HL Deb 02 November 1989 vol 512 cc391-2

13 Clause 4, page 3, line 48, at end insert '; and (b) give such persons as appear to it to represent the interests of football supporters an opportunity to make representations.'.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I beg to move that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 13. I have made a slight error, this being the first time I have dealt with Commons amendments in your Lordships' House. I should have spoken to Amendment No. 11 and, in speaking to the amendment, speak to Amendments Nos. 12 to 15, including Opposition Amendment No. 13A; for which I beg your Lordships' forgiveness.

These amendments relate to the preparation and approval of the national membership scheme. Amendments Nos. 11 to 13 require the Football Membership Authority to consult certain interested parties before it draws up or modifies the scheme while Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 clarify the position of the Secretary of State when considering giving his approval to the draft scheme.

Amendment No. 12 adds the Football Association of Wales to the bodies the FMA must consult before it exercises any of its functions under Clause 4 of the Bill. The amendment was introduced by the Government on Report in another place in response to a request by the Opposition for the Welsh FA to be given a statutory role in the consultation process. The Government fully accepted the case for this, particularly as the three Welsh clubs which play in the Football League are not members of the Football Association only of the Football Association of Wales. It is therefore important that the views of the Welsh FA are taken into account by the FMA as the scheme is drawn up or in the event of it being modified. This amendment ensures that this will be the case.

I referred earlier this evening to the Government's wish to see football supporters more closely involved in the running of the game and to have a say in what the FMA does. To help achieve this we introduced Amendment No. 13 on Report in another place. The Amendment requires the Football Membership Authority to give the representatives of football supporters an opportunity to make representations on the detail of the membership scheme to which I referred earlier. The amendment will ensure that football supporters are involved in the drawing up or modification of the scheme and that their views can be taken into account by the FMA. I have explained already why we think it better not to refer to particular supporters' organisations by name. We would also argue that we do not need the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Graham, to this amendment. His proposal is to spell out that it is football supporters, whose entry to the ground depends on the successful operation of the ID card verification equipment. I do not think that any of us would dispute the proposition that it is in the interests of supporters to see the scheme working properly. Nor do I question the crucial importance of testing the technology for the scheme properly before it is introduced. It is in all our interests to see that the scheme is not introduced until we are sure that it will work effectively. I do not think, however, that it is necessary or helpful to insert the words which the noble Lord has proposed.

Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 clarify the drafting of Clause 4. They are necessary to ensure that the Secretary of State has a reasonable degree of discretion as to whether to approve or reject the draft scheme submitted to him by the FMA. The scheme, either as submitted or as modified, must be agreed between the Secretary of State and the FMA so there is no question of the Secretary of State imposing changes which the FMA cannot accept. These amendments simply serve to protect the Secretary of State.

The Government amendments in this group will improve the drafting and simplify the working of the Bill. They will also meet points raised by the Opposition and I hope that they will be acceptable to your Lordships and that the noble Lord will withdraw Amendment No. 13A.

Moved, That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 13. —(Lord Hesketh.)

6.30 p.m.