§ 45. Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of the substantial sums from Government and club sources expended in enlarging Villa Park, Birmingham, to accommodate spectators for the World Cup football matches, he will take steps to secure a modification of the present arrangements under which all semi-finals and quarter-finals will be played in the North or in the London area.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
The responsibility for arranging the programme of the World Cup matters rests with the Football Association as the agent in this country of the International Football Federation. When earlier this year I examined the grounds that had been selected, from the viewpoint of their suitability for overseas visitors, this programme had been settled for some time. Though I could have wished that more of the later games had been allocated to the provincial clubs and I am well aware of some public concern about this matter, I have no power to intervene.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is personally sympathetic in this matter, but, taking even the most objective view, is it not a great pity that one of the greatest centres of population in the country should not have an opportunity of seeing a match which is probably unique to this generation?
§ Mr. Howell
I have a lot of personal sympathy and have expressed it, but I 596 have no power to go beyond expressing my views from time to time to the Football Association.