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Mr. Gorrie: My point was that one can quite innocently be the cause of violence. Helen of Troy misbehaved herself in leaving her husband, but she did not fight the war. The hon. Gentleman makes my point for me.
An enthusiastic policeman who had read the Bill carefully and was on duty in Downing street might even believe, if he had looked at television coverage of Prime Minister's Question Time, that the Prime Minister had caused or contributed to disorder. If the policeman believed that Britain or the Prime Minister personally was very unpopular in the country to which the right hon. Gentleman was going for the match, he might believe that the Prime Minister could cause further disorder.
Ms Ward: I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman is managing to say all this with a straight face. Is he really suggesting that the Prime Minister or--I will be generous here--the Leader of the Opposition could be classed as potential football hooligans on the grounds of their conduct on a Wednesday afternoon? I can only hope that the hon. Gentleman is trying to amuse the House.
Mr. Gorrie: I am trying to illustrate the absurdity of the Bill's wording and the fact that people can innocently cause or contribute to violence or disorder. That is what the Bill says, and it leads to all sorts of absurdities.
Mr. Banks: The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie), in trying to find absurd situations, has done the police no great service. We must be realistic. There is no way the police will stop all these people, ranging from the Prime Minister to attractive women, leaving the country on the grounds that they might cause an affray when they reach their destination. One must assume that police officers have a modicum of good sense even if the hon. Gentleman does not have much.
Ms Ward: Does my hon. Friend agree that what the hon. Gentleman said is a terrible slur on women, who in general are not the cause of violence at football matches and make up only a small part of the criminal population?
Mr. Banks: That is certainly true. I do not have the statistics in front of me, but I doubt whether very many women have been included in the number of those arrested for football disorder or offences. One of the good things about football these days is the civilising presence of so many women and families at matches. We are trying to ensure that that happens when our supporters go abroad, when we have dealt with the problem of hooliganism at home.
To accept amendment No. 21 would be to destroy the whole purpose of the Bill. The police need these powers. People who understand about football hooliganism know that unless we have the powers to stop people travelling,
Mr. Lilley: In a genuine spirit of inquiry, since I do not purport to know much about football hooliganism, may I ask why we need more severe powers to stop hooligans travelling abroad than we possess and have used domestically to reduce the incidence of hooliganism in the United Kingdom?
Mr. Banks: The answer to that is simple. The right hon. Gentleman should go to football matches more often. There have been improvements in the law, in policing and in stewarding inside football grounds. The clubs segregate supporters, the police stop supporters going into grounds if they are drunk and many other means have been used to deal with the problem at home. That is why we find it so perplexing when a problem largely dealt with here is exported abroad.
I do not suggest that there are any easy solutions. No one in the House says that. However, instead of Opposition Members--and some of my hon. Friends--popping up to say that all sorts of strange things may happen, they could acknowledge that we need to do much more than we are doing now. At times, I hear strange words coming from my own mouth: we must sometimes rely on the good sense of police officers at certain specified times to stop people travelling whom they genuinely suspect of being likely to cause trouble if they go abroad. As I said to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) a few moments ago, the problems we face are difficult, but not as difficult as some hon. Members are suggesting.
Mr. Hancock: When he was Minister for Sport, the hon. Gentleman made great play, particularly during the world cup, of not wanting English fans without tickets to travel to football matches abroad. Would he think it right for a police officer to ask a group of fans whether they had tickets for a game? If some did and some did not--and given that incidents abroad in the past have sometimes been caused by fans without tickets--would that be a good enough reason for the police not to allow a person to travel?
Mr. Banks: That could be a further piece of evidence that a police officer could use to detain an individual or group of people. Of course it could be that the people involved were not on their way to a football match. Clearly, the police officer would have to ask whether they were. Whether an individual chooses to tell the truth is another matter, but a police officer who was trying to ensure that someone did not travel could use several means to filter information so that he or she could feel reasonably confident that a particular individual should be detained for long enough to find out whether there was any further reason why a magistrate should prevent them from travelling.
We must give the police credit by believing that, at the times designated in the Bill, officers would be looking for potential football hooligans rather than for ordinary, decent, honest citizens who were not interested in football but were going to France for a day out. Why would a police officer make trouble for himself by scooping up large numbers of the constituents of the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) just so that he could say that he had made his contribution to anti-hooliganism by arresting people trying to leave that area?
Mr. Gale: The hon. Gentleman makes my point. Many hours ago, when this debate began, the Home Secretary said that the purpose of the Bill was to catch people who were going abroad to make trouble. How the blazes can a Kent policeman know that someone is going abroad to make trouble? How can he know that until a person who probably had no intention of making trouble has been abroad, had too much to drink and made trouble?
Mr. Banks: I accept that that is a problem. The point is not that a police officer knows that someone will make trouble. How can he or she know what will happen in future? However, an officer can suspect that someone may cause trouble.
The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) pointed out that, if the measure went wrong, Opposition Members could say, "We told you so". That could apply the other way round. If the amendment is accepted and if there is trouble because the powers provided for the police under the Bill have been removed, what will Opposition Members say? They will have removed from the Bill the one provision that would give the extra filter at the port of exit that police officers require to try to prevent from leaving the country those people who it is suspected might cause disorder.
Of course, the use of such powers is conditional. That is why it is so difficult to draw them up. However, it is worth taking the risk. That is the important point. Opposition Members and some of my hon. Friends should realise that identification of troublemakers would not be as difficult as they seem to think. Many clubs keep lists of such people even though they do not have convictions. That information could be given to the police.
Mr. Banks: I must pick up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) about the miners' strike. My hon. Friend and I, and other people, ferried supplies to coalfields in Derbyshire. We were stopped regularly by the police--I do not know under which powers--and had to explain
However, any law-abiding citizen who is stopped under this measure will not end up with a criminal record. There is sometimes a price that we have to pay as law-abiding citizens to stop those people who are intent on breaking the law, either in this or another country. I am prepared to pay that price.