HC Deb 18 December 1953 vol 522 cc136-7W
Mr. McInnes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has now completed his consideration of the representations made to him by the magistrates of Glasgow about rowdyism at football matches in that city; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. J. Stuart

On 30th October I met representatives of the magistrates of Glasgow at their request about rowdyism at football matches. The magistrates urged that legislation should be introduced empowering them to license football grounds. I undertook to discuss the position with the Scottish Football Association, and I had a meeting for that purpose with representatives of the Association on the 4th December.

Article 114 of the Scottish Football Association provides that

"Each club in membership shall be responsible for the conduct of its spectators on any ground, and misbehaviour by spectators during or at close of matches shall render a member liable to fine, or closure of ground, or suspension, or all of those penalties."

The duty of maintaining order among its spectators is thus placed on the club; and the home club must take special responsibility for the arrangements in its own ground.

The Scottish Football Association have assured me that they will see that clubs, in addition to normal safety precautions, will—

  1. (a) assist chief constables, in what ever way is considered most effective, to maintain order at matches;
  2. (b) ensure that effective appeals for order are made before a particular match; and
  3. (c) agree with chief constables a reasonable maximum attendance at particular matches.
As already indicated, the Scottish Football Association have the authority to fine a club or order its ground to be closed. The Association have applied these and other sanctions in the past and they have assured me that they will not hesitate to do so again if circumstances make such action necessary.

The police will, of course, continue to take all practicable steps to prevent disorder and to deal with it if it should occur. The Chief Constable of Glasgow has already arranged to send police reports associated with football rowdyism to the Procurator Fiscal in order that prosecutions may be taken before the Sheriff, who has powers to impose heavier penalties than the Magistrates. The Lord Advocate, in exercise of his powers under section 33 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, 1949, has now issued instructions to Chief Constables generally that they are similarly to report any cases of rowdyism at football matches to the Procurator Fiscal.