Clause 1 - Repeal of provisions ofFootball (Disorder) Act 2000
Football (Disorder) (Amendment) Bill
4:30 pm

Photo of Mr Dominic Grieve

Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 4, leave out

`subsections (2)' and insert—

`(a) subsection (2) is replaced by the following—

``(2) But—

(a) no application under section 14B of the Football Spectators Act 1989 (banning orders made on a complaint) may be made, and

(b) no power conferred on a constable by section 21A or 21B of that Act (summary measures) may be exercised,

after the end of the period of five years beginning with the day on which section 1 of the Football (Disorder) (Amendment) Act 2001 enters into force.'', and

(b) subsections (3).'.

Photo of Mr Eric Illsley

Mr Eric Illsley (Barnsley Central, Labour)

With this we may take the following amendments: No. 2, in page 1, line 4, leave out `subsections (2) to (5) are' and insert `subsection (2)(a) is'.

No. 4, in page 1, line 4, at end insert

`and the following subsections are inserted—

``(2) No—

(a) application under section 14B of the Football Spectators Act 1989 (banning orders made on a complaint) may be made, and

(b) power conferred on a constable by section 21A or 21B of that Act (summary measures) may be exercised,

except pursuant to an order made under subsection (4) below, and in any event after the end of five years.

(3) Before making an order under subsection (4), the Secretary of State must lay a report about the working of this Act before each House of Parliament.

(4) The Secretary of State may from time to time by order provide that such an application may be made, or such a power may be exercised, during any period prescribed by the order, being a period of not more than one year immediately following the end of the previous period prescribed by the order.''.'.

No. 3, in page 1, line 5, leave out subsection (2).

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Illsley. I hope that our discussions today will be brief. On Second Reading, the Opposition expressed several serious anxieties about the Bill, which I hope will be alleviated in the debate. I hope, too, that there will be clarification of certain matters to inspire confidence in the proposal.

The Bill is short, so it is difficult to do much to it, but the Conservative Opposition have flagged up two areas in which we think the Bill can be improved. Amendment No. 1 would introduce a sunset clause of five years. At present, there is a requirement for regular renewal, which is not what our amendment proposes. That is unlike amendment No. 4, tabled by the Liberal Democrats, which provides for a sunset period, for annual renewals within that period and for a report to be presented by the Secretary of State each time the Act is renewed. We are mindful that the Government are trying to achieve a period of long-term stability, but at the same time we are anxious that the measure should not become permanent; therefore, we feel that a sunset clause of five years would help.

I shall remind the Committee what causes us such concern. First, the proposal is a powerful administrative tool that has been handed to Government to restrain individuals in their daily activities. On section 14 of the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, I am the first to accept that there are frequent means—for example, by obtaining injunctions in civil proceedings—by which individuals may be restrained from carrying out activities that might be unlawful. I appreciate that there may well be good grounds—it should be a proper course of action —to restrain someone through a complaints procedure from attending football matches be they at home or abroad where there is a proven track record that he has been involved in violence around such matches.

However, one has only to look at the available statistics—I have had a further chance to look at them since Second Reading—to be aware that there are grounds for concern about the respective use of sections 14 and 21 of the 2000 Act. We know from the information provided by the Minister that there were 30 notices under section 21B out of 44 orders on complaint. Thirty people were stopped at places of exit from this country under section 21B and 19 cases were confirmed by the courts, so half of the cases were not pursued. Most were adjourned and referred to a person's place of residence.

As the Minister is aware from my comments on Second Reading--they bear repetition--the anxiety concerns not the intention behind the Bill, but how in practice it interferes with people's individual rights and liberties. Let us focus for a moment on the cases that were adjourned in which there was reference to the person's place of residence. As far as I know--the Minister may be able to help the Committee--there is no evidence to show what happened to those cases, how long they took and whether they were dragged out over several days of hearing, which is what some of us feared when the 2000 Act was introduced. How many months has it taken for those cases to be disposed of? Has the process in most cases lasted one month, three months, six months or even longer?

During that period, people had their passports confiscated and were deprived of the ability to travel, so they were at a substantial disadvantage. The Committee needs to know the details of how the provision operates in practice before being satisfied that the Government's proposals in the Bill are good. In the meantime, if the Minister has any anxiety and cannot provide such detailed information, it must be a powerful reason why the Committee should consider accepting amendment No. 1, which would ensure that the matter is reconsidered in five years.

The Committee could go further and adopt the course of action proposed by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey in his amendment, which would introduce even tighter controls on the way in which the system would operate during that five-year period. I did not suggest that because I tried to be conciliatory to the Government and their intentions. However, I must stress the lack of information about how the system works in practice and I shall give other examples that I hope the Minister may be able to deal with.

What is the cost of the system? Do we have any idea of the cost of the court proceedings concerning those who receive banning orders under section 21? Have appeals been made to the Crown court and, if so, how many have been successful? That information would show how easy or difficult the magistrates courts were finding it to arrive at proper decisions. I do not want to reopen all the issues referred to on Second Reading, but I hope that by being reasonably encompassing we can shorten our proceedings this afternoon. The anxiety concerns the lack of detail.

Amendment No. 1 would deal with the problems identified on Second Reading by introducing a five-year sunset clause into the legislation. There is an alternative way of dealing with the matter, which is what amendments Nos. 2 and 3 seek to do. It is possible, for reasons to which I referred earlier, to separate the operation of sections 14 and 21 of the 2000 Act. I hope that the Committee will bear with me if I explain why.

On the basis of the information that is available to us at the moment--the Minister may be able to update me and I apologise if I do not have the latest figures--45 orders on complaint under section 14 were obtained by July this year compared with 67 under section 21B. I am not in a position to know—again, only the Minister can help us—how the procedure under section 14 is working in practice. I fully accept that all the issues that I flagged up in respect of section 21 must apply to section 14, but at least section 14 is a procedure that has not been started as an emergency. For that reason, it is unlikely that it will interfere with the liberty of the citizen in the same way as section 21.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 suggest that one way to approach the problem of our anxiety about this matter is to allow the Government to put section 14—but not section 21—on a permanent footing. That would at least have the merit of keeping under review the precise example that causes the greatest anxiety about civil liberties. Otherwise, we are in danger of continuing a procedure under section 21, the practical impact of which we have little information about.

I am sorry to say that the undoubted public order success of the Germany-England match—we are all very happy about that—has prompted the Government to leap to the conclusion that the legislation should be made permanent. The direction in which the legislation is taking matters is a good sign, but I do not yet share the confidence to make it permanent, given the absolute duty of the Committee and the House to maintain civil liberties.

The legislation is about massive interference in the civil liberties of individuals. We are doing a lot of that at the moment. In the next fortnight, we will look at civil liberties in the context of the Proceeds of Crime Bill. These are important matters and we should not slip into the habit of administrative convenience. On the whole, interfering with the liberties of individuals because it is administratively convenient to do so is not a practice that we in this country have adopted.

I hope that the Minister will give us a little more information about, and allow us to consider, the practical workings of the legislation. I hope, too, that the Committee will give serious thought to the amendments. In practical terms, amendment No. 1 is an alternative to amendments Nos. 2 and 3. I am not suggesting that we should accept them all; that would be nonsensical. However, rather than rubber-stamping the legislation for ever more—that is the reality that we confront—the Committee should instead give proper consideration to a sensible sunset clause of five years, which would allow for a review once a lot more statistical information has become available. Alternatively, if the Government are genuinely confident about the legislation, we should at least detach the section 21 procedure, which is the most potent interference with the liberty of individuals, while allowing the section 14 procedure to be put on a permanent statutory footing.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Illsley. Like the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), I feel that there is little that one can do to amend a Bill that is so short that it may well be possible to deal with all the points arising in one sitting. Before I proceed, I should apologise for the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) who, as we speak, is participating in a sitting of the Select Committee on Home Affairs.

Amendment No. 4 has been tabled in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, but I am equally sympathetic to the amendments to which the hon. Member for Beaconsfield has just spoken. A reasonable range of options has been put to test the Government.

Like the hon. Member for Beaconsfield, I shall not take up the Committee's time by repeating points made on Second Reading. However, in Committee we are meant to be able to get detailed answers to detailed questions; something that has been notably lacking. I shall make a point of principle and stress where my party comes from, which, in this respect, is not a hugely different place from my Conservative colleagues and some in the Labour party.

The Bill proposes not only that people who have been convicted of criminal offences should have their liberties restricted—that is a perfectly normally procedure that we all accept—but that people who have had either no relevant conviction or no conviction at all should have their liberties restricted. We are not discussing liberties that are incidental or peripheral, but two liberties that have always been regarded as important. The first, that one should not be detained without due cause and that there should be a limit on one's detention, is dealt with in traditional English law through habeas corpus, subsequently through statute law and, more recently, through the European convention on human rights.

The second, that there should be free movement within the European Union, is a right guaranteed by both tradition and European Community law. One is given a passport, unless there is a specific state security reason for not having it. Whatever its colour—I have just given up my blue one that lasted longer than most, but I now have a red one like most other people—inside there is still a request from the Foreign Secretary that one should be entitled to travel freely, which is something that we have recently confirmed in law.

The Government obviously have in their sights the mischief caused by people who travel to cause trouble. However, restricting the right to travel, let alone the right to travel abroad, is an important matter. Restricting one's right to have one's passport and to travel freely is a very important matter. We should do that only when we are certain that it is justified. That is where my party comes from, and we regard taking away the right to travel abroad by removing passports from those without conviction as being unjustified in principle.

The procedure is also wrong in practice. Had there been lots of evidence that, since the introduction of the existing legislation, many people had been found to have no criminal convictions but the courts had upheld banning orders, it would be persuasive. However, there has been no such evidence. On Second Reading, I asked the Minister how many people who have had bans have never had convictions for violence-related offences.

I have always made it clear that I do not consider the only relevant offences to be football-related. When the former hon. Member for Taunton, Jackie Ballard, and I worked on the first Bill, we argued that any violence-related offence should be relevant. Many of the offences that the Minister cited on Second Reading were violence-related. We have seen the courts restrict the liberties of those who have a history of violence that, to use the word of the hon. Member for Beaconsfield, is ``proven''. I am happy with that. I am not happy when there is no proven record of violence. We cannot move to a criminal justice system that acts on the basis of no offence, as opposed to acting on the basis of some offence.

There are differences between this and the case for an injunction. In most cases—indeed, in nearly every case—injunctions have been granted where there has been some record of an offence, or at least an arrest and charge for domestic violence. There has almost always been an offence that has persuaded the courts that it is justified to grant a personal protection injunction to restrain a person's liberty.

As far as I am aware, injunctions never mean that one cannot visit a place, but that one is detained and that the freedom to travel abroad is taken away. I stand to be corrected, but I believe that in 99 per cent. of cases where injunctions are issued, either detentions or restrictions on freedom to travel have been produced as a consequence.

4:45 pm
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Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe, Labour)

The hon. Gentleman referred to the need for certainty and drew a distinction between someone who had a previous criminal offence for violence and someone who did not. However, there is no certainty in such situations, and the purpose of the legislation is to deal with that uncertainty. The fact that someone has had a previous offence, does not make it certain that they will commit an offence when they go abroad. The legislation attempts to take into account all the circumstances and available evidence and reach the best conclusion about whether an individual is a threat and whether he should lose his rights to travel abroad. That balance must be struck. There is no certainty in the legislation at all.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

We are trying to obtain certainty. Legislation should be as certain as possible. People should know where they stand.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

Yes, as far as it is possible for Parliament to make legislation certain. Our job is to ensure that there are no grey areas or uncertainties.

If someone commits an offence that results in a criminal conviction, which has not been removed from his record under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, that conviction remains with the individual. Any prospective activity will be hampered by it. That consequence is accepted by the individual, until it disappears from his record. There is no argument about that. An individual who has a propensity for violence—it may be for attacking police officers, domestic violence, or beating people up outside a pub after too much drink—knows that any conviction will remain with him.

We are trying to stop people assaulting each other and behaving violently; we are not trying to stop them from having a laugh or clowning around. We want to stop violent criminal offences being carried out against people. That is a common agenda. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) knows that as well as I do.

We must proceed by stages. We must do only what is proved to be necessary. From what I have seen, the courts have not, thus far, thought it necessary or justified to go the further step provided for under this Bill of moving from banning people who have a criminal record to banning those who do not have one. The court must decide whether an individual is guilty. I am not into this new game of administrative sanctions for everything and acting on lower burdens of proof. Our criminal justice system decides whether individuals, including everyone here, are guilty or innocent. We should stand by that.

The case to extend the order, if the Government want to make it, should be based on evidence. The hon. Member for Beaconsfield and I share the view that we are low on evidence that could be available. That is the argument for not creating permanent law now. I will not argue about whether it is better to have a sunset clause for five years in total with no intervening period, or whether there should be a sunset clause of five years with an intervening period when the legislation is renewed. It is normal for legislation that is exceptional to be renewed annually—we do it on a regular basis. We are about to have a debate on emergency powers, and my party will table amendments to say that emergency powers are only for the length of the emergency and should not be placed permanently on the statute book. We would expect the legislation to include a sunset clause. It important that Parliament should have the opportunity of reviewing whether it is justified on a regular basis.

Although I would prefer a five-year sunset provision to nothing, I differ from the hon. Member for Beaconsfield on that point because five years was the Government's concessionary period at the beginning. The then Minister of State said when the House considered Lords amendments that he would be happy with, and had offered, a five-year total period for the life of the Act, with intervening renewal orders. The House of Lords did not accept that, and insisted on a two-year maximum period with a one-year renewal halfway through. I am seeking to buy what the Minister offered last year as a reasonable compromise position—a five-year longstop with annual renewal in the meantime. It is important that we do not keep the law unless it is justified by the evidence.

I understand the practicalities, and I have thought through the consequences of renewing the legislation at a certain time. England, thank goodness, has just qualified for the World cup next May and June. It seems sensible that that event should be covered by the Bill before we have to have a renewal. The current law runs out on 28 August 2002, so we are covered until the other side of the World cup. We are now legislating for the period beyond that, although we have all argued that it is bizarre to do that so early. The logical period to consider is one that takes us, at most, beyond the next big international competition. That will be the European championship, two years after the World cup in Korea and Japan. By that time, evidence from the World cup will be available—although I guess that fewer people will be able to afford to go to Japan and Korea than went to Ostend, Ghent and Brussels, so the problem will not be so great. However, the issues that we are discussing will also arise at normal friendlies and other regular club games. I am absolutely signed up to the idea that the reputation of the English game must be recovered. It has been tarnished by the unacceptable behaviour of people who claim to be supporters but are not, which is why we want periodic review of the legislation.

I make my next point slightly differently from the way in which the hon. Member for Beaconsfield made his. It concerns existing statistics. It is the reason why I propose to remove the element of acting on complaint only without conviction. In the cases that have arisen so far there was already a conviction, and the legislation has worked in a way that is worse than we anticipated.

I did not know, and did not expect, that we would be given a table about the total number of cases. It is in paragraph 16 of the latest report, which came out after the Germany-England game, from the football section of the National Criminal Intelligence Service. It shows that, of the 80 people detained under section 21, 13 were released. Taking them out of the frame, we are left with 67 people who were issued with the section 21B notice, under which people are prevented from travelling, their passport is taken away and the process is started whereby they have to turn up in court within 24 hours for the court to decide whether a banning order should be imposed.

A banning order was imposed on 36 of those 67 people. A banning order was refused on nine, and they were released. Added to the 13 above, that makes 22 people who were released. For another 22, court proceedings were adjourned. There lies the mischief. If one adds the 22 who were let off and free to travel to the further 22 on whom a banning order was not imposed, one gets 44. That is more than half of the total, 80.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it looks as though the most likely way in which one will be made subject to a banning order is through being picked up at the port? On the face of it, that appears to be even more likely than having an ordinary section 14 order made against one.

5:00 pm
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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

It looks like that. The hon. Gentleman and I agree that the far better process, for everyone concerned, is for the police to gather evidence from their normal sources of intelligence and go to the court to obtain an order against someone not only for a particular tournament but for future matches. The reason for my concern is that—while I accept that the sample in the report was small—more than a quarter of those who were pulled up going out of the country at the time of football matches had had no case proved against them: in Scottish law, that is a not proven verdict. That is unsatisfactory. The issue turns on whether someone is free to go to a match. If someone applies for a visa to come from India to a family wedding and is given permission after the couple have got married, that is no good, because it is too late. There is no point in a court deciding that one is free to go to a match after it is over. The reduction of liberty has happened.

It is right in principle and in practice to make two points at this stage. First, we should stand by the principle that someone must have been convicted of a crime before their liberty is taken away. Secondly, if there is some justification for not standing by that principle, the courts should show what it is, which they have never done so far. The Government of the day may decide to break with that principle, but any such measure should be time-limited.

We must be careful—the new Parliament will offer much to test us in this respect—that we do not bring the law into disrepute. Of course, most people are law-abiding. One of the great fallacious arguments is, ``If you have nothing to hide, why are you unhappy with this law that takes away your liberties?'' The answer is, ``You never know when it might be you.'' People will always be in favour of such laws, and opinion polls show 80 per cent. ratings to that effect. However, the man who was arrested in Belgium at the time of the last European tournament, against whom there appeared to be no evidence at all, would not take that view. In a different context, nor did the constituent who came to see me this morning alleging that what was said about him was not true and that he should not have been arrested. We must ensure that the law is credible with people not only in theory but in practice.

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Mr Andy Burnham (Leigh, Labour)

The hon. Gentleman suggested that 80 per cent. of the public tended to support such measures. Is not that the point? One of the important aspects of the Bill is the message that it sends to football supporters who have committed offences while watching England games abroad. That message is simply that we will never again tolerate the scenes that we saw in Charleroi and Marseilles a couple of years ago.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point, but I fundamentally disagree with it. It is not the purpose of Parliament to pass laws in order to send messages. The other day the Home Secretary announced that he intended, through legislation that we have not yet seen, retrospectively to make hoaxes about biological, nuclear and chemical weapons a criminal offence subject to a sentence of seven years imprisonment. I understand the message, but it is wrong to legislate retrospectively. If the matter is urgent, we should be dealing with it today as a priority. The courts, not Parliament, should send messages. When a law has been passed with a tariff, the court is allowed to send a message by giving a tough sentence after conviction. I have always been completely unpersuaded by the view expressed by the hon. Gentleman. It is wrong in principle. I invite the hon. Gentleman, who is a relatively new Member of Parliament, to think about it. Parliament should never pass laws to send messages, because that is how we take away liberties without thinking about it.

The interests of the minority should always be thought about in passing a law. They are more important in that context than the interests of the majority. The majority will often go along with tougher laws to reduce liberties and give more powers to the police. However, while one minority may be affected today, another may be affected tomorrow, and the hon. Gentleman may be in the minority that was affected on the third day. He may then realise that his approach to the law is wrong. I am sorry to disagree with him so strongly, but I am clear about that matter.

It is possible to introduce a law that is justified, and we need to be confident in the law, but that confidence should be based on the fact that the law works fairly for everyone. It is better that a law should sometimes not punish everyone who has offended than that a law should sometimes punish those who have not offended. That is the principle of the jury system. It is better to let off people who are guilty than wrongly to punish people who are innocent. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman agrees or disagrees with me about that, but it seems to me to be the basis on which criminal justice has always worked in this country. It is a fairer and better basis than one that takes away liberties from someone who is not guilty.

We believe that the measure should at most be extended for only a limited period. A renewal opportunity should be provided and annual reports should be given in a way that is transparent. In any event, we want understanding of what has happened to the people whose cases were not concluded at the time of the report. I hope that the Minister will provide the information that we all think necessary to enable us to make a judgment about this matter. If any more information exists—it must be centrally held and available; I do not accept that that is not possible in this instance—it would be helpful to have it, if not today, then in good time for Report stage of the Bill. Given the rapid progress that we are making, that will no doubt be quite soon.

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Mr Tony Clarke (Northampton South, Labour)

I want to make brevity my watchword, in contrast to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. The provisions before us leave little room for amendment, but my right hon. Friend the Minister will know that I have some sympathy with the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield. Our choice is surely whether to revisit the measure every year, to stigmatise football for ever by means of a timeless Act of Parliament, or, in five years, to return to the measure to assess its effect.

Opposition Members have talked about the impact on individuals and on civil liberties. I have less concern about that matter. Surely, with injunctions and bail conditions we already impose quite strict penalties affecting civil liberties on people who may want to commit offences, violent or otherwise, but no one has yet mentioned the obvious impact of the Bill on the game of football. My concern is that if we impose the measure for ever and a day, we are telling the football world that it must wear its shame for ever and a day. There must come a time when football can tell the nation that it has paid its penalty and proved that it has corrected all that was wrong in the game.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's comments about the reasoning behind the five-year clause. However, I want to pick him up on a point about injunctions. He is right that people's civil liberties may be restricted by injunction if they have threatened someone, committed trespass or done any of a range of other things. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey made some pertinent remarks about this. I do not know of an injunction that has prevented someone from travelling abroad. Injunctions have been granted to prevent people from taking children abroad, but it is draconian to prevent someone from travelling abroad themselves. That is one instance in which, for once, we can complain of a breach of Magna Carta. Usually when people make that claim, it is a load of cobblers, but it would be accurate to say that the provision in the Bill is in breach of Magna Carta.

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Mr Tony Clarke (Northampton South, Labour)

I was trying not to mention my love of Northampton Town, but the hon. Gentleman has ensured that it will appear in Hansard. I do not disagree with him, but my concern goes wider than the question of travelling abroad. The point is how, through legislation, to rid football of the disorder that has so shamed it in the past decade.

The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield would give the House the opportunity to consider, after five years, patterns of disorder in other sports and aspects of civic life. On Second Reading, I mentioned my concern at the increase in holiday violence, by which I meant people travelling abroad and committing violence. That shames our nation, yet there is no Act of Parliament or other legislation to prevent it from happening.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

A point made in earlier debates is that it is unfortunate for football that there is now a range of legislation related to it alone. Much of that law is actually public order legislation that would be far better consolidated and applied to people who have—we can argue about the detail later—a history of or a conviction for violence. That would prevent people from causing trouble at a political meeting in Germany or a rock concert in Ibiza.

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Mr Tony Clarke (Northampton South, Labour)

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will consider the arguments made by Opposition Members. They are valid and they are shared by Labour Members. If the amendments are probing amendments, as I imagine that they are, I hope that between now and Third Reading my right hon. Friend will consider how we can resolve the need for legislation that ensures the banishment of football hooliganism from our country and overseas events—football should not wear that shame for ever—and gives us the chance after a period of, say, five years to return not only to football disorder and violence but to disorder in our country per se.

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Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West, Labour/Co-operative)

I am not a lawyer and having heard the legal discourses on the balance of freedom, I am glad of that. Given some of the arguments, I can understand the old adage that the law is an ass. Lay members of the public would certainly agree.

I acknowledge the civil liberties issue on freedom of movement. The hon. Member for Beaconsfield has said that that is significant, but I do not agree that the provision will be a restraint on individual daily activities. Attending an international football match hardly constitutes a daily activity.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

The decision that someone leaves the country to attend such a match may be based on evidence. He may be wrapped in scarves and other accoutrements that suggest his likely destination, but not necessarily. The individual may happen to leave the country on a plane or boat going in roughly the direction in which a football match will take place. The Minister may tell us—I would be interested to hear about it—the number of people who have claimed that they were not going to football matches at all. There is no precise way to determine the reasoning behind someone's decision to travel.

5:15 pm
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Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West, Labour/Co-operative)

Even on the basis of the hon. Gentleman's argument, attending an international football match hardly constitutes a daily activity. Very few people travel abroad daily.

The Bill includes the means for the banning orders not to be applied, because they are applied only for specified football matches. I understand that the body that determines whether a match shall be so specified is called the Football Banning Orders Authority. There are already provisions for certain international football matches not to be specified as meriting the issuing of banning orders. Free access could be obtained to such matches.

It would be far more sensible if, instead of introducing sunset clauses, we were to leave it to the banning authority not to exercise its powers to specify matches under the legislation in the case of a match for which it was felt inappropriate to issue banning orders. If hon. Members find that unacceptable, they are making the case for the legislation being permanent, because it has to be there as reserve legislation.

I am not happy about including a five-year sunset clause. If, at the end of those five years, the level of violence at international football matches were such that it was felt to be inappropriate to exercise the powers under the legislation, it would be better not to specify matches. If the sunset clause were included, we would have to go through the legal process of reintroducing the appropriate orders to continue the measures. I cannot help but feel that that—in spite of what the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey said—is sending the wrong messages.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

One disadvantage of the hon. Gentleman's proposal was pointed out by the hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Clarke). Football would be unique among sports in that no matter how little trouble there had been, and for however long, there would always be a threat hanging over it and a certain reputation. That would not do the reputation of football any good.

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Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West, Labour/Co-operative)

I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but the violence that has occurred at international football matches does the reputation of football a lot more harm than such legislation. The essence of successful legislation is that the intelligence that is built up match by match can be used for subsequent matches. That is brought out very well in the evidence that was published in the report on the impact of the measures for the Germany-England game.

The danger is that, if the legislation were to be suspended for any time, there would be a hiatus during which would-be hooligans would know that they could travel to a match. They could commit acts that would have constituted reasons for them being banned had the legislation been in force, but we would have no opportunity to ban them. The result would be to create a pool of would-be hooligans who have already demonstrated criminal intentions abroad but who, because of the absence of legislation, cannot be prevented from going to matches. It is more sensible to have the legislation on the statute book while fine-tuning the Football Banning Orders Authority to state that the legislation may be non-operative for certain well-defined matches for well thought out reasons.

Finally, the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey spoke about sending a message. I disagree. On occasion, legislation is necessary to send out a message. If this country had not introduced the 2000 Act after Euro 2000, a clear message would have gone out to the international football authorities that we were prepared to stand by and take no measures to prevent hooligans from going to wreck international tournaments. Had we not taken those measures and sent that message, this country would almost certainly have been banned from tournaments.

We could have a long philosophical debate over whether legislation should be introduced for such a reason. In practical terms, however, it is necessary that we do so to ensure that people understand that we are anxious to sustain certain values and principles in our conduct of international sporting obligations.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. However, everyone banned under the 2000 Act could have been banned under previous legislation; all those people have had previous convictions and would have been liable for a ban.

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Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West, Labour/Co-operative)

The hon. Gentleman's statement is incorrect. Around half of those who received banning orders or were detained on the way to Germany had previous convictions for violent or antisocial behaviour, albeit perhaps in non-football-related areas.

We are asking other countries to introduce similar legislation because, as has become evident in international tournaments, hooliganism is not unique to this country. Dangerous signs are appearing that an international competition exists between hooligans at tournaments, in which hooligans from various countries demonstrate who can behave in the most thuggish manner. By introducing legislation, we are making it difficult for our hooligan teams to compete in that competition. We want other countries to do likewise. If we backtrack on what we have done so far, we will send the wrong messages and make it more difficult for other countries to implement legislation that would not only help us, but would be for the good of international football.

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Mr John Grogan (Selby, Labour)

I have followed the arguments made by the hon. Members for Beaconsfield and for Southwark, North and Bermondsey, who were right to challenge the Government's justification for the restrictions on football fans that we plan to make permanent. However, their case would be stronger if they could give some examples of people going away on business or on holiday who were mistaken for potentially violent football fans and detained. If the legislation represented a real threat to liberties, there surely would have been more examples in the press or from the various football supporters organisations.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

The problem is that we do not know and have only the bare statistics. We have heard that a number of people who were stopped were then released to travel, and that the court proceedings against others were adjourned; we do not know what the areas of dispute were. At this stage, after just one year and a bit, we cannot come to such decisions. That is a compelling reason for keeping safeguards to provide for a review.

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Mr John Grogan (Selby, Labour)

I believe that the Act should be made permanent, and I shall give my reasons in a moment. Is it not odd that we are talking about a theoretical problem? If there were really such a problem, surely at least one MP would have had correspondence about it, or there would have been stories in the papers about the Act being operated in a heavy-handed way. What is the nub of the objections of the hon. Members for Beaconsfield and for Southwark, North and Bermondsey? At one point, they seemed to be objecting to the fact that 80 people had been stopped at the port, rather than a banning order having been obtained before they set out. Much police intelligence is based on reports from clubs and one cannot be sure who is going to travel until the day of the match or the day before. The work has to be done on the way to the ports, and decisions have to be made at the ports. The fact that 80 people were detained but some were released after checks is not a bad thing. The report mentions that 30 people who had been banned from specific games were allowed to travel because they had business or personal reasons to do so.

Although both hon. Members are right to be vigilant about civil liberties, not one example has been given, either today or on Second Reading, of how an individual's liberty has in practice been trampled upon.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

On the face of it, we have some indication that 13 of those people stopped at the port were detained for unspecified periods but were then released. Their civil liberties were interfered with for a time. We also know that in nine cases, the court refused to endorse banning orders. That suggests that we do not know why they had been imposed. Perhaps the Minister can help. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that there is statistical evidence that there is not a 100 per cent. success rate in identifying these people? Some people have had their civil liberties interfered with when there was no reason for it.

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Mr John Grogan (Selby, Labour)

I accept that the court said that some of the people who were detained had no case to answer. However, that happens with any law. It is a question of proportionality.

Most football fans would regard it as proportionate that checks be made at the port on people who are regarded as suspicious; I am not aware of a campaign against that from any of the major football supporters organisations. Some people will be released after checks, and other cases will be overturned by the court; that is a proper use of legislation. I disagree with the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. It would send a terrible message to other European countries if we had clear video evidence that people had been involved in football violence at Euro 2000, but neither our police nor our courts could do anything if those people turned up at our ports. It would tell those countries that we were not concerned. I also disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, South; football violence will always be with us in my lifetime. It has been endemic in England for the last thirty or forty years. Hardly a capital city in Europe has not been affected in some way. According to the National Criminal Intelligence Service football-related crime rose byby 8 per cent. in the past year; football-related violence also rose during that time.

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Mr Tony Clarke (Northampton South, Labour)

Offences did indeed rise by 8 per cent., but does my hon. Friend acknowledge that the majority of those offences took place well away from football fixtures? We need to consider disorder not only in the context of a particular sport, but where it takes place. We need to re-evaluate that 8 per cent. so we know how many offences occurred at football fixtures and how many occurred away from the event.

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Mr John Grogan (Selby, Labour)

I entirely accept my hon. Friend's contention that many violent offences, although football-related, occurred away from the ground. I also accept what he said on Second Reading about the incident at a cricket match at Headingly earlier this year, which I witnessed. I accept that it is not simply a question of violence at football grounds. However, football-related violence has done more harm to our country's reputation over the past 30 or 40 years than anything else, even holiday-related violence. It had to be dealt with. We were in danger of being thrown out of the European championships.

The 2000 Act has proved itself over the past year. Not one example has been given of the Act having caused a real injustice. It is now time to make its provisions permanent.

5:30 pm
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Mr John Denham (Minister of State (Police, Courts and Drugs), Home Office; Southampton, Itchen, Labour)

I welcome you, Mr. Illsley, to the Chair. I shall endeavour to be brief in answering the many questions that have been raised. I am sure that all hon. Members will have noted the conduct of the debate so far, which has clearly laid to rest the idea that the Government would be heavy-handed; the stories that have been circulating in the media recently are utterly untrue.

Winding up the Second Reading debate, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth), committed me to sharing with the Committee whatever additional information I was able to gather. In a moment, I shall give the Committee as much of that information as I can.

Four themes run through today's debate. The first is the basis on which banning orders should be obtained—other than banning orders on conviction—and whether that basis should be reliant on other convictions for violence or public disorder, or whether, as the 2000 Act is drafted, it should have wider scope. The second is whether the travel-related powers of section 21A and B that have effect during the five-day period are justified. The third is whether the provisions should be in force for a limited period, perhaps under a sunset clause. The fourth is the information available about the operation of the 2000 Act.

On Second Reading, a number of hon. Members asked for additional data on the use of summary powers under section 21B. Much information is already available, and several hon. Members have cited some of it today. Since the 2000 Act came into force, 98 people have been detained and issued with section 21B notices preventing travel and commencing banning orders on complaint proceedings. That is an increase of one on the position reported in the supplementary impact report. As a result of those section 21B notices, 55 people have had orders on complaint imposed by the courts, 23 cases are currently adjourned and 18 applications for orders have been refused by the courts. I understand that of those 18 applications, 13 were refused by the courts at the initial hearing and five were refused after adjournment. I shall return to the question of adjournments, which has understandably been of concern this afternoon. I shall first reinforce a few points about the use of the powers.

It was always intended that the summary police powers would enable the police and courts to prevent known troublemakers from travelling to a match overseas in circumstances when the police force of the area in which the person resides had neither sufficient time nor opportunity to seek a section 14B order from the court; the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan). Although the use of the provisions comes at the end of an intelligence and information-based process, it is not possible to design a system that can tell the police or the courts the name of everyone who may be intending to travel to a particular match. That is why section 21 powers are integral to the operation of the Act.

It is worth bearing in mind that the powers cannot be used arbitrarily. Before they can be exercised, the police must apply the two-stage test under section 21A(1). They must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person before them has caused or contributed to violence or disorder in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, and that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder from taking place at or in connection with a regulated football match. Were the police to detain someone unreasonably, that person would have the usual forms of redress, such as a claim for wrongful arrest and unlawful imprisonment.

Last week, the hon. Member for Beaconsfield asked about the length of detention for individuals who were detained under section 21A, but who were not issued with section 21B notices. I am advised that in respect of the Munich control period, only one of the 13 people detained and released was held for four hours. The average time of detention was less than three hours. That may seem a long time but, as I have already explained, all individuals detained during that period were intercepted as a result of an extensive police intelligence operation. It was not a matter of detention, but of obtaining and assessing the merits of any previous misbehaviour.

The hon. Members for Southwark, North and Bermondsey and for Beaconsfield asked about the number of section 21B prompted court hearings that were being adjourned. They feared that adjournments were resulting in people being prevented from travelling without being made subject to a banning order. That is true, narrowly speaking, but it is not a consequence of the summary powers. It is important that the Committee understands that. The Act makes it clear that the appearance before a magistrates court must be within 24 hours. It does not stipulate how long the proceedings should last. It does not set out what bail conditions should be imposed if proceedings are adjourned. Those are quite properly matters for the court. It is for the court to decide whether to accept the plea for adjournment from a person who is subject to complaint proceedings and who wishes to delay those proceedings and a decision in order, for example, to seek further legal advice.

Since our debate on Second Reading, we have obtained information from the Football Banning Orders Authority—to which I am grateful—in respect of 20 of the 22 cases that were adjourned during the Munich control period. We have not yet identified any adjournment that was prompted by any reason other than at the request of the person before the court. They were not police-based requests, for example. It is clearly in the interests of the police to resolve matters in one hearing and it is equally proper for an individual to delay proceedings to prepare a comprehensive response to a complaint.

The key issue, which has been rather lost so far in our discussions, is that when an adjournment is granted, the individual will not be subject to travel restrictions unless the court considers it appropriate to impose bail conditions that prevent travel from taking place in accordance with section 21C(4). Such conditions could be imposed only after the court had heard representations from both parties about whether such conditions were appropriate in the individual circumstances. Thus, the individual will not be subject to lengthy travel restrictions before the determination of the complaint, save after a fair hearing. It has been suggested that the mere fact of a case being adjourned would prevent an individual from travelling without a court having considered the case for imposing such bail conditions. In all the cases that we examined, the individual seems to have prompted the adjournment, but the courts that have, on considering the evidence, imposed the travel restriction.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I had assumed that the circumstances were as the Minister explains; regardless of how the adjournment had come about, the court had taken the decision that, as the application was for a banning order, it would err on the side of caution and ensure that a bail restriction meant that the person involved could not travel. Will the Minister confirm that in all 20 cases that he has had reported back—for which we are grateful—the court decided that the person involved could not travel? The effect is the same; the person could not attend the match.

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Mr John Denham (Minister of State (Police, Courts and Drugs), Home Office; Southampton, Itchen, Labour)

I should like to double-check that against the figures, but I believe that it is a reasonable assumption that the bail condition was imposed. As hon. Members recognise, several sets of figures are flying around, but I am sure that that is true in the vast majority of cases.

I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman is right to assume that a court decision about bail restrictions is simply erring on the side of caution. The court must take responsibility for making a proper decision—presumably having heard the reasons why the police applied for the order—and given the person involved the opportunity to explain why it is unfair. It is slightly mischievous to pretend that it is not a proper court-based process.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

The Minister used the word bail, which intrigued me. My understanding was that section 21B(6) made specific provision under the section 21B system for

``Any passport surrendered by a person under this section''

—that is, taken by the police officer at the port—to

``be returned to him in accordance with directions given by the court.''

I took that to be the administrative provision that allowed the court to return the passport, pending a final hearing. What is the provision in respect of bail? As we are discussing civil proceedings in court, I would not have expected bail to be involved unless the person involved had failed to attend at some point. I should like the Minister to clarify that, as I was slightly confused.

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Mr John Denham (Minister of State (Police, Courts and Drugs), Home Office; Southampton, Itchen, Labour)

The reference to bail is in section 21C(4), so if the bail condition is to be imposed, it is as I have said. It is important to emphasise the court's examination of the issues, because several references have been made to administrative action, as though we are discussing something that is exercised by the Executive or the police, without any checks and balances in the courts. Not only are the police subject to legal constraints and possible challenge but, at virtually every key stage in the process, the courts are involved.

In an earlier debate, the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Paice) asked why nine section 21B-prompted banning order proceedings had failed. The answer is simple. The court had decided that it was not satisfied that the two tests for imposing an order, which I have already described, had been met.

The hon. Member for Beaconsfield asked again about the length and cost of court hearings prompted by the issue of a section 21B notice. The Lord Chancellor's Department does not routinely gather such information but, at my request, officials consulted magistrates courts with experience of such hearings. Their advice is that there is no average, as much depends on the nature of the evidence presented. However, the average cost of a magistrate hearing generally is about £289 an hour, and, on that rough basis, the cost of a straightforward section 14B hearing is probably about £100. The cost of more complex proceedings obviously will be more. We also asked whether any legal actions had been taken against the police regarding the use of the summary powers. The Football Banning Orders Authority made inquiries about this but has failed to identify any such cases.

Last week, and today, the hon. Member for Beaconsfield asked about compensation paid to individuals who have been prevented from travelling but have not subsequently received a banning order. Last week, I said that my understanding was that no compensation had been paid, but that I would check during the debate. That was a perfectly true statement, but it may have been misleading in its implication. Although it was not possible to check the information during the debate, I have been able to check it subsequently. Compensation payments have been made on at least two occasions, and the amounts are small; in the region of £315 in one case and a similar amount in the other. Compensation is limited by section 21D(1)(b) to loss incurred as a result of receiving a section 21B notice. I hope that that sets out a substantial amount of additional information requested by hon. Members.

On issues of principle and practice in relation to the Bill, the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey has consistently said that banning orders should only be imposed on individuals who have convictions for violence or public order offences. There are two things to say in that regard. First, the existence of a conviction alone is not, under the Act, sufficient for the court to make a banning order. The court must also be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that it would help prevent violence and disorder at football matches. We need to accept that, in many cases, a conviction will not lead the courts to be so satisfied. One can question whether that is the necessary or relevant minimum qualification for legislation of this sort.

In the case of Smith, who appealed to the High Court against the imposition of a 14B order earlier this year, it would appear that the court imposing the order had placed little weight on his one aged, previous conviction, but had been swayed by other evidence of his recent involvement in organised hooliganism. Looking at that other evidence, Lord Justice Laws, who gave judgment in the case of Smith and others, said:

``There is nothing objectionable in the measures relating to evidence provided for by section 14C.''

Under that section, the court may take account of video evidence, evidence of deportation and so on. There is nothing in the 14B procedure that allows the court to hear evidence in circumstances that are unfair to the individual. The court retains its inherent power to prevent abuse of process, and it is open to the individual to challenge evidence and the admissibility of evidence.

It is interesting to look at what Lord Justice Laws said about the standard of proof that the courts should apply in 14B cases. He concluded:

``The standard of proof required for 14B(4)(a) will be practicably indistinguishable from the criminal standard; and the standard for 14B(4)(b) will be appropriate to the gravity of what is asserted.''

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey would like to apply a false test to the use of this legislation. He would take a position whereby a conviction that may have been issued many years previously would be regarded as relevant, but clear video evidence of somebody participating in a riot outside a football match last week would not be admissible. That would make a nonsense of what the legislation is trying to achieve. It is not a question of administrative action, or of the police saying, ``We've got you on video. You cannot go to the football match.'' It is a court-based process. I am sure that the courts will be guided by what Lord Justice Laws said previously.

5:45 pm
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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I have followed the debate carefully, and I understand what the Minister says. Will he confirm that it is an option to ensure that, if evidence to make a criminal test beyond reasonable doubt were in front of a court, it would allow a conviction to be secured for an offence? Therefore, it would be possible to find a person guilty and impose the order. Will the Minister tell us that, irrespective of the weight put on earlier offences, everybody who has a banning order—if I understood him correctly on Second Reading—has had a conviction for violence or a public order offence?

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Mr John Denham (Minister of State (Police, Courts and Drugs), Home Office; Southampton, Itchen, Labour)

On the first point, the hon. Gentleman must accept the situation we may be in, although we do not know because the work has not yet been done. Video evidence collected overseas may not lead to a conviction. We cannot convict people here for a fight in which they were involved in Munich. As we rehearsed on Second Reading, other countries are often reluctant to spend their time and money convicting our football hooligans rather than getting them out of that country and back here as quickly as possible. There is a set of disappointing, but understandable, reasons for that. That will not provide the basis for a conviction overseas, even with countries with which we effectively have a reciprocal agreement. That is a problem.

In terms of banning orders on conviction and banning orders on complaint, it is correct that every recipient had a conviction for violent behaviour, even if it were not football-related. However, that does not allow us to leap to the conclusion that the banning order was imposed because of that conviction. As the legislation is drafted, the conviction is not sufficient to obtain a banning order on complaint; there must be reasonable grounds for thinking that the order would be effective to prevent further disorder. The hon. Gentleman knows the exact wording of the Act. Such grounds may be other relevant evidence.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I absolutely understand that, but we must consider the sense of justice felt by a person served with the banning order who has no criminal conviction for violence and public order offences. The police have a second test of having reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person may misbehave, although that person may never have been convicted. If there is only police suspicion of misbehaviour, a banning order and the forbidding of foreign travel is a pretty severe penalty when there is a ``reasonable grounds only'' test, but not a ``reasonable grounds and past evidence leading to a conviction'' test. The matter is about the perception of the individual as much as the message that is sent outside.

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Mr John Denham (Minister of State (Police, Courts and Drugs), Home Office; Southampton, Itchen, Labour)

The hon. Gentleman and I must agree to differ on that, and the Committee will take a view on the matter. I think that he places too much weight on the secure test of the reasonableness of the banning order. Clearly, the police must not only have reasonable grounds for an order. They must have evidence and they must persuade a court that that evidence is relevant. Earlier, I set out what Lord Justice Laws said about the quality of evidence and the required test. We could produce a ludicrous situation, in which a person with a long and otherwise forgotten public order offence conviction could be picked up because of that, but a person against whom there was much more recent evidence—although not enough to secure a court conviction because of the circumstances that I described—would be let through.

Sections 21A and 21B are the focus of a separate amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield. My hon. Friend the Member for Selby drew out the fact that there must be a provision to tackle hooligans about whom the police intelligence agency cannot establish information ahead of the five-day banning period should it become apparent that such people are choosing to attend a match.

Section 21B is a minor part of the overall numbers of banning orders. Clearly, most of them are combined orders on conviction under section 14A. A few of those under section 21B are still working their way through the system. However, in the future, I expect that the vast majority will be under section 14A, with the provision to use section 14B at the last minute, as it were. That is an integral part of the legislation.

I shall now refer to information, time scales and a sunset clause.

6:00 pm
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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

I stood up a moment ago, but I was trying to think about two things at once.

I take the Minister's point that the section 21 procedure is marginal within the totality of the panoply of orders available to restrict people from travelling to football matches. However, did not the Bill that became the 2000 Act say that the normal method would be by complaint and that section 21 would exist as an emergency procedure? In fact, section 21 appears to be the normal method by which the 2000 Act is implemented. Should that not be a subject of concern and something that we bear in mind when looking at what was intended last year and how it is working in practice?

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Mr John Denham (Minister of State (Police, Courts and Drugs), Home Office; Southampton, Itchen, Labour)

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. However, it is not altogether surprising that the figures should have come out as they have in the first year of the Act's operation, while the police service have become used to it. I still think that section 14B orders will account for an increasingly large share of those that are issued under the Act. However, it is worth remembering that both are subject to the same legal test, whether they are applied for ahead of or during the five-day control period.

Several hon. Members asked about information. I shall be happy to work with officials to provide information to the Committee and, ahead of Report stage, I will check the official record in some detail to see whether there have been any requests for information that I have not picked up this afternoon. More generally, it might be helpful if I consider what future reporting arrangements there should be on the operation of the Act. Clearly, the way in which the Act pans out will be of interest to hon. Members, and it may be useful to set out in more detail what further information should be provided and on what basis.

The time scale is essentially something that the House must decide. The Government's view is that we have sufficient information to make a reasoned judgment about the basis of the measure, its targeted nature and its proportionality. The history of the Government's approach is well known: it is true that there have been discussions about a sunset clause after five years. The legislation has been in operation for just over a year, and we have a significant amount of statistical information. Our view is that there is a sufficient basis of knowledge to enact the Bill and make the measure permanent.

Of course, legislation changes over the years. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, South is concerned that the Bill will always be about football. However, the reality is that, if public order needs were to change, no doubt the House would either build on the measure or incorporate it in new, wider public order legislation. I was involved in discussions with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport earlier this year about disturbances at cricket grounds. The conclusion of our joint review was that this was not the time to introduce public order legislation to cover cricket.

It is probably a mistake to take the view that enacting the Bill will mean that for ever and a day there will be one glorious—or inglorious—piece of legislation about football and nothing else. The House has shown itself capable of adapting legislation over time to meet changing needs, and I believe that we are now in the position to press ahead.

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Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I am grateful to the Minister for his considered and reasonable response. It is helpful to know that he will think about how a reporting exercise can most appropriately be carried out, irrespective of the nature of the Bill. I pick up from his last remarks the encouraging fact that the Government will at least try, somewhere in the queue, to ensure that we have coherent legislation that pulls things together rather than, as we pointed out on Second Reading, lots of different Acts dealing with football. It is also encouraging to hear that the Government may look at the wider issue that I, the hon. Member for Northampton, South and other hon. Members raised—that it may be sensible to avoid legislating for specific circumstances and to use accepted general principles across the board.

If I gave the impression that my party had a problem with people being stopped at ports of departure, that was wrong. I have no problem with that. The police are entitled to act at such points, when there is relevant evidence. I pay tribute to the way in which the police use their increasingly effective tradition of police intelligence training. Some people who are stopped may just be going shopping for the day, but it is a logical place to apprehend suspects.

The other issue that I did not pick up entirely is that of the sufficiency of video evidence. The Minister made the reasonable point, as did the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) here and on the Floor of the House, that because the authorities are frequently unwilling to prosecute, for reasons that I understand, which involve not wanting to spend taxpayers' money dealing with foreign hooligans, it is valid to use as ``evidence'' information that has come from abroad that has not been used in a criminal case.

To be clear, for the record and the Committee, I do not take the absolutist view that there are no circumstances in which a banning order cannot be imposed if there has not been a previous conviction. I have never taken that view, but I have argued that we should proceed incrementally. Because the people who have been picked up and banned so far happen to have criminal records—although in my view that is not irrelevant—that is where the legislation should take us now. If it becomes clear from a much more sophisticated policing operation and from the courts that a significant number of people are being missed, there will be an argument for going ahead with legislation. One should take measures where there is certain, rather than prospective, justification for them.

There is not a huge amount between the Government and us on the issue. We do not say that there will never be circumstances in which legislation is justified—indeed it would be illogical for us to say that, because my party has accepted that anti-social behaviour orders, for example, are appropriate in some circumstances and are similarly based on evidence rather than criminal conviction. Indeed, some local authorities such as Islington have used such orders to manage criminality on estates and so on.

I still hold most strongly to the view that we need to respond carefully and sensibly to the point made by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield that we appear to be in danger of using the supplementary power as the main power. We should deal with the issue on the grounds that police intelligence, when it is sufficient to identify an undesirable character, should be acted on immediately, rather than waiting until the last moment.

More important, we are at too early a stage to reach a final view on the appropriate form of the legislation. As I said earlier, I have no theological view about whether the renewal should be done annually or every five years, but it is too soon for us to sign off the Bill as perfectly drafted or small and beautifully formed. In the light of that, and having consulted my Conservative counterparts, I am happy not to press my amendment when the time comes, rather than go through the ritual both today and on the Floor of the House in a few days' time. We have had an exchange of views and facts, and we can debate the matter further on Report. It is also appropriate that hon. Members who are not on the Committee have the opportunity to read what we have said and form a view. I shall not press my amendment to a vote today.

Our strong view is that the final Act should not set the provisions in stone for ever, and the Minister can anticipate an amendment to that effect tabled on Report. The evidence has not yet persuaded us—I hope that that is not an inappropriate way to put it—that we need to move from a ``conviction plus suspicion'' to a ``no conviction and other grounds'' basis. This has been a helpful Committee, and it has been unusual in that I do not remember ever serving on a Standing Committee that effectively finished consideration of the Bill in one sitting, which is still a realistic prospect.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield, Conservative)

I share the view of the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey that this has been a useful discussion. I thank the Minister for providing us with much more information—albeit at the last moment, although I appreciate that that was due to force of circumstances. That fact on its own inclines me to the view that it is proper not to press my amendments now, but to give some time for further thought in the light of them. However, I should flag up two points.

First, this debate has highlighted some cross-party disquiet about whether the Bill should be open-ended. The Minister should take the opportunity between now and Report to consider that carefully, because it is difficult to see the disadvantage of ensuring that a piece of legislation with controversial aspects is revisited within a reasonable time. If this Committee and Second Reading are anything to go by, to do so would not take up much parliamentary time and, if the Government have a stated view by that stage, hon. Members, having considered the matter carefully, will probably be able to come rapidly to an opinion. I hope that the Minister will discuss that with his officials and colleagues.

Secondly, the debate has highlighted the difference between sections 14 and 21 of the 2000 Act, and I will pick up on a point made to me by the Minister when we were discussing bail. I made a mistake, but it is noteworthy that the question of bail does not arise under a complaint procedure although it does under the summary procedure. I used to deal with complaint procedures in magistrates courts in my early years at the Bar, and they normally concerned paternity cases. That illustrates how akin to a criminal procedure the summary procedure is. That might be an argument for distinguishing between the section 14 and section 21 procedures; the more I revisit the 2000 Act, the more I notice how different the section 14 and 21 procedures are on infringing individuals' liberty. I hope that the Minister will take that on board. One possibility would be to revisit only the section 21 procedure in five years' time, which could be done by means of a Government amendment.

I am grateful for the Minister's contribution and for the opportunity to discuss the issue. I hope that there will be an opportunity between now and Report for further consideration to ensure that the Bill's final form meets with widespread approval among hon. Members on both sides of the House. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

Committee rose at eleven minutes past Six o'clock.