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Mr. Simon Hughes: To be fair to the debate, nobody--apart from the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth)--has argued that we should not have legislation in place by the summer holiday. I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman makes and that there will be a later issue for Scotland and, possibly, for Northern Ireland. However, he should recognise that we are all saying that we should have legislation, but that it should be reasonable and as watertight as possible.
Mr. Murphy: I do not know what happens in Bermondsey in the next couple of months, but in my area we will have a recess rather than a holiday. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. However, this House and the other place do not have the legislative responsibility to do anything in respect of the loophole in Scotland, which is entirely the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. Even if we decided to delay legislation, there is no guarantee that the Scottish Parliament would decide to do anything.
Right hon. and hon. Members have warned of the consequences if we pass legislation that is not as good as it could be in the understandable desire to have something in place, be that because of the necessity for the Government to compromise with Opposition Front Benchers or as a consequence of amendment in the other place. It is essential that we have legislation in place specifically on the passport issue and on the connection between convictions for violence and the inability to travel abroad.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) confessed an affection for Newport AFC, but I suspect that he is not worried about foreign travel, because his team is many decades from travelling outside England and parts of Wales. His point was that we should not pass legislation on a whim or as a knee-jerk reaction, but the Bill is nothing of the sort. The problem has existed for more than 20 years and various Governments have tried their best to deal with it. To say that the problem comes down to what type of beer was being sold in Holland or Belgium--
Mr. Murphy: I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was just responding to the points made by my hon. Friend which you correctly ruled out of order earlier. If we do not pass meaningful and effective legislation this side of the recess, this House and this country will be blamed for continuing to export our violence when we had an opportunity to pass the legislation that would prevent it.
Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): With the exceptions of the hon. Members for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) and for West Ham (Mr. Banks), I have agreed with all speakers from all parties who have so far contributed to the debate and responded to the Home Secretary. That is as it should be, as it is the function of hon. Members to uphold the liberties of subjects. So far as I know, no hon. Member was elected on a manifesto of restricting people's liberties, or of restricting opportunities to debate changes to those liberties.
I agree especially with the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). I have a certain respect for the Home Secretary, as does the hon. Lady. I see him as a Jekyll and Hyde character, and I respect the good, Dr. Jekyll side of his character that shows respect for parliamentary traditions and freedoms. I am therefore grateful to him for the small mercies that he has shown the House today in accepting the Opposition amendments to the motion and extending debate beyond the ludicrously short time originally planned.
However, I am afraid that the other side to the Home Secretary's nature is a desire to appear tougher than tough, and more brutal than brutal. That side of his character panders to the Prime Minister's requirement that tough-sounding measures be produced, however shoddy they may be.
Earlier, Madam Speaker pointed out to the Home Secretary that, during the debate on the guillotine motion, he could not discuss the substance of the Bill. I take it that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would not allow the House to discuss the question of timing during the Committee stage. That is why I wish now to discuss the issue of the timing of the debate on this Bill.
Despite the concession that the Home Secretary has made, major questions remain about the amount of time devoted to consideration of the Bill, and how it is allocated. First of all, there is no real urgency about the measure. Football matches have been held over the past few months, and there will be another one in September. It is, I believe, only a friendly match that does not matter very much. If the Home Secretary thinks that that match is so crucial that the Bill must be on the statute book before it takes place, he has the option of asking the football authorities to delay it until a later date.
Alternatively, he could arrange for the start of the recess to be delayed. That would allow the House to consider the Bill fully--if we were not able to do so before the end of July, in the way that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) set out. There is therefore no real urgency about the matter. The Bill was pushed forward so that the Government could show that they had initiated legislation before the 2006 world cup decision was taken.
The Library has produced a useful brief on this matter, and it shows that football hooliganism is not a recent phenomenon. Governments have been legislating about it since the 14th century. It seems a bit foolish to contend that it is crucial that this Bill be rushed through before the end of July in the year 2000, given that we have spent 600 years not getting the matter right.
Above all, before today's Committee stage, there has not been enough time properly to table amendments to the Bill, whose Second Reading debate began last Thursday and ended in the early hours of Friday. Friday was a non-sitting day, and most hon. Members did not realise that amendments could be tabled then. When I tried to table amendments this morning, I was told that handwritten amendments would be frowned on, as there were already starred amendments for consideration. However, I gather that that did not stop the Government putting down further handwritten amendments. I gather that they have not been able to put down sufficient amendments for the Committee stage and have had to put down amendments for the Report stage before the Committee's consideration has been completed--or am I mistaken about that?
Mr. Simon Hughes: I cannot answer the right hon. Gentleman's last question. However, my understanding is that not only were the Government amendments put down on Friday, but they were put down towards the end of the time permitted because when we tabled our amendments, there was no sign of them. Therefore, any chance of trying to take that into account was effectively foreclosed.
Normally, we consider the principles of a Bill on Second Reading, after which we go back to our constituencies and discuss it with our constituents, professional organisations and interested parties. We can then put down amendments, often with detailed help and advice from the interested parties, so that the measure can be improved when it is considered in Committee. None of us has had the opportunity to do that. The only organisations that we could consult were those which work over the weekend, of which there were not a great many. However, in my constituency I was able to talk to doctors, neighbours, and people at church and in the pub. When I told them what was proposed, they all had grave reservations, but none had written amendments handy for me to submit this morning.
The initial motion in the name of the Home Secretary, which would have allowed but a few hours' debate--seven in total, including that on the guillotine motion--was manifestly insufficient and rather sinister in trying to concertina the whole process into such a short time. In addition, most of the debate will take place during the night. That does not worry me--I am quite happy to spend all night discussing this legislation to make sure that we get a better Bill than the one the Government have submitted. However, the timing is intentional, so that the Government get as little coverage as possible in the press for what they know to be a shoddy and dangerous Bill. That is why they are trying to get the debate over with quickly and during the hours of darkness. [Interruption.] Yes, there is something of the night about the Home Secretary's proposals, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis) says. [Interruption.] It may well be a qualification for Home Secretaries, but that is only the current political fashion.
I believe that the Bill raises many important issues. We need to examine them in Committee by putting down amendments to test whether those issues have been catered for by the Bill's wording and, if not, to amend the wording to ensure that they are properly covered. First, is the Bill reconcilable with the human rights provisions that the Government introduced? My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell), a former Attorney-General, says that it is not compatible with the human rights legislation, and he is a powerful and persuasive figure. The Government, however, say that the Bill does not conflict with the human rights provisions of the Council of Europe. If it is not incompatible with those provisions, it shows what an inadequate defence of our human rights these foreign provisions are. I have always maintained that. We in this place should be the principal defenders of our rights, regardless of whether the measures that we introduce are compatible with the European convention on human rights, which we have signed elsewhere.
The Bill raises many issues about the traditional rights of the English man and woman and the Welsh man and woman who are primarily affected by it. Does the Bill conflict with the presumption that someone is innocent until proven guilty, or does it not? We need to examine that and test it with appropriate amendments. Is it right to detain people simply to seek evidence of whether they may have indulged in some behaviour that might indicate that they would, at a future date, commit an offence, which would not be a criminal offence in this, or any other, country? We need time to consider all that.
Indeed, we must ask whether we should legislate at all to punish people for something that may not be a crime in this country or any other. We need time to consider that question. Should we punish people by withdrawing their passports on the basis of procedures that do not require criminal standards of proof, but only civil standards? Is the Bill compatible with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984? The Home Secretary said that he would introduce amendments to help to achieve compatibility, but we need to make absolutely sure of that. That is a major issue, and it cannot be resolved in just a few moments.
Once the House has heard the full list of issues that we must consider, it will realise that each of them will receive short shrift, even under the extended timetable that we are being permitted. There are questions of extraterritoriality. Should the House try to legislate to maintain peace and order in other jurisdictions? Surely that is primarily the duty of the Governments concerned. Should we place greater restrictions on the liberties of British subjects than we do to maintain domestic peace in order that peace may be maintained in France, Belgium, Germany and other places?
Does the Bill conflict with freedom of movement in the European Union? Freedom of movement is one of the aspects of the European treaties that I most support, but we appear to be restricting it. We need time to debate these matters and to test them by amendment, so that we may judge whether the Bill is incompatible with freedom of movement in the EU. If it is not, several people have said that restrictions of the kind proposed could be achieved only by the introduction of identity cards. I oppose that, but it may logically be compatible with the Bill and necessary as a result of it. The Government, who seem to be having second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts about the Bill, may want to move further in that damaging direction, and we should debate the point.
Is there a retrospective element to the Bill? Are we applying punishment to people who were previously found guilty under terms and conditions that did not include those punishments? Is there not a degree of double jeopardy in that respect? I understand that the German Government refused to participate in the administrative arrangements that we put in place to try to prevent the problems that occurred at Charleroi, because they believed that even those arrangements conflicted with the provisions in the German constitution preventing--