|Back to Table of Contents
|Lords Hansard Home Page
Lord Clinton-Davis: Never. Impossible. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, knows that I have the highest regard for her, but I believeand I am prepared to emphasise the pointthat it is possible to achieve her aims in another wayfor example, by tabling Questions or by seeing the Minister privately. If she cannot do that, there are other waysfor example, the newspapers, the broadcasting media and so on. It is wrong in principle to address an issue here which can be addressed in other ways.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I need to intervene at this point because the noble Lord is going to the heart of what I consider to be the principle of parliamentary democracynamely, the right of the people to have their issues raised here. If the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, believes that that is not proper, then I am afraid that he and I have completely opposite views on the function of Parliament.
Lord Clinton-Davis: Nothing the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has said alters what I said before. I have the highest regard for her, notwithstanding her intervention. However, I believe that addressing issues on the basis that "It is not really material but we want to do it" is wrong. I have made my objection very clear, but nothing will alter my friendship for the noble Baroness notwithstanding that.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: These are moving interventions but perhaps we might speed matters up so that we can hear whether the Minister is prepared to go a little further in public than her colleague in the other place. A clear explanation has been given by my noble friend as to why she has brought the amendments forwardit seems entirely properand we look forward with keen anticipation and some optimism to a positive response from the Minister.
As to the drafting, it is amazing that, first, it applies only if an act has been committedso it is no good for someone who is innocent, only for someone who is guilty. Secondly, it governs only a participant in a sporting eventso the various manufacturers and managers to whom the noble Baroness referred would not be affected. Thirdly, and even more curiously, it is not limited to offences committed in an international sporting event. If the fight Mr Tyson had in his hotel
Secondly, and much more importantly, I simply see no substance to the amendment. Why on earth should those who consciously go to a foreign country to take part in a sporting event have greater protection than casual visitors to that country if it is said that, in the course of that sporting event, they killed or injured someone grievously by going miles outside the sport? What criteria is it suggested that the Home Secretary apply? In the case cited by the noble Baroness, the Home Secretary is seemingly to investigate matters of high mechanical technology and first-guess the court of the country as to what the real cause of the accident is.
Why on earth should those who choose to indulge in the noisy and tiresome sport of motor racing have greater protection than those who take their car to a foreign country and merely drive it around? The amendment seems misdrafted, misconceived and altogether undesirable.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I am sorry that the noble Viscount is quite so critical of my noble friend. The amendment is probing, and we are all sorry that it is not better drafted, but the fact remains. It occurs to me that people get extremely worked up at sporting events, feel rather nationalistic, and do not always play absolutely fair. In the high dudgeon of a sporting event, it is possible that someone might be charged with corruption, swindling or fear of foreigners. That seems a very good example of the problems of the Bill, albeit that the solution may not be such an amendment.
Lord Moynihan: I am reeling and recovering from the idea that anyone could describe motor racing as noisy and tiresome. It is, of course, one of the finest sports in the land, and we should be very proud of our success in it. Equally, we should have a duty associated with that pride in supporting our motor-racing teams and all those associated with motor racing in international sport when they travel to Grand Prix around Europe and the world.
One of the important arguments levelled against the amendment is that there is nothing in itthat we should simply raise the issue with the press because it has no basis in legislation. That is totally misguided. My noble friend Lady Anelay was wise to focus on the extraordinary implications of the Senna case. That case goes right to the heart of a widespread concern in British sport as to the safeguards that exist in the context of extradition that will be lost with the passage of the Bill.
There is no doubt that it is wise for the Committee to focus, first and foremost, on the fact that there is widespread concern, and not only in motor racing. The amendments address that concern. There is knowledge and awareness that there could be a costly government penalty, not only in the pit lanes of every motor-racing team in the land, but for all those involved in motor
In particular, the Bill will damage the high standing of motor racing, and will render the United Kingdom less likely to be the leading home to the sport. As has been expressed by other Members of the Committee, we are worried that it will severely deter voluntary officials from taking up assignments, not to mention those who are asked to be responsible for licensing or to accept the job of a steward in a European event. If the Bill is passed, they may simply say no.
That is not only my view. In the first week in which I have been back in this job, I have spoken to Frank Williams, discussed the subject with Bernie Ecclestone in the House, talked through the implications with Max Mosley, as well as seeking advice and support from a range of governing bodies. I have to reportI would like the Minister to reflect on this before the Bill returns to the Floor of the Housethat no one in sport sees anything but damage to the organisation and management of international sport, the support staff, volunteers and employees if the Government's legislation is passed unamended.
Members of the Committee have asked what is so special about sportwhat makes it different from other areas in European law. The position of sport in the international community is unique. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, and I had the opportunity to review and reflect on that in some detail when it came to the Nice treaty, when I was on the Front Bench in a different capacity. To use a phrase that he used earlier, different issues are seen in different ways in different countries and cultures. For that reason, and because there is no legal basis for sport within European treatiessport is on the whole self-regulating through international bodiessport is rightly subject to the subsidiarity principle and is a matter for member states.
EU states agreed a declaration on sport in Nice in 2000, however. Again, I urge the Government to have another close look at that before Report, subject to the wisdom of the Minister in accepting in principle the thrust of what is behind opposition amendments today. I fully appreciate, however, that they are probing amendments, in the true practice of the House and, indeed, another place. The idea is to probe government thinking and, if necessary, come back at a later stage with more polished amendments to address the valuable contributions that Members of the Committee have made.
That is essential. If the matter is not addressed, there will be very genuine concern across British sport about the grey area between the laws of different member states and the self-regulation at the heart of sport. That is especially so in sports where there is a high level of danger such as those that I mentioned, sometimes leading to injury or very regrettably to death, despite the highest standards of safety applied by the international and national governing bodies. Unless the problem is addressed, there will be real concern that the Government have let down British sport by
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I ask the Minister to address in her remarks a more modest aspect of international sporting events. She or her officials may be aware that a number of school sporting tours to the continent are having to be cancelled because of the difficultythe impossibility in terms of costsin obtaining insurance cover for people participating. In particular, the problem revolves around rugby tours in France, where there have been accidents and where, regrettably, people have been left not dead but paraplegic because of difficulties in the scrum.
Referees and coaches have been involved by the government in FranceI am not quite sure at what level of governmentin the inquiries and prosecutions following that. Referees have been involved because they are responsible for controlling the game, so the fact that that happened in scrums is believed to be their responsibility. The coaches have been involved because they are alleged to have engendered an over-aggressive attitude towards the playing of the game that has led to undue physical violence, leading to the paraplegic and other damages to which I have referred.
So far, the problems have been with insurancethe costs of dealing with the inquiry and providing cover for it. Supposing that the Bill were passed unamended, when members of the opposing team were inadvertently injuredno one properly suggests that there has been an attempt to injure them deliberately; indeed, some of the injuries have been among those from English schoolswould coaches and referees from schools in this country fall to be extradited under Part 1?
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page