§ Mr. Pendry
To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage whether he is ready to announce the conclusions of his reconsideration of the all-seating requirements at Football League clubs.
§ Mr. Mellor
I am grateful to all those who have so promptly let me have their views following my announcement on 4 June that I was reconsidering certain aspects of the all-seating requirements. I have been struck by the consistency of the views which have emerged.
I said on 4 June that I was not prepared to review either the principle of or the timetable for all-seating at first division grounds in the Football League, the new premier league. This view has been confirmed by the responses I have received and I have decided furthermore, in the light of consultation, to continue our existing policy for all-seating for clubs in the present second division. Many of these clubs have recently played in the higher division. All of them should aspire to do so. I have no doubt that they will want to prepare themselves to put those aspirations into practice by pressing ahead vigorously with an all-seating policy.
Having considered the submissions made to me, I can confirm that I am prepared to allow some standing accommodation to be retained at grounds in the third and fourth divisions provided terracing is safe. Clubs in these divisions should not see this as an easy option. They will need to ensure that such accommodation fully accords with the high standards of safety which all spectators have a right to expect. Clubs moving from the third to the second division will continue to have three seasons to convert to all-seater.
I continue to expect that the vast majority of clubs throughout the league will see as their ultimate goal the achievement of substantially seated grounds as part of their commitment to the principles of improved spectator safety and comfort defined by Lord Taylor.
References in the answer to divisions are to the present divisional structure of the Football League.
Upon the introduction of the premier league on 15 August, the present second division will become the first division and the current third and fourth divisions, divisions two and three.