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David Burnside (South Antrim): As a Tottenham supporter from Northern Ireland, I have not been to Wembley often enough. However, I first went to Wembley in 1966 for the match to determine third and fourth places and then to the World cup final when I supported England.

This is not a parochial issue, but it has become all about Birmingham and Coventry. As I said, I am a Tottenham supporter from Northern Ireland and, back home, there are United and Liverpool fans as well as a few Rangers and Celtic supporters. We want the national stadium to be at Wembley. We want to go to London, to go up Wembley way and to see the twin towers. Does the Secretary of State agree that, in the national interest, she should stop passing the buck, show some leadership, support Wembley and rebuild it? That is where we went in the past and it is where we want to go in the future.

Tessa Jowell: I shall be delighted to pass on the hon. Gentleman's comments to the Football Association. I can be absolutely clear to the hon. Gentleman about the practical steps that the Government have taken with the FA—I have set them out to the House—to enable the project to make progress.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State confirmed that an

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option was agreed between the FA and Sport England in 1999 that the national stadium could remain at the current site in Wembley. However, she said that she thought that there had been a misunderstanding about the nature of that agreement. May I draw her attention to the fact that, on 4 July 2001, the chief executive of the FA wrote to the chief executive of Birmingham city council confirming that there were three—I repeat, three—options for the national stadium? The chief executive of the FA said that the options were:

He said that he was being "completely open".

As there clearly was a further option—let us put it no stronger than that—it remains a fact that Birmingham and, I believe, the country have been misled. As a result of that, is not the FA obliged to do two things? First, if it has misled Birmingham, it should compensate Birmingham and the rest of the west midlands for the expenditure that they have already incurred. Secondly, even at this late stage, it should play fair and give Birmingham a fair deal and respond to what my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. Turner) correctly said was the choice of the fans—to bring the national stadium to Birmingham.

Tessa Jowell: I think that there was some misrepresentation of remarks made by the FA's company secretary to the Select Committee earlier this week. That led the chief executive of the FA to set out yesterday very clearly the nature of the FA's position on Birmingham and to confirm to me by telephone yesterday that nothing had changed in the FA's position on Birmingham between now and last Christmas, which is when the announcement that the FA would proceed with Wembley was made.

For my hon. Friend's information, let me quote the chief executive. He said:

He finished by saying:

Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury): Following on from what the hon. Member for South Antrim (David Burnside) said, is the Secretary of State aware of the enormous pride in our greatest sporting triumph of 1966, which took place at Wembley stadium? Is not the present shambles regrettable in view of those memories? Has it not brought international shame on this country and on the greatest game in the world? How does she see the role of the Government, not only in the shambles, but from here on in? Is the national stadium the Government's responsibility, or is it not?

Tessa Jowell: I will not rehearse the arguments that I have already made. What I will do is send the good wishes

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from every corner of the House to the England team. I hope that they repeat their magnificent achievement of 1966 in the next few weeks.

Peter Bradley (The Wrekin): This is obviously a game of three halves. When the Secretary of State sends her greetings to the England team, will she tell them that we are going to extend the principle of the timeless test to football matches? If players find themselves 1-0 down at full-time, the referee will not only extend the game until they score two or three goals, but suspend the offside trap and probably go around chopping off the legs of the opposition as well. That is how sponsors and supporters of the west midlands bid feel, as other hon. Members have said.

Some 69 per cent. of fans throughout the country want the stadium to be in the west midlands, as do 55 of the league clubs. Anyone with any sense wants the stadium there. The deadline of 30 April set by the FA and the Government will be passed by several months because it will be the end of July by the end of the 10-week period. When, and under what circumstances, will the Government ensure that the FA honours its undertaking to Birmingham so that its bid can be considered properly and given a fair chance in line with the views of the fans, the clubs and the game in general?

Tessa Jowell: I will provide my hon. Friend with a copy of the letter sent by the chief executive of the Football Association, to whom his comments should be addressed.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): The right hon. Lady does herself no favours by blaming the previous Secretary of State and the Football Association. However, in response to the question asked by her hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden), she said that what was said on Tuesday had been misrepresented. The transcripts of that will be available, but let me tell her that Mr. Nick Coward, the company secretary of the FA, made it clear that Birmingham was never in the running. Mr. David Moffatt, the chief executive of Sport England, speaking of the deal to return the £120 million and the fact that Birmingham was never in the running, said that Birmingham looks extremely remote because of that. There was no misrepresentation.

If the Football Association has changed its mind, I welcome that. I also welcome the fact that progress has been made on Wembley, and I hope that it goes ahead. However, if it does not, and in light of the Football Association's apparent change of mind, how will the £120 million be repaid?

Tessa Jowell: The position of the Football Association on the potential Birmingham bid was clarified yesterday by Adam Crozier, the chief executive of the Football Association. I ask the House to accept that.

On the repayment of the £120 million, I am not going to speculate either on the circumstances or on the negotiations that would lead to its repayment, save to say that it is subject to a contract between the Football Association and Sport England. I think that every party to the deal understands that if Wembley fails, the money will be repaid.

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West): Is it not the case that, with £120 million of lottery money devoted to the scheme

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plus the £20 million additional public money pledged by my right hon. Friend, more money than it cost to build the Millennium stadium in Cardiff has been put into this project, just to cover one fifth of the overall cost? Is there not a third way available? The stadium is not needed—it is not even wanted by many England fans, who are happy to see their team travel around the country. Should we not close the roof on the deal altogether, cut our losses, and make Cardiff the permanent home of the FA cup final and the play-offs?

Tessa Jowell: No doubt my hon. Friend will suggest that to the Football Association. He never loses an opportunity—nor should he—to praise the excellent Millennium stadium in Cardiff.

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North): Is my right hon. Friend as fed up as I am with the moaning voices who continue to try to derail Wembley by highlighting two-year-old management defects as though they were today's current news? Will she confirm that the Sweett report has concluded that the new stadium represents good value for money, and that the independent National Audit Office and the Office of Government Commerce have said that the project is now well managed and should proceed? Will she confirm that the new Wembley stadium will bring regeneration and an estimated 20,000 jobs to my part of north-west London? In the expectation that the FA concludes the deal in the next 10 weeks, does she look forward with me to the silencing of the moaning Mancunian, extinguished once again by the Wembley roar?

Tessa Jowell: Yes to the first point, yes to the second, and yes to the third, but I am not absolutely sure how many jobs will be created as a result of the stadium. As for the fourth point, I look forward to progress on the stadium. Everyone who has played a part in the scrutiny, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), deserves credit.

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