HL Deb 19 February 1990 vol 516 cc6-8

2.51 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they intend to promote implementation of the Taylor Report on the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster.

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, the Government intend to require all-seated accommodation at football league grounds and to create a national review body for safety at such grounds by setting up a Football Licensing Authority under Part I of the Football Spectators Act 1989. The guide of safety at sports grounds will be revised as quickly as possible and we shall use powers under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 so that local authorities are required to include mandatory conditions in safety certificates.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. However, does he agree that post the Taylor Report the football industry is entering a phase in which the leadership of the Government could be most important? Moreover, can he tell us whether in implementing the report's recommendations the Government will lay stress on the involvement of, among others, football club supporters who I believe can play a major part in this?

Also the Minister referred to all-seated stadia. Did he notice the announcement over the weekend about the exciting prospect of a new stadium on Merseyside, designed, I believe, to provide an opportunity for Everton and Liverpool to share a new ground? However, does he acknowledge that planning difficulty is being experienced by local authorities in agreeing over the siting of new stadia? Further, will he consider issuing a planning guidance note which would be helpful?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, it is true to say that the Government welcome the report of Lord Justice Taylor. So far as concerns supporters, it draws attention to improvement to their environment, to amenities and to safety. Therefore, it lays great stress on the welfare of supporters. The membership of the Football Licensing Authority has not yet been decided, but the interests of football supporters will be considered.

As regards new stadia, the Government support the Taylor recommendation that there should be an advisory design council set up by the Football League and the Football Association. Local authorities will be able to ensure that any new ground complies with the safety recommendations contained in the report. Moreover, the Government certainly hope that any new ground will also provide all the amenities which the report recommends.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, is not one of the major features of the Taylor Report to remind clubs of their duty to take care of the people whom they attract to their grounds?

Viscount Ullswater

Yes, my Lords; I agree with my noble friend. Indeed, football is part of the leisure and entertainment industry and clubs are responsible for the safety of the people who attend their grounds.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, can the noble Viscount tell us what happened to the identity card scheme?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, I think that the noble Lord is probably well aware that the report of Lord Justice Taylor did not recommend continuing with the scheme and the Government were happy to accept that recommendation.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the diminution in bad behaviour at football matches, and mainly outside the grounds, owes a great deal to the involvement of the official supporters' clubs and their national movement? Further, will he accept from me that when setting up a body of people to decide on the guidelines for football, it would be tragic if the official supporters' clubs were left out, bearing in mind the objective contribution that they could make?

Viscount Ullswater

Yes, my Lords; I agree. The Government recognise the support and encouragement of the football supporters' associations and the contribution they can make. That applies both nationally and locally.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, can the noble Viscount remind the House, if he can be accurate, how much the Football Trust has pledged towards the implementation of some, if not all, of the recommendations in the Taylor Report?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, the Football Trust has said that it will contribute £75 million towards the implementation over a period of 10 years.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, provided that the money goes to the clubs which can least afford to make their stadiums and grounds all-seated, will the Government consider making a grant to the trust to help it proceed much more quickly in bringing about these improvements?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, it is the Government's policy that the clubs should be responsible for the costs involved in making the accommodation in these stadia all-seated. We do not propose to make grants to the football clubs.

Lord Monson

My Lords, quite apart from the fact that many traditional football fans of all ages actually prefer to stand, does the noble Viscount agree that all-seated stadiums are by no means an automatic panacea? In fact, apart from anything else, seats can be ripped out and used as weapons.

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, many of those aspects were carefully investigated by Lord Justice Taylor when he made his report. It would be wrong to suggest that the idea that seats could be used as missiles was not taken into consideration. However, it was thought that the benefits of having all-seated stadia were paramount.

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