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Football Licensing Authority

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 5 June 1990

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4.31 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the failure of the Government to make appointments to the Football Licensing Authority on 1 June 1990."
The matter is specific, since today is the first opportunity for hon. Members to raise the matter of the failure of the Government to make the necessary appointments of chairman and eight members of this body by the date set by the Government themselves in a commencement order on 21 March. In a written answer to me on 8 May 1990, the Minister of State, Home Office said that the FLA would be set up on 1 June. I wrote to the Minister on 11 May pressing upon him the urgent need for these appointments to be made. I regret to say that I have not even received a reply to that letter. Now the Home Office has informed me that the appointments have not been made.

The urgency of the need for the FLA to commence operations is clear. Football clubs and local authorities cannot begin work on converting grounds to all-seated accommodation until the FLA, which will have the responsibility for granting licences to clubs to admit spectators, is in operation. They feel that the deadline set by Lord Justice Taylor and the Government for this urgent safety work is tight if not impossible.

The Government cannot argue that they are not aware of the seriousness of the situation. In the aftermath of the disaster at Hillsborough, the Prime Minister told the House:
"I suggest that the House should not delay a legislative measure to enable us to take advantage of Lord Justice Taylor's recommendations for another 12 months, and that it would be negligent to do so."—[Official Report, 20 April 1989; Vol. 151, c. 456.]
For once, the Prime Minister was right, but 13 months later the Home Office itself is preventing the implementation of the legislation by its failure to make appointments to the FLA, and that is nothing short of disgraceful. In January, the Home Secretary told the House:
"Those clubs that have not faced up to their responsibility now have a final opportunity to do so; and if they do not now act, the public will not forgive them."—[Official Report, 29 January 1990; Vol. 166, c. 22.]
The football authorities have been proving that they are anxious to meet these tough deadlines. They have instituted four working groups to implement the Taylor proposals but are being prevented from putting them into action by the failure of the Government to face their responsibility.

If the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister need any further convincing of the seriousness of the situation, they have only to heed the words of the Minister for Sport:
"If we do not have the legislative vehicle in place, we would not be in a position to give clubs as much time as possible to meet the timetable outlined in the report."—[Official Report, 30 January 1990; Vol. 166, c. 257.]
For those reasons, the House should adjourn to discuss this specific and important matter.

The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the failure of the Government to make appointments to the Football Licensing Authority on 1 June 1990."
I listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman said. As he knows, the decision I have to take is whether to give his submission precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. In this case, the matter that he has raised does not meet the criteria of the standing order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.