HC Deb 05 December 1973 vol 865 cc1260-2
27. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what he estimates were the total amounts of public money in the financial years 1971–72 and 1972–73 by which horse racing and association football respectively benefited.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)

Amateur association football received £26,816 in 1971–72 and £34,404 in 1972–73 from central Government funds. Horse racing received nothing. Local authorities may also have assisted both sports, but I have no details of any such assistance.

Mr. Dalyell

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, on top of the value added tax and the financial burden of having to modernise grounds to comply with crowd safety regulations, a real financial problem faces many clubs, particularly since floodlighting is now banned and they have to play matches before smaller crowds? Are we sure, in relation to the saving of electricity involved, that it is really sensible to ban floodlighting?

Mr. Griffiths

I hope to have discussions shortly with representatives of the football clubs on the question of crowd safety. The House will have a full opportunity when it considers the Bill very soon.

Mr. Denis Howell

Since the Government do not think it right and proper to interfere with theatres and concert halls, which also depend upon electricity for their performances, why are the sporting public being discriminated against by stopping the playing of football matches at appropriate times? Will the hon. Gentleman look again at the decision concerning foodlighting, which is having a terrible effect on football finances and is a blatant discrimination against working people who follow soccer?

Mr. Griffiths

There is no question of discrimination. I must reject as quite misleading the suggestion that football belongs to one section of our community and theatres belong to the remainder. They belong to us all as a nation. As I have said, I hope to have discussions with the football authorities very shortly.

Mr. Howell

Whomever football belongs to, it certainly does not belong to the Prime Minister. How can the Government possibly say that it is wrong to use electricity to floodlight football matches during the crisis when there is no interference with performances at theatres and concert halls? That cannot be right. Will the Minister please talk to his right hon. Friend and see whether football matches can be treated in the same way as theatres and concert halls?

Mr. Griffiths

I can only repeat that the hon. Gentleman is anticipating things. This is a matter upon which I shall shortly be having discussions with football authorities.

Mr. Ridsdale

Is it not clear that the question asked by the hon. Gentleman should have been directed to his hon. Friends in the miners' unions rather than to the Government?

Mr. Ashton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

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