HC Deb 27 July 1988 vol 138 cc246-7W
Mr. Speed

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the recent ministerial visit to the Hell's Angels gathering in Kent; and if he will publish the subsequent ministerial correspondence about this event.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Yes. I visited the Hell's Angels 10th Kent custom bike show at Snargate on 8 July. I enjoyed the show and the opportunity to talk to Dr. Maz Harris and the other Hell's Angels who organised the event.

I congratulate the Hell's Angels on raising £2 for charity from every person attending the show.

In my letter to Dr. Harris of 13 July, I said: We clearly share much common ground on motor cycle safety even if we don't see eye to eye on all areas. I believe the rest of the weekend went well. If all road users behaved as sensibly and safely as the motor cyclists I saw coming to the Kent show on Friday the roads would be safer for us all. I was impressed with the smooth running of the event—organisers of major sporting events might have something to learn from you. I told The Times on Friday night that I expected neither arrest nor trouble from the 20,000 bike enthusiasts. I was told 'That's a rash statement.' It was not. I am giving this letter a fairly wide circulation.

An idea: why don't you approach David Evans MP of Luton Football Club for a Hell's Angel charity game against MPs?"

Dr. Harris, in his reply of 19 July, said: The show did indeed go off entirely trouble free and succeeded, with the aid of the Elham Valley Lions Club, in raising over £30,000 for local charities. Nearly 25,000 bikers enjoyed themselves in fine style, their behaviour throughout the event being lauded and applauded by newspapers throughout the area. I feel strongly that the continuing success of the Kent Custom Bike Show proves that motor cyclists are more than capable of behaving themselves in public if treated with the same degree of respect that is accorded to other groups in our society. One wonders whether or not the trouble which erupts from time to time at the British Grand Prix and similar motor cycle sporting events is not precipitated by the high-handed attitude of the organisers of those events whose sole aim seems to be to fleece their customers as heavily as possible and give them as little as possible in return. I'm none too impressed with conspiracy theory, but isn't it odd that no motor cycle magazines, apart from Back Street Heroes, publicise the success of the Kent Show as Britain's—or should I say mainland Britain's—premier biking event? As for your suggestion about arranging a charity football match between a team of Hell's Angels and a team of MPs, I must say that the idea appeals and will follow it up at the earliest opportunity. Once again, many thanks for your encouraging comments about our show. I look forward to talking to you in the future.