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First, our over-arching and ambitious goal is to have 2 million more people active by 2012. Secondly, every young person in England should have the opportunity to participate in five hours of sport in and out of school. Thirdly, we shall create a world-class community sport system and an improved club structure through a refocusing of Sport England and an enhanced role for our national governing bodies. Finally, we shall have an enhanced system for funding elite sport through the creation of a mixed economy of three funding streamslottery, Exchequer and private sources. That will be the permanent legacy from our Olympic games. Taken together,
those measures represent a coherent sports policy with investment at every level. Success at elite level will drive more participation at the grass roots, and improved facilities and coaching at the grass roots will keep young people active in sport and expand our talent pool.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. He took an intervention from the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) about consultants, and I want to return to that point. Allegedly, £400 million has been spent on consultants, but does the Secretary of State not agree that we need to employ consultants to secure the very best contracts and the best value for people? Moreover, what is the point of securing a contract if one does not put in place a structure to monitor compliance with that contract? I happen to think that the spending was a good investment, and I hope that the Secretary of State does, too.
Andy Burnham: We should not be at all shy of saying that we will make use of the best expertise and professionals to ensure that we get the best possible value. These are complex projects; they need to be managed properly. At times, that will involve bringing in the best in the business to make sure that we get the best possible value. We should not be at all coy on that point.
Pete Wishart: I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way; he has been very generous with his time. He mentioned the lottery. In Scotland, we are set to lose £150 million for good causes involved in grass-roots sports at the very time we are trying to create a legacy from the Commonwealth games in Glasgow. Does he agree with all parties in the Scottish Parliamentand with the Secretary of State for Scotland, who agrees with this positionthat the money should be returned, so that we can ensure a legacy from Glasgow 2014?
Andy Burnham: I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will continue to have incredibly close dialogue with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to make sure that Glasgow 2014 is as successful as London 2012 and Manchester 2002. That is what we want. I give him a commitment that I will maintain that dialogue, but I must remind him that the Olympic games is a British project, for which Great Britain bid, and it will benefit all of Great Britain. Indeed, the football will take place in Scotland. Surprisingly, his party took advantage of the Beijing games to call for a Scottish Olympic team. I do not think that that was in line with the mood of the country at the time. It wants a British team to have a successful games in the capital city. However, we will make sure that the Commonwealth games in Glasgow are a success, too.
Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD):
I want to draw the Secretary of States attention to concerns that local authorities are expressing about their ability
to brand programmes that they are already running. I understand that my local authority has just had it confirmed that it can use the term, Team Sutton, but concerns remain about the fact that it cannot use the term London 2012, which will mean that the programmes remain relatively low-profile.
Andy Burnham: Of course, we have to ensure that the money that we need to raise privately to fund the Olympics and the building of the Olympic infrastructure is not compromised, and that there is not an overcrowded field in which everybody seeks to use the association with the Olympics. Local authorities can be associated with the Olympics through the Inspire brand that my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics has been so creative in bringing forward. I hope that that will give local authorities the marketing that they need.
Andy Burnham: I must make progress, but I will give way later. Before we address the elements of the legacy, it is important to reflect on the changes and the progress that we have made in the past 10 years. I am sure that the whole House will join me in congratulating the British Olympic and Paralympic teams in Beijing on their tremendous success. Britain won an incredible 102 medals in the Paralympics and 47 in the Olympics; it was Britains best medal haul in more than a century. Every single one of those medals was won by the hard work of athletes, with support from their coaches, who are often forgotten, and sacrifices from their families. Again, that is too often forgotten when we celebrate the achievements of our fine athletes.
Public funding helped, and it is important to remember that Olympic success is built not just on funding at elite level, but on a decade of investment at every level of sportschool, community and elite. That has not always been the case, and for all the lectures that we heard this afternoon from the Opposition, let us remind ourselves of where sport was back in 1996. At Atlanta in 1996, Britain won one gold medal and was 36th in the medals table. It was our worst Olympic performance ever. That was not just bad luck; it is what we get when we neglect and under-invest in this countrys sporting infrastructure at every level over a long period. The hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) shakes his head, but I saw first-hand
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I saw it with my own eyes: after-school competitive sport was simply allowed to crumble away, and it was not the
fault of loony left councils. Competitive sport has always been a bedrock of community life in areas such as St. Helens, where I went to school. That change was the result of failure to respond to one of the key elements of the teachers dispute of the mid-1980s. We saw the collapse of an informal, ad hoc, voluntary system of providing after-school sport, and no alternative was put in its place, which deprived millions of children of a quality introduction to sport during their school years. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent wants to dispute that record of events, he should stand up now and do so.
Hugh Robertson: I will. First, the Secretary of State just criticised us for making so-called party political points. Looking at the Olympic medal tables in the 1980s and early 1990s, we see that we came ninth, 11th, 12th and 13th in those years; he knows that perfectly well. He, of course, has picked the one year in the last 30-year cycle to suit his argument, which was a rather silly party political point. He also knows that it was overwhelmingly left-wing Labour councils that pursued an anti-competitive-sport agenda that did huge damage to the competitive sport system in this country.
Andy Burnham: I just do not accept that that is correct at all. If the hon. Gentleman looks back, he will see that the effect of the teachers dispute was that after-school sport ended. I do not believe that that was the result of political ideology, as the Conservatives always claim. It was the effect of the teachers dispute, and experts in the field will back me up on that. Not only were there fewer opportunities for young people to play sport, but there were fewer places where they could do so. Playing fields were sold off in their thousands. It was an era when this countrys sporting fabric, in schools and at community level, went into serious decline.
Mr. Hunt: No record was taken of the number of playing fields sold before 2000, and since 2001 well over 50 playing fields have been sold every single year. In 1999, the Government abolished compulsory competitive sports for the over-14s. At the time, the Secretary of State was special adviser to the then Secretary of State. Was that the right decision or the wrong decision?
Andy Burnham: On the point about playing fields, tests were put in place by the new Government in 1997 to ensure that there was no net loss of sporting amenities. Every application since then has been checked by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, or by Sport England, to ensure that if a playing field was disposed of, the proceeds were reinvested so that the community was provided with equivalent or better sports provision. That is a much better system than the one that was left to us by the hon. Gentlemans party in 1996. Is he defending that record? I do not think that he is.
Sir Patrick Cormack:
Mr. Deputy Speaker, it may introduce a note of harmony if I remind the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) that you and I remember the 1948 Olympics. What we really want as the major sporting legacy of the 2012 Olympics is a love of sport for its
own sake, without regard for filthy lucre. We want sportsmen and women who can inspire young people at school, as we and our fellows were inspired all those years ago. That is what we want.
Andy Burnham: I agree wholeheartedly. We need to encourage a sense of the simple joy of sport among young people. A quality introductioncoaching and competitionfor all young people will encourage them to find a joy in sport for life.
We are providing just such an introduction. The steps taken to put school sport back on its feet have been mentioned; in the past decade, £4 billion has been invested in school, community and elite sport, and in the past five years more than £1.5 billion has gone to physical education and school sport alone. We are seeing the results.
Let us look at the headline statistics from the school sport survey, published just two weeks ago. Some 90 per cent. of pupils now participate in at least two hours a week of high-quality PE and sport; only a quarter of pupils did so in 2002. Competitive sport is on the increase. Some 66 per cent. of pupils are involved in intra-school competitive activities, which is up from 58 per cent. last year. Some 41 per cent. of pupils are involved in inter-school competitionup from 35 per cent. last year. On average, each school offers 17.5 sports up from 14.5 in 2003-04.
To answer the previous point about school-club links, I should say that 32 per cent. of pupils participated in a local club linked to their school, up from 19 per cent. in 2004. Forget the exchanges that we have hadthose are the facts. School sport is back on its feet, and I am incredibly proud of those statistics.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: Does my right hon. Friend agree that our paltry number of Olympic medals in the years that he has not mentioned today came on the back of investment in private facilities? Sport was then very unegalitarian, but this Government have extended opportunity to all. My school grounds are now safe for my children to play in; they have not been sold for development. In addition, my teachers are well paid as a result of the Government and they are prepared to do what the Conservative party denied them the opportunity to do when it was in government.
Andy Burnham: I agree entirely with that assessment. I should say in praise of John Major that he recognised the importance of sport andbelatedlytried to put measures in place to benefit it. It is important that that should be recognised, and I do recognise it. The difficulty for Conservative Members is that that came right at the end of their 18 years in government and they did not leave sufficient time for any appreciable impact to be felt. John Major came with the right instincts and good ideas, but they were not made into reality. It was left to this Government to pick up the threads and turn the situation around. The statistics tell us that the situation in schools has been turned around.
Mr. Raynsford: I strongly endorse the approach that my right hon. Friend has taken in his speech, and the emphasis on the wide legacy impact and, in particular, the inspirational consequences of the Olympics for our children. I hope that this year he will be able to come to Woolwich, where in the past two years we have held sportathons on the site targeted for the Olympic shooting event; if he does, he will see the huge inspirational effect on children of knowing that the Olympics will be held in their area. Does that not make a mockery of the facile and incorrect Opposition claim that the shooting at Woolwich will have no legacy? Is that not an indication of the narrowness and foolishness of their approach?
Andy Burnham: I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend. I celebrate what has happened in his local authority area. One thing that I did not read out was that 99 per cent. of schools now have annual sports days, which bring inspiration and a joy in sport to all the young people who participate.
At this point, I should mention the UK school games, which my right hon. Friends the Minister for the Olympics and the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) were instrumental in bringing forward. Some 1,500 young people participated, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), in the summer. It was a fantastic event. The young people were so engrossed in what they were doing; they were really experiencing the thrill of competition and of being part of a major event. The school sports system is completely reinvigorated, and we should be thoroughly proud of it.
Harry Cohen: I want to raise the issue of football. There was disappointment that there was no Great Britain team at the Beijing games and there will be dismay if there is not a Great Britain mens and womens football team at the 2012 Olympics. Earlier, I tried to intervene on my right hon. Friend when he said that he was having talks with the various home countries football boards. Would he be prepared to take legislative action, if necessary, so that he could even pick the manager to pick the teams so that we had representatives in those tournaments?
Andy Burnham: The issue is close to my heart, although I am not sure whether I would go as far as my hon. Friend is enticing me to go. However, let me say this. I come from the north-west of this country; we are close to Northern Ireland and Wales and have strong links to Scotland. I feel strongly British, and it would be a crying shame if our national sport was not represented at London 2012 by a British team. The Olympics is an occasion for people of all political persuasions to put narrow, petty political point scoring behind them and think about the national celebration, letting people everywhere enjoy a moment when Britain comes together and puts its best face forward to the world.
I say to my hon. Friend that the Prime Minister and I have raised such issues with FIFA. The British Olympic Association is keen to field a British team at London 2012. If young people, wherever they come from, participate in that team, no measures should be taken against them for having played in a British team at London 2012, their home Olympics.
I preface my remarks by echoing the words of the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) in wishing the English rugby
league team all the best at the rugby league world cup. I hope that that is a sign of things to come, because I believe that England can stand on its own two feet internationally and make the best of it.
I should like to take the Minister back to the raid on Scotlands lottery money. Will he at least concede that although people in Scotland welcome and are looking forward to the London Olympics, losing Scottish money that should be going into Scottish sport, life and development leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I say to the House again that the interventions have been very long. The clock is ticking, and an awful lot of people are seeking to catch my eye. They are going to be very disappointed. Some who are making long interventions are hoping to catch my eye later; that is rather counter-productive.
Andy Burnham: Taking the narrow view is not in the right spirit. We are talking about the countrys, not just Londons, Olympic gamesthe British Olympic games. Scottish athletes will be part of those games, funded through UK Sport. We would all do well to listen to how Chris Hoy put it in the summer when he was celebrating his and his teams success and did not want petty divisions to be brought in. I have said to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) that we will ensure that there is a successful Commonwealth games in Glasgow, and we will all make an effort so that that happens. I hope that the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr. MacNeil) will not constantly seek to undermine the London Olympics, which will benefit us all.
Mr. Truswell: In the past, my right hon. Friend has acknowledged that one of the most important ways of engaging young people of all abilities and skills in any sport is to give them access to good-quality coaching. Before he moves on, will he elucidate what more is being done to ensure that schools, community sports clubs, local authorities and other organisations will be able to provide more inspirational and motivating coaching, which is such a crucial catalyst for promoting participation?
I have described the solid foundations on which we are building during this Olympic period. We want a generation of young people for whom sport at school and in the community has been a bigger part of life. They will then be the legacy of the Olympic games and remain active for their entire lives. We are planning to increase investment at every level so that that can become a reality.
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