Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Football Spectators Bill [Lords], it is expedient to authorise the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any fees received by the Secretary of State under the Act—[Mr. Moynihan.]
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
This ways and means resolution should not pass without comment. It is a narrow resolution which was made available to Members only this morning. It should have been provided earlier in the week, as is the custom. The Government have been thrown into chaos by the huge diversion in economic policy between the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister's croney, who was employed at the taxpayers expense to the tune of £50,000 a year—at least there had been some saving to taxpayers—so it is understandable that the Government have not been able to issue the resolution earlier for Members' consideration.
The resolution relates to clause 10(2) of the Bill:An application for a licence in respect of any premises shall be made in such manner, in such form and accompanied by such fee as may be detemined by the Secretary of State.That is a wide power. The Secretary of State has absolute power to determine the fee, the manner and the form in which the fee shall be levied. Will the Minister give an account of what scale of fees he has in mind? As has been demonstrated by the number of petitions presented this morning, there is widespread anxiety among football supporters and clubs about the scheme, which will involve football clubs in expenditure. I want that assurance from the sports Minister today.
Unfortunately, it seems that the fees will not be listed in a statutory instrument. The primary legislation gives the Secretary of State the power to levy the fees, so this is the only opportunity that we shall have specifically to discuss the fees. The Minister now has a useful opportunity to tell the House whether he will bear in mind the position of football clubs so that some of the marginal clubs are not driven out of existence.
Some football league clubs are in a good financial position. They are wealthy and powerful. But that does not apply to all clubs. Several clubs are struggling for survival. This wretched football identity scheme will create more problems for such clubs, so the Secretary of State should take into account their financial position and the effect of fees on them. Will the Minister give that assurance?
§ Mr. Cryer
I shall finish my point. We want an assurance that, in applying the power that we grant to him, the Secretary of State will take into account the financial position of clubs, if necessary levying only a nominal fee, and that he will not regard this power as a means of raising revenue. The resolution requires that the fees be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
§ Mr. Vaz
Does my hon. Friend agree with me and other members of the Committee which considered the Football Spectators Bill that, as the Taylor inquiry has not yet produced a report, the best course of action would be to withdraw the motion and the Bill until we have the final report from Lord Justice Taylor?
§ Mr. Cryer
That would be an extremely sensible course of action. The Government promised that they would be able to take into account the results of the Taylor inquiry as the Bill progressed through Committee, but that was patently not the case. I expect the Government to give solid, cast-iron assurances to the House about the level of fees that they will levy. I hope that the assurances are rather stronger than those which were given to the House about taking into account the results of the Taylor inquiry.
One of the problems with ministerial assurances, although I continue to look for them as they provide the only opportunity that we have to obtain assurances in respect of ways and means motions, is that, at a time of Government chaos of the sort that we have seen over the past 24 hours, Ministers can move with amazing rapidity. For example, only yesterday at 6 pm the right hon. and learned Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Waddington) was the Government Chief Whip. By about 7 pm, he was the Home Secretary.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying far from the ways and means motion. I know that he appreciates that it is a narrow motion.
§ Mr. Cryer
Indeed, Madam Deputy Speaker.
I am saying that I am seeking assurances about the level of fees that will be levied. The difficulty is that the Minister for Sport can be changed. I shall welcome the assurances that I hope he will give, but he could disappear tomorrow. An alteration should be made so that a system of fees and safeguards is set out in the Bill, and the fees should take into account the financial position of clubs. That would be of great advantage to the House. It might be to the advantage of everyone, including the Government, if it is borne in mind when legislation is being drafted that the Prime Minister sacks people at a minute's notice and exercises arbitrary, chaotic and arrogant power.
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) for filling the void by catching the eye of Mr. Speaker while we were waiting for the Minister to explain the proposal that is before us. We have been considering the Bill for a long time and it is unfortunate that we never get any explanation from the Government. As my hon. Friend says, they continue with their proposals to levy licence fees and other unacceptable charges. At the end of the day, the burden will fall on innocent spectators and not on the clubs. It will fall also on the Consolidated Fund. It is outrageous that the motion is on the Order Paper. We are proceeding with a measure to tax football and also, possibly, to impose further expenditure upon Government funds. It is entirely inappropriate and, in my view, foolhardy.
It is a matter of major importance that, following one of the most horrendous catastrophes witnessed in British society for a long time—the Hillsborough disaster—the Government found it necessary to appoint one of the most eminent judges in the land to hold an inquiry. We know before we have his report that extremely serious matters will have to be discussed following his pronouncements. All these matters will bear on the licence fees that are likely 1273 to be levied on football clubs throughout the country, and we know that we cannot have the Taylor report before December.
We cannot have a debate, which we have been promised, before January, which is half a football season away. Yet the Government choose to proceed with powers to set up a licensing authority, which will have the right to charge without any appeal being possible. They are giving a licensing authority the power of taxation without representation before the Football Spectators Bill is on the statute book. In effect, they are implementing the measure now.
§ Mr. Howell
It is perfectly true.
It is ludicrous that any Government should proceed before the Lord Justice of Appeal whom they appointed has pronounced upon their schemes—[Interruption.] May I say to the Minister——
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. It would be helpful to the right hon. Gentleman who has the Floor if there were not so much cross-talk across the Chamber.
§ Mr. Howell
Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The object of the ways and means motion is to give the licensing authority the power to charge. When the Minister considers the events at Hillsborough and when he asks himself whether there will be additional difficulties at the turnstiles when the identity scheme is imposed, he should ask himself also what would have been the consequences if the scheme had been in operation at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster.
It is inconceivable that Lord Justice Taylor will say anything other than that the Bill is nonsensical and, furthermore, a danger to public safety. I have no doubt that he will say that it should be withdrawn. That is not a far-fetched hypothesis but one that is based on reality. The Government's decision to allow the licensing authority to be set up and to impose fees on football in circumstances that mean that we might not have a scheme at all is crass stupidity of an order that very few of us have seen before. That is an additional reason—[Interruption.] Conservative Members are laughing. I suppose that this week they have seen more crass stupidity than most of my right hon. and hon. Friends can evisage.
§ Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)
My right hon. Friend has referred to the problems associated with Hillsborough and the report that is being prepared by Lord Justice Taylor. Is he aware that there were great problems at the Conservative party conference when the breakdown of a computer meant that many Conservative Members were denied access? There was no violence outside the conference centre, but inside——
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. The intervention by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) is far removed from the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell).
§ Mr. Tony Banks
I was merely pointing out, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the same problem could arise with the implementation of a football membership scheme.
§ Mr. Howell
I shall take up my hon. Friend's point, and I hope that I shall be able to do so within the rules of order.
§ Mr. Howell
I quite agree, Madam Deputy Speaker, and the rules of order bear on the expenditure which can be forced on clubs unnecessarily, which I am sure you will appreciate.
The ways and means motion is being imposed upon us 24 hours after the Minister for Sport has changed the rules of the game. When, in Committee, we sought to introduce some pilot schemes, he said that that could not be done. When we sought to exempt certain divisions, he said that that could not be done.
§ Mr. Howell
The Minister never listens, so that does not worry me. If he does listen, he does not comprehend, which is even worse.
Only a day ago the Minister solemnly announced—not to the House as he should have done today—but in a press statement:Electronic turnstiles will be tested before identity cards.The Minister is seeking powers to set up a licensing authority and the Ways and Means resolution will give that authority power to charge, yet he now tells us that he does not know whether the arrangements will work and whether the scheme will be practicable; we are now to have turnstile experiments at two or three grounds.
You, Madam Deputy Speaker, are a great supporter of West Bromwich Albion, which is in your constituency. We know that you appreciate your constituents' devoted support of that team. You have been seen very recently at that very ground. You were seen there only last Saturday, and I am very pleased about that.
§ Mr. Howell
I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman, but not in the middle of my fulsome tribute to Madam Deputy Speaker. Madam Deputy Speaker, who goes to West Bromwich Albion, knows what a struggle it has, and that every penny counts. She knows that it is vital that spectators should get into the ground promptly, and no licensing authority should set about its business before Parliament has considered the Taylor report and decided whether the whole nonsensical idea should be scrapped or whether some other scheme should be introduced.
§ Mr. John Carlisle
I am sorry to interrupt the cosy chat between midlands Labour Members. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Health (Mr. Howell) is misleading the House, as he did throughout Committee stage and on Second Reading, when he says that having introduced the proposals my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport is erring from his original policy. It has always been made perfectly clear—the right hon. Gentleman knows this—that before the scheme is put into operation some sort of experiment has to take place to test the machinery to be used. The right hon. Gentleman will also know that 1275 it was proposed that some sort of scheme should be put into operation before the season in which the policy was fully implemented. The right hon. Gentleman is deliberately misleading the House. My hon. Friend's proposals are perfectly in line with all the statements made throughout the passage of the Bill.
§ Mr. Howell
That is another example of the logic with which we have repeatedly been faced this week. People say, "Everything's all right." When we ask, "In that case, why did the Chancellor resign?" we receive no answer. The hon. Gentleman's intervention belongs to the same perverted logic. The Minister has said throughout that he would not proceed in this way. If he had always intended to proceed in this way, why did he issue the press statement yesterday? He did so because what he proposed was a departure from everything that he had told us in Committee.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Colin Moynihan)
May I clarify two points, because the right hon. Gentleman is going off at a tangent? First, I have made it clear since before the introduction of the Bill that if the Government went ahead with a national membership scheme, we should need to be satisfied that the technology was up and working and correct so that the scheme could be implemented effectively from day one. The testing of that technology will be a matter for the football membership authority, which will examine in detail the appropriate technology and tests. Absolutely nothing has changed on that front. I hope that that assists the right hon. Gentleman.
Moreover, the right hon. Gentleman's comments to the effect that I have issued a presss release on this subject this week is inaccurate.
§ Mr. Howell
No doubt it was Mr. Bernard Ingham who gave the information to The Times. Perhaps one of his minions at the Department of the Environment told Sheila Gunn and journalists from other newspapers what the Minister wished to convey.
The statement that has been issued is wholly unacceptable to us in any case because the experiment that we are told is to take place while powers of licensing and taxation are being granted will take place over a short period. If the Minister proposes to have an experiment, it should he over a longer period—at least a season. [Interruption.] The Minister says no. Let me tell him. He obviously intends a proper evaluation of the scheme, and to an extent I welcome that, but no such proper evaluation can take place unless we judge the effects of the scheme on normal league games, cup ties and derbies, in mid-week, in good weather and on filthy winter nights. Unless we examine the effect of the scheme in all those circumstances, any evaluation will be worthless. I submit to the House that that is exactly what the scheme is—worthless.
§ Mr. Norris
The right hon. Gentleman has made a serious allegation. He said that my hon. Friend the Minister had fundamentally changed the rules and changed his policy since our debates in Committee. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman remembers my hon. Friend's words at 11.30 am on Thursday 20 July. He may not have been present, of course, because I know that he had to spend a great deal of time outside the Committee Room briefing his various friends in the press. If he was 1276 around at 11.30 am—Hansard conveniently records the fact that it was 11.30 am—he may remember my hon. Friend saying:I said that testing the technology for the scheme would be part of the preparations for implementation. I have also said repeatedly that we shall not go ahead with implementation until we are satisfied that the technology is workable, efficient and safe."—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 20 July 1989; c. 503.]Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that not one word of that has changed—that my hon. Friend has done no more than reiterate exactly what he said in July?
§ Mr. Howell
Judging by the rather offensive comments with which the hon. Gentleman introduced his intervention, we have a potential new Chief Whip staring us in the face. Even at 11.30 pm, we can well understand what the Minister is saying and we can also understand the Bill, which says that it is the business of the Football Membership Authority, not the Minister, to put the scheme in position and to satisfy itself as to the technology.
The very fact that the Minister has decided to have a scheme for testing the equipment before he has even set up the Football Membership Authority shows once and for all that the Bill has nothing to do with setting up an independent body and everything to do with making football subject to the disciplines of the Government—whether it likes it or not.
§ Mr. Moynihan
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong again—on two counts. First, nobody has spoken about a system of testing being introduced before the football authority is set up. Secondly, this is not a matter for the Football Membership Authority alone because, as the right hon. Gentleman will recall, the Government have given a commitment to the House to the effect that, once the Football Membership Authority is established—subject to the will of Parliament—there will be a further debate in the House on the approval of the scheme by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The prospect of that second important debate was welcomed by the right hon. Gentleman. It will be vital in the light of any findings that Lord Justice Taylor may make and will give Parliament a full opportunity to consider them.
§ Mr. Howell
The Minister only compounds the confusion. He says that the scheme is the business of the football and licensing authorities, yet before they are even established and have been given an opportunity to decide what action to take, the Minister makes his pronouncement, by one means or another, that he intends to usurp the authorities' powers and judgment and to proceed, which may have the consequence of fees being imposed on football clubs.
I endorse the arguments that have been made about the scheme's technical aspects. We shall welcome an experiment, provided that it is undertaken over a sufficient length of time and embraces all the varied circumstances likely to arise in a football season, so that the system is put to a severe test. We have no evidence yet of the efficiency of the proposed computerised turnstiles. I am advised that six companies submitted tenders for identity cards but that it may be that not one of their systems is satisfactory in meeting the requirements of 20,000 football supporters passing through the turnstiles in the evening to watch an important Cup-tie kick-off.
If tests are to be made at grounds such as those of Liverpool, Spurs or Arsenal they must be undertaken in 1277 typical circumstances. It is nonsensical and irresponsible on a great scale to proceed with the motion and to impose fees before those experiments have been completed and in advance of the authorities being established.
Since the Committee stage, a number of horrendous events have occurred that affect part II of the Bill. The withdrawal of membership cards from anyone found guilty of participating in any of those events is governed by part I. I refer to the disgraceful scenes in Sweden and to the incidents that occurred on the ship taking British supporters to a match there.
§ Mr. Alistair Burt (Bury, North)
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The motion is narrow in its scope, and it cannot be in order for the right hon. Gentleman to rattle through a speech covering much wider matters while attempting to keep himself in order by occasionally using the word "fees" and "licensing authority".
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
I am sure that the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) has himself strayed from the straight and narrow from time to time. The right hon. Gentleman is a distinguished parliamentarian who knows full well the scope of the motion, and I am sure that he will take the point that has been made both by the hon. Member for Bury, North and by myself.
§ Mr. Howell
I assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I am making every endeavour to keep within the rules of order. However, I acknowledge, as you obviously do, Madam Deputy Speaker, the political rigidity of the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt).
Whatever view is taken of the Bill by right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House, it is a matter of serious concern to all that our country's good name was disgraced on the voyage to Sweden to which I referred, in Sweden itself, and in Poland. I have a long list of other incidents that occurred during the summer that beg investigation, but I shall not bore the House with the details at this time. Even if the people responsible for those incidents can be prosecuted and convicted, the names of only five persons will be registered on the computer and prevented from travelling abroad again. After all the trouble in Sweden, Poland and even Iceland, and despite the cost to the Consolidated Fund and to the clubs, only five people may be prevented from travelling abroad in future—yet we all know that hundreds of neo-Fascists disgraced our country's good name. That should be cleared up before the Bill proceeds any further.
§ Mr. John Carlisle
The right hon. Gentleman appears to be misleading the House again. A few moments ago, he said that the Bill should be delayed and that fees should not be levied or paid because the system is not yet ready to be introduced. He went on to deal with part II of the Bill, which he and his right hon. and hon. Friends consistently supported in Committee and which he acknowledges has some merit and should be implemented. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. Does he want the Bill to proceed as it stands or not? He knows full well that it would be impossible to implement part II of the Bill and not part I.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
I advise the right hon. Gentleman not to continue down the path that he has 1278 chosen. The House is debating not the Bill but a narrow motion concerning money matters in the form of the fees that are to be paid. The right hon. Gentleman must limit his comments to that aspect.
§ Mr. Howell
You will be glad to learn, Madam Deputy Speaker, that my sea voyage to Sweden has ended.
The offences covered by part II inevitably affect the operation of part I, and the question of who pays for the system and the licensing fees are inter-related. Of course we support part II, but as we said throughout the Committee stage, and as was proved in the summer, the proposed scheme is wholly inadequate for its purpose. I repeat that we support it only because it is better than nothing. We are as anxious as the Government to eliminate disgraceful behaviour by British football supporters overseas.
I turn specifically to financial matters. I remarked earlier that six or seven companies have been shortlisted to operate the identity scheme, but I understand that the costs of the initial research will be £250,000. The Minister laughs because the Government are obviously not worried by such sums. The cost to fourth division clubs struggling to exist will be £10,000. In addition, £2.5 million is to be spent on testing the pilot scheme. Today, before even the football or licensing authorities have been established, the Government are imposing £2.75 million in fees in respect of a scheme that may never be implemented and which we believe to be totally inadequate and incapable of dealing with the problems that beset our great sport.
If the Government had any sense they would not have tabled the motion but would have sought to take the whole House with them. They should have allowed a breathing space to await Lord Justice Taylor's report and to allow time for the authorities to be established, so that they could initiate experiments covering every possible set of circumstances likely to arise during a season. For the Government to proceed contrary to those considerations is an act of gross irresponsibility.
§ Mr. Steve Norris (Epping Forest)
I could not disagree more with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). I welcome the motion itself because, apart from anything else, it is nice to consider a motion that will bring money into the Exchequer rather than cause the Exchequer constantly to dispense it, as is the case with most money resolutions.
As you, Madam Deputy Speaker, reminded the House, the motion is narrow in its scope and relates specifically, as the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) rightly said, to clause 10(2). It concerns the ability of the Exchequer to receive fees from clubs towards the cost of establishing schemes. I sat on the Committee during the latter days before the summer recess and listened to right hon. and hon. Members of all parties as they recounted an appalling catalogue of violence and fear that has for too long been concomitant with football. During the summer I observed the violence to which the right hon. Member for Small Heath has referred, not only abroad but at the start of our own season. No one at Stamford Bridge or anywhere else, especially those responsible for football management, seems to have learnt anything about the problem.
§ Mr. Tony Banks
The hon. Gentleman has just mentioned the ground belonging to the club—Chelsea—of which I am an avid supporter. Would he care to tell us what he thinks is not being done at Stamford Bridge that should he being done, to justify the direction of such a colossal calumny at that wonderful club?
§ Mr. Norris
I shall do so within the specific context of the money resolution, as is appropriate. It is a question of the fees that will be payable for the establishment of a membership card scheme. This, in my view, encapsulates the whole debate that took place in Committee, in which I know that the hon. Gentleman would have loved to participate if he had had time.
As a Chelsea supporter, the hon. Gentleman will recognise that the overwhelming majority of those who go to Stamford Bridge do so because they want to watch the match. They do not want any hassle. They do not want their children frightened, or to be beaten up, and they do not want to go to the match alone and virtually armed. They want to take their families. It is precisely to eliminate the inner-city mobs—the small number of people who turn such games into the battleground that they have so sadly become over the years—that the Bill has been drafted.
Conservative Members are under no illusion. It is fine to talk. As ever, we have had fine words from the hon. Member for Small Heath, but, as ever—and as in Committee—we have heard no concrete proposal from the Opposition to tackle the inner-city cancer of violence which, though perpetrated by the few, affects the enjoyment of the many.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
Contrary to that extraordinary proposition, we have advanced the policy that the thing to do is to target the evil-doers rather than imposing ludicrous restrictions on all the innocent football supporters. Not only did we say that the matches and the wrong-doers could be indentified and targeted—we said in Committee that the Sweden-England match was the first that should be targeted, and that the Government's failure to do so had led to all the mayhem.
§ Mr. Norris
There was a good deal of anecdotal reportage during what must have been one of the most entertaining Standing Committees on which many of us have ever served, and there is no doubt that those of us who emerged from it—bloody but unbowed—know much more about Sheffield Wednesday in the 1930s, not to mention Accrington Stanley and many other fine clubs and traditions. We heard a brilliant exposition of the importance of identifying the clubs involved——
§ Mr. Norris
I am very sorry. Madam Deputy Speaker, that you did not have the opportunity to learn about Millwall Tommy. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes)—who is in the Chamber, as I expected him to be—brought a lump to my throat when he expounded on the merits or, indeed, demerits of Millwall Tommy. It was a wonderful experience.
Although we have had a homily about the importance of ridding the game of the few offenders—and who in his right mind could disagree with that proposition?—we have been all too short of a mechanism to achieve it. My hon. Friend the Minister, however, is seeking to provide finance for a workable scheme. He wants to be sure that it works 1280 before he introduces it, enabling us to identify those who commit offences at matches and should therefore not be allowed to attend them in future.
The right hon. Member for Small Heath has just drawn attention to the fact that once the cameras are switched on, the hand motions will have to go. I take the point. From now on I shall keep my hands in my pockets. I cannot see any of us getting on unless we do so.
The significant difference between the Opposition and Conservative Members who supported my hon. Friend the Minister in Committee is that the former have been keen to listen to those whom I can only describe as the ill-informed, who have spoken to them, perhaps, on the terraces at Hillsborough and elsewhere. They have flooded us with the cards that were thrust under their noses, requiring little more than a signature, purporting to express views about a matter that they clearly had riot studied. Conservative Members, however, have produced concrete proposals to deal with this major problem.
Sadly, we shall not catch all those who perpetrate the violence. There will, I fear, still be violence on our terraces, even when the scheme is in operation. There is however, a stark contrast between the experience of the average club in the Football League with that of the club formerly presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), who entertained us so much in Committee.
On the one hand—whatever the semantics and the fine arguments about the effects on turnover, profit or attendance—we have a ground that is, quite simply, free of violence. That has never been denied. On the other, the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks)—being an assiduous attender at Stamford Bridge—has had the opportunity to observe the inadequacy of the preparations made by other clubs in the league. Their chairmen have now squealed about the tremendous burden and cost to the clubs. The reason why today's resolution is so important is that they have failed to observe their common duty to provide security and facilities which even begin to compare with the ludicrous fees that they have been prepared to pay to players.
If the Bill and the money resolution help to put the balance right and to make football once again a game to which whole families can go without fear and trepidation, it will constitute a major advance against one of the real social evils of our day. On that basis, I commend the resolution unreservedly.
§ Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)
One of our problems when a Bill is guillotined is that Conservative Members immediately waste the Committee's time, and many issues that we wish to discuss at length are not discussed for that reason. A perfect example is the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris), who has admitted that he has only ever seen one football match—and that was when the chairman of Luton Town, the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), gave him a free ticket to Wembley for the cup final.
§ Mr. Ashton
The hon. Gentleman made great play of our proposals. Perhaps he does not know that the Football Grounds Improvements Trust gives £9 million a year to grounds, much of it to prevent violence through the use of 1281 cameras, videos and better policing and technology. The trust was set up following a proposal that I made in the House back in 1974 that a football betting levy scheme be set up to take money from the pools. The pools then voluntarily set up their own trust to provide grounds money out of their profits. My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) has followed the same line.
We have indeed made concrete proposals, and 99 per cent. of the problems inside the grounds have been solved through the use of better policing and technology. I do not want to widen the debate; I merely wish to answer some of the nonsense poured out by the hon. Member for Epping Forest. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] He has disappeared, as usual. The hon. Gentleman invariably comes out with long perorations—despite knowing nothing about either the Bill or the game—and then immediately disappears from the scene.
Let me return to this narrow motion, which we all expected the Minister to introduce because of the guillotine. As I recall, we were promised an extra day, not after the Bill had been passed, as the Minister said this morning, but before. The Bill was rushed into the House within two or three weeks of the tragic events at Hillsborough. On 15 April, when delaying people at the turnstiles meant that, ultimately, the gates had to be opened and 95 people poured in to their deaths, we thought it was proved that we should have time to give the Bill measured consideration.
As has been said, it was stupidity and madness to introduce the Bill before the Taylor report was finalised and without listening to its recommendations, which we should have studied in a calm and measured way, to assess how the system should be amended so that we can prevent such a disaster happening in the future.
The Minister promised, as I recall, that although a guillotine motion was to be imposed, there would be further full-day debates before the Bill passed into law. We have not had them. The House has been misled. The Minister said in an intervention this morning that there would be a full-day debate on the licensing authority, but by then it will be no good because the Bill will be law.
I am not saying that the Taylor report was held back, as it was done very quickly after the Hillsborough disaster, but it is amazing that it was released the Friday after the House had gone into recess, when many hon. Members had gone on holiday. The media were concerned that there should be some analysis and discussion of the Taylor report, but it has never been discussed in the House. This is our first chance to do so.
Ninety-five people went to their deaths that day, and all sorts of allegations have been made about the police. There have been stories in the press, and some of the police are now being prosecuted. The chief constable offered his resignation, which was not accepted. The disaster was one of the biggest news stories of the year and £10 million has been raised for the dependants of people who died. Councils in Nottingham, Liverpool and Sheffield have been involved. It was one of the biggest events of the year, but it has had little discussion in the House—all we have today is this motion.
§ Mr. Burt
It is not fair to suggest that the Minister has misled the House. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. 1282 Ashton) is aware that this is an enabling Bill and that, after it becomes an Act, there will be a period of delay before its measures are implemented. If the hon. Member checks his memory he will realise that the Minister promised that, during that period, there would be a debate on the Taylor report. That has always been contemplated. There has been no change. There is no question of the Minister misleading the House in the way that the hon. Gentleman has suggested.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. I shall be obliged if the hon. Gentleman who now has the Floor does not respond to those comments. We must confine ourselves to discussion of the motion.
§ Mr. Ashton
Clause 10 provides that the licensing authority may grant a licencein such form … as may be determined by the Secretary of State.Everything depends on the whim, fancy and decision of the Secretary of State. The Bill gives enormous powers to the Secretary of State. Once the Bill has been passed, it will be too late to do anything about it.
The motion refers to cash being granted to a licensing authority that has not yet been set up. Will the licensing authority have the power to overrule the police, or are the police still in absolute control, as they were at the time of the Hillsborough disaster? Will the licensing authority or the Secretary of State have the power to tell the police that they do not agree with what they are planning to do? For example, could they have said that the Liverpool supporters should not have been in the small end of the ground and the Nottingham Forest supporters in the large end, as that was one of the reasons for the disaster? Will the authority have the power to overrule the police? It does not say.
Clause 10 says that the conditions surrounding the cash that the licensing authority will have to pay into the Consolidated Fundmay include conditions imposing requirements as respects the seating of spectators.They "may include". Who will decide? If there is a row between the club and the licensing authority, will it be the Secretary of State or the police who make a decision?
I am sorry to have to refer to Hillsborough again, but it is relevant. Since the disaster, the terracing at the Leppings lane end of the ground has been closed off to spectators, who are not allowed access through the gate at that end. That has caused inconvenience to people in the club. I know about that, because I am a shareholder in Sheffield Wednesday, although there is no financial reward for that.
The club has received complaints from people who attend regularly that they have to walk all the way around the ground and that matches have had to be played with that end closed off. The police have not allowed the barriers to be re-erected and they have even said that a match that was due to be played between Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday on the anniversary of the disaster—by some quirk of the computer—should be brought forward to a Wednesday night in early December. That will cause enormous inconvenience to the Liverpool supporters, who will have to travel over the Pennines in the pitch dark, probably in snow and frost. The match that was scheduled for new year's day has got to kick off at 12 o'clock, which will mean Manchester City supporters having to set off in the dark, in the frost and snow.
1283 The police are continually laying down this hard and fast line. Throughout Britain, spectators tell us that the police reaction has been one of overkill, and has reduced the numbers in football grounds. Spectators had to produce tickets more than 100 yards from the ground at the Arsenal and Liverpool match the other night. Kick-offs have been delayed by 20 minutes, and there is utter confusion on television, the radio and in newspapers about kick-off times. Who is in charge? What is the point of having a licensing authority if the police will still have overall control, and can say that it does not matter what people do, or how many people in the licensing authority represent supporters or clubs, they will decide?
These examples show that the Bill is in complete confusion. When a Bill is guillotined through the House after a disaster has taken place, it is a panic political response to show that something must be seen to be done, and that it does not matter whether it is the right or the wrong thing.
During the debate on Monday, as can be seen from the amendments, there will be three to four hours for discussion before Third Reading, and the Divisions will take up all that time.
A thousand serious questions have been raised this morning and during Committee but they have not been answered, except in a clownish way by the hon. Member for Epping Forrest, who added nothing to the debate, or by the cheap points that were made about Luton Town football club being a great success. These are serious issues about violence and law and order. People are being crushed to death inside football grounds, but the issue has not been analysed and no answers have been given to the House, which has had no chance to debate the subject at the length it deserves.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
This motion may seem to be a small detail of the Football Specators Bill. I am sure that that is how the Minister and his supporters see it, but it ought not to be recorded at all—it ought not to be rumbling on as it is. It is another element in pushing through a Bill which ought to await measured discussion on every detail of the Taylor report. It is no use right hon. and hon. Members saying that there will be another debate on whether to bring it into effect. By that stage, everything in this motion and all the details of the Bill will be in print, on the statute book, and incapable of amendment. To change it, we shall have to go through the whole process again, and I am sure that the Government have no intention of bringing in another Bill. It will be a case of take it or leave it with the Football Spectators Bill and this motion, as passed.
That is no way to respond to a serious, high-level inquiry into a monumental disaster which revealed some of the terrible dangers in this measure. The Bill is a lunatic response to serious problems and I am amazed at the capacity of Conservative Members to talk themselves into the belief that the Bill will do some good, when they are just devising some sort of political response to a situation for which they have no answers.
The motion talks about the fees that will have to be paid by the very clubs which will have their gates decimated by the Bill. The fees will be levied on clubs which will lose casual specators. Throughout Britain, people watch football matches on a Saturday but they have no regular 1284 commitment to a particular club. It does not seem likely that they will get involved in membership schemes, but they constitute a significant minority in the attendance at football matches. If those people are taken away, how will the clubs pay those fees, and how will they pay for the cost of improvements to grounds and of additional security? Those are the sort of things for which we should be finding ways and means and, as has been pointed out, the Football Trust is involved in that. That is where the money should be spent, not on financing a licensing authority to carry out this ludicrous scheme.
The third and fourth division clubs which are not paying ridiculous fees for players, do not have fancy sums of money to play around with and those whose gates are the smallest will find the scheme a heavy burden. I see the problem clearly from the standpoint of Berwick Rangers which is in the happy position of being the one League club in England which will not be subject to the scheme. If that club had been included, this could have been regarded as a hybrid Bill and these shambolic proceedings could have been brought to a halt at a much earlier stage. Many third and fourth division clubs are in a position similar to a team such as Berwick Rangers and have to manage on relatively small gates. We hope that the number of people attending will increase, but the gates will not provide the income necessary to carry out the improvements about which we have been talking. Clubs of that type where there is no violence, and no great press of people giving rise even to incidental violence or hooliganism, will have to bear the burden of the scheme, as will innocent spectators.
We do not know whether the scheme will go ahead at all. Yet the licensing fees and the provision for them is being brought before us today. We do not know much about the licensing authority, but if it is like any other body to which Ministers in the Department of the Environment appoint members, such as the National Rivers Authority and its regional advisory committees, it will consist of paid-up supporters of the Government. If we are lucky, people who know about football will pick up one or two places. The way in which Ministers exercise their powers of patronage should be a lesson as to the sort of body to be created. Ministers will say that we must have people on the authority who are committed to the success of the scheme, but they will have to go a long way to find people who know about football and believe in the scheme as there are only a handful of them and they are mainly Conservative Members.
§ Mr. Norris
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that among those who can be counted as the most ardent supporters of a scheme to control membership, which is what we are discussing here, are the police. In stark contrast with some directors of clubs, the police have made it clear from the outset and throughout the Committee proceedings that they believe it necessary to introduce a scheme to control membership and that they welcome participation in it. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) will confirm that Mr. Alan Dyer, chief constable of Bedfordshire, has commented favourably on the scheme which operates at Luton Town football club, and that colleagues of his in the Association of Chief Police Officers have expressed similar optimistic comments about the scheme.
§ Mr. Beith
The hon. Gentleman should talk to the Police Federation which represents the ordinary constables who will have to face the crowds outside the turnstiles when the scheme is introduced. The arrangements at Luton Town must be satisfactory to the police and are not likely to give rise to problems, but anyone who thinks that one can run football on the basis that people cannot watch it will have to think again.
§ Mr. Moynihan
The Police Federation suggested a scheme far more draconian than that before the House today and sought to extend the Luton scheme nation wide with a ban on away supporters.
§ Mr. David Evans (Welwyn Hatfield)
I must explain to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) that only 45,000 people go to away matches per week. We are therefore talking about 10 per cent. of those going to football matches, so the hon. Gentleman's ridiculous statement about people not going to football matches is completely irrelevant to the argument.
§ Mr. Beith
Those 45,000 people have a right to enjoy their Saturdays. The vast majority of them are not hooligans but people who want to watch football. I do not understand the hon. Gentleman's figure. Thousands of football supporters cannot be classified as either home or away supporters and their liberty would be involved if any scheme of this kind were to be pursued.
We are in danger of going far wider than the motion before use. It is extraordinary that in the face of experience this year, the Government should go against all the advice that they have received and carry on with the Bill so that it will be cut and dried in every detail before we have an opportunity to consider the Taylor report. This is another example of the Prime Minister calling the tune—as she does in economic policy—and another example of a Minister who could usefully resign.
§ Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)
I want to correct the impression given by the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris) that the information given and the experiences shared in Committee were not relevant to our discussions. I am a relatively new Member of the House and I was delighted to participate in a Committee with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), and my hon. Friends the Members for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) and for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry). They brought a great deal of experience to the Committee. As the House and Committee members will know, I am the president of two small football clubs in my constituency which will not be affected directly by the membership scheme.
I oppose the ways and means motion because it will ensure that clubs such as Leicester City in my constituency will not be able to afford the improvements that are necessary if the game is to survive. The Government should be providing more resources to enable clubs to invest in football rather than fining clubs, which is what the motion will do.
I and other hon. Members fear that the Bill is a forerunner to the possibility of compulsory identity cards 1286 being imposed on all citizens. The evidence submitted to the Minister of State, Home Office by independent organisations made it clear that motions of this kind and the imposition of fees will not pay for the scheme. They have said so in respect of the possibility of compulsory identity cards for all citizens and of the imposition of cards for football supporters.
I share the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath and my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) as I believe that the motion should not proceed until the House has had a chance to discuss the recommendations of the Taylor inquiry. I was surprised that the interim report of the inquiry was published as soon as Parliament had risen for the long summer recess. The House should have debated the interim report before coming to this motion. Lord Justice Taylor is one of the country's most eminent judges and the Secretary of State gave him a wide criteria of references. It is possible that Lord Justice Taylor will come forward with recommendations concerning fees. I understand that he has a copy of the Bill and of the Committee's deliberations and he may want to comment on the imposition of fees proposed by the ways and means motion. I urge the Minister to accept that the proper procedure is to await the final report of Lord Justice Taylor to see what he has to say about this important matter and about clause 10. Obviously, if he makes no recommendations it will be safe to proceed.
During the summer recess, I visited the Norman Chester centre in my constituency, which has been referred to by many right hon. and hon. Members. I do not know whether the Minister has visited the centre, but I hope that he will listen to its views about the Bill, particularly about clause 10. Its views would be of much interest to him. The centre opposes the Bill because it does not believe that it will solve the underlying problems that the Government wish to solve.
During my visit, I heard the news that the Department of the Environment had voted the Norman Chester centre a grant of £40,000. I support that Government expenditure, because I believe that it is the only centre of its kind in the western world. It makes a valuable contribution and has assisted hon. Members with briefings and information. The grant of £40,000 has been given to the centre to monitor the effects of the Bill. It is strange that the Government have not worked out their own conclusions about the possible effects of the Bill but have to vote money to outside organisations to monitor what happens. The safest course of action would be to give the grant to the centre, enabling it to monitor an experimental scheme along the lines suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath and see whether the experiment works. If the proposed changes are successful. Labour Members will be the first to support what the Government are doing, but it is dangerous to go ahead with the resolution and the Bill without considering those effects, and then to ask an independent organisation to monitor the effects because the Government do not know what will happen.
I hope that the Minister will visit Leicester and meet the Norman Chester centre's director, John Williams, and others, and I hope that he will press the vice-chancellor of the university to provide more facilities and a building from which the centre can conduct its important research. Most of all, I hope that the Government will think again about the resolution, realise that procedurally it is not the 1287 correct way to proceed, and return at a later stage if the report recommends the identity scheme and we shall support the resolution at that time.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)
Once again, the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) and his right hon. and hon. Friends have followed the chorus of disapproval for the Bill and the resolution. He showed what members of the Committee experienced before and throughout the passage of the Bill—the utter complacency of Opposition Members and, in some cases, of the hierarchy of football management on the Football League and Football Association. They say all is well and that nothing should be done.
In Committee, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) and other Opposition Members said that there is nothing seriously wrong with football and that the hooligan problem will go away. After the Stockholm trouble, the right hon. Member for Small Heath was quoted as saying, "We need more arrests." That was his answer to the problem. He did not suggest how those arrests would be made or how the troublemakers and hooligans would be identified. Throughout the Committee proceedings, Opposition Members displayed an abdication of responsibility and utter complacency. They did not accept that we face a serious problem and that only the Government have the guts to face it.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
The hon. Gentleman knows that that is a monstrously inaccurate, almost libellous, statement. In Committee, we said that what has been done inside grounds—I am giving credit to the Prime Minister and her colleagues—has led to considerable improvements. The trouble is the social problem outside grounds, inside shopping centres and motorway service stations and on trains. We said that the people who caused trouble in Sweden, and the people who cause trouble in this country, should be apprehended because they are common criminals dealing with evil. They should be dealt with in the normal way.
§ Mr. Carlisle
I shall not follow that comment because I know that I should be going against the instructions that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, gave the House.
The right hon. Gentleman's intervention re-emphasises that the Opposition are interested only in delaying tactics. The reason why they may oppose the resolution later in the Lobby is not because of a passionate belief that the system will not work but because they want to block any scheme put forward to correct the problem. That is what Conservative Members found so frustrating about their tactics and those of the Football League management. Had that management accepted some of the recommendations of the all-party football committee—the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) will remember the discussions that we had years ago—we may not have had to ask the House to pass the Ways and Means resolution.
Regrettably, since the season started, arrests, inside and outside football grounds have been running at about the same level as in the past two seasons. We had some appalling scenes in London a few weeks ago. At the Arsenal-Liverpool match the other night, many police had to be employed to protect not only those going to the 1288 ground but—and this is why the Ways and Means resolution is required—those who live around the ground who have nothing to do with football.
The extraordinarily selfish attitude of Labour members is that the problem affects only football and that it should therefore be addressed only with football in mind. The success of the Luton town scheme, which was so admirably introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), is its benefit to the town itself. The spin-off of that scheme is that the game and the stadium have benefited. I should thank the management of Luton town and my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield, because my constituents can go about the town in peace on a Saturday afternoon, which cannot be guaranteed in most other towns and cities when a football match is taking place.
§ Mr. David Evans
My hon. Friend says that one can walk around Luton on a Saturday afternoon free from hooligans, bullies and cowards, but is he aware that at Highbury stadium——
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. I must, yet again, refer hon. Members to what is on the Order Paper. This has nothing to do with the resolution.
§ Mr. Carlisle
I am sure that my hon. Friend should not wish to stray away from this important subject. The basis for the fees that we are considering is important for people outside football—a problem that has been completely ignored by Labour Members.
Relevant to the fees that we are discussing and to some news that appeared this morning is the opinion that has been expressed by the Football Supporters Association, which received constant support throughout the Committee's proceedings from Labour members and which has since taken on a rather important role in the argument. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Minister has acknowledged that it has an important role to play. In this morning's edition of The Daily Telegraph, Mr. Rogan Taylor discusses England's prospects in the World cup. It is important that the motion is passed because the World cup is to be played next summer. Mr. Taylor says:We need to attract the family group, the reasonable supporter to the England trips so that the tickets in Italy go to decent supporters. We want to give them an alternative to travelling with hooligans … We need to isolate and alienate those who might cause trouble so that they can be easily identified and either expelled … or even arrested.That is relevant to the resolution. We need to get the Bill on to the statute book to support the very sentiments expressed by Mr. Rogan Taylor, which are well-supported by the Opposition, unless they suddenly dissociate themselves from his remarks. The fees are required so that the Bill can pass through the House unimpeded. That is why Conservative Members are delighted that the Leader of the House had the good sense to ask the House to support a guillotine motion to cut short the disgraceful delaying and filibustering tactics that were used in Committee.
The country, the football authorities and the whole machinery of football needs the Bill. That is why it is imperative. The sooner we approve that the money should be made available the better, and the greater thanks we shall receive from those inside and outside football for our courage and our determination to tackle the problem.
§ 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.
1290 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.
§ 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. 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. Heller). 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 1292 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 he 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. 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. 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 1293 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 5.1294
|Division No. 360]||[11.18 am|
|Amess, David||Hunter, Andrew|
|Arbuthnot, James||Jack, Michael|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Janman, Tim|
|Atkinson, David||Jessel, Toby|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Batiste, Spencer||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Knapman, Roger|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Knight, Greg (Derby North)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Lilley, Peter|
|Boswell, Tim||Lyell, Sir Nicholas|
|Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)||Maclean, David|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick|
|Bowis, John||Mans, Keith|
|Brazier, Julian||Maples, John|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Mellor, David|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Mills, Iain|
|Burns, Simon||Morris, M (N'hampton S)|
|Burt, Alistair||Moss, Malcolm|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Moynihan, Hon Colin|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Needham, Richard|
|Carrington, Matthew||Neubert, Michael|
|Cash, William||Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Norris, Steve|
|Chapman, Sydney||Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley|
|Chope, Christopher||Patten, John (Oxford W)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Redwood, John|
|Couchman, James||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Cran, James||Riddick, Graham|
|Davies, Q. (Stamf"d & Spald'g)||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Day, Stephen||Rost, Peter|
|Devlin, Tim||Rowe, Andrew|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Sackville, Hon Tom|
|Dover, Den||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)||Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)|
|Fallon, Michael||Sims, Roger|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)|
|Fishburn, John Dudley||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Steen, Anthony|
|Fox, Sir Marcus||Stevens, Lewis|
|French, Douglas||Sumberg, David|
|Gale, Roger||Summerson, Hugo|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Gill, Christopher||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Gorst, John||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Gow, Ian||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)||Thorne, Neil|
|Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Gregory, Conal||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Ground, Patrick||Walden, George|
|Hague, William||Ward, John|
|Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Wells, Bowen|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Wheeler, John|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Harris, David||Wolfson, Mark|
|Hayes, Jerry||Wood, Timothy|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Heddle, John||Mr. Irvine Patnick and Mr. John M. Taylor.|
|Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)|
|Beith, A. J.||Tellers for the Noes|
|Carttiss, Michael||Mr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Joe Ashton.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Football Spectators Bill [Lords], it is expedient to authorise the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any fees received by the Secretary of State under the Act.—[Mr. Lilley.]