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Madam Speaker: With permission, I shall put together the motions relating to delegated legislation.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),


    That the draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Northern Ireland) Order 1998, which was laid before this House on 1st June, be approved.

    Value Added Tax

    That the Value Added Tax (Reduced Rate) Order 1998 (S.I., 1998, No. 1375), dated 3rd June 1998, which was laid before this House on 3rd June, be approved.

    Social Security

    That the draft Child Benefit and Social Security (Fixing and Adjustment of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 1998, which were laid before this House on 8th June, be approved.

    Public Health

    That the draft Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 Statutory Sum Order 1998, which was laid before this House on 8th June, be approved.

    Civil Aviation

    That the draft Air Carrier Liability Order 1998, which was laid before this House on 23rd June, be approved.--[Janet Anderson.]

Question agreed to.

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Wembley Stadium

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Janet Anderson.]

10.14 pm

Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford, South): By this time tomorrow evening, we shall know the fate of the England football team, which will be playing Argentina. I am sure that all hon. Members wish the team good luck. We have all been captivated by the excitement of the world cup and the skills on display; similarly, we all recognise its beneficial impact on the economy of the host country. That is why we all look forward to England winning the bid to host the world cup in 2006.

Tonight's debate is about the future of Wembley stadium, the spiritual home of football. Those of us who have played there or been supporters there would be happy to see it redeveloped, but the reason for this debate is that a number of colleagues and I are concerned that the redevelopment is not taking place as smoothly as it might. We are worried about the speed at which the stadium is to be redeveloped.

In April 1995, a competition was held to evaluate proposals for a national stadium, which was to accommodate football, athletics and rugby. Over a six-month period, five bids, including one from Bradford, were considered. The feeling at the time was that the process was a bit of a sham, because everyone knew that Wembley needed redeveloping. Many of us argued that there should be two national stadiums, one in the north and the other in the south at Wembley, to complement redevelopments at Hampden park, Murrayfield and Cardiff.

History shows that Wembley was selected and that the other bids, although credible, all failed. The feedback, limited though it was, implied that the Bradford bid was too commercial--but Bradford's case was very strong. Bradford can be accessed by 10 million people in an hour and by 20 million in two hours. Two international airports are within an hour's drive, and the Euro-ports on the Humber and the west coast ports are all within two hours' travelling time. I hope that the door will not be closed on a stadium of the north--I hope that it will be actively considered.

We all want Wembley to be redeveloped and wish the English National Stadium Trust well in its endeavours. However, owing to a combination of events, I understand that progress is slow and unconvincing. Of the £140 million available, £103 million will have to go Wembley plc for the sale of the leasehold. Wembley plc is making a great deal of money out of Wembley stadium; many of the supporters who go there are from the north. The sale needs to be completed quickly and contracts need to be exchanged.

The Sports Council, which is also a partner, intends to hold a golden share to prevent the stadium from being sold on for future housing development, and so on. The Football Association is embroiled in complex issues such as covenants for games at Wembley for the next 20 years, and raising £200 million to spend on the stadium. The trust will hold the freehold, and the lease will be handed to the FA at £1, for 125 years. As planning permission is required, a start must be made on all the grand plans within the next 12 months to meet the deadlines.

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Brent council has worked well with the trust, requiring social amenities under a section 106 planning agreement, at a cost of more than £45 million; but the trust is not a commercial operation and money needs to be found to ensure progress soon. There is a lot of good will among the parties involved, but it needs to be turned into meaningful action. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide both leadership and answers to the outstanding questions.

One such question is: will buying the freehold from the current owners leave the trust with enough funds to complete the redevelopment? Another is: will the issues surrounding the section 106 agreement be resolved? Will the funding from other sources be available? Has the contract between the Sports Council and the trust been signed? And what is to stop Wembley plc entering a deal with Arsenal football club? I hope for answers to all those questions; I also hope that the viability of a stadium in the north will be considered.

There will be a development in Bradford and, if the £140 million had been available at the time, I am sure that our stadium would have been in place. We are seeing developments in Manchester and Sheffield and investment in many of the football and rugby grounds in the north, but we can develop and sustain two national stadiums. I hope that we have the opportunity to host the world cup in 2006 in stadiums that are equivalent to, if not better than, those in France. I am sure that my hon. Friends will talk about the impact on their communities and the need for Wembley to be redeveloped as quickly as possible.

10.19 pm

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe) on securing the debate, which is one for which I, too, have been petitioning the Speaker's Office for many months. I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for allowing me some minutes from his own allocation to speak as one of the local Members of Parliament. I hope to be able to repay his generosity in kind in future.

The basic business structure of the national stadium is becoming clear: the FA will raise £200 million and the Sports Council will put in £120 million; the English National Stadium Trust will hold the freehold of the stadium and its narrow curtilage; but Devco, the development company currently owned by the trust, will be transferred to the FA. Devco will have a board ultimately comprised of 12 people: seven will be FA appointments by right, and five will be transferred across out of the trustees of the ENST, who are 10 in number. It is Devco which will ultimately be responsible for the emergence of the new stadium and for its continued operation, because it is Devco which will have the 125-year lease on the site. That is why the composition of the 12-man board is so critical.

Under the guidance of Ken Bates, the board will no doubt have a strong chair, if not one who will always score the highest marks for tact and charm--at Chelsea, Ken Bates has certainly proved that he can get things done. However, if Wembley is to be a national stadium and not just the FA's stadium, it is vital that the seven FA representatives on Devco's board are balanced by the five transferring trustees from the ENST. Yet, of the 10 trustees of the ENST, five were nominated by the FA

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in the first place. I believe that a monumental fix is about to take place, where 11 of the 12 members of the board of Devco are either directly or indirectly nominated by the FA. I look to the Minister to ensure that that does not happen.

I have here a copy of a letter from the FA to the English Sports Council, which sets out what the FA calls

The letter states:

    "In particular:

    1. The English Sports Council has grant-aided to The English National Stadium Trust £120 million.

    2. The English National Stadium Trust will buy the business of Wembley Stadium Ltd. for an amount not to exceed £103 million subject to due diligence. Completion will be no later than June 1999. This is not conditional on either planning or funding being in place . . . Grant aid shall be used to meet the professional fees and architect fees in the design phase of the project. Neither The Football Association nor the development company shall be responsible for any costs in relation to any infrastructure improvements and/or section 106 agreements."

What concerns me is the way in which the FA appears to believe that it is possible to create an 80,000-seater national stadium without worrying about things like public transport infrastructure, new roads, or other environmental improvements, which will be vital to that stadium's success.

Of Wembley's visitors, 55 per cent. arrive via Wembley Park underground station. It is a dilapidated, urine-stained, outdated station, which has no proper crowd-management facilities to meet the requirements of a world cup bid. In response to a written question tabled last week, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport today wrote to me as follows:

The Minister referred to substantial contributions from outside parties. These are, of course, usually achieved through the very section 106 agreements that the FA letter scorns.

Major questions of public confidence must be answered. First, will any conditions be placed on the Sports Council grant to protect the £120 million of lottery money? Secondly, what controls will there be over the future use and operation of the stadium? Thirdly, who will approve the contract between the Sports Council and the FA, and can the Minister assure us that that will be done at the highest ministerial level?

If the stadium is to be a national stadium, it is right that the nation should be proud of it and have a stake in it. At the moment, Wembley is set in the midst of a car park, surrounded by derelict and semi-derelict warehouses and flanked by a rundown industrial estate. I urge the Government to announce that they will invest in the regeneration of the surrounding area. If they do not, the new Wembley stadium may become a jewel set in

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the midst of dereliction. I urge the Minister to see the wider vision for the future of Wembley and the people around it, whom I represent.

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