|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Norris : The right hon. Gentleman has made a serious allegation. He said that my hon. Friend the Minister had fundamentally changed the rules and changed his policy since our debates in Committee. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman remembers my hon. Friend's words at 11.30 am on Thursday 20 July. He may not have been present, of course, because I know that he had to spend a great deal of time outside the Committee Room briefing his various friends in the press. If he was
Column 1276around at 11.30 am-- Hansard conveniently records the fact that it was 11.30 am--he may remember my hon. Friend saying :
"I said that testing the technology for the scheme would be part of the preparations for implementation. I have also said repeatedly that we shall not go ahead with implementation until we are satisfied that the technology is workable, efficient and safe."--[ Official Report, Standing Committee A, 20 July 1989 ; c. 503.]
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that not one word of that has changed-- that my hon. Friend has done no more than reiterate exactly what he said in July?
Mr. Howell : Judging by the rather offensive comments with which the hon. Gentleman introduced his intervention, we have a potential new Chief Whip staring us in the face. Even at 11.30 pm, we can well understand what the Minister is saying and we can also understand the Bill, which says that it is the business of the Football Membership Authority, not the Minister, to put the scheme in position and to satisfy itself as to the technology.
The very fact that the Minister has decided to have a scheme for testing the equipment before he has even set up the Football Membership Authority shows once and for all that the Bill has nothing to do with setting up an independent body and everything to do with making football subject to the disciplines of the Government--whether it likes it or not.
Mr. Moynihan : The right hon. Gentleman is wrong again--on two counts. First, nobody has spoken about a system of testing being introduced before the football authority is set up. Secondly, this is not a matter for the Football Membership Authority alone because, as the right hon. Gentleman will recall, the Government have given a commitment to the House to the effect that, once the Football Membership Authority is established-- subject to the will of Parliament--there will be a further debate in the House on the approval of the scheme by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The prospect of that second important debate was welcomed by the right hon. Gentleman. It will be vital in the light of any findings that Lord Justice Taylor may make and will give Parliament a full opportunity to consider them.
Mr. Howell : The Minister only compounds the confusion. He says that the scheme is the business of the football and licensing authorities, yet before they are even established and have been given an opportunity to decide what action to take, the Minister makes his pronouncement, by one means or another, that he intends to usurp the authorities' powers and judgment and to proceed, which may have the consequence of fees being imposed on football clubs.
I endorse the arguments that have been made about the scheme's technical aspects. We shall welcome an experiment, provided that it is undertaken over a sufficient length of time and embraces all the varied circumstances likely to arise in a football season, so that the system is put to a severe test. We have no evidence yet of the efficiency of the proposed computerised turnstiles. I am advised that six companies submitted tenders for identity cards but that it may be that not one of their systems is satisfactory in meeting the requirements of 20,000 football supporters passing through the turnstiles in the evening to watch an important Cup-tie kick-off. If tests are to be made at grounds such as those of Liverpool, Spurs or Arsenal they must be undertaken in
Column 1277typical circumstances. It is nonsensical and irresponsible on a great scale to proceed with the motion and to impose fees before those experiments have been completed and in advance of the authorities being established.
Since the Committee stage, a number of horrendous events have occurred that affect part II of the Bill. The withdrawal of membership cards from anyone found guilty of participating in any of those events is governed by part I. I refer to the disgraceful scenes in Sweden and to the incidents that occurred on the ship taking British supporters to a match there.
Mr. Alistair Burt (Bury, North) : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The motion is narrow in its scope, and it cannot be in order for the right hon. Gentleman to rattle through a speech covering much wider matters while attempting to keep himself in order by occasionally using the word "fees" and "licensing authority".
Madam Deputy Speaker : I am sure that the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) has himself strayed from the straight and narrow from time to time. The right hon. Gentleman is a distinguished parliamentarian who knows full well the scope of the motion, and I am sure that he will take the point that has been made both by the hon. Member for Bury, North and by myself.
Mr. Howell : I assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I am making every endeavour to keep within the rules of order. However, I acknowledge, as you obviously do, Madam Deputy Speaker, the political rigidity of the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt).
Whatever view is taken of the Bill by right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House, it is a matter of serious concern to all that our country's good name was disgraced on the voyage to Sweden to which I referred, in Sweden itself, and in Poland. I have a long list of other incidents that occurred during the summer that beg investigation, but I shall not bore the House with the details at this time. Even if the people responsible for those incidents can be prosecuted and convicted, the names of only five persons will be registered on the computer and prevented from travelling abroad again. After all the trouble in Sweden, Poland and even Iceland, and despite the cost to the Consolidated Fund and to the clubs, only five people may be prevented from travelling abroad in future--yet we all know that hundreds of neo-Fascists disgraced our country's good name. That should be cleared up before the Bill proceeds any further.
Mr. John Carlisle : The right hon. Gentleman appears to be misleading the House again. A few moments ago, he said that the Bill should be delayed and that fees should not be levied or paid because the system is not yet ready to be introduced. He went on to deal with part II of the Bill, which he and his right hon. and hon. Friends consistently supported in Committee and which he acknowledges has some merit and should be implemented. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. Does he want the Bill to proceed as it stands or not? He knows full well that it would be impossible to implement part II of the Bill and not part I.
Column 1278chosen. The House is debating not the Bill but a narrow motion concerning money matters in the form of the fees that are to be paid. The right hon. Gentleman must limit his comments to that aspect.
The offences covered by part II inevitably affect the operation of part I, and the question of who pays for the system and the licensing fees are inter-related. Of course we support part II, but as we said throughout the Committee stage, and as was proved in the summer, the proposed scheme is wholly inadequate for its purpose. I repeat that we support it only because it is better than nothing. We are as anxious as the Government to eliminate disgraceful behaviour by British football supporters overseas.
I turn specifically to financial matters. I remarked earlier that six or seven companies have been shortlisted to operate the identity scheme, but I understand that the costs of the initial research will be £250,000. The Minister laughs because the Government are obviously not worried by such sums. The cost to fourth division clubs struggling to exist will be £10,000. In addition, £2.5 million is to be spent on testing the pilot scheme. Today, before even the football or licensing authorities have been established, the Government are imposing £2.75 million in fees in respect of a scheme that may never be implemented and which we believe to be totally inadequate and incapable of dealing with the problems that beset our great sport. If the Government had any sense they would not have tabled the motion but would have sought to take the whole House with them. They should have allowed a breathing space to await Lord Justice Taylor's report and to allow time for the authorities to be established, so that they could initiate experiments covering every possible set of circumstances likely to arise during a season. For the Government to proceed contrary to those considerations is an act of gross irresponsibility.
Mr. Steve Norris (Epping Forest) : I could not disagree more with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). I welcome the motion itself because, apart from anything else, it is nice to consider a motion that will bring money into the Exchequer rather than cause the Exchequer constantly to dispense it, as is the case with most money resolutions.
As you, Madam Deputy Speaker, reminded the House, the motion is narrow in its scope and relates specifically, as the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) rightly said, to clause 10(2). It concerns the ability of the Exchequer to receive fees from clubs towards the cost of establishing schemes. I sat on the Committee during the latter days before the summer recess and listened to right hon. and hon. Members of all parties as they recounted an appalling catalogue of violence and fear that has for too long been concomitant with football. During the summer I observed the violence to which the right hon. Member for Small Heath has referred, not only abroad but at the start of our own season. No one at Stamford Bridge or anywhere else, especially those responsible for football management, seems to have learnt anything about the problem.
Mr. Tony Banks : The hon. Gentleman has just mentioned the ground belonging to the club--Chelsea--of which I am an avid supporter. Would he care to tell us what he thinks is not being done at Stamford Bridge that should be being done, to justify the direction of such a colossal calumny at that wonderful club?
Mr. Norris : I shall do so within the specific context of the money resolution, as is appropriate. It is a question of the fees that will be payable for the establishment of a membership card scheme. This, in my view, encapsulates the whole debate that took place in Committee, in which I know that the hon. Gentleman would have loved to participate if he had had time.
As a Chelsea supporter, the hon. Gentleman will recognise that the overwhelming majority of those who go to Stamford Bridge do so because they want to watch the match. They do not want any hassle. They do not want their children frightened, or to be beaten up, and they do not want to go to the match alone and virtually armed. They want to take their families. It is precisely to eliminate the inner-city mobs--the small number of people who turn such games into the battleground that they have so sadly become over the years--that the Bill has been drafted.
Conservative Members are under no illusion. It is fine to talk. As ever, we have had fine words from the hon. Member for Small Heath, but, as ever--and as in Committee--we have heard no concrete proposal from the Opposition to tackle the inner-city cancer of violence which, though perpetrated by the few, affects the enjoyment of the many.
Mr. Denis Howell : Contrary to that extraordinary proposition, we have advanced the policy that the thing to do is to target the evil-doers rather than imposing ludicrous restrictions on all the innocent football supporters. Not only did we say that the matches and the wrong-doers could be indentified and targeted--we said in Committee that the Sweden-England match was the first that should be targeted, and that the Government's failure to do so had led to all the mayhem.
Mr. Norris : There was a good deal of anecdotal reportage during what must have been one of the most entertaining Standing Committees on which many of us have ever served, and there is no doubt that those of us who emerged from it--bloody but unbowed--know much more about Sheffield Wednesday in the 1930s, not to mention Accrington Stanley and many other fine clubs and traditions. We heard a brilliant exposition of the importance of identifying the clubs involved--
Mr. Norris : I am very sorry, Madam Deputy Speaker, that you did not have the opportunity to learn about Millwall Tommy. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes)--who is in the Chamber, as I expected him to be--brought a lump to my throat when he expounded on the merits or, indeed, demerits of Millwall Tommy. It was a wonderful experience.
Although we have had a homily about the importance of ridding the game of the few offenders--and who in his right mind could disagree with that proposition?--we have been all too short of a mechanism to achieve it. My hon. Friend the Minister, however, is seeking to provide finance for a workable scheme. He wants to be sure that it works
Column 1280before he introduces it, enabling us to identify those who commit offences at matches and should therefore not be allowed to attend them in future.
The right hon. Member for Small Heath has just drawn attention to the fact that once the cameras are switched on, the hand motions will have to go. I take the point. From now on I shall keep my hands in my pockets. I cannot see any of us getting on unless we do so. The significant difference between the Opposition and Conservative Members who supported my hon. Friend the Minister in Committee is that the former have been keen to listen to those whom I can only describe as the ill-informed, who have spoken to them, perhaps, on the terraces at Hillsborough and elsewhere. They have flooded us with the cards that were thrust under their noses, requiring little more than a signature, purporting to express views about a matter that they clearly had not studied. Conservative Members, however, have produced concrete proposals to deal with this major problem. Sadly, we shall not catch all those who perpetrate the violence. There will, I fear, still be violence on our terraces, even when the scheme is in operation. There is however, a stark contrast between the experience of the average club in the Football League with that of the club formerly presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), who entertained us so much in Committee.
On the one hand--whatever the semantics and the fine arguments about the effects on turnover, profit or attendance--we have a ground that is, quite simply, free of violence. That has never been denied. On the other, the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks)--being an assiduous attender at Stamford Bridge--has had the opportunity to observe the inadequacy of the preparations made by other clubs in the league. Their chairmen have now squealed about the tremendous burden and cost to the clubs. The reason why today's resolution is so important is that they have failed to observe their common duty to provide security and facilities which even begin to compare with the ludicrous fees that they have been prepared to pay to players. If the Bill and the money resolution help to put the balance right and to make football once again a game to which whole families can go without fear and trepidation, it will constitute a major advance against one of the real social evils of our day. On that basis, I commend the resolution unreservedly.
Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw) : One of our problems when a Bill is guillotined is that Conservative Members immediately waste the Committee's time, and many issues that we wish to discuss at length are not discussed for that reason. A perfect example is the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris), who has admitted that he has only ever seen one football match--and that was when the chairman of Luton Town, the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), gave him a free ticket to Wembley for the cup final.
Mr. Ashton : The hon. Gentleman made great play of our proposals. Perhaps he does not know that the Football Grounds Improvements Trust gives £9 million a year to grounds, much of it to prevent violence through the use of
Column 1281cameras, videos and better policing and technology. The trust was set up following a proposal that I made in the House back in 1974 that a football betting levy scheme be set up to take money from the pools. The pools then voluntarily set up their own trust to provide grounds money out of their profits. My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) has followed the same line. We have indeed made concrete proposals, and 99 per cent. of the problems inside the grounds have been solved through the use of better policing and technology. I do not want to widen the debate ; I merely wish to answer some of the nonsense poured out by the hon. Member for Epping Forest. [ Hon. Members :-- "Where is he?"] He has disappeared, as usual. The hon. Gentleman invariably comes out with long perorations--despite knowing nothing about either the Bill or the game--and then immediately disappears from the scene.
Let me return to this narrow motion, which we all expected the Minister to introduce because of the guillotine. As I recall, we were promised an extra day, not after the Bill had been passed, as the Minister said this morning, but before. The Bill was rushed into the House within two or three weeks of the tragic events at Hillsborough. On 15 April, when delaying people at the turnstiles meant that, ultimately, the gates had to be opened and 95 people poured in to their deaths, we thought it was proved that we should have time to give the Bill measured consideration.
As has been said, it was stupidity and madness to introduce the Bill before the Taylor report was finalised and without listening to its recommendations, which we should have studied in a calm and measured way, to assess how the system should be amended so that we can prevent such a disaster happening in the future.
The Minister promised, as I recall, that although a guillotine motion was to be imposed, there would be further full-day debates before the Bill passed into law. We have not had them. The House has been misled. The Minister said in an intervention this morning that there would be a full- day debate on the licensing authority, but by then it will be no good because the Bill will be law.
I am not saying that the Taylor report was held back, as it was done very quickly after the Hillsborough disaster, but it is amazing that it was released the Friday after the House had gone into recess, when many hon. Members had gone on holiday. The media were concerned that there should be some analysis and discussion of the Taylor report, but it has never been discussed in the House. This is our first chance to do so.
Ninety-five people went to their deaths that day, and all sorts of allegations have been made about the police. There have been stories in the press, and some of the police are now being prosecuted. The chief constable offered his resignation, which was not accepted. The disaster was one of the biggest news stories of the year and £10 million has been raised for the dependants of people who died. Councils in Nottingham, Liverpool and Sheffield have been involved. It was one of the biggest events of the year, but it has had little discussion in the House--all we have today is this motion.
Column 1282Ashton) is aware that this is an enabling Bill and that, after it becomes an Act, there will be a period of delay before its measures are implemented. If the hon. Member checks his memory he will realise that the Minister promised that, during that period, there would be a debate on the Taylor report. That has always been contemplated. There has been no change. There is no question of the Minister misleading the House in the way that the hon. Gentleman has suggested.
"in such form as may be determined by the Secretary of State." Everything depends on the whim, fancy and decision of the Secretary of State. The Bill gives enormous powers to the Secretary of State. Once the Bill has been passed, it will be too late to do anything about it.
The motion refers to cash being granted to a licensing authority that has not yet been set up. Will the licensing authority have the power to overrule the police, or are the police still in absolute control, as they were at the time of the Hillsborough disaster? Will the licensing authority or the Secretary of State have the power to tell the police that they do not agree with what they are planning to do? For example, could they have said that the Liverpool supporters should not have been in the small end of the ground and the Nottingham Forest supporters in the large end, as that was one of the reasons for the disaster? Will the authority have the power to overrule the police? It does not say.
Clause 10 says that the conditions surrounding the cash that the licensing authority will have to pay into the Consolidated Fund "may include conditions imposing requirements as respects the seating of spectators."
They "may include". Who will decide? If there is a row between the club and the licensing authority, will it be the Secretary of State or the police who make a decision?
I am sorry to have to refer to Hillsborough again, but it is relevant. Since the disaster, the terracing at the Leppings lane end of the ground has been closed off to spectators, who are not allowed access through the gate at that end. That has caused inconvenience to people in the club. I know about that, because I am a shareholder in Sheffield Wednesday, although there is no financial reward for that. The club has received complaints from people who attend regularly that they have to walk all the way around the ground and that matches have had to be played with that end closed off. The police have not allowed the barriers to be re-erected and they have even said that a match that was due to be played between Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday on the anniversary of the disaster--by some quirk of the computer--should be brought forward to a Wednesday night in early December. That will cause enormous inconvenience to the Liverpool supporters, who will have to travel over the Pennines in the pitch dark, probably in snow and frost. The match that was scheduled for new year's day has got to kick off at 12 o'clock, which will mean Manchester City supporters having to set off in the dark, in the frost and snow.
Column 1283The police are continually laying down this hard and fast line. Throughout Britain, spectators tell us that the police reaction has been one of overkill, and has reduced the numbers in football grounds. Spectators had to produce tickets more than 100 yards from the ground at the Arsenal and Liverpool match the other night. Kick-offs have been delayed by 20 minutes, and there is utter confusion on television, the radio and in newspapers about kick-off times. Who is in charge? What is the point of having a licensing authority if the police will still have overall control, and can say that it does not matter what people do, or how many people in the licensing authority represent supporters or clubs, they will decide? These examples show that the Bill is in complete confusion. When a Bill is guillotined through the House after a disaster has taken place, it is a panic political response to show that something must be seen to be done, and that it does not matter whether it is the right or the wrong thing.
During the debate on Monday, as can be seen from the amendments, there will be three to four hours for discussion before Third Reading, and the Divisions will take up all that time.
A thousand serious questions have been raised this morning and during Committee but they have not been answered, except in a clownish way by the hon. Member for Epping Forrest, who added nothing to the debate, or by the cheap points that were made about Luton Town football club being a great success. These are serious issues about violence and law and order. People are being crushed to death inside football grounds, but the issue has not been analysed and no answers have been given to the House, which has had no chance to debate the subject at the length it deserves.
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) : This motion may seem to be a small detail of the Football Specators Bill. I am sure that that is how the Minister and his supporters see it, but it ought not to be recorded at all- -it ought not to be rumbling on as it is. It is another element in pushing through a Bill which ought to await measured discussion on every detail of the Taylor report. It is no use right hon. and hon. Members saying that there will be another debate on whether to bring it into effect. By that stage, everything in this motion and all the details of the Bill will be in print, on the statute book, and incapable of amendment. To change it, we shall have to go through the whole process again, and I am sure that the Government have no intention of bringing in another Bill. It will be a case of take it or leave it with the Football Spectators Bill and this motion, as passed.
That is no way to respond to a serious, high-level inquiry into a monumental disaster which revealed some of the terrible dangers in this measure. The Bill is a lunatic response to serious problems and I am amazed at the capacity of Conservative Members to talk themselves into the belief that the Bill will do some good, when they are just devising some sort of political response to a situation for which they have no answers.
The motion talks about the fees that will have to be paid by the very clubs which will have their gates decimated by the Bill. The fees will be levied on clubs which will lose casual specators. Throughout Britain, people watch football matches on a Saturday but they have no regular
Column 1284commitment to a particular club. It does not seem likely that they will get involved in membership schemes, but they constitute a significant minority in the attendance at football matches. If those people are taken away, how will the clubs pay those fees, and how will they pay for the cost of improvements to grounds and of additional security? Those are the sort of things for which we should be finding ways and means and, as has been pointed out, the Football Trust is involved in that. That is where the money should be spent, not on financing a licensing authority to carry out this ludicrous scheme.
The third and fourth division clubs which are not paying ridiculous fees for players, do not have fancy sums of money to play around with and those whose gates are the smallest will find the scheme a heavy burden. I see the problem clearly from the standpoint of Berwick Rangers which is in the happy position of being the one League club in England which will not be subject to the scheme. If that club had been included, this could have been regarded as a hybrid Bill and these shambolic proceedings could have been brought to a halt at a much earlier stage. Many third and fourth division clubs are in a position similar to a team such as Berwick Rangers and have to manage on relatively small gates. We hope that the number of people attending will increase, but the gates will not provide the income necessary to carry out the improvements about which we have been talking. Clubs of that type where there is no violence, and no great press of people giving rise even to incidental violence or hooliganism, will have to bear the burden of the scheme, as will innocent spectators.
We do not know whether the scheme will go ahead at all. Yet the licensing fees and the provision for them is being brought before us today. We do not know much about the licensing authority, but if it is like any other body to which Ministers in the Department of the Environment appoint members,‡ such as the National Rivers Authority and its regional advisory committees, it will consist of paid-up supporters of the Government. If we are lucky, people who know about football will pick up one or two places. The way in which Ministers exercise their powers of patronage should be a lesson as to the sort of body to be created. Ministers will say that we must have people on the authority who are committed to the success of the scheme, but they will have to go a long way to find people who know about football and believe in the scheme as there are only a handful of them and they are mainly Conservative Members.
Mr. Norris : Will the hon. Gentleman accept that among those who can be counted as the most ardent supporters of a scheme to control membership, which is what we are discussing here, are the police. In stark contrast with some directors of clubs, the police have made it clear from the outset and throughout the Committee proceedings that they believe it necessary to introduce a scheme to control membership and that they welcome participation in it. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) will confirm that Mr. Alan Dyer, chief constable of Bedfordshire, has commented favourably on the scheme which operates at Luton Town football club, and that colleagues of his in the Association of Chief Police Officers have expressed similar optimistic comments about the scheme.
Mr. Beith : The hon. Gentleman should talk to the Police Federation which represents the ordinary constables who will have to face the crowds outside the turnstiles when the scheme is introduced. The arrangements at Luton Town must be satisfactory to the police and are not likely to give rise to problems, but anyone who thinks that one can run football on the basis that people cannot watch it will have to think again.
Mr. David Evans (Welwyn Hatfield) : I must explain to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) that only 45,000 people go to away matches per week. We are therefore talking about 10 per cent. of those going to football matches, so the hon. Gentleman's ridiculous statement about people not going to football matches is completely irrelevant to the argument.
Mr. Beith : Those 45,000 people have a right to enjoy their Saturdays. The vast majority of them are not hooligans but people who want to watch football. I do not understand the hon. Gentleman's figure. Thousands of football supporters cannot be classified as either home or away supporters and their liberty would be involved if any scheme of this kind were to be pursued.
We are in danger of going far wider than the motion before use. It is extraordinary that in the face of experience this year, the Government should go against all the advice that they have received and carry on with the Bill so that it will be cut and dried in every detail before we have an opportunity to consider the Taylor report. This is another example of the Prime Minister calling the tune--as she does in economic policy--and another example of a Minister who could usefully resign.
Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) : I want to correct the impression given by the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris) that the information given and the experiences shared in Committee were not relevant to our discussions. I am a relatively new Member of the House and I was delighted to participate in a Committee with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), and my hon. Friends the Members for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) and for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry). They brought a great deal of experience to the Committee. As the House and Committee members will know, I am the president of two small football clubs in my constituency which will not be affected directly by the membership scheme.
I oppose the ways and means motion because it will ensure that clubs such as Leicester City in my constituency will not be able to afford the improvements that are necessary if the game is to survive. The Government should be providing more resources to enable clubs to invest in football rather than fining clubs, which is what the motion will do.
I and other hon. Members fear that the Bill is a forerunner to the possibility of compulsory identity cards
Column 1286being imposed on all citizens. The evidence submitted to the Minister of State, Home Office by independent organisations made it clear that motions of this kind and the imposition of fees will not pay for the scheme. They have said so in respect of the possibility of compulsory identity cards for all citizens and of the imposition of cards for football supporters.
I share the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath and my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) as I believe that the motion should not proceed until the House has had a chance to discuss the recommendations of the Taylor inquiry. I was surprised that the interim report of the inquiry was published as soon as Parliament had risen for the long summer recess. The House should have debated the interim report before coming to this motion. Lord Justice Taylor is one of the country's most eminent judges and the Secretary of State gave him a wide criteria of references. It is possible that Lord Justice Taylor will come forward with recommendations concerning fees. I understand that he has a copy of the Bill and of the Committee's deliberations and he may want to comment on the imposition of fees proposed by the ways and means motion. I urge the Minister to accept that the proper procedure is to await the final report of Lord Justice Taylor to see what he has to say about this important matter and about clause 10. Obviously, if he makes no recommendations it will be safe to proceed.
During the summer recess, I visited the Norman Chester centre in my constituency, which has been referred to by many right hon. and hon. Members. I do not know whether the Minister has visited the centre, but I hope that he will listen to its views about the Bill, particularly about clause 10. Its views would be of much interest to him. The centre opposes the Bill because it does not believe that it will solve the underlying problems that the Government wish to solve.
During my visit, I heard the news that the Department of the Environment had voted the Norman Chester centre a grant of £40,000. I support that Government expenditure, because I believe that it is the only centre of its kind in the western world. It makes a valuable contribution and has assisted hon. Members with briefings and information. The grant of £40,000 has been given to the centre to monitor the effects of the Bill. It is strange that the Government have not worked out their own conclusions about the possible effects of the Bill but have to vote money to outside organisations to monitor what happens. The safest course of action would be to give the grant to the centre, enabling it to monitor an experimental scheme along the lines suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath and see whether the experiment works. If the proposed changes are successful, Labour Members will be the first to support what the Government are doing, but it is dangerous to go ahead with the resolution and the Bill without considering those effects, and then to ask an independent organisation to monitor the effects because the Government do not know what will happen.
I hope that the Minister will visit Leicester and meet the Norman Chester centre's director, John Williams, and others, and I hope that he will press the vice-chancellor of the university to provide more facilities and a building from which the centre can conduct its important research. Most of all, I hope that the Government will think again about the resolution, realise that procedurally it is not the
Column 1287correct way to proceed, and return at a later stage if the report recommends the identity scheme and we shall support the resolution at that time.
Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North) : Once again, the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) and his right hon. and hon. Friends have followed the chorus of disapproval for the Bill and the resolution. He showed what members of the Committee experienced before and throughout the passage of the Bill--the utter complacency of Opposition Members and, in some cases, of the hierarchy of football management on the Football League and Football Association. They say all is well and that nothing should be done.
In Committee, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) and other Opposition Members said that there is nothing seriously wrong with football and that the hooligan problem will go away. After the Stockholm trouble, the right hon. Member for Small Heath was quoted as saying, "We need more arrests." That was his answer to the problem. He did not suggest how those arrests would be made or how the troublemakers and hooligans would be identified. Throughout the Committee proceedings, Opposition Members displayed an abdication of responsibility and utter complacency. They did not accept that we face a serious problem and that only the Government have the guts to face it.
Mr. Denis Howell : The hon. Gentleman knows that that is a monstrously inaccurate, almost libellous, statement. In Committee, we said that what has been done inside grounds--I am giving credit to the Prime Minister and her colleagues--has led to considerable improvements. The trouble is the social problem outside grounds, inside shopping centres and motorway service stations and on trains. We said that the people who caused trouble in Sweden, and the people who cause trouble in this country, should be apprehended because they are common criminals dealing with evil. They should be dealt with in the normal way.
The right hon. Gentleman's intervention re-emphasises that the Opposition are interested only in delaying tactics. The reason why they may oppose the resolution later in the Lobby is not because of a passionate belief that the system will not work but because they want to block any scheme put forward to correct the problem. That is what Conservative Members found so frustrating about their tactics and those of the Football League management. Had that management accepted some of the recommendations of the all-party football committee--the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) will remember the discussions that we had years ago--we may not have had to ask the House to pass the Ways and Means resolution.
Regrettably, since the season started, arrests, inside and outside football grounds have been running at about the same level as in the past two seasons. We had some appalling scenes in London a few weeks ago. At the Arsenal-Liverpool match the other night, many police had to be employed to protect not only those going to the
Column 1288ground but--and this is why the Ways and Means resolution is required--those who live around the ground who have nothing to do with football.
The extraordinarily selfish attitude of Labour members is that the problem affects only football and that it should therefore be addressed only with football in mind. The success of the Luton town scheme, which was so admirably introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), is its benefit to the town itself. The spin-off of that scheme is that the game and the stadium have benefited. I should thank the management of Luton town and my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield, because my constituents can go about the town in peace on a Saturday afternoon, which cannot be guaranteed in most other towns and cities when a football match is taking place.
Mr. Carlisle : I am sure that my hon. Friend should not wish to stray away from this important subject. The basis for the fees that we are considering is important for people outside football--a problem that has been completely ignored by Labour Members.
Relevant to the fees that we are discussing and to some news that appeared this morning is the opinion that has been expressed by the Football Supporters Association, which received constant support throughout the Committee's proceedings from Labour members and which has since taken on a rather important role in the argument. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Minister has acknowledged that it has an important role to play. In this morning's edition of The Daily Telegraph, Mr. Rogan Taylor discusses England's prospects in the World cup. It is important that the motion is passed because the World cup is to be played next summer. Mr. Taylor says :
"We need to attract the family group, the reasonable supporter to the England trips so that the tickets in Italy go to decent supporters. We want to give them an alternative to travelling with hooligans We need to isolate and alienate those who might cause trouble so that they can be easily identified and either expelled or even arrested."
That is relevant to the resolution. We need to get the Bill on to the statute book to support the very sentiments expressed by Mr. Rogan Taylor, which are well-supported by the Opposition, unless they suddenly dissociate themselves from his remarks. The fees are required so that the Bill can pass through the House unimpeded. That is why Conservative Members are delighted that the Leader of the House had the good sense to ask the House to support a guillotine motion to cut short the disgraceful delaying and filibustering tactics that were used in Committee.
The country, the football authorities and the whole machinery of football needs the Bill. That is why it is imperative. The sooner we approve that the money should be made available the better, and the greater thanks we shall receive from those inside and outside football for our courage and our determination to tackle the problem.