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11 am

Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde) : Once more we have had to hear the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) tell us how good the Luton Town scheme is. It is quite irrelevant to the motion and to the Bill itself, because if every club had to adopt Luton Town's financial situation, many of them would be out of business. Luton Town is in terrible trouble because of that scheme.

The hon. Member for Luton, North quoted Rogan Taylor of the Football Supporters Association. The Government should have been listening to precisely such a responsible approach to what would have been Part II of the Bill. The Minister has said many times that the football supporters should be listened to, but why does he not put it on the face of the Bill that they should be represented on the various responsible bodies? He has not done so, so we shall be arguing that the licensing authority and the membership authority should include representatives of the football supporters talking in the responsible way that has been brought to our notice by the hon. Member for Luton, North.

There are three good reasons why we should not be debating the motion this morning. First, we are debating it before Report and Third Reading. It is clear from the Order Paper, that the Government propose to change the character of the Football Licensing Authority. We should not be debating the motion in a vacuum. We should be debating the Government's intentions concerning the powers of the FLA and the money aspect. That is one good reason why we should be debating the money aspect on or after Report and Third Reading. Secondly, my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) pointed out that we have not had an opportunity to debate Taylor's interim report. Because of the timing of that report--we do not blame Lord Justice Taylor, who had to rush through an interim report--we should have been able to debate it as soon as we returned after the recess, and before considering the money resolution. The interim report contains many issues that should be debated and has caused a great deal of confusion in the 92 football clubs.

Thirdly, clause 10 was never really debated in Committee because of the Government's bulldozing tactics. Because they wanted to guillotine our deliberations, we did not have the opportunity to discuss clause 10.

Another good reason that has emerged from today's debate is that, as the Minister said, the Secretary of State can override the recommendations of the football authorities on new technology. We know that six computer companies have been shortlisted. The Minister should listen as I am raising a vital matter. We know how the new Whip, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Patnick) behaved in Committee, and he is continuing that behaviour on the Treasury Bench.

If the committee set up by the FA and the Football League to scrutinise in great depth the new technology of the ID-card scheme reaches the conclusion that none of the six companies is capable of introducing a workable scheme, will the Secretary of State overrule the committee's decision? The Minister owes it to the House to say whether the Government will override a committee that has studied the matter in great depth.

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The football world welcomes the standardisation of safety rules throughout the country, but the licensing authority would have to consult closely the football authorities and the Football League. The interim report has created a good deal of confusion and difficulty in the 92 league clubs. Lord Justice Taylor states : "where there are perimeter fences all gates to the pitch should be kept fully open during the period when spectators are on the terraces."

But there are different interpretations across the 92 league clubs. For example, Tottenham has taken all its fences down, another club has the bolts slid out with the gates in place, others remove the gates entirely. We should have debated the Taylor report because the Minister has to address such issues.

Will the Minister spell out whether the licences, once granted, will stay in force for a specified period, as that is not clear from the Bill? In answer to a question tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) the Minister said, on 20 June this year, that the FLA would cost some £500,000 to £750, 000-- presumably over a season. In view of some of the statements that have been made, has that figure changed? How will the cost be shared among the league clubs? We have heard that the average cost to each club could be up to £10,000. We know that some of the smaller clubs could not possibly afford that amount of money. Tranmere, Darlington, Bury, Chester, Stockport and Bristol are all represented by marginal Conservative seats, so we know that hon. Members representing those constituencies will be very worried about their clubs going out of existence because of the Bill.

Since Hillsborough, the FLA has acquired a new dimension and has become a much more important body. It has sweeping powers : it can force clubs to close parts of their grounds, and it can keep football supporters away. There is very little opportunity for the average football supporter to have any say in all this. Appeals can be made within 21 days, but to whom should they appeal? We certainly know that the composition of the FLA would not include a football supporter. I hope that the Minister will say whether football supporters will be represented.

We also know that the terms and conditions imposed by the FLA are not subject to appeal, unlike the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath. I have tried to keep strictly in order and you, Madam Deputy Speaker, have been very tolerant. It is absolutely clear that the Government have not timed the resolution very well. We should have discussed it within the whole spectrum of the interim report. Better still, we should have waited until the final report. Since we have such an inquiry into the safety aspect of football, it makes no sense to mess around with interim measures that will not help that great game progress.

I should like the Minister to answer my specific points and some of the valid points which have been made by my right hon. and hon. Friends. The Minister knows that the legislation will threaten this great game. I hope that the new Secretary of State will not be like his predecessor, but will view this matter much more clinically and objectively. I hope, therefore, that we will soon see the demise of this legislation.

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11.10 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Colin Moynihan) : Many points have been raised and, as you rightly pointed out, Madam Deputy Speaker, many were out of order within the context of this narrow motion. Of course, important questions arise. Without exception, they are covered by a variety of amendments which we will discuss in a detailed and lengthy debate on Monday. As is customary, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) addressed the motion precisely. I would pick him up only on an inaccuracy. He felt that the motion had been tabled too recently and thus the Opposition had not been given enough time to consider it. I accept that the end of July is one of our busiest times, when the effects of motions are not always observed by every hon. Member, but this motion was first put on the Order Paper on 28 July. I hope that that gave hon. Members the opportunity to consider it in detail. The ways and means motion is required to enable any fees received by the Secretary of State in respect of the issue of licences by the Football Licensing Authority to be paid into the Consolidated Fund. The Football Spectators Bill establishes the Football Licensing Authority. Football clubs will need a licence from the FLA before they can admit spectators to a match designated under the Bill. In addition to its task of ensuring that clubs operate the national membership scheme effectively, Government amendments in Committee have given the FLA the task of advising the Secretary of State on seating accommodation at football grounds and, subject to parliamentary approval in the light of Lord Justice Taylor's final report, additional powers in respect of safety at football grounds.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : Will the hon. Gentleman give way? [ An hon. Member :-- "No."]

Mr. Moynihan : Let me proceed for a short time on this point.

Mr. Heffer : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. When I asked the Minister to give way, the Whip said no. Who decides whether the Minister gives way?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : All I heard was the Minister's statement that he would give way in a moment.

Mr. Moynihan : I said that I would give way to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). He is aware that it is best to develop the argument, let it rest and then allow him to intervene. Funding of the FLA was discussed in Committee. I explained then that we had three options : we could recover the full cost from licence fees ; we could meet the cost from the Exchequer ; or we could arrive at a balance between the two. Having considered this further, we decided that it would be appropriate to meet the FLA costs by a mix of licence fees and grant aid. I give way to the hon. Member for Walton.

Mr. Heffer : I was going to ask the hon. Gentleman why we are pressing forward with the measure at this stage. This question has been raised by my hon. Friends and we need an answer. Why has the motion been tabled at this stage, without our having discussed Lord Justice Taylor's interim report? [Interruption.] I know that the question has been raised a hundred times. I will raise it again. I want to know the reason. These matters are of the utmost

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importance, especially to areas such as mine, which suffered great loss of life because of what happened at Hillsborough.

Mr. Moynihan : It is the determined wish of Government to ensure that there is a framework of legislation in place as soon as possible so that any recommendations in Lord Justice Taylor's final report that relate to the safety of spectators at football matches can be implemented as soon as possible. If we did not have the framework of legislation in place, we would have to wait later--possibly a delay of a year--before we might be able to implement by law the very important safety recommendations that Lord Justice Taylor may make in his final report.

Mr. Tony Banks : The question is simple : what happens if Lord Justice Taylor says that there should not be a membership scheme?

Mr. Moynihan : I have made the point absolutely clear to the House many times. The whole House will have the opportunity to consider everything that Lord Justice Taylor says. It will be able to consider all the arguments that he puts forward to support his conclusions. It is right for Parliament then and there to consider those arguments in the light of the various views put forward by Lord Justice Taylor. To hypothesise about what may or may not be in the report is not only redundant in terms of the time of the House but totally irrelevant to the motion before us.

Mr. Beith : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Moynihan : If the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene on that point, I will not give way, because it is clearly out of order and beyond the remit of the motion. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene on the motion, I shall be happy to give way.

Mr. Beith : What will happen if Lord Taylor's report gives rise to a feeling that either the terms of the motion or other parts of the Bill need to be altered?

Mr. Moynihan : If the hon. Gentleman had studied the Bill carefully, he would know that we have a framework that does not need to be altered. Any safety recommendation can be accommodated within the Bill's scope. It is a framework to cover a national membership scheme and extensive licensing powers concerning safety, which I very much hope the hon. Gentleman will welcome.

We estimate that the FLA's annual budget will be between £500,000 and £750,000, as the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) pointed out. As a non-departmental public body, this will be met from my Department's vote. It is difficult to be more precise about the costs until the safety functions of the FLA have been finalised. A proportion of these costs will be recovered through licence fees, but we do not have in mind any rigid percentage. As the hon. Members for Stalybridge and Hyde and for Bradford, South pointed out, it is important to be flexible in our approach to the amount paid by different clubs and to be cognisant of their ability to pay. We seek to recover about £250,000 from football, which will mean about £2,500 per club.

I speak generally because we need to look at the recommendations on safety which Lord Justice Taylor may make, which will affect the FLA's work. It is important that we continue our discussions on how the amount is to be raised from football, whether by a flat-rate

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charge or, more likely, a sliding scale, charging big clubs higher amounts and smaller clubs lesser fees. That has been the view of football authorities in initial discussions with us. I have considerable sympathy for their argument for a sliding scale of fees, but we must discuss the matter further.

On Report on Monday, I shall table a new clause to the Bill which will provide for any licence fees received by the FLA to be surrendered by the authority to the Secretary of State. In accordance with standard Government accounting procedures, the fees will be treated as revenue and the Secretary of State will, in turn, surrender them to the Consolidated Fund. To achieve this, we are debating the ways and means motion this morning. It is by means of that motion that payments of receipts into the Consolidated Fund are authorised.

Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones (Watford) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put :--

The House proceeded to a Division--

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East) (seated and covered) : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The closure has just been moved. Some of us have been in the Chamber since 9.35 am. I have been here the whole time, except for three minutes when I went out to get information that was appropriate to the debate. We have had no opportunity to contribute to the debate. I deliberately did not intervene, in order to facilitate procedures. The closure motion should not have been moved at this stage. It is part of the general procedural incompetence, mess and fiddling in which the Government have been involved on this whole measure, including the ways and means motion, which we have debated at this stage instead of after Third Reading.

Madam Deputy Speaker : A number of hon. Members have wanted to speak on the motion. The motion is very narrow in terms of debate. I believe that it has been widely debated this morning, with ample time given to it.

Mr. Tony Banks (seated and covered) : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It was quite clear that the Government Whips were actually moving for a Closure. At one point, the Minister was given his instructions by the Whip, who told him not to give way to an hon. Member who was trying to intervene. Fortunately, the hon. Gentleman did give way, which shows that he has a little residual good sense. I am one of those hon. Members who have been in the Chamber since 9.30 this morning. Only two hon. Members were still rising in the hope of catching your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I ask you, with great respect, why you accepted a closure motion? What criterion did you adopt? As only two hon. Members, who had been in the Chamber throughout the debate, were still waiting to speak, should they not have been allowed to make short contributions within order?

Madam Deputy Speaker : As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Chair does not have to give reasons. However, in answer to an earlier point of order, I did say that this was a narrow motion, which I felt had been thoroughly debated.

The House having divided : Ayes 133, Noes 5.

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Division No. 360] [11.18 am


Amess, David

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Atkinson, David

Banks, Robert (Harrogate)

Batiste, Spencer

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Biffen, Rt Hon John

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Brazier, Julian

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Browne, John (Winchester)

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Cash, William

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Day, Stephen

Devlin, Tim

Dorrell, Stephen

Dover, Den

Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)

Fallon, Michael

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fowler, Rt Hon Norman

Fox, Sir Marcus

French, Douglas

Gale, Roger

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Goodlad, Alastair

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorst, John

Gow, Ian

Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Ground, Patrick

Hague, William

Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hanley, Jeremy

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Hayes, Jerry

Hayward, Robert

Heathcoat-Amory, David

Heddle, John

Howard, Michael

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunter, Andrew

Jack, Michael

Janman, Tim

Jessel, Toby

Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

Knapman, Roger

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Lilley, Peter

Lyell, Sir Nicholas

Maclean, David

McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick

Mans, Keith

Maples, John

Mellor, David

Meyer, Sir Anthony

Mills, Iain

Morris, M (N'hampton S)

Moss, Malcolm

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Needham, Richard

Neubert, Michael

Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)

Norris, Steve

Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley

Patten, John (Oxford W)

Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Porter, Barry (Wirral S)

Raison, Rt Hon Timothy

Redwood, John

Rhodes James, Robert

Riddick, Graham

Ridsdale, Sir Julian

Rost, Peter

Rowe, Andrew

Sackville, Hon Tom

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)

Sims, Roger

Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)

Stanbrook, Ivor

Steen, Anthony

Stevens, Lewis

Sumberg, David

Summerson, Hugo

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)

Temple-Morris, Peter

Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thorne, Neil

Thurnham, Peter

Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)

Twinn, Dr Ian

Waddington, Rt Hon David

Walden, George

Ward, John

Warren, Kenneth

Wells, Bowen

Wheeler, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wolfson, Mark

Wood, Timothy

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Irvine Patnick and

Mr. John M. Taylor.


Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Beith, A. J.

Carttiss, Michael

Fearn, Ronald

Skinner, Dennis

Tellers for the Noes

Mr. Bob Cryer and

Mr. Joe Ashton.

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