The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn) : Madam Deputy Speaker, it is a privilege to be addressing my right hon. and hon. Friends as the Minister for Sport. This is my first opportunity to set out some of the current policies and ideas of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. When I came to this job, I did not need convincing that sport can be a tremendous power for good. It can transform lives and communities. Many of us in this Chamber today know that sport can engage, enrich and empower young people, but the real challenge is to create the structures and resources for that to happen.
I have two key goals as Minister for Sport in relation to the regeneration agenda. I want to ensure that there are more and better facilities to realise the goal of more people participating in and benefiting from the power of sport.
When I went to No. 10 Downing street to see my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and he gave me the job of Minister for Sportwhich is a great privilegehe said that one reason he had done so was to see whether we could use the great asset of sport more effectively and productively. Immediately on taking up the post I went to the regions to see what was happening at the chalk face. Those visits made a lasting impression on me as I saw the tremendous amount of work that was being done at all levels, particularly by volunteers. I saw specialist sports colleges and local authority sports development initiatives. I was privileged to visit centres of excellence such as the Liverpool football academy and Loughborough university. Those are at the top of the range. I also saw many of the activities that are being developed by national governing body initiatives, such as the Royal Yachting Association's Sailability scheme, dthrough which young people of many backgrounds are being given what is probably their first experience of the thrill of sailing.
Perhaps I have been lucky to see the best of the facilities in question. However, I have the impression that although there are many very good facilities, provision is pretty patchy. Funding is dispensed in a way that does not always secure the best use of facilities in a sustainable way. There is a need for a more strategic approach to providing sports facilities and the human capital that goes into them.
The Government have been aware of that for some time. That awareness gave the impetus to our statement published earlier in the year, "The Government's Plan for Sport". The plan states how we will implement our vision set out in the sport strategy document, "A Sporting Future for All". It is a blueprint for the PE and sport development framework that we need if we are to
The development of schools and communities through sport is a central element of the sport strategy, because we are convinced that sport can make a real difference to all people's lives. The plan for sport maps out the practical steps that need to be taken at national, regional and local level if the potential of sport as an agent to improve health and tackle social exclusion is to be achieved.
Much of what is set out in the plan is happening now. On Monday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the allocations made under the £750 million new opportunities fund for PE and sport in schools. That unprecedented investment in school sport is giving every local education authority in England money to build and improve school sports facilities.That does not stand alone, as it comes on top of the space for sport and arts programme, which is providing about £130 million of further funding£75 million from the Treasury's capital modernisation fund and £55 million from the lotteryto improve sport and arts facilities in about 300 primary schools in our most deprived communities.
Like the new opportunities fund facilities announced on Monday, those facilities, which are already being developed, will be based on and around school sites and will help to improve education standards. However, they will not be only for school pupils to use. We are investing in our commitment to wider social inclusion by encouraging the wider community to become involved in sport and physical activities and to enjoy the health and social benefits that school brings, making our schools community hubs.
There is a real need for that. Despite the drive to end social exclusion that was begun by the Government four and a half years ago, there are many evils blighting the lives of the most disadvantaged people, such as ill health, poor education, poverty, crime and drugs. Too many people are living in rundown, depressing and even threatening environments. Many hon. Members will be familiar with that sort of situation, which we inherited from the previous Administration, in the run-down areas of our inner cities. I say that with feeling because I represent Sheffield, Central, and the quality of life for many of my constituents has changed dramatically during the past four years. However, social exclusion still needs to be addressed. We have gone the first mile, but there is much more to be done.
That was borne out by the policy action teamPAT 10report on social exclusion, which showed that although sport and arts initiatives can have a great impact on neighbourhood renewal, a body of evidence to make that case convincingly has been lacking in the past. I had the privilege of working in what was then the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, on regeneration, planning and regional policy. We were shown that developing an urban renaissance was not only a matter of the urban environment, although that was important, but concerned human factors as well. We are trying, through sport and the arts, to tackle inequalities and improve the quality and standard of life.
To tackle that, the DCMS, in partnership with the Department for Education and Skills, is studying a range of projects targeted at addressing social exclusion in key areas of education, health, employment and crime. No doubt my hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan) will appreciate the fact that Leeds Metropolitan university is carrying out a study for us with the aim of establishing what works best and to establish some common core principles. The projects include the Leeds community link project, which targets five to 16-year-olds from low-income communities and uses football to engage them in positive activities and divert them from crime and antisocial behaviour.
The relevance of the study is heightened in the context of the Government's cross-cutting reviews, which will inform the next spending round. That is an important development in Government policy. In trying to realise our assets, we are responding to a holistic agenda with a cross-cutting approach. The reviews focus on a number of key areas crucial to raising the quality of life of the most vulnerable communities. The subjects of these reviews include improving public spaces, tackling the problems of children at risk and health inequalities, and the potential of volunteering. In all these, sport can be a medium to deliver improvements.
It shows the seriousness with which the Government are approaching the cross-cutting review that the Departments leading it include the Treasury, the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, the Department of Health and the Home Office. I believe that they are all beginning to understand the contribution that sport can make; it can help them to deliver their policies and agendas much more effectively. It is essential that the DCMS makes those connections across government and that it responds to the interest of other Departments and in Sport England's social inclusion programmes.
We need to assess carefully the key priorities for Government policy towards sport, and ensure that our resources are effectively directed towards them. I do not want to go into detail about the major projects that we have had to deal with since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I took office. However, the major projects that we have considered include the Commonwealth games, Picketts Lock, and the national stadium. The latter problem has yet to be resolved, but we are determined to review it, as we promised the Select Committee. I hope that we shall return with a more considered, more cost-effective system that will be able to deal with the big events and programmes.
We should remember that although £120 million has already been invested in Wembley, we have not seen much movement. Against that, we could have embarked upon expenditure of between £120 million and £240 million for Picketts Lock; and the income from the lottery to sport is on average about £240 million a year. That puts into perspective where we ought to put our investment. That is not to say that we should not invest in some major events, but a cost-benefit analysis must be undertaken. That would add real value to the sporting
Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell): I had the pleasure and fascination a couple of weeks ago of visiting east Manchester with the Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions. We saw at first hand the impact that the Commonwealth games development is having on that part of Manchester. Clearly, it is a huge benefit to bring major sporting events to places that need regenerative support. Given all the toings and froings over the national stadium, and the loss of Picketts Lock and the world athletics championships, what prospect is there in our lifetime of major sporting events like that coming to the UK?
Mr. Caborn : The hon. Gentleman has answered his own question. One of the biggest sporting events will take place next year in Manchester. It has 17 disciplines and a budget of £330 million, and the public purse has paid about £300 million of that. It will be a first-class event. Immediately after the election, we put in place a robust financial structure, which has had a further injection in excess of £100 million. I believe that it has shown dividends, because I had the great privilege yesterday, with the Manchester organising committee, of announcing that 42 per cent. of tickets for the event have been sold and that the opening and closing ceremonies are sold out. Quite a lot of tickets remain for other events, but I think that it will be a huge success. Coupled with the Queen's golden jubilee, it will give us the opportunity to show the world that Britain is in the premier division. It is a major event, and it has 167 disciplines. I think that the north-west will be very proud of that, as should the UK and the Commonwealth.
Chris Grayling : I wholeheartedly endorse the success of the Commonwealth Games; it is a tribute to the organisers that it is likely to be such a success. Against that background, it is disappointing that we, perhaps alone of all the major industrialised countries, have had to walk away from one of the world's premier events, the athletics championships in 2005. As a result, it is hard to see that international sport will entrust us again, in the foreseeable future, with a major event.
Mr. Caborn : The hon. Gentleman runs down the ability of the UK to host major sporting events. Of all the European countries, we probably stage more international sporting events than any other. Motor racing, tennis, golf and football have all been tremendously successful so far as the UK is concerned. We made a manifesto commitment to provide a venue for 2005 that would be commensurate with the aspirations of the International Amateur Athletics Federation. That is why, having undertaken the evaluation, we offered Sheffield.
Before the hon. Gentleman seeks to intervene again, might I say that the late IAAF president, Primo Nebiolo, when he was the president of the Universade, said that it was a fantastic facilityone of the best in Europethat was a credit to athletics and left a tremendous legacy. That facility is what we have just offered to the IAAF for 2005. To back it up, there will be an investment of about £40 million into
Mr. Caborn : That is a decision for the IAAF, which it will take on 26 or 27 November. We have given it the opportunity to bring the 2005 games to Sheffield, and is up to it to take it; it is not the decision of the Government. If the IAAF heeds the words of its late president, the answer to the hon. Gentleman might well be yes.
Jon Trickett (Hemsworth): Nobody doubts the passion and commitment of my right hon. Friend the Minister to large-scale sport or to the regenerative effect in deprived communities of such events. He will also be judgedperhaps more soby his capacity to bring about sporting regeneration at the grass roots, among the rank and file, particularly if he tackles social exclusion at that level as well as great events. If the Opposition focused more closely on that, we might have a genuine debate today.
Mr. Caborn : I hear my hon. Friend and will try to comply with his suggestion. One of the things that I have instituted since I became Minister for Sport is monthly meetings with my ministerial colleagues in the interests of cross-cutting, of trying to develop policy in a more holistic way and of using the assets of government more effectively. I meet Ministers from the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health, along with Trevor Brooking, the chair of Sport England and its acting chief executive, and the chief executive and chair of the new opportunities fund. We discuss monthly how we can move the sport agenda forward in a more holistic way. Next month, I shall invite Ministers from the Home Office and the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.
One of the big issues that the Select Committees have been addressing is the revision of planning policy guidance 17, which is important for the development of sporting facilities and open spaces. My Department and Sport England are working closely in the redrafting of PPG17. The regular meetings are reinforced by official meetings and contacts across government concerning the benefits of participation in sport and physical activity. For example, the School Sport Alliance was established last year and brings together DCMS, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health under the chairmanship of Trevor Brooking to take a strategic overview of developments in and around school sport.
I firmly believe that if we are serious about widening access to sport, and using sport to tackle the manifestations of social exclusion, we must start at the real bottom, with school sport. School is where most children are first introduced to sport and where they
We are putting in place better sports facilities, but it is no good building state-of-the-art sports halls if people do not use them. Bricks and mortar and astroturf alone will not make an impact. To increase participation, there must be people with the right skills, expertise and time to devote to delivering quality physical education and getting young people involved in sport. The school sport co-ordinator programme builds on the networks created by the first 100 specialist sports colleges to provide a national infrastructure linking secondary schools, primary schools and local sports clubs. It works alongside the healthy schools co-ordinators to realise the health benefits of school sport. There are now almost 400 school sport co-ordinators in place, with 1,700 primary school link teachers attached to them. By 2004, there will be 1,000 school sport co-ordinators linked to up to 6,000 primary schools. We have a national placement strategy, so there will be at least one co-ordinator partnership of between four and six secondary schools in every local authority in the country, with more in areas with greater deprivation.
School sport co-ordinators are teachers who are released from the timetable for two days a week so that they can work alongside colleagues in other schools, make partnerships with sports clubs and national governing bodies of sport, link with local primary schools and organise competitive fixtures and a range of out-of-school-hours clubs and coaching opportunities.
By forging links between schools and local sports clubs, school sport co-ordinators are opening doors to constructive out-of-school activities and networks for children who might never dream of approaching a sports club themselves. One of the serious structural weaknesses in our sporting infrastructure is the fall-out rate, which is as bad as any in the developed world. Between leaving school at the age of 16 and going to university or to a place of work, about 80 per cent. of people do not go back into sport. In countries such as France, that happens in reverse proportion. That shows clearly the weakness of the sports club infrastructure.
We need to address the resources and development of facilities much more effectively. It is important to have cross-cutting and cross-fertilisation of cultures, so that we can use facilities in educationin the formal structurein the development of sports clubs in the wider community. Our investment in building those facilities, in terms of quality, quantity and location, will go through the education structure, but must involve building a wider infrastructure for sport in the community.
Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): What does France do to make it so successful that we do not do? On another matter, can we pilot some schemes in which clubs take part in sport with schools? Kids get involved with clubs in the community on Saturday and Sunday, so why can they not do so on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? A hundred
Mr. Caborn : I will come to coaching a little later, as it is important. However, coaching concerns human capital, and I have been talking about physical capital and facilities.My hon. Friend wondered why we could not transplant the French system. The French system is based on the club structure in villages and towns, although that is not true in areas such as Paris. The system in the United States is based on colleges, and the Australian one on academies. It is difficult to transplant systems from one country to another, but we can learn from them, and we are learning from several other countries that probably achieve better results than us.
Vernon Coaker (Gedling): I do not know whether my right hon. Friend will have the answer to my question. If he does not, I would ask him to find it out. He said that something like 80 per cent. of young people did not continue with sport when they left school. What is the gender breakdown of that figure? I suspect that it will be a lot higher for girls than boys, although it is high for everyone. We should not lose track of that point, because different solutions may be needed for different sexes.
I want to talk about volume. Some argue that the initiatives benefit only a minority of schools, but we are putting facilities and human resources in every education authority to create a national infrastructure from which good practice can spread to other schools in the same area. It will sit alongside a range of other initiatives open to all schools to encourage pupils to become involved in sport.
There is scope for a greater role for colleges and universities in developing sporting talent, and in community regeneration. Centres of excellence such as Bath have taken talented young athletes to the top, but their excellent facilities also benefit local people who want to play sport to improve their health, make social contacts or merely to have fun. We must be careful that we do not use sport as an end in itself, but as a means to an end, as centres such as Bath do extremely effectively. We need to make more use of our resources in higher and further education. I also look to other Departments, such as the Ministry of Defence, which have facilities that could be used more effectively in the community.
The sporting facilities of universities and, probably to a lesser extent, further education colleges are not the only reason why those bodies are important. The fact that many of our universities specialise in sports science and sports medicine is an asset that needs to be exploited much more effectively. When I was making a speech to some engineers a few weeks ago, I made an analogy with Formula 1 cars. Seven of the top 10 Formula 1 teams are in the UK due to our fantastic engineering abilities and design. The sport pushes the motor car to its extremes.
Many of our universities push the human body to its extremes, and measure that. I was at Loughborough a few weeks ago and saw samples of muscle tissue that had been taken from cyclists in the tour de France to study recovery rates. A spin-off from that is the possibility for others to recover more quickly from illnesses and exhaustion.
In many areas, we are gathering intellectual property that can be exploited for services, facilities, goods and products, and we should be able to make bigger advances. In my city of Sheffield, 150 companies have been set up on a medipark in the medical and science area of the two universities. They are not driven purely by sport, and go slightly wider. They have put Sheffield's traditional skillsmaterials and engineeringinto a modern setting. They export 80 per cent. of their products, using intellectual property and the skills of a place such as Sheffield. There are tremendous opportunities to exploit in the universities.
Other universities are involved in more direct advocacy of social inclusion. Loughborough leads the way in tackling educational inequalities. Its "Higher Education Participation through Sport" project is supported by Sporting Equals, the Youth Sport Trust, Leicester Racial Equality Council and Loughborough university and is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council. It does a great job of using sport as a vehicle to encourage young people from black and Asian communities into further and higher education.
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): The Minister is saying something with which I very much agree. He mentioned Loughborough, and he will know that there are also excellent facilities at Bath. I advocated to his predecessor that we should ensure that such regional centres of excellence at our universities were involved in the regional development of the English Institute of Sport and were not replicated, because that would dilute them. Will the Minister comment?
Mr. Caborn : I cannot comment in detail. I have had three sessions with Steve Cram, who heads the English Institute of Sport. The institute is evolving, and its broad regional base and the division of responsibilities will not be duplicated. However, I want the EIS to work more closely with higher education and centres of excellence to ensure that we use all our resourceswhether physical or human assetsas effectively as possible. That has been done to a large extent, and I will encourage it in the future. That basis of facilities is necessary if we are to increase the quantity and quality of elite athletes. I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman, but further work must be done, and there needs to be greater synergy between higher education, centres of excellences and the EIS.
The initiatives that have been undertaken are indicative of what the further and higher education sector can contribute to the development of sports and communities through sport in the regions, given the right conditions. That potential is not being fully realised, but I look forward to the review body's report about higher education and sport, which will come out at the end of this year or in the early part of next year. That, too, will fit into the Government's plan for sport.
The issue of children at risk of dropping out of education is being tackled. Schools and universities have much to offer, but many children still lose out on their education. Disaffection with education is one stage in a cycle of deprivation. Last Monday, I had the privilege of being with the Prime Minister at the announcement of a new opportunities fund scheme. I talked to some of the teachers who were involved in sport and physical education, and they told me of their experiences. They were from Birmingham, Manchester, Cornwall and inner London. They said how sport had transformed the ethos of their schools. Kids who did not want to go to school before now go to play sport and are then educated. That gateway into those establishments is important. We need to concentrate some of the research and resources in that area. We can see that sport makes a difference and can reverse trends.
The DFES "Playing for Success" scheme has been a phenomenal success in re-engaging 8 to13-year-olds who were beginning to miss school or lag behind. It is terrific news for all of us that this model is so successful and that it is expanding to bring in other influential sports such as cricket and rugby league. For young people who leave school with few educational qualifications and poor educational prospects, sport is now a new deal option. It is working very well. Pilots are under way in Stockton and Barrow, placing young people in secondary schools that are engaged in local school sport co-ordinator partnerships.
The new deal clients have the opportunity to undertake a range of tasks including general duties such as kit and equipment maintenance, planning activities such as setting up after-school sport and working with school and community teams. There is a programme of operation built around sport, giving young people access to sport and to organising it in their local communities. Again, it goes just beyond the education establishment into the wider community.
I turn now to coaching, another important area. Good coaching is as least as important as the big names in influencing children and giving them a leg up into sport. We have asked Sports Coach UK to look at the establishment of a coach development bursary fund to encourage under-represented groups to become sports coaches. Coaches play a key role in motivating and equipping sportsmen and women to succeed. That applies in the school playground and the local playing field, as well as at major international events.
The Government recognise that there is a need to develop and support coaches, to encourage more people to become coaches at all levels and to create a more robust coaching structure that starts at the grass roots and provides a clear pathway all the way up to elite coaching. To achieve that, the Government have established a coaching taskforce drawn from a variety of organisations involved in sport and coaching. I was with the taskforce this afternoon and some of the developments are very interesting. It will report its findings in the early part of next year.
I was astounded when I came into this job, as I did not realise that there was no career structure in coaching, which is one of the most vital parts of the whole infrastructure of sport. There are the various disciplines in coaching, but no national qualifications or career pathways. We are looking at how we can invest in this human asset in a much more systematic way. It also has
Mr. Andrew Love (Edmonton): I was looking for a suitable juncture to ask a question. In its submission to the recent report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, UK Athletics stated that fundamental agreement must be reached on whether major events are wanted in the UK or whether the emphasis should be placed on wider sports development initiatives. The Minister is talking about coaching and the move from grass roots through to elite sports. Does he think that we have got the balance right between the development of elite sport, or should more go into the grass roots?
We are discussing the Cunningham report with the various governing bodies, with the athletes and with funding organisations such as Sport England and UK Sport. We are trying to strike a balance between concentrating on the grass roots and on the elite levels. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I met athletes to discuss investment. My hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) asked some reasonable questions about the English Institute of Sport, and coaching; although the answers may involve some expense, answers are needed.
I want to create a structure in which to tackle three fundamental issues: facilities, which I have dealt with, coaching, and access to sport. Access to sport depends on the location of sports facilities, and the availability of public transport to those locations, whatever their quantity and quality, has a bearing on that. That matter was raised with us on Monday by local authority representatives and by teachers, and we are considering how to tackle it.
A taskforce is working on the problem of coaching. I do not know how much it would cost to have a sustainable structure of, for example, X number of coaches, which increased year on year in quality and quantity, at every level. We are quantifying what will be needed for elite athletes, in the light of the Cunningham report. Once we have done so, I may be able to answer my hon. Friend's question more effectively.
To conclude, I want to say something about the structure of sport in the next 12 to 18 months. I want a ministerial committee to look at the policy from Whitehall in a more holistic way and to consider how sport can help to deliver the policies of the Government on health, education, drugs, social inclusion and many other matters. We want Sport England to be in a more strategic position to give an overview of what is needed to tackle the structural weakness in sport.
We want a much stronger delivery mechanism to empower the regions to find solutions to their problems, because the problems of the north-east are not those of the south-west. Powers need to be devolved to the regions to ensure that sport is more outward looking; as
There also needs to be another fundamental change. If potential is to be released, it must be facilitated, not frustrated, and power and resources are needed for that purpose. We must look seriously at funding at the grass roots. Sport England has about 60, 70 or 80 different schemes and programmes; could they be delivered at a local level, with money following those programmes? Would it be better for the regions to consider how to deliver a strategy for sport against targets such as year-on-year increases in coaches, facilities and access to sport, and for outputs to be measured against an agreed strategy that the various constituent bodies have agreed? That is open for debate; the Government and the Department are considering the matter seriously. Encouraging wider participation is necessary to realise sport's potential to deliver in many of the areas mentioned by members of the Committee.
I want to have an open debate. That will be facilitated by the appointment of the new chief executive for Sport England, who takes up his role early next year. [Interruption.] He is not an Australianhe was born in Doncasterbut he has been in Australia and New Zealand. Sport England will be refocused next year and I hope to strengthen the regional structure to deliver and build on many of the achievements to which I have referred.
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): It is always a pleasure to debate sport. As I have said beforeI repeat it for the benefit of the Minister, whom I warmly welcome to the postwe are fortunate to be able to shape the future of sport and participation in sport, which brings so much enjoyment to so many of our constituents. Sportsmen often say how fortunate they are to play sport for a living; the Minister and I are fortunate to have our jobs, which allow us to talk sport in a quasi-professional way.
I wish to make clear to the Minister from the off that while I will make some criticisms of Government policy, I am on as good terms with him as I was with his predecessor, the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), although he has already demonstrated an approach different from hers. I think that he will recognise that I try always to have a constructive approach, as far as one can within the political environment.
I am glad that the Minister mentioned, albeit briefly, the Wembley and Picketts Lock issues. I was concerned that those subjects, which are much in the news and of great interest to the public, are slightly outwith the title of the debate. I hope that the Government will find time soon to discuss the Select Committee report, to which the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) referred, if only on one of the days allocated to discuss Select Committee reports in Westminster Hall.
The issue is a serious one. I understand what the Minister says about Sheffield but I suspect that on Monday Sheffield will not be accepted and that if it does decide to make a bid, it will not succeed. The IAFF has made it clear that it wanted London. The decision not to go ahead with the commitment on Picketts Lock has major implications for the future of athletics and the staging of major sporting events such as a future Olympics. If we want to host an Olympics, we must provide the facilities first. Who will believe a promise that we will create a facility? All of that has an impact on the standing of sport and on people's enthusiasm for getting involved. The Government have missed that element.
Mr. Love : The hon. Gentleman commented on the recent report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which recommended that there should be a Minister for events. Would the hon. Gentleman be sympathetic?
Sporting organisations can apply for lottery funding and develop a project or facility within the rules. There is a world of difference between that and the other extreme; projects such as the Commonwealth games, in which the Government had a role from the start. The Government appointed a Minister to oversee the games. The national stadium development and the Picketts Lock proposal seem to have fallen between two stools.
Mr. Caborn : For the record, I shall correct the hon. Gentleman. In 1991, I was involved with the largest sporting event in this country at that timethe world student games. The then Administration gave not one penny to Sheffield to support a major investment of about £180 million at 1990 prices. In 1995, when the hon. Gentleman's friends were in power, I had the privilege of representing the bid for the Commonwealth games. Sheffield's local authority was expected to write an open-ended indemnity to produce its bid for the 2002 Commonwealth games. Sheffield did not, but Manchester did; its local authority said that it would underwrite all costs. When Sheffield hosted the world student games, it had to pay for everything, and it is still paying off a debt of about £20 million per year. Sheffield ratepayers are paying for facilities that the previous
This year, Manchester asked the Labour Government to invest £150 million to rescue the Commonwealth games. We have done that; the games have a robust financial structure and will be a huge success. Does the hon. Gentleman believe that the games would have been saved under the Conservatives? Furthermore, in the light of the Carter report, would he have supported a decision to go ahead with Picketts Lock earlier this year?
Mr. Greenway : The Minister has waited a long time to get that off his chest, and I am glad to give him the chance to put it on the record. He asked two hypothetical questions, which I will do my best to answer. I understand that the agreement reached between the Government and Manchester city council meant that there would have to be a Government contribution; the Minister has seen the agreement, and I have not. There was not a total indemnity. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that the bidding process is not fair, I am not responsible for that.
On the funding of Picketts Lock, if the Government's priority lay elsewhere, they should not have made the commitment to host the world athletics championship in 2005, or to provide a London venue. He and his right hon. Friend the Minister should do as we have asked and publish all of the Carter report. We exchanged correspondence earlier this year about the Carter recommendations on the Commonwealth games and, in the end, the Minister provided a helpful answer. However, the whole world wants to see exactly what Patrick Carter recommended, and I am particularly interested in his figure of £750 million to redevelop Wembley stadium. The Minister has access to the papers; we do not.
Mr. Wyatt : I cannot offer the hon. Gentleman a career path as the Minister for events, but perhaps I could offer him a different career path. We missed a trick in the report. The International Olympic Committee, the IAAF and FIFA are all based in Switzerland or Monaco, but there are no diplomats in either our Berne or our French embassy who are dedicated to sport issues. Not one single diplomat goes to one single meeting. That is a major flaw in the way in which we deal with sport.
Mr. Caborn : The Carter report on Picketts Lock is in the public domain. Two factors changed the Government's position. First, Hatfield led to revised expenditure priorities for Railtrack that threw into question whether we would have an adequate transport system to Picketts Lock. For any major athletics event, people have to be able to travel in and out in a satisfactory way.
The second problem was the uncertainty about accommodation for the athletes. This was to have been student accommodation at Middlesex university, built through a private finance initiative. World-class athletes would have had to travel 19 miles across the north
Mr. Greenway : The Minister says that it was inevitable that he had to say no to Picketts Lock when he took office. Last weekend, I said in The House Magazine, to which we both contributed articles, that it might well be that the Government had no alternative but to take that decision. However, proper research should have been done before the Picketts Lock site was offered. That was the clear conclusion of the Select Committee, which said, I believe, that the Picketts Lock proposal was plucked out of thin air. None of the issues had been properly explored. The Government should have learned something from the experience of the Wembley planning consent. The hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) knows about the discussions that we had on the all-party football committee. For two years, there was total stalemate on the development of transport infrastructure for Wembley.
I wish to make one other point about the Select Committee report. The Conservatives have always said that the decision to take athletics out of the Wembley project was wrong. The fact that the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), who was the Minister involved in that project from the beginning, is now saying that we are back to square one, with two years
Mr. Win Griffiths (in the Chair): If the hon. Gentleman will give me the opportunity, I wish to say that the end of this part of the speech of the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) will be the last that I want to hear about Picketts Lock in the debate on social inclusion and sport.
Mr. Greenway : The debate demonstrates that there are strong views about the matter. The point that I want to make is that the World athletics championships in London would have had a major effect in motivating and encouraging young people from all walks of life to take up sport, especially athletics. I hope that a successful Commonwealth games in Manchester next summerI believe that it will be a successwill have a similar effect.
As the Minister knows, many youngsters, especially girls, are not motivated to take up sport, as the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) said earlier. Several Government initiatives depend on promoting participation with the support of active local communities and, significantly, encouraging participants to strive for sporting excellence at all levels. The need for increased encouragement,
I can think of no more important subject for us to consider than inclusion in sport. Indeed, the Minister spoke of how the ethos of sport encourages school attendance by some children who would otherwise tend to drop out. Research by the Leeds Community and Mental Health Services Teaching NHS trust found that the number of obese children has reached record levels. By the age of 11, a third of children are overweight and a fifth of boys are obese. That should cause little surprise, considering that a third of primary schools reduced the time for physical education during the past school year. Children now spend twice as much time watching television and playing computer games as they do exercising or playing sport.
Children are supposed to have two hours' sport and PE each week in curriculum time. I know that the Government understand the problem and that many children are not being offered two hours because of an overcrowded curriculum. As I have said before, I do not blame Ministers in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; the problem lies elsewhere. The Central Council of Physical Recreation best summed up the situation when it said:
Mr. Greenway : I accept that the Government want every child to have two hours of sport, but like the CCPRwhose quotation I was halfway throughI do not accept that that is necessarily the solution. The CCPR continued:
I should put it the other way; restricted transport causes the problem. I guess that between 65 and 70 per cent. of secondary pupils in my constituency use a school bus. For younger children, the figure is probably equally high. The CCPR said:
On the question of places to play and exercise, school playing fields and other sites are still being sold off to fund non-sporting developments. According to a leaked DCMS report, 446 applications for building on sports fields were approved in the year between April 2000 and
The previous time that we debated the issueunder the Minister's predecessor, the hon. Member for VauxhallI readily acknowledged, as a former member of North Yorkshire county council, that pitches and playing fields were sold. Sometimes it was right to sell them; a sale is not always wrong. Frankly, however, we have now reached the stage where far more robust action is required. The cumulative effect is deeply worrying.
Mr. Greenway : I shall talk at some length about the latter point later. The hon. Gentleman may be shocked to discover that we generally approve of this money being spent, but not of the people who are spending it. The hon. Gentleman is also wrong about the former point. The figure I read from the leaked DCMS report suggests that 446 playing fields were lost in the 12 months from April last year to this March. That is considerably more than two per month. The hon. Gentleman intervened at an opportune moment, because I was about to quote the CCPR as saying:
Chris Grayling : Having heard the interventions of Government Members, does my hon. Friend agree that going through history lessons on this subject serves no purpose? We all need to tackle the problem today. Accusations about what took place in 1997 or before do not serve the interests of today's young people.
Mr. Greenway : I agree with my hon. Friend. One allegation after another has been made about what the last Conservative Government did, but sports organisations tell me, anecdotally, that it is worse now than it has ever been, although the position is supposed to have been improved. I hope that that brings that matter to an end.
I return to the point made by the hon. Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) about the funding of new sports facilities in schools by the new opportunities fund. That should make a big difference to the quality of facilities that are enjoyed by many children. I am sure that the Minister was delighted by the Yorkshire Post headline, "Yorkshire schools to get £60m bonus", as we are both Yorkshire Members. The article gives a breakdown of where all the money goes. [Interruption.] I did not want to make a point about Sheffield but, having been tempted, I will say that Sheffield gets £6 million, but Leeds gets the gold star with £7.7 million.
The key point is that, although we welcome the bonus, many people will argue that some of the expenditure in schools should have been funded by the Exchequer and not by the national lottery. The test of additionality, which the Labour party in opposition thought was so crucial when the lottery was established, has been avoided.
The more important point raised by the article is how the money has been divided across the country. We have all seen the press release that states how much is going to each local education authority, but we need to know how that has been decided. I note that York will receive £818,000. To put that in perspective, that is little more than the cost of the excellent artificial sports pitch centre at Huntingdon school in my constituency, which all my children attended. That was two-thirds funded by the sports lottery fund. It is not as if we could not raise funds by other means.
It is reported that each local authority will receive the money as a grant. Is that the case, or will there be an allocation against which the LEA must submit a bid? Will there be match funding? Who will determine how the money is spent, and monitor that it is spent appropriately and effectively? Unless I have got it wrong, Sport England has been given no role in assessing the viability of the projects. Why not?
All the expertise that Sport England has built up over the past seven years as the lottery distributor would surely have been invaluable in ensuring the scheme's eventual success. Those are all valid observations, because it is not Exchequer funding, but lottery funding. Sport England's sports lottery fund is the appointed lottery fund distributor for sport in England and should have a role. I heard what the Minister said in his speech about the strategic role of Sport England, but it also has the expertise to assess the viability of many of the projects.
There is a real danger that the new opportunities fund initiative, although well intentioned, will undermine the efforts of Sport England to ensure a more needs-based distribution of lottery funds. Sports lottery funding has become more scarce. Over the past few years, its available funds have dropped from £250 million to a likely £185 million this year, and that is down from the £300 million that it used to receive in the early days.
There is more demand and more need to allocate funds to major projects such as the Commonwealth games, as the Minister says. The money cannot be spent twice. For that reason, Sport England has been insisting that local authorities carry out a pre-application audit and needs assessment on any project sponsored by the LEA.
I have said for some time that we need an audit of facilities. That is not easily done. My heart sang when the Secretary of State said in the summer that she wanted a Domesday book. That is a very profitable suggestion, but it will take time. We are not sure who will spend all the money before we have even got off the starting blocks with regard to the audit or the Domesday book. I welcome the Secretary of State's intention to have an audit, but there is a danger that by sidelining Sport England from the NOF funding processor, at best, relegating it to a minor rolesome of the money could be spent in the wrong place and in the wrong way. Independent funding bodies, not politicians and particularly not local councillors, should determine where lottery money is allocated.
The NOF announcement will add to the growing sense of injustice and frustration felt by many voluntary sector grass roots sports clubs. They are finding it even more difficult to access sport lottery funds and they are still waiting for a more formal announcement from the Government about how the Chancellor's Budget pledge of help with rates and tax will be honoured. I note that the Chancellor will speak again in the House next Tuesday; perhaps we shall hear something then.
A clear sign of frustration was revealed in the CCPR's recent "Hit and Miss" campaign, which I commend to the Minister. Several governing bodies, including those of cricket, tennis and bowling, all of which have high participation levels among older generationsI am thinking of our generation, Mr. Griffithsconducted surveys of member clubs. They show that the "Paying for Local Government" Green Paper proposals for rate relief will not help most clubs and, worse still, that many could be worse off.
Our policy at the general election was to work with the Charity Commission to amend the law if necessary to provide charitable status to more community sports clubs. The demand for sport to be given parity with charity must be addressed more positively, although we do not underestimate the difficulty.
I do not doubt the Minister's sincerity in demanding that the new sports facilities in schools that emerge from the NOF scheme be for community use; I think that he made that point today. However, there are huge practical difficulties in achieving that, one of which involves maintenance. Someone from York cricket club, which I think contributed to the "Hit and Miss" campaign, asked who would cut the pitch. That is an example of the tender loving care given by volunteers to ensure that facilities are kept in pristine condition. We
We should recognise that voluntary sector sports clubs provide the more thorough and far-reaching opportunity for community participation in sport and, as a consequence, the best chance for greater social inclusion. Helping more clubs to become genuine charities would nurture that process and, perhaps even more importantly, would secure their pitches and facilities for future generations.
We should remember that, particularly in many rural areas, children get the chance to participate in team sports such as soccer, rugby, hockey or cricket only through their local voluntary sports clubs. The 400 schools sports co-ordinators, whom the Minister mentioned and by whom the Government set great store, have a crucial role to play in securing and increasing co-operation between schools and voluntary sector clubs. If we really want every child to have a sporting chance, we need both elements. Schools and clubs need to be used to the full and to work in partnership to identify and nurture talent to ensure that when young people leave school and college, they continue to participate. I agree with what the Minister said about that.
It is right to use sport not only to tackle problems of social exclusion but to harness the benefits to health of people being more fit, the benefits to communities of less crime, vandalism and delinquency, and the benefits to society as a whole of taking pride in sporting achievement, both domestically and on the world stage. Our standing in world sport really matters to people in Britain, which is why there is so much dismay and disbelief about the situation with the world athletics championships.
Let me conclude on a more positive note, as sporting interest is founded more than anything else on hope, if seldom expectation. That is certainly the case if, like the hon. Member for Colchester and me, people follow teams in a lower league. One of the few items of sporting news that cheered me this weeka week in which none of our teams managed to win a European Champions League gamewas buried at the back of the latest edition of Sport England's magazine. The magazine states that the under-12 Wolverhampton Wanderers teamrepresenting the west midlands under-12 academydefeated Brazil, the USA, Australia, Korea, Thailand and Japan to win a prestigious international football tournament, hosted by the organisers of next year's World Cup [Interruption]. That cheered me and, as I can see from their reaction, it has cheered hon. Members. If only they can do the real thing in 10 years' time; that has to be the point.
Mr. Win Griffiths (in the Chair): Before we hear any further contributions, may I point out that about 10 hon. Members wish to speak and that the Minister is going to need about 10 minutes at the end to respond? Will hon. Members please think about the length of their speeches?
Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): The issue is the place of sport in our political culture. It is lost in the Department dealing with culture. We need a Secretary of State for sport and health education, who should be the chairman of UK Sport. We have to locate the issue so that we are in control of decision making; we can no longer allow quangos to dictate to us. Until we have such a structure, we might have debates, but not much will change.
I have asked a number of questions about the new opportunities fund for sport. I cannot understand why we have set up a second administration for sport. We shall waste between £8 million and £10 million on a second system. What is the purpose of that? That money will be lost. I cannot see why the new opportunities fund for sport could not have been located with the Sport England offices, so that they could learn and be grafted together. What we have done is crackers; it makes no sense. We have missed a golden opportunity. The figure of £750 million is mind-boggling; nobody can say that it is not enough. However, all that we are to receive in Kent, the largest local education authority, is £10 million. I have heard what Yorkshire will get and I am amazed.
We should take 10p in the pound from every lottery ticket sold and keep it in the community where that money was spent. Community sport would very quickly develop, because there would be a community chest. I have often said that if we could just tweak the lottery funds cleverly, we could create local community chests. At present, we do things the wrong way round; we do not want a top-class bureaucracy, which ours is not anyway. We want the system to be bottom up, so that a local fund is available to which people can go for their shirts, goalposts or netballs.
The main thing to address is planning. Wherever I look in my constituency, houses are being built. They are built before anything else is ready. There is no school, doctor's surgery or police station; in fact, there are not enough doctors, policemen or school places anyway. Nor are there enough schools, so we cram children in to use the playing fields, and they are being sold. If we are serious about the White Paper on
Mention has been made of ground staff, but we have none. We have no cricket squares left, and playing fields everywhere are flooded, and cannot be played on. If they are not flooded, in the summer, they are too hard. It is ironic that the schools in my constituency cannot use their grounds in the winter because they are not properly watered. It is nuts; the schools cannot play football or run around on the fields because the grounds are too crusty and dangerous, and the health and safety people say that they cannot be used. We need a fast-track ground staff training scheme. We must also include the clubs. They too need good facilities and fields; if they played on better fields, their skills would improve. We can provide coaches, but if we do not have good playing facilities, it will be pretty pointless. Indeed, hockey proved that when it moved from grass to an artificial surface; we could see the skill change. Real momentum is needed to ensure that there are good ground staff.
We have given public service broadcasters £1 billion extra, but they refuse to have a sporting coach education channel. It is, frankly, outrageous. In the late 1960s, Jennie Lee and Harold Wilson took £3 million from the BBC's licence fee money to start the Open university. Why cannot we squeeze the BBC for £20 million a year to pay for a sports and health education channel? The whole sporting curriculum could be included. People could watch Steve Redgrave rowing every day for two hours, and see his brilliant skills online and on television. I have written to the Minister to say how ridiculous it is that it is not a public service requirement for the BBC to provide such a service.
As people know, sport has been a huge part of my life. However, there remains a skill shortage in sporting management, which could be taken up by the institute. As it is, we cannot manage big events, we cannot deliver them on time and we cannot do it on budget. That is another aspect of the culture of sport that must change.
Bob Russell (Colchester): We have rightly been reminded that this is a debate on social inclusion and sport. I regret that the Minister and the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman have taken 81 minutes between them, speaking on matters that had nothing to do with social inclusion and sport. As a result, I, and other hon. Members, are unable to contribute to the debate as we would wish. The subject is serious, and I resent the fact that our time has been eaten up. My speech will be brief, like those of other hon. Members, yet we have undertaken considerable research for the
It would be a refreshing change if the Government were to include sport as a serious part of its overall strategy. Surely sport deserves more consideration than an occasional debate in Westminster Hall when there is a need to fill a gap in the timetable. The problem does not lie with the Minister or his predecessors, nor, in fairness, with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, although it must be said that sport always comes third even in that Department, which seems to rank lowest in the Government's ministerial league table.
Sport has been the poor relation under successive Governments because they have underfunded it and failed to recognise its importance to the nation's health and well-being. One football song says that people only sing when they are winning. The same can be said of the performance of the ministerial first team squad, because we hear from them only when sport is going well.
If we are serious about sport and social inclusion, we need to get back to basics. According to an Ofsted report, 75 per cent. of pupils are not getting the minimum two hours' physical education a week under the school curriculum. We do not have school league tables for physical education and sport, but perhaps we should. We could then see which schools were failing our children. Three quarters of pupils are excluded from the two hours' physical education, so let us sort that problem out before embarking on gimmick slogans about social exclusion and sport. Mrs. Jean Gates, an honorary officer of the National Council for School Sport, who is also an assessor for the International School Sport Federation, tells me:
What does the Minister intend to do to reverse that shocking state of affairs? Why do so many schools fail to provide the basic two hours' PE per week, let alone proper involvement in competitive sports? Many say that they would love to do that, but that Government strictures about higher academic standardsabout which the Prime Minister again boasted yesterdayand the need for better exam results each year and for a higher league table place mean that they must cancel or reduce the timetabling of physical education and sport. That is a daft thing for schools to do, because all the evidence is that healthy children are likely to do better academically than those not in good health.
In the light of the unhealthy obsession with academic achievement, it is little wonder that sport is increasingly excluded from the lives of the nation's young people. If sport is not undertaken at school it is unlikely in most cases that it will be pursued outside school and in adulthood. That is borne out by research done by Sport England, suggesting that children's experience of sport at school will greatly influence their decision whether to remain involved in sport on leaving. A caveat to all that I have said is that sports coaching and training must be undertaken only by qualified staff. Sport England's head of public affairs, Mr. John Zerafa, says:
Education policies under successive Governments have resulted in today's young people being less fit than their parents' and grandparents' generations. As a consequence today's youngsters will, as a generation, experience breathing, mobility and heart problems at an earlier age, putting even more pressure on our health services. The situation appears even bleaker when it is realized that the less well-off in society are those who are the most excluded from sport.
I welcome proposals for after-school sport, but it should be additional to, not a replacement for, the two hours' physical education in the school curriculum. The Central Council of Physical Recreation has already flagged up concerns that after-school sports provision does not necessarily produce the social inclusion that many may think it will achieve. As its senior policy officer Simon Taylor told me:
I should be obliged if the Minister would explain how he proposes to address that major hurdle of transport, which will be particularly acute not only in rural areas but in all schools where a large number of pupils rely on the school bus. "Sport for all" is a slogan we should return to. It is far more meaningful than the current politically correct phrase "social inclusion and sport". Although I have concentrated my comments on those of school age, social inclusion applies to people of all ages and from all social backgrounds.
Had I been given the time that the debate warrants I should have developed many of the themes that I have outlined. I hope that we shall return to the debate, and that the Minister will treat the occasion with more sincerity in future.
Dr. Ashok Kumar (Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East): I should like to put on the record my thanks to the Minister for coming to Durham recently to launch the northern regional sports strategy. What he has said today is similar to what he said at that meeting, and it was highly refreshing to hear him remark that the problems of the north-east are different from those of the south-east.
I want to highlight the concerns of young people and to focus on my constituency, particularly with regard to health and social inclusion. Redcar and Cleveland council, one of the two local authorities in my constituency, has a good track record on education. In 1999, Redcar and Cleveland was among the top five
Without a good education, a good start, we cannot expect our children to do well. It is that simple. Reading, writing and arithmetic are at least as important as they ever were, if not more so, but there are many other subjects that are of value to young people in their formative years. As the Minister said, the many activities that comprise sport or physical education lessons in school have in common the aim of creating well motivated, healthy, independent young people. They are so important that they should be seen as a vital part of children's education. They should not just be a Wednesday afternoon filler, or an add-on to enable us to tick the national curriculum "sport" box.
Increasingly, there is an acceptance that the education system in general, and schools in particular, do not just shape young minds, but affect the whole package. Making children mentally strong is only part of the answer. As well as encouraging healthy minds, schools should be encouraging healthy bodies. Sport can offer our children the opportunity to gain extra skills and confidence. By giving children healthy meals in the canteen and engaging them in sporting activities, schools can help them to become successful in later life. If young people are taught from an early age the ideas of healthy living, there is a better chance of them staying fit and healthy in later life. The alternative to healthy young people, and the resulting problems in later life, does not bear thinking about.
There is ample evidence to suggest that there is a link between poor health in adult life and lifestyles. Health indices in many of the wards in my constituency show, in marked fashion, the health patterns that unfortunately mar much of my constituency and the north-east of England. The indices of death from cancer and heart diseases across Teesside are among the worst in Britain, a rate that is mitigated and disguised by the fact that some more prosperous wards have relatively low rates of those diseases.
For example, parts of Middlesbrough such as the suburb of Hemlington have a standardised mortality rate for heart disease of 147, compared with a national average of 100. They also have astonishing SMRs of 236 compared with the same national average of 100 for women dying of cancer. In other areas, such as Park End, the SMR for men dying of lung cancer is 262, with a female equivalent rate of 223. In the neighbouring Easterside ward, the female lung cancer SMR is 252. A similar pattern emerges at the rural end of my constituency.
A recent study conducted by Teesside health authority found that younger people, men and affluent people were more likely to be physically active than older people, women and people who are poor. It also found that the proportion of men and women not taking part in any moderate or strenuous physical activity rose between 1995 and 2000 from 36 per cent. and 46 per cent. respectively to 50 per cent. and 51 per cent. I do not claim that playing football for two hours a week can
Not only the young can benefit. Age Concern in my area recently published a document with several low-intensity exercises for older people that can provide mental and physical stimulation, as well as an improved sense of camaraderie when conducted in group settings. It is often hard for older people to participate in sporting activities, as opportunities are more limited. That is not the case for one of my constituents, Mary Russell, who teaches aerobics in Guisborough despite having recently celebrated her 65th birthday. It is important that older people are borne in mind when we discuss inclusion in sporting activities.
How can school sports help social inclusion? In January, the social exclusion unit published the conclusions of the report of policy action team 10 on best practice in using art, sport and leisure to engage people in poor neighbourhoods. It especially considered those who feel most excluded, such as disaffected young people, and ways to maximise the impact of Government spending on policies for art, sports and leisure in those neighbourhoods. Its stated aim was to draw up an action plan designed to maximise the impact of arts, sports and leisure policies that contribute to neighbourhood regeneration and increases in local participation.
The report found that participation in arts and sports, and the provision of services to support it, could assist neighbourhood renewal by improving communities' performance in the four key indicators, which are more jobs, less crime, better health and improved educational attainment. In addition to the well established benefits to physical health, regular moderate-intensity exercises can contribute to greater self-esteem, improved mental well-being and, in certain circumstances, improved mental ability.
I began my speech by talking about young people, and moved on to acknowledge the wide-ranging nature of the subject. I shall approach my conclusion with the fact that organisations such as the Young Women's Christian Association have suggested that young women, who, as has been said, are under-represented in sport, would benefit from changes to the way in which sport is taught in school and to the range of activities available. Many organisations believe that allowing external and community bodies to use school sporting facilities can turn sports into family and group ventures that might be more appealing than a compulsory weekly slot in an academic timetable.
Rather than physical education being a purely physical event, there should be additional instruction on the physiology of sporting activities. Young people should be taught about the benefits of sportthat is one of the best ways to convince them of its valuerather than forced to join in with no explanation of why they should do so.
My shopping list might appear long and varied, but I genuinely believe that by educating people throughout the community on the benefits of sporting activities, and by making those activities affordable and accessible, we will see a notable reduction in some health problems known to result from the lack of a healthy lifestyle. I shall finish on that point, as I know that many hon. Members want to speak.
Vernon Coaker (Gedling): I want to contribute to the debate, as I was a teacher of physical education a few years ago. I was a couple of stones lighter then as well, which is worrying. Leaving aside the debate on Picketts Lock and Wembley, I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister and the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) on the many interesting points that they made. Other hon. Members made similarly important points, which reflects the importance of the debate.
The value of sport cannot and should not be underestimated. We must ensure that every member of society, of whatever age, gender or ability, has the opportunity and is encouraged to take part in sport. That is valuable not only for that individual but, as the title of the debate suggests, for the life of our communities; it will tackle some social exclusion problems and enable neighbourhood renewal to take place.
I want to make some specific comments. I am constrained by my role as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the DFES from saying too much about school sports, but I am pleased to see some of the developments that have taken place and are to take place, especially with respect to sports colleges, the school sport co-ordinator programme and the proposed improvements of school sporting facilities. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt) said, without those improvements, the extra improvement that we all want would be difficult to achieve. It is good that the National Council for School Sport, Sport England, the Youth Sport Trust and many other organisations are involved in the project.
How can we continue to encourage competitive sports in schools? They are essential but, whichever way one looks at it, they have taken a knock. We could discuss the reasons for that, but we must continue to develop those sports. We should also consider the issue of competitive sports and sports facilities available to girls at school. School playing fields are dominated by football and rugby posts, with sometimes the odd hockey pitch. We need to reflect the gender balance in our schools.
Moving beyond schools to the wider community, a number of programmes address social exclusion issues. I do not know whether hon. Members had time to read the preliminary report on the operation of the new youth justice system, which referred to new splash schemes run in school holiday time to keep young people off the street. The report says:
Those are astonishing figures. The report also mentions new youth inclusion programmes, such as the project in Sunderland that promotes midnight basketball. They are exciting initiatives. I have never legally played basketball at midnight.
I have made the following point to the Minister before, but it is an important one. I have a suburban constituency in Nottingham. Many of the targeted initiatives seem to assume that social exclusion takes place only in the middle of the city. Will the Minister ensure that programmes aimed at tackling social exclusion of young people through sport are run in rural and suburban areas, where there are pockets of deprivation, although the figures are often swamped by the general affluence? Those pockets of deprivation need support and help as well.
I also refer to the fact that many Premiership football clubs and first division clubs use their status in the community to tackle problems of social exclusion. The "Playing for success" programme seems to be remarkably successful. In my own city, Nottingham Forest and Notts County do a lot to tackle social exclusion. The players go to schools, youth clubs and difficult areas. Nowadays, we knock our professional sportspeople, but we should use the debate to say that many do a lot of expert work and voluntary work to help young people and to turn them away from crime and a life of disaffection. Nottingham Forest and Notts County deserve support, but Nottinghamshire county cricket club, Nottingham rugby club and many other clubs also involve themselves in such activities.
It is important for us to consider the role of local clubs at the grassroots. Local clubs struggle on shoestring budgets, but many of us feel that they still do a remarkable amount of work with young people.
Local clubs do a great deal, and many in my constituency have extended their youth club roles and the work that they do. They have also tried to ensure that young women are included. Many local football clubs now run girls football teams. Local netball and hockey teams have also been helped.
Many clubs struggle to get even small amounts of money. Often, they do not want a huge amountthey are not putting in lottery bids for £150,000, £500,000 or £2 million. Sometimes they struggle to get £200 or £250 or to hire a minibus to go somewhere. I do not have a magic wand, but I wonder whether there is some way that we can help.
I also want our public leisure facilities to be improved, because there is a real need for them. Some of our local authorities clearly struggle to provide facilities for public use or facilities for talented individuals to ensure that they progress as much as they can. Some public facilities, such as tennis courts and public pitches, need more done to them, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey said. We also need to consider the issue of groundsmen.
I have gabbled through my notes to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. I have tried to make some important points. Grass-roots sport is important, as is the help that professional clubs give to the development of our young people. Sport plays an important role in social inclusion in our communities.
James Purnell (Stalybridge and Hyde): I, too, will keep my remarks short. First, I must declare an interest. I am a director of the Tameside Sports Trust, which provides sport for Tameside, often on behalf of the authority. It is fitting that I have taken over that position from Tom Pendry, who all hon. Members will agree did much to raise the profile of sport in Government policy. I pay tribute to him for that.
Tom's argument was always that sport was not only incredibly importantour national newspapers often give it more coverage than politicsbut incredibly good as a tool of anti-crime, pro-education and health policy. Most of all it is a good policy against social exclusion, and I am delighted that we have a chance to debate that.
Sport is a great tool for attacking social exclusion, but the participation rates are unfair. The data show that people from classes D and E are three times less likely to participate than people from professional classes. The inequality is greater among ethnic minorities. People from Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds are nearly 50 per cent. less likely to take part than people from white backgrounds.
We must ensure that we use sport as a tool to reduce social exclusion, but we must also reduce social exclusion in sport, and schools are important if we are to achieve that goal. I welcome the fact that the previous Government introduced the national lottery and ensured that sport was one of the good causes funded. Money was initially allocated through bids, but the previous Government were successful in ensuring that it was allocated more strategically. I welcome Sport England's commitment that 75 per cent. of their lottery money will go into grass-roots sports. It is better to invest in them to develop sports for the future and ensure that people can participate. That is better than chasing after major sports events, which are important at the time, but which often do not leave the legacy that some claim.
The allegation that the Government have raided the good cause of sports to fund their priorities through the new opportunities fund is a lot of nonsense. That fund has been extremely successful in funding sport. After-school clubs are a good example of that, as are healthy living centres. I am glad that the process culminated in the £750 million grant for school playing fields. I urge the Minister to ensure that local councils, Sport England and the new opportunities fund use the money for the benefit of the wider community and not just for schools. Copley high school in my constituency is a good example. It is on the same site as a sports centre, which creates excellent synergies. The school's Copley club allows students to use the facilities for free during the school day, and at a reduced rate at other times, which has greatly reduced the amount of truancy and is a good example for general policy development.
I pay tribute to schools in my constituency that run fantastic sports activities despite having atrocious facilities. West Hill and Mossley Hollins schools have sports halls that are barely big enough to play badminton in, and their changing rooms are falling apart. Long overdue money should be made available to those schools to match the effort put in by staff and students.
Sports facilities should be designed for use in the evening and at weekends. I find it frustrating to drive past schoolsor defence facilities, as the Minister saidin which there is a facility available for the community, but it is locked up and unlit, with no ground staff present to make it available for the community as often as possible. In my constituency, the council is building a school that can be locked off from the facilities, so that those can be open in the evening without putting the school at risk of vandalism or intruders. If that example is not followed, future generations will not forgive us. The huge amount of money is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a massive difference to the infrastructure of our sports facilities.
However, facilities are not enough. We need coaches, ground staff, and properly exploited facilities. I welcome the school sports co-ordinators programme. It is a fantastic idea to release people from the timetable so that they can coach in their schools and work in primary schools too. That is a great way of using the lottery to ensure that we can pilot a programme, develop it and experiment with new ways of delivering policy. How will that be made a permanent feature of the system? I would encourage both the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to look at ways of funding that from Government money so that all our schools can benefit and so that we can combine the resources of our coaches and youth service.
We all struggle in our constituencies with the problems caused by young people hanging out on street corners, not having enough to do in the evenings and getting into problems with alcohol, drugs and criminality. Encouraging the youth service to work as much as possible with our local sports clubs and local councils to attract people into sporting activity is a fantastic way of reducing the risk of young people slipping into criminality and drug abuse. It is something that they are interested in. It is not just putting a bit of sugar in the medicine; it offers them the resources of the youth service to advise them on drugs, career development and so on to ensure that they have a much better chance of achieving their full potential.
I should like to congratulate my local council on the work that it has done in that respect. Tameside decided to move from traditional youth centre work, as only a small number of people were using the facilities and they were not reaching the harder parts of the community. It is better to try to use sport to reduce social exclusion by getting into the harder parts of the community. Although we have fantastic initiatives such as the Youth Justice Board, Sport England and the Children's Fund, I am slightly worried that because they must bid for funds and receive a one-off investment, they do not support a long-term sustainable infrastructure for providing sport in the community and for dealing with the problems of young people.
I urge the Minister to work with his colleagues in the comprehensive spending review to see whether we can develop one source of sustainable long-term funding, probably distributed through local authorities, because it is they who have the most to gain by reducing the problems caused by some young people to make sure that we fully maximise the potential of sport to tackle social exclusion.
Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North): This afternoon my right hon. Friend the Minister repeated a phrase that he used yesterday at the annual conference on business in sport and leisure. He said that he believes that sport is a means to many ends, not an end in itself. That is very much a politician's view. For many people who live sport, breathe sport, but drink a popular brand of cola, the view from the terraces may be somewhat different. They engage in sport with a passion. It has the all-consuming quality that many in this place consider politics to have, much to the bewilderment of our constituents who think that we must be off our collective trolley to be preoccupied with programme motions, Adjournment debates and sunset clauses.
But my right hon. Friend is right to claim that sport, like politics, has the power to transform, not just individuals, but whole communities. He probably expects me to give a lengthy exegesis on the power of the national stadium to regenerate my own community of Wembley, which contains some of them of the most socially excluded wards in Britain, but he will be relieved to know that that is not my aim on this occasion. In the time available to me I wish to focus on the economic case for investing in sport in order to achieve the social inclusion that is the subject of our debate, and is certainly one of the most important ends to which sport can lead.
As the Chamber is aware, I am privileged to sit on the Public Accounts Committee. There are those who would say that the PAC is itself a somewhat barbaric sport, akin to bear baiting in which unsuspecting Whitehall mandarins are subjected to cruel and unnatural abuse and ritual humiliation. In fact it can be an enlightening process, as the Committee's recent investigation into the Government's efforts to tackle obesity showed.
The National Audit Office report revealed that obesity in the United Kingdom is increasing at a staggering rate. Some 25 per cent. of people aged 16 to 24 are obese. That increases with age, and about 70 per cent. of people aged 65 to 74 are classified as obese. If any Member wishes to check their body mass, I have a body mass index calculator, which will tell them whether they are morbidly obese, obese or just overweight. By obese, I do not mean a little overweight; I mean recognised as having a clinical problem that is damaging to one's health.
The problems that obesity brings for the health of the nation extend into the coffers of the Exchequer. The NAO report concluded that the total direct cost to the Exchequer in 1999 of the treatment of diseases related specifically to obesity was £469.9 million. The indirect costs to the country include 80 million working days lost to the economy and £2.6 billion, which is 0.3 per cent. of our gross domestic product. That equates to £43.33 for every one of the 60 million inhabitants of the United
There is an old song with the refrain "It's the rich what gets the pleasure, and the poor what gets the blame," so it will not surprise hon. Members to know that the National Audit Office found that people in lower socio-economic groups are twice as likely to be obese. Some 14 per cent. of women in the highest social class are obese, compared with 28 per cent. in the lowest. Participation in sport is the best way to combat obesity and one of the best ways to combat the social exclusion that results from it.
How can the Government make the necessary investment in sport in ways that will be cost-effective in promoting health and social inclusion? This year's Red Book was subtitled "Investing for the Long Term: Building Opportunity and Prosperity for All". In addressing those issues of social exclusion, it discussed the extension of tax relief to amateur sports clubs, which
The Government undertook to consult on the best way to help those clubs qualify for that tax relief. In my capacity as joint chair of the all-party parliamentary sport and leisure industry group, I speak to many representatives of the sports industry from the private and public sectors. They welcome the Chancellor's initiative, but the Central Council of Physical Recreation pointed out that certain issues must be addressed. It is concerned about the lack of adequate statistics on the community sports sector and considers that the Charity Commission might be confronted with a deluge of applications that could prompt the Government to water down their proposals.
The centre for the study of voluntary sector policy at University College London estimates that, as well as the 135,000 registered charities in 1998, there were between 180,000 to 360,000 other unregistered community organisations, with sports clubs making up a large proportion. It is unsurprising that the Charity Commission is somewhat daunted by the prospect of widening the market. The obvious solution would be to create a new form of sports-based charity that is not ruled by the Charity Commission but enjoys similar benefits. It is crucial for those clubs to be offered a degree of protection, and for the Government it would be sound fiscal management. Will the Minister share with hon. Members the results of the consultation?
I am the honorary president of the Brent community sports club. It was set up this year on 29 July and has 1,500 members already. For £10 a year they can take part in any number of activities, including five and seven-a-side football, judo, yoga, basketball, netball and volleyball. The group is entirely self-sufficient, has no outstanding loans and has not received a penny in lottery funding. Its membership is drawn from every class, creed, colour and age, and many activities are
The Brent community sports association is an example not only of what such associations can achieve, which is considerable, but of the demand that they fulfil. The driving force must originate from the public sector. The Government have identified the benefits of an increased role for the voluntary sector and the Cabinet Office's performance and innovation unit is undertaking a large-scale review of the sector. In doing so, it is undertaking for the first time a census of the community sports clubs in this country. Until now, the number of such clubs has only been estimated, their role has been dismissed and their potential benefits as a tool of social policy have historically been ignored.
I am delighted that the Government recognise the importance of the clubs through the PIU. They are also working with the CCPR, which is an umbrella group of the governing bodies of all sports and recreational activities in the UK, from the Football Association to the Ramblers Association. The CCPR recognises that community sports clubs are unique in providing grass-roots access to sports provision that is open to all.
There is a need for local authorities to get back statutory responsibility for sports and leisure in this country. The fact that local authorities have been under financial pressure has meant that sports and recreation have always been the departments to be cut back. That is the one aspect of local government that has always suffered because it is not a statutory responsibility. The Minister should be working with colleagues throughout Government to ensure that that statutory responsibility is placed firmly back on local authorities, so that someone has the responsibility to assess deficits in sporting facilities, especially playing fields. No one has that responsibility at the moment. That should be a statutory responsibility, because until we know where the deficits are, we cannot know how to construct a sensible sports policy throughout the country.
With regard to the school day, the obesity report from the NAO was a wonderful report. It came before the PAC, on which there were some real heavyweightsno pun intendedincluding permanent under-secretaries from the Department of Health, the Department for Education and Skills, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and all sorts of people from other Departments. However, we must ensure that the focus is on our schools.
We must get away from the idea of two hours of sports a week. It is great to have a target, but let us have a target that will make a difference. Two hours a week is absolute nonsense. It should be two hours a day. I am serious. We should be thinking radically on the subject, and the secondary school day should coincide with the
As someone who was brought up on the book "The Art of Coarse Rugby"I mean reading it, not taking part in itI am not convinced that the prescription of the hon. Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) would ensure that people took part in sport in the long term. We may take part in sport in school, sometimes enforcedly so, but that does not necessarily lead to long-term involvement. However, that is not the main thrust of my remarks this afternoon, which I shall keep brief.
It worries me that as Governments have become more involved in sports they have done so at the most socially exclusive levels. It is good to know that, since the introduction of the national lottery and the creation by John Major of the Department of National Heritage, there has been a change of direction. Government involvement now reaches down to the local level, but we must understand that the Government do not always make everything happen; more often than notsometimes through unnecessary intervention or failing to recognise what is happeningthey stop things happening.
Mr. Win Griffiths (in the Chair): Order. The hon. Gentleman missed our earlier debate in which that subject was covered at length. I ruled then that we had said enough about it. We are now debating social inclusion. Please excuse me for asking the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) to continue.
Since my election to Parliament, I was pleased to meet Trevor Brooking when he attended the Sandown and Shanklin rugby club and saw much of the activity of Sport England and other local sports organisations. I do not diminish what hon. Members on both sides of the House have said about Government involvement; I am
The Government must recognise that some sportsespecially the less politically correct onesmay be more socially inclusive than people think. For example, shooting sports make a significant contribution to the rural economy. They involve a large number of people of a wide social rangemen and womenand contribute to our national sporting success.
I was fortunate enough to open the Isle of Wight gun club's new clubhouse earlier this year. It is a small club, but the coach is an England international, and it is socially inclusive with men and women of all ages taking part. People under 18 are entitled to free membership and the free use of equipment. That is how to involve people in sports. To open the new clubhouse, I was required to hit a clay on a ribbon. It was not much further away from me than the hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt) is now, but I was at least able to hit it.
Mr. Turner : It was certainly of more modest size, but it was bouncing up and down as I took aim. Clay pigeon shooting, rough shooting and game shooting involve people across a wide social spectrum in rural areas, and I would be pleased if the Government recognised that. I also want to put on record that I deplore the attacks on pistol shooting by Governments of both political persuasions. Such attacks were a grave error, which has damaged young people's participation in shooting sports. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) mentionsnot too sotto vocethe disabled.
Equestrian sports are also important. It may be unhelpful to mention hunting, but it is a sport that involves the whole rural community. Other equestrian sports demonstrate that riding is not an exclusive activity. It is said of the Isle of Wightit may be said of other rural areasthat there are more ponies per square mile on the island than in any other part of the country. I am sure that that claim is not limited to the island.
Equestrian sports involve women and girls disproportionately. They are interested in them, and that benefits both them and our international performance. One of my constituents came to visit me the other day. She is a disabled young woman in her early 20s who can walk only with the aid of crutches, and she is the daughter of a care assistant and incapable of full-time work. She takes part in dressage, wholly funded by herself and by local donations, including sponsorship from Red Funnel Ferries. In time, she hopes to participate in the disabled Olympic dressage squad. Her sport is one in which people are able to participate, and I hope that the Minister will recognise it.
Finally, we are famous for yachting and sailing. Cowes week activities embrace a wide social range; it is not all champagne and gin palaces, although there is plenty of champagne. I confess that when I first went to the island and learned that money was given to sailing clubs, I thought that the sport was too socially exclusive for such support. However, it involves the whole community.
As the Duke of Edinburgh has said, there are dangers in taking too careful an approach to sporting and other outdoor activities. This year, for the first time, the Royal Yacht Squadron required people racing at Cowes to wear lifejackets. It was fearful of being sued because of the duty of care that has been laid upon it. Individual skippers in individual boats used to make their own decisions about the conditions in which they sailed. Such restrictions do not promote personal responsibility.
I wish to put on record those few examples of sport. I emphasise that we are not asking the Government for money, but for recognition of the role that such sports play in the continuum from recreation to international success. I thank the Minister for his recognition of GBR Challenge, which is being built in Cowes to take part in the next America's cup in New Zealand.
Jon Trickett (Hemsworth): I shall try to keep my contribution as brief as possible. There has been some unanimity this afternoon on the proposal that sport can be an engine for social inclusion. With my background, I was someone who could have ended up in a great deal of trouble. Some people say I did, by coming to this place. However, I could have been in even more trouble, in an entirely different kind of institution, had it not been for the fact that I was good at sports.
Sport has been important throughout my life, and it kept me from behaving unpleasantly. It worked for me, and I know that it can work for thousands of others. However, sport is increasingly failing as an engine for social inclusion. Although I recognise the Minister's work to overcome the structural, financial and cultural problems that sport faces in trying to achieve social inclusion, an argument can be made that much more radical measures must be taken.
I am a politician who likes to look forwards rather than backwardsas progressive politicians, that is what we should dobut conditions for sport have become worse. There are two professional clubs in my constituency, both distinguished. Frickley Athletic football club is one of the oldest professional clubs in the league. It was linked to the Frickley pit and was funded by sixpence from each miner; that was how professional clubs began at the collieries. Every man put sixpence in, not only for football but for other things as well. The link between professional sport and working class communities was tight and organic.
At the other, north end of my constituency, we have Featherstone Rovers, which was similarly connected to the Featherstone colliery. It never had a large squad; whenever the number 3 or the number 7 was injured, players would go to the pithead and shout down, "Send us up a number 3" or, "Send us up a number 7." Plenty of lads in the pit would come up and do a fine job on the rugby field rather than work underground.
Those stories illustrate that the organic link that existed between working-class communities and sport has atrophied and fragmented. I listened carefully to my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt) speaking about taking money from the BBC. He has a point, but there is a bigger point to be
Featherstone Rovers was the recipient of attention from Sky, as was the whole of rugby league. Hon. Members who know the geography of my area well will know that there are three bitter rivals in rugby league in Wakefield: Castleford, Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers. Someone in Skysomeone not too far away from my areahad the brilliant idea that the three clubs should be merged. That was an outrageous proposal and the people of Featherstone rightly rose up as one against it. The only thing left after the pits at Featherstone were closed was the rugby league club. There was a sit-in; the people of Featherstone refused to move and Sky eventually had to back down. That demonstrates the regrettable way in which TV has threatened the organic links that used to exist.
Working-class communities of the kind that I represent do not necessarily have the skillswhat one might call white-collar skillsto fill in forms and make applications. They are not as articulate as middle-class people. The way in which funding is allocated is a cultural issue because some sports in some areas benefit more than others. The people who make decisions about sports funding tend to be interested in sports other than working-class ones. Again, that is to be regretted and needs to be tackled; I know that the Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend have it at the front of their minds.
The problem exists with nearly every sports governing body. Such bodies are made up of wonderful people who give their whole life to sport; most of them are failed athletes, and some never got to the stage of being an athlete. I call them people in blazers. They are wonderful people. This country relies on that dilettante ethic. However, such people have no relationship to the working-class people about whom we are talking in relation to social exclusion. My own sport is cycling; I have raced a bike in anger many times and hope to do so again next season. The gulf between the people on bikes and those who run the sport of cycling is as great as that between athletes and the governing body. That is another cultural problem that we need to address.
There are some good practices in my constituency, as in others. I want to mention Havercroft sports centre and the Featherstone Lions amateur rugby league football club. Working-class people who are genuinely committed to their communities lead excellent activities, but they struggle all the time to raise funds. That has to do with financial, cultural and organisational barriers in sports.
Organisational divisions among schools, local authority health and sports centres and local sports clubs should not exist. We should try to find ways at grass-roots, community and neighbourhood levels to bring together the various people who are interested in sport. It is bizarre that there are divisions among those facilities, each of which is led by people who are excellent in their own way. Sometimes they are men and women in blazers, but often they are not. There should be synthesis among those organisations.
I am running out of time, but, on an entirely different issue, I want to mention the exercise referral regime, with which the health service is experimenting. It is recognised that sport, exercise and health are intimately connected. Unskilled manual workers, for example, are three times more likely to die of heart disease than the rest of the population. GPs recognise that, and the Government have been piloting an exercise referral regime under which GPs refer people who are obese or have heart problems to local health and sports centres. That excellent regime has much to commend it and should be encouraged. I encourage my right hon. Friend the Minister to consider that.
John Mann (Bassetlaw): In the spirit of brevity, I shall cast my planned rhetorical finery into the fluctuating waters of Picketts Lock and be blunt. Diane Hopkinson is one of my constituents. She voted at a very important meeting at Manton miners welfare club last Sundaya point to which I shall return. Diane is deaf, and a number of years ago, under a previous Government, she was selected to represent England at swimming. However, no one would provide the funding for her to attend the international competition. I can tell hon. Members and the Minister that, as long as I am the local Member of Parliament, any young person from my constituency who is selected to represent their country at any sport will be able to do so. I shall be looking to hold the Minister accountable to ensure that funding is in place so that they can reach their full potential.
I want to talk about disaffected youthtruants, joyriders and perpetrators of petty crime. I call it the Jack-the-lad syndrome in areas such as Manton. Jack the lad is the person who copies Nintendo games and Sky cards properly and gets 20 rather than 10 quid when he sells them to friends, family and others. As a result, his young peer group in the community holds him in great esteem. For Jack the lad, cash is the key currency. When dealing in cash, the key currency is drugs, particularly heroin, and there are an estimated 500 heroin abusers in the constituency.
A little bit of sport is involved. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) mentioned shooting. In the context of Jack the lad, shooting is less well regarded by the farming community in my constituency, because we describe it as lamping.
Aspiration and expectation levels are key. Expectation levels have been far too low, not least in schools. People presume that if someone lives in a particular pit village or on a particular estate, they will not do well and should not be expected to do well. Aspiration levels mirror that: they are far too low. We are talking about a Jack-the-lad or car-boot economy aspiration level.
The only way in which we can get those young people to re-engage in the community is with a carrot and stick. We can probably rely on my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to provide the stick and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport and his Department, the carrot. We must encourage young people to take responsibility for others and introduce them to the benefits that responsibility can bring them. They can learn the responsibility for team-mates or of being a coach. Sports clubs, or other clubs, are places where young people can feel a part of the community, instead of ostracised from it.
In sport, young people are not competing against the established norms that they encounter every day. They can work to and set their own standards and get a sense of achievement, which, for many of them, happens for the first time in their lives. The new money will have a real impact in my community in Bassetlaw. It is right that it is going into schools, because far too many initiatives have not had permanence in community structures. The beauty of the new money is that schools have that permanency. Indeed, if I have one criticism, it is that the money should have been directly funded to schools instead of filtered through local education authorities. I believe in the concept of community schools that are open for, accessible to and engaged with all the community round the clock, rather than being insular. As the money will go through LEAs, we must be able to hold them accountable through the Department, so that the money is spent in that way.
In my constituency, we are setting up a partnership in Manton that goes further still. It will be a partnership of industry, community and Government, for which sport is the glue. Manton, on any indicator, is one of the most deprived communities in the country. It has a fine historical sporting tradition, and we will use the £6 million of private sector money invested in the local football team, Worksop Town, as a catalyst to bring in the business community, including groups such as British Waterways and Severn Trent. We are committed to putting resources into expanding sports and community provision. The council will not be the provider through a structure of council committees, but the enabler, allowing the private and voluntary sector to thrive. That is a critical difference from normal concepts within a council such as Bassetlaw. The council has never been in an enabling rather than providing role.
We will have to work across the sectors, not in different categories. What is the point of having a health sector drugs action programme that does not link with a sports action programme or a programme such as the healthy living project for young women and girls that is so successful at the moment? The work must be
The chief executive of the Prince's trust visited us last Friday to give us his blessing andmore important even than fundingshare the trust's expertise in linking enterprise and its successful schemes with, for example, football in the community. Our partnership will involve the first example of a non-league football team doing what the Prince's Trust is doing successfully in 69 Football League and FA Premiership teams. I am pleased to say that both Leeds United and Mansfield Town football clubs have invited us, on the basis of their success, to look and learn from how they have used sport to re-engage disaffected young people in out-of-hours learning. I was amused to hear the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) mention the success of the Wolves youth academy. To show the success of the Government's policy, Sport England recommended that we visit Wolverhampton Wanderers football club sports academy, which we did last week.
Our partnership goes beyond sport. Play forums and performing arts are being linked, as is the college, which has a sports science faculty. We should have an integrated and aspirational approach that builds community capacity, and addresses lifelong learning and social inclusion. At the core is the East Midlands Development Agency, because the link to economic regeneration is fundamental.
I ask the Minister for two things. First, there is a certain obscurantist tendency about the assets of the former Coal Board and the charity laws. We need assistance to get around the obstacles of some of the charity laws and allow miners welfare, which is at the forefront of the partnership, to be the deciding factor in the use of the Coal Board land assets. They should be used in the way that their members and the community want and they should be developed with the private sector in a way that enables us to have a myriad of sporting opportunities linked to community and economic regeneration. I do not have time to list those opportunities, but I will give the Minister a note.
Secondly, I gave the Minister an idea about sports coaching some time ago, and now I have a plan for it. Sports coaching should not be provided to 14 or 15 disaffected youths, but by them. We should offer to mount a pilot scheme. Bad attenders and truants, and those who use sawn-off shotguns for lampingkilling farmers' animals left, right and centreshould be the coaches of the younger generation, so that they can learn management and leadership skills. They should not be perceived as recipients of sports coaching, but as coaches themselves. We would welcome that. It would play a key part in unlocking the potential of sport in the community. In the final analysis, we can go with it. Give us the tools and we will do the job.
I would particularly like to highlight the case of the Preston estate in Tadworth in my constituency. The area is in the bottom quartile of wards in terms of deprivation nationwide. The local community is putting in considerable effort to try to resolve many of the problems in the area. To me, that ward is a perfect example of the contradiction between ambition and delivery. By that I mean that we need much more emphasis in this country on informal as well as formal sport. Communities may say that they need to build leisure centres, sports clubs and youth centres, but Preston ward has all those things, and the disaffection and the alienation of youth remain. I strongly believe that we need to build a bridge to that disaffected youth, not in the form of fixed institutions but through people going out into the community and working with them.
Mr. Hawkins : I agree with everything that my hon. Friend has said, and as he knows, I have one or two similar estates in my constituency, such as Old Dean and St. Michael's in Camberley. I echo the interesting and powerful speech made by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw. In terms of social exclusion, is it not vital, particularly if we are to get disaffected youths away from drugs, that we show those youths the health benefits of both formal and informal sport and physical activity?
Chris Grayling : My hon. Friend makes his point appropriately and articulately. Finding ways to involve young people in sport, without necessarily expecting that they will come into the formal environment of club sport, is an important part of our strategy. That is why I found the comments of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw on coaching resonant. We should pay a little extra within the community to send a team of paid volunteers out as coaches to local playing fields and open spaces on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night to organise informal sport. They could organise football games, or cricket matches in the summer. They could go where the young people are and organise sport on their doorstep, rather than always encouraging them away from their doorstep into fixed facilities.
That is the aspiration of many in the police force. I particularly commend the example of PC Paul Thomas, who operates in the Banstead area on the Preston estate. He strongly believes that if we took sporting organisation and informal coaching to those disaffected young people, we could make a real difference. Perhaps that would provide a bridge bringing them one step nearer a much more formalised sporting environment.
My message to the Minister is that the Department should develop its strategies. It should look at ways to provide funding for an army of part-time sports coaches, organisers and sporting people in the community, who could work with those disaffected youngsters on their doorsteps. They could take away the
The Government's strategies are encapsulated in the consultation document on PPG17. My fears that the Government have not placed enough emphasis on informal sport are echoed in that document. For example, the National Playing Fields Association cited the absence of guidelines for developers and local authorities on the provision of sports fields and open spaces in new developments. That is a serious omission. Government guidelines should be in place to give local authorities parameters for the provision of open spaces. Local government officers and councillors work under tight planning guidelines. They are often under intense pressure from developers. They need guidelines when taking decisions, and I would encourage the Minister to talk to his colleagues in Government to ensure that when PPG17 is revised, it reflects those needs.
Many concerns have been raised about the policy document on planning, which is not entirely joined up with many other parts of the Government's strategy. A number of organisations cite the fact that it contains no clear references to the previous urban White Paper. That is an important omission, because the impact of sport, recreational facilities and open spaces on the community should be integral to the Government's urban and inner-city strategy. I ask the Minister to ensure that those omissions are rectified in the revised document.
Mr. John Grogan (Selby): It is a great pleasure to be called to speak, Mr. Griffiths. I hesitate to do so, because I am one of the failed athletes mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett).
I want to tell a success story about cricket. We have heard a lot today about class in British sport; it was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell). The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) was right to say that regardless of one's background, one should be able to participate in any sport. For instance, he was dead right about horse riding in rural constituencies because many people from all sorts of backgrounds participate. Too often, schools offer only football or rugby, but such barriers should have no part in our society.
My hon Friend the Member for Hemsworth said that people used to whistle down the mines to find rugby league players, but when Yorkshire was short of cricket players the same strategy was adopted. Cricket is a cross-class, cross-cultural sport, not only in Yorkshire, but nationally. Over the past five to 10 years, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Yorkshire county cricket club have made enormous strides to popularise cricket. Quick cricket is now the fastest growing sport among school children. Half a million primary schoolgirls play it.
I end with a message. Yorkshire has made great strides in integrating sport. The cricket club is desperately trying to attract more Asian support, because the cricket clubs are often as divided in Bradford as the schools. We have Asian leagues and white leagues, but there is tremendous talent. I would urge all former players from Yorkshire not to be a drag on the process. They criticised the new development at Headingley stadium that got rid of the old western terrace, which had been a centre of yobism and racism on many occasions. Some players criticised the gates, which featured Len Hutton and, in a frieze in the background, two Asian women who were photographed at the England-Pakistan game earlier in the summer. The gates were meant to reflect the present, past and future of Yorkshire cricket. Those players should shut up.
I may be a failed athlete; a definition of middle age is that you realise that you will never fulfil your childhood dreams. I will never walk out to open the batting or bowling for Yorkshire, but one day a British Asian, born in Bradford or Leeds, will do that. That day should be soon, and Yorkshire players who oppose that should shut up. The Minister should do everything he can with local authorities to use the power of cricket in Yorkshire to promote integration.
Mr. Caborn : First, I thank everyone who contributed to the debate, which has been of a high standard. I will not have time to respond to all the points, but they will be taken on board. My officials are present, and I will inform the various agencies about the comments that have been made.
In response to the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), the Opposition spokesman, I would like to address two areas. Several hon. Members raised the question of planning and PPG17. The DTLR and my Department, along with Sport England, are working closely together on that matter. Trevor Brooking and I met the Ministers and officials, along with David Payne from Sport England, and discussed our response to points that had been made about the weaknesses in the draft of PPG17. As a result, I hope that it will become a more proactive document that will address some of the genuine concerns raised here today, and that it will be accompanied by a good practice guidance note. I hope, too, that Sport England will be employed to advise in a more systematic way local authorities and other authorities that apply for planning permission; I hope that we can use that good resource.
PPG17 should come out next spring, although we must wait for the Select Committee and the open spaces task force to report. If those reports come out early in the new year, we should be able to publish the report. It is important that PPG17 comes out soon, as it will influence the massive investment in sports facilities.
We have been asking for a needs assessment of local authorities in terms of open spaces, sports facilities and play areas. The dialogue that is going on with the Local Government Association and my Department should put sport high on the agenda of local government politics, and the needs assessment should be completed. I will encourage that process and give some inducements for its completion. Sports England is fully involved in that process and has joined the open spaces taskforce as well, creating a clear working relationship that should give positive results.
I turn to the question of the new opportunities fund. The formula devised for the spending of the money was approved by Sport England, which continues to be involved in advising local authoritiesand the local education authorities in particularon the schemes proposed by the various authorities. That formula does not depend simply on competition. Money has been allocated, some of which will be fast tracked. We want to devise a more strategic approach, along with local authorities and education authorities, to the planning of facilities.
I accept that there is a weakness; we have not yet done the audit of all sports facilities, but we are putting the scheme into place bit by bit and we will be able to form more informed and meaningful conclusions when the information is available. That should not prevent programmes from going ahead now. It would be wrong simply to wait for that information to arrive, as we need to make that investment, as was clearly demonstrated by the contributions this afternoon. I suggest to hon. Members that they set up a dialogue with their local education authorities to discuss where the investment should go. The new opportunities fund will be handled by people in the regional government offices, and major schemes will be cleared at national level. There is complete transparency, and no element of competition in the fund; it exists in response to a strategic overview by the local authorities.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt) put his case in his usual modest language. I was disappointed with the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell). He did the usual things; he wished a plague on both our houses, had a jolly good whinge and then asked some questions. I shall answer the questions. Yes, we are trying to deal with transport. My Department and the Department for Education and Skills are developing a policy to try to address the transport difficulties posed by after-school activity. It is a real problem, but I can give some very good examples of how it has been successfully handled in a number of areas, where the fund's out-of-school-hours learning budget has been used. The problems of after-school activities and transport were raised with the Prime Minister on Monday when he met other Ministers and the delegates from Manchester, Birmingham and Cornwall whom I have mentioned.
We must address this, together with the other problem areait is also a revenue issuewhich is the supply of people to make sure that facilities, whether cricket pitches or anything else, are well maintained and that the caretakers or others responsible ensure that they are open to the general public after school hours. We shall be looking at that to ensure that we fully integrate all the assets in a locality so that they are available not only during school hours, but after hours.
Floodlighting is another matter that has created problems for planners. An increasing number of objections are being made about the floodlighting of pitches. However, the only way to exploit such assets is to floodlight them. Astroturf is not enough on its own, especially on days like this when it is dark by late afternoon; we must have floodlighting. We recognise that there are problems and hope that planning authorities will take a balanced view. We should be able to address that in PPG17.
The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker)who is two stones heavier than he wasabout the need to use facilities and how they can be opened up is very important. We are trying to encourage local authorities to become involved through public-private partnership and public finance initiative schemes. Having addressed a conference on business in sport and leisure, I know that there is a tremendous appetite to become involved with local authorities. We need about £10 billion of investment over the medium term to bring our facilities up to a recognised international standard. We must embrace all those who can make a contribution to that. The private sector could be used more effectively, in terms of developing management to run facilities as well as in building those facilities. We positively want to encourage PPPs and PFIs to that end, and I am hopeful that the business community will respond.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gedling referred to splash schemes. They are among a number of schemes that we should like to develop during the holiday period and beyond. We must make them much more sustainable, because they were highly successful during the summer. There is no doubt that where they were taken up fully, crime rates came down. I think that it was Nelson Mandela who said that sport laughs in the face of racism. That is very true and we saw it over the summer when we brought people together across the ethnic divide to participate in sport. Both that and the issue of leadershipwhich also comes out in sportare very important.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell) mentioned new opportunities fund schemes. I have spoken about those. I only have a few seconds left now, so I shall try to reply in writing to people whose points I have not covered. I have no doubt that this will not be the last such debate and I hope that everyone will have a full chance to contribute in future.