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Mr. Carlisle : I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's words, if expressed to my constituents in the Luton and Dunstable hospital the following morning, would have been of great comfort. Of course people say that it was not the fault of anybody, bar those in authority. It was not the fault of football fans : it was because Luton town did not allow enough police for the ground and it let too many supporters into the ground. I can tell the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), because I was there, that it did not let them into the ground--they burst through the gate a la Hillsborough style. His attitude is the same as that of other Opposition Members--it is always someone else's fault, but never the fault of-- [Interruption.]
Mr. Terry Fields (Liverpool, Broadgreen) : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) has clearly stated that people burst into the Hillsborough football ground. That is a lie. It is a distortion of the truth.
Madame Deputy Speaker : I am sure that, if that is incorrect, the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) may reflect on it and make some correction. I shall just say to the entire House that a number of hon. Members wish to speak in this debate, and that it may be counter-productive for too many hon. Members to approach the Chair and to show their interest in speaking.
Mr. Carlisle : I say to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Field) that it would be presumptuous of anybody to state what happened at Hillsborough. He will know, however, that the facts suggest that those gates were left open or, as I said about Luton, they were burst open. I did not say that they were burst open at Hillsborough.-- [Interruption.] Will the hon. Member for Broadgreen stop wagging his finger at me? The problem at Hillsborough was similar to the one at Luton. The difference, as the hon. Member for Bassetlaw said, was that the crowd spilled on to the field at Luton. Those sad events left deep scars on my local club and on my town. My hon friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) and his colleagues on the board of directors of Luton Town took the sensible, necessary and drastic step of saying that that would not happen again and that they would pursue the experiment of a "no away supporters" scheme. In the three years or so since that scheme was introduced, we have had one arrest. The police go home at half-time. Families have returned to the ground. It is a delight to see young children there. Perhaps more important than anything, those who come to the town to shop and visit relatives, who probably outnumber the football supporters by four or five to one, know that they can come in peace and quiet.
Those people come with the absolute assurance that, because the football crowd has been controlled by our system, they can come to the town and enjoy the sort of Saturday afternoon that the majority of the country would wish for them.
I am proud to represent a constituency that has been the leader in correcting a terrible problem that has afflicted this country and has brought football into disrepute.
Mr. Carlisle : I will not give way on the basis that many hon. Members on both sides wish to make a contribution. I know that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) is keen on the subject and may wish to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, a little later.
We have seen such a change in our town in the past three years that we are bound to say to our hon. Friends and those hon. Members who listen from the Opposition,
Column 867"Why not try our system?" People say to me, "But yours is a no away supporters' scheme." Our scheme is exactly the same as that envisaged in the Bill. One has to be a member to come to our ground. If, however, the hon. Member for West Derby wished to watch the Luton versus Liverpool game at Kenilworth road, he would be entitled at the start of the season, for a cost of £1, to apply for membership and, provided that he is a good and upstanding citizen, which I know him to be, there would be no reason to refuse him membership. His problem would be that, because our scheme has been so popular, we have a waiting list.
Mr. Wareing : I am much obliged, because the hon. Gentleman has mentioned me. On 21 January this year I attended Luton Town football ground to see Everton. On that occasion, between 2.20 and 2.25 pm., I stood at a turnstile watching people use their membership cards to gain entry. Forty people entered in five minutes ; 10 of them had great difficulty with their cards, and four entered with the help of the card of the person standing behind them.
Mr. Carlisle : I have heard the hon. Gentleman say that before and I am grateful for the information. New technology is now available which was conveniently forgotten by the hon. Member for Copeland who has seen the demonstrations, and I hope--I stress "hope", as the Bill is full of hope-- that it will correct the problem. Luton pioneered the scheme and I am sure that, if my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield has the opportunity to speak, he will enlarge on what I have said.
In June 1986 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister invited representatives of the Football Association to come to No. 10 to discuss the problem of football hooliganism. I do not like to use that phrase, but it is convenient today. The former secretary of the Football Association, Mr. Ted Croker, told my right hon. Friend to "take your tanks off my lawn" when she suggested that the Government, together with the Football Association, the Football League and others, might try to do something about the terrible problem inflicted on the game.
The remarkable thing about the opposition to the Bill from both sides of the House is that it fails to recognise that that is the intention of the legislation. It is unique for legislation to be passed for one specific sport. The Bill is an attempt--at this stage it may be nothing more than that--to take the problem away from football. Where that problem goes is, of course, the problem-- [Laughter.] Opposition Members may laugh, but if I was in football I do not believe that I would reject something from a Government who said that they would try to take the problem away from me as they believe that it is also partly their problem.
The Bill is an attempt, and nothing more, to try to correct a problem. It may or may not work, but many of us hope that it will. We cannot ignore the problem. The hon. Member for Copeland may quote figures to show that the number of arrests is going down. We may argue that closed-circuit television and segregation have helped to deal with the problem. I do not deny that matters have improved, but there is still no corrective treatment. There
Column 868is no way in which to distinguish between those who go to a game to enjoy it and the tiny minority who want to wreck it. The tragedy of all legislation is that it is framed for the minority, not for the majority.
The hon. Member for West Derby has spoken about the practicalities of the proposed scheme. Many hon. Members have taken the trouble to see what different systems are available, be it a smart card, a voucher system or whatever. The new technology will not suffer the same problems as those outlined by the hon. Gentleman.
We believe that every match should be an all-ticket game. There is nothing wrong with that and I do not believe that that represents an erosion of civil liberties. If a man wants to go to a game once or three times a season, what is wrong with asking him to make some small sacrifice by going along to his local post office or football club to buy a ticket to enable him to go to that game or games for up to five years? The card would not limit his entry to one ground ; he would be permitted entry to any of the 92 grounds in the Football League. That is why the proposed scheme runs parallel with the Luton scheme.
When the Luton scheme was thought out, we always envisaged that it would be part of a total membership scheme. On that basis, the good guys will buy tickets and the bad guys will fall foul of the law, once established.We want to support those who are well-behaved. We ask them to make a small sacrifice by purchasing a ticket, probably once every five years, for a minimal cost. It would be extraordinary if such people said they would have nothing to do with it because it would erode their civil liberties. People may ask why they should buy a ticket, but hon. Members know that if they wish to attend any major sporting event, be it at Twickenham or Lords, where I have been for the past few days, one must buy a ticket to gain entry to the ground. I do not consider that the purchase of that ticket represents an erosion of my civil liberties. All that we are trying to do is to correct the existing problem.
I hope that the Bill will receive the full support of my hon. Friends. Originally I was against a compulsory membership scheme. I did not like the thought that one had to buy a ticket and that one must be identified. But we cannot go on as we are. The events after Hillsborough are crucial, as they suggest that some elements in the football crowd could not care tuppence about the game and are intent on wrecking it.
The Bill tries to correct what has been going wrong. It will act as a deterrent. It will ensure that those who go to football grounds do so with the intention of watching the match and of behaving, or they will lose their cards. The Bill will enable the police and the stewards to monitor and to filter fans who are going to matches when they arrive at railway stations, bus stations and on the roads leading up to the grounds. That would have helped at Hillsborough. People will have to have not only a ticket, as at Hillsborough, but a membership card.
The Bill must act as a deterrent, but it will not deter the genuine football supporter who wants to ensure the well-being of the game. I count myself in that category and that is why I support the Bill.
Column 8695.46 pm
Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, East) : What are the alternatives to the Government's Bill? What is the answer to the problem? Nobody denies that a problem exists. Following Hillsborough the Government set up an inquiry under Lord Justice Taylor. That inquiry was given wider powers of examination than those given to Popplewell. The Government set up that inquiry so that a report could be made. They stopped the progress of their Bill in the House of Lords and gave it a breathing space. Therefore, why on earth are the Government going ahead now before we have that report before us?
We accept that a problem exists and it is right that, given the expertise and experience in this House, it should be discussed here. However, we should have Lord Justice Taylor's report before us. Surely we should know what he has to say, or are the Government afraid that he will come up with some proposals that run counter to their own? Surely that is what the Secretary of State apparently fears.
I am a football supporter. I have played and watched soccer all my life and, when I have the time to do so, I watch Manchester United. I have studied the record of that particular club and it is worth repeating it to the House tonight. Manchester United is among the best supported football clubs in Britain. Its average home gate is more than 40,000. In 1987-88 it attracted about 750,000 spectators and there were 38 arrests.
Mr. David Evans : Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that Manchester United has a 50 per cent. membership scheme and that it was the one club that followed the Government's directive three years ago.
There are genuine football supporters and football supporters' clubs. Those people deal with this problem on the ground week in, week out ; they oppose violence and want it to be eradicated. They are in the front line of this battle and may be in a membership scheme involving 50 per cent. of spectators. I would welcome a 100 per cent. membership scheme. I am talking about a club which has 40, 000 spectators per home match. In 1984-85 there were 124 arrests, so in the past three or four years there has been a reduction of about 50 per cent. in the number of arrests.
Mr. David Evans rose --
The club has worked hard to reduce the levels of violence at Old Trafford and spent a huge amount of time and money on creating an environment which is both safe and comfortable for spectators. The family stand is a positive step against violence, and youth groups and other organisations are always welcomed. The club has one of the best safety records in Europe. It has the most up-to-date equipment and a willingness to co-operate with the authorities in an effort to deal with the area's relatively small hooliganism problem. It has closed circuit television and various other facilities.
I have seen the club in operation. I have been on the popular side and in the stand, and I have seen the police surveillance system. Do we want to transfer existing problems from inside to outside the grounds? Do we want to create a problem when spectators arrive late, the system
Column 870breaks down and people are anxious to get in? Those are the sort of problems related to a sport which is watched by millions of people every week.
There has been an increase in violence but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) said, there has been an increase in violence at other sports. That has occurred in boxing and, particularly, at horse racing. That is a classic example of the media closing ranks and not revealing the problems in those sports in the same way as they have revealed them at football matches.
What about the problems which exist in county towns? What about the yuppie influence and the lager louts? Many of the areas in which these problems occur are miles away from football grounds and are never in any way connected with football. As has been said, the increasing violent crime in Britain--recent Home Office figures show that there has been an 11 per cent. increase--is not to be found in football grounds or connected with football, in which there has been a reduction in violence in recent years.
The Minister has said that football will foot the bill for the scheme. The financial implications of the scheme are catastrophic. The Arthur Young study forecast that the scheme would cost about £70 million to implement over the first five years. The projected 20 per cent. loss in gate revenue will result in a £34 million loss in the first year alone.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said, there is a very real concern about clubs in the third and fourth divisions. Many clubs will go to the wall because they will be unable to finance the scheme or obtain support to do so. Therefore, the scheme will have a detrimental effect on our national sport. Improved stands within the grounds are needed, and I acknowledge that football clubs have not done enough in the past. More money must be spent and we must bring together the people within the game and those who have to administer it, such as the police and local authorities. My hon. Friend the Member for Copeland said that this should not be a party matter and we should try to resolve the problem on an all- party basis. However, the Government have made no attempt to do so. While they wait for Lord Justice Taylor's report, the Government should call together the football clubs, supporters, the police, local authorities and the Opposition and suggest that they all examine a way of dealing with the problem. We should analyse the problem without sweeping anything under the carpet and, at the same time--[ Hon. Members :--"Talk."] No, we should not just talk but should come forward with proposals. We should consider what Lord Justice Taylor says because the Secretary of State's proposals will not succeed. They will drive people away from the game and those who create problems at football matches will feel that they have scored a victory and will exploit the position.
We should set up a body which could be the start of an implementation of a statutory body which would contain the interests of the managers, players, supporters, police, transport officials and local authorities. It should be given teeth and powers to intervene to call to account clubs and other authorities. It should have the correct power to act when appropriate and should be based on Lord Justice Taylor's report, when it is completed. Why do we not put such proposals to Lord Justice Taylor? We should also tell the Government that this enabling Bill will not resolve the problems as they say it will.
Column 871As my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland has clearly shown this afternoon, the identity card scheme is riddled with contradictions and has no basic support. The Bill is a wholly inappropriate way of dealing with the problems associated with football and should be scrapped or, at the very least, delayed until we have digested Lord Justice Taylor's report.
Sir Neil Macfarlane (Sutton and Cheam) : I shall not detain the House too long or follow too closely the speech of the right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme). I listened closely to the speeches from the Front Bench spokesmen and I shall listen even more closely to the speech of my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport when he winds up the debate. He will have to catch up on many of the points raised in the debate, because there were a number of crucial pointers and factors which should be carried along with momentum. I have not fully made up my mind about the Bill and shall be open to persuasion during the next few hours. It is most important that we consider the manner of the problem of the past 20 years or so. I must make it perfectly clear that I, like the right hon. Member for Salford, East, have always been an enthusiastic supporter of a membership scheme. It has been well chronicled elsewhere that, a few years ago, I had one or two differences of opinion with some former colleagues about the efficacy of this way of approaching the problem. However, I shall not digress.
I had always hoped, in the numerous meetings that I attended with many of my colleagues four or five years ago, that the football authorities would encourage a membership scheme. The right hon. Member for Salford, East referred to Manchester United ; I can confirm that earlier this year I saw an effective range of card schemes in operation at Carrow road, Norwich City's ground, when my own famous Sutton United played there earlier in the year. I could not help feeling that if all the 92 clubs in the League, and others, had followed that model and the model proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans)--who has chaired Luton Town football club so successfully for so many years--we should not be where we are now.
In September 1985 the Football League set up a working party to study the question of membership cards, largely in the wake of the inquiry by Mr. Justice Popplewell--who, incidentally, brushed aside in his interim report the fact that he was advocating a national identity card system, because such a system was, he said, likely to prove impractical at the turnstyles.
Sir Neil Macfarlane : I do not want a clash of minds or personalities with my hon. Friend--we go back a long way--but we are talking about a wholly different dimension of the problems of numbers and techology. In principle, however, I agree with him.
The Football League working party recommended that all clubs should have a membership scheme, the basic principles of which should be common to all of them. Some of those principles may well have been implemented ;
Column 872in some instances, however, the desirability of such a scheme may have been ignored. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) underlined the problems of the failure of the football authorities to do very much : if they have done much, they have kept very quite about it in recent years.
It is depressing to note that--having written to all 92 clubs in the Football League inviting those interested in the very difficult problems of football to let him have their views on every, or any one subject--Mr. Justice Popplewell noted in the report :
"I have rather sadly to record that over 50 out of the 92 league clubs did not even take the trouble to acknowledge receipt of my letter".
I was closely involved with the Popplewell inquiry, along with my hon. Friends in the Home Office and other Departments, and I found it staggering that only 50 clubs out of 92 took the trouble to reply. It makes me wonder what the world of football is doing, or what it is perceived to be doing by those who have loved football for 30 or 40 years. I want to try to find out what hon. Members think that the football world has done to try to enhance its reputation, and to restore its rightful place in the life of our nation.
Why have so many thousands of people stopped going to League matches? I used to go in the early 1950s when I was living in Essex, in outer north- east London. Those games were attended by more than 40 million people, but since then the numbers have gone down and down. I know that we are now a nation of participators, and that there are alternative activities in which people can indulge. The fact remains, however, that they have stopped going to matches--although in recent years there has been a slight increase, which I welcome.
Why has the improvement of stadiums been given such low priority by and large throughout the 92 clubs? What about the poor old football fan and the facilities that he or she has had to suffer? Why has so little money been spent, other than by the Football Trust? What effect has the easy availability of alchohol had on some spectators' behaviour, and why do people consider that going to a football match poses a risk to their well being?
Doubtless many factors led to the decline in spectator attendance at football matches, but the fact of that decline is beyond argument : all the evidence shows that fewer and fewer people are attending. I find myself in difficulties over the proposals in the Bill, taking them against the backcloth of the tragedy at Hillsborough. I fear that not enough research has been conducted by the police, the Department of the Environment or the Football Association. Hillsborough graphically illustrated Oliver Popplewell's reservations about the practicality of an identity card system at the turnstiles, and, I understand, is the reason why the police dislike many of the Bill's proposals. Their worst fear has always been the excessive accumulation of spectators at the point of entry.
I am also concerned at the rush to proceed with the legislation. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister can allay my concern. I should have thought that even Lord Justice Taylor's interim report would have presented a golden opportunity for us to latch on to : it might well have provided the golden research which I think that we need, and which I hope we shall be able to implement. I believe that many involved in football would wish the Government to wait until the report is to hand. I also fully
Column 873accept the points made in the letter from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment--quoted by the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham)--about the need for action, although I am not entirely happy about his interpretation of future timing. The wording of the letter was skilful, especially the penultimate paragraph.
I am profoundly unhappy that we are proceeding to Third Reading before Parliament has had a chance to review the Taylor report. On the other hand, we have now sat for the better part of 10 years with nothing being done. We face a dilemma : we are up against a timetable.The World Cup takes place next year, and clearly an important dimension of necessary provision is in the Bill. We cannot tolerate the gratuituous violence that football, more than any other sport, seems to encourage. We are all acquainted with the catalogue of violence caused by our people on both sides of the Channel-- and sometimes on the Channel--over the past 20 years or so. When he was Minister for Sport, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) had to apologise to the head of the French Government in 1974 in the Parc des Princes. He knows exactly what went on ; he knows the problem.
Above all, I believe that over the past 10 years we have failed, not only at home but abroad, to secure prosecutions and convictions. Far too many people have got away with it, time and again. We have seen it happen in London, Cambridge, Leeds and elsewhere. In effect, this is a failure of our law and order, and that is what I find so depressing.
I shall wait with interest to hear what my hon. Friend the Minister has to say about the problem. Clearly we cannot continue as we have for the past decade or so. Urgent action is needed. Even after Hillsborough, violence has taken place inside the ground. Everyone is sick and tired of it. The country expects us to do something, and I hope that my hon. Friend will answer many of our questions when he winds up the debate.
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East) : I find myself substantially in agreement with much of what has been said by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Sir N. Macfarlane), who speaks with the authority of a previous Minister for Sport. The reasonableness of his approach was self-evident.
After hearing the Secretary of State trying to justify the Bill, I find myself driven to the conclusion that it is shoddy in its conception, inept in its timing, and wholly lacking in merit. Before I deal with that in more detail, let me say to the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle)-- whose sincerity I recognise--that anyone with any interest in football must be concerned about the way in which it is stained with hooliganism and violence. Concern about the problem, however, does not justify the embracing of measures that are likely to be ineffective, and there is a real risk of raising expectations based on part I of the Bill which are unlikely to be justified. It has already been said in the debate that this should not be a party political issue. I fear that the Government are making it such by their determination to press ahead at this stage. Those of us who oppose part I do not do so out of any complacency about the problem that faces football, nor are we here as uncritical defenders of the Football League
Column 874or the Football Association. Certain criticisms can be made of both these bodies, but equally a proposal as flawed as this one should not obtain the support of the House.
Three conclusions may be reached by Lord Justice Taylor. First, he may say that the football membership scheme in part I would have prevented or ameliorated some of the events of Hillsborough. If he said that, many of us opposed to the Bill now would find it persuasive. Secondly, he may say that the football membership scheme, as proposed, would have no effect. If that happened, we should have to consider what is the proper attitude to take, after seeing the report. However, if he says that, after careful review of the evidence and careful consideration of what has been said to him, it is his belief that a national membership scheme would have aggravated the problems at Hillsborough, what justification could there be for the Government proceeding in the teeth of that conclusion, resulting from an impartial examination of the circumstances? In what conceivable circumstances would the Government reject the impartial review of someone who was chosen because he was thought to be entirely suitable to bring the necessary intellectual objectivity to what happened at Hillsborough and make the kind of recommendations that the Government would regard as valid?
Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham) : The converse of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said is that, if Lord Justice Taylor recommends that a national membership scheme is just what is needed, he should then endorse such a scheme.
Mr. Campbell : I did my best to say just that. Perhaps I did not express myself in sufficiently trenchant terms, but no doubt the hon. Gentleman will accept that if that is Lord Justice Taylor's recommendation it will be extremely persuasive. It will persuade me and I will recommend that my right hon. and hon. Friends should support such a scheme.
That issue was not properly addressed in the Secretary of State's speech. In a sense, as other speeches have demonstrated, that lies at the heart of our debate. A public inquiry by a respected judge is still to report on issues that are directly germane to what we are considering today. Notwithstanding that, the Government still intend to proceed apace with this legislation.
It is not unreasonable to describe such a course of action as a Gadarene rush to judgment. Sensitivity has hardly been the hallmark of this Government, and on this occasion they have excelled themselves. The people of Liverpool are still awaiting Lord Justice Taylor's report. Some of them are still nursing their grief and the Government's decision to press ahead after what some of us regard as far too short a period is a demonstration of insensitivity that many of these people will find difficult to understand. The Government may win the vote this evening, although, as we have heard, many have reservations about the Bill. I wonder what prospects the Government would have of winning that vote if they were to take off the Whip and allow hon. Members to vote according to their consciences. [Interruption.]
Mr. Campbell : Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) is a close friend of mine, and I am sure that his movement was no reflection either on me or on the strength of my argument.
There is some legitimate concern about the nature of the powers that would be given to the Secretary of State were the Bill to be enacted. There is a divergence between what Ministers say and the powers conferred on them by the Bill. The whole process of the scheme lies under the direct control of the Secretary of State and not of Parliament. Under clause 1(2), the Secretary of State will designate matches. He may need a statutory instrument to alter that designation, but that is subject to annulment by either House of Parliament. Furthermore, such a statutory instrument would not be capable of amendment. Once annulled, it would be a simple matter to bring forward another. Clause 3(2) provides that the Secretary of State is to designate the football membership authority. Therefore, it will be his creature. He will be responsible for its constitution and its powers. Its very existence will be at his pleasure. If he wishes to withdraw his designation of the Football Membership Authority, he can do so under clause 3(3) without any statutory instrument. We do not yet know everything that the scheme will contain. Clause 5(2) says what the scheme must contain, but clause 5(3) says what it may contain. There are mandatory provisions and permissive provisions, but these are not exclusive, and this uncertainty causes much concern about the nature of the powers that the Bill would confer on the Secretary of State. The scheme as finally approved may contain a whole raft of provisions that are not included in clause 5(2) or clause 5(3).
The alleged purpose of this legislation is to improve behaviour at football matches and in the surrounding areas. One is entitled to ask where is the evidence that it will do just that. Evidence is necessary when one embarks on a restriction of what would otherwise be a lawful activity. When one imposes on a huge majority of law-abiding citizens a restriction in their freedom because of the abhorrent and aberrant behaviour of a small number of people, such a restriction should be justified by clear and unequivocal evidence that what is proposed will provide the required solution.
Mr. John Carlisle : The evidence of Luton is there for all to see. I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that there has been one arrest in three years and there is peace and quiet in the town and in and around the ground. That is the one pilot scheme with a 100 per cent. system that has been put into effect, and it has been extremely successful.
Mr. Campbell : Yes, but the Luton scheme is not the scheme in part I, a point made by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam. If the Luton scheme were exactly on all fours with part I, some of us might be more impressed by the scheme than we are. We cannot ignore the fact that the numbers of people attending Luton football matches have not grown recently, while it is acknowledged that elsewhere there has been a growth in attendence.
Mr. David Evans : Is the hon. Gentleman aware that last year, because the team is now in the first division, the attendance at Luton Town increased by 21 per cent.? That increase was the fourth highest in the division.
Mr. Denis Howell : The House should be accurately informed. The attendance before the Luton experiment averaged 11,000 per match. The average is now 9,000 per match, having risen in the past year from 8, 000. If the same attendance figures applied to every other ground, football would be bankrupt.
Mr. Campbell : Both the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) and the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) are capable of catching your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I shall leave them to their 15-round contest.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I remind the House that hon. Members cannot have it both ways : they cannot make both interventions and speeches in a debate in which a very large number of hon. Members wish to speak.
Mr. Campbell : The need to show evidence as to why the scheme is justified is made all the more acute by the fact that the football authorities have taken steps to deal with disorder at football matches. Reference has already been made to the use of closed-circuit television, to the segregation of supporters, to the encouragement of families to spectate and to closer integration with the community. We must ask ourselves whether the scheme in the Bill can have any material effect to improve behaviour. I rather fancy that better stadiums, better facilities, all-seated stadia and a recognition that football fans are entitled to a proper standard when they visit football matches are more likely to be persuasive of good behaviour. In that regard, the activities of the Football Trust are to be commended. Some of us have open minds about the idea of a football levy board.
It seems to me that the most effective deterrent against criminal behaviour at football matches and elsewhere is the belief that one is likely to be apprehended. Resources and efforts to that end should now be pressed instead of pressing a proposal which is misconceived, has no merit and which appears to have very considerable disadvantages for football. The proposals also have substantial potential costs for clubs. How are third and fourth division clubs to meet those expenses? If we consider their balance sheets, it is a miracle that some of them can keep their doors open. The proposal will discourage casual spectators. The truth is that unfashionable football clubs will be put substantially at risk.
The Government have been disingenous in the use of statistical information. We have been told on many occasions that there were 6, 147 arrests last year. However, we have not been given accurate information about how many convictions followed those arrests. So far we have not yet reached the stage in the United Kingdom when arrests equal convictions. We have not heard how many of those arrests related to events inside football grounds and how many outside. We know that some of the arrests relate to pickpocketing, drugs offences and car thefts. Those are thoroughly undesirable, but it is difficult to justify the view that they are football -related crimes. The Government had an opportunity arising from the tragic events at Hillsborough for mature reflection and reconsideration. They had an opportunity to consider an
Column 877external and impartial judgment on their proposals through Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry. By their precipitate desire to proceed with this measure, the Government have rejected that opportunity, and the House in turn should reject the Bill.
Sir Rhodes Boyson (Brent, North) : I grew up in soccer territory in the Rossendale valley. Within five or six miles of where I lived there were Blackburn Rovers, Bolton, Bury and even Accrington Stanley in those days. It was not until I joined the Royal Navy during the second world war that I ever saw a rugger ball. I thought that the equipment in the Royal Navy must be worse than that in the Haslingden grammar school because the ball was such a funny shape. I stood amazed.
From the beginning I have been imbued with the football culture. The one thing that I despair about--although despair may be too strong a word--is the fact that as a boy I could travel on the tram and then on the bus with a set of people from the little village in which I lived to watch Blackburn Rovers without any worry to my parents or anyone else. We went to see matches, the hymns were sung, people behaved and there was no obscene chanting. It was part of a culture that I respected and it helped to make me, no matter what values I hold now.
Sir Rhodes Boyson : Yes, but they still do not play rugby in the Rossendale valley. There is one team now, so there has been a decline in the valley. It is called Bacup and Rawtenstall grammar school old boys.
I believe that we are discussing a non-party matter. We are considering order and discipline. We are not considering free enterprise or Socialism. There is a breakdown of law and order in adolescent behaviour which at the moment is revealing itself more in football than anything else. However, like water in the bowels of a ship, it will move from one side to the other. If the troublemakers leave football, they will go somewhere else, until we solve the adolescent problems in society.
This Bill dealt with symptoms, not causes. Even if it is successful, we will still be left with a massive problem and there is no sign of it going away. In recent years Tory and Labour Governments have suffered from legislative hyperactivity. When anything happens, there must be another Bill. We spend our time day after day here discussing not first principles, but Bills to clear up what we got wrong in Bills last year. Almost every Department has one of these. Perhaps we should spend six months in this place without debating any Bills and we could discuss what we should really be here for. That may come as a shock and some hon. Members may disappear because they cannot decide what to do.
We are facing a major breakdown of law and order in this country which, as I have said, has little to do with Socialism or free enterprise. It is caused by the disappearance of community ties which once held people together. Although Edmund Burke was never a member of the Tory party, he called certain groups of people "little platoons". Unless people believe that they belong to little platoons, they will create their own at war with society.