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Mr. Shersby : When the Bill was first published, the Police Federation had reservations about it, which I expressed on Second Reading. To a large extent, those reservations were concerned with the ability of legislation such as this to deal with the problems that occur outside grounds in addition to those that occur inside them.
The federation takes the view that something must be done to deal with the serious problems that face Britain. We must face the fact that many hundreds of people have been killed or injured attending football matches over the past couple of years. That must be addressed by the House, by the police and by the country. Since the Second Reading, I have spent a day with officers of the South Yorkshire police, who were intimately involved with the policing of the Hillsborough stadium disaster. I have seen and studied with the greatest possible
Column 137care the police films of that match and of the identical match that took place between the same teams 12 months earlier. I hope shortly to have an opportunity of showing those films to colleagues in the House. I was struck by the fact that at the match 12 months earlier there were very few problems outside the perimeter fence a short time before the kick off. However, at the match at which the disaster occurred 3,500 individuals were determined to get into the ground at short notice. Unfortunately, some of them had been drinking too much and 1,111 police officers had to deal with that robust crowd. We shall be dealing with that matter when the Taylor report is debated in the House.
Mr. Shersby : I do not have much time. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but I know that the Front-Bench spokesmen want time to reply. We will have an opportunity to deal with that when the Taylor report is published.
The police take the view that although the legislation may not be perfect, it should be given a chance to work. The identity cards which have been the subject of our debate today will carry a photograph of the individual who belongs to the membership scheme. That will be a considerable advance. As my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Carrington) pointed out in his excellent speech, that will deter individuals who go to matches simply to disrupt them. There will be no point in their attending because they will not be able to gain admission.
The acid test will come when the football membership scheme is published and the House has an opportunity to decide whether to support the action of my right hon. Friend if he approves the scheme. The scheme will result from the Bill, which is merely a framework to make possible a membership scheme that has the force of law. The police will judge the scheme when it is devised, published and submitted and if it is approved by my right hon. Friend. The scheme will be subject to the most careful scrutiny, and a decision on its viability will be taken by the House in a few months.
When the scheme is published, the police will want to consider the precise way in which it is proposed that it should operate. They will want to be sure that the FMA is well constituted and capable of supervising the scheme properly. They will want to be certain that the chairman of the FMA, whether a man or a woman, is an individual who commands the respect of the House, all those who enjoy football, the police and all those who have to ensure that supporters can go to football matches and return home safely. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Minister, in considering that appointment, will realise the importance of appointing an individual of great stature.
Until the scheme is published and until we know who is to be the chairman and who are to be members of the Football Membership Authority, the Police Federation will suspend judgment. In the meantime it is right to proceed with the Bill. Also, I will reserve judgment, on behalf of my constituents who are football supporters and enjoy attending matches in London and elsewhere in the country. A final judgment will be made by the House when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State brings the scheme before us to consider.
Column 138The debates on Second Reading, in Committee, on Report and on Third Reading have dealt with the framework and generalities of the scheme. We need to see the detail of the scheme and to be convinced beyond doubt that it can and will work. When that day comes, every hon. Member will have a much better opportunity to make an informed decision than he or she can in supporting the Third Reading. 11.29 pm
Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North) : Although the Bill deals specifically with England and Wales, there is legitimate Scottish interest and concern in what is going on. We are only too aware that, with a stroke of a zealot's pen, the same sort of provisions could be introduced in Scotland. We are citizens of a part of the United Kingdom with a great interest in football. I object on my constituents' behalf because, when they are travelling through the rest of Britain, they will be deprived of the ability to attend football matches as and when they wish.
I speak from a United Kingdom basis. Since its start, this misbegotten exercise has been based on a misunderstanding of the problem. The assumption, which is wrong and which has been the foundation of the Prime Minister's whim, is that the problem of so-called football hooliganism depends on attaching itself to football. That is not the case. All that the legislation will do, if it achieves anything, is move the problem from football grounds into town centres and on to transport. The people who are responsible for the core of the trouble at football grounds in England and abroad have nothing meaningful to do with football. They can attach themselves at any time, in any way, to another branch of society. The weakness of the legislation lies in the idea that legislating specifically for football will reduce the problems which have wrongly been identified as football hooliganism.
That the Government should produce this legislation is an admission of defeat. In 1979, after their electoral humiliation, the ultra-Right in Britain made it known through its publications that it was going to attach its efforts to football, with the specific aim of causing trouble and exactly the kinds of problems abroad which have now become so commonplace. Instead of weeding out that social and political problem, the Government have branded 1 million football supporters--a generic category of society-- in this unique way. That is entirely wrong.
If the Government wished to approach this problem seriously, they would weed out the few hundred people at its core. Their conspicuous failure to do so has led them into this crazy situation tonight. To brand football supporters in this way and to set them apart as a category of society that uniquely needs to carry identity cards and to be subject to these controls is an affront to 1 million people. I do not expect Conservative Members to appreciate that point, because they are not in the same category as those people. The 500, 000 people who signed the petition and those who realise that they have been singled out in this way because football is the object of their enthusiasms, know where the legislation comes from and why football supporters have been picked out. For the sake of nailing a tiny proportion of their number, 1 million people are to be subjected to this indignity.
The bottom line of the legislation lies in this question, which has never been satisfactorily answered in my
Column 139hearing : what happens on a wet Wednesday night in November when, 10 minutes before kick-off, the system goes down and 40,000 people are pressing forward to get into a ground? If Ministers cannot answer that question, their responsibility for introducing this legislation is even heavier than it might otherwise be. If the Minister for Sport cannot give a guarantee--I believe that he cannot--that the problems created will not be infinitely worse than they are at present, he should withdraw the legislation, or there will be a heavy weight on his conscience if things go wrong.
Memorably, the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) said that the poll tax would become known as the Tory tax. I forecast that the football ID cards will, and should, become known as "Tory cards", and may they be another nail in their coffin.
Mr. Denis Howell : After a long and sometimes tortuous examination of these measures, many Labour Members, myself included, continue to believe that the Bill amounts to a massive irrelevancy in dealing with the problems of football and the social problems that give rise to them.
The Government have panicked, for many reasons. It was no accident that when they came into office, Ministers immediately disbanded the working party that had been operating successfully for a number of years, which included not only those connected with football, but representatives of the police, the traffic and coastal authorities, British Rail and others. The working party had got on top of the problem to the extent that in 1979 we were able to lift the restrictions that we had had to impose on Leeds and Chelsea. Thereafter, the problem ceased to be under constant review. Because we are dealing with the ills of society, we need to be permanently vigilant ; we should target matches and target groups of people who one knows will cause disturbances. But none of that has been happening.
Having come to office on a promise of eliminating violence in society and having faced an increase in that violence throughout her 10 years in office the Prime Minister decided that the one area of activity where she might be able to isolate the problem and take some action was football. She was wrong about it, but that was her logic. As I said, we are discussing the nature of society, and we must not forget that a football team is a focus for the public pride of the community of which it is part. That is why millions of people who have left these shores have continued to wonder how their teams are doing.
I was very taken with what the right hon. Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) said earlier--[ Hon. Members :-- "The right hon. Member?"] Yes, and so he should be. We need to consider the problems of our society and what we are doing about them, and I echo what the right hon. Gentleman said in that regard. He said that there was a crisis of adolescence in our society, and whether that description is accurate or not, there is not the slightest doubt that the demise of school sport and the playing of games at school--a demise which is being actively encouraged by the Government--is having an extremely detrimental effect on young people. I say this constructively to the new Secretary of State--the Minister
Column 140knows it, too--that we have fewer and fewer teachers of physical education. When PE teachers come out of our colleges, incidentally, most of them believe that there is something wrong with team sports. They believe that we should encourage people in recreation at the expense of teams sports, when in fact we should be encouraging both. The new changes in the curriculum, brought about by the former Secretary of State for Education and Science--the downgrading of physical education and team games--are also having a catastrophic effect.
Under Rab Butler's Education Act, the two compulsory subjects in the schools curriculum were PE and religious instruction, both of which have now been downgraded. I passionately believe that one cannot make such changes without reaping a damaged harvest. To add to all that, at a time when we should be encouraging youngsters to play games, we are also telling local authorities to sell school playing fields and to privatise sports centres where possible, thus prising out of those sports facilities the very youngsters whom we should be encouraging to play if we wish to prevent problems from arising. We have a new Secretary of State for the Environment and we hope that he will look at these matters with a fresh mind. We hope that he will not be hidebound by too much tradition--as he should not be-- and by the policies that he has inherited. We hope that he and his colleages will relate what they are trying to achieve in environment and sport to what is happening in education.
The Opposition oppose the Bill on the grounds of practicality. The major source of the problems with football occur outside football grounds. They lie with hooliganism at motorway service stations and the problems in our town centres and shopping centres. We know from what has happened abroad this summer that the people we are trying to catch will not register under the scheme. They will not say, "I'm a good boy so I'll register under the Government's scheme." The people who try to force the doors open at football grounds and who go to Sweden without tickets when they know that the match is all-ticket, are there simply to defy authority. Unless the Government start to tackle that problem, they will find no solutions.
John Williams from Leicester university wrote about these problems in his excellent book "Hooligans Abroad" in 1982. Seven years ago Leicester university--the only university researching the problem at the time, I believe--drew our attention to the matter, but the Government have largely ignored what was said. Quite properly, the Secretary of State asked us to consider what has happened this summer. This summer we have seen the growth of this challenge to society which, I have to say, comes from very Right- wing organisations.
I was grateful to the Minister for Sport condemning in forthright terms in an earlier debate the evil of the National Front and other Right-wing organisations--and, worse, the British National party. An excellent article with photographs appeared in The Mail on Sunday recently and I have had reports to confirm what it said. Apparently those people who should not even have been in Poland went to that country for the England match and also visited Auschwitz to have their pictures taken outside the gas chambers while they gave the National Front salute. That is the vile level to which some of those people have sunk.
Column 141Those people constantly desecrate our national flag. No other country in the world would stand for its national flag being continually contaminated in the way those people contaminate ours. They give the Fascist salute while they sing the national anthem. We must deal with those problems. They also disseminate Fascist propaganda.
It is no wonder why other European countries ask us why they should have our problems thrust onto them. They say that it is our task to stop those people going abroad. We support part II of the Bill in the hope that it will do that. However, we do not have a lot of confidence that it will.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) said, the net result of this summer's troubles--if the six people who have been charged are convicted--is that six names will be removed from the list of agreeable supporters. That is ludicrous. After the hundreds who misbehaved in Sweden, Iceland, Poland and on the ferries, only six people are to be charged. That suggests a tremendous breakdown in our relations in the Council of Europe on these matters. We must have a little sympathy with European Governments who say, "All we want to do is to collect the hooligans and get them out of our country as fast as we can. We must have a strategy for doing with that." The Opposition have been accused of not producing any firm proposals, but time and again we have said that the only thing that will work is to target the matches where trouble will take place and target the groups that will cause that trouble or social evil. I now refer to the lunatic decision not to wait for Lord Jusice Taylor's report before we put the Bill on the statute book. All hon. Members wish Lord Justice Taylor well. He must report not only on the horrific deaths of more than 90 people but on the competence of the Sheffield inspectors, the city council and the competence of and possible mismanagement by the Sheffield police. We cannot amend the Bill when we hear his findings. We must accept the Bill or turn it down. It is not good enough for the Government to continue to say that the Football Membership Authority will produce a scheme which will take account of that--it may do so ; we hope that it will. However, we cannot duck responsibility. The buck stops here. The responsibility for getting this legislation right rests with Parliament. It does not rest with the Football Membership Authority that we are establishing. That is the Opposition's serious objection to the scheme.
Hon. Members know perfectly well that within a quarter of an hour of an important kick-off in the middle of winter, when people must examine photographs on cards and put them through some system, they will be totally overwhelmed if the computer breaks down. When about 15,000 people are trying to get into the ground, what on earth will anybody do? There will be total chaos and people will try to solve their own problems because the police will be unable to do so. Police costs will be high. The only people who can arrest offenders will be the police. As the Minister said in Committee, that means that there will be at least one policeman on every turnstile. That will not reduce police costs. Of course there must be a policeman on every turnstile because nobody else can do the arresting. The principle of civil liberties was put extremely well by the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell). He is the most distinguished athlete present in the House. [Interruption.] I am reminded of my hon.
Column 142Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey). In a moment of generosity, I include the Minister for Sport. As the House well knows, his sporting proficiency consists of sitting in the back of a boat and being pulled over the finishing line by eight other people. No doubt he steered the boat very well, as occasion demanded. He steered the boat much better than he has steered the Bill through Parliament.
Grave civil liberty issues are involved in this matter. I sum them up in one sentence. It is absolutely monstrous that the Government have targeted this Bill against all decent football supporters. Impositions are being made on them. The reason for that is that the Government have abdicated their responsibility to deal with the evildoers in society whom they pledged to deal with when they came to office. For all those reasons, and because we know that the Bill will not work and that it will be an expensive imposition on football and our communities, we shall vote against Third Reading.
Mr. Moynihan : I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). Everyone is delighted that he has been restored to good health. He handled admirably his leadership of the Opposition in Committee and of this evening's proceedings. I thank him and his Committee colleagues across the parties for their forthright but constructive and helpful contributions. The measure has been debated at great length. I am indebted to them for the tone and content of the proceedings both in Committee and on the Floor of the House. I am also deeply indebted to my hon. Friends for their diligent and invaluable support.
The number of amendments that were tabled for consideration demonstrate the constructive nature of the debate. As the right hon. Member for Small Heath knows, we have accepted many of the Opposition amendments. He rightly concentrated, as did many other speakers in the debate, on part II and the international dimension. To suggest that the Government regard football hooliganism purely as an English problem is to be blind to reality. Hooliganism is a major international problem. During the last year, the Dutch Government have had to face it in far greater and increasing terms than we have. In many respects, we have begun to contain the problem, but we have not cured it. Hooliganism is increasing fast in many European countries, not least in Italy. It is a cause of major concern in the lead- up to the World Cup in June and July of next year.
It is important to work through the Council of Ministers and to have international co-operation, but it does not help to solve the problem if hooligans know that they can travel to a match in another country and be let in without tickets if they cause sufficient trouble outside the ground, that they can fight down town after the game and be arrested and locked up in gaol and then kicked out of that country the following morning without being charged. One understands the instinctive reaction of any country to wish to be rid of hooligans from another country, but unless hooligans know that tough action will be taken against them in those countries, the problem will not be solved internationally. That is why it is so important to work through the Council of Ministers, not
Column 143just with regard to the international dimension but with regard to bringing the hooligans to book so that we can implement part II. Government are already trying to identify with the Italian authorities what the relevant offences are. People brought before the Italian courts and convicted will be subject to a five-year mandatory ban from travelling abroad to matches that are likely to be a focus for violence. That is a very important part of part II. It is another reason why it is so important to work together internationally. There are examples of improved co-operation. I cite the recent Polish match where there were no incidents. There were problems away from the ground that resulted in sickening and appalling scenes, but the behaviour at the match was without incident, despite great provocation by the Polish fans.
I welcome the fact that the Polish Government took the decision to use the Football Association's list of known trouble makers as the basis for accepting or rejecting visas. International co-operation of that sort is to be welcomed. We need to ensure that, wherever possible, international co- operation and the implementation of part II is put in place.
Many hon. Members on both sides initially hoped that the Government would take action on passport control. It is impractical. Under current arrangements, anyone can go to a Post Office, and then to another on the same morning, on to another, to get British visitors' documentation to travel anywhere in Europe. All hon. Members know that cross-boundary movements in mainland Europe often involve no more than holding up a passport to a car window, let alone having it checked. So the Government needed in part II to find an alternative way of stopping known hooligans travelling to matches and the best and most effective way was to allow courts the opportunity as part of a sentence to determine that a convicted hooligan had to report to a police station on the day of a match which was likely to be the case of trouble abroad. That has exactly the same effect as withdrawing a passport, but it is foolproof.
Civil liberties will be safeguarded ; the scheme will not interfere with them. Not everyone has the right to enter a football ground now : clubs refuse entry to thousands of unwanted spectators. Hooliganism infringes the civil liberties of others--shopkeepers, shoppers, the general public and property owners in town centres and near grounds--and, not least, the genuine football supporter.
We have taken careful note of the vital importance, when developing the commercial potential of the scheme, of the FMA and the clubs having to act in line with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1984. Members would have the right to see and challenge the accuracy of any computerised information held about them, and appropriate security precautions would be taken to safeguard that information. No details of convictions will be held on the cards.
The right hon. Member for Small Heath said some words about the working party to which he referred, with which I believe all hon. Members would agree :
"I know that most of its supporters will understand how important it is in the long-term interest of their own club and
Column 144for its supporters personally, that we eliminate these disorders and make the support of our national sport the pleasure that it ought to be.
Football clubs might also suffer some financial disadvantage, but again my working party believes that this is a price that must be paid in order to overcome the problem."--[ Official Report, 6 April 1977 ; Vol. 929, c. 1324-25.]
The Government wholly endorse that. Our only regret is that the problem is not only outside the grounds. In the past 12 months, there has been a pitch invasion at Southend, there have been 54 arrests at Portsmouth, 23 police were injured after stone-throwing inside the ground at Stockport, 34 people were ejected from inside the ground at Millwall last November, and there were 16 arrests inside the ground at Aldershot. Week in, week out, to my regret, incidents continue to occur inside as well as outside grounds.
The point about the discretionary powers of the FMA is that the authority will be able to ban for two years renewable anyone who brings the game into disrepute, inside or away from the grounds, in the vicinity of a match or at a service station on a motorway. That will create a real deterrent. Louts who think that they can indulge in one-off thuggish behaviour will suddenly remember that they can be reported to the FMA or come to its notice by any other means, without being brought before the courts, and they can face the possibility of a discretionary ban, in addition to the mandatory ban that the courts can impose.
This discretionary ban is vital. At present, anyone can be banned for life from any ground on the whim of the club, but we believe that civil liberties need protection, so there will be a right of appeal against these discretionary bans--a right that does not exist now. Such a ban would allow anyone to be banned from any ground at any time and for any length of time.
It is clearly important for us to have a framework within which we can respond to the recommendations of Lord Justice Taylor. It must also allow us to respond swiftly to safety issues and to recommendations about ground configuration and the membership scheme. It is equally important that the Football Licensing Authority should put safety first and make sure that the safety of individuals is at the top of the list. Those are all part and parcel of an effective and comprehensive package of measures to keep hooligans away from football matches. I strongly commend it to the House.
Question put :--
The House divided : Ayes 273, Noes 204.
Division No. 362] [12 midnight
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
Biffen, Rt Hon John
Blackburn, Dr John G.
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Boscawen, Hon Robert
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Browne, John (Winchester)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Column 145Butcher, John
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Cope, Rt Hon John
Currie, Mrs Edwina
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Davis, David (Boothferry)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Emery, Sir Peter
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Fenner, Dame Peggy
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Fishburn, John Dudley
Fookes, Dame Janet
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Fox, Sir Marcus
Glyn, Dr Alan
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Hampson, Dr Keith
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Hordern, Sir Peter
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Maude, Hon Francis
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Meyer, Sir Anthony
Miller, Sir Hal
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Monro, Sir Hector
Moore, Rt Hon John
Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Morrison, Sir Charles
Moynihan, Hon Colin
Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Patten, John (Oxford W)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Porter, David (Waveney)
Powell, William (Corby)
Price, Sir David