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Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): As the Home Secretary will anticipate, the amendments are welcome. However, given that they are being tabled now, in Committee, to a Bill that has already been published, does that mean that the original Bill was bad law or bad drafting?
Madam Speaker: Order. I have been getting the impression from what the Home Secretary has been saying that he is going into the details of the Bill and not simply dealing with the allocation of time motion. I hope that he will be very careful on that point.
I was seeking to reassure the House, given the position that the Government are taking on a series of amendments, that there would be sufficient time under the timetable motion, as amended. Had the Government intended not to make any amendments to the Bill to meet the will of the House, as expressed in debates last Thursday and outside the House, there might have been a
Mr. Straw: If I may conclude my point, the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) has tabled amendments to the powers contained in proposed new sections 21C and 14C on criminal law in this country or outside. We propose to accept those amendments. We propose to accept amendment No. 37, in the name of the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe), on the need for a written explanation for a decision to detain a person to make inquiries, and amendment No. 32. We have also put down amendments on Report which accept the burden of amendments Nos. 23, 3 and 5.
Mr. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden): In view of the number of amendments that the Home Secretary has, very properly, brought before the House today, may I take him back to his original statement, when I asked him whether, in organising the time available for the Bill, he would allow time for outside authorities to consider the changes? In other words, we want a gap--even the smallest of gaps--between Committee and Report so that we can take advice before giving the Bill its final consideration.
Mr. Straw: We took account of representations made about the need for a gap between Second Reading and Committee and Report. That is exactly what we provided. The whole House--[Interruption.] I think that the whole House accepted the case for proceeding speedily with the Bill. That was certainly the view of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) in his speech of 22 June. He offered full support and co-operation in Parliament to Government legislation to do what the Bill provides for. We are meeting our obligation to introduce that legislation, and I hope that Conservative Members will accept the obligations made on their behalf by their leader.
Mr. Straw: I should not suggest for a second that the Leader of the Opposition has any control over the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth). Indeed, I shall be happy to ensure that the right hon. Gentleman's constituency association is told about the insult that I apparently caused him by suggesting that he ever follows his leader. I shall personally write to his association to that effect.
Let me deal with the point made by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis). I said from the start that there was a need for speed with this Bill, but that it had to be combined with the need for care. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) cannot have it both ways--
During my time as Home Secretary, every Bill that I have introduced has been improved by debate and discussion. I happen to hold the perhaps slightly old-fashioned view that the collective wisdom of the House and the other place is greater than the individual wisdom of a Secretary of State for the Home Department, even one like me. I am grateful to the House for its positive suggestions.
Mr. Forth: I am grateful for the Home Secretary's kind remarks, which I much appreciated. Is he prepared to distinguish between the alleged necessity for a Bill such as this to be passed quickly and the entirely artificial deadline of a football match? It has been claimed that that match creates the need for us to act with unseemly haste, but a distinction can surely be drawn--even in the Home Secretary's mind--between the need for properly expedited parliamentary process and the utter collapse of that process just so that we can meet the artificially imposed deadline of a football match.
Mr. Straw: I happen not to think that the deadline of a football match is an artificially imposed one. It happens to be a reality. If there were not to be any international games of note during the next six months, the House could debate the matter more slowly. It is significant, however, that one of the main reasons advanced by the then Mr. John Wakeham in favour of a guillotine motion on 17 July 1989 was the imperative of having provisions on football spectators on the statute book because of impending international games.
The views of the Leader of the Opposition may not persuade the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst, but they should persuade one or two other Conservative Members. The right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks, in offering full support and co-operation in Parliament for Government legislation, made the point, among others, that England's qualifying matches for the next world cup are only months away. As a consequence of debates that we have had and that we will have today, the Bill should be able to go to the other place in good order, and it will be up to the other place to do its job as a revising chamber.
Given that point, why did the Government not accept the proposition on the guillotine put by my hon. Friend hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), our Chief Whip, and others, that we take the Committee stage today, allowing Members time to study amendments--including Government amendments--that appeared only today, and take the remaining stages on Wednesday? That would still leave reasonable time to complete proceedings on the measure before both Houses rise for the summer recess.
Mr. Joe Ashton (Bassetlaw): Will my right hon. Friend point out to the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) who has referred to "a football match" that we are not discussing people who will be going to a football match? Six weeks on Saturday, hundreds of them will travel to Paris--a journey of three hours on Eurostar or of six hours in an old van with dozens piled into it. They will be going simply to try to wreck the city. They are not interested in football; they will have no tickets. The right hon. Gentleman is not even listening to the debate. He should understand that the matter is nothing to do with football--an invading, marauding army will be out to smash up Paris, denigrating the name of this country. That is the reason for the haste.
Mr. Straw: I accept my hon. Friend's comments, although I do not think there is a fine line between haste and speed. I have tried not to be hasty in this legislation, but to ensure that we deal with it both speedily and carefully.
If Members reflect on the measure, they will realise that a large part of it is uncontroversial. It consolidates provisions on national domestic and international banning orders and combines them. The parts that have caused controversy and given rise to concerns from some but not all right hon. and hon. Members are relatively few--although they are important. If hon. Members accept that, and reflect on the time that I have devoted to consultations outside the Chamber with Members of both Houses and in this House, they will realise that, by the time our proceedings are concluded later tonight, we shall have given almost as much time to the key operative clauses that aroused controversy as would have been spent on them had the Bill been dealt with more slowly. It is in that context that the guillotine motion, which will be amended, I hope by agreement, provides sufficient time for Members to consider this important matter and to come to conclusions on it.