Is the Minister aware that his appointment of John Smith as chairman of the Sports Council is popular in sporting circles, and that we wish him well? Does he recall the remarks of the new chairman on his appointment, when he said that he would take the appropriate initiatives to heal the wounds between the Central Council of Physical Recreation and the Sports Council and to bring about the unity necessary to rebuild sport in the United Kingdom? Will the Minister use his best endeavours to assist Mr. Smith to bring about that desirable aim?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments about the new chairman of the Sports Council, who will be an admirable successor to Mr. Jeeps. Obviously, the House is aware that the rapport between the Sports Council and the CCPR has been of major concern to the hon. Gentleman. He has rightly identified a most important issue. The governing bodies can take courage from what the new chairman said at the inaugural press conference as a most constructive way forward. I am happy to tell the House that the new chairman has already met the chairman of the CCPR to discuss effective measures for future co-operation. I am at their disposal to help in any way that I can.
Can the Minister tell us anything about the progress of the Government, with or without consultation with the Sports Council, in dealing with the football violence that besets the entire country? Is he aware that it is now 13 weeks since the Prime Minister took her initiative and that in that time none of my hon. Friends, nor anyone with responsibility in the Labour party, has been consulted, despite our offer of help and the plea of the Government in seeking help? When will we be consulted? When do the Government intend to introduce legislation? Bearing in mind that there are only 11 weeks before the season starts, how on earth can we pass legislation and get the money and the work done in time for next season?
I am at the disposal of the House. The question refers to the future development of the Sports Council. I am more than happy to discuss these important issues. A meeting is to take place later this afternoon with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Prime Minister, other Ministers and the football authorities. Next week I am chairing the third meeting of a working party to assess the cost and effect of the work that will have to be done before August and the kick-off for the new season. I have concluded the first round of a meeting with Ministers of the eight countries in Europe to decide how we can improve and develop the importance of football within Europe. This series of measures is designed to ensure that recent tragic events are never repeated.