§ Mr. Speaker
Whether copies of statements are made available to Back Benchers—I have a personal view about that—is a matter for the Government, not for me.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Waddington)
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the final report of Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the tragedy at the Hillsborough stadium on 15 April 1989. Some months have passed since that terrible event, but not long enough, I know, to dull the pain suffered by the bereaved, and I wish to place on record my sympathy for them and for those who sustained injury.
Mr. Eric S. Heller (Liverpool, Walton)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
§ Mr. Heffer
Some of us who are deeply concerned about the matter have not got the report. If we are to ask intelligent questions, the report ought to be in our hands. All I have is the interim report, not the final report. The interim report was issued in August of last year. We have not got the final report. If we are to discuss the matter properly, may we have the final report before we discuss it?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is a matter which I am afraid I cannot answer. Whether a report is made available at the time a statement is made is a matter for the Home Secretary and for the Government. It is not a matter for me, but I understand that a report—I believe it is an interim report—is available in the Vote Office now. [Interruption.] Order. I correct myself. I have not been able to go there. It seems that the full report is available.
§ Mr. Waddington
That is correct, Mr. Speaker.
I am most grateful to Lord Justice Taylor for the report, which sets out clearly why we have had so many major tragedies at football grounds over the years and why we have had disorder and hooliganism.
As the House familiarises itself with the report, it will become clear that it is addressed as much to the football industry as it is to the Government. Lord Justice Taylor explains how, in his interim report, he concentrated on overcrowding because that was the cause of the Hillsborough disaster, but now he goes on to talk of a game whose image of which has been much tarnished and 20 of a blight over the game due to old grounds, poor facilities, hooliganism, excessive drinking and poor leadership.
Lord Justice Taylor does not spare those who run the industry. He says, indeed, that the provision they make for their customers is often not merely basic but squalid; that squalid conditions can have an impact on safety; and that, in his view, they also lead to lower standards of behaviour.
Lord Justice Taylor says that the Football Association and Football League have not seen it as any part of their duty to offer guidance to clubs on safety matters, and he questions whether the directors of many clubs are genuinely interested in the welfare of their supporters or their good behaviour. Players, too, are criticised, with Lord Justice Taylor pointing out that incitement from the pitch or bad behaviour by players, which is not confined to soccer, has a major influence on the crowd.
I acknowledge that some clubs have made an effort to improve standards, but Lord Justice Taylor's clear conclusion was that the majority had not and that the game has a future only if the directors and the players can change their priorities and give a leadership which is plainly lacking at present.
He agrees with the Government that there must be a move towards all-seater stadiums, and points out that section 11 of the Football Spectators Act 1989 specifically provides the machinery for that. The change will improve safety and behaviour, and we intend to bring it about.
Lord Justice Taylor makes clear that the bulk of the finances for ground improvements will have to be raised by the clubs themselves. He says that there are ways of raising the money if the clubs' management is enterprising and resourceful, and he points to the opportunities presented by sponsorship. He also points to the revenue that flows to the football authorities from television rights and says that the football authorities should ensure that this valuable source of revenue is directed towards improving stadiums. He canvasses the possibility of a levy on transfer fees which he says have reached a level which many regard as grotesque.
There is a whole series of detailed recommendations set out in chapters 3, 4 and 5 on matters relating to spectator safety, such as gates and gangways. Indeed, of the 76 recommendations, 43 in substance appear in the interim report. The Government accept these proposals, some of which can be implemented immediately; some will need further work. For convenience, I have placed in the Vote Office a schedule setting out the Government's response to each.
Hon. Members will recall that section 13 of the Football Spectators Act provides for the Football Licensing Authority to supervise the safety responsibilities of local authorities in respect of designated football grounds. We intend to implement that provision. Lord Justice Taylor welcomes the establishment of the Football Licensing Authority but would like us to go further and extend its remit to cover other than football grounds. This would require primary legislation, and we will have to consider whether it is justified.
Part III of the report contains a number of proposals relating to crowd control and hooliganism. It acknowledges the crucial role of the police in crowd control. Lord Justice Taylor rightly reminds us that, without the work of the police, many sporting events would be chaotic and could not be permitted to take place. About 5,000 police officers are engaged on football duties 21 each Saturday during the season, largely at the expense of the taxpayer and the ratepayer. He pays tribute to them for their service, and I want to add my thanks to the police for the way that they carry out the difficult, thankless, and often unthanked, tasks that are thrust upon them.
The report recognises the advances made in the last couple of years in the effectiveness of the policing of football, particularly inside grounds, and to the major impact of closed circuit television on the hooligan problem. It also mentions other measures taken by the Government, such as the restriction on the sale of alcohol and the power given to the courts to make orders excluding convicted hooligans from grounds.
Lord Justice Taylor also recognises the great potential value of the police national football intelligence unit in dealing with football-related crime and with hooligans travelling to matches abroad.
As I have said, Lord Justice Taylor takes the view that better facilities and better treatment of fans will bring better behaviour. Beyond that, the report recommends the creation of three new specific offences to apply at designated sports grounds—throwing a missile; chanting obscene or racialist abuse; and going on to the pitch without reasonable excuse. It also asks for consideration to be given to extending the courts' powers to impose attendance centre orders and for the use of electronic tagging in the case of offenders convicted of football-related offences. The specific new offences suggested seem, to some extent, to duplicate offences which are already available in the Public Order Act 1986, but I shall look carefully and quickly at all these suggestions.
I now come to the proposed football membership scheme. Lord Justice Taylor examined the invitation to tender for a scheme which was issued by the consultants employed by the football authorities. He came to the conclusion that he could not support a scheme of that kind, because he could not believe that the technology would work well enough to avoid the danger of congestion and disorder. He was also concerned about the call on police resources. Instead, he proposes the measures to which I have referred.
In the light of this advice, the Government have decided not to proceed with the establishment of a football membership authority, but part I of the Act will remain on the statute book. Work will continue to see how the shortcomings identified by Lord Justice Taylor could be overcome in case we have to return to the matter again, should the problem of hooliganism not be defeated by the alternative strategy proposed in the report.
Let no one imagine that this means that there will be any let-up in the fight against hooliganism. Those who, unlike the Government, have for so long shrugged off their responsibilities will now have to face up to them.
The Government intend to proceed as quickly as possible to the establishment of a football licensing authority and, subject to consultation, section 11 of the Football Spectators Act will be used to direct the Football Licensing Authority to require all-seater stadiums—with standing being reduced by stages and entirely eliminated in first and second division grounds by August 1994 and in all Football League grounds by 1999.
The necessary steps will be taken to ensure improved arrangements for crowd control and better training for police and stewards. There will be urgent consideration of the case for new offences and for new powers to deal with those excluded from grounds by the courts. The clubs will 22 be compelled to get rid of the terraces. But Lord Justice Taylor indicates how much more they can do to create a better atmosphere by improving the now often squalid conditions to which they subject their supporters—squalid conditions that can encourage squalid behaviour.
Those clubs that have not faced up to their responsibility now have a final opportunity to do so; and if they do not now act, the public will not forgive them.
§ Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
First, let me take this opportunity to express once again our sympathy for all those whose relatives and friends were killed or injured in the tragedy into which Lord Justice Taylor inquired. Secondly, I offer the Opposition's thanks to Lord Justice Taylor for his thoughtful and thorough report. If sensibly applied, it can provide the basis for much-needed improvements throughout our football grounds.
Will the Home Secretary confirm that the report is explicit in describing the proposed football identity card scheme first as likely to increase—not reduce—hooliganism inside and outside grounds; secondly, as probably not technically feasible; and, thirdly, as more likely to increase the risk of death and injury than to reduce it?
Is the Home Secretary aware that, whatever language he may use today to save the Prime Minister's face and preserve her reputation for inflexibility—
§ Mr. Hattersley
Whatever language the Home Secretary may use today, the identity card scheme is dead as a result of the report. Once again, the Government have wasted time and money creating the illusion of activity. Most of what the Taylor report recommends could have been implemented by agreement two years ago had the Government chosen to make progress instead of trying to make headlines.
I assure the Home Secretary that no regular football supporter doubts the need to improve the conditions in most of our grounds—to improve safety and to improve facilities. We therefore offer our support for a number of the specific proposals recommended by Lord Justice Taylor, particularly those that would ensure that law-abiding supporters, who make up the vast majority of football spectators, are treated like civilised human beings.
Is the Home Secretary aware that we support the more vigorous use of exclusion orders to prohibit known hooligans from attending football matches? We urge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to extend attendance orders to all those excluded from football grounds, to ensure that they are kept under supervision on match days.
Equally, we support the proposal that it should be a specific offence to throw a missile, and that racist chanting should be made illegal. We welcome the action proposed against ticket touts and we shall examine whatever proposal the Government bring forward to prohibit spectators from running on to pitches. But will the Home Secretary agree that, as the report makes absolutely clear, it is important to distinguish between pitch invasions intended to breach the peace and actions motivated by simple enthusiasm—what Lord Justice Taylor describes as "joie de vivre"?
We certainly support the idea of seats replacing terraces, but is the Home Secretary aware that the 23 proposal to prohibit standing at football grounds by law has yet to be justified either on grounds of safety or on grounds of convenience? Many law-abiding supporters prefer to stand, and it is perfectly possible for standing accommodation to be provided in a way that endangers neither safety nor law and order. Should not the Government be discussing with the football authorities the provision of a seat for every supporter who wants one and the creation of safe standing areas for those who do not?
I want to ask the Home Secretary a specific question on which we pressed him to no avail during the months of the Committee stage of the Football Spectators Bill. If he persists in making football grounds all-seater stadiums by law, is it his intention to make it illegal for a spectator to stand in a seated area? [Interruption.] The incredulity of the Home Secretary and his supporters confirms that they have been to only one football match in the past 40 years—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Hattersley
Will the Home Secretary confirm that paragraphs 112 and 114 of the report do not endorse the Prime Minister's view that the £70 million spent recently on transfer fees is available for ground improvements? If the Prime Minister is so opposed to the present level of transfer fees, why does the Chancellor make them tax-deductible when there are no capital allowances for improvements to buildings and physical facilities at football grounds?
I urge the Home Secretary to take a realistic view about the financing of football. In this country, the arts are assisted inadequately and our national game is not helped at all. Will the Home Secretary now convene a meeting between the pools promoters, the football authorities and the Government at which the whole issue of football finance can be discussed? Eight years ago, the Government increased the pools betting duty by 2.5 per cent. Were that decision to be reversed, the pools promoters would pass the entire saving on to football. Will the Government at least consider the possibility of helping the game in that way?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, will the Home Secretary understand that attempts to solve the problems of football by conflict and confrontation have now clearly failed? We need some co-operation. I hope that the Government will provide it.
§ Mr. Waddington
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) correctly stated Lord Justice Taylor's criticism of the scheme which he considered, as outlined in the invitation to tender drawn up by the consultants employed by the football authorities.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the Government wasted time and trouble on the Bill. At least the Government showed themselves prepared to address the problems. Opposition Members have never even recognised the problems. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) had the stupidity to say on Second Reading of the Football Spectators Bill:I do not believe there is any such thing as football hooliganism."—[Official Report, 27 June 1989; Vol. 155, c. 916.]24 That is the kind of arrant nonsense that we have heard from Opposition Members. While we were at least trying to do something about football hooliganism, the Opposition were not prepared to do anything.
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook calls for better conditions in grounds, and then immediately says that he does not agree with all-seater stadiums, which are the obvious way of bringing about better conditions in grounds. He also referred to specific offences. I have already said that I will consider urgently whether they should be introduced. However, I should point out that, again unlike Opposition Members, the Government have already been prepared to address themselves to those problems, and we created new offences in the Public Order Act 1986.
Having said at the outset how much he welcomed Lord Justice Taylor's report, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook then said that he rejected its fundamental conclusions, because the whole strategy that Lord Justice Taylor says should be implemented instead of the introduction of the football membership scheme is the introduction of all-seater stadiums. Once again, the Opposition are not prepared to face up to their responsibilities. They are prepared to do precisely nothing. They will not have the membership scheme, nor will they accept the Taylor report. We wait anxiously to hear what they propose to do about the problem and whether they still agree with their right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath that there is no problem and there is no football hooliganism.
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook then trivialised the entire debate by his stupid remark about people standing in a stand where there are seats. On such an occasion as this he should not demean himself by making such thoroughly irresponsible and stupid remarks.
As to the money available for ground improvements, I remind the right hon. Gentleman that a number of important matters are raised in Lord Justice Taylor's report. He refers to the fact that there is such a thing as the Football Trust, which is funded by the pools companies from the spot-the-ball competition—£9 million per annum goes into the game from that. Since 1958, £120 million has been given to British football in that way. The Taylor report goes on to point out the income that goes into the game from the Football Promoters Association as a result of its use of the fixture list—£14 million a year goes to the Football League from that source.
Lord Justice Taylor suggested that there could be a levy on transfer fees. He also pointed out the considerable sums of money that go to the football authorities and the game as a result of television rights—last year £7 million went to the Football Association and £11 million went to the Football League as a result of those rights.
After the damning report by Lord Justice Taylor, in which he asks the football authorities to address themselves to their responsibilities, it would be irresponsible if right hon. and hon. Opposition Members were to allow a message to go out to the football authorities to the effect that, once again, they can shirk their responsibilities because the Opposition, if the British people were ever to return them to power, would take all the responsibility off their shoulders and force the bill on to the taxpayer.
§ Mr. Steve Norris (Epping Forest)
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that my hon. Friends and I join him in paying tribute to the 5,000 police officers who turn out 25 every Saturday, in all weathers, inside and outside grounds, to deal with the problem of football crowds? In view of the recommendation to use a great many more better trained stewards, employed directly by the clubs, does my right hon. and learned Friend think that the time is right for the burden of the cost of such policing to be charged direct to the clubs?
§ Mr. Waddington
Lord Justice Taylor has said that realistic charges should be made for policing within grounds and he hopes that, in that way, the clubs will recognise that they should devote more effort to the training of stewards. Therefore, in time, those clubs would need to use fewer police officers in their grounds. An intolerable burden is placed on the entire community as a result of the way in which the game is conducted now. A tiny proportion of the cost of policing is paid for by the clubs; the vast amount of the cost is paid by the community. I therefore wholly applaud Lord Justice Taylor's recommendation that stewards should be trained so that fewer police officers are required at grounds.
§ Mr. David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside)
On behalf of the city of Sheffield and myself, I want to reiterate the condolences already expressed this afternoon from our city about what happened on 15 April 1989. I welcome the abandonment of the identity card scheme, and I welcome the penalties spelled out in the Taylor report.
Does the Home Secretary accept that it is prevention and not punishment that we are seeking and that investing in multi-purpose, continuous-use stadiums offers a sense of responsibility and the possibility of benefit to us all, and that therefore such investment should be seen as a responsibility of Government?
Does the Home Secretary accept that, while football has a substantial and major responsibility for putting its own house in order and therefore for investing in the sport, clubs such as Sheffield Wednesday which have invested in their grounds and not in large transfer fees need the Government to join in partnership with them in trying to ensure that we have grounds fit for the future, similar to those that Lord Justice Taylor saw in Europe and adopted as a model?
Does the Home Secretary accept the necessity of improving access, comfort, facilities, and entertainment in grounds? Does he further accept that it was penning, fencing and inadequate access that led to the tragedy at Hillsborough, not a lack of seating? Therefore, does he not agree that investing for the 21st century is the responsibility not only of the football clubs, but of the Government if we are to find a satisfactory and lasting answer for the future?
§ Mr. Waddington
Obviously, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that prevention is more important than punishment. However, I cannot accept that providing stadiums is the Government's responsibility. Like any other commercial enterprise, a football club owes a duty of care to those it invites on to its premises. It is absurd to argue that, when such a commercial enterprise fails in its duty to provide for the safety of its customers, the public should step in and pay the bill. When the hotel industry had to meet a prodigious bill to provide the new fire precautions that were demanded by the House, nobody said that the whole bill for that had to be paid by the taxpayer. Everybody said that that was the responsibility of the hotel industry.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)
Will my right hon. Friend totally reject the double standards and hypocrisy shown by the Opposition, who have screamed for the Taylor report to be implemented, but are now squealing because they do not agree with some of its recommendations? Does my right hon. Friend agree that implementing the report will mean substantial costs to football in terms of all-seater stadiums, that it will mean an unavoidable drop in attendances and, regrettably—this is the part of the report that I find most distasteful—that it will mean the dropping of the one measure that gave some hope that we might at last combat hooliganism in this country?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport for having had the guts to start the scheme in the first place and for beginning to take some action after 20 years of argument, so will my right hon. Friends now have the guts to implement the other parts of the Taylor report that they like and to continue with the football membership scheme, which is the only method of identifying hooligans in and around football grounds?
§ Mr. Waddington
My hon. Friend will remember that, during our debates in the House, we said that hon. Members would be able to come back to this matter after the enactment of the legislation and to reconsider it in the light of the recommendations made by Lord Justice Taylor. We have honoured our undertaking to the House by coming along today and saying that, in the light of Lord Justice Taylor's report, we do not consider it right now to proceed with the appointment of the Football Membership Authority. I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members will agree that that is the correct course to take. However, it certainly does not mean that we are shirking our responsibility. I have made it absolutely plain that part I will stay on the statute book. If the alternative strategy does not work, we shall he in a position to return to the matter.
§ Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)
Is there no sense of contrition on the Government Benches that they have had to abandon the scheme in the light of the criticisms made by Lord Justice Taylor, which precisely mirror the criticisms made by hon. Members of all parties, including those on the Government Back Benches? Is it not the case that the quality of the report and the substance of its recommendations, some of which will require additional primary legislation, emphasise how unwise the Government were to proceed to push the Football Spectators Act 1989 through the House, using a guillotine, after Hillsborough? Is not the proper course for the Government now to use this comprehensive and trenchant report to open a dialogue with the football authorities to address the problems of crowd hooliganism and crowd safety?
§ Mr. Waddington
I do not know whether the hon and learned Gentleman is following the line taken by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley); I am sure that he is too responsible for that, so I assume that he is saying, unlike the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, that he accepts the Taylor report. If I am right in thinking that he accepts it, and that he accepts that we must move to all-seater stadiums, he will be fair enough to acknowledge that it was the Government who proposed all-seater stadiums last summer.
§ Mr. David Evans (Welwyn Hatfield)
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his statement, and I welcome Lord Justice Taylor's report. May I speak for the smaller clubs in football? The Football Spectators Bill gave an opportunity for football and the Government to work together, through the Football Membership Authority, to produce much-needed revenue from the identity cards, to enable us to bring our football stadia up to standard.
Football has now dug an even bigger hole for itself by mobilising its troops against the Government's proposals, which has resulted in smaller clubs facing the cost of putting seats into their stadiums, which they clearly cannot afford. Once again, the big clubs, which have brought about the demise of football, have won their argument. They will be able to afford the proposals, but, as sure as day follows night, smaller clubs will go bankrupt. Football has pressed the destruct button by backing this proposal.
§ Mr. Waddington
I am not sure whether football has backed it or not, but my hon. Friend is quite right. Many of those who fought so long against the idea of a football membership scheme may not be quite so happy today, because the alternative strategy proposed by Lord Justice Taylor will undoubtedly be extremely costly. Hon. Members will see when they read the report that Lord Justice Taylor expects most of the cost to be met by the clubs.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, East)
As a member of the Standing Committee that scrutinised the Football Spectators Bill, and having heard the Home Secretary today, I despair at his attitude and response to the Taylor report. Surely he should now be advocating the Government setting up a round table conference—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The Taylor report should be the basis for such a conference and every interested body should be invited to it. The House should then be given a report. Why will not the Government do that?
§ Mr. Waddington
I see nothing wrong with discussions. One should always keep talking to interested parties, but the point of the Taylor report is not that we should have a round table conference but that the clubs should address themselves to their responsibilities. That is the message that must go out from the House today. The time has long passed when the clubs can just come along and have a cosy chat. The time has come when they must measure up to their responsibilities and duties.
§ Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the police will be grateful for the tributes paid to them by Lord Justice Taylor—tributes which have been generously endorsed by my right hon. and learned Friend this afternoon? Is he further aware that the police will welcome paragraph 250 of the report, which deals with the excessive consumption of alcohol; and the interesting proposals for earlier kick-offs on Saturdays, thus providing less time for supporters to kick their heels in bars around the towns in which football stadiums are situated; and the suggestion that consideration should possibly be given to Sunday matches? What is the Government's response to those observations?
§ Mr. Waddington
I hope that the football authorities will consider carefully Lord Justice Taylor's suggestions about the possibility for earlier kick-offs and Sunday matches. Lord Justice Taylor was apparently urged by some witnesses to suggest that we were wrong to put on the 28 statute book all our restrictions on the consumption and serving of alcohol in the grounds. I am glad to say that that is yet another instance of Lord Justice Taylor making it absolutely plain that the Government were right in their action. Incidentally, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) was hopelessly wrong on Second Reading when he said that it was not a good idea to restrict the sale of alcohol in the grounds.
Does the Secretary of State accept that I wholly agree that we should have all-seater stadiums? I am delighted that both Liverpool and Everton football clubs have accepted that and believe that it is vital. I know that there is some opposition to it, but when the general public understand that they will get a better deal from all-seater stadiums, they will accept it wholly. Hooliganism was not the issue at Hillsborough.
May I draw attention to paragraphs 14 to 21 of the report, which are the most important? I have my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) to thank for giving me a copy of the report. Nobody else did. The Government did not give me a copy. At Hillsborough, 95 people died, many of whom were my constituents. Those people came from Liverpool and the Merseyside area, but also from elsewhere.
I agree that identity cards should be eliminated, but the issue before us should be safety. That is my concern and the concern of my constituents. I want a clear declaration from the Government that Lord Justice Taylor's proposals will be carried out so that our people will never again face the problems that they faced and so that there will be no more deaths at football matches.
§ Mr. Waddington
I said that the Government accepted the detailed proposals in the report about safety. For the convenience of the House, there is in the Vote Office a schedule which sets out clearly how we propose to proceed. I was interested to hear the hon. Gentleman's statesmanlike, sensible remarks about all-seater stadiums, and I hope that he will have a word with his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell).
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. There is to be a debate on the matter this week, so today questions should be asked of the Home Secretary rather than long comments made which might be made more happily in a speech.
§ Sir John Wheeler (Westminster, North)
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the clear message of the report is that clubs must now be properly managed for the benefit of spectators and that there must be a clear commitment to safety and proper investment by clubs and their managements in upgrading the facilities, as well as confirming the Government's recommendations for all-seater stadiums?
§ Mr. Waddington
My hon. Friend is right—there must be an improvement in standards. The best way to show our respect for those who died at Hillsborough is to ensure that there is a real improvement in the conditions that people have to endure when they visit football grounds.
§ Mr.Joseph Ashton. (Bassetlaw)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no such thing as the football industry, to which he keeps referring? Some 99 per cent. of clubs do not pay dividends, do not make profits and rely 29 on share and director subsidies and raffle ticket selling by the fans. Why is it that, when there was a public safety angle to the salmonella in eggs problem, the Government quickly subsidised the farmers, even though they have a profitable industry? Why is it that, when a Bill is introduced to privatise the electricity industry, the Government offer massive subsidies to dispose of the nuclear sector when stations are being decommissioned? Of course, they had to back down because private industry would not touch it.
Why does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman follow the example set by the 1966 Labour Government, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) gave a massive grant to football for the 1966 World cup? Such grants would tremendously improve football grounds.
§ Mr. Waddington
When a commercial enterprise invites people on to its premises, it has a duty to ensure that those premises are safe.
§ Sir Fergus Montgomery (Altrincham and Sale)
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that some Conservative Members are delighted that the football identity scheme has been put into cold storage? Does he ever watch on television any of the great sporting events in America? If so, has he noticed that those great events are family affairs to which people take their children? Can we not learn something from the American experience? Is not the answer what the Taylor report recommended—all-seater stadiums?
§ Mr. Waddington
I agree with everything that my hon. Friend has said. I also agree with what Lord Justice Taylor said about there having been a blight on the game. We must improve conditions, and I hope that when that happens it will have an effect on crowd behaviour.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Although we have not had time to read the report, I have no doubt that, based on the interim report, Lord Justice Taylor and his assessors have done an excellent job. If the report's recommendations are acted upon, that will be the key to the future of football.
Is the Home Secretary aware that there will be an interim period before the report's recommendations are carried out? Is he further aware that, despite disorders in previous years—outside, not inside the ground—all in Sheffield were agreed that the club's previous plan was a good one? If it had been carried out, the disaster would not have happened. I have not read the Taylor report, but I ask for an assurance that, in the interim, the plans of each football ground, which have been drawn up in association with local councils, will be reconsidered and put into effect—something that did not happen at Hillsborough.
§ Mr. Waddington
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. The report says, among other things, that there must be an absolutely clear agreement between the police and the clubs setting out whose responsibility it is to do what. One of the terrible facts about events at Hillsborough is that some people did not seem to know what was their duty and what was the duty of others.
§ Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe)
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that Lord Justice Taylor has done a signal service to the Government by taking a dispassionate, cool, analytical look at football, by taking 30 evidence from all sources and by listening with great care to supporters, players and all those who wanted to give evidence? As a result, he has produced a report that I accept in every respect. It ill behoves hon. Members, whether on the Conservative or the Labour Benches, to criticise bits of the report that they do not like.
Does not the report also signal the mistake that was made in putting through legislation without consultation and, without careful consideration in Committee? I served on the Football Spectator Bill Committee. Were not all the recommendations in Lord Justice Taylor's report put forward in Committee and rejected by a majority of Members who perhaps were not entirely cognisant of the issue? Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is important that we never again undertake legislation in that way?
§ Mr. Waddington
I agree with my hon. Friend's reference to the cogency of the report. It is a document that repays careful study. I cannot agree with his strictures on the Football Spectators Act. That Bill was introduced after effort after effort had been made to persuade those responsible for the game to take action themselves. The Government were forced to take action because those responsible would not do so.
§ Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)
Will the Home Secretary explain to the House the role that he envisages for the Minister for Sport in the implementation of the recommendations of the Taylor report? I put that question in view of the fact that the Minister for Sport led us through the disastrous Committee to which I was a party. What does the Home Secretary intend the Minister for Sport to do?
§ Mr. Waddington
The scheme of the Act involves the setting up of a Football Licensing Authority, which, in turn, will set in train a mechanism that will lead to all-seater stadiums. The Minister for Sport was responsible for putting on the statute book an Act that allows for the setting up of the Football Licensing Authority.
§ Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)
My right hon. and learned Friend will recognise that this report is just the latest indictment of the directors of football clubs for their complacency in failing to do more about stadiums and conditions for the fans. Directors should now be pressed to accept their responsibilities. The Government's responsibility must be the protection of the millions of people living close to stadiums, or along the routes thereto, who are not the least bit interested in football. Will my right hon. Friend make sure that the report's recommendations about the use of attendance centres, tagging, and so on, are implemented quickly so that the hooligans may be controlled?
§ Mr. Waddington
I agree with everything that my hon. Friend has said about the responsibility that now rests on the industry. I want to make it absolutely plain that all that I have said this afternoon is contained in the report. It is Lord Justice Taylor who has addressed these matters and has come to the conclusion that those in the industry must show a new responsibility.
§ Mr. John Cartwright (Woolwich)
Does the Home Secretary accept that the report's recommendations on safety and improved facilities, which are long overdue, will be welcomed widely? Does he accept also that the virtual 31 rebuilding of grounds that is involved in the provision of covered all-seater stadiums is quite beyond the resources of most third division and fourth division clubs, many of which have been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for years? The Government provide substantial public help to commercial undertakings in the arts. Why do they refuse to do likewise in order that our national game may be brought up to a decent standard?
§ Mr. Waddington
If the hon. Gentleman reads the Taylor report, he will be impressed by what Lord Justice Taylor has to say about the opportunities that are open to clubs to attract new revenues and by the money that is available already. One must put this matter in perspective. If the Football Association and the Football League continue, year by year, to obtain from television rights the same amount of money as they obtain now, they will have drawn, by 1999, no less than £162 million from that source alone. Nobody has suggested to me that the total cost of providing an all-seater, covered stadium would be more than £162 million.
§ Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)
On behalf of hon. Members some of whose constituents died at Hillsborough, and who are in contact with support groups of parents and friends of those victims, I say to my right hon. and learned Friend that the Taylor report, with all its implications, is very welcome. He no doubt realises that those people will share the view that had there been an all-seater stadium at Hillsborough on that dreadful day the accident that led to this report would never have occurred in any circumstances. Will he, in the light of what has been said about transfers—we are all aware that the £1 million footballer is not uncommon—give serious consideration to primary legislation on a levy, so that money from transfers may be put into ground safety to make sure that spectators enjoy their football peacefully and out of danger?
§ Mr. Waddington
I agree that no more important safety measure could be introduced than all-seater stadiums. I do not think that anyone would doubt that for one moment. I hear what my hon. Friend says about a levy on transfer fees, but it is for the clubs to address that matter. It is no use saying that the money circulates round and round, because when one considers the sale of a player to a continental club and sees new money coming to a club as a result of such a sale, it is not easy to comprehend why that new revenue does not go to improving the ground.
§ Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North)
The report demonstrates Lord Justice Taylor's understanding of football and football clubs, but that will come as no surprise to those in the north-east, who know that he spent many of his younger days as a spectator at St. James's park, Newcastle. Will the Home Secretary give a firm commitment that, before the Government come forward with any other proposals that may later have to be withdrawn, they will consult more widely with football clubs throughout the country and—particularly in respect of all-seater stadiums—with football supporters' asociations, who have most to gain and most to lose by any decision made in that regard?
§ Mr. Waddington
Obviously we shall be interested to hear all that the clubs have to say. However, I ought to 32 point out to the hon. Gentleman that the legislation to bring about all-seater stadiums is already on the statute book.
§ Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)
My right hon. and learned Friend will remember that, not too many years ago, there were signs of disturbance at race meetings throughout the country, but immediately afterwards the racing authorities put their house in order. They did so imaginatively and without asking for Government resources. As a consequence, a growing number of families attend race meetings throughout the country. Is not that a pointer to what should be done by the football authorities?
§ Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)
I assure the Home Secretary there will be widespread support in Liverpool for Lord Justice Taylor's painstaking and workmanlike report. There will be support also for today's announcement by the Government that they will suspend the compulsory identity card scheme, and that some semblance of civilised surroundings will be provided for all football spectators and not just for the very rich.
I want to press the Home Secretary on one matter. He said that even the passage of time would not dull the pain of the bereaved. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that many families are still trying to obtain compensation but have been caught up in a protracted and litigious procedure that has not met their needs. The Home Secretary has received representations from myself and from other right hon. and hon. Members, Liverpool Law Society, and families who have been bereaved. What action is he taking to ensure that more expeditious procedures are introduced?
§ Mr. Waddington
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, but that matter is not for me to consider. Those who have suffered loss, damage or bereavement as a result of someone else's negligence have a right to recover damages in the courts.
§ Mr. Matthew Carrington (Fulham)
My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware that the delay in implementing the football membership scheme will throw a greater burden on the police in attempting to contain hooliganism outside grounds on match days. My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware also that at present football clubs make no financial contribution to police activities outside their grounds. Clubs reimburse probably as little as 20 per cent. of total policing costs, the other 80 per cent. falling as a burden on local ratepayers, now community charge payers. Will my right hon. and learned Friend re-examine that aspect as a matter of priority to see whether it would be appropriate to ensure that football clubs contribute to the cost of policing outside their grounds?
§ Mr. Waddington
The position is even worse than that outlined by my hon. Friend. The Taylor report says that only about one tenth of the total cost of policing London matches is met by the clubs. The right way forward is that recommended by Taylor, which is to make realistic charges for the cost of policing inside football grounds, which will encourage clubs to train stewards and ultimately to have fewer police officers inside.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport, East)
Does the Home Secretary appreciate that getting rid of the terraces is likely 33 to affect the price of tickets, and is he resigned to football's becoming a rich man's game? Does he realise that many third and fourth division clubs are in a parlous state? My club, Newport County, ceased to exist because of financial difficulties. What ideas has he for direct assistance from public funds for the installation of grandstands at such grounds?
§ Mr. Waddington
I can only repeat that those who invite people to a sporting occasion as a commercial venture have a duty to ensure that the ground is safe for those people. It is their responsibility, and no other person's.
§ Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)
As my right hon. and learned Friend has said, the safety of the fan must be paramount. and it was on safety grounds that some Conservative Members felt unable to support the Football Spectators Bill. In the light of today's statement, does he agree that the real benefit of football membership schemes is that they would bring fans and football management closer in the interests of football, and that we should deal with the hooligan by taking tough and swift action against him? Will he assure the House and the country that, if they are to embrace all Lord Justice Taylor's recommendations, the Government will implement the aspects of law and order that deal with hooliganism, such as electronic tagging and the wider use of detention centres?
§ Mr. Waddington
I assure my hon. Friend that we intend to take tough action against hooligans, and I shall be examining Lord Justice Taylor's precise proposals as a matter of urgency.
§ Ms. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
Does the Home Secretary agree that ground safety is the most important aspect? He has said that football clubs must take the cost on board. Will he examine the various grants given by the Football Ground Improvements Trust to all Football League clubs? Having looked at the figures, he will probably agree with Opposition Members that it is the clubs in the third and fourth divisions and some in the second division such as Port Vale that are most in need of Government financial aid so that their grounds can be made safe for all the supporters who use them.
§ Mr. Waddington
Clubs in the third and fourth divisions will have a longer period over which to move from standing to all-seater stadiums. It is up to the football authorities to consider whether additional aid should be given to those whose revenue is smaller than that of clubs in the first and second divisions.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I must have regard for the subsequent business, in which a considerable number of hon. Members wish to participate. I will take three more questions from each side; then we must move on.
§ Mr. Robert Banks (Harrogate)
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that Lord Justice Taylor's report is a blueprint for action, not words, and that British football's international reputation will depend on the speed with which clubs implement the improvements that it recommends? How will my right hon. and learned Friend control hooligans who might otherwise go abroad and damage that reputation through their appalling behaviour at grounds on the continent and elsewhere?
§ Mr. Waddington
I did not mention this afternoon—because I think that it is well known to the House—the fact that we are moving swiftly to implement part II of the Football Spectators Act, a measure that I think even the Opposition applaud.
§ Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)
Does the Home Secretary accept that the half dozen richest clubs in the country can well afford to install all-seater stadiums? What he seems not to understand is that no million-pound footballers play for West Bromwich Albion; that the television cameras will not be following me, or paying a fee, to watch Stockport County play Aldershot next Saturday; and that, for millions of people in this country, watching their home town football team is not a commercial proposition, as he so blithely puts it, but a long-standing commitment inherited from their parents.
How many football games has the Home Secretary been to see this year, and how many has the Prime Minister ever seen? Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman talks nonsense about clubs funding their own all-seater stadiums, will he tell the House how much money the Government take out of football through their pools betting levy?
§ Mr. Waddington
I do not doubt for one moment that those who go to football grounds do not think that they are going off on a business venture. However, that does not alter the fact that those who run the grounds are operating business ventures. It is for those who operate business ventures to ensure that they operate them properly and safely.
I think that I ought to invite the hon. Gentleman to look at what Lord Justice Taylor says about the pool betting tax. He makes a number of points, and says that the comparison that is often made with racing is not apt. He points out that there is far more scope for money to be taken out of the pools industry, but that that money could come out of the industry in a variety of ways—either more money from spot-the-ball competitions, or through a voluntary levy, or through an increase in the amount that is paid by the football promoters for the fixture list.
§ Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham)
My right hon. and learned Friend's firm statement will be greatly welcomed in Shrewsbury. The people of Shrewsbury have bitter memories of the effects of a visit by Middlesbrough fans which turned the town upside down.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the general public is concerned not just about safety at football grounds but also about safety outside football grounds? Will he remind those who call for more public funds that substantial sums of public money have to be made available to fund the 5,000 police officers who are needed to protect the non-football-watching public from the effects of hooliganism?
§ Mr. Waddington
It is quite disgraceful that a game should be run in such a way as to make it necessary for 5,000 police officers to be used every Saturday afternoon to keep the crowds in order.
§ Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)
All of us want people to be safe and improvements to grounds to be made, but the Home Secretary neither knows nor understands football. I hope that he will follow the example of the Minister for Sport and accept my invitation to Hartlepool United's next home match, when he might 35 gain a greater understanding of the problems that fourth division clubs have to face. Does he not accept that, without both direct and indirect Government aid, a large number of third and fourth division football clubs will not be around in 1999 to build all-seater stadiums?
§ Mr. Waddington
I am most grateful for the hon. Gentleman's invitation to visit Hartlepool United. I shall consider it carefully and will have a word with him after questions on the statement. I am afraid that I have forgotten the hon. Gentleman's question; I was so overcome by his invitation.
§ Mr. Alistair Burt (Bury, North)
My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware that in recent years, particularly since the Bradford fire, a number of additional safety burdens have been placed on clubs. He may also be aware that one of the problems has been the conflicting requirements of the various safety authorities—the local authorities, the fire brigade and the police. Sometimes they have asked for different things. Can my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the Football Licensing Authority will exercise some supervisory mechanism so that no longer will too many people ask the clubs to perform different safety functions which they just cannot perform? Will the Football Licensing Authority remove that problem, particularly for the smaller clubs, as it has cost them dear?
§ Mr. Waddington
Lord Justice Taylor certainly confirmed our earlier view that there simply must be a licensing authority to supervise the way in which local authorities exercise their certification procedures. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to stress how necessary it is to have such a body.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I am sorry that I have been unable to call all hon. Members who wished to participate. I shall certainly bear their claims in mind when we discuss this matter again.
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)
I suppose that it is a great compliment to be grossly misquoted twice by the Home Secretary during questions on one statement. I remind him that, when I said that there is no such thing as football hooliganism, I meant that there is violence and hooliganism in society, of which football hooliganism is one part. The Government committed themselves at the general election to eradicating it, but it is worse now than when they came to office in 1979.
What on earth will the Government do about the World cup this year? Part I of the Act has gone, the Football Membership Authority has gone, the computers have gone and the possibility of feeding names into computers has gone. Unless the Government tell us what action they propose to take, in June this year all the people whom Lord Justice Taylor and the rest of us have spent 36 years discussing will be free to cause havoc in Europe. It is no good the Minister for Sport telling us that it is a matter for the Football Association. I want the Government to take the action that was proposed in part II. [HON. MEMBERS: "They will."] I know, but they will not have any names to feed into the computer. As a result of the chaos that the Government have brought about, what will happen in June is a matter of the greatest concern.
The Home Secretary should understand that some of us believe that all-seater stadiums are desirable and inevitable and wish to have them as soon as we can. However, although we asked the Minister four times in Committee, we still do not know whether 10,000 people at one match I described in Committee, who were allocated seats at Manchester City but refused to be seated, would be committing a criminal offence. Will the Home Secretary explain how we shall deal with that phenomenon?
Finally, does not the Home Secretary understand that, because of the free-market economy to which his Government are committed, transfer fees in Britain are determined by those paid in Europe? It is inconceivable that we could have a levy or a regulation on those fees because, as I understand it, it would be unlawful under European legislation. The Home Secretary's comments on that would be helpful.
§ Mr. Waddington
The point that Lord Justice Taylor made about transfer fees was that such large expenditure on transfer fees seemed rather grotesque and obscene when so much blatantly needed to be done to improve the premises into which people were invited.
I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for my earlier strictures, but they were meant in good part to provoke him to respond. I must tell him that I was quoting exactly from his speech on Second Reading, I am afraid that his denials will not stand him in good stead, because his precise words were:I do not believe there is any such thing as football hooliganism"—[Official Report, 27 June 1989; Vol. 155, c. 916.]I am afraid that those words will endure, and I shall not be able to resist the temptation to throw them back at him from time to time.
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that part II of the Football Spectators Act 1989 will be in operation before June, and that before then there will be negotiations with the Italian Government which will enable a list of corresponding offences to be drawn up, so that convictions for any of those offences in Italy can result in exclusion orders in Britain.
I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has persisted with that ridiculous point. If he had studied the matter for one moment, he would realise that it is intended that the safety certificates will be so operated that eventually the terraces will go and the clubs will not be able to invite people to stand on the terraces. Quite clearly, when people go into a seater stand, it will be up to them to decide whether they stand or sit, but I believe that most of them will have the sense to sit.