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Sports Stadiums: Accessibility

Volume 621: debated on Thursday 9 February 2017

We expect all sports and all clubs to take the necessary action to fulfil their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 so that disabled people are not placed at a substantial disadvantage when accessing sports venues. Football has the highest profile on this issue and is stepping up to fulfil those obligations, and we expect all other sports to do the same.

As chair of the all-party group on disability, people from across the United Kingdom have been contacting me with grave concerns about the lack of accessibility to sports stadiums. Will the Minister meet me and the all-party group to discuss this extremely important matter and the steps that can move us forwards?

May I start by congratulating the hon. Lady on all that she does in championing disability rights? Her reputation on this matter is fast spreading around the Chamber and beyond.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work and I would be delighted to meet the hon. Lady to discuss this issue, which we care passionately about and are making progress on. It is not just the English premier league that we are talking about, but football throughout this country and across the other home nations. I urge all Members to do what they can to encourage their local clubs to be as successful as possible.

Given all the wealth in premier league football, does the Minister agree that it is unacceptable that there are still clubs that do not yet have a plan to meet accessibility targets for their stadiums? Does she also agree with the Select Committee’s report that clubs that fail to do that should face legal action?

I do not agree that the clubs do not have a plan; they have a plan, but they might not be meeting it. My hon. Friend is right that there should be legal action, but it is not for me to advance that. He will be aware that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is the body that enforces the Equality Act 2010. If insufficient progress is being made by clubs, the commission should consider using its legal powers—it would have my full support were it to do so.

7. The Government continue to be complacent on this issue, as the Minister’s reply shows. Their approach seems to be to leave it up to individuals—those who have been discriminated against—to enforce the target, yet when they try to enforce it, the Government hit them with huge tribunal fees. Will the Government get their act together and enforce the legislation? Will they do it themselves and stop passing the buck? (908722)

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman listened to my answer. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the enforcement body. If it decided to take legal action, it would have Government support. I know that he is a fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers, and that Molineux is still 62 spaces short of its own target. I hope that he will do all he can to continue to encourage the excellent disabled fans group to make sure that the club meets its target.