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Mr. Lilley: Obviously I abide by your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was endeavouring to explain why this is such a bad Bill and its origins in the memo leaked to the newspapers today. The memo called for precisely
The final aspect of bad legislation--a Government's lack of firm commitment to any principles--prevailed in this example. The Government have made a principle of not having principles, and have admitted that this measure will curtail the rights of innocent as well as guilty people. It will affect the innocent, and it will abrogate the normal assumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty. It requires a lower level of proof than that normally required. It is retrospective in some respects, and has an element of double jeopardy. It may infringe the human rights convention. It possibly curtails the rights of free movement under European law.
At no point was the principle brought to bear that says beyond this no sensible Government ought to go, because alas the Government put spin above substance. They put the desire for a soundbite and for a measure that bites above real measures that properly target only the guilty and protect the rights of the innocent. I for one shall not support the Bill.
Dr. Lynne Jones: People across the length and breadth of the country who have campaigned for the past three years for the introduction of worthy legislation will be amazed that the Government have been prepared to rush this Bill through the House simply because an international football match is being held in September, and a friendly game at that.
Hon. Members arrived at the House today not having seen the amendments that were to be debated during our consideration of the Bill. A guillotine was imposed between the Committee stage and Report. Such a procedure is unacceptable, and I am surprised that the Government were prepared to abuse the procedures of the House in that way. I have no problems with the use of the guillotine, but to use it to ensure that there is no opportunity for the House to take stock of the debate in Committee before moving on to Report is unbelievable.
I support many of the provisions in the Bill. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) that the most important part of the Bill is the fourth pillar--the ability for police officers to detain people at ports simply because they have suspicions that they may have participated in violence or disorder. When I queried that, I had no answer to my question about the grounds on which a police officer may have such suspicions. As it has been ruled out that those grounds could relate to the appearance, clothing or demeanour of the individual, one has to assume that they must relate to some intelligence or information about the past behaviour of the individual concerned. If that information is available, why could not other powers that are provided in the Bill be used to take that individual through the courts and to ban him from participating in overseas football matches? I disagree entirely with my hon. Friend. I believe that measures in the Bill could ensure that if there is appropriate evidence or information that people would be likely to cause violence, their cases could be taken to the courts.
Mr. Jim Murphy (Eastwood): I listened with interest to the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley). I cannot help feeling that some of his frustration is explained by the fact that he may hope to travel to France this summer, as I understand that he has a house there.
I wish to refer to the summary measures and the fact that the Bill does not apply to non-UK residents living in the UK. There are approximately 2.5 million non-British residents living in the UK, many of whom are passionate football supporters. I am not alleging that there is a disproportionate criminal element among them, but I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to keep the issue under review, as this is a potential loophole.
Mr. Chope: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) who makes the case for a UK Parliament--a Parliament in which we can discuss all at once football hooliganism as it affects Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, the Bill is confined to England and Wales. Despite that, it will be voted upon by right hon. and hon. Members from all four parts of the UK. That must cause concern.
I cannot support the Bill, for the same reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley), and because of some of the arguments from Labour Members. One of the advantages of voting on the Bill is that I have had the opportunity of speaking to people such as the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn).
The Bill combines the worst elements of gesture politics and rushed emergency legislation. That was encapsulated by the Minister's earlier remark that the Government were determined to do all in their power to stamp out football hooliganism. If that is how he feels, why does he not say exactly the same thing about stamping out the truly terrifying increase in violent crime in London, as announced today by the Government? If he had the same approach to violent crime as he says he has to football hooliganism, we might have expected a knee-jerk reaction and instant legislation to reintroduce the sus laws, to change the advice on Macpherson and so on.
The reason why the Government are concentrating on this Bill is because they think it is a soft target and a diversionary tactic that enables them to avoid the much more serious issues. My constituents will think that the Bill demonstrates the Government's failure to grasp the real priorities. My constituents are interested in dealing with hooliganism, but they are much more concerned about hooliganism at home than abroad. They want to
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. [Interruption.] Let the Deputy Speaker deal with the matter. This is a Third Reading debate. I am bound by the rules of the House. The hon. Gentleman must not talk about anything other than the Bill. He will have another opportunity at some other time to speak about these matters.
Mr. Chope: I am against the Bill because it introduces infringements of liberty that are not justified by the mischief that the Government have described. They said that the mischief involves about 900 people who were arrested on the continent during the recent international football season. That represents fewer than two people per constituency. The Bill is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and a total overreaction by the Government, who have wasted valuable parliamentary time that could have been better used to deal with other priorities affecting people and their liberties.
Mr. Hawkins: The Minister must respond to some important questions as the Bill proceeds to another place. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) drew attention to some of the continuing issues relating to national boundaries and nationality. The Minister and the Home Secretary have been pretty co-operative in responding to and accepting amendments. I hope that the Minister recognises that there are still substantial concerns among both Opposition and Government Members. Those concerns will be reinforced in the debates in another place.
In particular, I hope that the Minister will confirm that he continues to keep under review what we may call the national borders loophole--the fact that, even if all the powers become law in more or less their current form, it will still be possible for people to go to Scotland or Northern Ireland in order to try to evade what the Government suggest will be a tough new law.
We welcome the fact that the Government have accepted the idea of sunset clauses. It was suggested earlier that there should be a shorter period before the legislation is reviewed, and we were grateful that the Home Secretary and the Minister agreed to keep under review the period after which it will be further considered.
The Minister said that the Government's report on the legislation would deal with the costs, but I think that he will concede that the costs set out in the explanatory notes will already have increased as a result of amendments that the Government have tabled or accepted. Will further explanatory notes be provided before the Bill goes to another place, updating the estimate of what the costs will be?
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) said, the guillotine was entirely inappropriate and unjustified. Because of it, some matters were either never discussed or not voted on. Amendment No. 1 on Report was not selected for debate and, more significantly, we debated amendment No. 10 in Committee but were not able to vote on it. With the benefit of hindsight, the Minister may recognise that the Government were very unwise indeed to impose a guillotine.
To correct a misunderstanding that cropped up on Third Reading, it was the Government's original intention to try to curtail debate at 10 pm, and it was only because they accepted an Opposition amendment to the guillotine motion that we were able to continue until midnight in Committee and could have gone to 5 am to complete Report and Third Reading. My right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald was right to say that the proceedings today have been something of a farce. The Government suggest that, through the Modernisation Committee, they will introduce changes to the procedure that will mean that all debate must end at 10 pm every night. However, they also said that they needed to rush this Bill through, and that meant that the House sat into the night last Thursday and tonight. That is indecent haste.
Finally, I shall deal with some points raised by other speakers. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) raised his fervent concerns and said that the Government were providing only crude choices. That will be a grave worry for the House of Lords.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) spoke of the valuable work in his private Member's Bill, but he also mentioned the importance of protecting the law-abiding football fan. I am sure that he is right.
The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) misunderstood the fact that it was the Opposition who tabled the amendment to the original timetable motion and who therefore gave us a few more hours for debate. However, his contribution reinforced the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald that there is opposition to the Bill among Labour Members. That was also made clear by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Dr. Jones). The hon. Member for Islington, North made it clear that he considered that the Government were introducing the sus laws, or even "sus plus".
My right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) pointed out that the background to the Bill lies in the Prime Minister's memo. He also drew attention to some of the issues that the Government have not yet resolved, and which no doubt will be raised again in another place. He also pointed out the dangers to innocent football fans of bad legislation.
The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) referred to the important position of non-British citizens resident in the UK, and he asked the Minister to deal with that point, which has not yet been addressed. It is clear that problems remain.
The Opposition made it clear that we would not stand in the way of a Bill that dealt properly with the issues relating to football hooliganism. We have kept that promise, and we have even managed to bring the debate to a conclusion a fraction earlier than the Government's revised and amended timetable motion set out. However, substantial concerns remain. Even before we saw the first draft Bill or its revision, we said that the measure had to receive proper parliamentary scrutiny. I have no doubt that that scrutiny will continue in another place.