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That point returns us to an earlier debate. Most relevant offences are those for which people can currently be arrested--the use of racial abuse, or violent or drunk and disorderly behaviour. The power of arrest already exists for such offences. No one has satisfactorily answered the question: what are the offences for which a person would currently not be arrested that would cause the police to act in the context of football? I do not think that there are any. Dropping litter is technically an offence, but it cannot be considered relevant in these circumstances. I share the hon. Gentleman's view that the test must be that a person has committed an offence in front of a police officer.
Ms Ward: I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman and he might have been planning to come to this point later. However, will he explain how the amendment would assist when someone is arrested abroad and there is evidence--it may be documentary or video evidence--to suggest that he was involved in an offence? That person might not be charged but would be deported, so how would the amendment assist in such a case?
Mr. Hughes: The hon. Lady asks a perfectly proper question. I suggest that she looks at the other amendments in the group. I do not want to deceive the House because amendment No. 7 is controversial. It would allow for a slightly wider past history to be taken into account for offences that take place abroad. We had an interesting and important debate on Second Reading and in Committee, and amendment No. 7 keeps the Bill's current wording for offences committed outside the United Kingdom.
There must be a conviction for offences committed in the UK, but the question is how we deal with offences, such as those that we saw on television being committed in Charleroi, for which no one is convicted. Clearly any sensible person would regard hitting someone over the head with a chair in a town square or throwing something through a window as an offence.
I do not pretend that amendment No. 9 is perfect, but a similar amendment was tabled in Committee by the Conservative party and ourselves. It attempts to deal with the second half of the question that the hon. Lady reasonably asked. We wanted to find a way that ensured that something that happened abroad could be prayed in aid as long as it passed the test that it was a criminal offence. The amendment states that
I am slightly nervous about that proposal, but it is only a probing amendment. I am nervous about it because of a point raised by Conservative Back Benchers last week. We do not know what the tests of a foreign court might be. Let us take an extreme example. In China, one might be convicted by processes that we would regard as
Ms Ward: I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is trying to make, but I read from the amendment that he accepts the principle that someone in this country can be stopped under the provisions in the Bill without having been convicted of an offence. We are referring to offences that were committed abroad and would have constituted a crime in the UK if they had been committed in the UK. In this very amendment, he accepts the principle that someone can be caught by the provisions in the Bill without actually having a conviction.
Mr. Hughes: As it happens, we do not. We intend to press amendment No. 6 to a vote later and it insists that the precondition should be a conviction in the courts of this country. Amendments Nos. 7 and 9--the latter was originally tabled by the Conservatives in Committee--are probing amendments. We are not persuaded--certainly my colleagues in the other place are not persuaded--that what might or might not have been an offence abroad is sufficient reason to trigger the powers in the Bill. Our view is that the precondition--part one of a two-stage process--is that there must have been a relevant conviction in the United Kingdom. That would be achieved by amendment No. 6. The second part of the process is that a offence needs to be committed if someone is to be marched off to the magistrates court for a banning order.
Mr. Browne: I have been following the hon. Gentleman's remarks closely, but it seems to me that amendment No. 6 would not achieve that objective because it leaves the word "elsewhere" in proposed new section 14B(2). If amendment No. 6 were made, the Bill would read:
Mr. Corbyn: I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could help me because I have become completely puzzled by his arguments. I cannot understand why he has tabled amendment No. 9 at all because he appears to be speaking strongly against that amendment, which in effect would
Mr. Hughes: That is a perfectly reasonable objective, and we have been trying to tease out all the issues so that we can debate them. I reassure the hon. Gentleman that amendment No. 9 is a probing amendment and we will not pursue it.
In a debate triggered by the Government, it was said that video footage and evidence of activities abroad could be prayed in aid and would be sufficient, but we do not accept that--it is a dangerous view. I gave an extreme example, and we may not play football against China very often, but there are countries closer to home where we would be suspicious about evidence. In Euro 2000, some of the activities and administrative procedures carried out by the Belgians gave cause for concern.
The hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill) referred to such a case. Some of us heard the contribution on the "Today" programme on Monday morning from the father of the one person who has been charged by the Belgian authorities, and he said that his son had an alibi and was not even on the scene. I do not want to prejudge that case, but there are good reasons for arguing that such activity should not be imported into domestic law.
I reassure the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) that our objective in the debate is to make sure that the first leg of the process is achieved by a previous, relevant conviction in the UK. We accept the Government's argument that relevant convictions should not only be alcohol related, but we believe that those convictions should be limited to violence, football and alcohol and should not include spent convictions. The Bill certainly should not import activity from abroad that has not resulted in a conviction in the United Kingdom. I hope that that is clear, and we shall ask the Committee to divide only on amendment No. 6.
The strongest part of the speech made by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) was his point that amendment No. 6 will make it clear that if one is to be the subject of an order, one must have been properly convicted in a court of law. All of us have confidence in our courts, so we believe that that provides a clear basis. Therefore, I am perfectly happy with amendment No. 6.
If the hon. Gentleman had tabled amendment No. 9 in such terms, he would be insisting that the person would have had to be subject to a conviction either here or abroad for such an order to be made. I do not know why he has not made that clear.