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Mr. Norris : There will be members who refuse, for whatever anarchic and quixotic reason, to have these cards and who will therefore deny a football club the opportunity to admit them and to be profitable as a result, and then there will be the dozens of people who will go along when the game is cleaned up and it is safe for women, children and families to go and watch. Those hundreds of thousands of potential supporters who are prepared to go to Luton because of the experience they have there, but who are not prepared to go to many other grounds in all four divisions of the football league, are the people at whom the Bill is aimed.
I am happy that the Bill that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has so skilfully piloted through Committee so far should be on the statute book at the earliest possible moment.
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby) : The last 10 minutes of folly from the Conservative Benches have been a testament to the attitude taken by the Tory party, with the honourable exception of the rebels, to a Bill which affects millions of people in their pursuit of a decent national sport.
Let us get one or two facts straight. We did not debate the sittings motion for five hours. We debated it, as is the rule in the House--it is almost a convention--for two and a half hours on the morning it was presented. When, in indecent haste, only two sittings later, the Government brought forward another sittings motion, proposing that we should meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, we debated that for only about five minutes.
This is called a guillotine motion, but in reality, the Bill has been guillotined from the outset. Our argument with the Government has been over the fact that they have been absolutely rigid about the Bill being out of Committee by 27 July. Why? Because the woman in 10 Downing street has decided. That all-wise all-powerful and all-knowledgeable Prime Minister, who never makes a mistake, must be obeyed. The date that the Government set was 27 July.
Our argument was that there was every reason in the world to extend that into the overflow Session in October, because by that time we may have--we cannot be certain--Lord Justice Taylor's interim report. I have asked the Leader of the House whether the Government would still go ahead with the Bill in October if Lord Justice Taylor showed that he was opposed to it or suggested that there might be a fault in the Bill--perhaps even a teeny- weeny
Column 73mistake on the part of the Prime Minister. The Leader of the House replied that the Bill would go ahead, but he used the word "implemented".
If in the interim report in October there is a suggestion by Lord Justice Taylor that harm could be done and that it would not be in the interests of public safety to implement the Bill, when the Bill reaches the statute book --unfortunately, the Government have the majority to enable them to get it there--will the Minister for Sport refuse to implement it? The whole world will be waiting for the answer. I say "the world", because in Committee on Thursday morning we were told that the scheme would be worldwide. We asked what would happen if an American tourist, when given the choice on a Saturday afternoon between the theatre, a cinema or a football match, chose to go to a football match. The Minister's answer was that he could not go unless he had had his photograph taken and his membership application had gone through the computer.
We then asked the Minister what would happen if English clubs get back into Europe--as we all hope they will, except, perhaps, the Minister, who has done all he can to stop them--and, for example, Arsenal is drawn at home against Ajax of Amsterdam and 10,000 Dutchmen come over to see the game. The answer was that every one of those 10,000 Dutchmen will have to fill in membership forms and have their photographs taken before they can watch the match.
When the Minister was asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) whether the scheme would apply Communitywide, he said that it would apply worldwide. We can imagine the position of someone leaving, for example, the Soviet Union to visit the United Kingdom. When he applies for a visa, he will have to ensure that he fills in an application for a football club membership card just in case he should decide, when in London to see Chelsea or Tottenham play. Everyone in the country, with the exception of the Prime Minister, knows that that is nonsense.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) asked us to imagine the situation at Wembley when the half of the fans who support England must have identity cards, but the half who support Scotland do not. However, suppose a Scotland fan lives in Manchester and travels to Wembley with his English friend, who is also from Manchester. When he gets to Wembley stadium, will he go into the Scottish end of the ground? Is the Scottish fan who comes from Manchester to be dealt with in a different way from the Scottish fan who supports Manchester United? There are a hundred and one different facets to the Bill. They all lead to one ludicrous conclusion. The Government have not done their homework, and they are acting on a whim--the whim of one woman, who knows as much about football as, these days, she appears to know about the British economy.
The hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) is continually telling us how crowd numbers are down. They may be down at Luton--that is what happens when one bans away supporters--but that is not true elsewhere. Clubs up and down the country are making a real attempt
Column 74to improve attendances, with such things as closed circuit television, advantages to season ticket holders and family enclosure tickets. Everton football club, for example, can account for 24,000 people, which is three times the average gate at Luton Town--and that is before the season starts. That number represents the season tickets and other facilities that have been taken up by potential supporters. The picture is different from the one painted by the Government.
During the 1987-88 season, 99.996 per cent. of people attending football matches were not arrested. Of course, we do not know from the Government what percentage of that small percentage who were arrested were actually convicted.
Part II of the Bill, which needs to be properly debated, is at fault. When the Minister talks about the use of the Bill to deal with those convicted of offences abroad when they follow the England soccer team, we should ask the Minister how many people were convicted in, for example, West Germany. The answer would be none ; it was a nil return. Even if the measure had applied last year, it would not have applied to any person attending football matches in West Germany.
The argument that England is unique or has the worst problem is wrong. One only has to look at the position elsewhere. The security officer of the Dutch Football Association almost had his home bombed. In October 1987, there were riots at the Olympic stadium in Athens. Police were called in and tear gas was used. In December 1988, at Tilburg in Holland, 82 Ajax supporters were arrested and one was found to be in possession of a home- made fragmentation grenade. At the Den Haag match at that time, three people were injured in an explosion near the ground. In Enschede in Holland, there were 30 arrests when Feyenoord lost 6 : 1. In March 1987, a match between Den Haag and Ajax was abandoned at half-time because of crowd trouble. We tend to take all the stick, as we did for the Heysel stadium incident. Italians were involved in that incident, but not one Italian-- some of them were flaunting Fascist banners--has faced the same consequences as Liverpool supporters.
It is a scandal that this country's name has been dragged through the gutter because of the way in which false criticism is aimed at people in this country because they invade football pitches. The only pitch that I saw invaded last year was the one at Seoul in South Korea, where the Minister for Sport could not contain himself when the England hockey team won a trophy. Perhaps he will understand the passion which is aroused in people with real red blood in their veins when they see our national sport being played. That is the reason for the excitement and why very often there is an invasion of the pitch. Who has heard of trouble when the Liverpool and Everton teams play? Why should the Liverpool and Everton fans be called upon to have identity cards when, at the last local Derby match at Anfield last December, there were only three arrests, and those were all outside the ground--two for attempting to break into cars and one for ticket touting? Of course, we know that the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) loves ticket touts, so they are not so important as real football fans.
There can be no doubt that there will be a breach of civil liberties. Conservative Members should ask themselves what would happen if they had to have identity cards to get into a cinema, a theatre or a race course. It would be an absolute scandal. That is what we are coming to as a
Column 75result of the Government's antics. It is, however, one more nail in the coffin of a Government whose ignorance is outstripped only by their arrogance.
Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath) : There are many compelling reasons for opposing the guillotine motion, and contempt for Parliament and its procedures is one of them. Throughout the Bill's passage in another place, on Second Reading and in Committee, the views or parliamentarians have been shown to be of no account. As Lord Hailsham said, that is one of the first proofs of an elective dictatorship.
The Bill was conceived in the depths of the Prime Minister's prejudices, which are considerable, and it has been brought to us by her political pageboy. Throughout the proceedings, he has dutifully carried out the bidding of his mistress.
Issue after issue has been properly raised, but they have been met not with rational argument, but with the brute force of a massive parliamentary majority. In Committee, although we have been told that there will be certain exemptions to the scheme, we have also been told--my intervention today reaffirmed it--that everyone within the European Community and in the rest of the world must register as a result of the Bill ; otherwise, they will be under threat of being judged criminals for going to a football match here. No other civilised country in the world has adopted such a lunatic approach to such problems.
The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris)--he stirs now and again-- told us that the Government had picked out this problem and decided to deal with it. They have, of course, because they told us that they would get rid of violence in society. They were elected in 1979 to get rid of violence in society, but it is worse now than it has ever been ; the incidence of violence has increased every year. The Bill has nothing to do with football ; it has everything to do with camouflaging the Government's failure to deal with that violence.
In Committee, the Government had sufficient logic to accept that accompanied children and the disabled should be exempt from the scheme. We have attempted to extend that exemption to women and pensioners. We had a song-and-dance act and we were told that women cannot be exempted because 40 male supporters might go to an Oxfam shop to buy women's clothes. What a basis for the great constitutional law of this country. Our exemption has been rejected because some people might turn up at an Oxfam shop to buy women's clothes. In Committee that argument has become known as the "doctrine of drag".
No one has ever heard of one pensioner taking out his pension book and hitting another pensioner with it at any football match in this country, but we have been told that pensioners cannot be exempted. There is no other entertainment, be it theatre, concerts, sport or the cinema, that does not make special arrangements for pensioners. It is perfectly proper to extend the concept of family-member enclosures to take account of the other desirable classes of people. The Government have turned that down. At one stroke, they have managed to insult 26 million women and 10.5 million pensioners. The Government are not attacking the hooligan or the criminal. This is the only time in history that legislation
Column 76will be enacted in which the innocent will be singled out. The Government intend to take away their civil liberties and to make impositions on their rights. That is absolutely disgraceful. Morning, afternoon and night, the Government just churn it on in Committee. We have been told that we have been working morning, noon and night, and Committee members have become hallowed because of the hours that have been clocked up. In other words, the Government are not interested in the argument or in civil liberties : they are only interested in clocking up the hours. They have clocked up the hours to justify the guillotine motion. It has nothing to do with the merits of the case, and it is an absolute disgrace.
Given the Government's tremendous speed, it is interesting to look at the history of the case. The Leader of the House has told us that the Bill arose from the Popplewell report. The interim Popplewell report was issued four years ago and the final report was issued three and a half years ago. If the problems are such that they require desperate legislation, what on earth have the Government done in the four years since Popplewell? Why did they not introduce this Bill earlier? If the Government are right about the need for the Bill, they are guilty of criminal negligence because they allowed four years to go by before doing anything about the problem. Now the Government are trying to rush the Bill through in about four days, and that is ridiculous.
The Minister has already said that everyone in the world must register if they wish to attend a football match here. That is a classic case to consider. In other words, the 352 million people who make up the EC must register. Those people have rights, however, and if the Bill discriminated against them, as well it might, it could be unlawful under European law. We have had no opportunity to consider that possibility, but it is an important matter. Previously, we were told that overseas visitors would be allowed to produce their passports at the turnstile. The Minister has abandoned that ; now, he tells us that they must all register.
We are producing a Bill that will last for about 50 years. What will happen if, as we all hope, English clubs get back into Europe? Imagine that Anderlecht or Real Madrid is drawn away to play at Liverpool or Everton. Such a match would take place three weeks after the draw and those clubs might well want to bring 10,000 supporters with them. There is no way that any club secretary in this country could register, photograph, computerise and process 10,000 European visitors in the space of three weeks. That proposition is a prescription for another disaster. When that happens, it will be on the head of the Minister and his friends.
During our discussions, the Government have said that the scheme is not negotiable. They have said that they know it all, and that they know best. They have said that they know better than the police, football supporters, the Opposition and everyone else. Therefore, the next disaster or the next public order disturbance will be the responsibility of those who know it all. Let there be no doubt about that ; future problems have been accepted by the Government and their supporters.
Today we have heard a lot about Lord Justice Taylor. We have been told that we should leave it all to the FMA. The proposition that Parliament should allow any outside body to enact legislation that affects the civil liberties and the public safety of our people is absolutely monstrous. It
Column 77is quite scandalous that we should allow that. The Opposition are certainly not prepared to do that. We are not prepared to say of the Football Membership Authority, even were it the repository of all wisdom--which even Conservative Members doubt--that Parliament has the right to pass legislative powers to such an outside body, over which it has no control. That is what Ministers are doing.
Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry was set up after the death of 96 people and the serious injury to several hundred others at Hillsborough. He has had the most harrowing experience of listening to that terrible evidence, and he now has to decide on the matters and make recommendations. Any intelligent parliamentarian would wish to take account of his findings and what he had to say.
Let us consider the list of issues to be considered. I told the Committee that I had identified 16 issues that Lord Justice Taylor-- [Interruption.] I am sorry if the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) thinks that this is an opportunity for yet another of his cheap gibes.
I have been told by some of my police friends that I was 50 per cent. out, and that 31 or 32 issues had been raised. Let the House think for a moment about the seriousness of these issues, because it is now deciding to pass this Bill without considering them. The list includes the following : crowd control outside the game and the surges of masses of people in a short period ; how one controls the entry of 30,000 or more people at the turnstile ; who is in charge of a football match--the police officer on duty or the football authority promoting the match ; whether the police need more powers. The list includes the issue of the effect of alcoholic consumption in circumstances such as those at Hillsborough, the fences round the field and how many people were killed at the fences at Hillsborough because they could not escape on to the pitch. If the scheme becomes reality, we must consider the extra time needed to process the card at the turnstile.
In Committee the Minister told us that the additional time needed to process one of these cards was 0.06 of a second per person. Such ludicrous futility! I timed myself using the smart card which the Minister favoured. I came up to the machine, put the card down, waited for the light to shine, and picked up the card. That process took 20 seconds. If 20 seconds were added to the passage of every one of the thousand people standing in the queue, the additional time needed for the queue to pass through the turnstile would be about half an hour, which would add to the aggravation. We want to hear about that issue.
Other issues which should be considered include the video and loudspeaker systems and the total lack of co-ordination of the emergency services at Hillsborough. All these matters are of the greatest importance and require the judgment of Solomon. We are not even to be allowed to know the judgment of Lord Justice Taylor. That is the proposition which the Government put before us.
We are proceeding with this Bill in a vacuum. These matters have been raised and Lord Justice Taylor finished hearing evidence only last Friday. We are told that we must proceed, the Government know best, and members of the Football Membership Authority--made up of football administrators who have been castigated by the
Column 78Government and in Committee--are the very people to be charged with carrying out the football membership scheme. We are not prepared to accept that.
My hon. Friends who do not sit on the Committee, and even some who do, have not yet had the opportunity to consider amendment No. 50, which, I think, is the next to come up in Committee. The amendment proposes that the football membership scheme must include such provision
"in relation to the admission of spectators to the premises, as the Secretary of State may specify in writing".
This Secretary of State--
This Secretary of State has never been to a football match in his life, but is placing powers in the Bill so that he and his successors, without coming back to the House or Committee, can lay down the law about what has to be written into this scheme and this Bill. The guillotine motion provides us with about another three or three and a half days of sitting twice a day in Committee. That means only one day for the scheme and licensing system, one day for the all-seater stadium--a subject which we have not yet even reached--and public safety, one day for part II of the Bill, which deals with offenders from overseas--which we have not discussed yet and which was hardly discussed in another place--and half a day for the rest of the business.
In the light of Hillsborough and the criminality which is called hooliganism, Parliament has one overriding duty in this matter, and that is to get the Bill right this time. By this guillotine motion, Her Majesty's Government deny that obligation to get it right. This is a high-risk policy of great irresponsibility, and we shall vote against it tonight.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Colin Moynihan) : We have heard a succession of predictable speechesfrom Opposition Members. Parties favour timetable motions in appropriate cases when they are in power because they need them to get their business through. But, of course, they oppose them when in opposition. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said, the Labour party never hesitated to introduce timetable motions during those far-off days when it was in office.
There is no case for all the anger which we have witnessed about this motion. It is essential that we see the Bill on the statute book this Session-- [Hon. Members :-- "Why?"] We must take steps now to tackle the continuing problem of hooliganism and violence which is ruining football--that is why. We must enable genuine supporters to go to game in safety and return home in safety--that is why. I do not want to be for ever talking about the need for 5,000 police officers on football duties every Saturday. We want to see the day when those living and working in the vicinity of the football ground no longer dread match days. In response to the interventions of Opposition Members, those are good reasons.
By enacting the legislation this Session we can ensure that the framework for a national membership scheme, and the means of preventing convicted hooligans from travelling to matches abroad, are in place. We can then move on rapidly with the scheme, if Parliament agrees that we should do so in the light of Lord Justice Taylor's report on the Hillsborough disaster. If the Bill is to reach the
Column 79statute book this Session, we need to complete the Committee stage far faster than we will if we continue with our present progress. This timetable motion will enable us to do so and to proceed with the Bill in an orderly and sensible fashion.
We have heard much, just as we did on Second Reading and in Committee, about how wrong it would be to anticipate Lord Justice Taylor. I entirely agree. It would be wrong for me to speculate on the timing or the content of his report. His is an independent inquiry and his report is a matter for him. If he should comment on the national membership scheme, it is right that Parliament should decide whether to proceed with the scheme, in the light of his comments. The amendments that we made to the Bill in another place will provide Parliament with the opportunity to make that decision at the appropriate time--after we have seen his final report. Indeed, Parliament will have two such opportunities ; the first before the Football Membership Authority is appointed and the second after the detailed technical scheme has been submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.
Much has been made of why we thought it important for the football authorities to be involved in the preparation of the scheme and appointed as a central part of the Football Membership Authority. We regard that as an important way forward. It is welcomed by the football authorities, which wrote to the Secretary of State requesting first refusal. It was right and proper in the proceedings of the Committee that hon. Members on both sides should point out that it may benefit the running of the scheme and the Football Membership Authority if it is strengthened by outsiders and possibly even by an independent chairman.
We agree with this proposal, which is why amendments have been tabled in Committee. But there is no case for delaying the Bill until we have Lord Justice Taylor's report. Part I provided a framework for the national membership scheme ; it does not introduce the scheme. If we have that framework on the statute book and Parliament decides to proceed with the scheme when it has seen what Lord Justice Taylor has to say, we can have the scheme in place during the season that begins in August 1990.
If we were to delay, we would throw away the progress that we have made this Session. We might have a new Act of Parliament by August 1990, but it is unlikely that the scheme would be in place for another year after that.
Mr. Moynihan : As I have told my hon. Friend on many occasions, rather than pontificate about hypothetical circumstances it is right and proper that the House should consider in detail what Lord Justice Taylor says. In that way it will be able to make a proper judgment of the arguments on which he reached his conclusions. To hypothesise about what he might say, when we have provided in the Bill that Parliament should decide on the merits of what he says before we ask for a Football Membership Authority to be established and to start work--let alone before we have a scheme to consider--cannot be right. So my hon. Friend's question is redundant.
Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North) : Apart from the technical defects in the Minister's argument, does he realise that the failure to wait for the conclusions of the Taylor report will show the Government to be acting with stunning insensitivity, particularly on Merseyside?
Mr. Moynihan : I reject that view on the following grounds. It was because of the need to respond sensitively that the progress of the Bill was delayed. It was because of the same need that we proposed amendments in their Lordships' House to take full account of what Lord Justice Taylor states. It was because of that need that we now have a different Bill from the one that we had before Hillsborough. We shall have the opportunity when the full Taylor report is before the House to consider in detail whether we should establish a Football Membership Authority and set up a scheme--
Mr. Dobson : If, as the hon. Gentleman claims, the Government amended the Bill in the Lords so that safety considerations could be dealt with, why was it necessary for the Government to pass an instruction to the Committee to enable it to consider safety? Without it, safety would have been out of order.
Mr. Moynihan : The hon. Gentleman surprises me. When we were just discussing the national membership scheme-- [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) keeps saying, "No, no, no." He should listen to the point that I am making and learn that there is a clear distinction in the Bill between proposals for a national membership scheme and the separate and important measures on safety.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman welcomes our response to his suggestion that the Committee should be instructed to consider matters related to safety. If he carefully considers the amendments tabled last week he will find that they are enabling amendments to allow the Secretary of State and the Home Secretary to take account of any measures on safety that Lord Justice Taylor may recommend and with which the House agrees. The House will have the chance to consider whether it wants to use the enabling framework on safety and on the anti-hooligan measures--the national membership scheme--to implement recommendations. That must be the right way to proceed. This way combines two important elements : first, the Government's deep desire to rid football of the hooligan element and to make sure that appropriate action is taken against the hooligans who have besmirched our national game; secondly, it ensures that we are capable of responding swiftly to the Taylor recommendations, whether on safety or on hooliganism, with which the House and their Lordships agree.
During the Committee's first two sittings Opposition Members spent most of their time on the same subject on which they had laboured on Second Reading --the timing of the Bill in relation to Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster. That is why I have spoken at length on this point. The Committee has now sat for 37 hours and reached clause 5. Its first sitting was on Tuesday 4 July, and it was entirely devoted to debating the sittings motion for two and a half hours. Two hours of the second sitting were taken up with the order of consideration, during which I made the only speech from the Government side. There were four and a half hours of
Column 81debate before even the first amendment was reached. When we finally reached it, we heard a remarkable series of interventions by Opposition Members.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) made the same point that supporters of a club such as Tranmere might also want to attend matches in which Liverpool and Everton were playing--not once or twice, but four times. I hope that all Opposition Members realise that all that is required to visit any of the 92 grounds is one card.
The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) regaled the Committee at length with the history of his schooling, not once but twice. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), speaking to an amendment to restrict the scheme to divisions 1 and 2, spoke of the lack of a football club in Croydon, of the closure of Sheffield's nightclubs, of lager louts at the Notting Hill carnival, Trafalgar square and the coast, and of his experiences of dodging rail fares during national service.
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) today displayed a staggering ignorance of the contents of the Bill and of the measures that the Government have already taken. He said that we had done nothing in the past four years, studiously ignoring the introduction of closed-circuit television--
Mr. Denis Howell rose --
Mr. Moynihan : --and the important agreement between the FA, the League and the Government. It was written into the agreement reached in February 1987 and which we have had to push and push and push-- Mr. Howell rose --
Mr. Howell rose --
Mr. Moynihan : I have one minute left. The hon. Gentleman should consider the work done on closed-circuit television and on police segregation at the instigation of this Government. There is also better police co-ordination.
Mr. Howell rose --
Mr. Moynihan : The right hon. Gentleman is blind to the steps that have been taken, and it is a great shame that he and his hon. Friends in Committee have not begun to address the issues that are relevant to the future of football. It is appalling that he has underestimated the vital work that is needed.
Question put :
The House divided : Ayes 327, Noes 221.
Division No. 299] [7.28 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael
Amery, Rt Hon Julian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Bevan, David Gilroy