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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I begin by thanking those noble Lords who made kind comments on my work in this area and stress how much those comments are appreciated. I intend to take a continuing interest in this matter, not least because I am a football fan and also because the problem requires continued thought. It involves the search for solutions to long-term problems. Hooliganism, after all, has been with us for some 20-odd years. I remember the first nasty outbreaks when I watched football as a teenager. We need to bear down on the problem at all times and find genuine answers. Such answers cannot be provided only through legislation; I do not believe--I did not believe this when we passed the Act last year--that law of itself will solve all of the problems. That was why I was particularly insistent that a working party should examine some of the problem's underlying causes and try to tackle them.

Noble Lords asked pertinent and valuable questions and I shall try to answer as many of them as I can this evening. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked when the legislation would be introduced. I suspect that it will be introduced sooner rather than later. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, touched on one reason for that; namely, that would ensure that there was adequate time to debate and carefully consider the provisions. As a civil libertarian myself--I do not see why the

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noble Lord should have a monopoly in that regard--I believe such matters should be given careful consideration. We are, after all, dealing with important powers which will impinge on people's civil rights and civil liberties.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked whether some forces were more zealous than others. My guess is that some probably are, perhaps because they have an abundance of football clubs--perhaps some of the higher profile clubs, such as Leeds United, Manchester United or Arsenal--in their area. They may therefore take a keener interest in all aspects of the legislation. They have probably got dedicated units that spend quite a lot of time working on the issue with clubs, fans and so on. They will seek to use the powers as and when they are required.

As to the future of the working group, interestingly when I went to speak to John Denham--the new Minister with responsibility for it--I made the point that it may be important to reconvene the working group to check on the progress of the 55 recommendations. Clearly, there has to be a follow-through. I hope that in the future there will be further reporting to Parliament, not just on the effectiveness or otherwise of these measures but on the way in which the programme is being implemented.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked about best practice. I think best practice is being developed, not just here but across Europe. When I have travelled abroad and talk to representatives from the football authorities they look very closely at what we are doing. They pay close attention to the measures we have introduced. I think that they are becoming much more aware of the need to develop more intrusive links into the football community to ensure that the sorts of problems we have had over the last 20 years or more do not emerge in the violent way in which they have from time to time.

One of the more important measures in the report put in place has been the taking apart of the England Members' Club and its reformulation into England fans. I thought the Football Association was particularly brave in seeking to limit the number of tickets to be made available to members of the new club. I think that will have an important impact on the distribution of tickets and perhaps limit the number of people who try to get around the controls on tickets and abuse the right and privelege of having a ticket to an important top-class football match.

The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, made a very sensible point that probably the real test is to come. We will be foolish if we ignore the importance of the England/Germany game on 1st September. I argued earlier that it was important for these measures be restored for that game and that we should ensure that they are in place. I certainly believe that to be the case.

The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, also referred to paragraph 19 in the table--I think his understanding of it is the same as mine. It contains important and significant detail. He also asked what sort of evidence

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was brought forward at cases. Cases have to be very carefully prepared. In itself, that has acted as an important balance or check in the way the police and courts have used these powers. The Act makes plain what sort of examples can be used in support of a complaint--overseas court decisions, deportations or exclusions from a country outside the UK, removal or exclusion from football grounds in the UK or elsewhere and conduct recorded on video or other means.

I think it is the case that evidence collected in the disturbances involving Arsenal fans in Copenhagen has probably been used in court to attempt to secure a banning order. The police have been very careful and targeted their efforts in this regard. It is in that context that I find the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, challenging, because I think the Act has begun to work. It has had a salutary impact on the behaviour of travelling football supporters. It will make an important contribution to ensure that we have a more peaceable, if not partisan--and I hope they are partisan and enthusiastic--body of supporters travelling abroad when they follow England and the Welsh national side and club sides.

The noble Lord said that there was no compelling evidence. The history of the last year or so provides that compelling evidence. The balance has been struck, rightly, as far as civil liberties are concerned. While it is true that the courts are only obliged to apply the civil test when considering the evidence, I think it is the case that magistrates are erring on the side of considering it in a criminal context and raising the threshold of evidence with which they are confronted. That is very important. The noble Lord may want to study some of the cases more closely. I am not going to give chapter and verse in each case from the Dispatch Box--that is not for me and not my responsibility or that of my party.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I am obliged to the Minister for giving way. He made a very important remark. As he knows, one of the core issues is that of the criminal or civil test. I think I heard him say he thought that in a lot of cases magistrates were applying the civil test but that it was edged up towards the criminal one. I should be grateful if he would let me know whether that is a hunch or whether it is based upon fact.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is a hunch, my Lords. But if the noble Lord talked to prosecuting authorities, I think they would probably say that is what they were experiencing in bringing cases forward. The noble Lord is an experienced criminal lawyer. If he attended one of the courts where these cases were brought, he would probably find that likely to be the case.

The noble Lord asked about the FCIS list--I think he is referring to NCIS. I cannot give him the information for which he has asked this evening. I shall ask officials to have a look at that to see what other information can be brought forward.

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The noble Lord also referred to the proposal he made when we were considering the legislation. At the time I was struck by the suggestion and thought it to be an important one. It has been looked at again. The noble Lord and I had a meeting about the issue--why not have extra-territorial jurisdictions? There is a question of practicality here. We have a reservation in respect of Article 21 of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance. This means that extra-territorial proceedings can be pursued only if explicit statutory provision is made in respect of the offence concerned. At present, as the noble Lord is probably aware, this is limited to serious offences such as murder, manslaughter and certain sexual, terrorist and cyber crime offences. The vast majority of football-related offences are of a relatively minor public order nature, although they are serious in their impact--certainly collectively serious--on host nations.

Extra-territorial proceedings have never been an integral part of the law in the UK, largely because it is extremely difficult to secure convictions. I invite the noble Lord to consider these points. There are a number of practical reasons. The requirement of our justice system for oral evidence makes it difficult. The need for evidence to be gathered equivalent to British evidential standards is another important consideration; and within this the need to transport witnesses from the overseas jurisdiction to a court within our own jurisdiction. Also to be considered are the difficulties in obtaining the necessary documentation from overseas authorities. Those four points are very serious. They would need to be addressed urgently if we were to give further consideration to the point the noble Lord made at the time of the legislation.

The other issue raised during this short debate was the relationship between these powers and the recent cricket disorders. I answered a Question recently on this from the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner--quite properly asked. It touches on an important subject. We do not think it would be appropriate to pursue the course we pursued with football-related disorder in so far as cricket and other sports are concerned. We have had discussions with the cricket authorities. It is obviously something that will be kept under review. No doubt your Lordships will return to this subject when the Football Bill comes before the House for further debate and discussion later in the year.

This has been a good opportunity to air views on the issue. I welcome the all-party support with one notable and distinguished dissenter--and long may he dissent on this issue; it focuses all our minds. I am grateful for the warm support given to the Government's measures. I would like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, for his support and his active participation in the working group, which produced many worthwhile and important recommendations. I commend this matter to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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