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Column 31rebuilding of grounds that is involved in the provision of covered all-seater stadiums is quite beyond the resources of most third division and fourth division clubs, many of which have been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for years? The Government provide substantial public help to commercial undertakings in the arts. Why do they refuse to do likewise in order that our national game may be brought up to a decent standard?
Mr. Waddington : If the hon. Gentleman reads the Taylor report, he will be impressed by what Lord Justice Taylor has to say about the opportunities that are open to clubs to attract new revenues and by the money that is available already. One must put this matter in perspective. If the Football Association and the Football League continue, year by year, to obtain from television rights the same amount of money as they obtain now, they will have drawn, by 1999, no less than £162 million from that source alone. Nobody has suggested to me that the total cost of providing an all-seater, covered stadium would be more than £162 million.
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West) : On behalf of hon. Members some of whose constituents died at Hillsborough, and who are in contact with support groups of parents and friends of those victims, I say to my right hon. and learned Friend that the Taylor report, with all its implications, is very welcome. He no doubt realises that those people will share the view that had there been an all-seater stadium at Hillsborough on that dreadful day the accident that led to this report would never have occurred in any circumstances. Will he, in the light of what has been said about transfers- -we are all aware that the £1 million footballer is not uncommon--give serious consideration to primary legislation on a levy, so that money from transfers may be put into ground safety to make sure that spectators enjoy their football peacefully and out of danger?
Mr. Waddington : I agree that no more important safety measure could be introduced than all-seater stadiums. I do not think that anyone would doubt that for one moment. I hear what my hon. Friend says about a levy on transfer fees, but it is for the clubs to address that matter. It is no use saying that the money circulates round and round, because when one considers the sale of a player to a continental club and sees new money coming to a club as a result of such a sale, it is not easy to comprehend why that new revenue does not go to improving the ground.
Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) : The report demonstrates Lord Justice Taylor's understanding of football and football clubs, but that will come as no surprise to those in the north-east, who know that he spent many of his younger days as a spectator at St. James's park, Newcastle. Will the Home Secretary give a firm commitment that, before the Government come forward with any other proposals that may later have to be withdrawn, they will consult more widely with football clubs throughout the country and--particularly in respect of all-seater stadiums- -with football supporters' asociations, who have most to gain and most to lose by any decision made in that regard?
Column 32point out to the hon. Gentleman that the legislation to bring about all-seater stadiums is already on the statute book.
Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh) : My right hon. and learned Friend will remember that, not too many years ago, there were signs of disturbance at race meetings throughout the country, but immediately afterwards the racing authorities put their house in order. They did so imaginatively and without asking for Government resources. As a consequence, a growing number of families attend race meetings throughout the country. Is not that a pointer to what should be done by the football authorities?
Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill) : I assure the Home Secretary there will be widespread support in Liverpool for Lord Justice Taylor's painstaking and workmanlike report. There will be support also for today's announcement by the Government that they will suspend the compulsory identity card scheme, and that some semblance of civilised surroundings will be provided for all football spectators and not just for the very rich.
I want to press the Home Secretary on one matter. He said that even the passage of time would not dull the pain of the bereaved. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that many families are still trying to obtain compensation but have been caught up in a protracted and litigious procedure that has not met their needs. The Home Secretary has received representations from myself and from other right hon. and hon. Members, Liverpool Law Society, and families who have been bereaved. What action is he taking to ensure that more expeditious procedures are introduced?
Mr. Waddington : The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, but that matter is not for me to consider. Those who have suffered loss, damage or bereavement as a result of someone else's negligence have a right to recover damages in the courts.
Mr. Matthew Carrington (Fulham) : My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware that the delay in implementing the football membership scheme will throw a greater burden on the police in attempting to contain hooliganism outside grounds on match days. My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware also that at present football clubs make no financial contribution to police activities outside their grounds. Clubs reimburse probably as little as 20 per cent. of total policing costs, the other 80 per cent. falling as a burden on local ratepayers, now community charge payers. Will my right hon. and learned Friend re-examine that aspect as a matter of priority to see whether it would be appropriate to ensure that football clubs contribute to the cost of policing outside their grounds?
Mr. Waddington : The position is even worse than that outlined by my hon. Friend. The Taylor report says that only about one tenth of the total cost of policing London matches is met by the clubs. The right way forward is that recommended by Taylor, which is to make realistic charges for the cost of policing inside football grounds, which will encourage clubs to train stewards and ultimately to have fewer police officers inside.
Column 33to affect the price of tickets, and is he resigned to football's becoming a rich man's game? Does he realise that many third and fourth division clubs are in a parlous state? My club, Newport County, ceased to exist because of financial difficulties. What ideas has he for direct assistance from public funds for the installation of grandstands at such grounds?
Mr. Waddington : I can only repeat that those who invite people to a sporting occasion as a commercial venture have a duty to ensure that the ground is safe for those people. It is their responsibility, and no other person's.
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale) : As my right hon. and learned Friend has said, the safety of the fan must be paramount, and it was on safety grounds that some Conservative Members felt unable to support the Football Spectators Bill. In the light of today's statement, does he agree that the real benefit of football membership schemes is that they would bring fans and football management closer in the interests of football, and that we should deal with the hooligan by taking tough and swift action against him? Will he assure the House and the country that, if they are to embrace all Lord Justice Taylor's recommendations, the Government will implement the aspects of law and order that deal with hooliganism, such as electronic tagging and the wider use of detention centres?
Ms. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North) : Does the Home Secretary agree that ground safety is the most important aspect? He has said that football clubs must take the cost on board. Will he examine the various grants given by the Football Ground Improvements Trust to all Football League clubs? Having looked at the figures, he will probably agree with Opposition Members that it is the clubs in the third and fourth divisions and some in the second division such as Port Vale that are most in need of Government financial aid so that their grounds can be made safe for all the supporters who use them.
Mr. Waddington : Clubs in the third and fourth divisions will have a longer period over which to move from standing to all-seater stadiums. It is up to the football authorities to consider whether additional aid should be given to those whose revenue is smaller than that of clubs in the first and second divisions.
Several Hon. Members rose--
Mr. Speaker : Order. I must have regard for the subsequent business, in which a considerable number of hon. Members wish to participate. I will take three more questions from each side ; then we must move on.
Mr. Robert Banks (Harrogate) : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that Lord Justice Taylor's report is a blueprint for action, not words, and that British football's international reputation will depend on the speed with which clubs implement the improvements that it recommends? How will my right hon. and learned Friend control hooligans who might otherwise go abroad and damage that reputation through their appalling behaviour at grounds on the continent and elsewhere?
Mr. Waddington : I did not mention this afternoon--because I think that it is well known to the House--the fact that we are moving swiftly to implement part II of the Football Spectators Act, a measure that I think even the Opposition applaud.
Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East) : Does the Home Secretary accept that the half dozen richest clubs in the country can well afford to install all-seater stadiums? What he seems not to understand is that no million-pound footballers play for West Bromwich Albion ; that the television cameras will not be following me, or paying a fee, to watch Stockport County play Aldershot next Saturday ; and that, for millions of people in this country, watching their home town football team is not a commercial proposition, as he so blithely puts it, but a long-standing commitment inherited from their parents.
How many football games has the Home Secretary been to see this year, and how many has the Prime Minister ever seen? Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman talks nonsense about clubs funding their own all-seater stadiums, will he tell the House how much money the Government take out of football through their pools betting levy?
Mr. Waddington : I do not doubt for one moment that those who go to football grounds do not think that they are going off on a business venture. However, that does not alter the fact that those who run the grounds are operating business ventures. It is for those who operate business ventures to ensure that they operate them properly and safely.
I think that I ought to invite the hon. Gentleman to look at what Lord Justice Taylor says about the pool betting tax. He makes a number of points, and says that the comparison that is often made with racing is not apt. He points out that there is far more scope for money to be taken out of the pools industry, but that that money could come out of the industry in a variety of ways--either more money from spot-the-ball competitions, or through a voluntary levy, or through an increase in the amount that is paid by the football promoters for the fixture list.
Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham) : My right hon. and learned Friend's firm statement will be greatly welcomed in Shrewsbury. The people of Shrewsbury have bitter memories of the effects of a visit by Middlesbrough fans which turned the town upside down.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the general public is concerned not just about safety at football grounds but also about safety outside football grounds? Will he remind those who call for more public funds that substantial sums of public money have to be made available to fund the 5,000 police officers who are needed to protect the non-football- watching public from the effects of hooliganism?
Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington) : All of us want people to be safe and improvements to grounds to be made, but the Home Secretary neither knows nor understands football. I hope that he will follow the example of the Minister for Sport and accept my invitation to Hartlepool United's next home match, when he might
Column 35gain a greater understanding of the problems that fourth division clubs have to face. Does he not accept that, without both direct and indirect Government aid, a large number of third and fourth division football clubs will not be around in 1999 to build all-seater stadiums?
Mr. Waddington : I am most grateful for the hon. Gentleman's invitation to visit Hartlepool United. I shall consider it carefully and will have a word with him after questions on the statement. I am afraid that I have forgotten the hon. Gentleman's question ; I was so overcome by his invitation.
Mr. Alistair Burt (Bury, North) : My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware that in recent years, particularly since the Bradford fire, a number of additional safety burdens have been placed on clubs. He may also be aware that one of the problems has been the conflicting requirements of the various safety authorities--the local authorities, the fire brigade and the police. Sometimes they have asked for different things. Can my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the Football Licensing Authority will exercise some supervisory mechanism so that no longer will too many people ask the clubs to perform different safety functions which they just cannot perform? Will the Football Licensing Authority remove that problem, particularly for the smaller clubs, as it has cost them dear?
Mr. Waddington : Lord Justice Taylor certainly confirmed our earlier view that there simply must be a licensing authority to supervise the way in which local authorities exercise their certification procedures. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to stress how necessary it is to have such a body.
Several Hon. Members rose --
Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath) : I suppose that it is a great compliment to be grossly misquoted twice by the Home Secretary during questions on one statement. I remind him that, when I said that there is no such thing as football hooliganism, I meant that there is violence and hooliganism in society, of which football hooliganism is one part. The Government committed themselves at the general election to eradicating it, but it is worse now than when they came to office in 1979.
What on earth will the Government do about the World cup this year? Part I of the Act has gone, the Football Membership Authority has gone, the computers have gone and the possibility of feeding names into computers has gone. Unless the Government tell us what action they propose to take, in June this year all the people whom Lord Justice Taylor and the rest of us have spent
Column 36years discussing will be free to cause havoc in Europe. It is no good the Minister for Sport telling us that it is a matter for the Football Association. I want the Government to take the action that was proposed in part II. [ Hon. Members :-- "They will."] I know, but they will not have any names to feed into the computer. As a result of the chaos that the Government have brought about, what will happen in June is a matter of the greatest concern.
The Home Secretary should understand that some of us believe that all- seater stadiums are desirable and inevitable and wish to have them as soon as we can. However, although we asked the Minister four times in Committee, we still do not know whether 10,000 people at one match I described in Committee, who were allocated seats at Manchester City but refused to be seated, would be committing a criminal offence. Will the Home Secretary explain how we shall deal with that phenomenon?
Finally, does not the Home Secretary understand that, because of the free- market economy to which his Government are committed, transfer fees in Britain are determined by those paid in Europe? It is inconceivable that we could have a levy or a regulation on those fees because, as I understand it, it would be unlawful under European legislation. The Home Secretary's comments on that would be helpful.
Mr. Waddington : The point that Lord Justice Taylor made about transfer fees was that such large expenditure on transfer fees seemed rather grotesque and obscene when so much blatantly needed to be done to improve the premises into which people were invited. I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for my earlier strictures, but they were meant in good part to provoke him to respond. I must tell him that I was quoting exactly from his speech on Second Reading, I am afraid that his denials will not stand him in good stead, because his precise words were :
"I do not believe there is any such thing as football hooliganism"--[ Official Report, 27 June 1989 ; Vol. 155, c. 916.] I am afraid that those words will endure, and I shall not be able to resist the temptation to throw them back at him from time to time.
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that part II of the Football Spectators Act 1989 will be in operation before June, and that before then there will be negotiations with the Italian Government which will enable a list of corresponding offences to be drawn up, so that convictions for any of those offences in Italy can result in exclusion orders in Britain.
I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has persisted with that ridiculous point. If he had studied the matter for one moment, he would realise that it is intended that the safety certificates will be so operated that eventually the terraces will go and the clubs will not be able to invite people to stand on the terraces. Quite clearly, when people go into a seater stand, it will be up to them to decide whether they stand or sit, but I believe that most of them will have the sense to sit.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. One of the casualties of the practice of taking points of order arising out of questions is the opportunity for Ministers, with the total understanding and good will of the House, correcting themselves on points of fact. It is a bit difficult to raise a point of order one and a quarter hours later. It is within your recollection, Mr. Speaker, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) very properly asked the Energy Minister about his former press secretary, the Prime Minister's--
Mr. Dalyell : It has to do precisely with the practice of Ministers correcting themselves on points of fact. I shall not go into the substance of the issue. I simply draw your attention to the fact that, when the Minister of State said that he knew nothing of the matter, very overtly and within the sight of us all, the Secretary of State passed him what was clearly a ministerial note on it. That was understandable, because it would have been quite incredible had Energy Ministers not known about the actions of BNFL in sponsoring a highly paid civil servant.
Mr. Speaker : Order. This is clearly a continuation of Question Time. I cannot take points of order arising out of answers. It is not a matter for me ; it is a matter for the Government or for the right hon. Gentleman to have it put right.
Order for Second Reading read.
There is considerable pressure to speak in the debate. Therefore, I ask hon. Members to keep their speeches brief, please. I am not proposing to limit them to 10 minutes today, but if brief speeches are made, most of the hon. Members who wish to participate in the debate will be called.
On 29 June 1983, in my maiden speech to this House, I referred to the closed shop as a critical area--critical for the personal freedom of individual workers as well as for the link between strikes and unemployment --in which the legislative support given to the individual was inadequate. On 8 November 1983, in the debate on the Second Reading of the Trade Union Bill, in which the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) also took part, I criticised the Government for not taking action to remedy that injustice.
Although progress has been made, since 1983 it remains the case that what has so far been achieved is not enough. It is therefore a particular privilege for me today to move the Second Reading of this Bill, for it will provide the legislative support which for so long has been missing. It takes the final step in making the closed shop unlawful.
It is a hammer blow for the freedom of the individual to choose for himself whether or not he wishes to become a member of a trade union. It puts paid once and for all to the tyranny of forced association, which has for so long been cherished by the trade unions and the Labour party.
The Bill can be seen as the culmination of the long process of reform which began 10 years ago, when the first Employment Bill of this Government was introduced by my right hon. and noble predecessor, Lord Prior.
Sir David Mitchell (Hampshire, North-West) : Before my right hon. and learned Friend leaves that point, members of the Select Plymouth Brethren are concerned that they believe it to be a requirement to employ trade unionists as a result of proposals in the Bill. They find that against their consciences. Will my right hon. and learned Friend consider their point?
I pay tribute to all my predecessors who have contributed to that process of reform, in particular my immediate predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler), who was responsible for the Employment Act 1988 and for the preparation of the Bill.
Column 39There can be no doubt about the transformation which has taken place in British industrial relations in the past decade. In the 1970s, this country lost, on average, 13 million days a year through strikes. Over the past three years, the average has been less than a third of that figure. By 1988, strikes were at their lowest level for over 50 years.
At the same time, we have seen the end of many of the most notorious restrictive practices which held back the growth of our economy in the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, we have seen improvements in productivity which were wholly out of reach in the previous decade. Manufacturing productivity has grown at over 5 per cent. a year since 1980--far better than the average of 1.5 per cent. in the 1970s. In the 1960s and 1970s, this country was bottom of the international league for productivity growth ; since 1980, our record of productivity growth has been better than that of any other major industrialised country.
Nothing did more to drive investment away from this country in the 1970s than our record of strikes, poor productivity and overmanning. Nothing has done more over the past 10 years to convince investors that Britain is the place in which to invest than the reduction in the level of strikes, the improvement in our productivity and the elimination of inefficient and archaic working practices. That transformation has occurred because this Government, unlike our predecessors, have had the courage to put sensible step-by-step reforms on to the statute book. Without our legislation, flying pickets would still be able to spread disruption far and wide as they did in the winter of discontent, millions more employees would still be working in closed shops imposed on them without the least regard to their wishes, and strikes would still be called by the intimidation of the massed meeting in the company car park, without any recourse to the secret ballot.
Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North) : My right hon. and learned Friend mentioned the closed shop, but may I return to the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell)? For obvious reasons of principle, the Brethren welcome the ending of the closed shop, but they argue that, if they are compelled to employ someone who belongs to a union, he will be compelled to serve two masters, which is unacceptable to them on religious grounds. Will my right hon. and learned Friend reconsider the reply that he gave my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West on this important issue?
Mr. Howard : I understand the reasoning behind the concern that has been expressed, but I fear that I can do no more, even for my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway), than repeat the assurance that I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell). I shall consider the matter, but I am doubtful about the extent to which I shall be able to accommodate it.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Will the Minister, who is a lawyer and a member of a closed shop, explain why what has happened in the past two years has been contrary to what he has just been saying? Trade unionists in bus, rail and tube services, the Post Office, the National Health Service and the BBC and the National and Local Government Officers Association have scored victories
Column 40against employers to ensure that they do not fall behind inflation. If everything is so rosy, why do the Government continue to hammer ambulance workers, who are trying to get a decent wage increase? If everything is so good, why is everything so bad?
Mr. Howard : It is typical of the hon. Gentleman that he relishes and takes such joy and glee from the number of working days lost. I gave the House the figures for 1988--the last year for which figures are available. There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of working days lost through industrial action, and I would have hoped that the House would rejoice in that, because it should appreciate that that has led to tremendous improvements in Britain's economic performance and the economic prospects of our fellow countrymen.
Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall) : The Minister appears to want to avoid the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) about the legal profession, which has been raised time and again when the closed shop has been discussed. As a lifelong trade unionist and ex-employee of the Trades Union Congress, I can tell the Minister that we like voluntary trade unionism, but we do not like working with free riders.
It is quite wrong to suggest that the law is a closed shop. Lawyers, like doctors, must obtain qualifications before they practise. Does the hon. Member for Bolsover believe that doctors should not be required to obtain qualifications before practising? That is an entirely absurd analogy, as everyone knows, not least the hon. Member for Sedgefield.
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax) : The Minister feels strongly about geting rid of the closed shop and spoke of "tyranny" in that context. Why did not the Department or his predecessor bother to collect complaints on the closed shop? I wrote a letter to his predecessor, to which I received a reply on 16 November, about the number of employees who have complained about the closed shop since 1979. The reply says :
"Complaints are received each year on the operation of the closed shop but it is not possible to establish accurately how many were made by employees."
Labour Members would be more convinced of the Minister's arguments if he produced some hard evidence of complaints of tyranny.
Mr. Howard : The hon. Lady evidently fails to understand that there is a clear point of principle at the heart of the Bill--that people should not be refused employment because they are or are not members of a trade union. The breach of that clear principle has led to much injustice in the past.
Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : The Minister says that the principle has led to "much injustice". What injustice? Will he explain that, because I have negotiated closed shop agreements for 100 per cent. trade union membership? We always made provision for people who held religious convictions and did not want to join a trade union, but that is now being outlawed by the Bill.
Column 41Mr. Howard : The hon. Gentleman has a short memory. I shall remind him in a moment of some of the injustices that have occurred. The principle underlying all our legislation has been the need to achieve a fair balance of rights between the rights of trade unions and those with legitimate disputes with their employers and the rights of employers and employees who simply want to get on with their business and protect their jobs. We believe that the role of law in industrial relations is to limit abuses of industrial power and to guarantee the democratic rights of trade union members. That is the principle that underlies the Bill.
The first three clauses of the Bill are on the closed shop and discrimination in recruitment on grounds of union membership. Conservative Members have always taken the view that no one should be refused a job because they do not hold a union card. That restriction on employment has no more place in any civilised society than a refusal to give a job to somone on the grounds of their colour or sex.
It is just as indefensible to deny someone a job because he is a union member as it is to deny someone else a job because he is not. The Bill is therefore entirely even-handed in its approach. It makes it unlawful to refuse a job either on grounds of union membership or on grounds of union non-membership. As a result, once the Bill becomes law, discrimination on grounds of trade union membership or non-membership will be every bit as unlawful as sexual or racial discrimination.
Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham) : Will the Secretary of State explain what right he is giving to trade unionists if he is not giving them the right to have their union negotiate on their behalf? The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the Bill is even-handed, but it is not even- handed if an employer may merely say to the worker, "Of course you can join a trade union but don't expect me to talk to your trade union about your wages and conditions." What does that achieve?
Mr. Howard : The hon. Gentleman must know that negotiating rights are an entirely different matter. We are discussing the important principle that no one should be denied a job because he or she is a member of a trade union. That principle will achieve legislative support for the very first time in this Bill.
The Bill defines refusal of employment widely. It makes it unlawful for an employment agency to refuse any of its services to someone because he or she is or is not a trade union member and it specifically prohibits advertisements that discriminate on grounds of union membership. In each case, the remedy is a right of complaint to an industrial tribunal. If a trade union or any other person or organisation brings pressure on an employer to discriminate against people who are or are not union members, the Bill allows them to be joined to the proceedings and made liable for penalties.
Anyone who doubts the violation of civil liberties involved in the closed shop--here I come to the question asked by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer)--need only recall the thousands of people who were forced into union membership against their will by the last Labour Government's illiberal and indefensible legislation of 1974 and 1976. Hundreds of people were thrown out of their jobs without a penny of compensation as a direct result of that legislation, simply because they refused to join a trade union. As a direct result of that
Column 42legislation, the United Kingdom was held to be in breach of the European convention on human rights. Yet the hon. Member for Walton asks "What injustices?"
The Bill will put an end once and for all to that legacy of shame. It will strip the closed shop of its last vestiges of legal protection, and not a moment too soon.
Mr. John Evans (St. Helens, North) : Will the Secretary of State confirm that, although the Bill will make the pre-entry closed shop unenforceable in law, a 100 per cent. voluntary trade union shop will still be legal and acceptable?
Mr. Howard : The terms of the Bill are entirely clear. The Bill will make unlawful the refusal of employment to anyone on the grounds that he is or is not a member of a trade union. There cannot be any doubt about that.