HC Deb 27 June 1979 vol 969 cc428-30
14. Mr. Foulkes

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will refer to his working party on football violence the recent problems in connection with the Scotland-England football match.

Mr. Monro

The working party on crowd behaviour was a responsibility of my predecessor. It did not meet during the past year. Valuable recommendations were made, but unfortunately many problems remain. I am extremely concerned at events over the England-Scotland weekend and will be having discussions with my colleagues when we have considered reports within our own areas of responsibility.

Mr. Foulkes

Does the Minister recognise that his reply indicates considerable complacency on the Government's part? Is he aware that there is a great deal of concern in Scotland among genuine football supporters about the violence that took place on the trains from Glasgow to London, on the London Underground and in the streets of London? Will he reconsider his decision and arrange for an early meeting of the working party to consider the evidence that my colleagues and I can lay before him about what took place over that weekend? Does he agree that the working party should make recommendations for speedy action to make sure that such things do not occur again?

Mr. Monro

I have grave concern about what happened. That is exactly why my colleagues are looking at the reports in their own Departments, including the Home Office, the Ministry of Transport and the Department of the Environment. When we have considered those reports, we shall consider what action needs to be taken.

Mr. John Mackay

Is my hon. Friend aware that the level of violence at Scotland-England games also occurs at other games? Does he accept that one of the major contributory factors is the sort of transport that fans have on the way to games? Will he consider having discussions with his colleagues to alleviate that problem?

Mr. Monro

There were extreme difficulties on British Rail, between Scotland and London, and on the Underground to Wembley. All those matters are being carefully considered, and we shall decide what action to take in due course.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the Minister have discussions with representatives of the hotel industry in London, some of whom cancelled bona fide bookings at very short notice?

Mr. Monro

I have heard about that, and we shall look into it and bring it into the envelope of our discussions.

Mr. Denis Howell

Is the Minister aware that the drunkenness, violence and public disorder associated with England-Scotland matches is a scandal of almost national proportions and must be eliminated? Will he therefore take up with the Football Association, which shares his concern, the question of the allocation of tickets for these games and with British Rail the serious breaches of the working party recommendations about the sale of drink on trains? Will the hon. Gentleman also confirm that the Bill which was being prepared by Scottish Ministers in the previous Government to deal with football hooliganism will be introduced soon and will be extended to England?

Mr. Monro

I agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said, especially in regard to the working party on football behaviour which was set up by the previous Government. All these matters will be considered, especially that of rail travel, which concerned one of the recommendations of his own working party.