The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): The promotion of motor sport in the UK is a matter for the Motor Sports Association, the sport's governing body. However, the Government fully support motor sport.
Richard Burden: As my right hon. Friend knows, I work with him on motor sport matters. He also knows that within the past week or so, the governing body of motor sport, the FIA, has confirmed that the roadworks and other improvements around Silverstone secure the future for the grand prix this year and, let us hope, for future years as well. I thank my right hon. Friend, other members of the Government and constituency Members on both sides of the House for their efforts to secure that important sporting event in the UK. However, we cannot be complacent about the future. Formula 1 is important, but motor sport goes beyond Formula 1. We all need to do everything we can to nurture a sport in which Britain excels and an industry that is a multi-million-pound showcase for British engineering, high tech and innovation.
Mr. Caborn: My hon. Friend is right. The industry is worth £4.8 billion and directly employs some 40,000 people, so it is very important. As my hon. Friend knows, we have been trying to bring the industry and the sport together, which will make the industry a more potent force on the international scene. I thank my hon. Friend for the work that he did to make sure that the grand prix takes place at Silverstone. There were some doubts a few months ago, but they have been resolved and, as a result of co-operation across the House and with the motoring organisations, the grand prix will take place at Silverstone on 7 July.
Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry): As the constituency Member for Silverstone, I associate myself entirely with the questioner and, in this case, with the Minister's response on a matter of great importance for employment in my constituency and the locality and, indeed, the United Kingdom as a whole. Does the Minister agree that the emphasis now should be not on recrimination for anything that went wrong in the past, but on a celebration of the fact that we have got through a difficult time and are determined together to provide an excellent experience in just under a fortnight, on 7 July? We will then use it as the basis not merely forwe hopea sporting success, but to strengthen an industry which is of great importance in the locality and much more widely across the country.
Mr. Caborn: I welcome those remarks and reinforce them by saying that seven of the top 11 Formula 1 teams operate out of the UK, which is extremely important for the supply chain going into that. It is pleasingeven though it came out of a crisisthat the sport and the industry are now meeting. The strength of the totality of sport and industry coming together can only bode well for the future. I hope that in the near future the DTI, the DCMS and others will work closely together in a more formal way to promote the industry internationally as effectively as we can.
Mr. James Plaskitt (Warwick and Leamington): There are a number of very successful motor sport companies in Warwickshre, and one or two in my constituency. The industry makes an important contribution to the
Mr. Caborn: I have no doubt that many will be saying that. The old saying in engineering is that what happens in Formula 1 today happens in the luxury car market tomorrow and in the volume car market the day after. The Motor Industry Association plays an important role in trying to attract young people into the industry. I know that the MIA works with both higher and further education, and I hope that through the sport we can maximise the industry.
Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York): May I, too, pay tribute to motor sports in the United Kingdom? Motor sport is the third most watched sport after the World cup and the summer Olympics. Some 5 million television viewers watched last year's grand prix. The Minister ominously referred to a joint role for his Department and the DTI. Will he be more specific about what role his Department will play and what precisely the Government intend to do to keep the British grand prix going?
Mr. Caborn: I hope that what we will demonstrate on 7 July will compel the FIA to ensure that future grands prix will be held in the UK. In terms of the development of the industry, as I said, out of the little crisis that arose, the MSA and the MIA have been working together. The MSA has produced an ambitious development plan that clearly links in with that. We are reflecting on it, and it will then be for the Government to respond and see how we can interface with the industry.
The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): The Government are committed to increasing participation by young people throughout the country. My Department is working with the Department for Education and Skills to improve access to and quality of PE, school sport and club links for five to 16-year-olds in all parts of the country. A number of excellent projects are under way in the south-west.
Mr. Heath: I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, but does he accept that it is often felt that the priorities of his Department do not entirely recognise the difficulties of access in predominantly rural counties such as those in the west country? Facilities, where there are any, are located further apart and travel can be a real problem. The smaller communities desperately need help to provide equipment, pitches and the wherewithal for sport. In particular, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned school sport. Will he encourage inter-school sport, which is so desperately important in developing sport, by helping to
Mr. Caborn: We are putting investment into sports colleges and school sports co-ordinators, but it will be the practitioners on the ground who reflect that. I should like to quote Marie Hunter, head teacher of Penryn college and community school:
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): I am sure that the Minister will agree that many young people in rural areas such as the south-west benefit from the community and amateur sports clubs in their areas, as they provide the opportunity of playing team games, which are not always so easily available through schools. Does he agree that the clubs that provide such help and support could do an even better job if they enjoyed mandatory rate relief? Why do the Government think that that welcome help should be available only if clubs become fully fledged charities? If Ministers really believe in them, why cannot rate relief be included in the Government's tax package, as they originally said it would be?
Mr. Caborn: On the first step towards bringing charitable status to many clubs, we submitted to every hon. Member the leaflet "Charitable Status and Amateur Sports Clubs". Some 100,000 leaflets were published in the first print a few weeks ago, and we are now having to go into a second print because of the demand. There is real appetite for community and charitable status for amateur sports clubs, and we are working on the issue. Indeed, the performance and innovation unit is considering whether sport should be provided by charity as of right with regard to amateur sports clubs, and we are exploring that possibility. I remind the hon. Gentleman, who is distinguished in the world of sport, that his Government were in power for many years, but did not explore the matter at all during their tenure.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): The national lottery is providing £581 million in England through the new opportunities fund and £55 million to the space for sport and the arts scheme for the provision at schools of sports facilities, all of which are available to the community. In addition, the national lottery has awarded £153.5 million to fund 293 school sports facilities in England, all of which are available to the community. Lottery funding for school sports facilities is conditional on community use of those facilities.
Tessa Jowell: Because of the inflexibility to which the hon. Gentleman refers, the 40-hours-a-week rule has been waived in recognition of the difficulties that can face small primary schools, but that does not detract from the overriding principle that investment in school sports facilities should also extend and open up opportunities to the community.
Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton): I thank my right hon. Friend for her contribution to the provision of resources for sports in schools. Will she take particular note of the former mining areas where the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation used to provide substantial resources and help for schools as regards sports? That has now gone, so resources are needed to maintain the link between communities and sport. The lottery fund could fill that void. Will the Secretary of State give attention to that and help the mining villages to maintain their sports facilities?
Tessa Jowell: I take my hon. Friend's point very seriously. He is right in two respects. It is important to ensure, first, that coalfield communities get their fair share of lottery funds and, secondly, that children in those communities are able to benefit from opportunities to participate in sport. For the first time ever, we have a major programme of investment in sport facilities, amounting to more than £1.1 billion across the United Kingdom, which is linked to the introduction of school sport co-ordinators and primary liaison teachers. That will ensure that every child has the opportunity to enjoy sport both in and out of school. That is good for their academic achievement, improves their health and reduces crime. It is also good for the well-being of communities and the ambitions of the nation as whole.
Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath): Will the Secretary of State join me in praising the England and Wales Cricket Board for the various innovative measures that it has introduced to increase participation in cricket, not only by those in school, but by those in clubs who have left school but are using school facilities? Does she recognise that one of the problems involved in community use of school sports facilities is that although she and her predecessor promised many times to stop the sale of school sports fields, a report for her own Department has shown that the increase in sales of school sports fields, many by Labour-controlled local authorities, increased by 60 per cent. last year? If she could stop that and put sport back into the core curriculum, sports facilities would improve across the board.
Tessa Jowell: First, I pay tribute to the governing bodies that are taking seriously their role in introducing young people to sport and in providing high-quality coaching, so that the great cricketers, great rugby players
Secondly, the hon. Gentleman is, frankly, way wide of the mark. As my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), has made clear, under the previous Tory Government the sale of playing fields was running at about 40 a month, and the only way in which many schools could raise the necessary assets to build laboratories or new classrooms was to sell their playing fields. For the past five years, since 1997, we have tried to reverse that trend, and we have done so with great success. The £1.1 billion going from the lottery into improved facilities is evidence of that.
Mr. David Kidney (Stafford): On the first day of Wimbledon, does my right hon. Friend accept that when I recently launched the new out-of-school-hours courses at Rising Brook high school in Stafford, there was widespread interest by students in the school and youngsters in the surrounding community? [Interruption.] Very good; I shall return the shot later. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the way forward is through partnership between the schools, the lottery and the various sports associations if we are to achieve more smash hits in the future?
Tessa Jowell: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport said, the Commonwealth games are only weeks away in this summer of sport. The governing bodies, including the Lawn Tennis Association, have a vital role in ensuring that they recruit the next generation of young champions for the future.
Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex): Let us return to the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) made about playing fields. Does not the Secretary of State agree that although most schools are good at making their facilities more widely available in the community, especially in West Sussex, they can do little about it if the playing fields are sold from under their feet? Despite her protestations, the sale of school playing fields has recently reached record levels. Will she speak to Ministers in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and ensure that school playing fields can be sold for housing development only in the most exceptional circumstances, given their importance to the wider community?
Tessa Jowell: It is a pleasure to hold exchanges with the hon. Gentleman across the Floor, but he is talking rubbish about the Government's record. He is trying to conceal the Conservative Government's guilty past, which the Government are trying to rectify for the benefit of children by unprecedented investment in improved sports facilities, including £15 million to improve and upgrade playing field facilities.