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Football Authorities (Discussions)

Volume 24: debated on Wednesday 26 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what subjects he expects to discuss at his next meeting with the football authorities.

I have no plans for an early meeting with the football authorities, but I will be glad to meet them at any time if they suggest it.

Will the Secretary of State give an absolute assurance that under no circumstances will any Government pressure be exerted on the Scottish football team to withdraw from the World Cup, because it would be a deplorable case of double standards if the Government were to try to impose a boycott against the Argentine football team when they refuse to apply an absolute economic boycott against the Argentine junta because they are afraid of losing the support of some of their Tory friends in the City? Does the Secretary of State realise—

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's question is not only a little long but muddled. The Government have made it clear that it is for the football authorities to decide whether Scotland will take part in the World Cup. I understand that they are content with that.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is high time that the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) asked a helpful and constructive question on Scottish football? Surely it is the wish of all hon. Members that the Scottish team will go to Spain full of hope and confidence. If there is anything that can be done on the administrative side to remove the Argentines, that will be a step in the right direction.

My hon. Friend is an incurable optimist if he thinks that the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) will ever ask a helpful and constructive question on anything. With regard to World Cup participation, I should like to add my best wishes—and I am sure those of the whole House—to the Scottish team. I hope that it plays successfully in Spain in the World Cup.

Is the Secretary of State aware that he and his Ministers, through their decision on Hampden Park, have done more damage to Scottish football than Iran did in the last World Cup? Is the Secretary of State further aware that St. Mirren has not won a game since the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher), visited it recently? If the Secretary of State receives an invitation from the Scottish Football Association, will he kindly refuse it in case he damages our prospects in the World Cup?

The hon. Gentleman may be aware that I attended the Scottish cup final at Hampden Park on Saturday. It was an extremely successful and happy event, but I do not think that that was in any way connected with the absence of the hon. Gentleman.