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Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald): Will the Home Secretary acknowledge that the necessity to rush through this legislation in such haste is entirely the result of his own and Lord Bassam's vacillation and delay? Will he please tell us why, when we invited the Home Secretary, before Euro 2000 even took place, to consider legislation, and said that we would support emergency legislation, he did not then take up our offer, and has indeed spent the last few weeks not taking up that offer? Why did he not adopt the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler), made as long ago as 1998? Why did he--or, for that matter, Lord Bassam--not follow through the very clear statement of the Member for Sport, the hon. Member for Vauxhall
Why does not the Home Secretary admit that the only reason why we now have to hurry this legislation through Parliament is that he did not take action in due time? Is he aware that the England 2006 campaign director has said that the events in Belgium--which might perhaps have been prevented, at least in some measure, had our suggestions been adopted originally--have damaged our chance to secure the world cup? And will the right hon. Gentleman admit that his own dilatoriness has contributed to that?
Rushed legislation can be very bad legislation, and the Bill contains some very sensitive and very significant proposed measures that will indeed need thorough scrutiny--not least the new police power to prevent people leaving the country. We cannot pass such a measure in one day. If the Government wish to give this measure a high priority, the Opposition will support giving it a high priority, but it will mean that the Government will have to reorder their overloaded programme to ensure that this high-priority Bill gets the scrutiny that it deserves, so that it may proceed. After all, the Home Secretary has neglected this issue and the Government have overloaded their legislative timetable. If they now wish us to give priority to this Bill, they must find a way to do so that guarantees proper scrutiny. That means due time to examine the Bill and to make amendments.
The House is well familiar with Government Bills arriving with 500 Government amendments added at a late stage because they have not been drafted properly. We cannot proceed on a rushed basis with a Bill that has serious implications for civil liberties in this country. We will support the right hon. Gentleman in getting the Bill through and we will support speeding up the timetable, but we will not--[Interruption.] The attitude of Labour Members is a disgrace to the duties of the House. We will not let the Bill go through without due scrutiny both in this House and in the other place.
Mr. Straw: The right hon. Lady agrees. She asked me why we did not pick up her suggestion of co-operation on emergency legislation, which she made at the beginning of the second week of June, just before the Euro 2000 competition began. First, I remind the House that, a week before that, the official position of the Conservative party was that no change in legislation was necessary. On 30 May, a spokesman for the Conservative party said:
The second point I make to the right hon. Lady is that the main reason for introducing these measures--including the fourth measure, which has never been before the House, and a considerable strengthening of the third measure--is directly to do with the nature of the football hooliganism that we all saw in Brussels and, in particular, in Charleroi. As I told the House and as the whole House understands, in the past the basic assumption behind all football-related legislation was that there was a hard core of football hooligans who were known in advance to NCIS. They could be identified in advance and, by a variety of direct and indirect legal means, they could be kept away from international games. That was true.
However, we face a new problem. As I told the House in the statement on 19 June and in the debate on 20 June, we of course review things in the light of changing circumstances, and that is exactly what we have done. The reason for introducing the legislation now is that we face a new and more serious problem, which became perfectly apparent in Charleroi and Brussels. We intend to deal with it, while the Opposition, as far as I can judge from the right hon. Lady's confused statements, are simply trying to make mischief out of it.
Mr. Joe Ashton (Bassetlaw): Is my right hon. Friend aware that responsible Members of the House will congratulate him immensely on the legislation that he has announced, and which is long overdue? Is he aware that England have to play Germany this winter which, without that legislation, was going to be a recipe for another combat zone?
Is it possible for my right hon. Friend to go further, as these incidents happen abroad, not at home, and a lot of them involve the unlimited alcohol and duty-free that people drink while travelling to the games? Will he consult the European Community countries on their different methods of policing--from the hard-line water cannons in Belgium, to the laid-back people in Copenhagen and to the police in Marseille who put video screens on the beach--to arrive at an attitude common to all countries on the banning of alcohol and the regulation of travel?
There is a strong relationship between this violence and people who get drunk. In particular, we must learn lessons from the way in which the authorities in the Netherlands sought to contain those who wished to drink too much by the provision of low-strength alcohol in very small glasses. Although that caused laughter beforehand, all the reports suggest that it turned out to be an effective way of reducing alcohol consumption.
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): I am grateful to the Home Secretary for his early warning of the statement. I agree that one clearly cannot legislate away football hooliganism or hooliganism related to football. Given that the Home Secretary told us last week that 30 per cent. of young people between 18 and 39 now have convictions against them, does he accept that proposing sweeping measures to prevent people travelling to football matches is not easily justified, as so many of them already have a previous conviction?
The Home Secretary's first two proposals, as I understand them, would have the support of my colleagues in both Houses, subject to the possibility of regaining one's passport if one needs it for urgent family or business reasons. The remaining two proposals go far beyond conventional impositions on the rights of the citizen, so we cannot offer support for them at the moment, either in this House or the other place, and will seek to persuade the Home Secretary that there is a better way of proceeding.
Has the Home Secretary considered that, instead of those two proposals, the proper way to proceed is a proposal that would prevent people from travelling if they had convictions for violence and, if necessary, if there was reasonable cause to believe that they might commit violent offences? Exceptionally, will he place in the Libraries of both Houses advice to Ministers from Law Officers suggesting that that proposal is compliant with the European convention on human rights?
Big issues are raised which suggest that restricting freedom to travel may not be ECHR-compliant. What opportunity does somebody who, under the Home Secretary's proposals, could be stopped by a police officer, have to test their case in the courts in time for such a challenge to be relevant? Why would somebody not be entitled to have a warrant issued before they were stopped, as the Home Secretary or I would have if someone were searching our houses? Before going into property, police normally go to a magistrates court to seek a warrant for such action.
The record of hasty legislation in this place over the past 20 years shows that it normally ends up as bad legislation. Unless both Houses can have the necessary time to scrutinise the proposals and to secure the rights of