My Lords, given the significant impact that sanctions would have on Chelsea Football Club and their potential knock-on effects, Her Majesty’s Treasury issued a licence which authorises a number of football-related activities to continue at Chelsea, including permissions for the club to continue playing matches and other football-related activity, which will in turn protect the Premier League, the wider football pyramid, the loyal fans and other clubs. The licence allows only certain explicitly named actions, to ensure that the designated individual cannot circumvent UK sanctions. However, we are meeting daily with the club and football authorities to discuss further amendments to the licence should they be necessary.
My Lords, I declare an interest as director of Carlisle United. As the Minister has recognised, English football is in a mess. A new study by Fair Game has come out showing that over half the top clubs are technically insolvent, yet clubs in League One and League Two are surviving on a 1.2% handout from the Premier League. Will the Minister commit that the widely recognised Tracey Crouch proposals will be endorsed by the Government before the end of this season in six weeks’ time?
My Lords, Tracey Crouch’s review recommended that football should seek to resolve distribution issues itself. The Government have written to football authorities to ask how they intend to do this; we have received responses and will address this issue in our response to the review.
I am happy to echo what the noble Lord says about not only the speed but the thoroughness with which the noble Baroness undertook this work. The report’s recommendations are extremely valuable and are being taken forward by the relevant parties. The Football Association has apologised for its role in what happened on 11 July, as is right. The Government are working with the FA, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, the police and others to make sure that they are taking the appropriate action on the recommendations that relate to each of them.
My Lords, I declare my interest as a director of Carlisle United Football Club. When the Minister refers to working with the football authorities, will he bear in mind that on an average weekend more people attend Football League matches than attend Premier League matches? When the Government are working with the football authorities, will they constantly remind them of that fact?
The noble Lord is right and he makes an important point. The vast majority of people who enjoy playing and watching football do so peacefully and bring great enjoyment and health benefits to themselves and those around them. It was a minority of people on 11 July who marred what should have been a very special day for football fans, not just in this country but around the world, and it is right that the blame for what happened lies squarely on them.
My Lords, I declare an interest as a director of Carlisle United Football Club. What plans do the Government have to ensure that places are available for away fans in football games which are subject to the latest Covid regulations?
The noble Lord is absolutely right. The Statement is being made now to give people advance notice, so that they can get planning to make the most of a truly important occasion and to make these celebrations to remember. We are working with the UK’s leading creative minds on exactly the sorts of things that the noble Lord mentioned, to make the Platinum Jubilee a weekend to remember.
My Lords, it goes without saying that we need to ensure an even distribution of events throughout the nations and regions of the UK. In particular, will HMG engage much more deeply than they have in the past with local authorities, which know their localities best?
I completely agree with the noble Lord. My family tell happy tales of celebrating Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee on the north side of the Tyne opposite the constituency which the noble Lord represented for many years. He is absolutely right: we want the celebrations to take place up and down the length of the United Kingdom and more broadly. We will be liaising with local authorities and elected representatives at every level.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have (1) to reimburse tuition fees, or (2) to forgive any current study-related debt, for any current nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare students who are employed by the National Health Service.
My Lords, the Government are extremely grateful to all students who chose to opt in to a paid clinical placement in the National Health Service during this extremely difficult time. We have ensured that all students who do so are rewarded fairly for their hard work. The students will continue to be required to pay tuition fees and there are no plans for a specific scheme to reimburse tuition fees or to forgive any current debt for them.
My Lords, at the height of the pandemic, Ministers joined the rest of us in applauding nurses and healthcare workers as heroes for their bravery and dedication. Sadly, now at the first opportunity to show their gratitude, they have let down the nurses by refusing them a pay increase and warning them that next year’s may not happen either. By their own action, the Government have shattered morale in the health service and made the recruitment and retention of nurses much more difficult.
My Lords, like many, many others, I joined in the applause for nurses and all those working in the NHS, particularly at this difficult time, not least my aunt, who is a nurse and midwife of 25 years’ standing. As I say, we are extremely grateful to all those have chosen to opt in. They are paid and are entitled to an NHS pension contribution during this period. On nurses’ pay generally, I simply make the point that the starting salary for nurses has increased by over 12% since 2017, so we certainly value those who are working in this rewarding career.