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House of Lords

Thursday, 25 July 2013.

11 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham.

Overseas Aid: Post-2015 Development Agenda


11.06 am

Asked By Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to follow up the report of the United Nations High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, the Government welcome the high-level panel’s report as an ambitious and practical starting point for negotiations on the post-2015 development framework. Over the next two years we will work internationally to seek to build momentum behind the panel’s recommendations and to ensure that the final framework is equally strong.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale: I thank the Minister for that Answer. Everyone in this House who has taken part in debates on this matter will welcome the very strong analysis and recommendations made in the report of the high-level panel on the issues of conflict, security and development. In fact, the recommendations are perhaps surprising given the hostility that there may be elsewhere in the United Nations system towards these issues. What action will the Government take to build a broad coalition in the United Nations and elsewhere to secure these recommendations and to make sure that the final report for the post-2015 development framework tackles the crucial issues of peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction?

Baroness Northover: This report is remarkable. Many people felt that it would be very difficult to secure something as focused, streamlined and effective as this one is, following on as it does from the previous one, which was negotiated almost in isolation. Many different groups and organisations from countries across the globe have been involved, which is a good omen for taking this forward. However, the noble Lord is absolutely right to say that it is going to need a lot of work, and this Government will be putting that work in to ensure that what is finally proposed is as strong as this initial report.

Lord Low of Dalston: My Lords, the Prime Minister is much to be congratulated on the report of the high-level panel, which he co-chaired, given its emphasis on no one being left behind and the recommendation that targets should be considered achieved only if they

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are met for all the relevant income and stakeholder groups. Given all of that and the fact that progress towards the current millennium development goals has been limited by the great increase in global inequalities, will the UK Government press for a stand-alone goal on equality in the post-2015 framework?

Baroness Northover: The noble Lord is right about how this proposal emphasises leaving no one behind and that targets can be considered achieved only when they are met across all social and income groups. That is essential in tackling inequality. It seems to us that challenging inequality runs as a thread through the whole report.

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington: My Lords, I returned this morning from Myanmar which—although it was a fascinating week—is still in a very fragile state. It is one of the states that has failed to achieve any of the MDGs. It is still a very poor country where one in four people lives below $1.25 a day, and it has terrible capacity issues. Given the feeling of hope in that country now, what does DfID plan to do to support the Burmese people in the run-up to the 2015 elections?

Baroness Northover: DfID is a strong supporter of Myanmar and we recognise that it is a very fragile state. I think that my noble friend went with an all-party group, and we are delighted that such a group has been able to visit. We recently announced £10 million in funding to help with the 2014 Myanmar population and housing census which will help to underpin the information required for the elections. We will continue to help the Government and other organisations in other ways as well.

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: My Lords, the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, recently said:

“Rising income inequality is a growing concern for policymakers around the world”.

Why, then, has the high-level panel omitted any reference to this issue, and why does it talk only about equality of opportunity? Does the Minister agree that Madame Lagarde’s evidence-based statement that,

“more equal societies are more likely to achieve lasting growth”,

should be considered in any future discussions?

Baroness Northover: If the noble Baroness looks at the 12 goals, and I am sure that she has, she will see that they include the issues that need to be addressed. For example, goal 8 is to,

“create jobs, sustainable livelihoods and equitable growth”.

I think that that addresses the problems that she highlights.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: Like other noble Lords, I applaud the Prime Minister’s initiative and leadership in this area and encourage him to press on. In view of the importance that the report attaches to gender equality and empowerment, can the Minister confirm that the Government will look to next year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, which

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starts in March, to build consensus among UN member states on this matter, ahead of any final negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda?

Baroness Northover: I can assure the right reverend Prelate that we are already doing that. A great deal of work went into ensuring that this year’s CSW could reach agreement. It required a lot of work but we were delighted that that agreement was reached. We are already working on the next one and are delighted that the second of the 12 goals is on gender equality.

Lord Chidgey: My Lords, according to a report on EurActiv.com under the headline “Brussels proposes pooling world aid development funding”, the EU’s Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, issued a statement on 16 July proposing that, post-2015,

“all types of development aid … be considered as ‘a whole’”,

including ODA for low-income countries. He described the statement as,

“another big step towards putting in place the … post-2015 framework”.

How can Mr Piebalgs’ initiative apparently to place world aid under a European Commission social development agenda be compatible with DfID’s vision of using ODA as a means of growing economies so that they can trade out of poverty? Will the Government be seeking clarification?

Baroness Northover: I have seen a copy of what Commissioner Piebalgs said and he was talking about all financing sources, which includes private finance flows, domestic resources and ODA. We quite agree that all those things can contribute to the relief of poverty. We work very closely with the Commissioner. I have certainly found, after meeting him many times, that he and DfID very much agree about how best to take this forward.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, given the huge success of the water, sanitation and hygiene programme, would the Minister not prefer to see it higher in the priorities for the post-millennium period, and is she surprised that it is not?

Baroness Northover: There are 12 goals, as the noble Earl will know, and I am very pleased that achieving universal access to water and sanitation is among them. I do not think that he should regard them as being in order of priority. The ones that are in there are very significant.

Taxation: VAT on Retrofitting Buildings


11.14 am

Asked By Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to reduce VAT on the retrofitting of existing buildings to encourage energy saving and job creation.

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Lord Newby: My Lords, a reduced VAT rate of 5% already applies to the installation of various energy-saving materials, including insulation materials, in residential properties. There are many instances where people incur expenditure in a way that helps to reduce energy use, but given the current fiscal pressures, it is not possible to relieve such expenditure from tax.

Lord Empey: My Lords, as suppressing the demand for energy and encouraging job creation are two of the Government’s key objectives, is there not a strong case for reducing VAT more generally on the retrofitting of buildings as a simple and quick way of ensuring that both these objectives are achieved at minimal cost to the Treasury? Will the Minister not take a leaf out of the Americans’ book and look at this again, as it has been a successful policy across the Atlantic?

Lord Newby: My Lords, the Government recognise that energy efficiency has a major role to play in meeting carbon reduction objectives while reducing energy costs for consumers, and the process of doing that can and does generate jobs. That is why we have introduced the Green Deal, which, as noble Lords will be aware, encourages home energy-efficiency improvements, paid for by savings on energy bills. The energy company obligation will work alongside the Green Deal, focusing on hard-to-treat homes and low-income households.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the noble Lord’s reference to the United States is not very relevant because the United States does not have VAT? Indeed, it would do much better if it did have it. Furthermore, does the Minister agree that the Government should be very cautious in extending multi-rate VAT because all sorts of anomalies and complications can follow?

Lord Newby: My Lords, I have a great deal of sympathy with the noble Lord because my first job as a new employee was working on VAT. It was very complicated when it was introduced; it has got more complicated since then and should not be allowed to get any more so.

Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, is it not irrational to have a VAT regime that incentivises demolition and new build and penalises alteration and refurbishment? Is that not just as perverse in relation to heritage conservation as it is to energy saving? Will the Government negotiate with real determination in Brussels to secure a sensible regime?

Lord Newby: As the noble Lord said, the VAT regime is an EU regime. Any attempt to change it will require unanimity as it is a tax measure. Opening up the regime would, in my view, open up a Pandora’s box, and I do not recommend that as a policy approach.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, Britain has one of the oldest building stocks in Europe. Does the Minister not agree that the value of retrofitting old buildings is incredibly important? I point to the enormous success

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of the retrofitting of the Palace of Westminster and congratulate the efforts by the staff to make great savings. However, there are particular problems with the Palace of Westminster. It is a grade 1 listed building, and there is quite a cost burden on retrofitting listed buildings. Can the Government consider a different, deferential rate for all listed buildings because of the cost implication of retrofitting listed buildings?

Lord Newby: My Lords, I think that we are all aware of the complications of trying to make a building such as this energy efficient, and I pay tribute to the work being done in that respect. Sadly, under EU legislation, the scope for a reduced rate of VAT on non-residential royal palaces is, I am afraid, non-existent. However, I commend, and refer the noble Lord to, the work that the National Trust is doing on green energy projects—for example, installing a biomass boiler system at Chirk Castle, which just shows what can be done. I remind the noble Lord that the Green Deal will apply to homes that are listed buildings.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, is the noble Lord’s strong support for energy saving why his right honourable friend the Chancellor is so strongly supporting shale gas, especially in Lancashire, where many jobs will be created? Lancashire will be very grateful for the support of the Chancellor.

Lord Newby: Shale gas is a significant potential new source of energy. As the noble Lord will be aware, we announced a series of measures in the spending review that will facilitate the development of shale gas. We think that it can play an important part in our future energy mix. Of course, the development of it will generate a number of jobs.

Lord McFall of Alcluith: In the discussion the other day with representatives of the KfW Bank in Germany, at which the Minister was present, he will have heard them say that one of the most successful schemes the bank has been involved in is a scheme for energy saving and job creation in Germany. Does he not think that there is a lesson here for this country, at a time when the divide between north and south is getting greater, so that we can help rebalance the economy and provide jobs at a local level, thereby having the twin objectives of ensuring economic prosperity and providing insulation for homes for the future?

Lord Newby: I completely agree with the noble Lord. Of course, that is why we set up the Green Investment Bank, which is already proving its worth, not only in putting money into green projects on its own behalf but getting a significant multiple of private sector investment coming in to support that government pump-priming.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the Minister has twice referred to the Green Deal as the Government’s policy response to the issue. Can he tell the House how the take-up of the Green Deal is progressing in relation to the hopes that were expressed?

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Lord Newby: My Lords, the Green Deal is a new project with a 20-year life ahead of it. Up to the end of June, some 44,479 assessments had been made and 3,500 installations had received cashback payments. In addition, 78% of people with a Green Deal advice report said that they had, were getting or would get energy-saving measures installed, which demonstrates a very high level of consumer interest.

Overseas Aid: GDP Target


11.22 am

Asked By Lord Bates

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they had at the G8 summit on members’ individual progress towards the 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product target for spending on overseas aid.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, individual progress towards the 0.7% of gross national income target for spending on overseas aid was discussed by the G8 as part of the production of the Loch Erne G8 Accountability Report, which was endorsed by leaders at the G8 summit.

Lord Bates: I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer. While we can take immense pride in being the first Government of a major G8 country actually to deliver on the pledge made 23 years ago to provide 0.7% of our gross national income to the poorest, Germany is still at 0.38%, Canada at 0.32%, the US at 0.19% and Japan at 0.17%. Does my noble friend accept that the entire point of us increasing our responsibility and taking our responsibility to the world’s poor seriously was never meant to enable other countries, which are now cutting their aid budgets, to shirk their responsibility to the poorest?

Baroness Northover: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his tribute to our leadership on this. By meeting our commitments, we are better able to seek to influence others, and that is what we are indeed seeking to do. I note his example and pay tribute to him because, as I understand it, on Saturday he will be starting a 500-mile walk on behalf of Save the Children’s work in Syria.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the noble Baroness may be aware that shortly after the main G8 summit there was also a G8 conference on women, based on the Deauville Partnership. Given the question raised earlier by the right reverend Prelate, can the noble Baroness tell us what part of our budget is currently directed towards projects that specifically deal with developmental issues for women, many of which will be very well known to her?

Baroness Northover: I will write to the noble Baroness with a more precise answer on that. I know that I have issued Written Answers but I cannot, I am afraid, give her the figure off the top of my head.

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Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I think we all applaud the dedication and enthusiasm of my noble friend Lord Bates, but does the Minister accept that while these great global targets may bring satisfaction to some, the actual aim is development, not merely volumes of aid, and the real drivers of development are entrepreneurship and ownership raising the prosperity of the peoples and the countries concerned and eradicating poverty? As has been set out very clearly by great experts such as Hernando de Soto, these are the things that will make development work. Will she assure us that her colleagues are fully aware of this view about how aid can lead to development rather than in some cases actually block it?

Baroness Northover: I assure my noble friend that DfID is very seized of that and is well aware of the importance of entrepreneurship and ownership. We are also, of course, aware that the stories of China and India show that trade and economic development have powered those countries.

Lord Judd: My Lords, whatever happens about the commendable 0.7% target, does the noble Baroness agree that to be effective, we must support the strengthening of governance, effective and fair tax systems, and sustainable development programmes in the third world that take into account the challenge of climate change? Does she also agree that if we are to be effective in achieving this, we must not preach at the third world about its responsibilities but have to demonstrate, in tax and in our sustainable development policies in this country, that we are doing what we are asking it to do?

Baroness Northover: The noble Lord will be aware that in the previous Question we talked about the MDGs. Their environmental goals are clearly extremely important and need to be agreed by developed and developing countries. He is right about the burden on us in terms of taking this forward. He will also know that there was a major emphasis on tax at the G8 and the G20. The United Kingdom is leading with regard to addressing the issues that he has highlighted.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: My Lords, I welcome the Minister’s robust response. None the less, it is how the money is spent, rather than the amount of money, that actually tackles poverty effectively. With that in mind, how does her department intend to respond to the continuing challenges posed to it by the further report of the Select Committee on International Development in another place, published this morning, on accountability and transparency?

Baroness Northover: I saw the press coverage of the International Development Select Committee’s report this morning. I was then astonished to look at the report itself, and wondered how on earth the press came to the conclusions that they did. They were reviewing DfID’s multilateral aid review. They pointed out that it was extraordinarily important for DfID to review how its aid is given, and suggested that there were strengths, but also some areas where DfID might

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want to investigate further, including—to pick up the noble Baroness’s question earlier—ensuring that multilateral organisations focus on gender. I welcome the Select Committee’s report; it helps keep us on our toes, and it does not match up with this morning’s press reports.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I join noble Lords in praising the coalition Government for their global leadership in meeting our responsibilities to those in the developing world. Does the Minister agree that it is helpful to bear in mind the difference that this is making to children’s lives, to think of particular instances—such as the boy who was brought up by his grandmother in a marginal area of Tanzania far from hospitals and schools, who experienced kwashiorkor, and who came to speak to Members of the House about his struggles—and to think that other children will not suffer that undernourishment or the life-damaging results of hunger at such an early age because of the leadership of the coalition Government?

Baroness Northover: I thank the noble Earl for his tribute. He is absolutely right. Anybody who works in this area and anybody who visits the countries that he has visited will understand why we are doing this. He will also be aware of the focus on nutrition that we had just before the G8 and the emphasis on ensuring that children are not stunted both physically and mentally.

Cigarette Packaging


11.30 am

Asked by Baroness Thornton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action is being taken to ensure that they implement their obligations under Article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control when consulting on cigarette packaging.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, the Government take very seriously their obligations as a party to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This treaty places obligations on parties to protect public health policy from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. Our tobacco control plan has a chapter dedicated to how we are going about protecting tobacco control from vested interests. Our approach is consistent with guidelines that have been agreed to assist parties to implement Article 5.3 of the treaty.

Baroness Thornton: I thank the Minister for that Answer but, for the information of the House, the guidelines for the implementation of Article 5.3 state that parties to the convention,

“should require rules for the disclosure or registration of the tobacco industry entities, affiliated organizations and individuals acting on their behalf, including lobbyists”.

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The guidelines specify that that covers meetings, receptions and all conversations which should be a matter of public record. Will the Minister ask his right honourable colleague the Secretary of State for Health to write forthwith to all his colleagues across government, reminding them what HMG’s long-standing commitments to the World Health Organisation’s convention are and how they should be enacted? Can he assure the House that Article 5.3 has been complied with in every particular in the past year while leading up to the disappointing announcement that plain packaging has been delayed?

Earl Howe: I can give the noble Baroness that assurance. She will know from her time in government how seriously the Department of Health takes its obligations in this area, not least around transparency but also minimising the extent to which officials meet representatives of the tobacco industry. I am sure that my colleagues in other departments need no reminding of their obligations as well. We do of course interact with the tobacco industry, as the framework agreement allows, but we encourage those representations to be in writing and minimise face-to-face contact.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, has the Minister seen reports that Downing Street said yesterday that Lynton Crosby advises on strategy, not on policy. What is the difference in relation to tobacco legislation?

Earl Howe: I am sure that we could get into an interesting conceptual discussion about the difference between strategy and policy. The key point is that Mr Crosby has been very clear in his public statement. He has said:

“At no time have I had any conversation or discussion with or lobbied the prime minister, or indeed the health secretary or the health minister, on plain packaging or tobacco issues”.

That is very clear.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: What assessment do the Government intend to make in the coming year of the appeal of current packaging, given that some of the slimline packaging is particularly attractive and enticing to young women and that some of the chunky packaging is particularly enticing to the macho side of young men?

Earl Howe: The noble Baroness gives me the opportunity to make clear that plain packaging of tobacco is very much still in our sights; we have not decided to reject that option. I am sure that the psychology of marketing is one very important area that we will continue to focus on.

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, what better adviser is there for the Department of Health or indeed the Prime Minister than Cancer Research UK, whose only interest is preventing children starting to smoke? When did my noble friend’s department last speak to that organisation about tobacco packaging?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I cannot tell my noble friend about the dates on which the department spoke to Cancer Research UK; I can tell her that we have very regular dealings with Cancer Research UK. CRUK

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made a submission to the consultation on the plain packaging of tobacco. I can feed back to my noble friend with specific details.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, given that the Government clearly wanted to make the distinction between strategy and policy, would the Minister have another shot at answering the question raised by my noble friend Lord Foulkes? If he is unable to do so, perhaps he could consult with his colleagues who made such a distinction and write to my noble friend to explain why that distinction was made and what it meant.

Earl Howe: I answered as I did because it is important for us not to get too bogged down in semantics. Did Mr Crosby speak to the Prime Minister about tobacco issues or did he not? The answer is that he did not.

Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords, the issue is not whether or not he spoke to the Prime Minister but whether he, or any other corporate interest in which he is involved, sought any contact with government or any agency of government in relation to this matter.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am aware that officials in my department—not Ministers, I emphasise—had face-to-face meetings with certain tobacco companies in the context of the consultation on plain packaging. That was done to clarify certain aspects of their written submissions and is as far as it went. I am not aware of which companies those were, but if I can enlighten the noble Lord I will write to him.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is harmful to public health in the United Kingdom for Mr Crosby to have any dealings whatever with government departments while exercising a malign influence in the background, and that he should be got rid of and sent back to Australia?

Earl Howe: The latter matter is not one on which I will have any influence, nor do I wish to. However, on my noble friend’s point, I cannot say more than I have already: Mr Crosby has had no dealings with Ministers or the Department of Health on the issue of tobacco.

NHS: Accident and Emergency Services

Private Notice Question

11.37 am

Asked By Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what immediate action they are taking to meet the pressures on accident and emergency services in order to avert a crisis.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I beg leave to ask a Question of which I have given private notice. In doing so, I remind the House of my health interests in the register.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, the Government recognise the severity of this issue and acknowledge that there was a dip in performance. We are taking robust action to address these issues and the 95% standard on four-hour A&E waiting times has now been met for the 12 consecutive weeks ending 14 July. The Government and NHS England are now looking at how we address the long-term issues facing A&E and the wider NHS.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the crisis in A&E happened on this Government’s watch as a result of the disastrous structural changes that they embarked on, the drastic cuts in social services and the disastrous launch of the 111 service. The noble Earl has talked about robust action being taken, but he will be aware that yesterday the Health Select Committee made it clear that local urgent care boards are simply not getting to grips with the problem. We are therefore heading for another very difficult winter, with many services at breaking point. Will Ministers take responsibility? Why, when the noble Earl talks about robust action, is the Government’s emergency care review only to be implemented next spring, six months too late?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I do not share the noble Lord’s analysis of the problem. A&E departments are currently meeting targets, but the long-term pressures have been building up for many, many years. Over the past decade, emergency admissions have risen by 35% and an extra 1 million patients have attended A&E compared to three years ago. This is not anything recent. The Government’s reforms will, if anything, help to ease the pressure because doctors now have the freedom to provide the health services their patients really need. The action we are taking in the immediate term is to encourage doctors and all the key players in the health system to get together in urgent care boards to make sure that next winter we see a much easier picture.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, is it not the case that the problems now being faced by many A&E departments are the result of changes to GP contracts introduced by noble Lords opposite many years ago?

Earl Howe: My Lords, there are many factors at play here. There is no doubt that the GP contract severed the legal responsibility that individual GPs had to look after their patients out of hours. It would be idle for me to stand here and say that that has had no effect on A&E attendances. Patients are confused now about whom to contact out of hours and many turn up at A&E when perhaps they should not have done so.

Lord Kakkar: My Lords, I declare my interest as professor of surgery at University College London and chair of quality for University College London Partners. What progress has been made in the commissioning of integrated care services across hospitals

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and the community for frail, elderly patients with multiple co-morbidities, who frequently have to attend A&E for the lack of such services?

Earl Howe: Not for the first time, the noble Lord hits on an extremely important aspect of the problem that we are facing. It is the frail elderly who often turn up at A&E with a crisis in their health when that crisis could have been averted. That is why Sir Bruce Keogh has been tasked to look across the piece at the whole system to see how we can ensure that the frail elderly in particular are served better by the health service, not least to prevent the exacerbation of long-term conditions.

Lord Dubs: The Minister has suggested that the problems of A&E are going to get worse in future. How will the Government’s attempt to tackle those problems be helped by the closure of A&E departments in many parts of the country? In particular, how will they be helped in west London with the impending closure of A&E departments at Hammersmith and Charing Cross hospitals?

Earl Howe: As the noble Lord will be aware, the latter issue is currently being scrutinised by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, so it would be wrong of me to comment on that. On the question of reconfigurations generally, we are clear that this is a matter for local decisions by doctors, nurses and all those with a stake in the system. It is not for Ministers to issue edicts from the top. We are clear that any reconfiguration of A&E services has to take into account the capacity of the system to absorb any closures of A&E and the capacity of community services to step in where that is appropriate.

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, there is emerging evidence that younger people are using A&E as their first point of contact with the health service rather than their GP or out-of-hours services. Are there any plans to run local campaigns to remind people that accident and emergency units are just that? They are for accidents and emergencies and not coughs and colds.

Earl Howe: My noble friend is exactly right. In the work that we are doing on NHS 111, we are seeking to promote to members of the public the advice to phone before they do anything else. If they phone NHS 111, they will be signposted to the correct area of the health service.

Lord Richard: My Lords, the Minister said that the Government are taking robust action. What robust action?

Earl Howe: We have been taking action in several areas. We released additional money to ensure that immediate pressures were relieved in the health service in the spring and, as I have said, that was successful. We are encouraging, and have ensured, the setting up of urgent care wards, which amount to the kind of discussions across the system in local areas that are needed to ensure that there are no blockages in that

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system. More fundamentally, we have tasked Sir Bruce Keogh to undertake the work that I referred to earlier, looking at the root causes of why there have been these pressures on A&E. There is no single answer to that question.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, I declare my interests, including that my daughter is an A&E consultant in London. Are the Government planning specifically to put in some additional resources to support A&E departments now, given that the consultants need more infrastructure support, including people at a much lower grade—clerical staff, care assistants and alcohol support workers—to cope with the peaks that occur of those who have come in having abused alcohol, who take staff away from the other very sick patients, who are often in resus and whom they are also trying to look after at the same time?

Earl Howe: The answer to the noble Baroness’s question is yes. We are looking very carefully at workforce issues and the mix of skills needed in those A&E departments that have been struggling. I refer not simply to A&E consultants but also specialists in their field—perhaps alcohol is a good example—who can deflect the pressure away from staff looking after acutely ill patients.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, building on the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, is there evidence that current difficulties in the administration of A&E departments are discouraging young doctors from regarding emergency medicine as an attractive specialism? Are the Government doing anything to encourage them to look at emergency medicine more favourably and to ensure that, if they do so, there will be jobs for them in the departments?

Earl Howe: That is very much in the focus of Health Education England, which oversees workforce issues in the health service. There has been a shortage of A&E consultants for some time and Health Education England is looking at that area very carefully. A&E is a discipline that has not traditionally proved attractive to trainee doctors for a number of reasons. It is very stressful and the remuneration is perhaps less than in other areas of medicine. That needs to be addressed and is very much an area of scrutiny.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, following on from that, is the Minister aware that half as many again emergency doctors are needed? What is he going to do about recruiting?

Earl Howe: As I have just said to the noble Baroness, there are no instant fixes to this but we want to ensure that recruitment over the medium term is addressed and Health Education England is doing that.

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Procedure Committee

Motion to Agree

11.47 am

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

That the 2nd Report from the Select Committee (Backbench Debates; Tabling oral questions; High Speed 2 and hybrid bill procedure) (HL Paper 33) be agreed to.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): My Lords, the report covers a number of different areas, which I will cover briefly in turn. The first part deals with the detailed implementation of two proposals by the Leader of the House to allocate more time for Back-Bench business. The first proposal is for a weekly one-hour topical QSD, to be selected by ballot and debated between the two party or balloted debates on Thursdays. The ballot would open at 10 am on Monday morning and be drawn at noon on Tuesday for Thursday of the following week.

As with topical Oral Questions, a topicality test would be applied: we suggest that the subject must have been covered by at least two mainstream media outlets on either the Monday or Tuesday that the ballot was open or over the preceding weekend. The second proposal focuses on balloted debates. We propose three changes: first, that the practice of rolling over Motions from one ballot to the next should be discontinued; secondly, that Members should be able to have either a Motion for balloted debate or a QSD on the same subject on the Order Paper at any one time, but not both; and finally, we propose an element of flexibility in the timing of balloted debates. Where one balloted debate has twice as many speakers as the other, there should be flexibility to shorten the less popular debate to two hours in order to extend the more popular one to three hours.

Moving on from the Leader’s proposals, the report proposes a slight change to the yearly cap on Oral Questions that the House agreed at the end of April. It has been brought to our attention that some Members were unaware that Questions tabled since January have been retrospectively counted as part of the Member’s allocation of Oral Questions for the 2013 calendar year. To avoid penalising Members who were unaware of the retrospective nature of the cap, we propose that the yearly cap on Oral Questions be calculated from 1 May to 30 April. This change will ensure that only Questions tabled after the cap was agreed to will be counted.

Finally, the report recommends to the House two proposals from the Leader relating to the High Speed 2 hybrid Bill, which is expected to be introduced in the House of Commons by the end of the year. The first is to amend the private business Standing Orders to ensure that the House’s procedures are compliant with the EU directive on environmental impact assessment by allowing the public an opportunity to comment on the environmental statement for a hybrid Bill and for those comments to be taken into account by both Houses.

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The second proposal is to allow the electronic deposit of documents relating to the High Speed 2 hybrid Bill. Standing Orders currently require hard copies of all Bill documentation to be deposited in every local authority along the line of route. Given that there are around 250 local authorities and the environmental statement alone is expected to run to 50,000 pages, this proposal simply allows, but does not require, these documents to be deposited in electronic form. The Government have undertaken to make all key documents available in hard copy in all deposit locations and to continue to provide all documentation in hard copy if locations so wish. I beg to move.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: Can the Chairman of Committees answer a question? On page 4, paragraph 8, the report says:

“The proposal for topical QSDs arose as part of a package intended to create more opportunities for backbench members to initiate debate. We therefore propose that they may be initiated only by backbench members”,

something with which I completely agree. In the case of the Liberal Democrats, as well as Ministers in the Government, they also have Front-Bench spokespersons who get up and speak on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. I presume that they are excluded from initiating Back-Bench debates.

The Chairman of Committees: It is intended for Back-Benchers. It should be for Back-Benchers. I am sure that people who operate as Front-Benchers will be aware of that.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: With respect, that has not answered the question. We need to be absolutely clear before we approve this that spokespersons for the Liberal Democrats are considered, for this purpose, to be Front-Benchers. With respect, they try to have it both ways. They try to have the privileges of Front-Bench spokesmen, but obviously they might try to be Back-Benchers as well. I therefore hope that it is absolutely clear.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, there is very little I can add to what I said. It is a matter for the usual channels to work out, if possible, whether there is such a thing as a Liberal Democrat Front-Bencher who is not a Minister.

Motion agreed.

English Premier League Football

Motion to Take Note

11.54 am

Moved by Lord Bates

That this House takes note of the international economic and cultural contributions of English Premier League football to the United Kingdom.

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Lord Bates: My Lords, it is an immense privilege to kick off this debate on the English Premier League. In securing this debate, I am grateful still to be able to declare a Premiership interest as a supporter of Newcastle United Football Club. I have learnt to cope with the disappointment over the years, but it is the hope that I cannot quite handle.

My purpose in seeking this debate was to highlight the incredible contribution that Premier League football makes to UK plc week in, week out. It is by far the most watched league in the world: 212 countries broadcast the Premier League, compared with the 193 member states of the United Nations and the 204 countries that sent teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer. That is a real penetration rate. Some 1.46 billion people follow the Premier League around the world—70% of the total population of the televised sport market.

That market is growing fastest in a corner of the world where our economic interests are growing fastest: in Asia. Asia now accounts for 31% of the viewership of Premier League football. The Prime Minister, on a recent trade mission, mentioned the first time that he enrolled the substantial figure of the Premier League trophy as a member of his trade delegation. When he turned up to a dinner in Kuala Lumpur, he saw businessmen from all over east Asia, and he later said:

“I thought … all these people coming to have dinner with me, I must be such a big draw”.

He then realised that in fact they all just wanted to be photographed with the Premier League trophy. It is an immense draw and an immense asset for British business and diplomacy.

If we are in a global race—and we are—the Premier League represents a massive home advantage for British business and diplomacy: it is our Stretford End and our Kop. It is not surprising that the Premier League is at the heart of the GREAT campaign to sell British goods, services and culture around the world. When last year Monocle Magazine carried out its global survey of national soft power capital, the UK was ranked at number one. The Premier League was the driving force behind that extraordinary performance. When Populus carried out an international survey asking respondents to rank what made them view Britain more favourably, the Premier League out-polled popular music, the BBC and even—dare I say in the week of a royal birth?—the monarchy. Showing no hard feelings, Her Majesty awarded to the Premier League the Queen’s award for enterprise in international trade.

When the 22 first division clubs met on the morning of 27 May 1992 to resign en masse from the Football League, thus breaking with 104 years of tradition, not even they could have anticipated the global phenomenon that the Premier League has become. In its first season, it earned £46 million. Last year, it earned £1.28 billion and generated a further £3 billion for clubs through television rights. That is more than double the income of the Spanish and Italian leagues combined.

Part of what makes us British is that we sneer slightly at commercial success, believing that culture cannot really be culture if it is also popular. We slightly look down our noses at players with few or no

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qualifications earning £100,000 per week. However, the salaries simply reflect the success of the business in which they deploy their sublime skills. In that they are no different from those in any other enterprise, such as investment bankers or hedge fund supremos, except for the level of joy which they give to the public as they ply their trade. Furthermore, Premier League clubs also paid in excess of £1 billion in tax to the Exchequer last year.

With wealth comes responsibility, of course, and support for organisations such as the Football Foundation are a vital way of growing the game for the future. It would be good to see how more of that wealth at the top could trickle down to the grass roots and help new talent to grow.

People around the world do not just watch Premiership football, they also come to see it. VisitBritain announced in October 2012 that 900,000 football tourists came to the UK in 2012, contributing £706 million to the national economy. This compares favourably to the 590,000 people who turned up for the Olympics and Paralympics.

It is not just the staggering commercial success and sheer entertainment value through which the Premier League makes its contribution to the reputation of the UK around the world. It is also through its international engagement. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bach, chairman of the British Council All-Party Parliamentary Group, for pointing out to me the British Council and Premier League’s partnership through Premier Skills, which has helped 2,300 coaches and 400,000 young people in 20 countries around the world, including Afghanistan. It is no coincidence that the British Council has paired up with the Premier League—they both recognise that the Premier League’s global audience is earned because it is globally accessible. Clubs are owned by Russians, Chinese, Americans, Indians and Arabs, with managers from 11 nations and players from 65 nations, and they are all watched in 212 nations.

For those of us of an internationalist persuasion nothing warms our soul quite like the sight of sportsmen of many different nations and cultures playing on the same level playing field, under the same rules, demonstrating the same purpose and commitment, working together as a team in pursuit of common goals. We have Argentinean and English, Greek and Turk, Iranian and American, Ukrainian and Russian, Serb and Croat, Japanese and Korean, who all play in the league, for the same teams, demonstrating the unifying nature of sport and confirming—whatever the politicians or clerics might tell us—that we are all human first. It is the ultimate meritocracy as it matters not a jot whether you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, gay or straight; it does not matter how you look—as Wayne Rooney can tell us—but only how you play and what results you deliver.

The league is also becoming more religiously diverse. We are all familiar with the crucifix-kissing and heavenward-pointing finger of Christian players’ goal celebrations, but more than 40 Muslim players now play in the league, and when Demba Ba struck a thunderous volley for Newcastle against Manchester

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United, I almost converted on the spot. Seriously, however, that is why it is vital that that the Premier League is ruthless in ensuring that racism and all other forms of prejudice are trumped by respect for all those on the field and off, for that is the Premier League brand. All are welcome, worthy of respect and are subject to the same rules.

The Premier League is a great success story of which we can all be proud. It can be an immensely powerful resource for British business and diplomacy around the world, not just because of the game itself but because of what it says about how we believe the game should be played.

I am very grateful to so many noble Lords for registering to speak in this debate and I look forward to their contributions—and, in the spirit of the game, I will forgo my extra time and pass it on. I beg to move.

12.02 pm

Lord Pendry: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on introducing this Motion. He has chosen an interesting title, which I would not normally associate with a debate on football in its broadest sense. However, to narrow a subject down to a particular league is quite unique and very welcome. Before I go on, I must say that I am sure that noble Lords in this debate who heard at Question Time that the noble Lord, Lord Bates, will be running a marathon for charity—and not for the first time—will want to wish him very well in that endeavour. This debate gives me an opportunity once more to promote an aspect of the work of the Premier League in so far as it makes a massive contribution under the aegis of the Football Foundation, and I declare an interest as president of that body.

As the noble Lord has already said, the incredible global success of the Premier League product has provided a colossal windfall contribution in both cash and expertise to the grassroots game here in England. Although in this Motion we are largely or at least in part referring to the international dimension of the league’s work, its impact on our domestic grassroots game cannot be underestimated. In the past year alone, some £45 million was invested in grassroots and community activities by the Premier League.

In addition, the contribution made by the Premier League has also attracted £418 million of funding from local businesses, housing developers, the project’s own funding foundation, as well as other sources. Furthermore, the Premier League’s payment to grass-roots infrastructure has helped to improve not just the health of the population but also the health of the economy. For example, if a local football club or school needs to build a new playing surface or pavilion, it thus provides jobs to architects, builders, electricians, plumbers, and so on. The boost to the health of the UK’s economy as a result of the Premier League’s investment in the Football Foundation can be exemplified through the research that has been carried out recently by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which showed the benefits to the UK economy in terms of the jobs, contribution to GDP and growth that result from that investment.

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I have in previous debates referred to the major contributions made to the Football Foundation by the Premier League and, of course, the Government and the Football Association, which are partners. Together they have invested some £200 million each into the foundation’s funds since 2000. That has provided 1,664 new grass-roots sports facilities, including 402 new artificial pitches, 2,369 new grass pitches and 759 new changing facilities—I know this can be tedious, but it is very important to recognise the work that has been done—and thus has generated an enormous number of jobs and revenue to the Exchequer. The end of the statistics, I think. As an example, last season £1 billion of revenue to the Government was exclusively generated as a direct result of the Premier League, allowing more than £700 million to be spent in the UK economy. Almost 1 million foreign football fans came to the UK to watch Premier League clubs last season and 1,600 jobs and 843 community club projects were set up as a direct result of the Premier League funding. Together with the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Premier League Foundation also provides grant schemes from the television revenues generated by the league. Clubs can use this money to assist charities financially, such as Tottenham Hotspur’s funding of London’s disability sport-specific charity, Interactive, which is just one of a huge number that owe much to the funding by the Premier League.

It was in June 2000 that I stood on the lawn of No. 10 Downing Street with the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, launching the Football Foundation with representatives of the funding partners. Alongside me that day was Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the Premier League and one of the original trustees of the foundation. Now, 13 years later, he still remains a trustee of its board. During the time that I was chairman of the board, I cannot remember him ever missing a single board meeting which, given the sheer scale and reach of the Premier League’s operations, shows an amazing level of commitment. While I could list many quantitative examples of the benefits to the UK’s economy, community and culture that are created by the Premier League, I should remind the House that the impact of the Premier League spreads further than just money or statistics. Football, being a sport, is in its very nature something that has a huge impact that cannot be easily quantified. Unfortunately, you cannot quantify inspiration or the sense of community, education, tolerance and respect. It is, however, arguably the most high-profile football league in the world. The coverage of the English Premier League that is seen by young people inspires them to take up sport and, in this case, football. It takes them away from activities that could be unsavoury. The sport gives young people who are surrounded by crime an incredible opportunity to gain priceless life experiences such as learning the importance of teamwork, leadership, skills and, ultimately, discipline and hard work. Any young person can get on to a football field, whatever their background, colour or creed, and they can learn and flourish there.

The other aspect of the nature of the Premier League—

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I remind the noble Lord that this is a time-limited debate.

Lord Pendry: I will conclude by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Bates, once more. I look forward to hearing the contributions of others to this debate. I hope that all noble Lords who take part will learn something, as I will, from the contributions.

12.10 pm

Lord Addington: My Lords, I have a confession to make: I am not a football fan. It is an odd thing. What does Premier League football—this great, iconic game in this country—mean to me? My home city is Norwich. I still look for the result when it is announced on a Saturday. I still take that bit of time to find it. I might not take much time to watch the team play, but in a strange way the result matters. It is part of my identity. That tells us much about the importance of football in our society. It gets through to people who play another sport—in my case, rugby. It has a dominant position, which explains why the Premier League, when it broke away from all those years of tradition with all the gloom and doom that came with them, has gone on to be a wholly new, global thing.

How has football transformed itself? My memories of it as a young person were of something that you went to in order to shout abuse—often of a racist quality—at people and to get into fights. That was the general impression. The game at professional level has transformed itself after some very unpleasant experiences, and continues to transform itself. It now accepts its social role. Parliament is a slightly reactive body. There has to be a problem, it has to get reported and then we generally do something about it at some point after that. We now have interaction with the system, which has broken down the anti-social aspects of football and allowed this new thing to flourish. Now the Premier League has gone global and encourages huge amounts of expenditure.

What are the downsides of the changes that have happened from the world I grew up in? The idea of the local boy playing for his club and coming good is something that is now almost guaranteed not to happen because of the free and global market in players, and the international market structure. That has been used to explain the lack of competition for our national team. I repeated this argument once and somebody who knew something about the game said, “Don’t talk rubbish. The people who are beating us often have their players in our league as well”.

It is a huge, comparatively new thing. One of its downsides as a sporting event is that the championship is won too often by the same few clubs. Manchester United seems to have a timeshare on the championship with whoever else is coming along in the queue at the time. Greater diversity would be beneficial. However, as we look through the briefing, we discover that investment in other sports—for instance, the Olympics—and their competitors is important. So are the continuation of talent spotting, and support for the teaching of training techniques. The Premier League is showing

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the way here, and investing in sports science produced by other bodies. This movement is gaining momentum and reflects the world in which we live.

However, when things go wrong—we remember the disappearance of Leeds United and Portsmouth—it can be cataclysmic. A club, which is a great social entity that brings pride to a local community, can disappear. Under this system, I do not think that there is great enthusiasm for saying that you have a franchise rather than a place in a league with the possibility of promotion and relegation. It can all go horribly wrong. It can even cause losses to the Revenue, as it did in the case of Portsmouth and other clubs. If we look north of the border to another great icon of the football scene—Rangers—and the trouble it has got into, we see the need to temper the ability to strive for success with realism. It reinforces the point about management structures and the fact that things come with a preparation cost.

It is a romantic idea even if much of the romance is being stripped out by money. However, if you do not prepare, you will lose this thing that people have a relationship with. The managers of many clubs have been hounded out because they would not invest sufficiently in their club for their fan base. The English Premier League as it stands now does good works and the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, has pointed out one of its activities. It is an icon of sporting activity. However, it has also shown that it needs management, investment and to be observed. The Government cannot totally turn their eyes away from it. To get the best out of it we have to live and interact with it. It cannot be left to itself but must link to its community. Politicians must make sure that it remains linked, too, to our structure. It is simply too big and too influential to be left to one side. We must to talk to and engage with it. Otherwise we will lose many of the benefits that are potentially there.

12.16 pm

Baroness Young of Hornsey: My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to contribute to this debate and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on initiating it and opening it in such an eloquent manner. I declare an interest. I am an Arsenal season-ticket holder and a lifetime member of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, and I am therefore a Gooner. I will do my best from now on to avoid references to my team and my favourite football metaphors.

As we reach the moment when transfer deals are won and lost, while the new season is rapidly approaching and the sad lack of achievement by our national squads is all too recent, it is a good time to reflect on the achievements of the English Premier League. There is no doubting the scale of the economic impact, which has already been mentioned by several noble Lords. Scanning through the Premier League submissions to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and Deloitte’s review, we learn that some of the vast amounts of money that have been earned have been reinvested in stadium facilities, playing squads and training standards in wider communities and grass-roots football. It is not only the football business that benefits from the Premier League’s financial achievements.

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Clubs have a significant impact on employment, GDP, national and local economies, and industries such as broadcasting, marketing, travel, tourism and hospitality, and on taxation revenues, as has been mentioned.

With the projected 25% increase in income from broadcasting, it is calculated that the revenue of Premier League clubs could hit £3 billion. We are looking at an institution in rude financial health, in spite of financial downturn, recession and austerity, whereas in the Spanish and Italian leagues the economic climate has dampened revenues. In fact, though the German Bundesliga is the most profitable league in Europe, the Premier League has the highest revenue of any league in European football. This is testament to its negotiating power, which is in turn due to its popularity and global drawing power.

While revenues continue to grow, the profitability of some individual clubs gives rise to concern and points to wider issues of financial sustainability, responsible ownership and accountability to supporters. Some clubs live beyond their means. The 2011 CentreForum report, Football and the Big Society, drew attention to the fact that several clubs were operating at a loss. Two significant issues were the financial solvency of some of the benefactors keeping clubs going, and these benefactors’ general suitability. Portsmouth FC has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Addington. It ended up in administration with unpaid debts of £108.6 million, including £17 million owed to HMRC.

Beyond the Premier League in wider football issues, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has raised serious concerns about the overall governance of the sport, especially in the context of increasing commercialisation, a lack of adequate financial regulation and significant financial risk-taking. In its Football Governance Follow-Up report published earlier this year, the committee states:

“We see little evidence that clubs will spend significant amounts of the funding available from the latest broadcasting rights settlement on increasing their sustainability rather than on players’ salaries and transfers”.

The committee also questioned how the new regulations on financial fair play would be enforced. Commenting on football authorities’ responses to proposals for reform, John Whittingdale, chair of the committee, said:

“While some progress has been achieved, much greater reform in football is needed to make the game inclusive, sustainable and driven from the grass roots, where it should be … the financial risk-taking by clubs is a threat to the sustainability of football as a family and community-orientated game, which it should be”.

That last point is important because it goes to the heart of what support and allegiance to a football club is all about: the links and relationship to a club’s fan base and the club’s place in, and contribution to, the local community.

Of course, many football clubs have long-standing community engagement programmes and activities that are broad and inventive. For example, football is used to encourage participation in physical exercise, to contribute to a healthy living agenda, to promote community cohesion through initiatives that bring people together, and for tapping into interest in football to encourage young people to take up modern languages

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and so on. But, arguably, community engagement goes beyond developing and implementing specific projects. It is an ethos—an embedded practice that should inform the way in which a club relates to its supporters and local communities throughout its business. In



Ownership and Social Value

, Supporters Direct stated that increased “ticket and kit prices”, along with a,

“sense of being ‘fleeced’ at every opportunity … have priced many out of the ‘people’s game’”.

The impersonal relationship, the cost of supporting a super-club and the influence of TV contracts on the timing of matches have put off many, especially families, from following FA Premier League teams.

Football has done much to tackle racism on the pitch and on the terraces, and homophobia, but still there is a huge amount to do. I hope that my noble friend Lord Ouseley will speak later on how progress is being made on tackling racism and other forms of discrimination. It is noticeable that although the women’s game is growing in popularity—in spite of a recent, temporary setback—and British-born players of African and African-Caribbean descent are gracing pitches throughout the country, when we look at managers and coaches and scan the faces in boardrooms throughout the game we do not see any of this diversity reflected. That problem needs urgent attention.

When we shell out for our tickets, we do not do so because we want to buy into a business plan or profit margins. Anyone who knows the joy and pain of supporting a football team knows that we support it because of the close relationship between the club’s history and heritage, in its values and ethos, and those of our own as fans.

12.23 pm

Lord Wei: My Lords, I join my fellow Peers in congratulating my noble friend Lord Bates on securing this debate. Amid a summer of sporting success, it is only right that we turn to football, a sport whose Premier League has become truly world class over the past two decades, even though as a nation we still eagerly look forward to a World Cup breakthrough to add to our recent tally. I shall focus on how we balance the interests of increasingly international club shareholders and owners in the Premier League with those of the nation at large and the communities and economies that they are linked with locally, and why it is of benefit to us all to do so.

We cannot ignore other aspects. Investors and new club owners, combined with the boost from commercial television and advertising income in these past decades, have presided over the professionalisation and increased global prominence of clubs that we could only have dreamed of when the sport was invented, making the experience whether on or off the pitch, at home or in the pub, that much richer. At the same time, footballing history reminds us that clubs initially were formed to provide a social function enabling local communities to enjoy leisure and fitness, and to build character. They acted as a linchpin of local society and local economy.

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Today, there is huge potential for global football brands to further benefit the UK economically. I declare here an interest as a Manchester United supporter and as a non-executive director of the Manchester-China Forum. When conducting a survey for A Report onGrowing East, which I recently co-authored, we identified how in China, Manchester is most closely associated with football, and that opportunities for promoting the city among Chinese investors and companies abound when the clubs and local promotion agencies can work together and co-ordinate their efforts. The very international nature of football today is able to not only bring investment but create relationships of a global nature that enable and fuel growth in our cities to help them develop trade, tourism, retail and infrastructure, thereby creating jobs.

At the same time, that very international nature brought about by foreign ownership and involvement is a huge benefit to the culture of many of our cities and towns, making them more diverse and interesting both on and off the pitch. Racism, which has historically been a scourge in football, has moved on significantly as a result of having players and supporters represented in our Premier League teams from all over the world and joining forces through campaigns such as that run by Kick It Out. Some would say that this has brought disadvantages in that local British players do not get as much opportunity to play in season. I have to disagree, because we cannot protect our British players from global competition since ultimately it will make them more competitive. However, we could do even more at the national level to identify and nurture a truly great set of national teams.

At this point, the debate over the national interest and the ownership of major football clubs in the UK can sometimes reach fever pitch. If we look at other sports where we have seen successes recently, they have come overwhelmingly from taking an increasingly scientific approach to developing individuals and teams, with lots of resources being put into growing a strong pipeline of competitive athletes. The onus is on the country or the national team to develop this, not always on the local club or association.

Similarly, in the UK we need to borrow from international influences and follow Germany’s example by vigorously bringing the youth development of players back into the centre rather than relying solely on our Premier League clubs. We could add a British free-market twist and charge clubs if they want to buy some of those players, developed in a national pool, for their squads. That would help pay back the nation for investing in them. Indeed, the young people themselves could be invited to agree to pay back from some of their future earnings, should they enter the Premier League and earn above a certain threshold. That could assuage concerns about the high salaries that footballers receive. Germany has 1,000 part-time scouts and qualified coaches looking everywhere for the talent it needs for the future. We ought to invest to a similar degree now that St George’s Park is in place and not rely primarily on clubs to do all the work, except to provide the market mechanisms to help make this endeavour sustainable.

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I want to look at how this balance between foreign ownership and local needs plays out through an aspect that unfortunately is sometimes overlooked, but which is of the utmost importance: the role of fans. In recent years, there has been much talk and a few examples of exploring how fans could theoretically come together and buy out their clubs, in part or in full, to create structures more akin to that of Barcelona in the UK. I am very much in favour of such arrangements but we need to be realistic and perhaps opt for more partnership arrangements, in which fans could come together via a trust that would take a significant stake with voting rights—as with the John Lewis Partnership. This would still allow new investment to come in, yet give fans more of a voice. Ultimately, it seems to me that the Premier League model should complete a shift away from live spectator fees being the main driver of income for clubs to what is already starting to happen: having advertising and satellite viewing fees, combined with diverse merchandising income from all around the world. Fans who have a stake in their club financially would have a greater incentive to help generate followers and fans both in the UK and globally, creating a virtuous and, hopefully, less debt-fuelled circle.

In this regard, can the Minister say what plans there are in this area and whether any legal incentives could be put forward to make it easier to put such fan-led shareholder arrangements into place? With such ownership we could start to see a more holistic set of activities which many of the best Premier League clubs already engage in, but which can be hard to maintain, given financial and commercial pressures, and thus develop the social and cultural fabric of the local community. I will not go into the countless ways that clubs already get involved in helping local causes. My personal favourite involves clubs agreeing to host mental health and job clubs for men who traditionally find it hard to admit that they have challenges in these areas but will turn up to an activity at a football ground. Given that clubs are not used that much for games on weekdays, there is huge scope for them to be leveraged further for public and social benefit, such as through the successful aforementioned Premier Skills initiative.

Given these and many other examples, it strikes me that we ought to be looking at mechanisms whereby we can harness global football grounds for local benefit on the investment front. Where we do that already, we help to improve citizen well-being and save public money, and club money as well. Could we one day see impact bonds that would create, in partnership with clubs, their fans and stakeholders, ways to help save money locally while creating jobs and fostering well-being in citizens? Promoting cities for trade through clubs, a football investment bank, incentives and support for fans to jointly own their clubs and more partnerships to leverage football brands for social and public benefits are brief examples that demonstrate how, with a little creativity and leadership, foreign ownership of clubs and the local and national benefits from the Premier League’s international nature do not have to amount to a zero-sum game. Get the balance right, and we all win.

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12.30 pm

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I, too, am delighted to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on securing this debate today. I should remind the House of my football interests. I am vice-president of the Football Conference and of Level Playing Field and am vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Football Group. I also declare that I am the occasional recipient of hospitality from the Football Association at its matches at Wembley.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, and other noble Lords are right to draw attention to the immense success, in economic terms, of the English Premier League. I want to draw the House’s attention to a slightly separate aspect and make the point that this success has not been without controversy or consequences for the governance of the game and for the England national team. Two weeks ago, the Guardian published the results of an investigation into the number of English players performing at the highest level. Their findings, which relate to last season, show that only 189 English players featured in the Premier League and that as few as 88 of them appeared in more than half the matches. The top four Premier League clubs used only 29 English players between them. That is in contrast to top European leagues abroad. In Spain’s La Liga, for example, there were 332 Spanish national players, making 6,391 appearances in the season.

The absence of English footballers playing at the highest level is having a serious effect on the ability of the England national team manager to put together a credible side to compete in international competitions; a point which perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Wei, was referring to obliquely when he talked about the need for success at national level. The problem is particularly acute with young players. The England under-21 and under-20 national teams finished without a single win in their respective European Championship and World Cup finals this summer. A report in the Guardian on 12 July quoted Gary Neville, who is the national team assistant as well as a respected pundit on Sky, to suggest that,

“English football has reached a ‘tipping point’ with youth academies at the Premier League’s elite clubs flooded by foreign recruits and short-term demands in the domestic game effectively blocking the progress of local talent into the first team”.

Neville contrasted the situation with Barcelona, a club that he said,

“have seven or eight players who have come through their academy”.

The commercial success of the Premier League has also opened up the problems of governance within the Football Association. As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, mentioned, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in another place has published two reports into domestic football governance. It concluded in both of them that the FA,

“was in need of urgent reform”.

In the second report, the committee said:

“We were concerned that the leagues—and the Premier League in particular—had too great an influence over the decision-making processes of the Football Association”.

The football authorities responded to the report with proposals for reform, which the Select Committee said,

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“failed to go far enough in addressing the crux of the governance problem … the structure of the Football Association led to delegation of too much responsibility away from the Main Board and towards committees dominated by the Premier and Football Leagues, and they also failed to provide the greater financial stability that the game needs”.

That was not for want of trying on the part of the recently retired chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, who not only brought stability to a much troubled organisation in the two and a half years he was in the job but struggled heroically, albeit ultimately unsuccessfully, with these issues of reform. It is an open secret that he largely shares the views of the Select Committee, including the conclusion in the summary of the second report, which said:

“We recommend that the DCMS make it clear to the football authorities that further progress on these issues is expected within twelve months. In the absence of significant progress, the Government should introduce legislation as soon as practically possible”.

It is remarkable that a Select Committee with a government majority should come up with such a radical report. I assumed that the Government would respond by thanking it politely and then burying the report.

However, that was not so. Hugh Robertson MP, the Minister for Sport and Tourism, responded by letter on 30 April this year, saying that he agreed with the committee’s recommendation that, in the absence of significant progress with a licensing system for clubs, the introduction of a representative and balanced board and improved spectator engagement at club level,

“by the beginning of next season, we should seek to introduce legislation as soon as practically possible”.

He went on:

“I have already been given drafting authority by the Parliamentary Counsel, and my officials have started working up a draft Bill and supporting documentation, should football fail to deliver. This Bill will reflect the conclusions of your report”.

That is fighting talk. Perhaps the Minister will tell the House how the Government will determine whether football has delivered and whether they will publish the Bill in draft form and submit it to scrutiny by both Houses. How likely is it that the Bill will contain proposals for a regulatory authority, and for the establishment of a levy on those bodies in football which can afford to pay, so that organisations which currently receive funding from the Premier League will continue to do so? Will the Bill tackle the effect of the Premiership’s economic power on the rest of the game?

In my last minute, I will raise one further matter. The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, gave evidence to the Select Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy on 3 July. She contrasted the provision of facilities for disabled supporters at the Olympic and Paralympic Games with the situation in most Premiership football grounds, which she described as,

“pretty shocking if you are a wheelchair user”.

She went on to say:

“There is a large number of clubs who do not allow disabled people to buy season tickets; they can be given tickets in one out

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of every three games, which means you cannot complain about your sightline, your accessible seating, toilets or whether you have to sit with away fans or home and away fans together”.

In response to questions, the noble Baroness agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, that it should be illegal for football clubs to discriminate on the basis of disability and agreed with his analogy of clubs having to comply by law with safety requirements in providing disabled access. Does the Minister agree with that finding?

12.37 pm

Lord Watson of Invergowrie: My Lords—

Lord Ouseley: My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Bates, for initiating this debate and enabling the very interesting contributions that we have already heard on the Premier League and its contributions to our society and in a global context. From the outset, I declare an interest as the chairman of Kick It Out, which was set up in the second year of the Premier League. I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, for the contribution he made in supporting the start-up of Kick It Out through his work at the time with the Football Trust, which has been superseded by the Football Foundation, of which the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, who spoke earlier, is the president.

Kick It Out was set up at a time when racism was rampant not only in football but on the streets of Britain—1993 was the year that Stephen Lawrence was murdered. Football’s reputation was clearly in the gutter at the time, so it was very important during the Premier League’s second year that notable figures such as David Dein, who was at the Premier League at the time, took an interest in the formation of Kick It Out and supported the Premier League in joining the Professional Footballers’ Association and the Football Association in enabling the challenge to racism, and to other forms of unacceptable abuse that were going on in football, to be taken up and supported.

I suppose that the Premier League owes its creation to many visionaries, who are probably all queuing up to claim credit for it. In addition to David Dein, I mention Greg Dyke, the current chair of the Football Association. He had the vision, way back when he was at London Weekend Television, in collaboration with others, to enable the formation of the Premier League, which has led to the successes that we have heard about. The noble Lords, Lord Bates and Lord Wei, and others have mentioned that success very eloquently.

With all its achievements and its high profile, there is an inevitable elitism about the Premier League. However, it is counterbalanced—which is really what I want to talk about—by admirable community programmes, some of which have been mentioned already, which the Premier League sponsors. With a focus on vulnerable young people and deprived communities, its contributions have been crucial for good community relations and social cohesion, but there is much more that could be done and must be done if we are to stimulate the next generation of young players, supporters, administrators and volunteers to be part of a sport that should be seen as a source for

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good, not just in the context of the riches it generates and the global position it holds but how it influences particularly the next generation.

That is an area in which I am most concerned that football must do more, particularly in boys’, girls’ and disabled football. In this regard, the programmes that support the mentoring, education and upskilling of individuals will be vital to freeing the game from racist, sexist, homophobic and Islamophobic abuse, harassment, bigotry, prejudice and other forms of unacceptable behaviours and attitudes. We have heard of the transformation that has taken place during the past 20 years, but all those features still exist in English Premier League football and, indeed, right across the football terrain.

The Premier League’s programmes generate partnerships of joint funding. We have heard already of Premier Skills English with the British Council. There is also Premier League Reading Stars with the National Literacy Trust. Its Kickz programmes, in partnerships with the police, have attracted universal acclaim, with benefits for thousands of vulnerable young people. Its current pride and joy is the Creating Chances programme, which has attracted some 4 million young people who attended projects during 2011.

In spite of all the deserved acclamation, there are feelings that the relatively poorer sections of our community are unable to afford to go to Premier League football matches. In fact, they pay a disproportionate amount of their income in trying to sustain their interest in the Premier League. Their BSkyB contributions, as they go up, compete with the need to put bread on the table for their families and to deal with their essential costs of rent, transport and fuel against a background of decreased earned income. Such resentment is understandable when it is known that many Premier League clubs pay their players considerable sums of money that can only be dreamt of by the fans. Agents take huge commissions. An increasing number of clubs are foreign owned, and many carry huge debts, as we have heard, with their foreign owners bailing them out. Without that bailout many would be insolvent. There are different realities at play here.

While the Premier League continues to grow as a dominant force, it must never be overlooked that football’s past, present and future development in England relies on the responsibilities and duties of the Football Association, the oldest national football association in the world, currently enjoying its 150th year of existence. The FA is the national governing body for football in England, charged with running grass-roots football for the 7 million individuals who play the game across the country, with 32,000 clubs and 113,000 teams affiliated to local leagues in a variety of ways. The FA also relies on more than 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 qualified coaches and 27,000 trained referees to facilitate and enable participation in and enjoyment of football being played regularly across the country. I will not list the many achievements attributed to it, as time is running short.

Following a summit convened in 2012 by the Prime Minister about racism in football, the FA launched last December the English football inclusion and anti-discrimination action plan with the full support of the

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football clubs, the leagues, the PFA, the League Managers Association and Professional Game Match Officials Limited. One of the main goals of the plan is to widen football’s talent pool for coaching, refereeing, licensing tutors, adjudicating and decision-making. For football to achieve its diversity and equality goals will require all administrators, decision-makers, managers and power brokers in the game to accept personal and professional responsibility to pursue the right actions to achieve the equality outcomes. The present composition of boardrooms, senior management teams, coaching teams and administrators in the authorities and in the clubs illustrates that there is a long haul ahead to take the next generation of fans and players to a point when it can be seen that all forms of bigotry, discrimination and hatred in the game have been eliminated.

12.45 pm

Lord Watson of Invergowrie: My Lords, I begin by apologising to the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, for trying to jump the queue a few moments ago. My enthusiasm must have got the better of me. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on securing this debate, but perhaps I can ask him rhetorically why he did not get together with my noble friend Lady Jones of Whitchurch to combine this debate with the one taking place later today on the contribution of the arts to the educational and emotional well-being of society. I think the two could have been put together and, as I cannot be here to participate in that debate, that would have served my own interests as well.

It is perhaps appropriate that I talk of serving one’s own interests, because that really was the basis on which the FA Premier League was started in 1992—there are no two ways about it. It was a breakaway from the Football League on the basis of seeking a greater share of television revenues and getting more of that for the top clubs. It is unfortunate that that kind of hubris has also manifested itself in the very fact that the competition is now called “the Premier League”. I am sorry but it is not the Premier League. The Premier League was formed in 1988, and in 1998 in Scotland. When the FA was formed in 1863, it had the right to call itself that because it was the first in the world, and when the Football League was founded in 1888, it was the first in the world to have that title, but “the Premier League” is not a title that this organisation has the right to use, and I wish that it would not use it. None the less, I think that is symptomatic. The organisation was formerly called “the FA Premier League” when it started, but the hubris to which I referred earlier has led to a break with the FA and a difficult relationship between the English Premier League, as it is referred to by all people outside England, and the FA. I think that has to be recognised.

I turn now to the specific subject of this debate, the question of the economic and cultural contribution to society of the English Premier League to the United Kingdom—the international aspect is different, and I will say a bit about that in a moment. The Premier League’s contribution is self-evident. Of course it is there; that is absolutely clear. A classic example is Swansea City, a club that got into the top level for the first time, I believe, in 2011. In that first season, a

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university study showed, it brought about a £58 million boost to the local economy of Swansea and the surrounding area. That, perhaps, is not surprising when you consider that, given where Swansea is, people who travel there for games probably stay there overnight and spend a lot in the local economy. There are many other examples of that, and it is very much to be welcomed. Swansea City is an interesting example because in 2003 that club had to win its last game of the season to avoid dropping out of the Football League entirely. Of course, it did win, and eight years later it was in the English Premier League, which I am very pleased about.

However, 20% of that club is owned by a supporters’ trust. It is the only English Premier League club that has supporters’ trust ownership of it, and it has a director on the board as well, which is important. To some extent, I declare an interest in two supporters’ trusts—not in the English Premier League—one in Dundee United, ArabTRUST, of which I was a founder member, and, in AFC Wimbledon, the Dons Trust, of which I am also a member. I would like to see more of that kind of ownership, as is the case at Swansea, with other English Premier League clubs. I know that it is difficult because they are much bigger than the Dundee Uniteds and the AFC Wimbledons of this world, but it is possible and I hope that clubs will look at some means of doing that.

The way in which the clubs have developed in the 21 years since the English Premier League was formed is in some ways unfortunate. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Bates, I have not welcomed the international ownership. He said that he is an internationalist. I am certainly an internationalist, but it has not always been for the benefit of clubs in England that some international owners have come in clearly knowing little about the clubs, the fans and the traditions, and sometimes knowing little, it would seem, about football. Blackburn Rovers is a classic example of that. It was a mid-range Premier League club. It had been in Europe. It had won, I think, the league cup under Graeme Souness, and it was doing reasonably well without ever seeking to repeat its feat in the mid-1990s of winning the championship. At the end of last season, having dropped out of the English Premier League last year under, I believe, Indian ownership, it very nearly went into the league below, but it just escaped doing so. That, I think, is down to bad management. The example of Portsmouth to which the noble Baroness, Lady Young, referred, is well known. Now run, incidentally, entirely by a supporters’ trust, it has gone from the English Premier League to the fourth tier at League Two in four or five years. I pay tribute to the Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt, who has played a heroic role in saving that club and ensuring that the supporters are now able to run that club and, I hope, build it back up again. With the support base of Portsmouth, I see no reason why it should not rise up again fairly quickly. That is another example of fan involvement, which is very important. The role of an organisation called Supporters Direct is absolutely fundamental. It supports supporters’ trusts at all levels of the professional and semi-professional game. Much of what it does goes unrecorded.

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Touching on points made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester about the international aspects of the English Premier League, I think it is incontestable that it has been damaging for the English national football teams—I use the plural deliberately. The noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey, mentioned the women’s team; although not directly related to the Premier League, it had a rather bad experience last week as well. At all levels, the English teams are certainly underperforming.

Since the English Premier League came into being 21 years ago, there have been five World Cups and six European Championships. Germany has been in four finals, Italy four, Spain three and France three—England has not reached even a semi-final. That cannot just be coincidence. Equally, on the performance of clubs since the English Premier League came into being, in the 21 years before it started England was the best and most successful country in Europe. Since the English Premier League came into being, England is the third most successful, behind Italy and Spain, in terms of wins and places in European finals.

Is the Premier League the best league in the world? It is the best league if you look at the worth—the TV deal. It is a little unfortunate that the recently ennobled noble Lord, Lord Livingston of Parkhead, is not here because he played a major role at BT in getting a huge amount of money into the television deal that kicks in this season. In terms of worth, there is no doubt that it is the best in the world. In terms of excitement, that is subjective. My own view is that the Bundesliga in Germany is slightly better, but it is a very exciting league. The average crowds are 35,000 in England versus 42,000 in Germany, so it has some way to go there.

It comes back to the overall product that is available. Unequivocally, the number of foreign visitors who come to this country to go to an English Premier League match and then of course do other things such as shopping and going to the theatre is a real benefit. I am not denying that it is a success. We just have to remember how it was born and the ethos it has, which is not by any means always in the interests of fans or indeed clubs at a lower level within the pyramid.

12.52 pm

Lord Lyell: My Lords, what a treat this is. First, I thank my noble friend for allowing me the chance to express my passion in the afternoon. It is interesting that as we discuss the Premier League in England, one Scot follows another. The noble Lord, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, is a neighbour of mine. I declare an interest that I am patron of a magnificent club six miles from my home that is known colloquially as Atletico di Forfar. In our local newspapers, the Forfar Dispatch and the Kirriemuir Herald, no doubt next week it will say, “Loons mentioned twice in the House of Lords”. We very much cherish the support of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, who will speak later.

My noble friend has included in his Motion the economic aspect of the Premier League. I have received much briefing and many figures have been bandied about as to the actual visitors who come to England to

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watch the game. I recall the European Championships in 1996, when on wonderful summer evenings one would see football fans from all over Europe enjoying themselves not just in London but in great cities and towns throughout England, enjoying the very best hospitality and football and everything that is good about football in England—not just the Premier League.

As far as the economic aspect of the Premier League is concerned, it is also the worldwide audience, both with television and the opening up of satellite. Joined to that, anyone who looks at the accounts of the Premier League clubs will find that an enormous percentage of the revenue is from kit and what I call regalia. It is a major item in those clubs’ accounts.

As for the tickets, I am not sure what is paid elsewhere in Europe but I know that the last time I, as a mean Scot, had to pay to go to a match in London, it was £56. The team that my beloved team was playing was not purported to be in the top four so it was “only” £56. That is what I call “London rules”.

Taking the aspect of the players, your Lordships have spoken about the proportion of English players and international players. They are certainly la crème de la crème. I suspect that the Premier League in England has some of the highest quality, if not the highest quality, of players from all round the world in one league in one nation. As far as the managers are concerned, well, there are a good few of them.

My noble friend’s Motion also mentions the international aspect. As a Scot, I do wish England the very best in 2014. As the noble Lord, Lord Watson, and I will know, the TTIN syndrome comes into play here. It is nothing to do with Tintin, the cartoon character, but I always call it the “Third Thursday in November” of the odd years, when it is normal that we hear once again that Scotland has not quite made it to the final of the upcoming international championships.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie: Would the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, like to comment on the fact that as the Football Association celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, Scotland has been invited to provide opposition at Wembley Stadium next month?

Lord Lyell: Perhaps the noble Lord might be going. I have not received my invite yet. I probably will be at Station Park, Forfar, instead.

My noble friend’s Motion refers to culture. I worry mildly about that. When I had more time to devote to sporting activities, having finally qualified as a chartered accountant under Scottish rules, I recall in 1967-68 large crowds singing happily, “We shall not be moved”. That was usually once their team was on top and they were putting a thumb to their nose at the television cameras and the great ones from the FA. I will not go into the culture north of the border. The noble Lord, Lord Watson, will know—the supporters of his club are known as the Arabs—that even in Dundee there is a religious aspect to it. Certainly, north of the border you have to be very careful what you do because the Scottish Government, I understand, are going to have cameras on the crowds, not just to hear the melodies you are singing but to lip-read the words you are using. I am not likely to do that at Forfar.

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As far as the English Premier league is concerned, I find that wit, jokes and nice jests are very much appreciated. Indeed, my attempts at speaking foreign languages have been blessed by learning three particular phrases, at the grounds in England as well as abroad. One is, “New glasses”, another is, “White stick”, and the third is, “Guide dog”—normally aimed at any one of the three or four match officials. I can assure your Lordships that it goes down particularly well.

I thank my noble friend Lord Bates for introducing this debate because for me and, I suspect, the millions of spectators of the Premier League both here and around the world, football is fun. You can laugh, admire and commiserate but most of all you make lifelong friends. I support a club that is not in the top four. I was struck down in 2006 with a mild stroke. I spoke to one of the directors of this club and he said, “I am so sorry, are you desperately ill?”. Within one hour, you could not have got in through the door of my room because a vast bouquet had appeared. The card said, “From the manager and players of Everton Football Club”. There was a motto underneath, saying, “Get well, YB”—not standing for Young Boys of Bern, but “you something”—“We need you”. An hour later, another bouquet appeared from the youth academy to me, a mere supporter of that club. That is the link that binds us in the Premier League in England and, above all, what a marvellous job it does not just for economics but for relationships in England as well as all over the world.

I thank my noble friend and give every good wish to the Three Lions in 2014. As the noble Lord, Lord Watson, will know, the Lion Rampant still rules.

1 pm

Lord Lipsey: My Lords, perhaps I could begin with a declaration of interest—or rather, I am afraid, lack of interest: I am not very keen on football. I am a sporting person: I love cricket, I love golf, I love rugby, I have owned legs of jumpers, point-to-pointers, pacers and greyhounds. Athletics is lovely; I am looking forward to attending the para-athletics on Sunday—but I can live without football.

None the less—partly for that reason—I felt that I would like to contribute to the debate. Although I agree with many of the points made by noble Lords about football’s contribution, there is another side to the case, and the House might like the opportunity to hear it. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bates, for securing the debate, and we do have important common ground, because we agree that the Premier League has international economic and cultural significance. I shall not talk about the international aspect, but just on the economic aspect: yes, it is important, but we should not exaggerate. The total revenues of the Premier League amount to precisely one month’s economic growth, even at the present anaemic rate. It is not as if it is a mighty source of economic prosperity.

I had not thought much about the cultural impact—although one cannot help reading about it—until a researcher for the Premier League rang me up the other day to conduct an opinion poll. I was quite comforted by that, because firms and other organisations only conduct opinion polls when they think they are in

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deep doo-doo and want to do something about it. As the questions flowed, I felt myself more moved by the negative side of the Premier League than by the positive side.

One overriding overwhelming fact about the Premier League lies behind my dissent from the general enthusiasm for it today—the fact that it not only reflects but enormously magnifies one of the disfiguring sins of our present society: excessive greed. I will not go through all the cases that illustrate the greed of the people who buy up clubs on leveraged takeovers in the hope of making money, and then use them as instruments of profit, not of sport.

To give another example, I checked a website before the debate and found that tickets for Arsenal against Spurs were on sale for £285. It would take an adult on the minimum wage 45 hours to earn £285. Football used to be a melting pot, and its rituals were the privilege of every class, from the working people in cloth caps in the stands to the toffs in the boxes. Stanley Matthews got £15 a week, and tickets could be had for shillings and pence. Now, to go to a Premier League football match you need “loadsamoney”—or, of course, a mate or a business contact with a box.

That is reflected—although I do not necessarily blame them for this—by the greed of the players, and perhaps even more so by that of the agents. In economics we have a concept called economic rent, whereby people strip money from an organisation; large economic rents are generally regarded as rather a bad thing. Yet 70% of the revenues of football clubs go out in wages to the players. As a result, the clubs do not make much money, and as soon as they take more revenue, by putting up the cost of entry or by other devices, the agents and the players take the money from them. What sort of example does that set to our society? We are not even surprised when the Sun reports that a Premier League footballer has strayed from his wife, or been caught speeding in his very fast sports car. What example are we giving to young people, when the biggest rewards in society go to individuals characterised only by the gift of sporting skill?

To give another example, I hate it when a club changes its strip each year, putting the parents of young children under intolerable pressure to buy the latest strip for their kids—at the cost, sometimes, of things they really need to keep their homes going. How many Premier League players have gone through the hard work of studying for a degree? How many are out gays?

I do not criticise anyone who loves football; I am sure that it is a great game, even though I fail to appreciate it. But I dare to dream, as quite a lot of people do, and as those who, when Wimbledon Football Club went to Milton Keynes, dreamed of a new Wimbledon rising—AFC Wimbledon—and later realised their dream. I dare to dream of a Premier League stripped of its excesses, and therefore genuinely fit to hold its head high for its contribution to our national culture.

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1.06 pm

Lord Birt: My Lords, let us hope that there is still time to convert the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, at least to the pleasures of watching our beautiful game. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bates, for allowing us to indulge our passions, and wish him luck with his super-marathon.

The English Premier League will be 21 next month. By any measure, it has been an outstanding success. In the 1980s I scheduled ITV at the weekend. Deeply conservative, the then Football League, fearful that live coverage would undermine match attendance, would only agree to the televising of a small number of recorded games. The appeal of football on television at that time might best be described as meagre. Now we have a league which is the envy of the world. It earns far greater revenues than any other—its broadcast income is nearly three times that of Germany’s Bundesliga—and it attracts the world's best players. Week after week it offers the most exciting football. No other league wins such a gigantic global following. About 20% of the world's population regularly watch Premier League football.

Last year I trekked with my wife in Nepal, high up in the Himalayas, walking through villages with only limited and locally sourced solar and hydro power—villages scarcely changed in hundreds of years. Yet as we passed the kids were shouting out, “Wayne Rooney! John Terry! Steven Gerrard!”. Many foreigners do not just, as others have described, follow the Premiership on TV; they fly here in numbers to watch games in our stadia. I hear Icelandic and other languages, as well as Scouse, spoken in the crowd as I exit Anfield.

The Premier League has wonderful stadia, impressive community outreach, and ethnic and religious diversity in its squads and in its support, promoting greater community harmony. The founding principles of the Premier League were well considered, above all the relatively equitable split of broadcast revenues. This is in sharp contrast to La Liga, for instance, where Real Madrid and Barcelona take the lion’s share of revenues and leave most Spanish clubs impoverished by comparison. For the Premier League—this is critical—the consequence is that on its day, any one team can beat any one other team. Last season, for instance: Norwich 1, Manchester United 0. That had Delia beaming. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, might not have seen the game, but no doubt he too noted the result with pleasure. Sunderland 1, Manchester City 0; and then there was Harry Redknapp, who had a miserable season but one great consolation prize: Chelsea 0, QPR 1. The strength and unpredictability of the league is an important reason for its national and global success.

As well as its well considered founding principles, the Premier League also benefited enormously from the effective and early development by Sky in the UK of satellite subscription services and from the high quality of coverage that Sky has provided.

What should concern us about the Premier League? First, it is too early to call it a trend, but we performed poorly in the Champions League last year. While an equitable approach to splitting revenue brings evident benefits, there is a case for favouring the stronger clubs

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in the split of international revenues if they are to continue to compete with Europe’s best. Secondly, we need to be watchful that the rules of financial fair play are enforced here in the UK and evenly across Europe. We need, for instance, to guard against sponsorship at above-market rates as a form of hidden subsidy.

Thirdly, the FA and the Premier League need to ensure the prudent stewardship of clubs, which are community, not just financial, assets. Clubs should spend only what they earn. They should not pile on unsustainable levels of debt. The fans of 115 year-old Portsmouth FC did not deserve the long drop to the fourth tier of English football, as the noble Lord, Lord Watson, reminded us.

Fourthly, in contrast to our club sides, and as many have observed in this debate, England’s national team has disappointed—1966 is almost half a century away. We field teams containing world-class players but which perform poorly. Who here remembers—maybe we would like to forget—our leaden, lumbering 4-1 defeat at the hands of a young and fresh-faced but untried German team in the 2010 World Cup? In an era where we have seen our athletes and our cyclists shine, the FA and the Premier League need to work together to identify how English football can match those achievements and compete at top international level, as the noble Lord, Lord Wei, observed.

One contributing factor may be that our premier clubs can outbid other leagues for the best global talent, squeezing English players in the process. Perhaps I may add to some of the pungent comments made earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner: last season in the Bundesliga, 50% of squad players were German nationals. In the Premier League, the equivalent was far lower, at 37%. Fewer than a third of the players representing Premier League clubs in the Champions League last season were English.

While we should strive to do better still, let us give thanks, on behalf of the one-third of the population for whom the Premier League is a critical part of their everyday lives, for the intensity of experience that it brings us and, on occasions—and hopefully next season for me with Liverpool—for the sheer joy and jubilation.

1.14 pm

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I speak as an occasional supporter of Forfar Athletic and as a season ticket holder of Birmingham City. The noble Lord, Lord Birt, talked about the joys. Supporting Birmingham City mainly teaches you to come to terms with the disappointments of life—except for one game against the Arsenal.

It is a great pleasure to take part in this debate. I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Bates, is right that we should celebrate the magnificence of the Premier League. The excitement is clearly palpable; the statistics quoted by the noble Lord are indeed impressive. I have no doubt that he is right about the contribution that it makes to the image of our country and to its coffers. He is right, too, to celebrate some of the successes. However, there are also some downsides and I thought that some of the points put to the House by my noble friend Lord Lipsey were very pertinent.

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I share with a number of other noble Lords real concerns about issues to do with governance in football that go beyond the Premier League to other league clubs as well. I commend the fantastic work in this area of Supporters Direct. Its concern is that so many sports clubs are being put in jeopardy because of vested interests, poor financial management and inadequate standards of governance. This has been backed up by the CMS Select Committee, which has done some magnificent work in this area. It has real concerns about the ownership of clubs and about the fact that the ability of league authorities to investigate ownership issues seems to be very limited and at risk.

The Select Committee found, for instance, that while the Premier League was able to invest more in procedures and specialist assistance to find out the identity of the ultimate owners of some of the clubs, the Football League was not in such a good position, relying only on information provided by the clubs themselves which is then checked against records in the public domain. Remarkably, neither league is prepared to provide to fans the information that it holds and put it in the public domain.

I mention this because it is extremely relevant to the plight of two clubs in the West Midlands. They are not in the Premier League at the moment—so I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me—but they have been and aspire to be again, although when is a matter of some conjecture. I refer noble Lords to Coventry City, who won the FA Cup, remarkably, some years ago. On Saturday, thousands of supporters marched through the city centre protesting at plans for the club to play its home games at Northampton Town, 30 miles away. No wonder the fans are angry at the contemptible way in which they have been treated by the club owners. I refer noble Lords to a debate in the other place on 12 March in which Mr Bob Ainsworth raised this issue and talked about the financial difficulties of Coventry City. He said:

“Five years ago, when it had lost its ground … and most of its assets, the club was sold to the hedge fund Sisu … Sisu specialises in acquiring distressed assets, and under Sisu the club’s ownership is multilayered, opaque and partly offshore in the Cayman Islands”.—[Official Report, Commons, 12/3/13; col. 63WH.]

It is clear that the interest of supporters is right to the last as a priority.

My own club, Birmingham City, is owned by a holding company based in Hong Kong and registered in the Cayman Islands. We have a major shareholder, Carson Yeung, who is at the moment on trial in Hong Kong on charges of £60 million of money laundering. The holding company, Birmingham International Holdings, was censured by the Hong Kong stock exchange for breaching rules in September 2012. There have been major delays in presenting the audited accounts of the club. Very recently, the Birmingham Mail reported that the parent group of Birmingham City has been told to demonstrate its plans to sell the club or it will not be allowed to trade on the Hong Kong stock exchange again. Stock market chiefs demanded to know what plans Birmingham International Holdings Ltd had for the club and how it was going to deal with “management integrity concerns” regarding Mr Yeung, who, as I have said, is now standing trial for money laundering.

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While this dreadful ownership problem has been going on, the club has been relegated, the players have been sold and there is real concern about the future. The supporters, who turn up through thick and thin—or thin and thin, as it sometimes is—seem to be considered least. They are the heart of the club yet they are treated with absolute contempt by just about everyone concerned. What are the football authorities doing about this? Can one turn to the authorities to intervene? The answer is no. They do not intervene and they do not disclose information about ownership. They do not seem to respond to the needs of the supporters at all.

What is the Minister going to do about Birmingham City? More generally, the Select Committee recommendations are right in relation to ownership and the involvement of supporters on the boards of clubs in the future. The Minister for Sport has made some excellent responses to this issue but the football authorities are completely unable to govern themselves. That has been staring us in the face for years. I do not want to see statutory regulation in sport but in relation to football they are not going to be able to sort it out for themselves. They cannot see that their interest, first and foremost, should be the supporters or the interest of the national team. I am afraid that the time has come for statutory regulation.

1.21 pm

Lord Taylor of Warwick: My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Bates, for securing this debate. I am originally from Birmingham, which is renowned for its two leading teams, Aston Villa and Aston Villa Reserves. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, will appreciate that. I declare an interest as a founder member of the Independent Football Commission, which helps to regulate the professional game. I am a patron of Aston Villa and I have enjoyed playing for the parliamentary soccer team and the Aston Villa former players’ team, which plays for various charitable causes. The fact that for a week after playing in those games I found it difficult to walk did not detract from the pleasure of taking part in them.

I want to focus on the issues around diversity. The Select Committee's report, Racism in Football, recognised that, despite recent high profile racist incidents, progress is being made in tackling the issue. It referred to the Premier League working with organisations such as Kick it Out. I have had the privilege of presenting awards on behalf of Kick it Out before Premier League matches at Villa Park. I pay tribute to the work of the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, and his colleagues at Kick it Out, which has been campaigning against racism in soccer for more than 20 years

The Premier League still has some way to go on diversity. There is currently still only one black manager in the Premier League: Chris Hughton at Norwich City. It seems a waste of talent and experience that great black former players such as John Barnes, Cyrille Regis, Viv Anderson, Garth Crooks, Les Ferdinand, Vince Hilaire, Ricky Hill and Luther Blissett did not get the chance to establish themselves as top managers.

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With professional football employing more than 10,000 people in the UK alone, the issue of diversity is of growing importance and the Premier League has the resources to lead the way. In big cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, the population from which many of the Premier League clubs draw their fan base, and their youth team academy players, is increasingly from ethnic minorities. Yet the profile of the coaching, backroom, office and other staff employed by these clubs does not reflect the diversity of the cities they are based in. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, referred to that point.

It is a proven fact that diversity brings to any organisation more creativity, vitality, different approaches and a wider customer base. So the clubs themselves are missing out. The Professional Footballers Association now has a very articulate black chairman in Clarke Carlisle. I hope that he will be able to help keep this issue alive as the Premier League continues to attract such worldwide attention.

There is an ongoing issue of Asians and their relationship with soccer. Thousands of young Asians play and watch the game around the country every weekend, yet there are only seven British Asian players in professional football. The most recent study revealed that there were only 10 Asian players at Premier League academies. That is simply not good enough. There are popular myths that Asians are interested only in cricket and hockey and that cultural differences remain a barrier to them playing in the professional game. However, Asian players such as Michael Chopra and Zesh Rehman have played in the Premier League and dispelled that myth. Perhaps more clubs need to follow the example of Chelsea with its Asian Soccer Star initiative and be more proactive in reaching out to that community.

About a quarter of those attending soccer matches are women and the number of women playing the game is increasing. We have just seen the World Cup in Germany and the European championships are taking place in Sweden as we speak. We now have the semi-professional FA Women’s Super League, but many of its players struggle to get sponsorship. As the Premier League is awash with money, it could help the women’s game to develop. The professional football awards started in 1973, but it was 25 years later, in 1998, and after a High Court action, that a female football agent, Rachel Anderson, won the right to attend the awards. That is surely disgraceful. It was another 15 years later, in April this year, that the PFA awarded its first ever Women’s Player of the Year award to Kim Little. That is too slow progress.

The committee also found evidence of homophobic abuse. It highlighted the concern that,

“too little practical action has been taken to address it”.

This requires a campaign, directed at fans, players and managers, to challenge homophobic attitudes and behaviour. One remembers the tragic suicide of Justin Fashanu, who found life intolerable as a gay footballer.

The Premier League has been a global success and we have heard evidence about the revenues from television contracts. Soccer is about finance and romance. The noble lord, Lord Addington, used the word romance.

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The Premier League attracts huge finances, partly through the undying love affair fans have with their clubs. It has the resources to champion diversity. In many ways it has won the financial game but it needs to do more to win the race in relation to diversity.

1.28 pm

Baroness Brinton: My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lord Bates for initiating this important debate. The English Premier League and the clubs that comprise it have real cultural and economic significance.

Looking at the gender balance of today's debate, your Lordships’ House might think that football was still very much a male preserve. I inherited my Southampton gene from my mother, who remembers cycling with her brothers to Southampton, by way of the Hythe Ferry, from her home in the New Forest during the war. My brother and I are season ticket holders and, if your Lordships’ House did not have such a strict dress code, I might even prefer to wear my 125th anniversary shirt, to make my support even more visible. I am mindful of the point made by my noble friend Lord Taylor about the women’s game. It is noticeable that most of the clubs in the EPL have been developing their women’s game but it needs to go much further.

I will focus on skills, and the importance of developing the next generation of English players, so that perhaps we might once again hold up the World Cup. The statistics look worrying. In 1992 76% of the starting 11 in the top league were English. By 2009 it had fallen to 37%, and it rose marginally last year to 39%. Last year, Southampton and Norwich—which my noble friend Lord Addington will be pleased to hear—were the only two clubs with more than 60% English players. Fulham had the fewest, at 15%. No wonder we struggle to win games at the highest international level.

There are some shining examples bucking this trend in the Premier League, and Southampton is one of them. Indeed, it has a long history of developing its youth; I remember Mick Channon coming up through the youth team into the main team in the 1960s. Today’s Premier League stars who are graduates of the Saints academy are Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. More recently, I have delighted in watching James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw, both of whom have been with the club since they were eight years old. Southampton’s Football Development and Support Centre is unusual in professional football in that it looks after pre-academy, academy and professional squads together at Marchwood. It is particularly important because it provides a seamless pathway that supports young players from the age of eight right up into the first team.

Southampton currently has the enviable position of being the supplier of the highest number of players to the domestic international squads, particularly England, over the past season. We have had an England player selected for every competitive squad, from the under-17 squad to the national team and the Olympics.

For me, what is impressive is the satellite academy at Bath University, also unique in the academy system in football. Bath’s global expertise in sports medicine, psychology and technical performance is balanced by

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Saints’ long experience in growing its own talent. I believe that it is a groundbreaking model that should be not only protected but duplicated in the wider game.

The English Premier League academy courses are rated by Ofsted as outstanding, and are all deemed to be one institution. We should celebrate this fact. Southampton academy scholars have a 100% pass rate, achieving predicted or even better grades in their formal exam results. Through the Bath academy, they are given the opportunity of three pathways: academic, including degree courses at Bath or elsewhere; vocational, learning to coach; and football, via the Southampton academy, and a chance of playing with other professional or semi-pro clubs. This is vital because, as I am sure your Lordships are aware, very few will make it to the top flight. The Daily Telegraph said in 2009 that fewer than 10% of those,

“who join a Premier-ship academy will … make it into the first team. Most won’t even become professional footballers”.

Southampton’s principles are to develop those young footballers to their full potential but also to ensure that alternative routes are available to them, which they will need at some point in their careers, whether at the age of 18 or 25 or when they retire as players. They will have important and relevant skills that ensure that they will not be on the scrapheap. To pick up on my noble friend Lord Taylor’s point, it will also provide the next generation of black and ethnic minority managers in the English Premier League.

I want to speak briefly of another important economic aspect of English Premier League clubs, and that is, to use the title of the EPL report, Using the Power of Football to Positively Change Lives. It is not just about enabling youngsters to participate in football in their communities, although that is important. There are many projects where those heading for offending or disengagement have a chance to rethink and develop themselves in ways that they did not think possible. I was particularly impressed with the English Premier League’s scheme to take young boys to northern France to visit the battlefield sites, combining that with playing football at the same time, giving young lads who have come from backgrounds where offending might be a real possibility in future to think more broadly about the sacrifice that our grandfathers and great-grandfathers made.

Andrew was one such person from Southampton, who had a real problem with his start in life. When he started with the Kickz programme, which is one part of the Southampton foundation, based in an antisocial behaviour hotspot, his youth inclusion officer and local police constable agreed that he was hard to engage with, did not respect the police and had serious anger management problems. Through the programme, Andrew has learnt to channel his anger. His inclusion officer has said, “A spark came alive in Andrew that made him want to achieve and go further in his life”. Using football as a vehicle, Andrew has turned his life around and is now working towards going to university.

Throughout the English Premier League, there are many committed and excellent clubs and staff training the next generation of outstanding footballers. Just as important are the initiatives to support those who do

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not make it into other roles and those for whom football can turn around their lives. Each of these strands is vital to our economic well-being, both in our clubs’ local areas and nationally, and I am proud to say that my club, Southampton, leads the way in all three.

1.34 pm

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, it is a joy and a pleasure to take part in this debate. Like everyone else, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on securing this debate. It provides me with an opportunity to marry together two of my passions: football and the Co-op.

I take myself back to a date in 1948 when I was standing at the general office counter of Newgate Street Co-op. It was dividend day, and paying out the dividend in Newcastle, as in many other cities and societies, was a very big day. There were queues, and I was there in a line with 10 other colleagues paying out the dividend. All of a sudden I looked up and there in front of me was Jackie Milburn, who of course was, like Wayne Rooney, or whatever name you care to conjure up, a god on Tyneside at that time. He stood there, and my colleagues acted almost as if it was the gunfight at the OK Corral; they waited to see what would happen next. I said, “Mr Milburn, can I help you?”. He said, “Yes”. He pushed his passbook through the counter and said, “How much can I get on this?”. I looked at it and said, “I’m sorry, I can’t pay you anything”. He said, “Why not?”. I said, “Because it’s in your wife’s name and you must have an authorisation note”. “Dear, dear, dear,” he said. I said, “Look, there’s a form. Get her to sign it and come back tomorrow; it’s not your day tomorrow, but I’ll pay you then”. He did, by which time everyone in the general office knew what was going to happen. He pushed his passbook through and said, “Well, I’ve come back. How much can I get?”. I looked at it, and there was £7 and 17 shillings in it. I said, “You must retain three shillings for your membership. I can pay you £7 and 14 shillings”. He said, “That’s a week’s wages”.

In 1948, the rigid rule was that if you played for a first team in the First Division you got £8 a week, and in the off season you got £6 a week. I paid him his money and, as he was going away, I said, “Mr Milburn, you and I know that one of these days Newcastle is going to get to the Cup Final at Wembley”. He said, “Yes, we are, one day”. I said, “I’d like to be able to write to you and ask you for a ticket, if you can get me one”. He said, “You do that, bonny lad”. If someone calls you “bonny lad”, you know that he is a Geordie. I said to myself, “I’ve got a chance”.

In 1951, Newcastle got to the final. Incidentally they won, as they did in 1952 and 1955; they won three times in five years. So off goes my letter to Jackie Milburn, and I said, “Dear Mr Milburn, you might remember me as the lad who paid your wife’s dividend. I enclose a postal order”. The postal order was for three shillings, 15p, for a standing ticket at Wembley. Three days later, an envelope dropped through my letterbox with the Newcastle logo on it. Inside was my

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postal order, my stamped addressed envelope, a three-shilling ticket and a compliment slip that simply said, “From wor Jackie”—Tyneside for “our Jackie”. He was owned by the town.

That is an illustration of me being known as football daft. I remember being on my dad’s shoulders at the Gallowgate end in 1933, when I was seven. He took me there when Hughie Gallacher, who was one of the main people then, returned while playing for Chelsea, and there was a great crowd.

When I used to go round Edmonton schools, I always had a trick. Some time in the talk I would say to the boys and girls, “Hands up those who support the Spurs”. Half the class would put their hands up. “Hands up those who support the Arsenal,” the other half put their hands up. They always used to say to me, “Mr Graham, who do you support?” and I would say, “Newcastle United”, and they would all boo. They had learnt how to be passionate about football, and they still learn.

It is about time the Government took their courage in their hands and did not listen to people like me who always tell them their priorities are wrong. We are waiting for them to set up a Select Committee, an interparliamentary committee, a Royal Committee or whatever. I know, and noble Lords know, that we are not governed by the British league or the British system—it is a global system now—but it is ridiculous that one man performing well commands £250,000 a week for playing and jibs at accepting that because he thinks he can get a little bit more. There ought to be some rules and regulations governing the size of transfer fees and level of wages. It will not be easy. It always puzzles me that people are willing to starve themselves, if what we hear is correct. I asked Lee, my driver who brought me in this morning and supports Spurs, how much he paid for a ticket the last time he went to Spurs. He said £50. He said if he was to take his two children with him it would be £100. The ordinary fan cannot find £100, but the ordinary fan does and is prepared to pay a lot more. They ought to be stopped from ruining an aspect of the game. I am over my time. I will sit down now.

1.42 pm

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on securing this debate, which I hope has lived up to his expectations. Certainly we have had fantastic contributions from all round the Chamber. Any debate which attracts my noble friend Lord Graham to speak must be judged a success.

The Premier League is the football world’s leading revenue-generating club competition, with revenues last year of more than €2.9 billion. The nearest rival was the Bundesliga, with nearly €1.9 billion. It is a very successful economic entity. VisitBritain says that more than 900,000 football-watching visitors spent nearly £700 million attending games, so it attracts a wide amount of inward investment as well. It is an economic success and one that can be built on and developed. The Premier League can genuinely argue that it provides huge social, economic and cultural benefits to the UK and, as we have heard, it is a major soft-power element. The noble Lord, Lord Bates,

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mentioned the link with the British Council, and with football being a global operation this will be increasingly important as we go forward. There is much to celebrate but, as we have heard, there are a number of concerns. They are about long-term financial sustainability, the effectiveness of diversity policies, the way in which the Premier League deals with its supporters, whether sufficient money is reinvested in grass-roots football, how talent is developed and how communities which support clubs are to be supported as they go forward.

As my noble friend Lord Faulkner said, the success of the Premier League comes with some downsides: for young talent, for the other leagues engaged in the game and, of course, for the national team. Then there is the matter of the DCMS Select Committee report on governance and related matters in July 2011 and the Government’s response, which was presented to Parliament as long ago as October 2011. As has been said, it is not for the Government to run football or indeed any other sport. Sports are best governed by modern, transparent, accountable and representative national governing bodies able to act decisively in the long-term interests of the sport. That is not what we have here. As my noble friend Lord Faulkner pointed out, the Government are on record as saying that the DCMS Select Committee’s report,

“lays out in stark detail the way in which the existing structures, governance arrangements and relationships have failed to keep pace with the challenges and expectations surrounding the modern game”.

I hope the Minister will be able to enlighten us as to what is going on in this area.

We have a number of concerns about the way in which the current arrangements are set up. It must be important to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Premier League and, if that is to be the case, debt has to be brought under control. Financial fair play, which was referred to by a number of noble Lords, provides an opportunity for clubs to bring their spending under control. However, as it strictly applies only to clubs involved in European competitions, we will need to see continuing monitoring to ensure that loopholes are not being abused.

It is astonishing that Premier League net debt last year was £2.4 billion; £1.4 billion of this came from interest-free soft loans from owners. The huge level of spending in the top tier also puts pressure on the lower leagues to keep up. The Championship has a net debt of some £0.9 billion. That is worrying as the lower professional leagues have higher wage-to-revenue ratios than the Premier League and do not have the same level of income from broadcasting.

Several noble Lords raised the issue of wages. If wages are to continue to spiral out of control, particularly with increased TV rights money becoming available, the Premier League is surely in danger of perpetuating a culture of greed. The wage-to-revenue ratio in the Premier League was 70% last year. Of the big five leagues—England, Germany, Spain, France and Italy—only Italy has a higher ratio than this; the Bundesliga has the lowest ratio of 51%.

As the noble Lord, Lord Birt, reminded us in a very powerful speech, British football owes much of its success to the fans and the local communities that support the clubs. Therefore, it is only fair that any

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increase in income for the Premier League ought to result in increases in funding for those who play—about 7 million people—at grass-roots level. Does the Minister agree that the Premier League should, at the very least, give 5% of its income from broadcasting rights to grass-roots sport, as it has committed to do, and ensure that there are mechanisms in place to make sure that is delivered?

Supporters are the basis under which all football and indeed, all sports operate. Clubs must be willing to engage with supporters’ groups, particularly around issues such as ticket prices. In our 2010 manifesto we committed to making it easier for fans’ groups to gain stakes in clubs. As my noble friend Lord Hunt pointed out, Supporters Direct is a really important organisation in this area and its financing needs to be sorted out. As we have heard, there are interesting and important plans for greater involvement of fans in football clubs and I would be grateful if the Minister could say what the Government are planning in this area.

On diversity, the noble Lord, Lord Bates, praised the diversity policies of the Premier League and there have been some notable successes but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lords, Lord Ouseley and Lord Taylor, pointed out, much has been achieved but much more needs to be and could be done in areas such as harassment, bigotry and homophobia and in ensuring diversity in all levels of the game, particularly in coaching, the backroom and boardroom. In that respect, I felt that the points made in relation to the women’s game were very important and I hope that these will also be picked up. My noble friend Lord Faulkner drew attention to the unacceptable position of disabled supporters at many clubs, something which clearly needs attention.

To return to my opening point, I believe that the Select Committee report, as has been said, was a very good one in the range of issues it raised. It is interesting that when the Government responded in October 2011, they believed that there were three immediate priorities:

“the creation of a modern, accountable and representative FA Board”;

agreement to implement a licensing framework to be administered by the FA; and agreements to change the decision-making structures within the FA, particularly,

“in relation to the Council”.

The government report goes on:

“We expect the football authorities to work together to agree proposals, including plans for implementation, by 29 February 2012”.

That deadline has of course passed. What is the timetable now?

Finally, the Government say that they are,

“fully committed to ensuring that the changes put forward by the football authorities make a lasting and substantive difference. If that does not happen the Government will introduce a legal requirement”,

on the FA,

“to implement the appropriate governance clauses by the swiftest possible means … the Government will seek to secure, using all available channels, appropriate legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

Time has moved on. If that is not the current plan, what is plan B?

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1.49 pm

Baroness Garden of Frognal: My Lords, I join in the thanks to my noble friend Lord Bates for the opportunity to debate the considerable contributions that the Premier League has made to the United Kingdom in its 21 seasons. I pay tribute to him personally for all he did for the Olympic Truce, and for his continuing, active support of charity and sport.

I mean no disrespect to Scotland, nor to the noble Lord, Lord Watson, nor my noble friend Lord Lyell, if my reply is focused on the English Premier League. It is easy, when considering the Premier League, to become ensconced in the passion: the league table, the transfers, the occasional controversy on or off the pitch, and the sense of community that supporters enjoy following the pinnacle of English football. Although for some it was controversial at its inauguration—a breakaway group of clubs striking out against the formative traditions of the sport—the league has come to be woven into not only our own culture, but that of over 900 million Premier League fans worldwide. It has even encouraged the participation in this debate of my noble friend Lord Addington and the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey.

There can be little doubt that the global profile, ambassadorial activities and work supporting overseas investment bring not only corporate benefits for the league and the constituent clubs, but a raft of broader benefits felt by the country at large. Premier League clubs drive significant tourism across the country, with an upward trend of fans coming to watch top-flight football. The league is supporting the “Great” Britain campaign, to which my noble friend Lord Bates made reference, with focal points for soft diplomacy across the world. In the past week alone, officials in Costa Rica, Vietnam and Bulgaria have been reporting back on the leverage that engagement with touring Premier League teams can provide. The Premier League also drives charitable initiatives abroad such as the Premier Skills programme, developing English language and social education through the medium of football.

The Premier League is, of course, just one tier of our domestic football programme. It is the height of league performance, and its profile extends to the far reaches of the globe. However, it is part of the bigger picture of the contribution that football as a sport makes to the UK. For example, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League and the FA jointly fund the Football Foundation, and have spent £780 million over the past 10 years, investing in grassroots facilities. The Football Association invests upward of £43 million each year in supporting the grass-roots game, as the national governing body. The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, made reference to this, and we recognise the match-funding that the Football Foundation attracts and the excellent projects it supports.

The Premier League-level investment in grass-roots football therefore provides a welcome addition, for which it should be commended. In the past month it launched a joint project with Sport England to expand two community programmes. Both the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, and my noble friend Lady Brinton made reference to the Kickz programme, which will be expanded to get a further 30,000 young people from

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disadvantaged areas into sport. Premier League 4 Sport, which has already engaged 60,000 young people, will now offer a broader range of sports while continuing to support the training of volunteers, competition delivery and qualifications in sport.

It is not just the financial support which contributes to the success of football at all levels. Across England, approximately 400,000 people volunteer in the delivery of over 140,000 football clubs and teams, many giving up innumerable hours to support their local community clubs. Many noble Lords have made reference to these activities and their contributions. Supporting the sport of football means, to many, far more than watching their home team, and has developed into a strong culture of volunteering.