HC Deb 09 November 1992 vol 213 cc607-8
3. Mr. Illsley

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will relax the requirements for all-seater stadiums for football clubs in the first and second divisions of the Football League and clubs in the premier league.

Mr. Brooke

I stand by the decision of my predecessor that all clubs in the Football Association premier league and those in division one of the Football League will be required to be all-seater by August 1994 in accordance with the recommendations of Lord Justice Taylor's final report on the Hillsborough stadium disaster. Clubs in divisions two and three of the Football League will be allowed to retain some standing accommodation provided it is safe.

Mr. Illsley

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. Is he aware that some first division clubs are finding difficulties in meeting the Taylor recommendations because of the cost of converting to all-seater stadiums? Will the Secretary of State consider the recommendations of the Select Committee on Home Affairs that clubs with an attendance of, say, under 10,000 should be allowed to retain some standing accommodation and that clubs should be judged on individual attendance, always bearing in mind, of course, the fact that safety is the paramount issue?

Mr. Brooke

When consultation on that issue took place, there was reasonable agreement on the advice that the cut should be on a divisional rather than an attendance basis. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Football Licensing Authority, most notably in a recent letter to Southampton, has stated the sort of circumstances at which it would look in considering a request to go beyond the present deadline.

Mr. John Greenway

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the work of the Football Trust has been crucial in helping many soccer grounds to meet the requirements of the Taylor report? Does he recall that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced a 2.5 per cent. reduction in pool betting duty, which has been put to good use? Will the Secretary of State please do all that he can to support the Football Trust in getting that pool betting duty exemption extended?

Mr. Brooke

I suspect that it is just possible that my hon. Friend's question contained some supplementary agenda. I assure him that I shall be supportive of the Football Trust.