcome, if perhaps a little belated.

We know how delicately we have to tread with any suggestion of interfering with the media, but it is worth putting on the record that it is no use bemoaning the bad behaviour of England fans if, in the 10 days before a game, our popular press has tried to present it in terms of World War III or described opponents with Second World War stereotypes. The media have a responsibility to remind everyone, especially the fans, that it is a beautiful game, but it is still only a game.

Lord Woolmer of Leeds

My Lords, I, too, welcome the order. I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on his close and effective interest in the concerns of football clubs and supporters and of the general population, both at the time of the original order and subsequently. I thank him for that and I know how much it is appreciated in the football world.

Before I make one or two cautionary remarks and raise one or two questions, I shall deal with some of the points that have already been raised in this brief debate. The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, shrewdly referred to the Internet and its potential use. We are moving towards the qualifying games for Euro 2004 and we hope that our teams will participate in the tournament finals, which my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who is usually well informed on these things, tells me will be in Portugal. Attempting to control access to Portugal for a month will be a very different animal from managing one-off games. There is a lot of work to be done, including the important task of monitoring Internet traffic.

My welcome for the provisions is cautious, because the real tests are yet to come. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, hinted that he might like broader measures introduced for other sports such as cricket. The situation for cricket is not the same. We need to start by looking at the effects of drinking for six straight hours a day. A few years ago, drink was banned for a whole test match at Headingley. Many of us who were used to the existing culture were annoyed, but the measure made an enormous difference to behaviour at the game. That is a start and does not require the full majesty of the law to chase down alleged troublemakers at cricket matches.

I have one or two questions for my noble friend the Minister arising from the report, which I found very useful. I take it that the table in paragraph 19 refers to the number of individuals who have had an order made against them. I understand that the total is 468. In one sense, I was pleasantly surprised that only 44 orders had been made under Section 14 and only 30 applications for orders had been made under Section 21. If that demonstrates that highly targeted intelligence has a big leverage effect, I am delighted.

However, those figures provide a mental word of caution that there are significantly more than 78 or 80 hard-nosed, hard-headed troublemakers in and around the football world. In looking to Euro 2004 and the World Cup qualifier, which is to take place this year in Germany, the Act is only just beginning to bite and much caution must still be exercised.

The table in paragraph 19 refers to the issuing of notices preventing travel and the initiating of complaint banning order proceedings. It would be helpful if my noble friend could give the House a flavour of how the Act has been implemented in relation to Sections 14 and 21. What has been the nature of objections? Have magistrates always supported the application orders? What type of issues, if any, of a civil liberties nature have arisen? Given the relatively small number of orders issued thus far, my guess is that they have been very carefully targeted and have been aimed at sure-fire winners. However, it would be helpful to have a feel for that so as to know whether our concerns about civil liberties have received a germ of care.

Incidentally, I note from the appendix that, so far as concerns individual clubs, Leeds United games attracted the largest number of banning order notices. Although the notices amount to only some 25 or 45, which, in one sense, is a very small number, nevertheless the matter is obviously of concern to me as a long-standing and closely associated supporter of Leeds United.

Of course, the number of notices issued shows that a relatively small number of people can make a great deal of difference to the amount of disruption that occurs. However, I say to my noble friend that those of us who attend football games regularly, as I suspect many of us do, find that there is an ongoing tenor of violence and racism, with violent and totally antisocial language, which remains to be dealt with. That is not a matter that can be dealt with only in law; it must be dealt with by the clubs themselves.

My noble friend and the Minister concerned may not have seen the leaflets and material issued by Leeds United this year. The language in that material is as forthright and plain as possible and shows that such behaviour is simply not wanted and will not be tolerated. Football clubs are private clubs and can do what they want within the law. I hope that they will take action and follow the example of the Government.

It would be helpful to know what has happened to many of the 55 recommendations. I believe that my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester is equally, if not more, interested in the outcome of the working group set up by my noble friend.

I conclude by welcoming the order. I look forward to further discussions on how it might be taken forward on a more permanent basis. Meanwhile, I hope that the House will approve the order tonight.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

My Lords, a rather insidious rumour is circulating around the House that the Liberal Democrat Benches have become a smooth and cohesively functioning political force. Perhaps I may put noble Lords' minds at rest. Although I had believed that I was speaking for the Liberal Democrat Benches on this matter, I have discovered that I am not because I am strongly opposed to the renewal of this Act.

I believe that the whole point of introducing a sunset clause was to ensure that, if we renewed the Act, it would be on the basis only of compelling evidence that it was a necessary piece of legislation. When we discussed the Bill, there existed across the House a rather strong coalition of individuals who were deeply concerned about the Football (Disorder) Bill. That concern arose precisely because of the civil libertarian aspects which are at the heart of the Bill and which are unprecedented in our law.

Although the noble Viscount referred to the fact that, during its passage, the Bill had the support of the Conservative Front Bench, I believe that it is perfectly fair to remind the House that the majority of Back-Bench speakers on the Conservative side were hotly opposed to it. They included a wide range, extending from the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, at one end to more normal civil libertarians at the other. I am probably being unfair to the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit. I can see that noble Lords believe that I am. I withdraw that remark at once.

I want to say briefly why many of us believed very strongly that the measure should never have hit the statute book. First, not only can a banning order be made where there is no football-related conviction—I make it clear that, where there is such a conviction, the notion of a banning order is perfectly acceptable—but the measure allows a banning order to be made where there has been no previous conviction. It allows a banning order in respect of lawful conduct up to 10 years in the past. It also allows a banning order to be imposed on a civil test—that is, on a balance of probabilities—rather than on the normal criminal test of "beyond reasonable doubt". Finally, the measure does not contain the defence which is at the heart of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; namely, that the conduct was reasonable in all the circumstances.

In other words, the conduct in respect of which the application for a banning order is made could none the less be held to be reasonable in all the circumstances so as to defeat the application for a banning order. Those four matters constitute a unique set of objections to a measure, which, I repeat, is without precedent in English law.

With regard to the working of the Act in the period from August last year to 11th June this year, what do we find? The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, put his finger on it. Only 44 banning orders have been made on complaint under Section 14B or indirectly under Section 21B. That is out of a total of 468 banning orders. The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, mentioned the 30 notices which have been issued under Section 24B. However, I believe that I am right in saying—I believe that the Minister will back me up—that those 30 come within the 44 orders made.

As the report states, one must consider that more than 100,000 English fans travelled to matches and tournaments abroad during that period. I put it to the House that that does not provide evidence of a brilliantly focused piece of legislation which has clinically picked off the troublemakers. I put it to the House that it is clear evidence of a measure that is not needed and, indeed, is not used. The overwhelming majority of banning orders are in respect of football-related offences.

Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, would be good enough to refer to one matter when he replies. How many of the 44 orders issued were in respect of people on the FCIS list of known troublemakers? The answer would be extremely telling. Noble Lords may remember that, when we discussed the matter when the legislation was passed in the wake of the Euro 2000 fracas in which 900-plus British fans were expelled from Holland and Belgium, even then only 30 of the 950-odd fans were on the FCIS list. Therefore, with regard to warranting the continuance of the legislation, I do not consider that we have come anywhere close to the test that I believe was implicit when we put a sunset clause into the Bill.

I turn to the report, which states that there are several interrelated reasons why English fans appear to have adopted better behaviour during the interim period. One reason is because the, fans themselves are 'sick and tired' of the trouble". The report continues, many host police forces are adopting low friction tactics", and it points out that: The safety of visiting English fans is increasingly featuring as a higher planning priority". There is no evidence to suggest that football fans are aware of this extremely complex piece of legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, said that they certainly are aware of it but I should like to see evidence of that; I am not willing to accept the claim without any backing.

When the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, introduced the order, he began by saying that so far as could be gathered the evidence strongly suggests that Sections 14B and 21B are making a significant contribution—I believe that those were his words—and he later talked about "compelling" evidence. I do not believe that there is compelling evidence or even strong supporting evidence in that regard. We should attend to the basic legal objections relating to this offence, which is unparalleled and extremely dangerous, particularly because it apparently makes what is in truth a criminal offence a civil offence. I am afraid that I have to object to the renewal of the legislation.

I close by reminding the House that I tried to help when the Act was discussed last year by suggesting that extra territoriality should apply in relation to our football offences—those who breached the provisions abroad could be tried and prosecuted in this country. I still think that that would have a most effective result. The approach would be highly publicised and it would allow us to use tried and trusted public order legislation and the like.

For those reasons I regret to say that I am strongly opposed to the Act's renewal, even if only for one year. I should have been much happier if the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, and his working party, which came up with 55 recommendations, had continued their work. The measures that are referred to in the report made the difference in the interim.

8 p.m.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, on one thing at least; namely, his consistency. Those of us who are veterans of the one genuine all-night sitting that I have experienced during my two years in your Lordships' House will recall that he spoke with the same passion and conviction during those very long hours when we discussed the legislation almost exactly a year ago.

In view of what happened during the past year and, in particular, the preceding years, I am absolutely amazed that the noble Lord opposes the order. The legislation was necessary because an immediate response was needed to the events that occurred in Brussels and Charleroi during Euro 2000. They followed a succession of appalling incidents of crowd disorder involving England fans going right back to those in Luxembourg in 1977. Paragraph 2 of the Home Office report to Parliament details all such incidents; I need not read them out tonight.

If we had not agreed to the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, one more incident involving disorder among England fans when the England team was playing abroad would almost certainly have led to its expulsion from UEFA competitions and possibly from FIFA World Cup matches and English club teams would not have been allowed to play in Europe. It is greatly to the credit of the Government and in particular my noble friend Lord Bassam that that tide has turned. With great steadfastness, my noble friend steered the legislation through this House and he chaired the working group on disorder, which produced 55 recommendations.

Something could go terribly wrong at the match in Munich on 1st September, when the England team plays a crucial match against Germany. However, like all noble Lords, I desperately hope that that will not be so. I am confident that the chances of disorder were reduced by the enforcement of the legislation. If the legislation had not been introduced there would be a risk that an event like those that occurred in many European venues during the past 15 years could have recurred in Munich.

Noble Lords referred in particular to one of the recommendations of the working party chaired by my noble friend Lord Bassam. I was privileged to serve on that group and I hope that I made a modest contribution to it. That recommendation involved the decision by the Football Association to disband its old England members' club. That was not an easy decision for it to take; the club involved a cosy arrangement that meant that people who went regularly to matches could be sure that by continuing their membership they would go on getting tickets for matches. However, many people who were members of the old club were also at the heart of the disorders that occurred in World Cup and European championship matches during the 1980s and 1990s. If the working party's endeavours have managed to exclude from the new England fans' club those people, its work will have been worth while. Such people display extreme forms of xenophobia, they are often appallingly racist in their language to foreigners, black people and other minorities, and they have all the other unpleasant attributes that are associated with the extremism that accompanied England's fans during the past 20 years. The working party's other 54 recommendations are also relevant.

I unreservedly welcome the order and hope that it will be agreed to. I look forward to the more substantial permanent legislation that was promised in the gracious Speech. I was interested by the fact that the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, and the noble Lord, Lord McNally, raised the question of disorder at cricket matches. I raised that matter two weeks ago at Question Time. I have to say that I did not get a great deal of support from anywhere in the House for suggesting that the offences that were proscribed by the Football Offences Act 1991—particularly those relating to hurling objects, including fireworks, on to a pitch and encroachment on to the field of play—might be extended from football to cricket. However, when we consider the more permanent legislation—we will presumably do so later in this Session—we can discuss that matter and decide whether, as the noble Lord, Lord McNally, suggested, we should have a sports offences Act and not simply a football offences Act.

I have attempted to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, with whom I shall never agree on this matter. I welcome the Bill and extend my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

My Lords, I begin by thanking those noble Lords who made kind comments on my work in this area and stress how much those comments are appreciated. I intend to take a continuing interest in this matter, not least because I am a football fan and also because the problem requires continued thought. It involves the search for solutions to long-term problems. Hooliganism, after all, has been with us for some 20-odd years. I remember the first nasty outbreaks when I watched football as a teenager. We need to bear down on the problem at all times and find genuine answers. Such answers cannot be provided only through legislation; I do not believe—I did not believe this when we passed the Act last year—that law of itself will solve all of the problems. That was why I was particularly insistent that a working party should examine some of the problem's underlying causes and try to tackle them.

Noble Lords asked pertinent and valuable questions and I shall try to answer as many of them as I can this evening. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked when the legislation would be introduced. I suspect that it will be introduced sooner rather than later. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, touched on one reason for that; namely, that would ensure that there was adequate time to debate and carefully consider the provisions. As a civil libertarian myself—I do not see why the noble Lord should have a monopoly in that regard— I believe such matters should be given careful consideration. We are, after all, dealing with important powers which will impinge on people's civil rights and civil liberties.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked whether some forces were more zealous than others. My guess is that some probably are, perhaps because they have an abundance of football clubs—perhaps some of the higher profile clubs, such as Leeds United, Manchester United or Arsenal—in their area. They may therefore take a keener interest in all aspects of the legislation. They have probably got dedicated units that spend quite a lot of time working on the issue with clubs, fans and so on. They will seek to use the powers as and when they are required.

As to the future of the working group, interestingly when I went to speak to John Denham—the new Minister with responsibility for it—I made the point that it may be important to reconvene the working group to check on the progress of the 55 recommendations. Clearly, there has to be a follow-through. I hope that in the future there will be further reporting to Parliament, not just on the effectiveness or otherwise of these measures but on the way in which the programme is being implemented.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked about best practice. I think best practice is being developed, not just here but across Europe. When I have travelled abroad and talk to representatives from the football authorities they look very closely at what we are doing. They pay close attention to the measures we have introduced. I think that they are becoming much more aware of the need to develop more intrusive links into the football community to ensure that the sorts of problems we have had over the last 20 years or more do not emerge in the violent way in which they have from time to time.

One of the more important measures in the report put in place has been the taking apart of the England Members' Club and its reformulation into England fans. I thought the Football Association was particularly brave in seeking to limit the number of tickets to be made available to members of the new club. I think that will have an important impact on the distribution of tickets and perhaps limit the number of people who try to get around the controls on tickets and abuse the right and privelege of having a ticket to an important top-class football match.

The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, made a very sensible point that probably the real test is to come. We will be foolish if we ignore the importance of the England/Germany game on 1st September. I argued earlier that it was important for these measures be restored for that game and that we should ensure that they are in place. I certainly believe that to be the case.

The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, also referred to paragraph 19 in the table—I think his understanding of it is the same as mine. It contains important and significant detail. He also asked what sort of evidence was brought forward at cases. Cases have to be very carefully prepared. In itself, that has acted as an important balance or check in the way the police and courts have used these powers. The Act makes plain what sort of examples can be used in support of a complaint—overseas court decisions, deportations or exclusions from a country outside the UK, removal or exclusion from football grounds in the UK or elsewhere and conduct recorded on video or other means.

I think it is the case that evidence collected in the disturbances involving Arsenal fans in Copenhagen has probably been used in court to attempt to secure a banning order. The police have been very careful and targeted their efforts in this regard. It is in that context that I find the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, challenging, because I think the Act has begun to work. It has had a salutary impact on the behaviour of travelling football supporters. It will make an important contribution to ensure that we have a more peaceable, if not partisan—and I hope they are partisan and enthusiastic—body of supporters travelling abroad when they follow England and the Welsh national side and club sides.

The noble Lord said that there was no compelling evidence. The history of the last year or so provides that compelling evidence. The balance has been struck, rightly, as far as civil liberties are concerned. While it is true that the courts are only obliged to apply the civil test when considering the evidence, I think it is the case that magistrates are erring on the side of considering it in a criminal context and raising the threshold of evidence with which they are confronted. That is very important. The noble Lord may want to study some of the cases more closely. I am not going to give chapter and verse in each case from the Dispatch Box—that is not for me and not my responsibility or that of my party.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

My Lords, I am obliged to the Minister for giving way. He made a very important remark. As he knows, one of the core issues is that of the criminal or civil test. I think I heard him say he thought that in a lot of cases magistrates were applying the civil test but that it was edged up towards the criminal one. I should be grateful if he would let me know whether that is a hunch or whether it is based upon fact.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

It is a hunch, my Lords. But if the noble Lord talked to prosecuting authorities, I think they would probably say that is what they were experiencing in bringing cases forward. The noble Lord is an experienced criminal lawyer. If he attended one of the courts where these cases were brought, he would probably find that likely to be the case.

The noble Lord asked about the FCIS list—I think he is referring to NCIS. I cannot give him the information for which he has asked this evening. I shall ask officials to have a look at that to see what other information can be brought forward.

The noble Lord also referred to the proposal he made when we were considering the legislation. At the time I was struck by the suggestion and thought it to be an important one. It has been looked at again. The noble Lord and I had a meeting about the issue—why not have extra-territorial jurisdictions? There is a question of practicality here. We have a reservation in respect of Article 21 of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance. This means that extra-territorial proceedings can be pursued only if explicit statutory provision is made in respect of the offence concerned. At present, as the noble Lord is probably aware, this is limited to serious offences such as murder, manslaughter and certain sexual, terrorist and cyber crime offences. The vast majority of football-related offences are of a relatively minor public order nature, although they are serious in their impact—certainly collectively serious—on host nations.

Extra-territorial proceedings have never been an integral part of the law in the UK, largely because it is extremely difficult to secure convictions. I invite the noble Lord to consider these points. There are a number of practical reasons. The requirement of our justice system for oral evidence makes it difficult. The need for evidence to be gathered equivalent to British evidential standards is another important consideration; and within this the need to transport witnesses from the overseas jurisdiction to a court within our own jurisdiction. Also to be considered are the difficulties in obtaining the necessary documentation from overseas authorities. Those four points are very serious. They would need to be addressed urgently if we were to give further consideration to the point the noble Lord made at the time of the legislation.

The other issue raised during this short debate was the relationship between these powers and the recent cricket disorders. I answered a Question recently on this from the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner—quite properly asked. It touches on an important subject. We do not think it would be appropriate to pursue the course we pursued with football-related disorder in so far as cricket and other sports are concerned. We have had discussions with the cricket authorities. It is obviously something that will be kept under review. No doubt your Lordships will return to this subject when the Football Bill comes before the House for further debate and discussion later in the year.

This has been a good opportunity to air views on the issue. I welcome the all-party support with one notable and distinguished dissenter—and long may he dissent on this issue; it focuses all our minds. I am grateful for the warm support given to the Government's measures. I would like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, for his support and his active participation in the working group, which produced many worthwhile and important recommendations. I commend this matter to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.