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17 Jul 2000 : Column 155

12.30 am

Mr. Simon Hughes: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I first thank the staff of the House who have produced this in virtually no time at all? I also thank the civil servants, who have been given slightly more work than they had bargained for.

My point of order is this: I see that in Madam Speaker's provisional selection of amendments on Report, the next group includes amendments Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9. The next amendment selected--amendment No. 12--is in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell), and is about the rehabilitation of offenders and a backstop point. Amendment No. 8, in my name, is also about spent convictions. Would you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, consider whether it would not be more sensible to take the two amendments on spent convictions together? I have not had a chance to consult the right hon. Gentleman about this, for which I apologise, but it seems to me that they are about one subject, whereas amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 9 are about another.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I hear the point that the hon. Gentleman makes. It is not normal to query Madam Speaker's selection of amendments, but I will reflect on the hon. Gentleman's point.

Mr. Leigh: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I know that in British industry it is fashionable to talk of just-in-time delivery, but is it usual for the selection of amendments to be delivered to us literally two minutes before we are told that you have selected them for debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: It is not I who have been selecting the amendments but Madam Speaker. The Clerks are doing their very best to keep ahead of the procedures before the House.

Schedule 1

Amendments of the Football Spectators Act 1989

Mr. Simon Hughes: I beg to move amendment No. 6, in page 5, line 27, leave out--

'caused and contributed to any violence or disorder'

and insert--

'been convicted of an offence involving violence or any other relevant offence'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:

No. 7, in page 5, line 28, after 'or' insert--

'caused or contributed to any violence or disorder'.

No. 8, in page 5, line 28, at end insert--

'(2A) A conviction under subsection (2) above does not include a spent conviction.'.

No. 9, in page 6, line 2, leave out from 'football' to end of line 5 and insert--

'(3A) In this Part, "violence" and "disorder" are limited to conduct which constitutes a crime under the law of any part of the United Kingdom, or conduct which, if committed outside the United Kingdom, would constitute a crime under the laws of the United Kingdom if committed in any part of the United Kingdom.'.

17 Jul 2000 : Column 156

12.30 am

Mr. Hughes: I shall speak first to amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 9. When I have finished my relatively brief remarks on those, Mr. Deputy Speaker, perhaps you would be kind enough to say whether you wish me to take amendment No. 8 together with them or separately.

In the bizarre, Alice in Wonderland world of this debate, we have moved from a Committee stage in which we debated one important issue--summary detention--but could not debate how to deal with banning orders into a Report stage in which we may debate banning orders but will have no opportunity to reflect on the debate on summary detention.

As the Report stage began, my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) said to me that crucial issues affecting the police relate to both issues, and there has been absolutely no chance for anyone to talk to any representative of the police between the first debate and the second--

Mr. Banks: I have.

Mr. Hughes: No representative, that is, except those available to us locally, who deal with parliamentary hooligans.

Amendment No. 6 is extremely important. My colleagues communicated our agreed position to the Home Secretary and the Government before Second Reading. We want to replace the general and dangerously wide provision in schedule 1 with a more specific provision.

At present, there are two conditions for a banning order that is triggered other than by a court decision on punishment. The order can happen on conviction or by complaint. The post-conviction order is non-controversial, if I have judged the mood of the House correctly. The order triggered by complaint is more controversial. It was anticipated by the hon. Member for West Chelmsford and others, but we had not seen the exact wording involved.

A banning order may be made on the complaint of a police officer who has detained someone summarily and who, after four or six hours, must serve a notice saying that he or she intends to seek a banning order. That notice, in writing, indicates an intention to seek an order within a further 18 or 20 hours, the total period being 24 hours. My colleagues and I strongly hold the view that to say that it is sufficient for a police officer or a court to think that someone's past history qualifies that person for a banning order on the basis that the person may have caused or contributed to any violence or disorder, but without having been convicted, goes dangerously wide. We reject that as a trigger for a banning order.

Instead, we offer the House a straightforward statement that a banning order can be considered if someone has previously been convicted of an offence involving violence or any relevant offence. That takes the law further than at present, when banning orders happen only if there has been a football-related offence. My hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Jackie Ballard) and I are of the clear view that it is part of the job of politicians to deal with violence in our society, and it is reasonable that someone convicted of violence unrelated to football might be regarded as having a greater propensity to violence in a football-related context than someone with no convictions for violence.

17 Jul 2000 : Column 157

Unlike the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins)--who is not in his place--we do not think that domestic violence should be excluded. It is not reasonable to say that violence in the home does not show a propensity to violence elsewhere. Indeed, we think that it is clear evidence of violence. A conviction for domestic violence must be part of the material background.

The third issue relates to amendments that have been selected for debate later and on which we have similar views to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell). It would be wrong for the measure to recriminalise a person whose other convictions were spent. Under rehabilitation of offenders legislation, if a date has been specified after which a person can put his crime behind him, it would be wrong to resurrect that crime simply for a banning order.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): The hon. Gentleman said that people's previous convictions for violence should be taken into account and they should be arrested on that basis. Unless I have misunderstood him, that is surely a departure from the normal principle that previous offences should be taken into account only when sentence is imposed. They cannot be considered in any initial action by the police against an individual.

Mr. Hughes: I understand the point the hon. Gentleman makes. I am dealing with proposals for banning orders, which, as he is aware, are in effect an injunction. If that injunction is breached, a criminal action will be triggered. We have tried to be reasonable and to co-operate with the Government. As Parliament has accepted banning orders in the past--on a "Let's see if they work basis"--and as several councils have used that procedure, it is reasonable to use it in the measure, in certain limited circumstances.

There are two strands that have to come together before a banning order can be imposed. The first is a consideration of the person's history and the second is that we must believe that the person is about to do something--I shall come to that point in a moment.

Our view is that we should not base the first strand on the fact that the person has a general association with violence or disorder in the past. The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) pointed out that the fact that people had been on a demonstration where there was violence--even though they were not personally involved--might mean that they were swept up under the measure. We should not be able to get over the first hurdle unless it can be verified that the person has committed a criminal offence. The offence must be football related--including offences involving alcohol--or violence related.

Mr. Corbyn: I am grateful for that explanation. However, I am not entirely happy. Surely any police action or arrest has to be based on the fact that an offence has been committed. The court should take account of past offences only after guilt has been proved and sentence is being considered. The danger with the hon. Gentleman's suggestion is that it would seem to give the police the power to interpret previous but wholly unrelated offences according to the action that they proposed to take.

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