Examination of Witnesses (Questions 340
WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH 2001
340. Can I now switch to what may seem quite
a wide question? I have been consistently saying that participation
is my concern in sport; it is not big events. What assessment
has been made by your organisation and the Sports Councils of
how many people now play organised team sports in this country
in comparison with, say, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years ago?
(Mr Callicott) That is a very difficult question to
answer for us. UK Sport has been given a specific responsibility
for high priorities across the whole of the United Kingdom on
world class performance programmes, the world class performance
funding that you saw, the rewards benefiting our athletes in Sydney.
We look after the anti-doping programmes of the whole of the United
Kingdom. We are coordinating the United Kingdom Sports Institute
and all that goes with that. We look after international relations
in major events on behalf of the United Kingdom. The responsibility
for the development of sports participation is ultimately that
of the four home country Sports Councils, but we recognise that
if there is no base, if there is no development, if there is no
participation programme, the purpose of our being ceases to exist
in a matter of time. Within the context of trying to encourage
young people to participate in sport in the first placeand
we have all seen recent publicity about levels of obesity amongst
young people and the levels of inactivity and so onthe
reality is that young people are also motivated to participate
in sport by heroes or heroines and people who are role models
at the highest level. 85 per cent of the population watch the
Olympic Games at some point or other. These are not our figures;
these are as a result of proper research. Two-thirds of the public
want more Lottery investment as a result. As a result of the success
of sailing, courses for sailing are now totally oversubscribed
in this country. In rowing, universities are reporting increased
numbers to such a degree that they cannot cope with them. In British
cycling, the velodrome in Manchester which was built a relatively
short time ago is now oversubscribed and there is a six week waiting
list. Providing at the top level does stimulate people to want
to get involved in activity, but there has to be a link.
341. I happen to know through my connections
with rugby of clubs that were running four, five and six teams
every Saturday. I know one in particular in Scotland at a fairly
high level, third division premier, can only put out one team
on a Saturday and therefore the participation level appears to
be dropping. That probably would be true in football as well.
Mr Faber may contradict me but certainly it would be true in cricket
as well. In these team games, we are not necessarily getting the
participation levels, are we?
(Mr Callicott) It is an area that we are not directly
responsible for developing. As an observation, I would point out
that the Government has just announced some major developments
to take place in school sport, in school sports colleges and so
on. Indeed, there is a whole session on that at Loughborough tomorrow
which some of us will be attending, because a great deal of that
revolves around getting people into the right habits at the right
(Mr Scott) One of the issues that the Committee did
address previously which we were very conscious of was the need
to see what direct impact there was from the hosting of major
events on participation. We are about to stage the Manchester
Commonwealth Games. We are involved in a very significant research
study in Manchester which is to address just that question. One
of the problems however has been the lack of base line data. One
of the difficulties is that both in terms of the governing bodies,
the clubs, local authorities, the way the data is collected is
not consistent so you cannot compare apples with apples. There
is not a great deal of historic data. One of the first things
we have to do is get good base line data and we are then, over
a four year period in this 18 month run up to the Games and then
two and a half years afterwards, going to be looking at what has
been the direct impact on the programme of sports in the Commonwealth
Games in Manchester and the north west region. We might have some
342. What is the biggest area of growth in terms
of participation in physical exercise, not necessarily in sport?
(Mr Scott) It is the high risk sports. The extreme
sports are seeing an enormous growth across the world. People
are moving much more into a whole range of extreme sports.
343. The biggest growth area in this country
is in individual, physical fitness in terms of gymnasiums, is
(Mr Scott) I think you will find that, if you are
talking about sporting activities, extreme sports are the ones
that are attracting the numbers. If you look at the growth that
there is in all these new types of sports, that is where young
people are increasingly looking to get their excitement. I agree
that it is individually based. The big threat to team sports is
that more and more people are looking for self-expression individually.
344. Mr Scott, I know that your 11 year old
son is one of the under 12 British sailing champions. What would
be more important to you: that he won a gold medal at the 2012
Olympics, wherever they may be, or that he failed to win a medal
when they took place in Britain?
(Mr Scott) As a parent, my concern is that he is happy
doing what he is doing and that he gets personal satisfaction
out of it. One of the things that we would wish to see is that
he has some balance in his life. In terms of his opportunity to
progress, what I am delighted to see is that there is a system
that is recognising that talent and providing some pathways for
him to take that route if he wishes.
345. You know what I am saying?
(Mr Scott) I do.
346. Is it not better that we have success?
People then can be inspired by it to participate, rather than
that we over-react and go overboard about having the Olympics
here in this country.
(Mr Scott) I think we need both. Maybe I want my cake
and eat it, but you clearly need the opportunity to secure the
athletes. The inspiration that hosting the games gives and the
opportunity for people to see the gameslet us not forget:
how many people physically go to the Olympic Games? They rely
on the images of it through the television. Having had the privilege
of attending the games, it is significantly different being there
to watching it on the television.
Mr Maxton: At the moment. In 20 years'
time, we will probably have televisions that will give you the
smell, the sound and everything else.
347. Can I congratulate you also on the success
that you helped bring us in Sydney? I am a happy, optimistic person.
I do not think I have felt so miserable as I do this morning.
It is not just because of the people who have been here before
you. It is because I feel that there seems to be an awful lack
of coordination. First of all, Mr Scott has cheered me up by saying
he wants his son to have a balanced life in sport. That is vital
when we talk about supreme athletes. Is there anything you can
tell me that would cheer me up? Can you tell me something about
the sports cabinet? I am vice-chairman of the All Party Sports
Club and I have never heard of it.
(Sir Rodney Walker) I am sure it will not surprise
the Committee that in the two weeks since I last had the pleasure
of being with you I have dwelled on the point that was made about
my own potential conflicts of interest. It seems to me I am caught
between the proverbial rock and a hard place because I do my best
to help wherever I can. If, in the minds of some people, that
represents a conflict of interest, the situation with Wembley
is a good one. When I was asked by the Football Association to
become chairman of Wembley, to help hopefully solve the problems
so that we can build the new national stadium of which we can
all be proud, as I think I said two weeks ago, I sought consent
from the Secretary of State. I went to the supreme governing body
of the Rugby League and put to them would they be happy if I did
it. I spoke to the Chief Executive, the accounting officer of
UK Sport, and he said, "All power to your elbow if you can
help solve the problem. It is good for British sport." I
endeavoured, as I did in the Commonwealth Games, to assist wherever
I can. I found it somewhat disappointing therefore for all of
that to be perceived possibly as a conflict of interest. If there
was a specific problem, I would be pleased to know about it. Within
the limits of my responsibility which at the moment is as Chairman
of UK Sport, I do what I can. Nobody in their right mind would
create a system of sports governance such that we have in this
country at the present time. I have said that to the Government
that appointed me back in 1994 and I have said it to the present
government on more than one occasion. As I said to the Committee
two weeks ago, I am a servant of government and I do what I can.
348. Can you tell me anything about the sports
(Sir Rodney Walker) The sports cabinet was createdforgive
me if the timing is not preciseabout two years ago. It
was set up specifically to deal with the effects of devolution
and to bring together the various Secretaries of State in Scotland,
Northern Ireland and Wales, together with the Secretary of State,
Chris Smith, to meet to discuss areas of concern in areas of sport
so that a joined up approach could be made. Indeed, it was the
sports cabinet that set up the Cunningham Review to look specifically
at certain aspects of sports governance.
349. You have cheered me up a little. At least
somebody like you recognises that we would not have planned an
organisation, or lack of organisation, as we have now. Without
stepping on too many toes, what would you like to see happen in
the next six months to change the situation? How could it be put
right? How could we begin to put it right?
(Sir Rodney Walker) You are at the risk of even exhausting
my ability to find solutions. The solution can only be found at
a political level because the solution does involve Scotland,
Wales, Northern Ireland and England. As Richard Callicott said,
I think UK Sport is doing as good a job as we are able in bringing
all the four home countries together to work in a unified and
joined up way. In truth, we lack the ultimate authority to insist,
as you have heard with the Ryder Cup, and perhaps even if my place
was taken by a minister they too would have the same difficulty
because at the end of the day there seems to me to be a right.
If someone wishes to make a bid, provided they are not asking
a Government-funded organisation to resource it, it is difficult
to resist someone's right to make a bid if that is their choice.
The solutions will take a great deal longer than six months to
find. There needs to be a much more simplified system. We have
a situation with the United Kingdom Sports Institute, which I
chair, having been requested by the Secretary of State. We take
the lead but now we have institutes, organisations in Scotland,
Wales, Northern Ireland and England. You may feel that that is
an unnecessary level of duplication, but it is difficult to see
how, in the present political climate, you would eliminate that.
350. It is Tony Banks's theory that the arm's
length principle from the Department should be changed. Would
that be a main change you would make if you could make one decision
to begin to put things right, or do you think it would make things
(Sir Rodney Walker) I agree with Mr Wyatt that sport
overall simply does not have the highest level of recognition
in terms of its importance to the community. Whilst within the
resources that have been made available to sport everyone concernedall
the Sports Councils, all the bodiesdo their best, the fundamental
problem is the under-resourcing of sport generally. There needs
to be a much simpler system of governance of sport within the
United Kingdom. Who the ultimate supremo of that should be is
for Parliament to decide.
351. When you were here a fortnight ago, we
discussed 2003 and 2005. You say in your document to us that Birmingham
will be in a position to submit its application and budget in
March 2001. Has that happened yet?
(Mr Callicott) We were with them in Lisbon at the
World Athletics Championships this weekend where a presentation
was held to the IAAF. We now have their local organising committee.
We have now almost completed looking at their draft business plan.
It may not be March. It is probably going to be another month
or so yet.
352. Have you any idea of the level of subsidy
they will be seeking? Will they be looking for funding from you?
(Mr Callicott) Yes. Our ultimate is £1.6 million
and we are already committed to funding one or two other events
in that same financial year. We are confident we will be able
to meet the requirements of Birmingham within the sums that we
353. Birmingham looks as though it is going
well and, if not bang on time, is pretty much on time. In 2005,
will the system be the same? With a shortfall in funding, would
any bid be made to you?
(Mr Callicott) If there was any bid made to us, we
would not be funding it. We would be referring that, as is already
happening. The bid committee are already working up their draft
business plan, but they are finding that a little more difficult
until they know where they are going to stage the event.
354. The signing of the staging agreement might
be something you would be involved in?
(Mr Callicott) We could not take responsibility for
2005. It would be beyond our remit.
355. Signing the staging agreement would give
you a financial responsibility and you would not be able to deal
(Mr Callicott) No.
Chairman: Thank you, Mr Faber, and thank
you, gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to see you, Sir Rodney.
I shall miss you next week.