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1.30 pm

Paul Flynn (Newport, West): I apologise for missing some of the Front-Bench speeches. I shall make a brief contribution.

Because there was a measurable improvement in the behaviour of English fans after the 2000 Act, the temptation is to believe that the improvement was due to the Act. It is understandable that the Government should claim that, but let us consider the origins of the Act and the reasons for its introduction. It arose from three football matches. There might well be an alternative interpretation of the extraordinary differences in the reaction of English football fans after two of those matches, compared with the other one.

At two of those matches—one in Belgium and the other in France—there was an expectation of violence. The police turned up in riot gear, the fans were allowed to drink double-strength beer, which they did in prodigious quantities, and inevitably there was a riot. At the other game, the police arrived in leisure wear; they played pop music to the fans so loud that the fans could not even hear their own chants, and they allowed them to indulge in a drug whose effect is very different from that of alcohol.

Alcohol inspires football fans to give each other a good kicking. The drug used in Holland makes them want to give each other a big hug. The result was that in the Dutch game, according to the police, the fans reacted to England's defeat—we should remember that these are the same fans who rioted in the other countries—with mild disappointment and polite applause. That is rather remarkable, given that a few days earlier they had reacted violently.

Although one respects the claims that the legislation is effective, it has many drawbacks. In future we might be able to copy the example of the Dutch police with pop music and their informal and friendly approach to the fans. We hope that in the more enlightened future the fans will be able to use a drug that does not make them violent, but has a calming effect.

Simon Hughes rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Has the hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) completed his remarks?

Paul Flynn: If the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) wishes to intervene, I shall manage a few extra sentences.

Simon Hughes: I am grateful. Can we interpret the hon. Gentleman's remarks as an invitation for football to be played in the part of south London where he lives when he is staying in London during the week, before he goes back to Newport for the weekend?

Paul Flynn: I have rejoiced in the reduction in the menace on the streets of south London. The hon.

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Gentleman is my Member of Parliament and represents me in that part of London. I believe that we will see concrete evidence of the effect of the wise decisions of Commander Brian Paddick in south London, and that we can build on his pioneering reforms. That would be a splendid place to play all future international games.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) on his ingenuity in using the debate to raise once again in the House matters that are dear to his heart. No doubt he is correct about the impact of alcohol, and policing methods are central to the issue, but we are aware that sadly, in addition to the associated problems that must be planned for and dealt with, there is a core of people who have been following our national game for no other purpose than to indulge in violence. They are not football fans. They use the game to provide themselves with such opportunities. Through intelligence they can be identified and, to a large extent, prevented from travelling. To date the legislation has shown that that is effective.

Of course, other issues and wider problems of disorder have to be dealt with too. I do not claim that the measures have been solely responsible for diminishing the problems, but they have had an impact on the more serious elements, who travel for the purposes that I described.

I thank the spokesmen for the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the hon. Members for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) and for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes), for their comments and for the support that they have given the measures. It would be good to think that at the end of five years we might not need these measures—at least we can travel in hope—and that we will be able to walk away and say that that was a job well done. Personally, I doubt that that will be so.

The hon. Member for Beaconsfield also said, as did the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey, that we will have an opportunity to study the effectiveness of the measures over a period of time in potentially difficult circumstances. We will be able to reflect on that and study exactly how the measures have been used. When we are impinging on people's liberties and their ability to travel, it is only right that the House should be satisfied that the measures are effective and proportionate. The Bill will give us an opportunity to do so and to undertake that evaluation over a required period of time. I am grateful for the support that the measures have received.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 2 agreed to.

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Adjournment (Easter)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

1.37 pm

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): This Easter, an innocent man—innocent of the monstrous crime that he has been found guilty of committing—languishes in Barlinnie prison in Glasgow. His name is Abdel Basset Al Megrahi. Before Parliament rises, the House ought to get an undertaking that the British Government—yes, the British Government—and not a highly controversial, devolved Crown Office in Edinburgh, will address certain questions.

Our country's relations with the Arab world have not been devolved to a Scottish Parliament, where, perhaps for understandable reasons, not one of the 129 Members has been prepared to take a sustained, in-depth view of the Lockerbie case.

Now that the appeal is over, what steps are being taken to preserve the productions amassed by the Crown for use in the Lockerbie trial? Can an assurance be given that they will not be destroyed in the same way as certain police note books have apparently been destroyed?

In particular, the British Government have a duty to look at the statement of my former constituent—she is at present a constituent of the Leader of the House—former Woman Police Constable Mary Boylan, a thoroughly credible retired police constable. She states:

Who gave the instruction for the destruction of notebooks? After all, this was the biggest unresolved murder trial in Scottish legal history. The answer to that question is likely to be found not in Edinburgh, but in London.

I have known and worked closely with the following distinguished police officers as heads of F Division covering West Lothian: David Garbutt, Tom Wood, David Mitchell, Kenneth Mackenzie, Gordon Munro and Allan Shanks. I have also worked with the chief constables of Lothian and Borders police: Sir William Sutherland QPM between 1983 and 1996, and Sir Roy Cameron QPM between 1996 and 2002. I simply do not believe that any one of them, off their own bat, would have allowed, for reasons of routine and storage space, the destruction of notebooks relating to the biggest murder trial in Scottish history.

Mary Boylan, the ex-police constable, states:

this happened on 28 December 1988—

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Her statement continues:

Mary Boylan continues:

He is also remembered at the Arlington cemetery and, I believe, in the Pentagon.

In 1989, Police Constable Boylan was informed by a colleague that the suitcase belonging to Curry was that which contained the bomb that blew up Pan Am 103. That is what she says. I want to know who will verify the statement and show whether it is true or false. If the bomb was in Curry's suitcase, Mr. Megrahi is hardly likely to be guilty. There is a whole literature on this subject—one almost needs to be a professor of Lockerbie studies—and it would be inappropriate and selfish to take up more of the House's time to go into the matter, but these questions must be addressed.

It has been said that eight Scottish judges cannot possibly be wrong. I draw to the House's attention the conclusion of the Appeal Court's ruling, which some of us have read very carefully. At paragraph 369, Lord Cullen and his colleagues state:

"he" being William Taylor QC. The paragraph continues:

Lord Cullen and his colleagues—

That is an extremely careful statement, as one would expect of Lord Cullen and his colleague judges. It does not go into the detail of the matters that were before the trial court at Zeist.

These are complex matters, and it would be wrong and absurd of me to ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to respond off the top of his head. All I ask is that these extremely serious matters be taken on board by the Government in London, not just passed over to the Crown Office in Edinburgh. I ask for careful reflection on what I have said and proposed, and for a response in the fullness of time.

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