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Statutory Instruments: Joint Committee

4.8 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Lord Lea of Crondall be appointed a member of the Joint Committee in the place of the Lord Walker of Doncaster.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Football (Disorder) Bill

4.9 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Football matches: prevention of violence or disorder]:

[Amendment No. 1 not moved.]

Lord Richard: My Lords, are we now proceeding with Report stage on this Bill or is Report stage to be taken tomorrow? It would be useful to have some guidance.

Lord Carter: My Lords, we are now taking Report stage. I apologise, but there will now be a discussion through the usual channels to agree how we deal with Third Reading and so forth.

Last Wednesday an agreement was reached, which was circulated to all the party meetings, as my noble friend said last Thursday, and everyone knew that Report and Third Reading were to be taken today. In order to allow for a gap between Report and Third Reading, a suspension of the Standing Order would need to have been tabled yesterday. To do that I would have needed to know that the Committee stage would last until five o'clock this morning. The Opposition Chief Whip will agree with me that yesterday we believed that all yesterday's business would finish by

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midnight. We revised that estimate at ten o'clock last night to two o'clock. We got it wrong because, quite fairly, it took a lot of time. That is why we are in this position. That agreement, which was clearly reached and understood through the usual channels, was not supported when it came to the vote.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, was the Convenor of the Cross Benches involved in that process and will he be part of the decision-making process that follows?

Lord Carter: My Lords, the noble Viscount knows that the Convenor of the Cross Benches is not a member of the "usual channels". It is clearly understood that he can speak only for himself and not for his group.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, while we are dealing with niceties, I ask the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General, where is the Leader of the House? It was her Motion and one would have expected her to have been present to reply to it and to help the Government out of this mess.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, my noble and learned friend is attending an important Cabinet committee. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, was tabled quite late. It was not possible for her to rearrange her commitment. Accordingly, she asked me to do the best I could, to be as persuasive as possible to ensure that we had an overwhelming defeat.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the Leader of the House would have done better, and more charmingly, than the noble and learned Lord. However, he referred to his noble friend as "learned". I did not know that she was "learned". I congratulate her.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Goodhart moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 14, leave out paragraph (c)

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment No. 2, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 25, 31, 33 and 34. The aim of the first of this group of amendments is to remove paragraph (c) of Clause 1 which states:

    "(c) for enforcing authorities to require persons subject to banning orders to surrender their passports in connection with certain association football matches played outside the United Kingdom".

This amendment was debated at a fairly late hour this morning and, therefore, does not appear in Hansard. As a result I am tempted to redeliver, word for word, the extremely eloquent and persuasive speech that I made on that occasion! However, that may be inappropriate.

The provisions requiring surrender of passports are wholly and entirely unnecessary. In Schedule 1, paragraph 3, new Section 19(2A) states that, at the beginning of a control period in relation to a match or a tournament, if the enforcing authority, as it is called,

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    "is of the opinion that requiring any person subject to a banning order to report is necessary or expedient in order to reduce the likelihood of violence or disorder at or in connection with the match, the authority must give"--

the subject of the banning order--

    "a notice in writing".

New subsection (2B) states:

    "The notice must require that person--

    (a) to report to a police station specified in the notice at the time, or between the times, specified in the notice,

    (b) if the match is outside the United Kingdom and the order imposes a requirement as to the surrender by him of his passport, to surrender his passport at a police station specified in the notice at the time, or between the times, specified in the notice".

So there are two elements both of which are compulsory: one is attending a police station and the other is surrendering the passport. The obvious course of action is to require the subject of the order to attend the police station at the time when a match is taking place. That already happens in domestic banning orders. Effectively, in the case of a match outside the United Kingdom, that prevents the subject of the banning order travelling to watch the match.

Therefore, what on earth does an order to surrender a passport accomplish that cannot be accomplished by a banning order? Effectively, the answer is nothing. A subject of a banning order is not likely to be persuaded to hand in his passport if he is not willing to comply with such an order anyway. In either case, if he does not comply he will go to gaol. The only possible value of a surrender of a passport is a symbolic one.

It has been said in the press that the Germans prevented hooligans from travelling to Euro 2000 in the Netherlands and Belgium by removing passports from known hooligans. In fact, as became apparent last night, that is wholly untrue. The Germans imposed reporting orders on most of their hooligans. Under German law a passport can be required to be surrendered only for very serious crimes and there is no question of a football hooligan being required to surrender a passport. Sometimes the authorities stamp a passport in such a way as to make it ineligible for admission to the country where a match is to take place. That is something that the Government, in this case, have decided not to do.

The requirement to surrender a passport is wholly unnecessary. It is not only unnecessary but for many people it is also a highly intrusive order. It will have all sorts of effects which may happen at unpredictable times and which may persist for long periods such as a month or more continuously. The requirement to surrender a passport may prevent someone from going abroad for family reasons, for work or even for a pre-booked holiday to Florida, which is thousands of miles from the nearest serious football match.

Admittedly, under Section 20 of the Football Spectators Act 1989 there is a power to apply for exemption from the requirement. That has to be applied for separately each time an exemption is sought and, worse, there is no provision that enables the subject of a banning order who wants to go abroad on a permanent basis--perhaps for a job or

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to live--to apply for a discharge of the order on the grounds that, in the new circumstances, it is no longer appropriate.

The surrender of a passport is a serious infringement of the right of movement and is almost certainly contrary to European Union law unless it is proportionate to the evil which it is sought to prevent. It may be that if the surrender of a passport was the only possible way in which a hooligan could be prevented from going abroad, that condition might be satisfied. But what is plain here is that, given that a reporting order will do the job just as well, requiring the surrender of a passport in addition is wholly disproportionate, serves no useful purpose, is certainly contrary to European Union law and possibly also to the Human Rights Act.

In those circumstances it is impossible to see why this provision has been included. It should be removed from the Bill as soon as possible. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, that this provision for the surrender of passports on top of the provision for reporting to the police station could be regarded as belt and braces; as two ways to achieve the same thing. But sometimes it is correct to use belt and braces to ensure that the desirable aim--the prevention of the individual concerned from travelling to a football match--is achieved. Therefore I cannot support Amendment No. 3.

Baroness Ludford: My Lords, will the Minister share with us the legal advice he received in relation to the points made by my noble friend Lord Goodhart on the potential clash of the free movement provisions of the European Union treaties? My noble friend makes a serious point. At a time when efforts are being made to put more flesh on the bones of the free movement provisions, certainly in communications of which I am aware in the European Commission and currently going through the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, this provision appears to be going in the wrong direction. Can the Minister tell us precisely how he responds to this question of a clash between the provisions of the Bill and the rights under the European treaties?

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