HC Deb 19 April 1978 vol 948 cc429-32
8. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he accepts the most recent plan for the redevelopment of Hampden Park; what grant he will authorise; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McElhone

I have now discussed with the bodies concerned the proposal by Strathclyde Regional Council for an £8 million development at Hampden. The matter of Government grant is being considered urgently.

Mr. Monro

Is the Minister aware that in this year of great success for Scottish football, with Scotland reaching the World Cup finals, he alone, of all those concerned, seems unable to make his mind up about the future of Hampden Park? Will he make a decision to proceed before the World Cup finals, because it would be a great boost to Scottish football and an encouragement to other teams?

Mr. McElhone

The hon. Member has this genial form of hypocrisy. Considering that he held the office that I held for some time, and that he was a Minister responsible for sport and has visited Hampden on many occasions, he was aware of the state of Hampden for many years and did nothing about it. I met the various parties concerned on Monday. It was only last Monday that we found out about the details of the £8 million plan. The architects at the Scottish Office are discussing the plan in detail with the architects at Queen's Park, and my right hon. Friend hopes to come to a decision as soon as reasonably possible.

Mr. Dempsey

May I once more ask my hon. Friend whether he will insist, with the authorities concerned, that there will be no deal whatsoever unless the improved stadium can accommodate at least 100,000 spectators, in view of the unbelievable scramble for tickets for big games at Hampden?

Mr. McElhone

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) is lucky when the allocation is made. This point was raised at the meeting, and there were two options. One was to have a stadium that could accommodate 98,000 spectators. The other was to have all seating, with 65,000 spectators. That has not been finally decided, but I shall convey the point expressed by my hon. Friend to the authorities concerned.

Mr. Crawford

Does the Minister agree that any improvement in Hampden Park—with which the SNP is in total agreement—would incur more public expenditure? Does he further agree that the Conservatives are just a little more hypocritical, in that they are in favour of public expenditure cuts in general but against them in particular?

Mr. McElhone

I think that the body most in need of improvement is the SNP. The one thing that is certain is that SNP Members will have plenty of time to study the progress at Hampden Park after the next General Election. I take the hon. Gentleman's point, however, that we have had from the Conservative Party claims for £20 million for the super-stadium, or the maxi-plan. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) is shaking his head. It is not generally known that he brought along the Queen's Park directors to ask for £20 million to be spent on Hampden Park, and he is very lucky that I did not tell the Press.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is the Minister aware that there was, indeed, a full report of the meeting that took place? Will he ensure—and will he give me an assurance on the matter, as the Member of Parliament for the area—that, in any plan coming forward for Hampden Park, full account will be taken of the interests of the local residents, who have to adopt what are virtually siege conditions when we have a major game? Will the Minister also ensure that any new plan will make full provision for access to and from the game, and for increased toilet facilities?

Will the Minister also accept that the comments that he made about my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) were totally unjustified, as he well knows if he has read all the papers?

Mr. McElhone

The points relating to toilets and the other matters were certainly conveyed to the appropriate bodies. I am also concerned—I raised this matter personally—that any estimate of accommodation for a new Hampden should take account of the youngster who goes along with the parent—because, after all, the young people are the seed corn of tomorrow's football support. If the cost of a ticket at Hampden, be it for a seat or otherwise, is excessive, one deprives the youngster of the chance of going to the match. However, these points and the points that I have made will be considered by myself, on behalf of the Scottish Office, and certainly by the various authorities involved in the new stadium.

Mr. Gourlay

Does my hon. Friend recall that when the World Cup competition was held in England a considerable amount of Government money was spent on improving some stadiums in England? Therefore, will he give us today a statement in principle that if the football authorities in Scotland would make a contribution towards improving Hampden, the Government would make a major contribution as well?

Mr. McElhone

I think that it is beyond doubt that my right hon. Friend is sympathetic and, indeed, fully supports, as I do, the concept of a proper football stadium at Hampden Park. I cannot speak with any great knowledge about the contribution made by Government in 1966 but, as I understand it, for Wembley it was rather minimal in terms of financial support.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I gave a good run on that Question. The House will forgive me for commenting that I do not know what would have happened if Scotland had won the Grand Slam.

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