§ 3.4 p.m.
THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The VISCOUNT HOOD in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Power to designate large sports stadia requiring certificates under Act]:
Loan STOWHILL moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 5, after ("order") insert ("at such time in the case of each sports stadium as after taking into account all such circumstances as in his opinion are relevant including the financial resources available or likely to be
available to those responsible for the management and conduct of such sports stadium").
The noble and learned Lord said: I beg to move the first Amendment, and I do so for the following purpose. A good deal of the discussion on this Bill during its Second Reading centred upon the question whether the various grounds and stadia that might be designated for the purposes of the Bill would be financially in a position to carry out the changes that were made necessary for the purpose of complying with the safety certificate that might be issued in relation to the stadium or, should the provisions of the Bill be extended under Clause 9 to grounds, to any particular ground. One starts from the finding in paragraph 59 of the Report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, with regard to the financial situation of a number of sports stadia and grounds. If I may cite what the noble Lord says in that paragraph, the passage reads as follows:
The gate receipts of many if not all of the clubs apart from a select band are not sufficient to keep the clubs alive. They are dependent upon such imponderables as transfer fees and financial support from development clubs, supporters' clubs and the like to remain viable".
Later on it says:
If such clubs were faced with heavy expense in ground improvements some of them would have to close down. Football is a national sport, and if this were to happen it will be a tragedy.
§ The purpose of the Amendment which I move in those circumstances is as follows. It is designed to make certain, in the first place, that the language of subsection (1) of Clause 1 is appropriate to provide that the designation process which is there described shall be a phased process. There is, I would submit to the Committee, room for some slight ambiguity on that point. It could, I should have thought, just be said that the Secretary of State was placed under a duty to make some kind of general designation order. I know from what Ministers said on Second Reading that that is not their intention, but it seems to me, so I would submit to the Committee, that it is of such crucial importance (because, in particular, of the financial situation of so many of the clubs that would be involved) that the Secretary of State should be called upon by the wording of the clause only to designate individual clubs from time to time as it 450 seems appropriate in the case of that particular club; in other words, that it should be made pelucidly plain that the Bill does not provide for anything like some general designation order. That might spell bankruptcy for a number of the clubs that would be involved. Therefore, the first object of this Amendment is to put beyond any possibility of doubt the question to which I have referred, and to indicate that the Secretary of State will, one by one as the particular circumstances of that club seem appropriate, designate that club.
The second objective I seek to achieve by the Amendment is that when deciding whether or not to designate a club he will have regard in particular to the—and I quote from the Amendment—
financial resources available or likely to be available to those responsible for the management and conduct of such sports stadium".
§ That is the object of the Amendment. It is, as I believe I am right in saying, entirely in accord with the purpose of the Government, and I submit it is desirable to put at rest any possible doubt that there could be on this score. In those circumstances, I beg to move (a) to remove doubt and (b) to make sure that the Secretary of State, when deciding in the case of a particular club whether or not to designate it, will have the financial situation of that club particularly in mind in coming to a decision with regard to that club. I beg to move.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ LORD WIGG
I am in some difficulty about this Amendment. On second Reading the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, very charmingly said:I am afraid that, whether the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, likes it or not, we do not see any reason to depart from the very well established principle that people who put the public to risk in the course of their commercial enterprises must bear the necessary cost of removing those risks."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20/11/73; col. 976]Clearly, the noble Viscount meant that if there is a risk, it has to be put right. The question whether the club can find the money or not is neither here nor there. If they cannot find the money then the Government wash their hands of the matter, and the club simply goes out of existence.
The size of the problem is great. In the British Isles there are no fewer than 162 clubs which could be designated. Any one 451 of them, or the lot, could be faced with an enormous bill, and if the club had no money it would be finished. In their suggested new clause after Clause 5 the noble and learned Lord who moved the Amendment and his noble friend Lord Garnsworthy have solved the problem. They have put forward their solution, which is that the Government should find the money. I think that the question of who finds the money goes right to the heart of the problem. Noble Lords on both sides of the Committee will agree with the Government that the public must not be put at risk, and if the public is put at risk, sooner or later we shall get another Ibrox. I believe that we shall have another Ibrox, because I do not think that the provisions of the Bill go far enough. I seek from the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, or from my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy, an answer to the question whether, with this Amendment, it would be better to debate the principle laid down in the proposed new clause, because that clause refers to the question of where the money comes from. The Government have said, virtually in reply to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stowe Hill, "Not a penny. Those who put the public at risk have to foot the bill whether they have the money or not." It seems to me that we should save a lot of time by discussing the two matters together. I am willing to go on and debate the new clause, but I do not want to be out of order in a House which has no real Rules of Order.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
May I remind the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, that your Lordships' House has very real Rules of Order which it insists on enforcing upon itself from time to time. But I am entirely at the disposal of the Committee. If noble Lords would like to discuss the whole of the financial situation at this stage, I am happy to do so. If they would like to discuss it bit by bit as each Amendment comes up, I am happy to do so. I will take any combination which is offered. If noble Lords who have put down the Amendments would like to give an indication of their feeling in the matter I daresay that other Members of the Committee would be glad to listen to them. I think that this Amendment raises slightly different issues 452 from others, but that need not in any way prevent the Committee from discussing them all together. I think that it is up to those noble Lords who are to move the Amendments.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. This Amendment raises a different issue from the Amendment which I intend to move later. I think there might be merit in keeping the principle of my Amendment to be dealt with by itself. I should be interested to hear what the noble Viscount has to say in reply to this Amendment. It could make quite a difference to the other matter.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I take that as an invitation from the Committee to deal with Amendment No. 1 by itself, and that we should come on to other equally weighty matters later. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, foreshadowed what his noble friend Lord Wigg said, in a way, by reading out the final sentence of paragraph 59 of Lord Wheatley's Report.Football is an international sport and if this were to happen—that is, if various grounds were closed down—it would be a tragedy.The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, said that if we were to have a repetition of the Ibrox Park disaster it would be a tragedy. He is absolutely right. Every time one of these crowd disasters has happened (they have mostly been in connection with football matches, though there was one on an Underground station during the war) everyone has considered it a tragedy, and that it was up to someone to put it right. Therefore I think we must, with great sobriety, remember that we are endeavouring to safeguard the lives and limbs of spectators who go in large crowds to watch football matches; though the provisions in the Bill are capable of being applied also to other sports.
I suggest to the Committee that the way of approach in this Amendment is not really apt to meet the problem. Certainly it is not the right way to attack the financial side of it. I may also say that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, did not read out that part of 453 paragraph 59 which says that clubs receive allocations of money from their associations and leaguesall of whom readily made available to me their most recent accounts to show what money they had and what was distributed to clubs.I know that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, is aware that this money does exist and is distributed. The designation procedure and what is to follow from it is not really meant to work in quite the way that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, presented it to the Committee. We are, after all, as he said, doing this in phases, and in a flexible manner. As I told the House on Second Reading, designation will be done by reference to individual grounds. In the first place, it will be done to international stadia in the First and Second Divisions in England and Wales and in the First Division in Scotland; but it will be done by reference to individual grounds. I think that it is not at that stage, on choosing the grounds, that we ought to look at the financial implications. We have, as it were, the criteria already written into the Bill; that is, that there is to be no designation for a stadium where the accommodation is for fewer than 10,000 people. That is the figure which we put, as it were, at the floor level. That is not the stage of flexibility. It is equally true that designation, of itself, is not going to, is not intended to and will not, cause any club to close down.
The argument arises out of the second stage of the process. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, was adamant that we need a licensing system. I do not think that anyone can duck the clear implication, the clear recommendation, that emerges from his Report that we want a licensing system. He said that it ought to be phased, and it ought to apply to all these clubs. He did not in any sense suggest that a club should escape designation on financial grounds because it was not viable; because it could not put into effect some measures which might follow from that move. Instead, what he suggested, and what we have embodied in the Bill is a second phase whereby the local authority looks at the matter pragmatically and on the ground. That is where the flexibility comes in. That is where the financial capability of a club is relevant. It is not relevant 454 from the point of view of the local authority directly, because the job of the local authority is to ensure (I am sure this is entirely within the spirit of the Bill and Lord Wheatley's Report, and is what everyone in the Committee would want) so far as it can that the physical condition of the stadium is such that the number of people who are let into the stadium on any given occasion will be safe there. That is the point of the whole exercise. The question that therefore arises is how many people will be safe? What is the maximum number of people who may safely be allowed to come into a ground in any given state of condition?
Financial viability therefore arises in this fashion: suppose that a club says, "We are broke; we are 'skint'; we cannot put up one further crash barrier; we cannot employ one further attendant; there is nothing whatever that we can afford to do to our stadium". The local authority will look at the stadium as it is then and say, "In that event, if that is what you say, we have to take your word for it and we have to take account of the fact that you are not going to spend a brass farthing on your stadium; in which case we would suggest that the maximum number of people that it is safe to let into the ground in this condition is x". I should have thought that this was a reasonable approach and one which would be acceptable to any decent and conscientious football club; because they must know that if they try to pack in people beyond what is thought to be the safety limit, they are putting people at risk. That is not the end of it because there is an appeal system. So I say that it is only in the first instance where the local authority may lay down their maximum.
What is much more likely to happen comes into a further series of exercises in flexibility. Take the case where the club say to the licensing authority, "For this year we can do only a very small amount, but we think that in the course of the next twelve months we can raise the finances to fix up this stand or that set of terracing. What we propose to do is this, that and the other, and at the end of that time we will come back to you and ask whether we may have our licence I amended so that we may have x thousand 455 further people". This, of course, is perfectly admissible under the Bill and will be done with the greatest of ease and flexibility; and so on throughout the process of improvement of grounds.
What I think is more likely to be the truth than either of those propositions is the one that I put forward at Second Reading of the Bill. Rather than finding that we have large numbers of grounds which are grossly unsafe for the numbers of spectators who customarily pack themselves into them, I think we have to take account of the 25 years of voluntary exercise of a code of safety which was first initiated in 1948. Which are the clubs—and let them stand up and admit it—which have paid no regard whatever to the advice of their professional associations for 25 years? Which are the clubs which are still allowing crowds to pack in in circumstances of the greatest possible danger whereby they may be squashed to death or get themselves crushed? Let those clubs speak and say who they are who over 25 years have failed to spend one brass farthing in favour of the safety of their spectators. I do not think many will stand up and say that. It is much more likely that they will say, "Over the period of 25 years we have done a great deal in order to comply with the voluntary code laid down by the Football Association and the Football League; and our club and our ground will very happily stand up to scrutiny by the most rigid of local authorities waving their green book". I think that is what is going to happen in most cases. Maybe the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, thought that this was not universally so, but, as I said on Second Reading, the clubs which cannot say they have taken substantial steps forward in this field ought frankly to be ashamed of themselves. I do not believe there will be many who are found to be in that position.
In that case, the system that I have outlined whereby we designate and leave it for bargaining between the local authority and the club to say what, in the given condition of their ground, is the maximum number of people who can go in, is a thoroughly flexible one, and it can be altered as further improvements take place. I do not think it is right to lay upon my right honourable friend 456 in the initial stage of designation a financial criterion which detracts completely from the whole principle underlying the thought and the recommendations of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley. This does not say anything about where the money is to come from; I said that was a different point. In view of what I have said, I think the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, will appreciate that it is a different point. That is why I thought, and would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, that it was worth discussing on its own. That is the attitude of the Government towards this matter. I feel it is a fair way of dealing with what is a matter of the safety of the public, without imposing a dreadful financial penalty on any football club.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ LORD WIGG
I must confess that I do not agree that it is a different point from the question of who provides the money. The noble Lord who has just spoken makes the case which would be all right if he were writing an essay on the subject. But let us leave the essays behind—the polished briefs from Whitehall—and let us have a look at the reality of the situation. Who are the clubs who will not stand up, or are ashamed to stand up, and say, "Our grounds are in difficult conditions"? They are in those parts of the country where a group of public-spirited men, men who may be, if you would like to describe them for some reason as vain, and find some great merit in describing themselves as directors of football clubs have struggled—
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
May I interrupt the noble Lord? I did not say, "Let them stand up and say 'We are in difficulties'" I said, "Let them stand up and confess 'Our grounds are grossly unsafe for the spectators who come in'"
§ LORD WIGG
—I should be much obliged. If it would help the noble Viscount, I will put it in the form that he wants. Who are the directors who will stand up and say, "Our grounds are unsafe"? Well, were not the directors of 457 Ibrox public-spirited men? Until that day when, in the closing minutes of a match at Ibrox, part of the crowd tried to turn back, that ground had been safe over the years. Many of the other grounds are safe until a special set of conditions arise. Such conditions may come and go; they may have come and gone on many first-class grounds, and nobody knows anything about it.
The truth is that football is a game that is played all over these islands and it is carried on in very difficult circumstances. I assert that not a dozen of the top clubs are financially viable, in the strict meaning of that word. They are carried on through the generosity of the directors, and they do the best they can. If the best they can is also combined with a little hope that nothing will go wrong, well, that is one of the frailties of human nature—until, of course, the dreadful day comes when their hopes are put to the test and it goes wrong.
I tried to argue this on Second Reading, and I tried to put it into practice during the five years I was chairman of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, and the twenty years I was actively associated with the administration of another sport. Football grounds are in the centres of urban areas, just as racecourses are in centres of areas easily reached by the population. It is quite selfish, unutterably selfish, and it is a shameful thing, that racecourses should be used for only 20 days of the year, and then the gates are locked, when round about there are thousands of youngsters who want to kick a ball and who have to kick it round in the streets. Racecourses should be used: they are public property. Of course they should be used for racing, but when they are not being used for racing they ought to be used by the community as a whole. Likewise with football grounds. It is a fact that these grounds, if they were sponsored—that is to say, if money were made available—could become the centres of social activities, not only in the training of footballers but in many other activities for every night in the week and over the weekends. That is what I want to see. For the Government, on the morrow of great disaster to set up an Inquiry, under the chairmanship by one noble and learned Lord, to produce a Report, and for that Report to be limited by the fact 458 that when he went to the Treasury the Treasury said "No money", means just as night follows day, that you will have the kind of argument that we have had from the Front Bench to-day.
I am sceptical of the Government providing the money just like that out of the public purse; and I am very sceptical that it will produce the necessary results. Equally, I reject the concept that has been put forward by the noble Viscount that if here we are going to go through the process of designation, it will be limited in the first instance to the First and Second Division clubs. When it is found after examination by the local authority, or some responsible person, that a particular ground is perhaps not capable of safely holding 60,000, but that it can hold 40,000, it is condemned; the word goes round, and large parts of the terraces are shut off because they are not safe. The reason why they cannot be put right is because the gates are not big enough: and if the word goes round that the ground is unsafe, the gates will fall still further. What is already something that does not meet with approval will gradually go down hill and will meet with even less approval.
So we are really considering a Bill which is a stop-go. The Government decided from the very start that they were not going to provide a penny. Over the years they have done nothing. I go further and say that if Ibrox had not occurred they would not have done this much. We got the Wheatley Report only following upon Ibrox, and it is a stopgap before the next disaster. One of the reasons why I spoke on Second Reading, and why I intervene today, is that I am certain that we are going to get a disaster sooner or later on a racecourse, for the reasons which I have described, and because nobody is looking at the situation. This is the by-product of a laissez-faire society which only faces up to problems when it cannot escape from so doing; and when it is forced to face up to an unpleasant set of facts, what it does then is to provide a solution which does not cost much money and certainly does not add anything to the taxpayers' bill. So we grovel along.
Here is a great opportunity. I think that £20 million a year injected into British sport—and as to how it should be done is open to discussion—would 459 revivify sport where it matters, for the participants, for the young; but, at the same time, it would give us football stadia, and in the great centres it might give us a few more swimming baths which are up to Olympic standards. At the moment we are not even tenth-rate in our provisions for sport. One can go to country after country, even underdeveloped countries, and see facilities that exist there for young people that are just dreams here. And we have a speech like the one we have just had from the Minister, who uses the word "shamefaced". I describe his speech as pitiful.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ LORD LYELL
I, too, spoke on the Second Reading of this Bill, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, and I are very much in the same boat, in that we both spoke on possibly parallel lines. I do not think we are going to converge. I spoke about, and am still very keen on, the matter of crowd behaviour at sports grounds being such as to lead to risks. So far as I can understand, much of what the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, said has to do with finance, although he has brought in other points of importance. He has spoken about racecourses and given us a retailed survey of the risks at racecourses. But I would submit that these risks are not necessarily associated with crowd behaviour—not to mention the behaviour of spectators in aeroplanes and elsewhere. That is not quite what the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, or anybody else has in mind when dealing with this Bill. I think the noble Lord has got a little off the ground that we ought to be discussing when he advocates what I believe is open-handed generosity to football. He talked about 162 clubs. I do not quite know what he meant: whether he meant professional football clubs only, or athletic clubs—
§ LORD LYELL
Would I be right in thinking that that includes stadia of the calibre of Wimbledon and Lords, and other athletic stadia the names of which do not spring immediately to mind?
§ LORD LYELL
The Football Association, I understand, covers England, and does not cover Wales or Scotland. We are discussing professional football in the Football League of 92 clubs. The noble Lord spoke about 10 to 12 clubs. I have done a considerable amount of research into the finances of Football League clubs in England, and I have comparable figures for those in Scotland which are under the aegis of the Scottish Football League. I agree that there are about 12 to 14 clubs which either make profits or have the prospect of being profitable in the next three or four years. At the same time, I think everybody must agree with the Minister when, on the question of the public being put at risk, and where finance is a bar to improving safety and lessening the risk, he says that we cannot just expect openhanded finance. I think this question of risk is one which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, considered.
Further, the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, pointed out that gates have gone down and are going down at professional football grounds all over Britain. I spoke on Second Reading of one club in the North. I have not yet had an opportunity of going to see the ground, but I read in the newspaper on the day following our Second Reading debate—and I have confirmed this briefly with the club's secretary—that there could be a financial outlay of £100,000 to make one particular section of their stadium safe—safe, that is, in the broadest sense of the Green Code. So far as I know, this club has not had any crowd trouble or any risk of trouble since the 1946 Bolton disaster. Yet if this Code is to be interpreted rigidly, this club is liable to have to spend £100,000. Somehow, I do not think the Code is going to be so rigidly interpreted. I think there will be ways and means of lessening risk, although one cannot entirely eliminate it. But if this club, which took £800.000 from gate receipts last year, is faced with the probability of having to spend £100,000, then clearly there is a corresponding risk that other clubs are going to be landed with the same sort of financial obligation. But, unfortunately, 461 about 80, and possibly more, of the Football League clubs do not make a profit in the broadest sense of the word.
The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has also pointed out that football is involved with national prestige. Following the elimination of the English football team from the World Cup, the great cry was one of falling gates. I cannot see that the Government and the Treasury should provide open-handed generosity to a national sport which has declining gates. Also football is played by these 92 Football League clubs, once or perhaps twice a week in their stadia. Football, of course, does not consist just of those 92 clubs but of every game played all over the land. I believe it would be wrong to divert any Treasury finance from the possibility of improving facilities for the broad mass of players and participants to making stadia more safe and more attractive, when these stadia are, at best, filled to only One third or one half of their capacity. I believe that the Bill certainly has all the provisions in it to meet any sudden influx of spectators that may occur, at best, once or twice in a year.
§ LORD WIGG
I do not want to trouble the Committee much further. I am not optimistic enough to believe that my lines of thinking will converge on those of the noble Lord who has just spoken, but I should like to make it clear that I am not advocating open-handed generosity from the Treasury. In the case of racing, £34 million was put into the sport as a result of the Levy Bill, and that Bill came about because a group of noble Lords put pressure on the Government and forced them to set up the Peppiatt Committee, and that Committee recommended a levy. Later on in our discussions I will say more about the levy and how it worked, and why I think it should not now be repeated. There was no generosity on the part of the Treasury. What the noble Lord does not appreciate is that as a result of the Levy Bill the next stage was reached and the Government were enabled to put a tax on turnover—something which Mr. Churchill, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, had tried and failed to do. However, it was done and it has produced £88 million in the current year for the Exchequer.
462 The noble Viscount, Lord Colville, was quite right when he replied to his noble friend Lord Westwood during Second Reading and told him that the Government had not taken £72 million out of football. That is correct. That amount of money has been taken out of the pockets of those who bet on football, which is a rather different thing. But the Government could never have got their £88 million of taxation from racing, nor could they have got the £72 million from football, but for the existence of both sports. Therefore the Government are doing very well indeed, thank you very much. The trouble comes about because there is a bifurcation in Government policy. It existed under the Labour Government and it is still there now. The Minister responsible for this Bill is concerned with the social aspects and with the safety of life and limb of those who attend football matches, but in the Treasury there are those who are concerned only about the money they take out of the sport and who have no responsibility for the social consequences. This leads to the impoverishment of our national life. I entirely agree with the Minister: I support him 100 per cent. when he says that steps should be taken to make it unlawful for people to be able to attend any sort of sports ground, be it cricket, football, tennis or tiddlywinks, if they are put at risk. I will explain later why I think it is unwise to seek to give this money and to raise it in the same way as the betting levy was raised.
I should also like to say this—and this is why I am taking up your Lordships' time. I believe, with absolute certainty, as a result of my experience, that if the Government pass this Bill and it becomes law and they do nothing else, then a great opportunity will have been missed, because it is possible by injecting money to help football—which incidentally would help the Revenue—and also to improve facilities for those who witness football. Nor is that all. I should like to return to the first stage—and here I repeat myself. When the noble Lord, Lord Butler, as the then Home Secretary, revised the betting laws in 1960, he did not do it because he was concerned about the wellbeing of racing. He was concerned with the social consequences that 463 were spreading like a cancer all over these Islands because of illegal betting. He very largely got rid of illegal betting and enabled racing to be put on a firm basis, which eventually enabled it to produce large sums for the Revenue. I would say that in every aspect of sport—swimming, lacrosse, tennis, squash, cricket and the like—what we in these Islands need is to get away from this laissez-faire concept of society and say that the Government have a responsibility to all sections of society, and particularly to those sections who do the work and live in unpleasant surroundings, to provide them with the facilities which all modern States, except Britain, provide. That is all I wish to say at the moment. Perhaps it is too much to hope that our lines converge; perhaps they are not dented.
§ LORD LYELL
Not at all, I am afraid. The noble Lord has diversified a little and I believe we are getting rather too far away from this Amendment. The noble Lord mentioned the sum of £20 million, and certainly he is quite practical in suggesting that figure. But if he seriously thinks that once that starts flowing out of the Treasury it will be the final amount, I fear he is mistaken. I believe we can easily add on an extra nought, within years, for something which, as the noble Lord says, is a national sport. Nevertheless, it is £20 million from the Treasury. I should like to know: what it is going to? Is it going to professional football or is it going to every form of sport?
§ LORD WIGG
This is becoming a dialogue. I have said every aspect of sport. If a Bill were enacted that roughly followed the lines of the Bill which set up the Tote Board and a levy, it would give them power to borrow. If it is wisely administered, there could be a minimum of £20 million. Certainly it would probably rise, but you could not spend large amounts in the first four or five years. After all racing has had only £34 million over ten years, and it was left with a legacy of two centuries of neglect. That has been very largely put right, and I do not think it wants more than £7 million a year. £20 million a year to start with would make an enormous difference. It would give confidence, particularly if there were borrowing powers at the same time; because once you get into an area 464 of expansion some of the difficulties would disappear. What I want the Government to do is to use the Ibrox disaster—
§ LORD LYELL
May I just interrupt the noble Lord? I think that is the tenth time this afternoon he has referred to "Eebrox". The name, as I understand it and as it is pronounced in Glasgow, is Ibrox".
§ LORD WIGG
I am a poor Sassenach, with three grand-daughters who are Scots, so I pronounce it as Mr. Churchill pronounced "Nazi"—in the way that comes naturally to me. I will leave it at that. I was trying to meet the points made by the noble Lord, and if he wants to correct me on pronunciation every time I mispronounce something, he has a hell of a job on!
§ 3.50 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
May I say just one word about this? The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, began the first of his speeches on this Amendment by saying that we do not have any Rules of Order. I do not in any way wish to upset the Committee, but I think it was really agreed—and I believe it was suggested to the Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy—that what we were discussing was the first Amendment and not the general financial situation on, as it were, a Second Reading basis. I may be forgiven therefore, I hope, by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, if I do not answer any single point on what he has said, because with respect, not one of them has anything to do with the Amendment.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ LORD STOW HILL
The Committee have listened to a most spirited and interesting exchange between the two noble Lords who have spoken from opposite sides. I am sure we have greatly enjoyed it and feel inspired by it. I apologise to the Committee if I come down to rather a pedestrian note, and I apologise for prolonging the debate, but I think it is desirable because the point affects a large number of people. What I do not understand, even after reading again the speech of the noble Viscount on Second Reading, how this dual system will work. One starts with designation of stadia which are constructed to accommodate more than 465 10,000 spectators. That process is initiated by the Secretary of State. When he has designated a stadium, then, as the noble Viscount told us, there starts in effect a process of negotiation between the local authority and those responsible for the conduct of the stadium. A safety certificate is issued. It may be changed from time to time, and it probably would be changed as the situation and circumstances of the particular stadium altered.
The second part of process is clear; it is a useful exchange of view, a process of negotiation, in the case of each stadium, between the local authority and those responsible for the conduct of the stadium. It results in the issue of a safety certificate adapted to the circumstances of the particular stadium and subject to change perhaps, although not necessarily, from time to time as circumstances alter. That will be perfectly clear to all those many people who are involved in this practical question. What I had not understood was how the first part of the process worked.
When I listened to the noble Viscount on Second Reading I thought he was clearly intimating to us that the first part itself was a phased process; that it was not the Government's intention that there should be anything like a blanket designation of stadia which accommodated more than 10,000 spectators; that was not what was intended at all. But it was the intention of the Government that the Secretary of State should from time to time look at individual stadia and decide that it was proper to designate them with the intention of starting the process of negotiation between the local authority and those who conducted the business of the individual stadium.
I press the noble Viscount further only in order to have clarity as to how precisely the Government intend the process to work. I put down the Amendment because I thought it made it perfectly clear that the process was to be a phased one; the designation was to be related to particular stadia because of the circumstances of each particular stadium. As the question of finance, whether from public or private sources, was so very important a feature in the whole picture, I thought it would be right to require the Secretary of State to take into account the financial situation of those responsible for each particular stadium. That is why I included in the 466 wording that my noble friends and I chose a reference to "the financial resources available".
The main purpose of the Amendment is to elicit from the noble Viscount a little more detailed statement as to how the first part of this process is to work. Am I right in thinking that the Secretary of State is to look at individual stadia up and down the country and, having regard to ail the circumstances, to decide whether he should or should not designate a particular stadium and, by so doing, start this process of negotiation with the local authority; or is something much more general in scope intended? Is it to be some process of designation which broadly affects all stadia which can accommodate more than 10,000 persons in the judgment of the Secretary of State? I think it is right to say that a great many people responsible for the conduct of stadia would like to know where they stand on the matter and would welcome elucidation on this slightly obscure point.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I am extremely glad to respond to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill. This is a most important point and I should like to get it right. I wonder whether he has with him a copy of the Report by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley. If he has, and if he were to look at paragraphs 56 and 57, he would find that the policy of the Government is remarkably closely modelled on what the noble and learned Lord recommended. There are four categories of stadia set out in paragraph 56. What we propose to do in the first instance is deal with category No. 1. That is the first designation order that we propose to make under this Bill, unless among that list—and it would be dealt with ground by ground—there was one stadium which did not hold as many as 10,000 people. But I should be surprised if that were so among the clubs in the First and Second Divisions in England and the First Division in Scotland, or the international grounds as set out. If there was such a ground, there are no powers tinder the Bill to designate it, anyway.
The reason why I object to this Amendment is because I do not think that what it proposes is right. I go further, and I suggest that it is positively mischievious, to try to impose a financial criterion on 467 the designation process. Supposing, for the sake of argument, one finds among this list of what are presumably the top pullers of football crowds a ground owned by a club in a rather poor state of financial viability, it would be wrong to fail to designate that club for that reason. I agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg—and here it was entirely relevant. We are very much in favour of looking after life and limb of people who watch football matches, and indeed other sports. If we were to exempt a club from designation because there was some financial disability in its way we should be frustrating the whole of the exercise. I hope that I have explained even more fully what we have in mind, and that is why, when I explained earlier the reason why I did not like this Amendment, particularly the financial aspect, I shifted the whole of the financial argument on to the second stage, which is the negotiation that, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, set out with complete accuracy, will go on between the club and the local authority.
We want to designate the clubs in Lord Wheatley's category (a)—and they will all be listed—and start work on the application of the Green Book to them, and then issue the licences to see how this works. This is a new exercise; it has not been done anywhere else, and we must try it out. As we gain experience it will be possible to consider designating other football grounds; but Lord Wheatley's category 4 will never be designated under this Bill because grounds with a capacity of below 10,000 are, in any case, exempt. There are also powers—and we shall be talking about these later—to deal with matters other than stadia, pure and simple, as defined which have seating accommodation around the ground. That is the way the designation will work.
I hope that that clears up the doubts in the mind of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill. I hope it may also convince him that we have the financial considerations fitted into the right place in this process, in which case it may be that he will not wish to pursue this Amendment.
§ LORD STOW HILL
I am most indebted to the noble Viscount for his further statement which makes the position perfectly clear. The object of the 468 Amendment was to invite the Minister to enlarge on what he had said before. In those circumstances if I may have the permission of the Committee I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ LORD AIREDALE
There is one small point that I should like to raise on Clause 1. The clause refers to "members of the public", as also does the Long Title of the Bill. Does that mean "people"? The Minister himself called them "people", and if that is what we mean cannot the Bill use the word "people", and thus use one word instead of four?
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I should think not because, speaking off the cuff (and if I have it wrong I will tell the noble Lord, Lord Airedale), what we are interested in is the arrangements for the safety of the people who come in, as it were, through the great wide gates and not people who come in, say, to the directors' box or the players' changing rooms or as trainers or as policemen or as sidesmen or something of that sort. I should have thought it is probably right to define the people whom we are trying to protect on the terraces and in the stands as "members of the public", in order not to confuse them with other people who come in, as it were, for professional purposes. If I am wrong about this I will tell the noble Lord.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE or CULROSS
I think probably "members of the public" is the best way of expressing it, because although the police may be there primarily to keep law and order—and so may other people—I suspect that they are also spectators and are rather enjoying it.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
Is there another stage of the Bill at which we can discuss this point, because I thought the remarks just made by the Minister must surely be totally out of keeping with modern feeling. The word "people" really covers everybody: policemen; Brian Clough; everybody. But what the Minister was doing was saying that there 469 are some people who are superior to some other people—oh yes! I am sorry; but he was. The noble Lord just below me is wagging his head laterally, which presumably means that he thinks I am wrong, but I am not. I am right. The noble Viscount was saying that if they come as policemen, or as Brian Cough or Peter Taylor, they are rather superior types of fellows who cannot possibly be described as "people". I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Airedale: we must all be people. If he is willing to settle for "spectators", then so, reluctantly, am I. But we really must have them all described the same way. A policeman is "people". With great respect, one cannot really speak about "members of the public", although I would have accepted that term if the noble Viscount had not said that it did not include those who were in the directors' box or the policemen. Members of the public just means the "P.B.I." who stand on the terraces. With very great respect, even in this day and age, I do not think we can quite accept that. Therefore I ask the Minister whether, if there is another stage of the Bill to come, he will please go back and ask his " P.B.B." (by which I mean the poor so-an-so bureaucrats) to find a term which includes all of us.
As I was accused of "wagging my head laterally" to indicate dissent from what the noble Lord said about the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Cuirass, may I explain that I was trying to indicate that I had not understood the noble Viscount to say that the people who were not members of the public were necessarily either superior or inferior; that a policeman, for example, is not necessarily either superior or inferior. That was my only purpose in wagging my head laterally.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
The noble Viscount, Lord Barrington, is quite right. Perhaps I may just say to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, that, as in another place, we shall be having several stages of this Bill. There will be a Report stage and I shall be delighted to discuss this point if the noble Lord would like to table an Amendment. But if he were to look at the little green book (and I will see that he gets a copy, so that he may study it) he would see that the sort of code we are discussing, which is a safety code 470 that we are trying to import into the grounds, is designed primarily to deal with the stands and the terracing where the members of the public (if I may continue to use that term) go. We are not speaking about precautions in the changing rooms of the players; we are not speaking about the precautions immediately around the touchline where the policemen go. I do not think we would normally take into account, in dealing with the code under this Bill, the people working in the bars or the restaurants, because they are covered under other statutory provisions already in force. Therefore we are dealing here with a code for the people who pay for their tickets and go through the turnstiles, and we are not seeking statutory regulations on the showers, in the tunnel leading out on to the pitch or on the staircase up which the policemen go, or something of that sort. Therefore it is a limited area of the ground with which we are trying to deal, and that is why in the Bill we use the term "members of the public" The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, is shaking his head, but perhaps he would like to study the book.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
I dealt with the point flippantly just now, but I will try to deal with it seriously. If you go on to a football ground—my natural one is Upton Park—the terraces, as the noble Viscount calls them (he obviously is not a regular attender) you find that the seats are behind the directors' box, and if anything goes wrong behind, then, happily enough, in the present state of West Ham, the directors will get the consequences—and in view of the way they are running the club at the moment I would not be against that. But if the noble Viscount had ever been on a football ground he would know that we are indeed all "people" now. I am not talking about the bar. I am not sure that I am not talking about the tunnel, because if it were to fall in—and if West Ham go on playing as badly as they are doing now there is just the chance of somebody falling in upon the tunnel, which is just between what the noble Viscount insists upon calling "members of the public" —then we shall indeed all be "people".
I do not need to see the little green book: I have already seen it. I am on to a serious point, even although I am expressing it flippantly, which seems to 471 suit the mood at the moment. It is a serious point. On a football ground we are all "people". One cannot divide the areas of danger, meaning those who throw bottles, as at lbrox Park and the other place up there in Glasgow, and those who do not. We are indeed all "people". The risks are pretty fairly spread and the Bill must apply to everybody. If the term "people" will not do—though I should have thought it would—I will settle for "spectators". But whatever word is used it must apply over the whole ground; and if the noble Viscount will accept my invitation to come with me to West Ham he will see exactly what I mean. It is impossible to divide one set of people from another, so I beg the Government: please, between now and the next stage of the Bill, put in something which does not divide the sheep from the goats. The reason for the precautions applies equally right across the ground.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
They are all sheep, but some will be protected by this Bill and others by other legislation. We will certainly look at what the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, says, but I think the Bill is right. However, when he raises a point like this, it deserves to be looked at.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [General and special certificates]:
§ 4.11 p.m.
LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 2, line 37, leave out ("likely to be").
The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 2. Clause 2 deals with the issuing by the local authority of general and special safety certificates. The interpretation of "local authority" is dealt with in Clause 16. In Greater London the "local authority" will be the Greater London Council and in England, outside London, it will be the county council. In Scotland it is the regional or islands council. Clause 2(5) lays down:
When a general safety certificate is in operation for a designated stadium in their area, the local authority, on the application of a person who satisfies them that lie is a qualified person, may issue a special safety certificate for the stadium to him.
I turn again to Clause 16 for the definition of a "qualified person". At the top of page 12 it says:
'qualified person' has the meaning assigned to it by section 2(7) above;".
That is the subsection to which this Amendment refers, and it states:
In this Act, 'qualified person', in relation to a safety certificate, means a person who is likely to be in a position to prevent contravention of its terms and conditions.
It seems to me that the use of the words "likely to be" introduce an area of uncertainty that ought, if possible, to be avoided, and one wonders, indeed, why they have been used. It seems to me that an applicant for a safety certificate should satisfy the local authority very positively and definitely that he will be "in a position to prevent contravention of its terms and conditions". The local authority is very limited, or so it seems to me, in its powers to cancel a certificate. I base that statement on the wording of Clause 5(7), which reads:
The local authority may cancel a safety certificate if the holder dies or (being a body corporate) is dissolved, or if the holder appears to the local authority to have ceased to be a qualified person.
That seems to me to be the only power the local authority has to cancel the certificate. So there would seem to be need to avoid the use of the words which have been introduced, and which have themselves introduced a note of uncertainty where clarity is desirable. I beg to move.
§ LORD WIGG
The use of the words in the Bill, of course, is another proof that the Government are looking for an alibi. The first explanation given by the Minister in reply to my noble friend Lord Stow Hill is that in regard to paragraph 56 of the Wheatley Report the Government will seek sections 1A, 1B, 2, 3 but never section 4. Of course in the timetable it works something like this: the accident at Ibrox occurred in February, 1971, the Report came out in May, 1972, and we are now nearly at the end of 1973 before the Bill sees the light of day. If anything happens at the moment the Government can always say, "Well, we had to wait for the Wheatley Report; we had to consider the Wheatley Report, and we have a Bill, and we are proceeding stage by stage". They could appoint the village idiot to the job; and if it was found out that he was the village 473 idiot, then the Government could always say, "Well, so far as we knew he had a conversation with an architect, and so far as we knew he was quite 'likely to be'". In other words, what this wording is intended to do is to provide the Government after Ibrox with an alibi against something happening, an alibi in order to satisfy public opinion.
The use of the words "likely to be" are quite indefensible in logic. Their only justification, if in fact, as I believe, this Bill is nothing more nor less than a dummy in the shop window, is as an alibi that a Minister can trot out if he is placed in a corner. But there is really no justification whatever. In a society like ours the Minister has a duty to designate, but he then shuffles it on to the local authority to negotiate, and the person who will take the decision is someone "likely to be" This country is strewn with professional organisations, any one of which could be asked to designate someone to do the job. There is not an area in the country where there exist football clubs covered by categories 1, 2 and 3 where some 70 professionally qualified people cannot be found to do the job. The use of the words "likely to be" is a move away. I congratulate my noble friends Lord Garnsworthy and Lord Stow Hill on putting down this Amendment. I very much hope that if the Government resist them, they will take it to a Division.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
I think we can read rather too much into these words. The main purport here really concerns a technical point in the initial stages of getting the Bill moving. Indeed, I believe the purport of these words is precisely the opposite of what the noble Lord was talking about, in so far as it is designed to enable the procedure to get going rather than to hold it back.
The point about "likely to be" is that in the initial stages there is no one who technically can be said to be immediately and obviously qualified "to be". The words in Clause 2 and Clause 10(2) are specifically included to meet the point. Before the certificate is issued and this becomes known, no person can be said with certainty to be "in a position to prevent contravention of these terms and conditions". The stage to which Clause 2 applies is the preliminary stage. The local authority has to decide under sub- 474 section (4) whether the applicant is a qualified person so that they may proceed to consider his application. The certificate will not have been issued; the local authority will have to make a judgment as to the capacity of the applicant in the future to "prevent contravention of its terms and conditions". That is the real reason why the words are there.
§ LORD WIGG
If the noble Lord will telephone the Horserace Betting Levy Board at 405 5346, and ask for the Secretary, he will be given a list of half a dozen firms with many qualified people who, in regard to the essential category 1, can provide the answers about the safety from a crowd point of view of a particular stand or structure. In the initial stage you are not finding your way because nobody is about. Ours is a highly complex technical society. This is common knowledge. There are numerous people who specialise in this field. These are not cannibal islands; we are not hunting grouse in Scotland. We are in the midst of a technological system. Of course you can find the people if you want to.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
I do not think we are dealing here with a technological question, but with the managerial responsibility of the people we are seeking. I believe it would be a great mistake to take out these words. The Government feel quite strongly about this question.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I take note that the Government are not inclined to accept the Amendment. May I say I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Wigg for the contribution he has made in the consideration of this Amendment. I do not propose to press the matter to a Division this afternoon, but in asking leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment may I say we shall study very closely what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
When the noble Lord. Lord Garnsworthy, does that, would he also consider another point, because it would be convenient, I think, for him to have all these things together. We are talking here about the person who applies for the certificate. He is to be prima facie the man who runs 475 the stadium, not of course, the architect, not the engineer, not the person responsible for the safety provisions, who, as the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, quite rightly said, are available everywhere. We are talking about the chap who runs the ground. When the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, looks at this point again, perhaps he would turn to Clause 10. He will see there that we are talking about offences. There are a number of offences, one of which is breaking the conditions of the certificate. It is not only the person who is the holder of the certificate who is liable to be prosecuted. If your Lordships look at the end of Clause 10(1), you will see that "any responsible person" can be prosecuted, and "any responsible person" is defined in Clause 10(2). So the mere fact that in the initial stages Mr. A goes along and says, "I am the qualified person to apply to the local authority for this certificate", and he is considered by the local authority to be likely to be in such a position, does not subsequently, if he is then given the certificate, confine any enforcement actions to prosecutions against him. If they should find out, after all, that he is not the person responsible for the running of the club or in control of the club, any other responsible person can also be prosecuted under the terms of Clause 10 and the enforcement provisions. I think the noble Lord may find some comfort in this. He will see that the local authorities are not in the position of having their hands tied, as they may be thought to be simply by looking at Clause 2.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for that intervention. He will not be surprised if I say on that particular point that it is a matter that we shall study closely; and he will not be surprised if I say that I shall need to take advice. He would not expect me to say anything other than that. Having listened to the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, we shall consider the matter and perhaps come back to it again at Report stage, and I think particularly that I should reserve the position in regard to what the noble Viscount has said. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.476
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3 [Applications for safety certificates]:
§ 4.23 p.m.
LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 3, line 4, after ("the") insert ("Sports Council and to the").
§ The noble Lord said: We all of us desire that this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will achieve its objective; that is to say, that the safety of the public attending sporting events will be secured. Obviously it is essential, when an application for a safety certificate for a stadium is made, that the local authority, as provided in this clause, should consult with the chief officer of police, the building authority and the fire authority for the area in which the stadium is situated. The Bill is concerned not solely with stadia, but, as I think the noble Viscount made quite clear when we were discussing the first Amendment, with grounds also. At the moment we do not know its limitations or its full extent. We have the Wheatley Report to guide us, but I think we are all of us aware that it may go further and that there is a point at which it will fail to meet the situation. Twice on Second Reading, when I touched on the question of the scale of the Bill, when I used the words "would" and "will" in so far as application of the Bill was concerned, he intervened to say "could". The noble Viscount was quite emphatic about that. That left us in little doubt —it certainly left me in little doubt—that all sports could, even if not necessarily, come under the umbrella of the Bill.
§ I think few would doubt that crowd behaviour varies from sport to sport. For instance, crowd behaviour at Epsom on the racecourse is very different from the crowd behaviour at Wembley at a football match, and particularly, if I may say so, in the stands at Epsom or the stadium at Wembley. The point I wish to make it that since the standards of safety are not defined in the Bill but are to be governed by a code of practice, and since sporting events with very different patterns of crowd behaviour are involved, it is desirable that there should be consultation not only with the special parties I have mentioned but with those 477 who can speak for the club or for the sport concerned, and it seems to me that it could be a minimum help, to avoid confusion and different standards throughout the country, if this Amendment were accepted. It ought also to reduce to a minimum any question of misinterpretation of the code.
§ It would seem to me that the Sports Council, which was established by Royal Charter in 1971, is the appropriate agency for consultation in this regard. The advantage that would follow is that there would be proper guidelines laid down, based on co-ordination at national level. Further, it would surely be advantageous if local authorities are required to consult with sporting interests or those who speak for them—in this case I am suggesting that it should be the Sports Council—before using their powers to close down or severely restrict the use of a major sports ground. The Amendment is designed to secure consultation with the Sports Council, and if incorporated in the Bill would, I know, give considerable satisfaction, with the added possibility of close co-operation from the Sports Council. I am quite sure that acceptance of the Amendment would give a very great deal of satisfaction. I beg to move.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I think it might be helpful to the Committee if I were to intervene at this stage. What the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, has said is in itself of great assistance, and it gives me an opportunity to say some things which I think really need to be said at the beginning of the Parliamentary passage of this Bill. The noble Lord has suggested' that we should amend Clause 3 to ensure that the Sports Council would be consulted about each application for a safety certificate for an individual stadium. I hope the noble Lord is able to follow this argument. It is fairly involved. What we are involved with, of course, is the detailed application of the agreed Green Book to football stadia. As the Bill stands at the moment, I think the noble Lord would probably agree that to consult the Sports Council about how many crush barriers there are and how wide the staircase should be, whether the telephones are adequately placed and whether the lighting is right on each individual ground that is licensed by a local authority, is 478 to bring in the Sports Council at the wrong stage.
I think the noble Lord was saying—and in this I entirely agree with him—. that we ought to have two things. First of all, we ought to make certain that before any individual sport, and the grounds upon which it is played, are brought under the umbrella of the Bill, there has been the widest possible consultation to make certain that the way in which it is going to be done and administered is suitable for that sport, for the behaviour of the people who go and watch it, for the sort of grounds on which the sport takes place, and all the other peculiar features special to that sport. I entirely agree with that. I do not know whether the noble Lord remembers, but in my winding up speech on Second Reading I put in a little passage in which I promised that before anybody contemplated applying this sort of thing to horse-racing courses there would be consultations with those who know all about horseracing courses. Indeed, since then there has been correspondence with my noble friend Lord Ward of Willey who is interested in greyhound racing, and we promised him that before we applied any of these proposals to greyhound racing we would consult with people who know about that sport; and so it would be wherever application of the terms of this Bill was considered to any sport beyond football which is at the present moment in our minds. That is probably a more satisfactory way of dealing with it than to bring in the Sports Council as such.
What we wish to do is to make sure that, to take an entirely different sport like greyhound racing, the equivalent of the little green document that we have for safety standards as applied to football grounds is agreed between those who know about that sport and the local authorities, the fire authority, the police, and the other people who would be interested in licensing it. That is what happens with football, and that is what we want to happen again. We need to consult the specialists who run the particular sport before we produce another non-statutory document of this sort. I think that I am carrying the noble Lord with me so far.
The procedure would then be this. If the noble Lord will look at Clause 14 of the Bill he will see that one can 479 extend the provisions of the Bill to other sports grounds. One can extend it not only to sports stadia but to other sports grounds as well, and that would include I know not what. If one looks at the definition of sports grounds in Clause 16 one sees that it is a fairly wide definition: it requires open air and some artificial structures, or natural structures modified, on which spectators can stand or sit and watch the sport. But when an order is made under Clause 14 extending the provisions of this Bill to another sort of sport, one can adapt all the provisions of the Bill in the application order. One can adapt the people who have to be consulted, say, in the initial stages, or indeed at the stage when one is applying for an actual certificate for a sports ground. One can adapt all the provisions of the Bill, and it is all subject to the Statutory Instrument procedure set out in Clause 14(2). What we have done is provide a system whereby the right people will be consulted at the earliest stage before we are even ready to extend the provisions of this Bill by Statutory Instruments to another sport, so that we have the equivalent of the little green book ready for that sport, agreed upon between the people concerned and ready for use by the local authority. I know that that is what the noble Lord wants.
The way that we think that his last point on consistency is going to be dealt with and enforced is twofold. First of all, we think—and I repeat this—that we ought to have an agreed code for each sport, like the green book for football, that lays down the guidelines that the noble Lord was talking about. We then think that we ought to have an appeal procedure, which we shall come to in a minute on an Amendment put down by my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, whereby there is a central appellate authority which will be finally responsible for seeing that appeals against conditions, refusals, and that sort of thing are handled in a standard way so that there are not divergencies between what happens in one local authority area and in another. Therefore, we have the two stages for consistency as well the initial consultation over the code, and the appeal system. With that armoury already in the Bill, the noble Lord may think that to bring in the Sports Council at the 480 rather late stage of the application of the provisions of the green book to each individual stadium is to misuse the limited amount of resources that he has, and if he is going to be involved at all it is better to be involved much earlier in the process. Therefore it would not have to be put in under Clause 3 at all.
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ LORD WIGG
If I heard the noble Viscount correctly, he said that if it is necessary to consult, for example, on greyhound racing, he would presumably consult the National Greyhound Association, or on racing the Racing Authority, and that you would not go to the Sports Council because you would not want to consult a non-statutory body. That is what I understood him to say. It seems to me that he misunderstands the functions of the Sports Council. The Sports Council is a governmental body borne on the Vote of the Secretary of State for the Environment. I do not know whether my noble friend realises it, but by putting the Amendment down here he was asking that one Government Department should consult another. The answer that the noble Viscount has given is utterly convincing if the Sports Council was what he appears to think it is, a body comparable to the Greyhound Association.
Personally, I should be opposed to the Sports Council being consulted for just that reason: because the Sports Council is borne on the Vote of the Secretary of State for the Environment and those who run it are civil servants. I was questioned about this matter on the radio—and I had better use the same words about the Sports Council—and I said that the Ministry of the Environment in relation to sport as a whole has about the same dynamic as a week-old rice pudding. They can do only what their Minister, or the Permanent Secretary will allow them to do. We know that that is a spent cartridge, if ever there was one. Nothing is going to come from that source. Why my noble friend should want to go to the Sports Council in any case is utterly and completely beyond me. Amazed as I am at that, I will resist it and vote against it. I am completely nonplussed by the answer of the Government, but perhaps it may be that the noble Viscount has got a little misled on his brief, as he was on Second Reading when he thought that the noble and 481 learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, had said that the Government should not provide any money for the Bill.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I am grateful to the noble Viscount for what he has said. I am sorry that I did not listen to my noble friend when he was speaking about this subject on the radio. Had I done so, I should have the better known his mind before coming into this Committee this afternoon. We have enjoyed his intervention and learned something from it. The Amendment has served a useful purpose because it seems to me that the noble Viscount has given a very full undertaking, although it would have been a good thing if we could have had something more specific in the Bill. We may need to look at it further, but in the light of his undertaking and what he has said, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ LORD JACQUES moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 3, line 13, at end insert—
("() The local authority in determining what terms and conditions ought to be included in a safety certificate shall have regard to such generally accepted international standards relating to safety as seem to them appropriate.")
§ The noble Lord said: The activities carried out in the stadia which will come under this Bill are international in character, in that the sports are sports which are carried out in several countries and in which, from time to time, there are international events when individuals or teams from more than one country meet at these stadia. Large crowds of spectators follow their team or their competitors, especially nowadays when people can travel very quickly by air. When one of our football teams plays a football team from the Continent, for example, there may be as many as 10,000 spectators from the Continent on the ground. It follows that in these circumstances any Government who have in mind the welfare of their citizens must be concerned not only with the conditions of the stadia in their own country but with the conditions of the stadia in other countries. In those circumstances we are very likely to have recognised international standards. The whole purpose of this Amendment is to ensure that if we have recognised 482 international standards they will at least be recognised by us. I beg to move.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
I thank the noble Lord for moving this Amendment. Of course, we are not going to be so jingoistic as to say that we have nothing to learn from people playing the same game in other countries —indeed, I think the record shows rather the reverse—and there have of course been disasters in football stadia abroad. But the short answer is that, so far as we know, there are no international standards. We are also led to believe that in the majority of the stadia overseas most of the spectators are seated, whereas of course a particular feature of the British stadia is the terraces—indeed, this is where the particular problem arises. We have the advantage that in this way we get cheap accommodation for larger numbers of people, but it is precisely here that problem; seem to have arisen. I can go further and say that not only do we not know of any international standard, but there is not a British standard; and if there were a British standard it is likely that those responsible for it would be aware of the international standards, and would be more likely to be aware of the international standards than the ordinary local authority would. Moreover, international standards would probably be more concerned with new stadia, whereas this Bill is largely concerned with improvements to existing stadia.
I think I should end by saying—and we shall he repeating this several times this afternoon—that the whole essence of the Bill is to keep the position as flexible as we can. Having said that, perhaps I can underline it by saying that if the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, or any other noble Lord can make the Government aware of any international standard, or indeed any national standard which would be relevant to us, we shall be very glad to hear about it.
§ LORD JACQUES
Surely, if a sport becomes more international and more people travel from country to country to watch or take part in it, then the positions in the different countries will have a tendency to be standardised. It is true that sports grounds in the different countries vary, but it is also true that as the sports become more international these countries will learn from each other and there 483 will be a greater similarity between the grounds; and when you get that similarity there will virtually be international standards. There is one final point. If there are no international standards at the moment, what harm can there be in having this provision in the Bill? If this provision is in the Bill and we eventually get international standards, then the provision will be here and we shall respect those international standards.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
On the noble Lord's last point, I think that I would really stand the argument on its head and say that this is already a fairly complicated piece of legislation and we need to feel our way; so the less complicated we can make the life of local authorities the better pleased we shall be. But I agree that ultimately we shall clearly have to come to international standards, and the green booklet can be amended at any time; but I think we should prefer for the time being to keep it as uncluttered as we can.
§ LORD JACQUES
I am not at all satisfied with that reply, but it is not worth dividing the Committee. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Clause 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5 [Amendment, replacement, transfer, surrender and cancellation of safety certificates]:
§ 4.46 p.m.
LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 4, line 31, at end insert ("or if a term or condition has been contravened.")
The noble Lord said: This Amendment is partly probing in character, but not entirely so. It is probing in the sense that it invites, or is designed to invite, Ministers to say why, in the scheme which they have embodied in this Bill, there is no provision for a safety certificate to be cancelled if its terms and conditions are not complied with. I am sure that that is a deliberate omission, and I should be grateful if I might hear from the Minister why they have made that omission. May I remind the Committee of the relevant clauses in
the Bill? The only wording in the Bill which provides for the cancellation of a safety certificate is that which is contained in subsection (7) of Clause 5, and that is the wording which I seek to amend. The relevant part of the wording is:
The local authority may cancel a safety certificate if the holder dies or (being a body corporate) is dissolved, or if the holder appears to the local authority to have ceased to be a qualified person".
§ One comment I would make on that at once is that a local authority may take the view that a holder certainly has not ceased to appear to be a qualified person; he is still a qualified person in every sense of the word because he looks likely to be able to secure compliance with the terms and conditions. But a qualified person may, for one reason or another, perhaps by way of protest or because of a view which he has formed that a local authority is being unreasonable, say. "Certainly I could secure compliance with this condition, but I choose not to because I think you are being unreasonable". If he takes that attitude, then under the wording in Clause 5 there would be no power, as I read it, to cancel the certificate, which seems to me to be rather ridiculous.
If one looks elsewhere in the Bill to see what power there is to bring a certificate to an end, one finds that there is literally no power—and I mean no power. One goes to Clauses 9 and 10. Under Clause 9(1), the public can be kept from a stadium which is:
a designated stadium in respect of which a safety certificate has not been issued"—
that will not be applicable—or
a sports stadium which is not a designated stadium".
§ Neither of those applies to a sports stadium which has been designated and in respect of which a safety certificate has been issued the terms of which have been breached. In Clause 10(1)(c) one finds that a person responsible for conducting a stadium commits an offence if he does not comply—I am using loose language—with a term or condition in a safety certificate. He may be convicted for failure to comply if he has not one of the defences set out in the later parts of Clause 10, and he can be fined quite substantially; but all the court can do under Clause 9(2) is to say that until the particular condition is complied with the public shall not be 485 admitted; there is no power to cancel the certificate.
§ It seems to me that the whole scheme is in that sense a bit illogical, and I cannot understand why it does not include a simple provision, such as one would normally expect to find in legislation which enables certificates to be granted, empowering a local authority, at its discretion, to cancel the certificate if the terms and conditions contained in that certificate are not fulfilled. One would have thought that a logical and tidy pattern would require that, a certificate having been issued by a local authority, if those responsible do not comply with the terms and conditions contained in the certificate then the local authority should have the power, in its discretion, to cancel it. As I read this Bill there is nothing to that effect contained in it. The noble Viscount nodded his head when I suggested that it was omitted deliberately. I am sure that it is. It would not have been an accidental omission. But I should like to hear why it is that this particular provision, which I suggest ought to be incorporated in the Bill, has been omitted from it.
§ 4.50 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I will tell the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, why, and I hope that he will be satisfied. May I just deal initially with the subsidiary point about the person who receives a certificate with the terms and conditions in it and who does not like one of them and thinks that it is absurd. I do not think the way to handle it is to set about ignoring that term and condition. A responsible club would appeal against it under the provisions of Clause 6. So we need not worry about someone who has received a certificate with what he considers to be unreasonable terms. He would be foolish not to take up his right of appeal but simply to choose to flout the terms of the certificate.
What is more likely is that there will turn out to be some dispute between a club and a local authority. One has to remember—this is why we have dealt with the matter rather carefully—that there can be, I suppose, no more awful a sanction for any club than to be closed down, for the purposes of playing football or anything else. This would be the ultimate and most dreadful fate that could befall any club. We thought, there- 486 fore, that we would leave it to the courts rather than allow a local authority to do this; and certainly if the Bill were amended in the way suggested by the noble and learned Lord they could do it for the most paltry failure to comply with a term or condition of the licence —they could do it because someone has not put up the requisite exit sign or something like that. We thought it better that this should be a judicial matter rather than something which was done—if I say at the whim of a local authority, I am not suggesting that local authorities lightly have whims, but their proceedings are not normally in public or susceptible of argument on either side, as are proceedings in court.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, was right to look further on in the Bill to Clauses 9 and 10 to see where are the powers. He was right in picking out Clause 10(1)(c) and Clause 9(2). If a club fails to comply with the terms of the certificate—that is, a designated stadium—it could be prosecuted, either in the magistrates' court or on indictment in the Crown Court, or in the two Scottish equivalent courts or the High Court. In the latter case (and I suggest this is right, because this is so serious a sanction and should occur only when there is a serious prosecution on indictment) the court can use powers under Clause 9(2). It is true that the way it is phrased does not expressly allow the court to cancel the certificate. I am not ciuite sure why this is so; I am prepared to look at it again. I suggest it is because the local authority do no! appear before the court. It would be the local authority who issued the certificate and the draftsmen might have thought it would be better not actually to involve the local authority in the process. But I am perfectly prepared to look at this point again.
In fact, the powers of the court come to exactly the same thing. Those powers, under Clause 9(2), after a conviction on indictment are powers to prevent to order that no member of the public shall be admitted to the stadium or part of it for such a period as may be so specified, which, for all I know, may be for ever. Plainly, it would not be, but it could be for any period the court thought fit. It is therefore equivalent to cancelling the certificate. Indeed, it is worse, because it is a court order and I suppose that to 487 ignore it would be punishable by contempt, or injunction, rather than merely by a subsequent prosecution for running a designated stadium without a certificate, which is what would happen if the certificate was cancelled. I think it arguable that by doing it this way the court is given even more extreme power, followed up by the ordinary powers of enforcement for people who do not obey the orders of the court. That could not be done if the local authority were to cancel the certificate on their own account. There is also the opportunity for a person threatened in this way to argue before the Crown Court whether or not it is right. I leave it to the noble and learned Lord, but I hope he is convinced that this is the right forum to consider so serious a thing; that we have the powers in the Bill to deal with it and indeed more powers under Clause 9(2) than if we had this Amendment. Moreover, there is an opportunity for people to argue the issue out before this terrible fate overtakes a club. That is the way we see it. If the noble and learned Lord does not think that is satisfactory, the drafting could be looked at again, but we think this a good way to handle what would be a severe penalty.
§ LORD STOW HILL
I am grateful to the noble Viscount, but I am sorry to have to tell him that I do not feel satisfied by his answer. He has said that he will consider the matter and, that being so, I propose in clue course to ask permission to withdraw the Amendment. But before doing so, may I leave with the noble Viscount one or two thoughts for when he reconsiders the matter? First, he says that the local authority might cancel a certificate for a trivial and unsatisfactory reason. Having had that in mind I have put down a further Amendment, No. 11, in page 5. line 6. The noble Viscount will see that in order to deal with that situation I seek to amend the Bill by providing that if there were a cancellation under the clause as amended by the Amendment for which I ask, there would be a right of appeal. So I think that disposes of his first point. Regarding the second point made by the noble Viscount, under Clause 9(2) the court has a power which is virtually commensurate with that which I am seeking to put in the Bill. Why on earth not give 488 the court that power in terms? I should have thought the most ridiculous result might ensue if, there having been a conviction under Clause 10(1) of a number of people responsible within the meaning of that subsection and they, having refused to comply with the court order, were under Clause 9(2) sent to prison for contempt of court, as the noble Viscount envisages, nevertheless the licence still remained in being. That seems to me a wholly illogical and quite indefensible position.
One way to approach the problem, as I suggested a moment ago, would be to say that the court should not only be empowered to order that the public should not be admitted but also should be entitled to cancel a safety certificate. That would make the position a little more logical. I should have thought it preferable, before getting to the stage of criminal proceedings, to enable a local authority, if it thought there had been a breach which could not be overlooked, to cancel a certificate, and, as I seek to do in a subsequent Amendment, give persons aggrieved by the cancellation a similar right to appeal as is given by the Bill as it stands in the other circumstances outlined in relation to appeal. I prefer that as the more logical solution, but I submit that at least the court should, under Clause 9(2), be entitled to say not only that the public were not to be admitted but also that the certificate was to be cancelled.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Before the noble and learned Lord withdraws the Amendment, may I ask him a question for clarification? If the circumstances which he described had arisen, surely the situation would be that the holder of the certificate would have ceased to be a qualified person, because he was not succeeding in having the terms and conditions applied. That is the condition of a qualified person. So he would cease to be a qualified person, and the licence would be cancelled on those grounds.
§ LORD STOW HILL
I think that is one of the difficulties of the type of drafting that my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy referred to when he moved his Amendment. He will still remain a qualified person. He might be a person able to see that the condition was enforced but who chose not to do so. So he would remain a qualified person, but he would 489 be guilty of a criminal offence just the same. I think that we are getting into the most illogical waters—waters cannot be illogical; perhaps I have been illogical in using that simile. But it is a very untidy position, and I hope the noble Viscount will think it out very carefully and try to tidy up this aspect of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.
§ 5.4 p.m.
LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 6:
After Clause 5 insert the following new clause:
(" . The Secretary of State may out of moneys to be provided by Parliament make available such sums whether by way of grant, loan or otherwise and on such terms as he thinks appropriate after consultation with the Sports Council to those responsible for the conduct and management of any designated sports stadium to enable them to comply with the terms and conditions contained in any safety certificate issued in relation to such sports stadium.")
§ The noble Lord said: I think this is probably the Amendment that a number of noble Lords are very anxious to discuss. I appreciate that my noble friend Lord Wigg wanted to cover this ground when we were dealing with the first Amendment. I think it will be useful if we can keep this issue as clear as we possible can. My Amendment is to insert after Clause 5 a new clause in the words set out on the Marshalled List. The new clause makes provision whereby help may be given to those responsible for the conduct and management of any designated sports stadium where it can be shown that they lack the resources and the ability to comply with terms and conditions contained in any safety certificate issued in relation to such sports stadium and for which they are solely responsible.
§ I want to make the point now, in view of what was said a little time ago, that there is no question here of an open hand. The intention is that there will be proven need on the basis of the club being able to show that they cannot carry the cost of what they are required to do. We had some discussion on that point at Second Reading, and the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, made 490 it very clear that the Government's mind was not very open. But I should not like to think that it was completely closed. If it is, then many sporting activities will be in very serious trouble because the cost of implementing the provisions of this Bill will be beyond the means of the governing bodies concerned. I asked on Second Reading whether the Government had any idea as to what costs would be involved in implementing this Bill. We have been given no guidance. I think we all know that the cost is going to be very heavy indeed. The 10.000 limit means, as I understand it, that every Football League ground, all Rugby League grounds, many Rugby Union grounds, and all major sporting club users will be, or could be, at some time subject to and bound by the Bill. I understood the noble Lord to make that perfectly clear when he intervened at Second Reading and emphasised the word "could".
The noble Lord, Lord Westwood, stated at Second Reading, as he is reported at col. 952 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of November 20 last:
Out of ninety-two professional Football League Clubs in England there are only eight, or perhaps ten, clubs which make a profit.
§ I do not recall anybody disputing that statement when it was made, and I do not believe that there has been any question as to the general accuracy of that statement since. I am very glad the noble Lord is here in his place this evening because we all know that not only is he knowledgeable but that he is an expert in this field with his very close association with football. If the statement is reasonably accurate, even if it is only approximately accurate, it must raise grave doubts as to the ability of the majority of clubs to find the money that would be needed to provide the required safety measures. I want to stress that this is not only Association Football. I think it is perhaps a pity that there are not more Members of your Lordships House keenly interested in Association Football. But I would stress that that could include Rugby, Rugby Union or any other sporting activity at all. So, although at the moment the main concern is with regard to Association Football, the day may well come when other sports are involved.
§ All of us want safety—there is no question about that. And I take it that all 491 of us want the game to go on—although I confess that, in the light of what has been said, I sometimes have doubts whether there is very much enthusiasm on the Government Benches to help those clubs that are struggling with adversity. But if it is a fact that we all want the game to go on, I do not think that we can afford to be unmindful and unconcerned about where the money is coming from. It is not good enough to say that the club which has money problems should deal with the matter itself: not good enough to say that the club which is struggling should struggle a little harder, and struggle more successfully. A great many of them are already struggling to the utmost of their ability. Although they may not be in a financial sense successful, I do not think anybody can doubt that they are giving a tremendous amount of pleasure in the areas in which they are operating, even if they are not able to draw the very big crowds.
§ We have heard this afternoon about falling "gates". If we want sport to survive, and if want the kind of sporting activities that take place on Saturday afternoons to continue, and to be successful, we must be prepared to see that they have the means whereby they can do the things that Parliament tells them they must do. It is not enough to say that they have had opportunity since 1948, and that they have not done all that they might have done. We are dealing with the present time, and we are dealing with the future. Whatever the shortcomings of the past 25 years, I think it would be a good thing if we could all resolve that we are going to do what we can to ensure that this country maintains—to mention, for example, Association Football—the game here to the greatest possible credit not only of those who play it, but of the country as a whole. In these days nations compete at sport, and that is much better than nations competing at war.
§ This Amendment does not ask for a subsidy from the general body of ratepayers. There was some dispute at Second Reading as to the amount the Government receive from football by way of the betting levy. I do not want to talk this afternoon about the betting levy. I asked the noble Viscount at Second Reading whether information could be provided about the amount of 492 money the Government get from V.A.T. paid by football clubs and other organisations that may be covered by this Bill. Maybe he will give us this information to-day.
§ I have made inquiries and I am told the Football League estimate that from V.A.T. the Government are collecting, by way of gate money and transfer fees, a sum in excess of £1 million. In view of the figures mentioned with regard to the betting levy, that may not seem to be a very large sum, but I want to ask this afternoon, having regard to the fact that the Government are getting this money by way of V.A.T. whether it is not reasonable that the Secretary of State should ask Parliament to make available some reasonable proportion of that total from which help, by way of grant or loan on such terms as he thinks appropriate, could be made available to those clubs and organisations which are able to prove inability otherwise to comply with the safety requirements, these grants or loans to be made after consultation with the Sports Council as is set out in the Amendment. When we ask that it should be the Sports Council, I do not think anybody can say that we are suggesting a body which has no responsibility to the Government.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I am trying to make the point that if the Government are worried about the control of this money, if they are worried about doling money out to clubs, then in fact the Amendment is extraordinarily reasonable in the body it suggests should be responsible for dealing with the matter. Maybe the matter could be better dealt with by allocating money to the Sports Council to meet cases of obvious hardship and so avoid undesirable ground closure or restriction. I am suggesting they should have at their disposal a proportion of what is collected by way of V.A.T. and should be free to make grants or loans as they think fit on the basis of proven inability to meet the safety requirements that will follow this Bill.
My purpose is to help in the speedy achievement of what the Bill sets out 493 to do. This Amendment is intended to secure provision of some means to help those who while wanting to co-operate with the aims of the Bill, lack the means. My Amendment may not be perfect in its wording, but it will provide the Committee with an opportunity of putting into the Bill what is now lacking. The Bill I think gives us almost all that we can ask in the way of saying what safety standards shall be and how they shall be accomplished, except that it does not take into consideration that those who will be called upon to achieve those safety standards while not lacking the will may lack the money to do it. It may be suggested that instead of paying a transfer fee of, say, £150,000 to acquire a player they would do well to spend the money on the safety of the ground. I know of one club that has spent a tremendous amount of money, something approaching £800,000, on doing this very thing; but the clubs cannot, because they have better grounds, attract bigger gates, It is not the ground that attracts the gate, it is the quality and standard of the players; and it would seem to me that the most important thing for the clubs to do is to attract larger crowds. The only way to do that is by providing a better team and thus building up the gate money and, as they build up the gate money, the Government will get more by way of V.A.T. I suggest that the Amendment is so modest that the Government would do well to give it serious consideration. If not, let me say at the outset that I think it is a matter that the Committee itself ought to determine at this stage. I beg to move.
§ LORD WESTWOOD
May I remind the House that on the Second Reading of this Bill I declared my interest by informing your Lordships that I was the chairman of a well known First Division English football club. May I hasten to add that it is an unpaid appointment as no director of an English Football League club is allowed to accept any directors' fees whatsoever—which may seem strange when you listen to my accent. However, I trust that this Amendment will be given very serious consideration by the Minister. On the Second Reading debate I stressed the quite farcical situation between the huge sums of money which the Government receive by way of the betting tax on the foot- 494 ball pools and the financial position of most of the football clubs in this country. It is so very serious that there is a grave danger of some of the clubs having to close down.
It is strange that this Bill should have emanated from the Home Office—this may be information to some of your Lordships who are not in a privileged position, as I am, though my use of the word "privilege" may not be correct—as the Home Office are responsible for the payment of the police. To give your Lordships one example of the way in which club costs have escalated recently: police charges have increased so much that the cost of supplying police at my club's ground in Newcastle is frequently more than the cost of the team, and very much more should there be a mid-week match in addition to the game on Saturday. This is just one aspect of the problems which Football League clubs are facing. To make matters worse, attendances have been falling rapidly, with a consequential loss of revenue. It may be interesting to note that on Saturday, November 24—that was before the snow arrived—the attendance at a First Division Scottish League club match was 1,890 people, and yet the Government say that that club should find the money to make all these improvements to their ground.
It should be borne in mind that the fixtures used by the football pools are the copyright of the Football League. Without them there would be no football pools and the Government would lose a very large amount of betting tax which the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, estimated on Second Reading at about £72 million a year. What does football get from the Government by way of help?—nothing. With the advent of V.A.T. the position is a lot worse. My own club, we estimate, will be paying over £40,000 of V.A.T. this season, and we have very little to put against that as a set off. An estimate from the Football League clubs on V.A.T. this season is well over £1 million. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect the Government to return some of that money, maybe indirectly as a betting tax from the pools promoters.
Should the Government repent and agree to help football, I can assure your Lordships that the money will not he wasted or squandered on permitting clubs 495 to spend it on large transfer fees. As the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, said, it could be handled by the Sports Council and could be spent on improving facilities, improving the ground and the seating and, most important of all, safeguarding the public.
The Horserace Betting Levy Board has proved a saviour to the Sport of Kings. Horseracing is the only sport that I know which benefits from Government subsidies. In nearly all countries, and especially in the Common Market, football pools are run by the Government, who plough back the money into the game. Football is an industry, and no one can deny it. Surely, then, an industry which is vitally important to the country's morale and economy must not be allowed to die.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
Perhaps my noble friend would allow me to interrupt. Can he say in what way horseracing is subsidised or helped financially by the Government?
§ LORD WESTWOOD
So far as I am aware—and the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, may be able to answer better than I can, because I never go to horserace meetings—new stands have been supplied by money from the Levy Board.
§ LORD WIGG
It is a question of terminology. The noble Lord, Lord Westwood, is referring to the levy. It is not a subsidy. It is actually raised under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963. The noble Lord who intervened is also technically right. It is only a question of terminology. What the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, describes as a subsidy is the levy.
§ LORD WESTWOOD
I am obliged to the noble Lord.
There is one point that I should like to put to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, which was raised on Second Reading: the money that goes from the betting tax into public funds cannot be taken out and used. We all remember the uproar year after year about the income from the Road Fund Tax. The motorists say, "All that money that we pay for the discs on our windscreens should be used to provide new roads." But the answer is that it goes into the 496 public fund and can be used for other purposes. That may be. But, as I understand it, all the money that goes into parking meters is used to provide off-street parking, it does not go into the public fund. Recently the Government have agreed to a charge for admission into museums, and the museums are to be allowed to keep the money. That is not going into the public fund. I should be grateful if the noble Viscount could answer some of these points, and I hope that he will be able to accept the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy.
§ LORD STOW HILL
Perhaps I might rise on what is, in effect, a point of order to ask the permission of the Committee to make, quite shortly, on this Amendment the case in favour of the next one. My reason for asking permission so to do is that the next suggested new clause really seeks in another way to achieve the objective of the two noble Lords who have spoken on the present new clause. We have listened to two most powerful speeches making the general case, and the next new clause provides simply that if the general case is accepted, one way of meeting the position would be to give the capital allowances provided for under the Capital Allowances Act 1968 in the case of industrial buildings to works carried out in a stadium in order to comply with the requirements of a safety certificate. If I may have the permission of the Committee shortly to make the case for this alternative approach, perhaps I may explain how the second new clause would work.
The Capital Allowances Act 1968, which was in a sense a consolidating measure (I say this with humility in the presence of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer who has just joined us), provided, as your Lordships will know, for initial allowances and other capital allowances for industrial buildings and structures. The new clause which I speak to seeks to add in Section 7 of the 1968 Act to the definition of "industrial buildings or structures", works carried out and appliances provided so as to become part of a stadium which has been designated, which works or appliances are provided in order to comply with the requirements of a safety certificate. If it can be shown by those who manage the stadium that what they have done was done because the 497 stadium was designated, and because those new works were required by provisions of the safety certificate, then the cost of providing those new works will, under the new clause I am discussing, qualify for the capital allowances provided for in Part I of the Capital Allowances Act 1968; namely, the initial allowance.
That is the case that I would make in support of the second new clause, but of course it depends entirely on the question of whether the Committee accept the general argument which has been advanced by the two noble Lords who preceded me.
§ LORD WIGG
The words which were not mentioned by my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy but which seem to me to be of fundamental importance in the new clause are:The Secretary of State may out of monies provided by Parliament…That of course will have to be accepted in another place, and it will depend upon a Money Resolution. As I see it, it goes right to the heart of the problem that we are discussing. The Government's position, as I understand it, was made clear in the words that I read out earlier, used by the noble Viscount. Lord Colville of Culross:I am afraid whether the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, likes it or not, we do not see any reason to depart from the principle that those in this position have got to pay the bill.That of course is straight, pure, unadulterated laissez faire, which until a few months ago was the current philosophy of the Conservative Party. Whenever things are going well, that is their approach. It is the negative approach to the function of Government. But under pressure they depart from it.
As I have indicated earlier, there was an occcasion when they departed from it. A number of noble Lords on the other side of the Chamber made it clear, through the usual channels, when Mr. Butler (as he then was: now Lord Butler of Saffron Walden) was Home Secretary that they were not going to let him have his legislation unless he produced the money for horseracing. This is the genius of our race. When we are pushed into a corner we can do the most dirty things under the most pious resolutions and then walk around in a white sheet as if we had been doing good all the time. They appointed a Committee under Sir Leslie 498 Peppiatt—and racing will never realise what it owes to the noble Lord, Lord Craythorne, who was a member of the Committee and who managed to twist the arms of all the other members, including the Chairman, to recommend a levy. I trust that I helped him a little. I gave evidence, and I should like to believe that it was not perjured. I said what I thought, which was that racing ought to have a levy.
But what happened? When it came before the other place there was one Member who opposed it in principle and I believe he was right. It was Mr. Enoch Powell. Mr. Enoch Powell was my neighbour. I do not talk to him; I do not see him; and I am far too lowly these days for his shots to do anything but pass over my head. His case was this. He said:" " This is taxation. It is wrong in principle to take taxation and hand it over to private individuals without some measure of control. If in fact you want to help racing, do it—but do it from the Consolidated Fund. Don't do it the way you are going to do it, because it is (I do not know whether he used the word) "hypothecation". This is something that from the 18th century onwards the Treasury have set their faces against—and I think rightly.
I should not like noble Lords to think that I have changed my views about the value of the levy for horseracing. That was invaluable, and what racing would have been like had it not been for the levy it received I do not know. But that is the exception that makes the rule. It was something which worked in relation to racing; but it brought something in its train, and for five years I was the victim of it. I had been in my job as Chairman of the Levy Board for only a short time before I was arraigned before the Senior Steward of the Jockey Club and told in no uncertain terms that it was my job to raise the levy. The question of raising it was a job for me, as a pleb, the ex-lance-corporal; but for him, the aristocrat, was the pleasure of spending it. I told him, in language which would be understood in the barrack room—perhaps I can best translate it as, "Go and get stuffed!"—that I was not having anything to do with that. I told him that there was an Act of Parliament and that Section 25 of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act requires that the money 499 to be raised by a levy—the "subsidy" mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Westwood—should be spent only on one of three purposes, under schemes approved by the Secretary of State.
Noble Lords should know what happened. When I became Chairman of the Board, what did I find?—that from 1961 to 1967 that Act had been almost completely ignored. The Levy Board was ultra vires in almost every action it took. They had not sought the authority of the Secretary of State, and my battle with the Jockey Club, and also that of my predecessor, consisted of saying that this was public money which was being taken from one set of public pockets and put into another; and, further, that the job of the Board was to carry out functions laid down by Parliament. Let me say here, in the presence of two members of the Board of which I was Chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, and the noble Lord, Lord Kilmany, that they did more than could have been reasonably expected of them to support me in a difficult task. But it took me until 1970 to carry out researches to submit the scheme to the Secretary of State and get his signature—and only when his signature was obtained was it lawful. What worried our 18th century ancestors, and what caused the trouble in the 17th century, was that there must be no taxation without redress of grievance; no taxation without representation. If any one man or group of men can get their hands into the public purse, they may start out with the noblest of intentions. It may be that they want to help racing or football, but at the end of the day, whom do they help?—themselves.
I hold the view that the Government will not wear a levy at any price. I have given all the advice I could to the Football Association, and I recall on numerous occasions talking about this matter with my dear friend Ellis Smith, who was the late Member for the constituency where I lived. We, and other friends, often discussed how there could be a levy for football. There can be no levy for football. It is my belief that the Government can no longer raise a levy for activities as they did for racing, because if they did so they would be ultra vires the Treaty of Rome. Whether or not we like it, what the noble Viscount, 500 Lord Colville, means is that there will be no help from Government funds and no levy, so that in those circumstances not only football but sport as a whole will be left in a parlous state.
I do not believe there is any Member of your Lordships' House who would not agree that a great deal of money could be usefully spent on activities which would be to the benefit of the young, would cut down hooliganism and would help to make their lives more worth while. That means more money. How can it come about? The figures quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, are correct —and I must say, with all modesty, that they are not my estimates. I try to do my homework, and those figures were contained in a Customs and Excise report. The estimated current revenue from football pool betting is £72 million. The increase in pool betting is quite staggering. I believe that the noble Viscount is quite right, and perhaps I might take the liberty of putting his thoughts into my language. He thinks that the Football League and the Football Association are "a crowd of wets", and so do I. I think that they should talk to each other one February 29 and agree that they have a common interest and that they will go along to see the football pool promoters and say to them: "Look, chums, the Government and the Home Office have put a limit on bingo (because you can only win so much at bingo) but there is no limit on the prizes to be won on football pools." That is because the football pools' promoters are among the heaviest subscribers to the funds of the Conservative Party. Noble Lords can search the record and they will search it in vain to find any example as staggering as Mr. Maudling's Budget in 1963 when, by a stroke of the pen, he put paid to fixed odds coupons in the interests of football pools promoters. Therefore the Football Association and the Football League should go together to these gentlemen and say: "Four of your major prizes out of a whole season equals the total sum that you give us, and it is our copyright that you are using. Don't start talking about £2 million. We want £20 million this year as a start."
The way to get it is this: the maximum to any pools winner should be £250,000, 501 and the balance should go to help football. That is the way it can be done. If that is not done, then the noble Viscount and those who speak like him can say, "You are a crowd of wets" and he has the right answer, because the Gods help those who help themselves. "You go along and screw their arms first of all". Over the heads of noble Lords, this Bill will be debated in another place. It is said that the Labour Party are looking for policies, although some say they have too many. Well, here is one: start producing a policy of helping our fellow-countrymen to cope with what well may be a consequence of the Government's economic policy—too much leisure time. They must produce a policy for the use of football grounds, greyhound stadia, cricket grounds and racecourses which would enable those places to be used all the year round, every day, for the community at large. They should become centres of community life. That will require a great sum of money to be put into it.
The Arts have now been taken up by the aristocracy and the upper middle-class. There was a time when I used to think of culture as something far removed, before I read T. S. Eliot, but now I know that it is something to do with the way you eat fish and chips, whether you live in Land's End or John o'Groats. If a culture has its roots in the ground we should further it with public support. We subsidise opera, and I do not dissent from that. I spent a large part of my life trying to further adult education. If we can spend £50 million on the Arts Council, at least we ought to consider spending a comparable amount on a Sports Council. If I may quote the late Mr. Augustine Birrell to my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy:his bleeding heart ran away with his bloody head".The Sports Council will not do the trick; the Sports Council is part of the Ministry of the Environment. You must not have a Government agency to do this job. I am by no means sure how it should be done, but it should not be done by direct Government agencies. Those of us interested in racing do not want the Home Secretary to sit down one morning and decide whether the two-year-olds should run over five furlongs or six. That would be terrible. We want to leave sports to 502 run themselves. Probably again the genius of our race could find an answer through the University Grants Committee, or something like the Arts Council, in which the money goes from the Treasury and is buffered through the Arts Council or University Grants Committee and goes out to sport.
Basically of course there must be a fidelity check; the money must be spent properly and honestly. The people who should decide what is best for football are not people like me but people like the noble Lord, Lord Westwood. There might have been a time, before I suffered from senile decay, when I might have been consulted about what is best for racing, but that is no longer so. Those who are concerned with running football, racing, lacrosse, table tennis, and all the activities which young and old are longing to take part in, should decide these things. In the modern nation state, every country, not only the Eastern bloc but our partners in the Common Market too, if I can call them that—our so-called partners, anyway—are putting their shoulders to the wheel. That does not mean asking the Duke of Edinburgh or Princess Anne to open some great occasion; it means Government, and only Governments can do this. Governments do do it: they did it with racing, when they were forced to do it, and in the same way the pools promoters will do it when the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, lines up with his friends and forces them to pay in order to use their copyright. The Government ought to have the vision to see at the latter part of the 20th century what as a nation we need. We do not want to wake up again, as we did in 1914, and find we are a C.3 nation because our young people have only streets in which to kick a football. Now the facilities ought to be provided; and they can be provided. What is wanted is not only imagination and good will, but resources.
The reason I make this speech is because I believe the levy worked for racing, and the levy for racing should be allowed to continue. It does its job in special circumstances. On the fundamental issue, I believe that Mr. Enoch Powell was right. I must in conclusion say this as a safeguard: I have not joined Mr. Powell's Party. I believe Mr. Powell has the great capacity to think clearly; 503 he can diagnose. I am not always sure that his remedy, his prescription, is as good as his diagnosis; but his diagnosis was right and justified in my experience. To-day it would be unreasonable to expect that the Minister, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, could do any more than make the same noises that he has already made and say, "Whether you like it or not you are not going to get any money". Thank goodness this Bill will go to another place! In another place the Labour Party, and I believe a considerable number of Members on the Conservative Benches, will see the merits of this argument and will force the current Government, or, if not the current one, the next one, to do what I have pleaded for to-day.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
The noble Lord said, "You cannot have taxation without representation." I should like to point out to the noble Lord that in this House that is just what we do have. We have taxation without representation; we have no vote. We can advise but we cannot control fiscal matters, so it cannot be so dastardly a thing as the noble Lord thinks to have taxation without representation.
§ LORD WIGG
The reason noble Lords do not have a vote is because when they had it they abused it; hence the Parliament Act of 1911. It is written in the Scriptures:The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children.The noble Viscount, and his successors, have a big bill to pay.
§ 5.46 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I never cease to be amazed at the astonishing range of subject matter that the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, is capable of covering in his speeches. He has ranged over three centuries and over more topics than I could begin to count. I hope he will forgive me if I do not try to pick up each and every point. I agree with him that I have no indication whatsoever from my right honourable friends that the Government would like to have another Levy Board scheme. But equally I have to tell him that I have never heard even the most ingenious person who is keen on this subject say that the reason 504 for it is something to do with the Common Market. I am therefore obliged for yet another astonishing piece of information which no doubt—
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
—could be expanded, but perhaps not on this occasion. This is not the time to go into the full details; we might save that for a broader debate.
I hope I can also prevent the Committee from using its ingenuity to get involved in some very dirty work this afternoon in agreeing to accept either of these Amendments. I do not take the point that financial privilege is involved in this. We must discuss this subject and I am not going to try to take the Money Resolution point, though obviously we have money which is being paid out and strictly it is something which probably we ought not to be talking about. But the Bill starts in this House and we must deal with it as it comes. Let us get on with the merits of it. I am not absolutely certain that I know what the Labour Government or another place would do if they were to follow the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, but I think I know because I believe I can put together what the noble Lord said today and what he said on Second Reading. I believe the noble Lord is very much in line with Government thinking, save probably that he does not think the sum large enough.
What we are asked to do here is to provide the money from public funds for those who have to make the necessary arrangements to comply with certificates for the safety of their grounds. I am afraid there is no chink in the door here so far as the Government are concerned. We consider this is a matter of principle; indeed, a matter of a large number of principles. I will try, as quickly as I can, to spell them out. I cannot tell the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, what the cost of compliance with this Bill would be, for two reasons. First of all, it would depend on the way the code was interpreted; but, much more important, if one is dealing with a club where the gate (and this is my noble friend Lord Westwood's figure and I hope I have it correctly) is 890 people for a football match, I cannot believe that a club which regularly had a gate of that sort would 505 have to spend one single solitary penny on any safety certificates, because I think the spectators could stand five yards apart and never get into any possible danger at all. It would be an extreme case and is obviously a most undesirable situation to have arisen.
I made the point earlier that there is no requirement on any club to bring up its premises immediately to a standard whereby the maximum number of people which could be physically fitted in could be so fitted in, in compliance with a safety certificate. They could accept a much lower number or a marginally lower number, or anything they thought fit. Therefore it is impossible to give any estimate of cost, because one does not know what bargain the clubs will wish to strike with the local authorities when the certificates are being discussed with them. It does not by any means follow that any clubs would have to pay at all, not only for the reason that they have no gates but also, as I said before, because I believe a substantial number of them will already have done the necessary work, since they will do what the governing bodies of football have been adjuring them to do for a long time.
We are really in a situation where some of the arguments, as the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has said, have been getting very near hypothecation of taxes. I do not know for how long this has been anathema. I know that Sir Winston Churchill got into awful trouble about road tax. I do not think anybody has continued to argue in recent times that this hypothecation of road tax or anything else should be adopted. Indeed I think all Treasury Ministers have objected to it, and I would suggest to my noble friend Lord Westwood that the museum charges and parking meters are not a good analogy because they are charges and they go to the authorities who provide the service and collect the charges. They are not therefore in the same form a tax on the public such as we are talking about in this case—but they would be if we were talking about taking money out of the betting levy.
The fundamental principle underlying the Government's attitude is that we have never provided public money whereby commercial undertakings of any sort can comply with this kind of safety require- 506 ment. There is no example where that has been done. It has always been held by Governments of most complexions that if somebody wishes to run a commercial show or a fair or business and invite people to enter, whether to an hotel, to a football ground, to a funfair or anything of that sort, public money is not provided in order that they can fulfil safety requirements so that the people they invite in do not get hurt. That is an absolutely fundamental principle and I do not know of any exception to it; and I am afraid that there is no room in this case for the Government to consider making an exception.
It is not altogether true that the clubs are going to be "done down". There are advantages. Some of these matters can be set off against tax.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I entirely appreciate that it is only if there is a profit; and that, I imagine, is entirely dependent upon the situation of the club in any given year and also upon how the books are made out. I am not an accountant and I do not know enough about this, but I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. I set out on Second Reading, at column 978, the matters which qualify for tax purposes. They include fire-fighting equipment, flood-lighting, removable seating, communications equipment and facilities of that nature, and the replacement of existing equipment such as crush barriers.
There is also no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has put a very much more frank version than I hinted at during our Second Reading debate, about our suspicions as to the contractual arrangements between the League and the pools promoters. As I have said, it is not for us to interfere in what is in fact a contractual arrangement, but I am surprised at the disparity in the figures and I should not have thought it was entirely beyond the wit of the football authorities to do something about that. I believe they have, to some extent, recently negotiated an increase and I should have thought there was room for them to make some inroads into their financial difficulties, such as to distribute to the clubs which need it most the money which is acquired in this way, rather than what was suggested by my 507 noble friend Lord Westwood, which was an equal distribution among all clubs. I do not understand the logic behind that suggestion, and it may be that this matter ought to be looked at again; but on this, as I have said, it is not for the Government to interfere because we accept the principle.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, mentioned the matter in the next Amendment, No. 7. I am glad he did because I am sure it is right that we should discuss these Amendments together. It is one of the ways in which the money could be raised. But here again, we are up against something which I am afraid is objected to very strongly in principle, because the capital allowances scheme—the initial allowances—has always been limited to industrial buildings. It has never been extended to commercial undertakings—to shops, hotels and offices. This again has been a matter of principle which has for a long time been adhered to by Chancellors of the Exchequer of every colour. It is a pity that my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft is not here at the moment. For instance, the matter was discussed in another place in connection with the Finance Bill of 1972, and my right honourable friend the Financial Secretary said that the extension to commerce would mean that the sum involved would rise to a figure of between £250 million and £300 million a year over and above what is expended on these capital allowances now. Successive Governments have always reached the same conclusion, that it is simply too much. If we do it for football grounds I should have thought that the logic of the division between commerce and industry which has always been held so far was hopelessly breached and there would be endless applications from everybody for exactly the same allowance. At any rate that is the reason why the Treasury firmly draw the line where they do at the moment. They have been perfectly frank about it; it is simply far too expensive.
I had better try to answer the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, about V.A.T. The answer is that I do not know because we have not yet had a full year. I am sorry, but since we have not got the complete figures I cannot say, whether on the 508 basis of football or any other sport, what the income would be. I cannot confirm or deny the figure of £1 million that has been mentioned.
What is one supposed to do about this? I do not think we can discuss at great length today what should be the general attitude of the Government towards sport and the financial assistance given from public funds to sport, but noble Lords may remember that I mentioned the subject during the Second Reading debate. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, but there is one little point which the noble Lord may say is a technicality and does not matter, but actually the Sports Council is not a department of the Department of the Environment. Its staff are not civil servants. It is in fact an independent body set up under a Royal Charter. It may be that the noble Lord does not think that fact particularly important. At any rate, what it does is to distribute the money.
In fact there is more than one Sports Council; there are three Sports Councils, and they distribute the money which is given to them by Government. But they do not do it by way of distributing public money to enable professional sport to take place. They do not do it by making grants to football or professional cricket clubs, or anything like that. What they are doing at the moment is trying to encourage not spectator sport but participant sport, and I think that is possibly a more attractive and more worthwhile way of preventing boys having to kick a ball about in the street, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg. Public money is actually being given to spectator sports. What they are doing at two football grounds that I know of, one of which is Bournemouth, is trying to get the use of the grounds for members of the public actually to take Dart in sports when the ground is not being used for football, either using the ground itself, or underneath the stands, or something of that sort. There are many schemes going forward whereby the Councils try to finance or help to subsidise the provision of facilities whereby people may play games.
It may very well be that noble Lords in this House, or right honourable friends and honourable Members in another 509 place would say as the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, suggested, that they are not doing enough, that the Government are not giving enough money. But I would suggest that if public money is going into sport at all, that is the right channel, the right destination to which it should go. I would also suggest that any money that can possibly be persuaded out of Government to the help of professional football clubs not only infringes the principle, but takes away from the amount of money to go to that, in my view, much more laudable aim.
There it is. There are massive objections from the Government side. They are quite insuperable. I can give absolutely no hope of changing my mind on this. I do not know what will happen in another place. I know that the noble
§ Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, wishes to divide on this Amendment, but I can hold out to him no joy from the Government at all.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for the care he has taken in attempting to reply to the points made. It is quite clear that the Government's mind is closed on this matter. I can see no point in continuing the argument this evening. The best thing to do is to put the matter to the test.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Oil Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 84.509
|Bacon, B.||Hoy, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Balogh, L.||Hughes, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Birk, B.||Jacques, L. [Teller.]||Slater, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Janner, L.||Snow, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Chalfont, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Champion, L.||Peddie, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Phillips, B.||Westwood, L.|
|Fiske, L.||Popplewell, L.||White, B.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Rhodes, L.||Wigg, L.|
|Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.]||Rusholme, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Aberdare, L.||Falkland, V.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Airedale, L.||Ferrers, E.||Mancroft, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Fortescue, E.||Merrivale, L.|
|Alport, L.||Gage, V.||Molson, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Gladwyn, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Beaumont, L.||Glasgow, E.||Northchurch, B.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Goschen, V.||Oakshott, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Gowrie, E.||Pender, L.|
|Bledisloe, V.||Gray, L.||Porritt, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Greenway, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Grenfell, L.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Carrington, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Hanworth, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Hayter, L.||Seear, B.|
|Colwyn, L.||Henley, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Conesford, L.||Hurcomb, L.||Simon, V.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Somers, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Jessel, L.||Strang, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Killearn, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Kilmany, L.|
|Cromartie, E.||Kilmarnock, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Kinloss, Ly.||Teviot, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Kinnoull, E.||Vivian, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Lauderdale, E.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Elles, B.||Long, V.||Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Luke, L.||Young, B.|
|Emmet of Amberley, B.||Lyell, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 6 [Appeals]
§ 6.10 p.m.
THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 4, line 33, leave out ("the Secretary of State") and insert ("Area tribunal appointed by the Secretary of State").
The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 8, and for the convenience of the Committee I should like to take Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 12 together. These Amendments deal with the appeal procedure under Clause 6. The Committee will recall that the matter was raised on Second Reading by a number of noble Lords, notably Lord Simon and Lord Westwood. The Committee will further recall that Lord Wheatley, in his admirable Report, dealt with this matter with his usual firmness and clarity. Perhaps I may remind the Committee briefly of what he said in paragraph 52:
The question where the appeal should lie presents some difficulty. There could be an appeal to a court of law or alternatively to a Minister of the Crown. I do not consider that either of these methods is appropriate here. I would prefer to see set up a special appeal tribunal consisting of, say, a legally qualified chairman, an architect, surveyor or engineer, and a police officer with experience in crowd control.
§ As the Bill is drafted, the Government have disagreed with the noble Lord, Lord Wheatley, and I think it is about the only thing in his recommendations with which they disagreed. Lord Wheatley did not give his reasons for saying that a Minister was inappropriate as the appeal machinery, but I surmise that he considered the very nature of the appeal was basically a local affair, dealing with local conditions, local experience, local knowledge, and indeed a situation where every case differed, every case required a flexible approach. One can envisage the contrast between a local tribunal, qualified in membership, independent of the local authority, required to sit not very often but available to sit at reasonably short notice, and with experience of local conditions, compared with a Whitehall Minister's inspector; a man qualified no doubt in every way; whose independence is unquestioned, but with no knowledge of the area; overworked, underpaid, and with his report and recommendations subject to possible overrule by the Minister.
§ The appeal procedure under this Bill has, I believe, many similarities to the 512 procedure under planning laws, about which my noble friend is steeped in knowledge and experience. I believe that the present thinking of Her Majesty's Government about future policy in planning appeals is to tackle the acute thrombosis strangling the machinery, separating the appeals into two categories: first, local appeals, dealing with local matters, such as additional garages or extension of houses, to be heard by a local appeal conunittee; and, second, appeals of a national character dealing perhaps with conservation, Green Belt policy and so on, to be dealt with by the Minister. If this is the thinking of Her Majesty's Government, it is clearly sound thinking. Likewise, I would submit to my noble friend, whether or not the ground of, say, the Bootle Football Club—and I have no disrespect for the club—is deemed unsafe under this Bill is hardly a suitable nut for the great hammer of Whitehall to crack.
§ At the Second Reading my noble friend gave three reasons why the Government had come down in favour of making the Minister the appeal body. The first was to prevent the unnecessary proliferation of tribunals. The second was to achieve uniformity, and the third to obtain a very rapid decision. I find it difficult to be wholly convinced as to precisely what extension of proliferation will appear. We must recall that initially the Bill will apply to only a small number of clubs. Categories will be introduced. I believe that there will be only 44 football clubs initially within the net. Will this cause my noble friend the worry he suggested about proliferation of tribunals?
The second reason he gave was to achieve uniformity. I am not sure that having appeals heard by the Minister would achieve the splendid goal the noble Viscount suggested. Virtually every ground has a slightly different design. Every case of appeal will be different. The excellent green book which was recently published as a guide for safety on sports grounds emphasises the flexibility of the approach. It will be the flexibility of approach, the knowledge of conditions, that will be of paramount importance in appeal decisions, not a sterile policy of uniformity. The third reason he gave was rapidity of
decision, and perhaps I may briefly quote what he said:
It would probably be a purely technical matter, and therefore to do it by way of hearing in front of a person appointed by my right hon. friend could be a very rapid and expeditious way to got over a comparatively minor problem."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20.11.73. Col. 975.]
§ With great respect to my noble friend, and with my limited experience, I have never found Whitehall the most rapid and expeditious way of getting over a comparatively small problem. Indeed, it has sometimes taken a month for a single letter to be answered. With great respect to my noble friend, I do not find the three reasons he gave at Second Reading very convincing arguments and I do not consider that they should overrule Lord Wheatley's recommendation.
§ If I may briefly turn to Amendment No. 12, the purpose is to urge the Committee to write into the Bill now the time limit for an appeal decision. I appreciate that under subsection (5) of Clause 6 the Bill talks about the Minister announcing rules later. But the time for appeal is a critical period for the appellant, and a matter which I submit should be put into the Bill at this stage.
§ In conclusion, support for the tribunal procedure, as against the Ministerial procedure, comes not only from Members of this House; it comes also, of course, from Lord Wheatley's Report, and from an even more authoritative source (I say this with great respect): the football administrative bodies, notably the Football Association and the Football League. I am sure that if the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, were here he would confirm this. I hope that my noble friend will give sympathetic consideration to this Amendment and to a review of this appeal machinery. I hope that he will be able to accept the recommendation of Lord Wheatley, the view of the Football Association and the Football League, and the pleas of my noble friends. I beg to move.
§ 6.19 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
Of course, I considered this point again when I saw my noble friend's Amendments. But I must say that the more I hear him repeat the reasons I gave for the present system in the Bill, the better reasons I think they are; and 514 the more so because we are also, in addition to the admirable qualities I set out for the ordinary appeal machinery, providing for more or less exactly what Lord Wheatley wanted. So it seems to me we are getting the best of both worlds. Listening to my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, it may be that I was not as clear as I should have been, and therefore I take the opportunity, with great enthusiasm, to go over this again.
First of all, let me say a word about proliferation of tribunals. It is not that I am afraid that there will be a great many; it is that I am afraid that there will be very few. My noble friend is quite right. He is talking about area tribunals, so obviously there are going to be more than one. But he is equally right in suggesting that the number of hearings of these appeals under Clause 6 will be very small indeed. There are set up under Acts of Parliament from time to time special tribunals with special expertise. I have appeared many a time in front of the Lands Tribunal, which specialises in valuations and compulsory purchase and is well equipped for that, with a large complement of surveyors, as well as two lawyers, sitting as members. There are specialist tribunals dealing with pensions and National Health matters, and a large body of tribunals, including (dare I say it?), industrial tribunals, which are, at any rate in the view of some of us, well equipped to deal with such matters that come before them.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I am sorry; I am pulling the leg of noble Lords opposite, and I will stop doing that.
One thing that is universally true is that when a tribunal is set up it is on the basis that there is going to be a goodly work-load for it, because unless there is a substantial need for a specialist body of this sort it is on the whole wasteful to appoint busy people, who have many other things to do, from the categories the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, was talking about. I am saying that there is no case here, with the ordinary rather minor appeal, for setting up a special sort of new tribunal, which has never been heard of before, called the Football Grounds Safety Appeal Tribunal, or 515 something like that. That is the argument on proliferation.
I am absolutely with my noble friend on uniformity; we do not want the appeals dealt with in precisely the same way, because every ground is indeed different. It is not the results that should be uniform but the approach to problems. We do not wish to have area tribunals, if they were set up under these Amendments, saying in one part of the country that crush barriers to cope with an area of so many square kilometres, or whatever it might be, should be of a certain strength, and totally different standards laid down by an area tribunal in another part of the country. It may be that the lay-out and the exact measures to be taken under any particular safety certificate are unique and are not repeated at any other ground, but there will be a sort of rhythm or framework of common standards which should be applied universally in England and Wales, and also, I would suggest, in Scotland. Indeed, it is for this precise purpose that we have taken powers in Clause 12 to make regulations which in due course will be, or could be, used to put the powers of the little green book, say, into statutory form, when we have found what are acceptable ground rules for some of these matters. That is what I mean by uniformity. We want a standard-setting body that will not produce diverse decisions all across the country; we want to try to keep this together. We believe that for the details of the sorts of thing that I have been talking about the two Secretaries of State, my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Home Secretary, will be best for keeping the standard uniform.
Speed, I thought, when I first approached this matter in terms of the planning appeals held by inspectors from the Department of the Environment (with which I know my noble friend is also familiar) is an important aspect. I have appeared in hundreds of such appeals, and I agree with him that the proceedings may not perhaps be the speediest, even if they are very thorough. I do not know whether he has ever done an appeal under the Petroleum Consolidation Act, which is a Home Office matter. Apparently I nearly did one once, but it never came to a hearing. I believe that these things 516 go like lightning, and the machinery that the Home Office has for dealing with this sort of appeal is thorough, properly argued, but very quick. The reason this is possible is that their volume is on nothing like the same scale as that which besets the wretched Department of the Environment, who have thousands of planning appeals to deal with, and indeed hundreds of inspectors to do it. They can produce somebody at very short notice. It is essential that we should be able to do so.
I forget whether it was the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, or another speaker who asked about special certificates for occasional events—for instance where one had the dockers wanting a meeting at the West Ham stadium. If there is a special certificate sought, and an appeal is lodged against the decision given, from the very nature of the matter we must have a speedy tribunal, because probably the event is not very far off and the dispute must be settled before it occurs. I am afraid that the sort of area tribunal my noble friend has in mind would have to be assembled, and if it has all these specialists on it they would have to be detached from their duties and come together on a day when they were all available. So I do not see how the appeal procedure for special certificates could be done in time, whereas the inspector decided on by a Minister and coming from the Home Office can make a decision very quickly. I have been dealing with the more ordinary type of case. I do not know, any more than my noble friend does, why the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, particularly disapproved of, as it were, a Ministerial decision. I entirely understand why he disapproved of the courts' having this responsibility, because it is not the sort of thing that they would welcome: it is far too technical. Anyway, we have got out of the habit of giving new civil jobs to what are essentially the criminal courts.
Where the noble Lord was plainly concerned was about the sort of case where a very special type of expert would be needed. So are the Government, and that is why we have put in Clause 6(9). If one had a much more substantial appeal, or an inquiry that raised matters of major importance and issues which had to be discussed with a good deal of thoroughness, and affected large numbers 517 of people, or a large number of clubs, one would require something more thoroughgoing, and an opportunity for a full-blown inquiry. This is probably the occasion when the architects, the engineers, the policemen and the other people mentioned by the noble and learned Lord ought to form part of the inquiry panel. This could be done under Clause 6(9), and that would be the sort of occasion when one would have that much wider inquiry. I would submit that we have met the noble and learned Lord on that where it really matters, and I agree that it does matter. For the ordinary case, the machinery that I have laid down here has not the disadvantages that my noble friend suggested, and I hope that I have convinced the Committee of its very positive merits, and that he will therefore agree that the way that the Government have approached this matter is sensible and should not now be opposed.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
I am most grateful to my noble friend for that long and detailed explanation. He has clarified further some of the Government's thinking, and the reasons behind their decision. I welcome the assurance that the machinery will be speedy, as under the petroleum machinery, of which of course I was not aware. Nevertheless, I would remind my noble friend that in the early part of his reply he seemed to indicate that they were not very far away from Wheatley, although the Wheatley Report specifically said that an appeal to the Minister was inappropriate. I do not intend to press this Amendment, but I would remind my noble friend that the football authorities are worried about this procedure, and I hope that before the next stage of the Bill he will be prepared, if necessary, to discuss it further.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I am sorry, but I forgot to answer my noble friend on Amendment No. 12. Perhaps we could come back to that another time. If the football authorities are worried, will they tell us why?—because I do not know that anybody has ever described why the machinery I have attempted to elucidate is something that would worry anyone.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
My answer to that is that my noble friend Lord Westwood was due to advise the 518 Committee on that matter, but he is not here.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
I shall certainly get him to write, or I shall ask him to write. I am happy to withdraw this Amendment, but did my noble friend deal with Amendment No. 12?
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
No; I am sorry, I did not. I do not think we ought to put this subsection in. I have given a rather clear indication that the vast majority of cases would be dealt with, and indeed ought to be dealt with, speedily. Certainly for the emergency cases four weeks is too much, but if we write it in in this form it would mean that the formal inquiry under Clause 6(9), which I have mentioned, would also have to be done within four weeks, and I think that would be much too short in time in some cases. I suspect my noble friend would be unable to find a precedent in any previous Statute for the decision being announced in terms of a time limit. He may find time limits for the beginning of the inquiry process, but I do not think he will be able to produce one where the final answer of the inquiry process is laid down in this way.
Moreover, as a purely technical point, I am not certain what happens if there is an application for certiorari against a decision, because if there was the decision itself would be open to being quashed or set aside; and although I know that the Divisional Court can move very fast, I doubt whether the whole process, including an application to the Divisional Court, possibly the Court of Appeal and, if necessary, your Lordships' House could be gone through in four weeks. So even in the ordinary case I think this sort of maximum time is inappropriate and ought not to go in the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
I am grateful to my noble friend. Before I withdraw the Amendment, I wonder if he can tell the Committee whether the decision would in fact be published under this procedure?
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
It would certainly be given to the person who was the appellant in exactly the same way as a planning appeal decision is given. Quite what the appellant does 519 with it is another matter, but I should not have thought there was any reason why he should not show it to anybody who was interested. Certainly we will have records of it, and I have never found any difficulty with the Department of the Environment in getting hold of a previous decision if one shows good reason for wanting it.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
I am grateful for that explanation and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
§ Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
§ Clause 9 [Court's power to prohibit or restrict use of stadium]:
§ 6.34 p.m.
LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 7, line 38, leave out ("stadium") where that word first occurs and insert ("ground").
The noble Lord said: I think I can move this Amendment quite shortly. Consequential on it are Amendments Nos. 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19, and perhaps I may speak shortly to them on this first Amendment. The object of the Amendment which I seek to move is to enlarge the description of premises in relation to which proceedings can be brought under Clause 9. Clause 9 enables proceedings to be brought by the local authority before a court to get an order, if there is undue risk to the public on admission to particular premises, that the public shall not be admitted unless certain changes are carried out. At present, Clause 9(1), which is the relevant subsection, applies, if one looks at paragraph (b), to
a sports stadium which is not a designated stadium".
§ It might not be designated because the Secretary of State has not yet got round to it, or it might be a sports stadium which has accommodation for less than 10,000 spectators and which therefore does not fall within Clause 1 of this Bill.
§ I seek to enlarge the words "sports stadium" to "sports ground". The effect of that would be, if one looks at the definitions contained in Clause 16, 520 as follows. A sports stadium is a sports ground where artificial accommodation is provided for spectators which surrounds the place in which the activities take place, as in the case of a football stadium. A sports ground includes a sports stadium, and it is a ground in which there is that artificial accommodation, but it is artificial accommodation which does not necessarily surround the place in which the activity takes place. It is therefore wider. You may have many places where sports take place which are sports grounds but which are not sports stadia.
§ May I go back to Clause 1? At the moment, suppose you have a sports ground which is not a sports stadium and which involves danger to those persons who have recourse to it as spectators, and suppose the local authority are satisfied that the danger is a danger which ought not to be accepted and that something should be done about it. If it is a sports stadium, they could apply to the court for an order prohibiting entry of the public: if it is a sports ground which is not a sports stadium, there is no such power. The object of the Amendment which I move is to try to include in Clause 9 a power which will enable a local authority to ask a court to say, with regard to a sports ground which is not a sports stadium and which is in consequence not designated, that the public should not be admitted because admission of the public would involve an undue risk to them. I beg to move.
LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNTROYAL
Three categories are dealt with in this Bill, as the noble Lord said. There are the sports stadia, which fall into the designated and the non-designated kind, and then there is the sports ground, which is a place without all-round seating. The noble Lord is anxious to extend the provisions to this latter category. The excluded category, of course, comprises the grounds which do not have artificial structures on them. I think we would not be anxious to extend the Bill in the way that this Amendment seeks to do, although one readily appreciates the noble Lord's desire to protect the non-designated stadia in the case of a local authority feeling that an emergency situation had arisen. But we must not proceed too fast. It will be 521 some time, as things stand according to the Bill, before certain sports grounds other than stadia are brought within the certificate procedure. The noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, and the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, are very commendably anxious that a suitable fallback situation should be established to deal with places of that kind.
I think the Government would not be anxious to rush into this, which would after all include, for instance, horse-racing and motor-racing tracks, until they had had a suitable chance to have discussions with the various interests concerned in those sports. I think this was referred to by my noble friend Lord Colville earlier on; that his feeling was that we wanted to get a similar green book for each sport as it came in. But possibly the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, can take heart, because if he will look at Clause 14 he will see that under that clause the Government have taken powers to provide a fallback position whereby a regulation could be made to cover the non-designated stadia and sports grounds. An Order could be made under Clause 14 which would apply Clauses 9 and 12 to the grounds in question. Incidentally, this would be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure of Parliament.
There is a further and more technical point, which is that the 10,000 cut-off point in Clause 1—we had some argument whether we should call them "people" or "spectators"—would not necessarily apply to classes of sports grounds other than stadia, and it may be necessary to fix a lower limit or to require that all grounds of that class should have a certificate. In the circumstances, the Clause 9(1)(b) power will diminish in importance. Of course, if all grounds were to be designated that power would not be required at all. Then we should need a modification of Clause 9(1)(a), for which the Amendment does not provide. But the uncertainty about whether or not the 10,000 lower limit will operate in the case of sports grounds other than stadia reinforces our view that we should rely on Clause 14, once we know more about the risks which could occur in these grounds. This power is wholly flexible and ideally suited to the purpose in mind.
522 If I may add one final point, I am informed that even were we to agree to the Amendment in principle, the drafting would have to be revised, because the substitution of "sports ground" for "stadium" in the places indicated does not fit in with the references to a stadium in subsection (1)(a). We are anxious not to alienate the other sports activities with whom we have not yet had full negotiations; we should like to retain the flexible and gradual approach which has passed through this Bill. For this reason, we oppose this Amendment.
§ LORD STOW HILL
I am grateful for the answer, but again I am afraid that it does not satisfy me. I considered Clause 14 carefully to see whether under that clause it was clear that the provisions to which I have referred, particularly Clause 9, could be extended to sports grounds. I wondered whether the words in Clause 14, "adaptation" and "modification", were wide enough to make certain that Clause 9 could be so extended. I thought it was doubtful whether they were wide enough and therefore that it would be much better to make it perfectly specific in Clause 9. But the hour is late and I will not ask the Committee to divide on it. I would say only, with respect, to the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, that I do not feel he met the point I put. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 16:
Page 8, line 13, at end insert—
("(3) An applicant so affected by such a Court Order may have the right of appeal to the Area tribunal, such appeal being heard and decision made within 4 weeks.")
§ The noble Earl said: This is a very short, probing Amendment. The Committee will recall that Clause 9 enables a court, on the application of a local authority, to prohibit or restrict the use of a sports stadium not covered by a safety certificate. The power of this clause was described by my noble friend as an emergency power. It is, of course, a fairly drastic emergency power. It would seem that a club which failed to agree with a local authority might have its livelihood 523 removed at a moment's notice. The purpose of my Amendment is to ask my noble friend three questions. First, what remedy under the Bill would an aggrieved party have if the clause is implemented by a local court? I assume that there is no appeal other than on a point of law. The second question is, would an aggrieved party have any recourse to damages should the power under Clause 9 subsequently be shown to be unsupportable? The third, and most fundamental, is whether my noble friend is wholly satisfied that these emergency powers offer a proper safeguard not only to the public but also to the sports administrators?
VISCOUNT COLVILLE of CULROSS
Whatever one may say, I will try to give my noble friend answers to those three points in a moment. I do not think it would do to have an appeal lying against a court, certainly not the Crown Court or High Court, to some tribunal. That is the sort of thing that one would try to avoid. If you have an appeal system which involves those two sorts of bodies, I know of no instance when it is not carried out the other way round. I take the point that my noble friend wants answers to three other matters. No, there would be no remedy, as I understand it, by way of appeal, because, unless that is provided, the Crown Court jurisdiction is defined by Statute. There is no reference to this Bill in the Courts Act which set up the Crown Courts, and therefore I should have said, talking off the cuff and without checking, that there would be no appeal to the Crown Court, except, of course, as my noble friend said, on a point of law, which one can always raise from any court. No, I do not think any damages will be payable if, for some reason, the court was subsequently found to have acted wrongly. I am not certain that I understand how it could be found to have acted wrongly. This is a matter that would have to be argued out.
I should have thought that the circumstances in which a local authority actually went to a court to ask for an order, certainly under Clause 9(1), would be only where they had tried to negotiate in vain or there had been previous occasions when the club or the people running the stadium had misbehaved and 524 the authority wished to avoid its happening again and felt that they were on pretty sure ground. I doubt whether there would be a frequent use of this power. Simply to have the power in existence will prevent people from getting embroiled. I think there is no provision for damages if it is wrongly used. As for proper safeguards, the safeguards would be the arguments. A local authority would issue the complaint and the person concerned with running the stadium, and I suppose anybody else who happened to be involved, would be required to go to the magistrates' court and argue the matter out.
Usually argument before a court is thought to be a reasonable safeguard that your case will be heard. So far as Clause 9(2) is concerned the power of the Crown Court or the sheriff court or the High Court in Scotland would arise only after a conviction; that is, a conviction under any of the provisions in Clause 10(1). There one may be fairly certain that there would not have been any mistake, though no doubt the order would fail if an appeal succeeded on that. This would be an ordinary criminal appeal and does not have to be provided for in the Bill. Certainly there will be no doubt that an order of this sort is something which could be argued before the court before the order was made. So, again, I think there is the safeguard there that my noble friend wants. I will look into this matter. I have not thought about any of those points, but that is my instant reaction to his three questions.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
I am grateful to my noble friend. The reason for asking about damages was that one felt a situation could arise between negotiation and an appeal stage where, for instance, a local authority might request that a crush barrier or some other technical matter arising out of the green book should be installed in the sports ground. This might be thought by the people running the sports ground to be unreasonable, and the local authority might then use these powers to go to court, and subsequently the appeal might be settled in favour of the sports administrators. That is the sort of case I was thinking of. I am grateful to my noble friend for his helpful explanation and I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.525
§ Clause 9 agreed to.
§ Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
§ Clause 12 [Regulations]:
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ LORD STOW HILL Amendment No. 20:
Page 9, line 42, at end insert—
("() The Secretary of State may by regulations specify considerations which are relevant considerations if any in determining whether a sports ground has accommodation for more than 10,000 members of the public.")
§ The noble Lord said: I can move this Amendment quite shortly. Normally when looking at sports grounds it should not be too difficult to determine what you have to take into account in answering to yourself the question as to whether there is accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators. But as we have been reminded, under Clause 14 the provisions of the Bill can be extended to sports grounds. It may often be very difficult indeed when looking at a sports ground to know what you have to take into account in asking yourself whether or not it can provide accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators. In the case of a race track people may stand and watch the races from some considerable distance. Are they to be taken into account or not?
§ All this Amendment seeks to do is to enable the Secretary of State to lay down, by regulations, criteria which have to be taken into account in answering that question. The desirability of it, I would submit, is that clearly, as a matter of fairness, there should be uniformity. There should not be the feeling on the part of some people that they are being designated when their accommodation compares with the accommodation provided by other sports grounds or sports stadia which have not been designated. In order to produce uniformity, it is desirable, in my submission, that some general criteria should be laid down. What this Amendment is designed to do is to confer upon the Secretary of State the power to lay down general criteria which are to act as guide lines in answering that question. I beg to move.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
Of one thing I am quite determined to make sure in regard to this Bill; it is that by the time we have finished with 526 it there will be no doubt in the mind of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, or of anybody else, that the provisions in Clause 14, where we say "…exceptions, adaptations and modifications…", are quite sufficient to deal with almost any eventuality. I take the point he made just now that we want to make quite sure of that.
One thing that is fairly fundamental in the Bill as it stands, apart from Clause 14, is the provision in Clause 1(2). We thought from the very beginning that one of the most fruitful sources of rows, disputes and general dissatisfaction under the Bill as it stands would be the argument, "Oh, no, my ground holds only 9,998 people." We thought this could go on for a very long time; and the more you apply this argument to other sports grounds, other than stadia, the more fruitful the ground becomes for argument. Of course the argument is crucial for those who are of a less than savoury nature, because if they can prove that the capacity is only 9,998, then they are missed out, and it may very well be that exactly those people are those that we should like to have dealt with under the certificate machinery. So we wanted to make quite sure that there was not going to be that sort of argument. Under the Bill as it stands, therefore, it is my right honourable friend who himself decides how many people can be fitted into the ground. He does not need to make any regulations because they would only be regulations telling him what he would need to do. That is not a usual practice, I think, for a Government Department if the sole decision lies personally with the Minister concerned.
The answer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, about the other sorts of grounds to which this Bill might be applied later, is really the same. I agree that one must try to be uniform and fair, and that one should not have people considering that they are hard done by the Bill. But equally, if there is to be a criterion at all for other sports grounds—it does not follow that there will be—I should have thought that one would also wish to have reserved for my right honourable friends—because the Secretary of State for Scotland can also act—the power to decide for themselves how many people can enter them. Under Clause 14, one can adapt and modify. I am perfectly certain that an order apply- 527 ing the Bill to other classes of sports grounds would include the equivalent of Clause 1(2). I am sure, therefore, that it would not be necessary for regulations to be made telling my right honourable friend the Home Secretary what criteria he should apply in a private calculation as to how many people should enter that kind of sports ground.
That, I think, is the answer to the noble and learned Lord. We see great difficulty in setting out criteria upon which arguments can emerge about this matter. We think that it is unlikely that the two Secretaries of State will be unfair. We have therefore reserved the power specifically to them, and to them alone; and there is no provision for criteria at all. I hope the noble and learned Lord will be satisfied that the honour of the two Departments concerned is such that people ought not to be unfairly treated.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
I am fascinated by the skill with which the noble Viscount can defend the most indefensible cases. As I understand his argument, it is essentially that it is far better to decide a thing by whim than by regulation; that provided that it is left for someone—and of course it will actually be some sort of inspector, someone like that—
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
The noble Viscount shakes his head. But if he assures me that the Secretary of State, that upright and perfectly fair man, is going personally to visit every ground in the country and reach a decision, after some very careful assessment made by him personally, then of course, I shall have to accept it. But I shall be a little surprised. I should have thought it quite clear that if the matter is left completely vague it will result in a whole series of different assessments being made all round the country, all perfectly justifiable by the individual who made the assessment, but quite incomprehensible to those people who have to bear the result of the assessment that has been made.
Surely it is much more sensible and reasonable to have some regulations, perhaps with the possibility of a variation, 528 because if a figure of 10,000 is fixed and in fact the capacity is 9,999, then it evades the control. I think the noble Viscount himself is being slightly evasive in the matter. He is exercising not just a whim, but a whimsy when he proceeds to make a remark of that sort. I should have thought that the noble Viscount has done himself rather less than justice in his reply to my noble friend. It would be much better if he would look at this and realise that regulation has the advantage that you know where you are. If it is decided with no regulation at all, then no one knows where he is.
§ 6.59 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I had anticipated that noble Lords who wished to take points on Clause 1(2), which is really the key to this, might have done so earlier in the Committee proceedings. I do not blame the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for raising this point at this stage; he is of course entitled to raise anything at any stage of the Bill. But the key to this really is in Clause 1(2). It is quite crucial, in our view, for the reasons I set out, and to avoid these arguments, that we should have the provisions that are there contained.
There are no provisions in the Bill, and there are no provisions in Lord Stow Hill's Amendment, which require that my right honourable friend is to make regulations for deciding how many people can be packed into a football field. What this Amendment is about is to decide how many people can be got in something other than a football stadium, a sports ground, which is not at the moment covered by the Bill. Of course if the noble Lord wishes to raise the principle of how we calculate the number of people one can get into a football stadium then we will go into it. If the noble Lord will do it on Report I will happily argue the case out with him and I will look at it in advance for the argument and see whether I have been, doing myself justice. However, I think the noble Lord must realise that in the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, we are dealing with, as it were, the periphery, the other sports grounds. We have already dealt with the main football stadium argument when we passed, practically without comment, the provisions in 529 Clause 1(2). But could we come back to it, perhaps at the next stage of the Bill, and would the noble Lord like to think about it as well as my giving it some further consideration?
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
I apologise to your Lordships and to the noble Viscount for not having been present earlier. Unfortunately, I was caught in a train between Newcastle and London. I was merely referring to the argument which he used specifically against the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill. It was he who quoted at that point the figure of 10,000. I was merely pointing out that it is surely quite easy to deal with such a matter by regulation. However, I will take into account what the noble Viscount has said.
§ LORD STOW HILL
I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones for his very helpful contribution and would say in answer to what the noble Viscount said in reply to him that the Amendment which I propose relates to sports grounds; and sports grounds, as has been pointed out before, include sports stadia. So one of his points, if I may say so, is not well founded. I wish I could share his optimism about the scope of the words "adaptation" and "modification". I speak from somewhat bitter experience going back many years. May I just leave the noble Viscount with the question as to whether he can formulate precisely to me what is the difference between "adaptation" and "modification". Very few people can, and very few people know what those words mean. I should very much doubt whether the precise formulation can be given of them. But it is late and I do not want to take up the time of the Committee unnecessarily. As we may come back to the subject at a later stage of the Bill, I ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment now.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.3 p.m.
LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 21:
Page 10, line 13, after ("the") insert ("maxima").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 21 I should like to point out that Amendment No. 22 follows it 530 and I shall not speak separately to that. We had some discussion at the Committee stage about this matter and I have taken note of what the noble Viscount said on that occasion, and indeed I take the advice given. Clause 12 provides that the Secretary of State may by regulations provide, inter alia, for fees to be charged for a safety certificate issued by licensing authorities. The clause not only enables the Secretary of State to fix limits on fees, but I am advised also prescribes the actual fees to be charged by the licensing authorities. I would suggest that it is unnecessary for the Secretary of State to do more than fix maximum fees, and that licensing authorities, as responsible bodies—and there can be no question of that in connection with this Bill—can be trusted not to charge excessively.
§ The purpose of the Amendment is to allow licensing authorities this flexibility while maintaining the safeguard of a maximum ceiling fixed by the Secretary of State. Every Amendment moved this evening has met a not-too-happy fate. I should not think that the Amendment I am now moving is one of a fundamental character. At least one of the local authority associations would be appreciative if it was accepted, and I should like to feel that the Government are in the mood, having almost dispatched the Committee stage, to be a little forthcoming. I would ask them seriously to accept an Amendment that cannot make any fundamental difference to the Bill but would give a great deal of pleasure to some of those who will be involved in carrying it out if and when it becomes an Act.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
Before my noble friend replies, would he also say whether the fees will be a scale of fees depending on the size of the stadium. I would remind my noble friend that if that is the answer his noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor seems to be against the scale of fees as published.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
—and to start off by saying that we believe these Amendments to be misconceived, particularly after that heart 531 rending cry from the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy. I am not wholly certain about this, not being a lawyer—perhaps we should have a lawyer to answer—but we think these Amendments are misconceived. Perhaps I may deal first with the second section of the Amendments. On the whole, our preference is that the local authorities should go for regulations under subsection (5), and this appears to do very much what the noble Lord is asking for. However, the Secretary of State feels it wise that he should retain the powers in subsection (4)(b) and he further believes that it would be in the interest of the clubs that he should continue to be able to fix fees according to circumstances and not fix the same maximum for everybody. The point is that the administrative work involved in certifying one ground could vary in a number of ways and could be significantly less than in other cases. So once again we believe that it is better to retain the flexibility, although we hope and believe that most of the local authorities will prefer to go for subsection (5).
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I wonder whether I can ask the Minister to go just a little further and to say that they will look at this point. The noble Viscount said on Second Reading that he thought that Clause 12(5) met the case, as indeed the noble Lord has just said. The noble Viscount said that they do or they may. The Amendment would ensure that they had the opportunity to fix the fees below and certainly not above the maxima. If the point could be looked at further, I should be very happy to withdraw the Amendment.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
I am sure that we could have another look at this. I think it is a fairly complicated question and it may be that we are just failing to understand each other.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 12 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Before we pass Clause 12 may I ask the Minister whether he would look at subsection (3) before we come back on Report. This reads: 532It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, before making any regulations under subsection (1) above, to consult with such persons or bodies of persons as appear to him requisite".The word "requisite" seems to me to be extraordinarily inapt. The word "requisite" I think means "necessary". If it appears to the Secretary of State necessary to consult somebody he will do so, I should have thought, without having the duty laid upon him by an Act of Parliament. It is an unusual word in this context and it seems to me that the noble Viscount may like to look at this word with his advisers to see whether it is really correct.
§ LORD AIREDALE
May I add to what my noble friend has said. In my recollection when a duty to consult is laid down in a clause it is usually a duty to consult those people who appear to represent the people who will be affected by the regulation. Is that not what is intended here? If so, it would be much better expressed in those terms.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I think I promised to look at the word "requested". Was it the noble Viscount who mentioned it on Second Reading? We still have our synonym book in operation, and we have not yet decided whether this is the best word. I wonder whether this could be left to the Report stage. At the same time, however, we will take account of what the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, has said, and we will try to reach a happy solution with the Liberal Benches on this matter.
§ Clause 12 agreed to.
§ Clause 13 agreed to.
§ Clause 14 [Reduction of trainee drivers of minimum age for driving heavy goods vehicles]:
LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 23:
Page 10, line 42, at end insert ("and may by such order direct that in relation to any such classes of sports grounds the figure of 10,000 mentioned in section 1 of this Act shall be adjusted upwards or downwards as he thinks appropriate.")
§ The noble and learned Lord said: This is the last Amendment, and I think I can move it quite shortly. It is simply to raise the question whether there ought 533 not to be a regulation-making power to adjust upwards or downwards the figure of 10,000 spectators which in Clause 1 founds the jurisdiction to designate a stadium and possibly a ground, if the power is exercised to extend the provisions of the Bill to grounds. That is the short point. The figure of 10,000 might seem to be a rather arbitrary one, and if it is intended that there should be some elasticity here, would it not be desirable to give a regulation-making power to the Secretary of State to adjust the figure upwards or downwards? I beg to move.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I said just now that I wanted to make sure that exceptions, adaptations and modifications—the three words used in Clause 14—are entirely comprehensive. If the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, has had an unfortunate experience, I wonder whether he would be so kind as to share it with me at some time in his leisure, so that we may make certain that we do not also have an unfortunate experience. I cannot define it in a concise way, but I think I know what it means. An "adaptation" would be, say, if we wanted to apply Clause 9 we would say that it was a designated sports ground instead of a designated stadium. "Modification" is intended to do exactly what this Amendment would do; namely, to allow us to change the figure of 10,000 in either direction. That is what we want to be able to do, and for precisely the soft of reasons the noble Lord was talking about when he referred to how many people could go on a racecourse. I want to be certain that we have the powers. The reason why I think we have not dealt with this specifically is, in the lawyer's terminology, that if you put in a reference to one thing it tends to imply that you do not mean the clause to refer to something else—and there is a Latin tag about it. So we thought it better to leave it in general terms. But I want to be sure that we can cover points of the sort the noble and learned Lord has in mind, and I know that the Department does. Therefore any information that the noble and learned Lord can give me will be gratefully received.
I am sorry that I took a bad point when I answered the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones. If that is the only bad point I have taken this afternoon, I am indeed fortu- 534 nate. I am grateful for the helpful and constructive points that have been put down by noble Lords opposite. The mere fact that we have not accepted them does not mean to say that at this stage they are devoid of merit; it is just that we should like to look at them again. This is certainly one of those and on those terms I think the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, may feel able to withdraw the Amendment.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
Before my noble and learned friend does that, I should like to say to the noble Viscount that he has created in me a sense of optimism which was not there not long ago.
§ LORD STOW HILL
In moving this Amendment I did not refer to one experience, but to many going back over a number of years. If the noble Viscount can cite any authority in which the meaning of these words has been considered by a court I should be overjoyed. I do not think he will be able to. May I take this opportunity of thanking the noble Viscount for the patience and courtesy he has shown in dealing with the many Amendments on the Marshalled List. He has, as always, been most helpful. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 14 agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ House resumed: Bill reported without Amendment.