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As members will be aware, at this stage the Presiding Officer is required under standing orders to decide whether, in his view, any provision of the bill relates to a protected subject matter; that is, whether it would modify the electoral system and franchise for Scottish Parliament elections. The Presiding Officer’s view is that no provision of the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill relates to a protected subject matter. Therefore, the bill does not require a supermajority for it to be passed at stage 3.
Next is a debate on motion S5M-20221, in the name of Ben Macpherson, on the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill.
It is a great pleasure to address the chamber this afternoon at this key milestone for the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill.
First of all, I thank my officials, the committee clerks, committee members and, indeed, all the other members who have engaged on the bill. I think that we have collaborated well; the parties coming together to make legislation stronger and more effective shows Parliament at its best.
For the first time ever, in the middle of next year, cities across Europe will host championship matches as part of the 60th anniversary of the championship, with Glasgow joining the likes of Rome, Munich, Amsterdam and London. The championship is the third-biggest sporting event in the world and will further enhance Glasgow and Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for major events, when Hampden park holds four matches in the summer of 2020.
The Hampden roar will no doubt be in force, and we hope to see some iconic moments in the famous stadium. Who can forget Zinedine Zidane’s stunning goal in the 2002 champions league final, or, for a different generation, the amazing spectacle that was the 10-goal European cup final thriller of 1960?
The European championship has provided many incredible moments over the years. My personal favourite is Ally McCoist’s winning goal for Scotland against Switzerland at Euro 96, when I was in secondary 2. Moments like that live long in the memory, and Euro 2020 promises to bring supporters more memorable occasions that we will be able to relive time and again.
We already know two of the countries that will play at Hampden—Croatia, the world cup finalists, and the Czech Republic. The supporters of Croatia, in their striking red chequered tops, and the Czech Republic will bring colour and noise with them. We sincerely hope that Scotland will also be joining the party following the play-offs next March. We look forward to welcoming all the fans to Glasgow—and to Scotland as a whole, as an outward-looking European nation.
We saw our women’s national team reach the world cup finals earlier this year and it would be fantastic to watch the men follow suit by qualifying again for a major championship.
Regardless of that, we look forward to welcoming Europe to our shores next summer, and to showcasing Scotland as the outward looking, progressive and diverse country that we are. The benefits of bringing Euro 2020 to Scotland will be significant not just for our economy, but for our international reputation.
Hosting international events often involves meeting certain requirements of the rights holder. The bill seeks to ensure successful delivery of Euro 2020 in line with UEFA’s requirements for all 12 host cities. The bill will protect commercial rights in relation to ticket touting, street trading and advertising, and it contains measures for enforcement of those commercial protections.
I thank the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee for the constructive way in which it considered the bill throughout the stage 1 evidence sessions and at stage 2. We based the provisions in the bill on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Act 2008, while also responding to UEFA’s specific requirements. The bill provides for three event zones in Glasgow where the street trading and advertising restrictions will apply—at Hampden park, George Square and the Merchant City.
The Scottish Government has been engaging with those who have interests to ensure that they can benefit from the opportunity that the event presents, and we will continue to look for opportunities to raise awareness about the restrictions that will be in place. The committee heard from a range of stakeholders. I again thank those organisations for contributing to the process.
The proposals on ticket touting have been broadly supported. We are determined to support fair access to tickets so that as many fans as possible can enjoy the matches. To that end, the bill will make touting tickets for championship matches a criminal offence.
Members’ scrutiny was beneficial in refining and clarifying the bill. At stage 2, 35 amendments were lodged, 28 of which were Scottish Government amendments that sought to respond to the recommendations in the committee’s stage 1 report—in particular, those relating to enforcement provisions. I am confident that, working together, we have improved that aspect of the bill through amendments at stages 2 and 3.
I know from the stage 1 debate, and from one-to-one meetings that I have had, that members recognise the significant benefits of Glasgow and Scotland hosting Euro 2020. The Scottish Government and our partners for the event are delighted to be involved in “The Euro for Europe”. The bill will help to ensure successful delivery of the event. For that reason, I urge members across the chamber to support the bill at decision time.
That the Parliament agrees that the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill be passed.
I thank the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee and its clerks for all their hard work.
As has been mentioned, the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill will enable a fantastic sporting event to come to Scotland. To celebrate the tournament’s 60th birthday, 12 cities across Europe have been chosen to host the Euro 2020 championships. I speak on behalf of Conservative members when I say that I am absolutely delighted that Glasgow was selected. Glasgow will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that will come from fans visiting it and the surrounding area, which will bring in more tourism and contribute to the local economy.
At this final stage of the bill, it is important to remember that it will address areas of Scots law that do not meet UEFA’s standards with regard to protecting sponsors’ commercial interests. We will support the bill at the final stage to ensure that the Euro 2020 championships can take place next year. However, before we do so, I will provide a brief recap of the various stages.
At stage 1, although Conservative members supported the bill in principle, it became clear that there were initial concerns, especially around enforcement officers and their powers; we felt that their powers were too broad and not clear enough. We welcomed amendments that provided clarification of those powers and that stated that, where “reasonable force” is to be used, a police constable must always be present.
I expressed my concerns about event zones and the implications for local people and their businesses. Mount Florida Community Council, Police Scotland and others offered suggestions as to how the bill could be strengthened to ensure that businesses and the local community around Hampden would be comfortable with the new legislation and its implications for them. I am grateful that the minister took on board those concerns and that amendments were lodged at stage 2 to address them.
The major problem of ticket touting was also addressed at stage 2. Ticket touting remains a large problem for major sporting events. At stage 1, I said that ticket touting should not spoil the experience of people who attend the UEFA matches, so I am thankful that amendments were lodged to address the issue. Scots law already included some restrictions on ticket touting, but they relate only to causing public annoyance to persons being approached to purchase tickets. I was glad that the Association of Tartan Army Clubs, Supporters Direct Scotland and the Scottish Football Supporters Association wrote to the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee in October to express their wish for better measures on ticket touting. As the measures were not sufficient for UEFA’s requirements, it was necessary to make provisions in the bill for that.
Mike Rumbles lodged amendments at stage 2 on ways to approach ticket touting. One of his amendments was about ensuring that UEFA 2020 would not be exempt from measures on ticket touting. The amendment did not mention UEFA specifically, but was a broad amendment that covered all bases. Although it was defeated, it was encouraging that similar amendments from the minister, Ben Macpherson, were passed in order to strengthen the bill and tackle ticket touting. I believe that there has, going forward, to be a broader discussion in Scotland about how we tackle ticket touting so that fans are not negatively impacted by it in the future. However, that is a conversation for another day.
The Scottish Conservatives raised concerns during stage 1 about the details in the bill regarding enforcement officers. We felt that the bill did not sufficiently outline how regulations would set out the criteria for selecting appropriate persons to become enforcement officers. Amendments that were passed at stage 2, however, will ensure that local authorities will take charge of employing enforcement officers in order to ensure that they have the relevant experience and training to enable them to fulfil their role to the best of their ability.
The Scottish Conservatives will support the bill at decision time. Amendments at stage 2 were instrumental in providing clarity on a wide range of issues. Many members across the chamber raised concerns about enforcement officers, event zones and use of reasonable force. I believe that the weaker parts of the bill, on which many members touched at stage 1, have been strengthened and improved, which means that we can support the bill in its final stage.
We know that the passing of the bill will bring much opportunity to people and businesses in Glasgow and the wider area, from what will be a brilliant sporting event. UEFA Euro 2020 has the potential to deliver more jobs, encourage increased tourism and promote the best of Scotland. The Scottish Conservatives want to harness the energy of that major event to ensure that it leaves behind some sort of legacy and positive impact, which is a matter that I am sure we will talk about again in the future.
The Euro 2020 championship will be an even greater success if we bring everyone along, in the process. Communities near Hampden and in central Glasgow are counting on Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to ensure that everything is in place so that the operation is slick and efficient. We cannot let them down. I thank them for being so supportive during the evidence taking for the bill.
Again, I hope that the UEFA Euro 2020 championship will be an absolute roaring success. It will be fantastic to see Glasgow buzzing with a lively atmosphere like the one that we saw back in 2014 for the Commonwealth games.
I reiterate that the Scottish Conservatives will support the bill at decision time.
I am pleased to open the debate for Labour. The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee has given careful consideration to the bill and we can expect parliamentary support this afternoon for a necessary piece of legislation to enable the UEFA Euro 2020 championship to include Glasgow as a host city. It is a significant achievement for Glasgow to be included as one of the 12 host cities in 2020, which will be championship’s 60th year. To recognise that landmark, in 2020, it will take place across Europe.
The success of the Commonwealth games proved that Scotland could host a modern, inclusive tournament. We provided good infrastructure, a friendly welcome, top-class facilities and a sporting spectacle that provided many special moments. Since the Commonwealth games, Glasgow has hosted the world gymnastics championships, the European championships and the European short-course swimming championships. The city has, rightly, earned a reputation as a fantastic host for major events and has been officially recognised as one of the top sporting cities in the world.
Securing such events means working in partnership. As was the case with the Commonwealth games, securing host city status for the UEFA championship required there to be close working relationships between the Scottish Government, local government and other key stakeholders. During its evidence sessions, the committee heard about the concerns of local residents’ representatives. Therefore the partnership approach that I have mentioned must include them and they must be provided with clear information as the event proceeds.
To secure such events Scotland also needs to demonstrate ambition, leadership and vision. Our increasing confidence in the field is helping to secure our position as a competitive location. Increasingly, organisers desire to expand venues and opportunities, and we are well placed to take advantage of that. Sport has the capacity to bring people together. The UEFA championship is one of the world’s largest sporting events. As well as those who attend the matches, millions around the globe will be watching on television, which will provide positive exposure for Glasgow and Scotland. There will be economic benefit for our accommodation and hospitality sectors. We must do all that we can to persuade people to extend their stay in Scotland, and provide a positive experience that could encourage them to return in future.
Although the UEFA championship has parallels with the Commonwealth games, including those between the legislation on the games and the bill that the Parliament is considering today, the games were a different proposition that offered more substantial cultural involvement and volunteer opportunities. Now that the mechanisms for the UEFA championship are in place, consideration should be given to how we can celebrate the event and include it in Scotland’s cultural calendar.
I am pleased to see that, throughout the tournament, Glasgow will host a UEFA festival, with 31 days of free festivities celebrating the arts, culture and music in addition to football and other sport. From the beginning of the tournament on Friday 12 June, George Square is set to become the main fan zone in the city, with an additional fan zone in the Merchant City on Hampden match days. Visitors to the fan zones will be able to watch matches on giant screens while enjoying local food and drink, live music and other entertainment. The football village will also offer taster activities such as walking football and mini-kickers, which will encourage visitors to try the sport whatever their age.
As well as a number of paid opportunities, there will also be a host city volunteer team that will consist of some 600 volunteers who will have a key role to play in providing information, helping fans move around and giving a warm Scottish welcome to all those who will visit the city.
While Glasgow is a host city, we should also be thinking about the opportunities that we can create for visitors to extend their trip beyond the tournament itself, and beyond the city to the rest of Scotland. In leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom will not only reduce its political involvement in EU countries but be at risk of weakening its economic and social relationships. International events that bring people together through sport will be important for fostering co-operation and understanding, and for recognising our continuing place in Europe. Our participation in European cultural and social structures will be important in the future, and our hosting of matches in Glasgow and in London, with the final taking place at Wembley, has the potential to be symbolically important and to demonstrate that we are still part of the European family.
Before we hear other members’ speeches, I want to comment on the bill’s measures against ticket touting, which is a practice that must be stamped out. It is unfair on fans and exploits their passion because, rather than offering them access to events at consistent prices, it inflates them so that the touts make additional profit from which neither fans nor performers and organisers benefit. Although Scottish Labour supports any effort to address ticket touting as part of the UEFA championship, it is a more widespread problem that affects other sporting and music events, with resellers too often being able to take advantage of fans who seek tickets.
It would be welcome if, in his closing remarks, the minister could give clarity on the possibility of a framework bill, to which he referred when he appeared before the committee, and how our devolved powers might enable such a bill. I look forward to hearing the rest of the debate.
It is good to see the bill being finalised in a form that works for everyone. Our hosting matches for next year’s UEFA championship has the potential to bring significant benefits to communities in Glasgow and across Scotland. It is therefore vital that the legislation that will enable the matches to take place does that in a manner that is fair and proportionate for those communities.
I am mindful that UEFA wants to protect the corporate sponsorship deals that it has secured and that a number of very large corporations stand to make a significant amount of money out of the event. That means restricting other businesses that are already operating in event areas, which are largely local and small businesses run by people who are rooted in our communities. We obviously all hope that many of those local businesses will also benefit, but that will not be the case for all and we should always be hesitant before restricting the operation of small businesses for the benefit of a few large ones. However, that is a condition that comes with hosting UEFA matches. Profit for multinational brands is not what football is about but, as well as being a sport, football is inevitably now an industry, and big business is a significant part of that.
It is also about people enjoying the game, watching top teams perform and, we hope, being motivated to get out and play themselves—and we should not lose sight of that opportunity. However, we have to bear in mind that the Scottish Government and this Parliament exist to stand up for our communities, including when their interests go up against the profit seeking of large corporate players. When the bill was first introduced, it did not stand up for our communities: not only that, in some cases, it went further than even UEFA would have asked for in its efforts to protect corporate sponsors.
The bill originally sought to grant extensive police-like powers to local authority officials, who are not police officers—powers that were designed to prioritise the protection of corporate profit without giving due regard to the rights of people or local businesses. Those issues have largely now been addressed, and I commend the Government and the minister for listening to and working with the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee and individual MSPs to address our concerns with the bill as introduced.
The vast majority of issues that I and others raised were agreed in advance of stage 2 and addressed by Government amendments that were lodged by the minister. As an example, we have introduced measures to protect individuals against personal searches and searches of their electronic devices by enforcement officers. To be clear, the police already have such powers and set procedures with safeguards are in place when the police suspect that a crime has been committed. The potential expansion of those powers to council officials for trading and advertising offences would have been an unnecessary violation of privacy rights. Although I accept that that was not the Government’s intention, the ambiguity was concerning enough to merit the explicit exclusion of those powers.
We also introduced measures to restrict the authorisation of the use of force to police officers only. Again, such powers already exist for the police, who are trained to a higher standard and have far clearer lines of public accountability than council staff. The original intention in the bill of allowing council officials to authorise the use of force was both a step too far and unnecessary, given that it would apply in situations in which a police officer would be present. If a police officer is present, it should be that officer, as the most qualified individual involved, who makes any decisions that are required about the use of force. That is the kind of power that Parliament should be willing to extend only sparingly and with appropriate safeguards.
Provisions have also been introduced to ensure that the powers that are granted to council officials to search premises are based on the consent of whoever owns or manages those premises. That was the Government’s intention, but the case was successfully made by committee members that an implicit intention was insufficient and that the position must be made explicitly clear on the face of the bill.
We have also clarified that the bill must include exemptions for public protest and additional safeguards have been introduced for when council officials call on other private individuals, such as locksmiths, to assist them. A stricter test will be applied with regard to whether that is appropriate and the police will have to be notified in advance, although, of course, what further action they take is an operational decision for them to make.
Even with the condensed timescale, which meant that Parliament took limited evidence on the bill, the benefit of scrutiny by MSPs is clear. We have agreed changes that protect people and local businesses from excessive interference, we have introduced safeguards on the powers that are given to officials and we have ensured that the civil liberties of individuals and communities are protected. That is exactly the effective work for which our committee system was designed.
I am pleased that the Parliament and the Government have been able to resolve those concerns almost entirely by consensus, leaving us with a bill with which we can all be content, and one that the Greens will certainly be happy to support this afternoon.
When the committee examined the bill at stage 1, it was quite obvious to all its members that the bill needed to be amended—it just was not exactly in the right place.
In particular, I was concerned about the provisions in the bill as introduced that gave pretty extensive legal powers to council enforcement officers to enter and search premises.
Section 19 said that an enforcement officer could
“without warrant, enter any place”, except a house, and may search it where the officer believed a championship offence “has been ... committed”—past tense. If agreed to without amendment, that power would have exceeded the powers that a police constable has available to him or her in such circumstances, as a police constable must always apply for a warrant to search premises.
During the stage 1 evidence session with the minister, he was at pains to stress that sections 18, 19 and 20 should be read together, with the bill implying that the power was not what it seemed. In response, I was at pains to say that legislation should not be about implying anything, and that it should be absolutely clear about what is and is not allowed.
There were other issues, too, which other members have highlighted. However, when we got to stage 2, I was pleased to see that the minister had responded to the points that members of the committee had made. He made the required changes to the bill, and I thank him for that.
In my view, there is only one issue that was not addressed very well by the minister—this is a slight criticism—and that is the explicit exemption of UEFA by name from the ban on ticket touting. In the evidence that UEFA gave to the committee, it made it absolutely clear that, as the organiser of the tournament, it had no intention whatsoever of ticket touting. How can the issuer of tickets be guilty of ticket touting? It cannot be, by definition. However, in banning ticket touting for the tournament, the Scottish Government exempted UEFA.
I am not convinced that the reasons that the Government gave for not accepting my stage 2 amendment on the subject were understandable. I still do not understand them now. It cannot be good practice to outlaw the activity and then give UEFA a specific exemption from it in the bill. However, I decided not to lodge an amendment on the subject at stage 3, particularly because I could not persuade Claire Baker to support such an amendment and it was unlikely to be agreed to anyway. I am a realist. However, I urge the Scottish Government to introduce a new bill—the minister hinted that it will do so—to completely outlaw the practice of ticket touting, and this time to apply it universally.
The UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill is, for the most part, a good bill. On almost everything, the minister in charge of it has listened to the evidence and changed the bill accordingly, and I commend him for that. This is a good example of a committee of the Parliament doing its job to improve Government legislation. Is it not good that the minister did not try to steamroller the bill through but listened and acted accordingly? Maybe I am going to get him into trouble, but I wish that other ministers who bring forward Government legislation would emulate his approach. I am thinking, of course, of the next stage 3 debate to be held in the chamber—on Thursday afternoon, on the Referendums (Scotland) Bill. However, I do not hold out much hope of Mike Russell doing with that bill what Ben Macpherson has done with the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill.
I say, “Well done” to the minister. We now have a bill that we can all support.
Glasgow has become one of the world’s top cities for major sporting events. Its hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth games was not only a defining moment for Scotland and for the city but an enormous economic success. It is estimated to have added up to £740 million, in gross terms, to the Scottish economy. The 2007 UEFA cup final at Hampden—just one game—resulted in an estimated gross expenditure of more than £16.3 million.
UEFA’s European championship, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year, will add to Glasgow’s reputation as an international host city. It will attract 200,000 visitors, and no doubt many of them will take the opportunity to enjoy other parts of our beautiful country.
The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee’s stage 1 report on the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill supported the bill in principle and welcomed the opportunity that the championships bring to the whole of Scotland. To date, five countries are using primary legislation to meet UEFA’s requirements for hosting 2020 matches, while other jurisdictions are using secondary legislation. It should have been clear at an early stage that Scotland would be one of those five countries, as there were similar requirements for the Commonwealth games.
The legislation for the 2014 Commonwealth games seemed to sail through Parliament, so it is quite baffling that the organisers of the 2020 matches did not anticipate the need for legislation far sooner, given that the matches were awarded back in 2014. There was perhaps an assumption that, because the legislation did not receive particular scrutiny or indeed challenge last time, it would be dealt with as a formality this time. However, the committee decided to call for evidence and to take oral evidence. Personally, I believe that all legislation that comes before this Parliament should be properly scrutinised even if it appears to be uncontroversial.
The committee learned rather a lot during the accelerated scrutiny process. For example, we are now all familiar with terms such as “ambush advertising”, which can involve banners near venues or the handing out to spectators of free branded merchandise such as T-shirts, which will then be on television and beamed around the world. That immediately causes a problem for sponsoring businesses, which have paid significant sums to secure the exclusive right to promote themselves and their goods and services associated with the event. That is why the bill was necessary.
We also needed the bill to protect fans from exploitation by ticket touts, as other members have said. That nefarious practice is no longer something that just happens in alleys near venues; it happens on the digital highway—the internet—and it needs sophisticated, robust policing. We heard in committee that our current laws are not considered robust enough by UEFA to give fans adequate protection from ticket touting. That is the other reason why the bill was necessary.
Committee members were keen to ensure, however, that the provisions would not restrict the citizens of Glasgow from going about their businesses lawfully or from participating fully in the celebrations. As a result of our scrutiny, we were able to ensure that more clarity was provided regarding the charity auctioning of tickets, for example. There had been a concern that such auctions could get caught up and end up on the wrong side of the law. I thank the minister for clarifying that matter.
There was concern that the apparent restrictions on entertainment in the controlled zones could impact on the many talented young people who busk on the streets of Glasgow. Coincidentally, we were considering that point as BBC Scotland was making “Emeli Sandé’s Street Symphony”, which was looking for Scotland’s best buskers. As Emeli Sandé said,
“Buskers bring such colour and joy to our streets. They don’t get the credit they deserve, but cities would be very grey places without them.”
I am pleased that, as a result of the concerns being highlighted by the committee during our evidence sessions, the colour and joy that are provided by young Glaswegian performers will add to the atmosphere of next year’s major event.
I am pleased to speak again on the bill as it returns to clear its final legislative hurdle. Although the amendments to the bill have been considerably fewer and less controversial than those that have been lodged for other bills that the Parliament has scrutinised, that does not diminish the bill’s importance.
In 2020, Glasgow will host one of the world’s most significant football tournaments, as well as the 26th conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Although those events are very different in their aims and ambitions, both have the potential to deliver real benefits to Glasgow and to Scotland as a whole.
Hosting Euro 2020 can only serve to bolster Glasgow’s growing reputation as a top-tier venue for sporting events. In recent years, the city has seen a steady stream of major national and international championships, and I for one am excited to see what the future could bring. In particular, I draw the Parliament’s attention to a full indoor athletics programme in 2020 at the Emirates arena, which includes the UK Amateur Athletic Association championships. I am slightly jealous, as I never got the opportunity to participate in such an event in front of a home crowd. However, I would recommend the Emirates as a venue for international athletics to anybody who is excited by that kind of sport.
As the UK and Ireland work together on a bid to host the 2030 world cup, Euro 2020 is an important opportunity to showcase the contribution that Glasgow can make to such a bid, and I suggest that, in making the bid, there are many things that we could learn off the back of next year’s championship.
During stage 2 consideration, it was clear that the need for legislation had to be balanced against the impact on the communities that will be affected by the event, particularly with regard to enforcement powers and street trading. I welcome the amendments that Ben Macpherson has made in order to improve the drafting of the bill and to deliver greater clarity around the application of enforcement powers and the use of force. I would hope that, ultimately, there should be little or no need to use those powers. Indeed, I will be interested to know, following the event, whether it will be possible to find out where and how the various powers in the bill have been applied. That would provide a good learning opportunity for potential future events.
I will touch again on the need for public engagement and awareness ahead of the event. It is hugely important that those people who are affected by the championship and its associated event zones are fully informed ahead of the event taking place and are able to obtain support and advice quickly and easily should issues arise. I ask the minister to indicate, in his closing speech, whether he will be able to provide some detail about what public engagement is planned.
It will not be a surprise to members to hear that I welcome any opportunity to speak about sport in the chamber, not just because it is something that I pretend to know a little bit about, but because of the difference that sport can make to people’s lives. Sadly, in Scotland, discussions about football tend to centre on the blight of sectarianism and the damaging effect that it has on individuals and communities. However, at its best, football can bring people together in a way that few other sports can, and the passion and energy of the crowd at Hampden can do everything from being the basis of lifelong friendships with fellow supporters to being the inspiration that drives a young fan to train and become our next footballing superstar.
Euro 2020 is a major opportunity to show the best of what Glasgow and Scotland have to offer and, as my colleague Rachael Hamilton said, we will support the bill at decision time. I look forward to more world-class sport in Scotland, and I hope that it will mean a long-term impact on the health of our nation and that it will enthuse people into taking part in activity in the future.
I am pleased to speak in support of the passage of the bill, which is an essential part of supporting the infrastructure for the UEFA 2020 championships.
The championships in Glasgow represent a major opportunity for the city and the country to hold and showcase a premier sporting event. It comes on the back of the successful 2014 Commonwealth games and the 2018 European championships. The minister is correct to point out that it is essential to have proper legislation in place to support the regulation of the championships.
The main parts of the bill look at ticket touting, enforcement, and street trading. Throughout the passage of the legislation, the minister has got the balance between all those provisions correct.
We all abhor the practice of ticket touting. People enjoy sporting events, pop concerts and other large public events, and there is nothing worse than people who trade outside the venues and prey on the emotions of people who want to get into those events in order to get them to pay over the odds. It is a totally unacceptable practice, and I am glad that Scotland is playing its part in supporting UEFA by making it clear that such practices are unacceptable, and that ticket touts will be routed out and brought to justice accordingly.
I am not a committee member. I spoke in the stage 1 debate and am speaking in the stage 3 debate, but it has been interesting to follow the legislation’s progress. Concerns about enforcement were raised at stage 1 and I am glad to see that the minister, working with individual MSPs and the committee, has been able to resolve those issues. I know that there were concerns in the Mount Florida and Hampden areas about how the legislation would be enforced and the impact that it would have on businesses and individuals. The agreement that any enforcement action has to have a police officer present has given significant reassurance on that. A balance has also been struck around trading not infringing too much on businesses.
All that is welcome, and the passage of the legislation tonight will allow us to look forward to the championships next year.
In his opening, the minister regaled us with some of his great sporting memories. I do not think that he was alive at the time of the 1960 European cup final with Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt, but I am sure that he will have watched all the goals on YouTube.
I first visited Hampden for a football match in April 1972, when Celtic defeated Kilmarnock 3-1 in a Scottish cup semi-final. For a bit of symmetry, my most recent visit to the stadium took place last month, when Scotland defeated Kazakhstan 3-1. In between times, I have made a lot of great memories with family and friends at that stadium. Come next year, I hope that we will see a fantastic event and some great matches, and I hope that Scotland is part of it.
I am pleased to have been called to speak in this stage 3 debate on the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill. As a member of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, the lead committee responsible for scrutinising the bill, I want at the outset to thank our excellent clerks. They were of enormous help in ensuring that the committee could discharge its responsibility, notwithstanding the accelerated timescale in which we had to carry out our work.
As we have heard, the bill is necessary to ensure that the appropriate work is in place for Glasgow to join the 11 other European cities that are to host Euro 2020 matches. The key provisions of the bill deal, first, with the prohibition of ticket touting. As we have heard, that is essential to ensure that as many fans as possible can go to the matches. In that regard, it is welcome that the minister has accepted the case for an express exemption for the charity auction of tickets.
Secondly, the bill is intended to protect the commercial interests of the sponsors by preventing so-called ambush marketing. To that end, there is provision for a prohibition on unauthorised street trading and unauthorised advertising within the three event zones when they are in operation. As the minister said, those are the Hampden park zone, the Merchant City zone and the George Square zone. The minister is to be commended for recognising the importance of buskers and charity collectors being able to go about their business: that is an excellent result for both and will allow for Glasgow’s day-to-day goings-on.
Finally, the bill sets forth various provisions concerning the enforcement of the provisions that I have just mentioned. It was that part of the bill that led to the greater part of the debate at stages 1 and 2. There was concern that the powers as drafted were potentially too wide. Again, I am pleased to note that the minister listened to the concerns and responded positively.
The bill will pave the way for Glasgow to host yet another major sporting event and puts it well and truly on the map as one of the world’s top cities for sporting events. Euro 2020 matches to be played at Hampden are expected to attract an estimated 200,000 plus visitors to the city. That will be, of course, not just good for sport in Glasgow, but great news for shops, hotels, restaurants and bars. It will add hugely to the cultural life of the city.
The icing on the cake for tartan army supporters in my constituency of Cowdenbeath, and indeed for tartan army supporters right across Scotland, would be for Scotland, first, to beat Israel in the 26 March play-off and then to win the play-off final on 31 March—for surely, we must always dream big.
I thank members for their contributions, as well as all those who worked on the bill and all those who provided evidence to the committee. Joan McAlpine provided a helpful reprise of the bill’s passage and reminded us of the challenges that the committee faced in having such a short timescale for scrutiny and the degree of frustration that that could not have been avoided. Brian Whittle made a good point about evaluation of the legislation after the event. That was raised during scrutiny of the bill. A bit more knowledge of how similar legislation worked during the Commonwealth games would have been helpful in our consideration of the bill.
UEFA is often open to criticism as an organisation, and football at this level is a serious business. Ross Greer spoke about the impact on small businesses and the reality of the corporate interests of UEFA in this kind of tournament. In terms of commercial rights and the impacts on existing businesses, trading and advertising restrictions are part and parcel of major sponsored events such as Euro 2020. The committee heard that the vast majority of UEFA’s income comes from broadcasting and commercial rights, part of which is signing major sponsorship deals that then need to be protected. The argument was made that sponsorship reduces the need for public funding.
The bill brings in offences around trading and advertising. They exist to protect UEFA-approved vendors and sponsors during the hours of operation of events. The bill sets out how that will be regulated and enforced.
As Annabelle Ewing said, more than 200,000 visitors are expected to come to Glasgow during the tournament, and local shops, bars, restaurants and businesses are all set to benefit. The vast majority of businesses in Glasgow will be able to operate as normal during the championship, and they should benefit from the influx of visitors to the city. However, critical to all businesses will be the timely provision of information, including on when restrictions will apply and any alternative arrangements for affected businesses. Awareness raising will be key to allowing businesses and individuals time to prepare and to adjust practices, if required.
On the enforcement of commercial rights, the bill draws on arrangements that were used for the Commonwealth games, and staff who acted as enforcement officers during the games should bring a degree of experience to the management of the tournament.
Returning to ticket touting, although offences to do with trading and advertising will apply only in event zones, the ticketing offence that the bill will introduce will be applicable across Scotland and, in the context of electronic sales, will even apply outside the country.
The UEFA championship should be a demonstration of sporting excellence and fair play, but there are many challenges in football. Incidents of racist behaviour must be dealt with. It must be made clear that such behaviour is unacceptable, and a strong response is needed, including from UEFA, to any such incidents during the tournament. It must be made clear in advance of the tournament that racist behaviour will not be accepted.
The recent announcement that Russia has been excluded from international competition for four years—although its team can participate in the championship—brings performance-enhancing drugs into the discussion about fairness in football.
Whether we are talking about grass-roots clubs or international tournaments, football is a game that needs to protect its reputation for fair play. As James Kelly said, ticket touting has no place in the world of sport, and the bill sets out that it is an offence and that there are consequences. Access to these sought-after matches must be fair, and I hope that the bill will be effective in achieving that aim. I say “hope”, because the amount of profit that is to be gained from ticket touting means that it remains an unscrupulous business. There also needs to be a public awareness campaign, and UEFA has an important role to play in making its policy clear. Fans who buy tickets that have been resold could find that they are not valid, and that needs to be made clear. I welcome the minister’s statement that regulations on the matter are to be introduced earlier, which I hope will raise awareness of the consequences of ticket touting.
In my opening speech, I mentioned the role of volunteers. During the Commonwealth games, the Big Lottery Fund Scotland introduced the volunteers support pot, the purpose of which was to provide resources to allow equal access to volunteering. I wonder whether any consideration has been given to whether there is a need for a similar resource for the upcoming championship. We know that 600 volunteers are expected to be recruited, and I would want us to make sure that everybody who was interested in performing that role was able to participate.
Although events such as the Commonwealth games have showed us that any anticipation of them having a legacy of increased physical activity across the country should be tempered—it is recognised how challenging it is to increase physical activity through the hosting of major events, and much work remains to be done in that area—they still have benefits in that regard and, as far as possible, we should encourage current fans, the young and others who are new to the sport not just to watch the matches but to participate in the sport. I hope that events will be held across Scotland that seek to encourage that, and I am sure that we would all love to see, years from now, a national team that was inspired by the 2020 UEFA championship having taken place in Glasgow.
As we have already heard, the bill is intended to address those areas of Scots law that currently do not meet UEFA’s standards on protecting the commercial interests of the event sponsors, but it raised concerns in relation to the European convention on human rights. Those concerns were that the restrictions on street trading and advertising could inhibit business. The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee felt that the provisions in question represented a significant difficulty.
Equally, the powers that the bill grants to enforcement officers to search private property could affect the rights of individuals. The impact on businesses’ ability to enjoy trading will be limited to the three event zones: the Hampden park zone, the George Square zone and the Merchant City zone. Given that those are large parts of the city of Glasgow, it is important that the bill proposes safeguards in relation to enforcement officers entering properties. That can occur with the consent of the occupier and if the enforcement officer is accompanied by a police officer or, as we heard earlier, if a sheriff has supported that.
We have heard from strong and committed members of Parliament, who have given their views on where they stand. The minister talked about a milestone. That is right: the bill is a real milestone. He and the members of the committee worked together and I certainly benefited from the meetings and the discussion. I thank the minister for the interaction, because that helped the process.
We will ensure that there is a positive impact from the event, and that the reputations of Glasgow and Scotland are enhanced. That is vital. My colleague Rachael Hamilton spoke about the real advantages to the culture and tourism sectors across the city of Glasgow and about the event zones ensuring that businesses have the opportunity to enhance their reputation.
We have also touched on ticket touting laws and the difficulties that they have caused.
The main issue, however, is ensuring that individuals and organisations get the chance to develop jobs and opportunities. That could be a real success. We saw such success in the Commonwealth games. That is very important.
Claire Baker, rightly, touched on the success of the Commonwealth games, which gave us an example of what we should be looking for as we examined the bill.
The co-operation between Glasgow City Council and the business community has been touched on many times. The conversations that we had with people, and those people who gave us evidence, were able to tell us what they wanted to see.
Ross Greer spoke about a “fair and proportionate” approach. It is right that we should look to ensure that individuals and organisations are given fair and proportionate support. Businesses need that. We want to ensure that small businesses are protected in the environment. That came through loud and clear from the negotiations and discussions that we took forward. Working together has ensured that there has been a real opportunity.
The Scottish Conservatives support the bill at stage 3. Our main concerns were about ticket touting and enforcement officers, but they have been broadly dealt with in amendments to the bill, which we welcomed, as they provided further clarity. As I said earlier, the minister liaised with and consulted us and other individuals and organisations to ensure that the amendments were supported. The intention of the amendments was to protect, and to ensure that we could welcome additional organisations and individuals and the amendments that dealt with ticket touting and UEFA’s restrictions will enable that.
Throughout the discussion with UEFA, there was positive feedback and praise for the Scottish Government’s determination that primary legislation would be necessary to meet the requirements of hosting the games in the 2020 championships.
As a member of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, I pay tribute to the many individuals and organisations who participated in giving us evidence and information about would happen and what they wanted to see.
Demand for tickets will exceed supply, and the bill’s aim is to provide a deterrent to anyone who would seek to make an illegal profit from the resale of tickets.
The championships will once again be a showcase for Scotland at its best. They will provide locals and visitors with the chance to participate, and that will enhance Glasgow’s reputation as a venue and Scotland’s reputation as a country, full of opportunities, that gives individuals the chance to develop and expand.
I am delighted to close on behalf of the Conservatives.
Many thanks to all members for their contributions to the debate.
It is clear that there is consensus across the chamber in recognising the significant opportunity in hosting Euro 2020 and what it will bring to Glasgow and Scotland as a whole.
From the introduction of the bill, there has been consensus that none of us wants to see match tickets being sold at inflated prices. The provisions on ticket touting will help to deter that and to ensure that action can be taken when it happens.
The provisions on street trading and advertising have been generally supported, which is very welcome.
As I said at the start of the debate, there has been less agreement about the provisions on enforcement. However, we have worked well together. I acknowledge again the constructive way in which members engaged with me throughout the parliamentary process to improve the provisions.
Members have made a number of points. First, many members talked about the significant benefits of having the Euro 2020 football matches in Scotland in June and July next year. As Claire Baker said, the UEFA festival and the fan zones in George Square and the Merchant City will not just bring extra economic activity for local businesses but encourage young people and others to take up football and engage in the spirit of the tournament. There will be benefits to small and medium-sized enterprises throughout Glasgow.
As well as the effect on the local economy, there will be wider effects. Rachael Hamilton made an important point about the effect on tourism, and Brian Whittle was right to talk about how the football matches could inspire the next generation, with social benefits and benefits for individual and public health. We need to think about that, and we must learn lessons for future events—that point was well made.
Joan McAlpine and Annabelle Ewing talked about the benefits of having 200,000 visitors to Glasgow, as well as the opportunities for buskers and charities, thanks to amendments to the bill that were made during the parliamentary process.
During that process and today there has been a debate about proportionality. I am glad that the consensus across the Parliament is that we got the enforcement powers right in the end. Much of that was to do with the need to bring clarity by improving the drafting of the bill. Our work together on that has been positive and has undoubtedly produced a better bill than we had at the start of the process and in the run-up to 2008. I am grateful for members’ engagement on the issue.
Rachael Hamilton and other members talked about engagement. The Get Ready Glasgow website is up and running and carries information about Euro 2020, including the draft map of the Hampden park zone. My officials spoke to residents recently at a broader Euro 2020 event and will raise awareness of the ticket touting, street trading and advertising provisions at similar events. We have liaised directly with Mount Florida Community Council, which James Kelly and Rachael Hamilton mentioned. Of course, the bill requires Glasgow City Council to publish guidance on the street trading and advertising restrictions. That will help businesses and the public to understand the provisions.
Along with partner organisations, we will continue to look for opportunities to engage with the public. We have spoken to a range of stakeholders. More than 2,300 local residents and businesses in the Hampden park area have been invited to attend information sessions, and we are being and will continue to be proactive on social media.
Claire Baker and other members talked about the potential for introducing a framework bill that would cover future major events. We discussed the issue at stage 2. I have said that the Scottish Government will evaluate the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill—if it passes today—in due course, before we give consideration to the appropriateness of a framework bill.
Work is under way to ensure that appropriate information is collected during the championship, to enable such consideration to take place. It will involve a number of organisations, including Glasgow City Council, Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. We are considering how best to involve businesses and football fans in collecting the information that is needed. We expect to consider the implications carefully before we make a decision on a framework bill.
We also need to consider the broader issue of ticket touting at other events, taking devolved and reserved powers into account. We strongly oppose ticket touting. However, the Scottish Government will need to look carefully at the interaction with reserved powers, including on consumer protection, when considering whether a future framework bill that includes ticket touting could be progressed. I look forward to engaging on those points as we reflect on the legislation. A number of committee members raised that issue, and they were right to do so, because that could be a positive outcome as the Parliament considers legislation after this event.
There is a complicated balance between the specific application of the provisions to this event and the general considerations around consumer protection for a range of events, which we would need to look at if a framework bill were to be effective. We will want to consider that as an outcome of this bill. The Scottish Government wants to see this bill succeed, and that will help inform our thinking, as we go forward.
On the point that Mike Rumbles made about the exemption for UEFA, I do not want to go through the arguments that we had at stage 2, but I am grateful for the debate that we had on that point. In considering how we will go forward, and the future debate on a potential framework bill, that will be a useful dialogue to have had.
I assure members that, as we move towards laying regulations in early 2020 and publishing guidance, we will continue to raise awareness of the provisions in the bill. We have been working with event partners and others to engage with those who are affected and we will continue to do that after the regulations are in place, so that we can ensure that the restrictions are understood.
I thank officials and clerks for their input and members for their contributions. Hampden park has been home to Scotland international matches since 1906, and it still holds the European record for attendance at an international football match—that was achieved in 1937. Therefore, it is fitting that it will again be a fantastic home for European football next summer, with Glasgow city centre providing an epicentre for broader celebration of football and the championship.
The Scottish Government has welcomed scrutiny of the bill, and I am confident that together we have produced a piece of legislation that is fit for purpose and allows Scotland to deliver the gold standard for major events, once again. By passing this bill, Parliament will help to ensure that that happens. I commend the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill and I ask members to pass it.