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Mr. Boyes : It affects us when massive hordes of people come down from Scotland and start breaking up Newcastle. That happens occasionally, but in general we have a mutual trust and it is probably the most wonderful experience of all to be in a good, big stadium. The noise, the charm, the players, the referee, the whistle and the rest are extremely special.
Mr. Gallie : Is not it a fact that all-seater stadiums tend to charge more for access ? The cost of sitting down in the ground is higher and the club's income is increased. With precise emphasis on the valuation, higher ticket prices increase the value of the ground so that seating has a profound effect on the rating implications for the clubs in future.
Mr. Boyes : The hon. Gentleman has made the point for me. There is greater revenue at all-seater football grounds. They produce more cash, often to the detriment of some fans. There are occasions at football grounds when people chant the name of the club and so on and that becomes an important part of the match. It is as much a part of football as kicking the ball. It is vital.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) made an important point about all-seater stadiums, which have allowed the police to control the crowds better.
Mr. Boyes rose
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I went to watch Northampton rugby football club, which is in the first division and plays wonderful rugby football. The fact that the police were there is irrelevant to the rating valuation of Franklins Gardens and is equally irrelevant to any of the football stadiums that the hon. Gentleman is about to mention. I should be grateful if he would desist on that particular line of argument.
Mr. Boyes : I accept what you say, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If you allow me to mention it, I recently went to Sunderland football club to watch how the police managed crowd control. I go to football matches regularly and recently I visited Northampton, not for the rugby but for the football. That certainly needed some rating valuation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that Northampton town football club, the Cobblers, is bottom of the third division. I hope that his presence was not part of the reason we lost at home recently.
Mr. Boyes : That is how the expression cobblers originated. Your information, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is spot on. The Northampton club was solidly rock bottom, but, under new management, it is now moving up the league. I played rugby as well as football, so I can understand why you
Column 917enjoy both. You enjoy the football, knowing exactly where the team is in the league, and the strong Northampton rugby union team. That shows how the two parts can make a whole.
Mr. Gordon McMaster (Paisley, South) : I fully intend to keep in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as the order is tightly drawn. It will not come as a surprise to the Minister or the House that I want to say a few words about the first division team, St. Mirren, which is internationally known and plays at Love street in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, North (Mrs. Adams). One reason why that team is internationally known is that it has twice won the Scottish cup. It does so every 30 years. It won it in 1957.
Mr. McMaster : I remember the celebrations in Paisley when we picked up the title again in 1987. I am coming to the point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I want to illustrate my background in this matter. I do not go to St. Mirren games all that often, but then that is the hallmark of a true St. Mirren supporter. I will be at the game on Saturday along with a constituent of mine, Jim Crawford.
Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East) : My hon. Friend says that honesty is the hallmark of a true St. Mirren supporter. If so, does my hon. Friend accept that, when St. Mirren won the Scottish cup in 1987, Dundee United was robbed because it was by far the better team ?
Mr. McMaster : That is a scurrilous allegation and I am surprised, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you did not call my hon. Friend to order. I was there and it was a fair game--but I shall not go down that track.
Mr. Gallie : The honest team is Ayr United, whose players are known as the honest men. St. Mirren are known as the buddies. The real link between St. Mirren and Ayr United is the fact that both play in black and white, but Ayr United is marginally superior.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. This tour of the Scottish league is interesting, but it needs to be related to the order. If the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. McMaster) intends to talk about valuation matters, he is in order, but any more descriptions of former matches or former glories are out of order.
Mr. McMaster : I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was taken in the wrong direction by hon. Members. I shall come to the point. My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, North and I met St. Mirren during its attempt to put together a package to improve its ground, which it has now done. Recently, we received a letter from the Football Trust saying that it had been awarded £1 million for a collaborative venture to
Column 918improve the ground. Its partners in that venture are Paisley university, which will benefit from additional student accommodation as part of the deal, and Scottish Homes.
Can the Minister give us an assurance that the order will not work to the detriment of St. Mirren because it is improving its ground ? The Minister referred to that in general terms in his opening speech. St. Mirren is not only improving its ground but providing student accommodation. I hope that the housing element will not give rise to a dispute about the football ground benefiting in whatever way it can from the order. I shall understand if the Minister cannot answer that specific point tonight, but I shall be grateful if he will deal with the general point and write to me later.
Given the Minister's ability to get parts of his constituency mentioned in legislation, I am surprised that there is no mention of Arthurlie in the order. That, too, is an excellent team--even if it is not quite as good as Johnstone Burgh.
Will the Minister clarify three points ? First, the order refers to circumstances in which two clubs share the same football ground. Many football pundits have predicted that that will happen more and more in the years ahead, especially with small football teams. Will the Minister clarify the exact position in respect of two football clubs sharing one ground ?
Secondly, will the Minister clarify the reference in the order to the revenue from executive boxes ? Some football clubs, by their very nature, are likely to benefit from corporate marketing techniques. For example, Glasgow Rangers and, even more so now, Glasgow Celtic will benefit from corporate marketing. But what about small clubs that do not have tremendous executive facilities ? Likewise, the order refers to the revenue earned from season tickets. Will the Minister clarify how the order will impact on the sale of season tickets ?
The third issue is currently receiving some attention because of the proposed reorganisation of local government in Scotland. Yesterday, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), made a statement to the effect that each of the more than 30 new police authorities in Scotland will be responsible for policing football grounds in its area and that the cost will be rechargeable to the club. The Minister specifically said that the cost of policing within football grounds was rechargeable to the club. What charges will be levied for crowd control outside the football ground but within its immediate vicinity ?
Can the Minister give me an assurance that the order contains safeguards against the possibility of a police authority that sees a reduction in its revenue as a result of the order being tempted to increase police charges in order to compensate for that ? That is an important point because, if that happened, the order would be meaningless. Opposition Members have welcomed the order today, but we would be concerned if that happened.
I leave the matter there and hope that the Minister will deal with the specific questions that I have asked.
Mr. Sam Galbraith (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) : My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. McMaster) took me back to my boyhood days as an extemely poor and inadequate footballer. I played at the
Column 919Johnstone Burgh and Arthurlie grounds. They were some of the worst grounds on which I ever played ; I would have been as well off playing on a farmer's field. If the Minister could use any good graces to try to improve those grounds for the generations ahead that might use them, I should be grateful.
I welcome the order. In my boyhood days, I used to watch Morton at Cappielow. Hon. Members may have worked out that I come from Greenock so I would follow Morton at Cappielow ; the only possible reason for my following Morton was that I came from that part of town. I remember the days when Morton was owned by T J Thompson. The ground had no enclosure. We had to stand in the pouring rain with the tide coming in because the drains were dammed back. Anything that encourages any football ground to develop and not be penalised as regards its rateable value is to be welcomed. I welcome the order because it is based on income and receipts rather than on an ability to preserve historic buildings within grounds or to develop the grounds in any way.
My constituency does not have any league football teams, but it has the junior football team of Kirkintilloch Rob Roy. I reiterate the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) about junior football going through a bit of a struggle nowadays. I should be grateful if the Minister would see what he can do to preserve teams such as Kirkintilloch Rob Roy and to help them with their difficulties, because most of my constituents disperse on Saturdays to watch the major teams in the city--Partick Thistle, Rangers and Celtic.
I ask the Minister to find out what will be the change, if any, in the amount that will be paid by Partick Thistle under the order. It has a smaller income, an excellent, well-preserved ground and splendid buildings in the east stand. The order particularly helps such teams.
I should be grateful if the Minister would clarify two points in connection with the order. Page 4 says :
" league ground' means a ground being used by a club in membership of the Scottish Football League as at 1st April 1993 as its sole or main ground for staging league matches."
Will the Minister confirm that if a league club possesses a second ground, it will be rated under a separate system ? Suppose that a club played its reserve games at the second ground. Would it be rated under a second system ? Would any income from the reserve games--remember that they are based under the Scottish Football League--be considered for the evaluation of the rateable value ? That is more of an academic point, as I understand that there is a football league club that has a second ground and is making it into a car park rather than using it for the second team. That is an important point. Is the second ground rated under the old system ? If so, what about the income that it may get through the box from that ?
Just how far out does a ground go for rating purposes ? Is there some technical easy answer ? What about car parks that are owned by the club and surround grounds ? They may be contiguous with the ground or they may not. If they are, do they come under the rating arrangements ? If they are not contiguous with ground, is that considered ? There is a great problem with parking at football matches, with people parking up every side street. More and more clubs are trying to develop their own car parking spaces and that is a welcome move.
What about buildings on the car parks ? Would they be part of the old or part of the new system ? I hope that the order will lead to improvements in grounds such as
Column 920Cappielow park, where I remember those bitter early days, and will help to preserve some of the attractive buildings that some clubs have at the moment.
Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East) : Like other hon. Members, I welcome the order. I apologise for my earlier absence from the debate, particularly as I hold the position of secretary of the all-party Scottish sports group. Perhaps I should have been here at 5 o'clock. I can explain my absence because I am not good at reading the Order Paper and I did not realise that the statutory instrument was being debated at this point.
Mr. McAllion : Perhaps more of an excuse is the fact that I was involved in a sporting activity between 5 and 6 o'clock, when I attended, with my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Wray) and for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. McKelvey) the betting shop along the road to collect our winnings on Lady Polly, who romped home at four to one last night and is owned by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun. Had we not been collecting our winnings, I am sure that we would have been here from the beginning of the debate and heard what the Minister said when introducing the order
Mr. McAllion : Usually, as the Minister well knows, I am quick to condemn him at every opportunity, but when he is doing something positive, he deserves the congratulations of hon. Members on both sides of the House. As the Minister is aware, the all-party Scottish sports group has a long history of campaigning for precisely the kind of measure that has been introduced today.
I have a note of the minute of the meeting that the all-party Scottish sports group held with representatives of the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Football League on 4 February 1991, in which they drew our attention to the problem of the rating of football grounds and the continuing differences in the rating evaluation as applied to football clubs in Scotland and those south of the border. At that time, they were saying that, whereas the Inland Revenue had agreed a formula for assessing the liability of clubs in the south that was based on their income and ability to pay, in Scotland, the traditional assessment of liability in accordance with capital values included assessments of the value of capital improvements still applied.
That was very unjust. I remember that, at the meeting with the SFA, it drew a comparison between Scunthorpe and St. Johnstone FC in Perth, which, as the Minister knows, were similar clubs. Yet because of the way that rating evaluation was carried out in England, Scunthorpe was paying only £12,000 a year in rates whereas St. Johnstone would have been required to pay £90,000.
I remember being told at that time by the SFA that the reason why the Government were finding it difficult--even the Minister explained at some point their problems in introducing a similar system north of the border-- was because of the Scottish assessors, who were reluctant to give up the formula that existed at that time. I am grateful
Column 921if the Minister was able to break down the resistance of the Scottish assessors and ensure that, at long last, Scotland can be placed on the same footing as the rest of the country, particularly England and Wales.
I welcome to the debate my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), the chairman of the all-party Scottish sports group, who perhaps more than any other Member, has been active in promoting the order.
Mr. Gallie : The hon. Gentleman has just demonstrated the Labour party's ability to cause inflation. In the figures given earlier by the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) the sum paid by St. Johnstone was £65,000. The hon. Gentleman has now put that up to £90, 000. Perhaps that is just an aspect of his exaggeration. Other than that, I agree with him.
Mr. McAllion : It is not an aspect of my exaggeration. I have here the manuscript note that I took at the meeting in Glasgow in February 1991, which was addressed by the Scottish Football League and the Scottish football authorities who gave us those figures. I took them down at the time. I have just removed them from my file upstairs, so that figure is reasonably accurate given that it came from the SFA and Scottish Football League, who know something about that. Following that meeting, we wrote to the then Chancellor in 1991--I am not allowed to use his name and I do not know his constituency but he was the Chancellor with a haircut like a badger, if I may describe it in those terms. We wrote to ask him whether perhaps in the Budget that year he would introduce measures to equalise the position between Scotland and England and Wales. He wrote back on 1 March 1991 saying that he could assure us that our comments would be taken on board, but that naturally it would be inappropriate for him to comment before he introduced his Budget for that year. Budgets have come and gone since and we are no nearer to getting such measures introduced.
We continued to lobby after that. I remember writing to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), asking him to meet a delegation from the all-party sports group to discuss the matter. I must apologise to him : shortly afterwards, we failed to show up on the date that had been arranged. That was not the all-party group's fault ; the fault was entirely my own. I, as secretary of the group, had got the date wrong, and had failed to warn the Minister.
I am grateful for the fact that, after a long history punctuated by disappointments, we have at last reached this stage. I hope, however, that- -given my earlier absence--the Minister will say something about the impact of the changes on Dundee's two football clubs, Dundee United and Dundee FC. Their positions are very different : as the Minister knows, Dundee United has carried out an extensive refurbishment of its ground at Tannadice, while Dundee FC has a long way to go in terms of the refurbishment of its own ground. I am sure that--despite its present lowly position in the Premier League, and the threat of resignation hanging over it--Dundee FC will, in the long term, become one of the mainstay clubs in the Premier League, with a very bright future.
Will the Minister tell us how the new system will affect the capital investment that clubs must make to meet the
Column 922requirements of the Taylor report ? Will any limits be set for investment to improve football grounds ? Could two clubs benefit from an incentive to share a single ground ?
My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. McMaster) mentioned the revenue from executive boxes. I hope that the Minister will deal with the question of all the outside revenue received by some clubs, which has nothing to do with attendance at matches. The big clubs--Rangers and Celtic in particular--sell a range of products, through shops and other retail outlets : tracksuits, strips, pillow slips and duvet covers, for instance. [Hon. Members :-- "Celtic shares ?"] Given the kind of money that Celtic offers for players, sometimes a duvet cover would be all that it could get. That is probably all behind the club now, however : I am sure that everything will change, now that there is a new management at Celtic park. I do not mean a new football manager ; I am talking about the directors. What about the expenses incurred by clubs in paying for policing --not only inside the grounds, but outside, to deal with such matters as traffic ? I understand that, at present, clubs need not incur such expenses, but that they may well have to in the future, following the Government's reform of Scottish local government and the institution of new authorities. Those authorities may wish to impose charges of that kind, especially in view of the terrible information imparted yesterday to the Standing Committee considering the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton). He said that policing costs were likely to arise, especially in cities, because they would in future be fully responsible for meeting those costs : the costs would no longer be met by regional councils.
What, if anything, will the order imply for junior clubs, such as those in my own city--Downfield and St. Joseph's, which recently reached the semi- finals of the Scottish junior cup ? Those two outstanding clubs attract reasonable support in the city, and have a bright future. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Dunnachie) Is a stalwart supporter of Pollok Juniors ; will the Minister tell us what may happen to that club ? Will the order apply only to football clubs, or will it apply to rugby clubs and other sporting groups as well ?
Finally, may I ask about the implications for Hampden, the national ground ? It will have a magnificent stadium, once the SFA has completed its phased refurbishment. I think that football in Scotland should be given every possible encouragement--especially in view of recent results. It would be unfortunate if, having made a tremendous effort to invest in Hampden, the SFA received no reward, and was left with liability for rates levied unfairly in comparison with those incurred by other football grounds.
Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West) : I apologise for having missed the early part of the debate owing to Select Committee business. Like others, I welcome the order, as does the all-party parliamentary Scottish sports group of which I am convener ; my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) is the secretary. As the Minister knows, we have been active on this issue for many years. There is a long-standing anomaly whereby many Scottish football clubs face rates bills four or five times the size of those
Column 923faced by their counterparts south of the border, and we have put pressure on the Government for some time to eradicate that unfair arrangement.
We have had meetings with Jim Farry, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, and with representatives of the Scottish Football League. The point has been put to us cogently and articulately on those occasions, backed up with facts and figures. I am glad that, eventually, the Government have admitted the existence of an unfair anomaly--and, moreover, are taking action by means of the order. This is a belated but nevertheless welcome fulfilment of a commitment given some time ago.
I understand that a degree of retrospection, or retroaction, is involved in the order ; I should be grateful if the Minister would confirm that the arrangements will be backdated, rather than simply coming into effect from the beginning of the next financial year. The reason for the anomaly was the difference in the methods of valuation of football grounds used in Scotland and south of the border. In Scotland, valuation was based on the contractor's principle ; in England, it tended to be based on the revenue principle. That led to a disincentive for many Scottish clubs to improve their grounds in line with the recommendations of the Taylor report.
Safety must, of course, be uppermost in our minds, in the light of incidents in both Scotland and England, when the safety and comfort of football supporters have not been up to the standard that they deserve. If the Government wish to encourage clubs to implement the recommendations of the Taylor report, they should bear it in mind that the deadline for the establishment of all-seater stadiums for Scottish premier division clubs is the beginning of next season--August 1994.
Under the existing valuation system, if clubs spent perhaps millions of pounds in improving stadiums, the rateable value of those stadiums increased, as did their rates bills. In a sense, those clubs were being penalised for improving their grounds. Such a grave disincentive to the implementation of the recommendations in the Taylor report is very unfair, and I am glad that the Government are at last responding.
A few months ago, we went to see the Minister to press the case for the measure. We were told that virtually all clubs in the Scottish football league would benefit from the Government's proposals. However, my recollection is that, when we pressed the Minister for further details, we were informed that a couple of clubs--not many more than that--might stand to lose under the new regulations. In other words, their rates bill would increase rather than decrease. I was somewhat astounded to find that one of the clubs--I speak from memory--was East Stirlingshire football club, which is based in my constituency. I suppose that I should declare an interest as I am a shareholder, albeit a very modest one, in that club. It is my only claim to dabbling in capitalism.
I can assure the Minister that attendances at Firs Park, the home of East Stirlingshire football club, are not huge although the club probably has more supporters than the Scottish Tory party, even if that is not saying very much. I should be grateful if the Minister could confirm whether East Stirlingshire football club and perhaps one or two others in the Scottish Football League will face an increase in their rates bill, rather than a decrease, as a result of the order. If so, will he quantify the increase and explain it, because it appears that the new valuation is to be based on the revenue principle--the number of people coming
Column 924through the turnstiles at Firs Park--so I fail to understand how on earth the rates bill can be increased compared with the bill under the present system which is based on the contractor's principle. In spite of the general welcome for the measure, there is also extreme disappointment that Hampden Park has apparently been excluded. The reason given by the Minister at his meeting with the all-party Scottish sports group was that it would be unfair to base Hampden Park's rateable value on the average attendances at Queen's Park football club's home matches. That is a fair point, and we accepted it, but I suggested at the meeting that, although the formula in the order might not be applicable in the case of the national stadium, it was surely not beyond the wit of the Minister and his advisers to devise a different formula not simply based on the home attendances at Queen's Park matches but taking into account attendances at international matches, cup finals, cup semi-finals and other big matches held at the national stadium. I am sorry that the Minister has apparently not seen fit to do so. That is one aspect of our campaign that we shall continue in order to get a fair deal for the national stadium and for Queen's Park as well as other Scottish football clubs.
I realise that this is an interim order in the sense that there will be a general revaluation next year. I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity of the 1995 revaluation to introduce a more radical comprehensive change to implement a solution that will include Hampden Park and perhaps many of the smaller stadiums which are excluded by the order, which refers only to clubs in the Scottish Football League, not to those in the Highland league or the junior football leagues.
The Minister should seize on the 1995 revaluation as an opportunity to have a far more radical look at the system of valuation for football stadiums so that we can get a fairer deal not only for all clubs in the Scottish league, including East Stirlingshire, but for all junior clubs and Queen's Park, the Scottish Football Association and Hampden Park, the national stadium.
We appreciate the fact that the Government have given some assistance to improve the national stadium. The first phase of the improvements is to be opened officially next week--a week tonight--with an international match against the Netherlands, which will be a great occasion. I urge the Government to think not only of the first phase but to ensure that there is adequate Government support for future phases of the Hampden Park redevelopment so that the Scottish football team and its supporters are given the national stadium that they deserve.
I must tell the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) that, in opening the debate, I paid tribute to him and the all-party Scottish sports group for their work. There is therefore nothing personal in the fact that East Stirlingshire is to lose as a result of the changes. The current assessment of East Stirlingshire, which, as far as I can see, is the lowest in the Scottish Football League, is to rise from £1,350 to £1,900 under the proposals.
Column 925I am glad that I have rather better news for my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie). Ayr United--the honest men- -is to benefit from a reduction of about a third in its rateable value.
The hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) will be delighted to know that Partick Thistle's current assessment of £13,500 is to be reduced to £3,800, so that there will no doubt be celebration among the Jags supporters.
The hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) will be interested to know that the current assessment of £4,750 will be reduced to £2,500.
Mr. McMaster rose
Mr. Stewart : I am coming to the hon. Gentleman's perfectly right and proper question about St. Mirren. He will be happy to know that St. Mirren will benefit by a reduction of £3,600 in its formula valuation. The money will no doubt be put to good use. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman absolutely on the issue of ground improvements, which was also raised by a number of other hon. Members. The fact that we are moving to a formula based on clubs' home league gate receipts from the 1987-88 season will benefit those clubs that will be making improvements for Taylor or other reasons because their rateable values will not increase as they would have done under the previous system. I shall take away and examine the hon. Gentleman's other question about the precise development at Love street, although, finally, it would be a matter for the assessor.
I am grateful for the general welcome given to the order. Hon. Members asked about the definition of gate receipts. I can confirm that it includes income from executive boxes, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden.
Mr. McAllion : I hope that the Minister does not mind my intervening, but I am feeling a little left out because he has told all the other hon. Members about their teams--what is to happen to the two Dundee teams ?
Mr. Stewart : I have good news for the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion). Dundee United's current assessment of £47,000 will be reduced to £26,800. Dundee's assessment of £25,000 will be reduced to £24,100, but, of course, if it implements the improvements to which to hon. Gentleman refers, it will benefit from the present system compared to what would have occurred under the previous system. With that menu of good news to hon. Members on both sides of the House, I commend the order to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
That the draft Mines and Quarries (Rateable Values) (Scotland) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved.
That the draft Industrial and Freight Transport (Rateable Values) (Scotland) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved.
That the draft Football Grounds (Rateable Values) (Scotland) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved.
That the draft Telecommunications Industry (Rateable Values) (Amendment) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved. -- [Mr. Stewart.]