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Mr. Speaker: I have not received such an indication, but the hon. Gentleman is right to say that news of this nature should come to the House first and I hope that it will.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You probably heard about this matter on the "Today" programme this morning. A BBC report says:

I stress now—

of any policy changes. But you will recall that you have said on numerous occasions that policy should be announced in this place first, and I was in the House when your predecessor Speaker Boothroyd made the same point.

Is it not extraordinary that the Prime Minister is now saying that the Government will carry out that policy, thus implying that that was not previously the case? Even though Ministers frequently said that this place received information first, it did not. Could you, Mr. Speaker, meet the Prime Minister or someone from the Cabinet Office to determine when the policy will be instigated?

Mr. Speaker: If the hon. Gentleman is saying that the Prime Minister failed previously and has now made a statement to say that he has changed his mind, then a sinner has repented. We should all rejoice in that.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that during Health questions, my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) asked about the recruitment of HIV- positive people as nurses in the NHS. It was clear from the response of the Minister of State, Department of Health, the hon. Member for Redditch (Jacqui Smith), that she had no idea, which is understandable, that my hon. Friend had received a written answer confirming that that was happening. However, she went on to criticise my hon. Friend for raising what is a serious issue. She suggested that he was stigmatising people with AIDS and that it was unhelpful to raise the issue in the House. If hon. Members are not supposed to raise questions of such a serious nature in the House of Commons with Health Ministers, where are they supposed to raise them?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) was able to raise the matter with the Minister. I allowed him to do so. That will always be the case for hon. Members. The Minister's response is not, however, a matter for me.

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Sex Discrimination (Amendment)

4.52 pm

Mr. Robert Walter (North Dorset): I beg to move,

I welcome the opportunity to present another Bill to outlaw discrimination in private members' clubs. When I introduced a similar Bill two years ago, I did not foresee its far-reaching implications. I had personal experience of the injustice of a club that offered membership to both men and women, but which discriminated against women by offering them only inferior membership. They had second-class status with no access to the governance of that club.

My experience was of the Carlton club where I had been part of a campaign to remedy that injustice. On two separate occasions, the club narrowly missed the opportunity to move itself into the modern world. In the summer of 1999, I raised the issue again at the club's annual meeting. I was greeted with derision. After the meeting, otherwise intelligent men told me that I should have been asked to resign on the spot for having the audacity to ask the committee to reconsider its decision. I gave the club six months to re-address the issue, otherwise I could no long remain a member.

As a constituency Member of Parliament, I know that 52 per cent. of my electorate are women. As a Conservative Member of Parliament, whose party has been led by a woman and was home to the first woman MP to sit in the House, I find such discrimination intolerable.

Although others before and since have resigned from the Carlton, on this issue the club would not budge, so in November 1999 I resigned. In December that year, I drew No. 11 in the private Members' ballot. If I could not change the rules of the Carlton club, at least I could try to change the law. I was not in a high enough position to secure a decent Second Reading, but I was close enough to give my Bill an airing, if only for 32 seconds. It was, of course, blocked through the good offices of the Government Whip, but not before the full magnitude of the issue had been revealed.

It was not only the gentlemen's clubs of St. James's that practised this outdated form of discrimination. They were small fry; there were bigger offenders among the working men's clubs of the north, mostly Labour clubs, but some Conservative clubs too. However, their prejudice was generally born out of ignorance. The real villains of the piece were the golf clubs. Here a strict commercial logic prevailed, but one that was based in a bygone age and on a pattern of life that had last existed in the 1950s.

Here the ladies were obliged to play golf on weekdays, before the man of the house was home from the office. The gentlemen could not be expected to give way to the ladies on Saturdays and Sundays: the attitude was, "Goddam it man, any self-respecting gel should be at home cooking lunch or looking after the children on a Saturday morning." Those clubs honestly believed that while men had work to do during the week, women were at leisure or shopping. It was as if no working woman, with a career or business interests, would be the sort of

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woman they wanted in their club, on their greens or in their bar. Oh, how the world has changed! It appears that when the Sex Discrimination Act was passed in 1975, those arguments could still be justified. A quarter of a century later, they are totally unacceptable.

I am grateful for the support that I received when I last rehearsed these arguments in support of my first Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Bill, and for my wife's sterling work in drafting and in corralling support. I am grateful to the Fawcett Society for its support, and most particularly, to colleagues in all parties and in both Houses for their encouragement. A number of my colleagues have followed me and resigned from the Carlton club, but this issue goes so much further than a parochial spat. It is no longer acceptable that an institution can offer its membership and facilities to men and women and then say that one sex can be admitted only on inferior terms. We would be outraged if they did so on the grounds of race, religion or disability.

I have no argument with single-sex clubs. I see little attraction in them, but they seem to do no one any harm. I acknowledge the physical difference between men and

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women, and therefore have no problem with sporting events confined to either sex. The purpose of this Bill is to right the omissions of an earlier Act, introduced in another era. It is no longer right nor just for a woman to be offered inferior membership and facilities by any club, merely on the grounds of her gender. It is plainly wrong, offensive and outdated, and I ask the House to permit the Bill to be read a Second time.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Robert Walter, Mr. Anthony Steen, Joan Ruddock, Mr. John Burnett, Mr. David Curry and Mr. Derek Wyatt.

Sex Discrimination (Amendment)

Mr. Robert Walter accordingly presented a Bill to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1975; to make provision with respect to discrimination concerning the provision of goods, facilities, services and access to governance by private member clubs; and to continue to permit wholly single-sex clubs and sporting events: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 15 March, and to be printed [Bill 66].

11 Dec 2001 : Column 739


[1st Allotted Day]


World Athletics Championships

[Relevant documents: First Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Session 2001–02, on Unpicking the Lock: the World Athletics Championships in the UK, HC 264; and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport: Annual Report 2001, Cm 5114.]

Motion made, and Question proposed,

5 pm

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton): I thank the House for the opportunity to debate so soon after its presentation to the House the first report produced by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport in this Parliament. I thank all my hon. Friends on the Select Committee, meaning Members on both sides of the House who are Committee members, for their work on the report and the fact that it was unanimous, as has been the case with almost all our reports. I should like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to a former Select Committee member, David Faber, the former Member for Westbury, whom we miss on the Committee and who contributed remarkable knowledge and expertise, particularly to our consideration of the subject that we are debating this afternoon.

The report, "Unpicking the Lock: the World Athletics Championships in the UK", is the fourth in a series of reports published by the Select Committee in the past three years. Our first report was published in May 1999; the second in March 2000; the third in March 2001; and the most recent, which we are looking at this afternoon, was published last month. As we said at the start of the report, it threads its way through a "sorry and convoluted" saga and assigns responsibility for what it calls a "mess". I wish to make it clear that both the main parties in the House of Commons have responsibility for that. Under the previous Government, the English Sports Council which, for a reason that escapes me, now calls itself Sport England, launched a competition and assigned £120,000 in lottery money, with which we deal in detail in our report.

The process and the mistakes began under the previous Government and, to the Committee's regret, continued under the present Government. We assign responsibility for the mistakes to a number of participants in the saga, including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport which, in the Committee's view, involved itself beyond its locus and vires in decisions, first, on the national stadium, then in attempted decisions on an athletics stadium that the Government were never going to finance and for the building of which they had no responsibility. The Department then involved itself in a compensation deal—the repayment of £20 million of the £120 million

11 Dec 2001 : Column 740

advanced under the lottery funding agreement—which was in no way the Government's business, then championed a new stadium at Picketts Lock, without saying where the funding would come from or how the infrastructure would be provided.

Our report assigns responsibility to Sport England, which handed out £120 million to the Football Association for a stadium which, purportedly, was to be built at Wembley. However, planning permission for that stadium had not even been sought. Today, I have received a 40-page document from a well known member of the dramatis personae in these events, Mr. Ken Bates. He has provided me with a document entitled "Wembley National Stadium: A Project Overview 1998-July 2001", which was compiled by Mr. Bob Stubbs, the former chief executive of Wembley National Stadium Ltd.

I shall not quote from the document at length, as I do not believe that it would be fair to do so. Mr. Bates makes a robust case, but it is conceivable, on past experience, that that case might be challenged by others. However, the document is important, and what is clear from it and, I believe, cannot be challenged is what Mr. Bates or Mr. Stubbs states at the beginning, under the heading "Project Genesis":

Sport England was therefore the organisation primarily responsible for the initiation of the national stadium project.

On page 11 of the document, Mr. Bates or Mr. Stubbs states:

Sport England therefore has considerable responsibility in the matter, which I do not believe it would deny, although it might well argue about the nature of its responsibility. Indeed, I received a two-page letter—private and confidential—from Mr. Trevor Brooking which, as might have been expected, absolved Sport England of all culpability in the episode.

It is indisputable that after the money had been assigned to Wembley stadium, Sport England watched supinely as the then Secretary of State came to a deal with the Football Association for the repayment of £20 million of the lottery money—a deal which violated the lottery funding agreement. The details of the lottery funding agreement are examined in our report and in the new document provided by Mr. Bates. Sport England made no public protest of any kind and no objection to the deal, which invaded its own responsibilities. It watched the FA flout the deal and the lottery funding agreement, and did nothing whatever about it.

Although the report that we have published is, in general, supportive of the actions of the current Secretary of State, it must be said that with regard to the refunding of the £20 million, Mr. Patrick Carter is apparently involved in negotiations, although he has no legal vires to be involved in the matter, either.

The Football Association took the £120 million. It made no positive move to build the stadium, which had become its responsibility. It did not tell the Secretary of

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State that building the stadium or cancelling the stadium was its responsibility in consequence of the lottery funding agreement, and was not within the remit of the Secretary of State. However, what the FA has done and shows every sign of continuing to do is to hold on to the £120 million lottery grant, as if it were stuck to it like flypaper.

Buzzing around the mess like flies was a host of bodies, hardly any of which had any money, power or responsibility, but all of which demanded to be listened to and, heaven help us, were listened to. That added to the complications and contributed to what I do not like to call, but what can only be called, the fiasco that we are examining this afternoon. In addition to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, the FA and its offshoot, Wembley National Stadium Ltd., we know that the British Olympic Association, UK Athletics, Ellerbe Becket architects, UK Sport, the Lee Valley regional park authority, the council of the London borough of Enfield, the Government Office for London, the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, London 2005 and the Wembley taskforce were involved in this series of bizarre events. Uncle Tom Cobbleigh may have been absent, but Fred Karno was definitely on parade.

The process of building the stadium—or, as it turns out, the process of not building it—if it can be dignified with the epithet "process", was aimed at providing either one stadium that would house football and athletics, or two stadiums, one for football and the other for athletics. The objective for one or both was to stage the world cup and the world athletics championships of 2005, and potentially the Olympic games if a bid was made. However, we have ended up with no stadium, rather than one or perhaps two, no world cup and no world athletics championships in this country. To date, according to criteria advanced by the British Olympic Association, from which I received a visit only a few days ago, there is no basis for making an Olympic bid. Meanwhile, the city of Paris has a stadium that staged the 1998 world cup final and was the venue for the 1999 rugby union world cup. It will also be the venue for the 2003 world athletics championships and is suitable for staging the Olympic games.

With regard to our not hosting the world athletics championships, I should mention a statement published today in the Financial Times. It was made by Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. The accuracy of the statement may be challenged, but whether it is accurate or not, it displays the view of that association on the miasma with which it was faced in considering the allocation of the games. Mr. Diack said that it was faced with the prospect of hosting the world championships

What unites all those venues is that the world athletics championships are to be held in none of them. Our international reputation cannot have prospered as a result of that confusion.

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