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Mr. Michael: Keep digging.

6.45 pm

Mr. Clappison: I shall dig a very big hole for the Home Secretary, because I was even more surprised, in the light of the Government's own guidance on anti-social behaviour orders, which was issued on the day the Bill began its proceedings. It was not available when my remarks were made to The Sunday Telegraph, but its first paragraph stated that the orders were intended to be used for criminal or sub-criminal activity, not for civil disputes between neighbours. I am surprised, therefore, that the Home Secretary reproaches me for agreeing with the Government, and for having probed what the Government

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were trying to do, until they came to agree with me. Not once in the debates on the anti-social behaviour orders did we vote against them. If the Home Secretary is referring to consistency on the Bill, he is skating on very thin ice on a wide range of issues for himself and his hon. Friends..

My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) was right to talk of the need to probe the definition of anti-social behaviour orders. He was also right to say that, although we have had reservations about the wide-ranging nature of the definitions, we all know what sort of thing we are aiming to bring to an end among football hooligans.

The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) made some interesting points. He mentioned events in Dublin three years ago, which I and many members of the public will remember. There was a terrible disturbance involving English football supporters at an international so-called friendly. Such events have happened all too often, and they underline that, as well as condemning them, we must see what more we can do about them. My hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) was among the hon. Members who spoke about that, making important points about the role of drink. My hon. Friend the Member for Woking, along with hon. Members on both sides, rightly drew attention to certain sinister people who go to football.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) made an important speech about discipline. He struck a chord with many of us by saying, with some authority, that any service man who takes part in such events should expect severe discipline. He was right to say that the sense of discipline that the Army engenders sets a good example on and off the sports pitch. One of the most important examples of Army discipline that I have seen recently was the good work done at the Colchester military correction facility--the young offenders experimental institute known as the glasshouse--with young offenders.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) made a good speech, and teased out the Government's intentions on power of arrest. He will know that the police have been concerned that they should have a power to arrest people who look as if they will break a restriction order, and should be able to deal with them at that point instead of having to wait until later. He secured a valuable reply from the Home Secretary about his intentions in that regard.

The debate was well worth having, and it was worth considering the proposed new clauses. The Government have accepted the point that we made in our new clauses about the need for a power of arrest to be attached. The police have sought such a power in the past. The Government have also accepted that there should be a stiffer penalty for people who breach restriction orders--one month is not enough; six months is more appropriate.

We welcome the Government's assurances about extending guidance to magistrates courts and prosecutors, to ensure that restriction orders are deployed more widely. However, we put the Home Secretary on notice that, in view of the relatively small number of restriction orders made, it is important to examine the matter and ensure that more are made in the future. People who have been in trouble at football matches in this country should not be allowed to travel abroad and export that trouble.

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We noted the Home Secretary's remarks about the future adoption of a football behaviour order, and we listened carefully to his reasons for not being able to accept the proposed new clause in its present form. While we were not entirely convinced by the largely technical reasons that he gave, we are prepared to join in any future consultations on the issue. It is incumbent on all hon. Members to do all that we can to resolve the matter. We cannot guarantee that such people will be prevented from travelling abroad and creating trouble, but the Government have accepted that we must do more than we are doing.

We must reassure our law-abiding constituents--who surveyed recent events with absolute horror and felt a sense of shame at the damage that those hooligans did to our international reputation--that we are doing all we can within the ambit of the law to resolve the problem and to prevent such people from travelling abroad, sullying our name, causing damage and upset to other people, causing injury and becoming involved in criminal activities. We must be continually on our guard to see what more can be done. The Opposition will continue to approach the issue in that constructive spirit.

Mr. Straw: I commend the speech by the hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) and repeat my thanks to the Opposition for arranging the debate. I also thank hon. Members on both sides of the House for the spirit in which they have entered the debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) sagely warned the House about the dangers of enacting emergency legislation and of not examining propositions carefully when we agree with their objectives. That is good advice, but we must send a clear message that, despite differences of detail and emphasis, there is absolutely united opinion in the House--as I believe there is among decent people across the country--against those who commit violence and disrupt the enjoyment of football at home or abroad.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis) made something of a confession when he admitted that he is a Manchester City supporter. I regard that as a badge of honour. If he wishes to join the ranks of eccentric football supporters, he might encourage his colleagues on the Public Administration Committee to ask Mr. Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's press secretary, who will appear before the Committee tomorrow, how someone with such excellent professional skills could be a long-term supporter of Burnleyfootball club.

My hon. Friend has raised a serious point for Manchester City supporters--which also gives me an opportunity to rib Mr. Campbell yet again regarding his support for Burnley--as soccer provides great enjoyment to people not only through watching the game but by giving them a sense of place. It gives them an opportunity to share common experiences and to rib each other in a friendly manner. That is part of the richness of our society and of many others. For that reason, people are very angry to see a game that provides simple enjoyment to many millions of people besmirched in this way.

The principal issue that we have debated is whether new clause 10 is sufficient to pass immediately into legislation in its present form. The hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) chided me and implied that

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I was unwilling to accept the new clause simply--I paraphrase his argument--because it was proposed by the Opposition. When I first entered the House 19 years ago, there was considerable debate across the Chamber. That was greatly to the credit of both sides of the House and the reputation of Parliament. I regret--both parties were at fault; I do not mete out blame--that debate in the House became coarsened during the 1980s. If the then Conservative Government proposed a measure, we felt that we had to oppose it by virtue of that fact, andvice versa.

That showed great disrespect to our voters, and I do not believe that either party gained any advantage from such an approach. I determined--I think that this view is shared by my colleagues--that, if I sat on the Treasury Bench, I would not adopt that approach. I have sought to ensure that I listen to all propositions--that has been obvious with the Human Rights Bill and other legislation--and judge them on their merits. We did that as soon as the two new clauses were proposed. I accepted two parts of them, and I have explained how we can achieve a third proposition via a different route.

We examined new clause 10 in detail and sought the views of both the Association of Chief Police Officers and the NCIS. I do not think that we could have consulted those organisations more promptly--they were contacted within the day. It may interest the House to learn that ACPO wrote to officials in my Department saying:


The NCIS wrote to an official to say:


    "Whilst the proposal to create a Football Behaviour Order may initially look attractive NCIS has reservations regarding the standard of proof that would be required to obtain such an order."

It also raised the point, which I made, about the problems that would arise if it were necessary to provide details of current intelligence in order to obtain a football behaviour order. They are some of the problems with the current proposal for an order.

The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) asked whether the Crown court rather than the magistrates court should have the power initially. That is a very sensible suggestion, which we clearly cannot consider in the time available. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) said that the Opposition had considered the idea of anti-social behaviour orders so that the Bill would contain workable provisions. I commend the Standing Committee and Opposition Members for doing so. However, that examination took a considerable period, and time is not available now.

The hon. Member for Gainsborough said that it would take only one or two weeks to examine the Bill and put it in order. That is possible, but not likely, given the number of people we would have to consult and whom they would have to consult in turn--for example, ACPO would have to consult its members. Given the stage we are at in the parliamentary timetable, two weeks' delay would mean that the Bill could not become law until late October. By that time, many of those who had served

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sentences in France would be back in this country. The additional powers of arrest and the extension of sentences from one to six months would not be available in respect of those who had been convicted of relevant offences in France and for whom the restriction orders could be obtained.

I am grateful to all hon. Members who contributed to the debate. We are embarked on a common purpose to ensure that the national shame that has been heaped on our land in the past week as a result of the behaviour of some so-called supporters in Marseilles does not happen to that extent again, or, if it does, that even more effective measures are taken by courts both abroad and in this land properly and effectively to punish such people and so reduce the prospect of such behaviour ever happening again.

As I have explained, there are difficulties with new clause 10. In the light of what I have said and of the undertakings that I have given thoroughly to consult the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) may see fit to withdraw the motion.


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