Football (Disorder) Bill
The Earl of Onslow (Conservative)
My Lords, I have a terrible suspicion that, regrettably, the hopes of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, will be dashed. Last night the Government were determined to introduce into English law a system which will exacerbate the tendency to detain and ban the innocent, whereas if the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is accepted it is most likely that the guilty will be prosecuted. I accept the comment made last night about the slightly novel concept of extending extra-territoriality to what might be termed relatively minor offences. However, the Government do not treat these as minor offences. Basically, the Government believe that football hooligans who travel abroad are nearly as bad as the Black Death or Hitler's invasion of Europe. The Government and the newspapers are becoming hysterical about it. Why else is the Bill being rushed through in nanoseconds and noble Lords are unable to read what was said yesterday in Committee because Hansard has not yet been published?
Undoubtedly, the Government have panicked and produced rotten, lousy legislation. We might get somewhere if only we could persuade some of the more libertarian Tory Members of the House to vote for the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. The noble Lord has provided a rescue helicopter for the Government. Here is a lovely way to identify the guilty, prosecute them and punish them in a way that deters others. If that leads to a lack of hooliganism in this country it may be translated into a lack of hooliganism overseas. I wish that I had not heard as much as I did last night, which was depressing beyond peradventure.