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Mr. David Lammy (Tottenham): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the countries that did well in the Olympics were those where ambition and aspiration were at the centre of Government policy and that school co-ordinators and specialist colleges that encourage our children are the key to this country's success in future?
Mr. Smith: I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. Indeed, what he says is probably even more true of those areas of particular deprivation, where the physical environment is poor, where the employment and income prospects for young people are often not as good as in other parts of the country and where sport can provide a focus for energy, enthusiasm and ambition among young people. It is enormously important to ensure that they have such opportunities.
Mr. Bercow: I am exceptionally grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. Earlier in his speech, he referred to school as providing the first opportunity for pupils to learn the skills and tactics of their chosen sport. Does he accept that, although that might well be true at the direct-grant, selective George Watson's college in Edinburgh, which he had the good fortune to attend, it is far from being the truth in many state schools, one of which I attended, in which the quality of tennis coaching, for example, remains pitifully poor? Does he agree that at the early stages when children take up sport in schools, the quality of tuition needs to be much greater, not least in tennis, if we are to have any chance of raising our game and producing the first British Wimbledon singles champions since Fred Perry in 1936 and Virginia Wade in 1977?
Mr. Smith: The hon. Gentleman's basic point--wrapped in a little partisanship--is right: the quality of coaching available undoubtedly matters throughout young people's primary and secondary schooling. That is why we are carefully trying to put in place a structure that will deliver that quality of coaching, as well as the physical facilities that are needed.
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): Will the Secretary of State join me in welcoming today's announcement from the Lawn Tennis Association that it will put £30 million--in effect, the profits from Wimbledon--into grass-roots tennis coaching? Will he go further and say that the money must be used not only in schools but in grass-roots clubs, and that a partnership of clubs and schools will be the best approach?
The Government's sport strategy, "A Sporting Future for All", places a great deal of emphasis on recruiting, retaining and rewarding volunteers, as well as professional coaches. Sport relies very heavily on its volunteers. Those who give their free time to coach, officiate and administrate in sport are a mainstay of community sport. We propose to invest £7 million in 2002 to 2004 to fund training for 55,000 volunteers to act as mentors, leaders, coaches, officials and sports administrators.
Mr. Smith: The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. It is important that parents can have complete confidence that the volunteers who are in close regular contact with their children have no criminal record of offences against youngsters. We are, of course, working with our ministerial colleagues to ensure that the best possible system to achieve that confidence is in place.
Up to 15 per cent. of the volunteers will be adults working alongside 14 to 19-year-old sports leaders in schools and clubs. That initiative, funded partly by the active community programme, will be co-ordinated and focused on some of the most deprived areas of the country in sporting and socio-economic terms. Sport England, the Youth Sport Trust and the British Sport Trust, working with the national governing bodies of sport, have already developed effective programmes and resources to train and develop volunteers. Those programmes have been tried and tested on the ground. Our proposals for 2002-04 will give a huge boost to sport volunteering in communities and create a clearly defined and supported path for young people who want to volunteer in sport, as well as for the vast pool of adults whose skills and experience are not being used to the full.
Our investment in human resources is complemented by a programme of investment in school sports facilities. The space for sport and the arts scheme will provide £130 million for investment in new and improved facilities for primary schools, which have had to improvise sports provision too often in the past. Under the scheme, which was launched in October, bids from 65 LEAs in areas of deprivation have been invited for projects to renovate or develop new sport and arts facilities in primary schools, which will also be used by the wider community.
The third round of funding from the new opportunities fund includes a £750 million programme of investment throughout the United Kingdom for new sports facilities in schools, which will be available to the wider community, together with other youth projects. That funding will be administered centrally by the fund and is one of a number of new initiatives, each of which is now
We expect priority to be given to areas of urban and rural deprivation, but they will not be the only ones to benefit. Innovation will be encouraged--in design, for example, and through groups of local schools sharing facilities, making them available to the wider community and attracting partnership funding. A key part of the proposal is that trained people should be in place to run new and improved facilities and that teachers and coaches should be on hand to run matches, training sessions and a wide range of sporting activities. As I have said, that funding will come from the new opportunities fund. I note that we have still not had a clear answer from the Opposition on what their policy would be were they, heaven help us, elected to government.
We are working closely with sport in all respects. A particularly strong example of that co-operation is provided by the Football Foundation--a new partnership between the premier league, the Football Association, the Government and Sport England that was launched by the Prime Minister in July. It will channel funds from football's TV deals and the lottery to create modern football facilities at the game's grass-roots in parks and schools. The foundation has some £24 million at its disposal this year. That will increase to more than £40 million a year from next year.
The foundation will help to provide equipment, improve pitches, build new changing facilities and reopen playing fields that have fallen out of use. One of the first places to get funding will be a park in Gateshead where the shipping container that serves for a changing room will be replaced with a brand new shower block. In south London, five overgrown pitches will be opened up again and new facilities will be built at pitches in Egremont in Cumbria where players have to get changed in their cars. In Ipswich, the foundation is creating a new grass pitch and artificial ones and changing rooms, while in Nottinghamshire, existing grass and all-weather pitches are being improved and extended, using land from adjacent former allotments.
We are making unprecedented investment in the foundations of sport, but we know, too, that we have to capture the imaginations of our children. The Sydney Olympics and Paralympics created huge interest in athletics and did wonders for sport in Australia. I am therefore proud that Britain will stage two major athletics events over the next few years: the Commonwealth games in Manchester and the 2005 world athletics championships at the Lee Valley stadium in London. I am confident that those events will help to put us back on the map as a major sporting nation.
The 2005 championships will not be held at Wembley. Instead, they will take place in a stadium specially built for athletics. We were right to reject spending £40 million of lottery players' money on converting Wembley. That expensive and cumbersome solution would have left the sport of athletics with nothing but memories. Instead, we have been able to aim for something much better. We are using the money saved, together with a committed £20 million returned from the Wembley lottery grant, to create a venue worthy of the 2005 games and to give the sport the legacy of a new national home. Progress on that
If the broad partnership between the Government and sport is to be effective, we must take steps to ensure that governing bodies of sport are equipped for their task in a world in which sporting standards constantly rise and commercial and technical developments present new and ever more challenging issues. Therefore, I can confirm that we shall make an extra £7 million available to our national governing bodies of sport to modernise their administrative systems and structures. They are crucial to the delivery of our objectives for sport.
We want to help governing bodies to gear up to expand their work in two areas: sending more coaches into primary and secondary schools to train children and spot talent; and running school leagues and cup competitions covering all schools in all parts of the country. That will place an extra cost on sport bodies and may require changes in how they work. We realise that, so we are making the additional funding available to help to ease the burden. In return, we want to put an end to the old-fashioned thinking that has bedevilled British sport for too long. Old ideas that certain sports are played only by people from certain social groups or genders should be left behind. As we celebrate the achievements of our Paralympians, we should ask sports governing bodies to extend access to participation in all sports to all potential athletes.