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Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North): Will my right hon. Friend indicate when he will set up the Science and Technology Committee? Given the contradictory statements on chemical and biological warfare, there seems to be an issue here that demands deep scrutiny.
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold): To inform tomorrow's debate, will the Leader of the House give some idea of the timetable for the three pieces of emergency legislation? When is the House likely to see them? As they are emergency pieces of legislation, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether they will be timetabled? Given that he must have thought about the time that they will take to pass through the House, will he say something about other legislation that will have to be deferred to make time for the emergency legislation?
Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion): I welcome the debate tomorrow on the Adjournment of the House, but it is noticeable that all the recent debates have been on Adjournments of the House and not on substantive motions. Will the Leader of the House be looking to have a debate on a substantive motion very soon, possibly even on Friday?
Mr. Cook: It is the custom of the House to debate issues relating to such a crisis on the Adjournment of the House so that Members may make any contribution that they wish that is relevant to the crisis. That has been a longstanding practice. There have been exceptions to it, however. There was an exception during the Suez crisis when the then Opposition vigorously opposed the line that was being taken by the then Government. I do not think that there is any serious dissent within the House over the measures that are being taken by the Government. There are many ways to sense the will of the House, and those of us who sat through much of the recent three days of debate understand that at least 90 per cent. of Members are behind the action that the Government are taking. A substantive motion will not alter that clear fact.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): In relation to the question of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), the shadow Leader of the House, about the proposed topic for business on Friday, will the Leader of the House reconsider his suggestion? Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that if truth be told there are as manyif not moreLabour Members as Conservative Members who are deeply upset, concerned and appalled by the behaviour of a special ministerial adviser in seeking to bury unpopular news under the blanket of a terrible terrorist outrage? Under those circumstances, how can the Leader of the House defend the suggestion that it should be for the Opposition
Mr. Cook: The Government have repeatedly made it clearI have done so, my colleagues have done sothat the statement by Jo Moore on that day was a serious error of judgment. She herself has expressed regret; I am quite sure that she will not make such a mistake again. The issue raised by the hon. Gentleman is whether someone should be dismissed for making one mistake in the course of his or her career. The judgment of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions is that that would be unfair to the career of that special adviser, who has herself admitted that she was wrong. I hope, but it may be a vain hope, that the House is big enough to accept that she has said sorry and will not do it again. She should be given a second chance to get on with her job and we should get on with ours.
Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): Will tomorrow's debate on terrorism be preceded by a statement by the Prime Minister, as has been the case with previous statements? If not, when will the House be brought up to date by the Prime Minister?
Mr. Cook: The House will have a full opportunity to be brought up to date during the course of tomorrow's debate, but the present thinking is that it will not be preceded by a statement by the Prime Minister. The hon. Gentleman is right that the Prime Minister has made three successive statements to the House, the most recent of which was at the end of last week. He will, of course, be available to answer questions in the House on Wednesday.
Mr. George Osborne (Tatton): Will the Leader of the House find time this week to have a debate on the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on local councillors' expenses? As we know from his own political adviser, it is bad news which the Government obviously do not want to discuss. Should that not be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny?
I have to confess that the events of recent weeks have given a new perspective and, perhaps, a new sense of proportion to issues that have previously concerned the House. The House will obviously spend a considerable period in the days and weeks ahead on major issues but it is none the less, also our responsibility to continue the normal business of legislation on other matters.
The Bill repeals section 5(2) to (5) of the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, together with a related reference in section 3. The effect will be to continue to enforce without time limit the provision for banning orders on complaint and summary measures relating to detention and referral to the court in the Football Spectators Act 1989. It may be helpful if I remind the House of the reasons why the 2000 Act was introduced last year. Hon. Members who have looked into these matters will know of the association between football disorder and the English domestic game since it became a mass spectator sport at the end of the 19th century. The domestic problem has not gone away, but it has been largely marginalised by an array of legislative and other measures. English football stadiums are now among the safest and most secure in the world.
In recent years, concern has centred primarily on the behaviour of English football fans travelling to matches overseas. In 13 of the last 23 years, more than one serious incident has occurred. Each damaged our national reputation and together they resulted in many thousands of English arrests and deportations.
Prior to the adoption of the 2000 Act, a number of legislative measures were put in place. Each successive Act adjusted and expanded the measures available to the police and courts to tackle the evolving character of football hooliganism, and made a significant impact on domestic hooliganism. However, measures designed to combat English football disorder overseas proved less successful. In the build-up to Euro 2000, orders could only be imposed by the courts following conviction for a football-related offence. The law made a clear and, in many respects, artificial distinction between domestic and international banning orders. There was also provision for the courts to impose orders on the basis of convictions overseas if the requisite international agreement and legal measures were in place.
While a number of such agreements were put in place, the option did not prove fruitful, largely because host countries continually, if understandably, preferred to arrest and deport offenders, rather than pursue costly and time-consuming court proceedings. The reality is that football disorder usually involves rather low-level crime and disorder; its cumulative impact far exceeds its constituent offences. Euro 2000, as everyone knows, provided strong evidence of the reason why the previous measures were flawed. In preparation for it, the Belgian
The effectiveness of those preparations was constrained by the legislation, which limited the number of hooligans who could be prevented from travelling from England to follow the English team overseas to about 100 individuals. In spite of extensive precautions, English fans were involved in serious disturbances in Charleroi and Brussels. The measures put in place were effective to the extent that only one of the 965 England followers arrested during the tournament was subject to a banning order imposed following conviction for a football-related offence. However, subsequent police checks revealed that 40 per cent. of those arrested had convictions for offences of violence or public disorder, although not necessarily connected with football.