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Mr. Gale: My support for amendment No. 10 is reflected in the fact that I tabled amendment No. 31, which has not been selected but which called for the establishment of stipendiary magistrates and for the resources to be provided for in clause 4 to fund those stipendiary magistrates.

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At the end of the previous debate, in response to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell), the Home Secretary indicated that court space would somehow be made available. If many people were detained, I presume that they would have to be dispersed around the south-east of England. It is not clear how that would work and perhaps the Minister of State will enlighten us. I share the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) that if the process is to be made to work--I have made it clear that I have grave doubts on that score--it must be possible for people to appear before magistrates very quickly. Otherwise, people will be detained who have nothing to do with football hooliganism but who are travelling abroad perhaps, as my right hon. Friend said, for emergency purposes. Facilities must be made available during the banning periods for those people to be heard.

I wish to raise one other issue in relation to clause stand part, and it has to do with the amount of resources devoted to implementing the Bill. Clause 4 states:


I said earlier that the Bill would place a tremendous strain on the already hard-pressed resources of the Kent police, who have the duty to enforce law and order at the several ports in our gateway county. The Government have recently increased the Kent police budget by an amount equivalent to 30-odd officers, who are dedicated solely to policing the ports. If the Bill is enacted it will place an additional burden on Kent, and the Home Office must make available the resources and personnel necessary to implement it.

I hope that the Minister will tell the Committee that he will accept amendment No. 10, and reassure me that the necessary resources will be made available to the Kent police.

Mr. Simon Hughes: I am sympathetic to the amendment. The Minister should answer the practical questions raised by the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) and the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale). Does he envisage ad hoc courts at some or all of the ports? What is the minimum and maximum number of ports likely to be so covered?

Earlier, the Home Secretary said that the Lord Chancellor had assured him that the system would be able to deal with the demands imposed by the Bill, but what are the cost implications? How many magistrates does the Lord Chancellor consider he has available?

The hon. Member for North Thanet made a general inquiry about the clause, which authorises the money to be spent by Parliament. The newspapers tell us that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may announce more resources for the police tomorrow. What is the Home Office assessment of the policing costs incurred by the additional powers? What minimum number of extra police hours does the Minister think will be required to implement the legislation? What will be the cost to the Exchequer?

What guarantee can Ministers give that any additional court sittings or police attendance at them will not harm the availability of courts elsewhere? Many magistrates courts have been closed, and others are under threat.

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Many hon. Members of all parties have raised concerns about that, as have their constituents. We need to be sure that the Bill does not cause a reduction or termination of services in other parts of the country.

Mr. Leigh: I rise to support the amendment, which goes to the heart of the Bill. The Minister has said, in his reasonable way, that the penalty is proportionate--that a person denied the opportunity to go to a football match can watch it on television. The impression given is that that person would be turned away by means of a friendly grip on the arm, and that he would go and watch television quite happily. However, we are talking about arrest and detention, which are far more serious and unpleasant matters. No one has difficulty about hooligans--whoever they are--being detained, but we are worried about perfectly innocent people being detained--or even potential hooligans, who, after all, will not be accused of having committed any crimes. This is a serious matter. It is not simply a matter of telling people that they can watch the match on television.

11.15 pm

We are after all committed to the rule of law. We believe that people should be denied their liberty and their ability to enter or leave their country only on the say-so of a properly constituted court of law.

I can understand what the Government are saying in one sense. The Home Secretary was very dismissive towards my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) on Second Reading, talking about setting up trestle tables and implying that the courts would be drumhead courts.

If we are talking about arresting people--and arrest is unpleasant and embarrassing--it surely is not beyond the ken of the Home Office to arrange for an immediate court hearing to take place. Many of us are worried, especially as no crime has to be proved, and the arrest does not need to take place in the area of the port, that we are talking about a return to the old sus laws. I served on the Committee considering them, and many right hon. and hon. Members, particularly those on the Labour Benches, quite rightly railed against the sus laws and the powers that they gave the police. We do not want a return to those days--we want the Minister's reassurance that that will not happen.

It is not good enough for the Minister to say that this procedure is just like the anti-social behaviour order--it is quite different. Anti-social behaviour orders simply require people to obey the law of the land. That is not an unreasonable request.

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. The amendment is about resources. The hon. Gentleman is going wide of that subject.

Mr. Leigh: I appreciate that, Mr. Martin.

Ministers constantly claim that to set up these courts in time is not achievable, that resources are not available and it is all too difficult. I do not think that that is right--this is a very important principle.

I do not think that my right hon. Friend is asking too much, and I hope that, when the Minister replies, he will not be as dismissive as the Home Secretary was last

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Thursday. There has been movement--in one weekend, we have brought down the period from 24 hours to four or six, and I give credit to Ministers for that.

I hope that the Minister will approach my right hon. Friend's amendment in a positive and constructive way, and explain why it will not be possible to have immediate court hearings, with the resources available to set them up.

Mr. Charles Clarke: I approach the amendment of the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) in a constructive spirit; I think that she tabled it in a constructive way. We cannot accept it for reasons that I shall explain in a moment, but we have agreed that magistrates' hearings will be convened at weekends when necessary to ensure that individuals issued with a notice preventing them from leaving England and Wales will have the opportunity of a hearing as soon as possible, and certainly before the limit expires. I acknowledge the importance of that to the legislation.

I agree that it is vital that the hearings be held in close proximity to the port or airport concerned. I accept, in the spirit of the debate that was mentioned, the point of the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins); I think that the use of stipendiaries is a positive suggestion, and I am prepared to assure him that we will look at it carefully.

Mr. Burns: The Minister said that he thinks that it is important that hearings be held in close proximity to port and airports. Would he include Eurostar and its railway station?

Mr. Clarke: Yes, I would.

I am prepared to give the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) the assurance that he seeks--that we are actively looking at the costs of the legislation for police forces, particularly in Kent. We are considering the situation of those forces, and what grant could be made. He will know that Kent police received a significant grant last year for handling immigration issues, and we are prepared to consider the issue in that context.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) spoke about ad hoc courts. I am prepared to look at that suggestion too, because it is very positive, and we want to meet the spirit of what is proposed. His point on costs is covered at paragraph 27 of the explanatory notes: we estimate that the additional cost to magistrates courts will be about £150,000 a year.

I do not accept what the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) said about a return to the sus laws. I had intended to tell the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald that while I do not believe that it will be necessary to set up courts in air or sea terminals, the Government are willing to reconsider that matter when the measure is reviewed in 12 months, to see whether we should have done something different.

I accept the legitimacy of the right hon. Lady's point, but cannot accept her amendment because her reference to ports and airports designated in schedule 7 to the Terrorism Bill is not appropriate. She may or may not have had a chance to read the list of ports involved. The airports include Aberdeen, Biggin Hill, Birmingham, Blackpool and many more. The ports include Ardrossan, Campbeltown, Fishguard, Fleetwood, Heysham and more.

There are two problems with the amendment. First, the designated ports include none of those in Kent and Essex that usually deal with the heaviest traffic in football

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supporters. I am aware that that is a drafting point and I intend no criticism by saying that the right hon. Lady's definition would not help us with the ports most important to the Bill. Secondly, her amendment states that a court would have to be convened at each designated port in England and Wales. The list of such ports is substantial, but it may be that none bears a relationship to travel to and from football games. It would be ridiculous to provide for court sittings at all the locations during every control period. For example, if the control period were triggered by a London club playing in Europe, setting up a court at Ardrossan, Campbeltown or Fishguard would not be appropriate.

I make no criticism of the right hon. Lady's intention, but we cannot support the amendment because it would not work. I hope that she will accept what I have said about the spirit of what we intend and the assurances that I have given to her and her hon. Friends, including the assurance that we shall reconsider the matter in 12 months' time if necessary.


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