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Mr. Burns: The hon. Gentleman must not criticise the hon. Member for Watford (Ms Ward), because his story involved people in football strips wearing jeans, sneakers and sweat shirts around their waists. People do not usually go shopping dressed like that. [Hon. Members: "They do!"] One or two perhaps, but not 30 on a coach.
Mr. Banks: The hon. Gentleman is changing the scenario to suit his speech, which is all over the place. There will not be as many difficulties as he makes out. The provision would be used at designated times--not at any time during the year--when the England team played abroad. If he has travelled with English--
Mr. Hancock: The hon. Gentleman does not do justice to thousands of supporters who go to matches, sing, enjoy themselves, have a drink and do not cause problems. Many Members have tried to explain to the Government that they still have time to address that issue. They have already moved considerably.
Mr. Gummer: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) has given the game away? If the provision were confined to those who behave as he describes, we would have no problem with it. However, it does not so confine itself, which is why we are in this mess.
Mr. Hancock: I could not agree more. Many Members who under previous Governments held high office in Departments dealing with the law have experienced the difficulties of hastily conceived legislation--and paid the price. They had to try to dig their way out trouble after the legislation was passed. The hon. Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker) said why he supported the Bill. Those who have been to a football match or travelled with their team or the national side know that events do not take place over 24 hours. People travel to away internationals over three or four days, using different modes of transport, and arrive at grounds at different times. Some stay for a long time afterwards.
The hon. Gentleman described hooliganism and explained why we should do something about it. I have been at football matches in this country and abroad, and have been subjected to the worst side of hooliganism next to me, across the terrace from me and across the other side of the pitch. As a city councillor in Portsmouth, I represent the area where the football ground is located. For 30 years I have represented people who for long periods were victimised by football hooligans who thought nothing of throwing a dustbin through the front door or window of a flat-fronted terraced house as a passing gesture on their way home, simply because Portsmouth had done their team on the park that afternoon. That happened week after week. I understand the problem, and I want something done about it.
I want resources to be provided so that we can achieve what we are trying to do. It is sometimes difficult to police football matches properly, because the police are hard pressed and the clubs do not want to pay the cost of policing. Hon. Members who have raised the issue of resources are dead right.
We want to ensure that the police officers who make the initial stop are fully able to do their part of the job within the law--that is, they must have good reason. In the four-hour process, when does the clock start ticking? Is it the minute the policeman stops the person, or the minute the person is in a place where he can no longer exercise free will and has been removed from the port, airport or train station? Those questions must be answered tonight.
I doubt whether, at 12 o'clock when we finish the Committee stage, any Member or Minister, including the Home Secretary, could honestly report to the House what the Bill can do. The Minister will report that we have been through the Committee stage and have amended the Bill. What does the Bill do, and what does it not do? The Home Secretary was honest enough to say that between Thursday and Monday he had changed his mind and accepted that there were some good ideas about how the Bill could be amended. The amendments offer him the opportunity to go that little bit further. They do not say, "Come back at a later stage when you have got it right." They say, "For goodness sake get it right. Get three quarters of the Bill, do what most of us want to do, but if you are going the whole hog, ensure that the system is robust enough to stand the test of time, that it can be resourced properly and that it can deliver what the nation expects." A good headline tomorrow will not be sufficient to prevent trouble in September.
Mr. Lilley: I shall make clear what I am in favour of before I explain what I am against. I have no objection in principle to banning orders that prevent people from attending domestic or foreign football matches if that is part of the punishment for a criminal offence of which they have been convicted. I have no objection to giving the constabulary the powers to enforce such banning orders, and ensuring that they can do so effectively and efficiently. However, the Bill goes far further than that, and some of the amendments would rein it back. I favour amendments that try to restrict the powers of the police to enforcing bans on those who are convicted of criminal offences from attending football matches, either here or abroad, as part of their punishment or as a consequence of their criminal conviction.
Before amendment No. 42 was tabled, the Bill referred, as a ground for restricting the movement of someone through the ports, to behaviour of the person present before the constable. If a person is behaving in the port, or on the way to it, in a manner which constitutes a criminal offence--for example, if he is behaving in a drunk and disorderly fashion, committing a breach of the peace or indulging in racial incitement--the constabulary already have the powers to charge that person with an offence. They do not need any special powers. Just the process of charging and arresting them will stop those people going abroad and, in effect, will prevent them from attending the football match.
If those concerned are doing something which is not a criminal offence--they may be a bit merry, raucous or rowdy--it is hard to say that they should be prevented from travelling further to the football match. One is effectively reducing the level of offence if one gives the powers to the police to stop people going to a football match when they are not doing anything which, in itself, is a criminal offence.
If amendment No. 42 is accepted, reference to the behaviour of a person before the constable is omitted and ceases to be the primary consideration in determining whether the constable should detain them. The amendment would mean that if a constable in uniform had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the respondent had at any time caused or contributed to any violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, the constable could detain that person in his custody.
There seem to be five possible circumstances in which the constable could subsequently be justified--and the magistrates court could conclude--that the person detained had caused or contributed to any violence or disorder. The first is if they could show that the person had been charged and convicted of a crime that would be relevant to the circumstances of travelling to a football match. I would have no objection, in such circumstances, if the banning order were part of the punishment. However, if we are to add retrospectively to the punishment of people who, in the past, have been guilty of crimes, we will be guilty of retrospection and double jeopardy.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) asked, what if the previous offence's time had expired? In general, if a person has been charged and convicted of a crime, it is perfectly reasonable that he should have restrictions imposed on his right to attend football matches.
The second circumstance might be if the person has been charged with a crime, but not convicted. Are we saying that, in such circumstances, the constable would be reasonable in detaining the person--and the magistrates would subsequently be able to prevent them from travelling--because, under a lesser, civil burden of proof, the magistrates might think that although the person was acquitted on a criminal charge, there was a reasonable basis for thinking that they were reasonably guilty and, therefore, that we should stop them going? Is that what the Home Secretary is saying?
The third circumstance might be if the person had been arrested for something that constituted a criminal offence, but had never even been charged with it. Are we now to say that as an arrest took place, there must have been reasonable grounds for thinking that the person committed that offence and that he is responsible for causing or contributing to violence and disorder, so we will stop him? It is an enormous step in our law--that merely having been arrested for something can be a cause for having one's liberties restricted. The Home Secretary referred to the 965 people who had been arrested--but only one charged and convicted--by the Belgian police. The Bill specifically says that an arrest that is not even made by a British authority can constitute a reason for believing that the person has committed an offence of violence or disorder.
Fifthly, the person may be found to have caused acts of violence and disorder that are not in themselves crimes. The Bill specifically says that people can have their passports removed on the basis of acts that need not be a criminal offence anywhere in the world. It even says that they need not even themselves have caused the violence or disorder, but only have "contributed to" it--perhaps by being present or joining in the singing.