24 Jun 2015 : Column 946

Several hon. Members rose

James Cleverly: I will not take interventions, because I am conscious of how many others wish to speak.

A&E waiting times are driven by three factors: the number of people coming in; the time it takes to treat them; and the ability to discharge or transfer patients. I do not have time to discuss the process that happens while patients are in an A&E department, so I will let others with more direct operational experience do that. It is ridiculous for any of us to pretend that the changes to the GP contract of 2004 did not have a significant and detrimental effect on waiting times for A&E. The fact that 90% of GPs chose to opt out of out-of-hours provision must have had an effect on the number of people going to A&E departments.

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab) rose

James Cleverly: I am not taking interventions.

The fact that the ability to discharge patients back into the community is dependent on the ability to care for them while they are in the community means that adult social care must be considered an essential and integral part of the A&E mix. If general wards are not able to discharge into the community, they are not able to make bed spaces available and, in turn, A&E departments are not able to transfer to other wards within the hospital.

I therefore pay tribute to the excellent work done on the Manchester model, putting together NHS provision and adult social care, so that the obvious inter-relationship between the two could be looked at holistically. I am happy that some Opposition Members—perhaps only some of them—welcomed the introduction of the Manchester model. Again, if we could work in a cross-party, collegiate way to learn the lessons from that integrated service model in Manchester and roll it out nationally, I think we would be in a much better place for looking at and subsequently dealing with the problem of A&E waiting times.

It has been alleged—I am sure Opposition Members will all leap to their feet to deny it—that Labour Members were keen during the last general election to weaponise the NHS. [Interruption.] Those were not my words. This is too important an issue to turn into a party political football. I will make this commitment—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order.

James Cleverly: I am obliged, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Let me make this commitment: if I perceive that my own Front Benchers are trying to turn the issue into a political football, I will be as critical of them as I am of Opposition Members.

Money is a very important part of the NHS mix, and I welcome the fact that my party has committed itself to funding the NHS to the levels recommended by experts in the field, but money alone is not enough. More money has been given to GPs’ surgeries, but the St Lawrence medical practice in my constituency is still struggling, which is forcing a number of people to use local A&E services.

This is an important issue; let us discuss it with decorum. I commend the Government’s actions.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 947

3.45 pm

Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): I hope, Madam Deputy Speaker, that you and the House will indulge me if I spend my six minutes giving an update on the “Shaping a healthier future” programme, which afflicts west and north-west London. I have done so several times during the three years since—to the consternation and disbelief of 2 million people in those areas—the programme was announced, although there was something of a hiatus over the election period.

I do not want to be self-indulgent, but I think that the subject of “Shaping a healthier future” is one to which all Members will wish to pay attention, because it is the biggest closure programme in the history of the NHS. Four out of nine A&E departments and two major hospitals have been substantially downgraded. Many see the programme as a prototype for the Keogh review of urgent and emergency care. I wonder what has happened to the latest stage of that review; we heard nothing about it from the Under-Secretary of State. It was put on ice last year because a proposal for the downgrading of most of the type 1 A&E departments in the country was seen as political suicide, but it now seems to have disappeared completely. I hope that there are good clinical reasons for that.

Reference has already been made to the excellent briefing with which Members were provided yesterday by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. Here are three of the statistics that the college came up with. The increase in A&E attendances last year was equivalent to the workload of seven large A&E departments; only 2% of A&E attendances involve major trauma, stroke and heart attack patients; and a maximum of 15% of patients who attend A&E departments could be seen in a non-hospital setting. Even that must be subject to a caveat, because I suspect that a fair number of the people who go to A&E departments are not knowingly accelerating their symptoms or time-wasting, but have genuine concerns, perhaps for a child with a fever that might be a symptom of flu but, again, might be due to meningitis.

The solution proposed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine is co-location. Its briefing states:

“Costly and time-consuming efforts to encourage patients to seek advice on urgent care by telephone or to attend elsewhere…have not reduced A&E attendances. Rather than blaming patients for attending A&E, when we know they have great difficulty accessing supposed alternatives, RCEM advocates a completely new approach. We believe that the issue should be dealt with by collocating”.

However, many hospitals in west London are already co-located, so that cannot be a solution for them.

There have been a number of developments in the past three or four months. Chelsea and Westminster hospital is about to take over West Middlesex University hospital. That new trust will believe that it can maintain two fully functioning type 1 A&E departments—unless another is to close in the area. Why, then, is Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust expected to manage with only one major A&E service in its three hospitals?

Ealing hospital’s maternity unit will close on 1 July. My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr Sharma), who could not stay for this part of the debate, asked me specifically to mention that, because it is a matter of great concern, not least because it will have an impact on other maternity services in the area.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 948

We are still suffering the effects of the closure of the A&E departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals last September, including four-hour waiting times at other hospitals such as Charing Cross hospital in my constituency, which is persistently below target. At the same time, stroke services are being centralised at Charing Cross for at least the next five years, having been transferred from St Mary’s hospital, although the plan is to move them away in due course.

In the last two years, £33 million has been spent on consultants just for the purposes of the “Shaping a healthier future” programme, of which £12.5 million was spent on a single consultant, McKinsey. That is £27,000 a day, and it could pay for 300 new nurses. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is spending one eighth of its staffing budget on bank and agency staff, and the most recent figures show that it had an £18.5 million deficit.

Against this crisis—and it is a crisis—in A&E, the proposal in relation to Charing Cross, a major emergency hospital in my constituency, is that all its buildings be demolished, that its beds be reduced from 360 to 24, and that it lose all consultant emergency services. The population of London, and of west London in particular, is going to go up massively over the next 10 years. That is unprecedented. This is a very poor scheme, not just clinically for the reasons that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine gives, but logistically, spatially and financially.

I am grateful to the Minister and the Secretary of State for the opportunity, at last, before the summer recess to meet and discuss these matters in depth. I will therefore say no more about them today. I look forward to that opportunity, and I know the Minister will attend in good faith and look at the concerns we all have about the “Shaping a healthier future” programme. These are not idle concerns. It is obviously in the Whips’ brief for Government Members to say, “Let’s not make the NHS a political football,” but I do not think any Opposition Member is doing so. We are not in an election period.

Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab): It is a bit rich for Government Members to accuse us of using the NHS as a party political football, when prior to the 2014 local elections the Ilford North Conservative Association put out a leaflet claiming that King George hospital’s A&E would not close, when before the general election we were told its closure would be reprieved, and when the NHS trust chief executive has now told us that the closure plan will be published in the next six to nine months. That was playing party politics with the NHS, cynically.

Andy Slaughter: My hon. Friend makes a very good point. I make sure that every time I refer to what is happening in my local NHS now, I look into the voluminous papers on “Shaping a healthier future”, or what the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust actually says, so that I am clear that I am describing what is happening, not giving my opinion or saying something that has come from a party political standpoint. I simply wish that the Government would listen and respond in kind.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I apologise for coming late to my hon. Friend’s speech. The reason why is that outside Ealing hospital there are

24 Jun 2015 : Column 949

currently 200 people demonstrating because of the maternity unit’s closure, which will put undue stress on the local community. He has listened to many of the arguments regarding its closure, and none of them stacks up. Perhaps those 200 people will be listened to.

Andy Slaughter: I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. No one does more than him, directly and positively, to draw attention to the crisis in the NHS in west London. His local hospital, Hillingdon, is not closing, but throughout the process over the past three years he has been absolutely steadfast in defending and supporting those of us whose local NHS is being downgraded, not just because he is a good comrade, but because he knows that the knock-on effect of hospital closures will make it impossible for any of the 2 million people throughout north-west and west London to receive a decent health service.

I shall say no more today, as other Members wish to speak. I again thank the Minister for the opportunity we will have to make our case. I hope the Government are listening on this matter, which is the most urgent matter that I have dealt with in my 30 years as a councillor and as an MP. It is about the preservation of the NHS for a substantial part of London’s population. These are genuine and legitimate concerns, and I hope the Government will listen to them.

3.53 pm

Ben Howlett (Bath) (Con): I, too, congratulate the two new Members, for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff) and for Salford and Eccles (Rebecca Long Bailey), who have spoken. I made my maiden speech a couple of weeks ago and know what a terrifying experience it is.

As Members from all parts of the House may already know, I have watched the NHS provide first-class healthcare to my mother, who has had a debilitating long-term musculoskeletal condition for the past 20 years. I am absolutely certain that without the support of the NHS her pain and suffering would have been an awful lot worse. Having said that, I should note that on a number of occasions she has needed to visit A&E to make her condition a little better, and, although improvements have been seen, her experiences have been mixed. I appreciate that my family’s case is just one example of this care. Improvements have been seen but people from around the UK are facing a mixed picture on care received at A&Es.

From the outset, I wish to stress, in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) and the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), that turning this issue into a political football is not helpful and that this is not a new issue. I have worked alongside the NHS for seven years and have given advice and support to four Health Secretaries, both Labour and Conservative, with each saying that they would do all they could to improve A&Es across the UK and more than their predecessor to cut unnecessary bureaucracy for medical professionals. As I said, this issue is not a new one. Emergency medical professionals have been warning that a hiatus has been on the horizon for a decade or more. I am therefore pleased that this Secretary of State has recognised the need to look at the issue much more seriously and holistically.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 950

I would like to spend some time correcting a number of myths that have been espoused by the Opposition. First, and most importantly, I should say that the increase in A&E attendance is not because funding has been cut. The better care programme, designed to integrate health and social care services between national Government and local authorities, is predicted to reduce A&E admissions by 3%. The 111 service launched in 2013 directs 8% of callers to A&E departments, whereas 30% of these people would have gone to A&E if the service were not available. In addition, £150 million has been provided to fund evening and weekend GP appointments, through the Prime Minister’s challenge fund, meaning that people can access care through GPs instead of having to go to A&E.

Given that picture, we are clearly not going to be able to provide the high-quality care that is needed without proper investment. I am pleased that this Government have decided to take on board the recommendations of Simon Stevens and invest a further £8 billion in the NHS. That, of course, will have a significant positive effect on A&Es. Last year, the Government invested a record total of £700 million, ensuring local services had the certainty of additional money and time to plan how best to use it. As the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said:

“This represents the largest annual additional funding yet seen.”

I know from speaking to people at the Royal United hospital in my constituency that this additional investment has really helped.

The Opposition spend most of their time trying to do down our achievements, which the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), espoused in his opening remarks, but the protection of the NHS budget and the additional funding since 2010 has enabled A&E departments’ capacity to increase significantly since 2010. That additional funding has paid for 2,500 beds in both acute and community treatment, and the equivalent of 1,000 new doctors. We have now added almost 1,200 additional A&E doctors, including an additional 400 A&E consultants, and 1,700 additional paramedics since 2010. The additional £2 billion being invested in front-line care in 2015-16 will go a long way to supporting the NHS into the next winter.

My next point relates to weekly reporting of A&E data. The Opposition will be very much aware that the best healthcare decisions are clinically led, although it seemed as though they disagreed with that earlier on. As Sir Bruce Keogh rightly explained in his recent letter to the chief executive of NHS England:

“There is concern that, in a small number of instances, some targets are provoking perverse behaviours and the complexity of others is obscuring their purpose and meaning.”

I agree with him that the A&E standard has been an important means of ensuring that people who need to get rapid access to urgent and emergency care do so, and we must not lose that focus. I also agree with him that we do not need to review the four-hour standard at this time and that we need to look at a wider range of measures if we are to drive improved outcomes across the entire system.

I totally agree with the suggestion that we standardise reporting arrangements so that performance statistics for A&E, referral-to-treatment times, cancer, diagnostics,

24 Jun 2015 : Column 951

ambulances, 111 and delayed transfers of care are all published on one day each month. That fits very nicely with the calls from medical practitioners across the UK for a reduction in the burdens of bureaucracy that have been crippling productivity at the heart of our NHS. One key reason for my brother and his wife leaving this country to practise medicine in New Zealand was this overarching issue of bureaucracy. I very much hope this plan will show medical professionals and patients that we all look to improve the quality of data collection.

Sir Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire) (Con): I do not know whether my hon. Friend had this experience, but during the election campaign a number of constituents told me how excellent the services were in A&E. Of course we have a brand new unit at the Lister hospital, but did he have the same experience?

Ben Howlett: Yes, absolutely, I did. When I was speaking to countless residents on the doorsteps across Bath, I found that the quality of provision of the Royal United hospital and other hospitals around the rest of the UK was tremendous. I spend a lot more time than Opposition Members do in thanking NHS professionals for the work they are doing in my constituency and elsewhere.

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab) rose

Ben Howlett: I am coming to my conclusion, so I will not take an intervention.

In conclusion, I very much hope that the Secretary of State will continue to find the investment that is needed in our A&Es to keep up with the pressures; think about the need to encourage better access to primary care and community care; and reduce the burdens of bureaucracy that have afflicted our NHS for so long, and that resulted in my brother and his wife fleeing to New Zealand to escape.

4 pm

Richard Arkless (Dumfries and Galloway) (SNP): It is indeed a huge honour, Madam Deputy Speaker, to be called by you today to make my maiden speech in this very important debate on A&E services in the NHS. As an introduction, I can report with a small measure of glee that the NHS in Dumfries and Galloway has treated 96.8% of all A&E out-patients within the Scottish Government’s target of four hours. The NHS remains safe in public hands north of the border.

As is customary, I wish to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr Russell Brown, who was elected to this House in 1997 on a tidal wave of Blairite euphoria, ousting the seemingly immoveable Sir Hector Monro. My election to this House has absolutely nothing to do with Russell Brown as a person or as a constituency MP. He was merely a victim of the political reawakening that has occurred all over Scotland, and the resultant Scottish National party tsunami, and he was let down badly by his party. My message to Russell is simple: thank you, Russell, for your tireless dedication to the people of Dumfries and Galloway.

The Labour party has left the people of Dumfries and Galloway and of Scotland; it is not the other way round. My message to those on the Labour Benches is simple: can they please get their act together? We had an opportunity to defeat this Tory Government

24 Jun 2015 : Column 952

last week to create a referendum fairness board, and they blew it. They would rather sit on their hands or vote with the Tories than support an SNP proposal. They should ditch the tribal opposition and work with us so that we can put this wafer-thin majority to its full test.

This SNP group is determined to dismantle the myths that surround our brand of nationalism. Perhaps I am in the best position to dispel those particular myths, because I am not from a traditional SNP nationalist household. Independence is not an argument that I used to subscribe to; I actually voted no to devolution in 1997, and I only joined the SNP four days after the independence referendum. My conversion has been protracted, evidence-based and not led by blind patriotism. As a dual qualified lawyer and businessman, I was invited to speak at a town hall debate, a mere 15 months ago, during the referendum, alongside my hon. Friend the Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh). I kept getting invited back—almost 50 times in fact. Here I am, 15 months later, in this world famous Chamber representing the people of my home region. What a privilege it is. A special mention goes to my wonderful wife, Anne, whose dedication to our two young children allows me to take up the privilege in this House.

Dumfries and Galloway, or the Scottish Riviera as I prefer to call it, is a constituency of serene beauty, abundant wildlife, vast forestry, rolling hills and a coastline that stretches almost 200 miles. It runs from my home town of Stranraer in the west to Wigtown, Newton Stewart and Whithorn in the Machars, to Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas in the Stewartry, all the way across to Dalbeattie and Dumfries in the east. There is something for everyone. It is a place that I love dearly, and we are indeed a resilient bunch. It is, and should be even more, a tourist mecca. There are so many festivals and community initiatives—simply too many to mention in total. Members should visit the book town of Wigtown, the artists’ town of Kirkcudbright, and the Wickerman festival. They should watch out for the UK’s finest oyster festival in Stranraer, coming soon. We are a region of entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors. We invented the pedal bicycle and discovered electro-magnetism, and we gave Christianity to Scotland in the fifth century through St Ninian of Whithorn.

In my view, Dumfries and Galloway is dynamic and growing, with more small businesses employing fewer than 10 people per head of population than any other constituency in Scotland—a remarkable statistic, given the rural economic disadvantages that we suffer. Small businesses are our largest employers, the lifeblood of our community and the lifeblood of our economy, but they need serious help to fulfil their potential. Throughout my constituency, 3G networks are very rare and 4G virtually non-existent; fibre-optic cables do not reach the outlying areas. That is simply not good enough. Would it not be fantastic if 5G was rolled out with 100% geographical coverage in the rural areas of the UK that need the help the most—places like Dumfries and Galloway? That is the real way we can rebalance our economy and it is something I pledge to fight extremely hard for in the coming years.

No maiden speech by an MP for Dumfries and Galloway would be complete without reference to our national treasure, Robert Burns. Although he was born

24 Jun 2015 : Column 953

in Ayrshire, we in Dumfries and Galloway claim Scotland’s national bard as our very own. Burns wrote of the River Nith, which runs through the heart of Dumfries,

“The banks of the Nith are as sweet poetic ground as any I ever saw”.

It is hard to disagree. Dumfries was inspirational to Burns, who was at his most productive when living there, composing classics such as “Auld Lang Syne” and the masterpiece “Tam o’ Shanter”. However, poverty and hunger were ever present in Robert Burns’ life. We have food banks in Dumfries and Galloway, frequented not only by the poor and the disadvantaged, but by victims of draconian benefits sanctions and, more important, the working poor—people who work full time but still find themselves living in poverty. In 2015 in my constituency, children are going to school hungry. Austerity policies are literally starving our children not just of a happy childhood, but of a successful future. Burns’ gratitude for good nourishment was clear when he wrote:

“Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

Sae let the Lord be thankit.”

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): I call Andrea Jenkyns. The time limit is now four minutes.

4.7 pm

Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Dumfries and Galloway (Richard Arkless) on his passionate maiden speech. I know how nerve-wracking it can be to speak here.

I have experienced the good and the bad of the NHS. I have lost a loved one, but also seen the excellent care that my mum received when she had a knee replacement recently, and that my sister has received for her multiple sclerosis. For my university research dissertation, I looked at healthcare systems around the world, their per capita spend and outcomes. I can honestly say that my research showed that no country and no Government get it right 100% of the time, but I for one am proud of our NHS and I urge Labour Members to stop talking it down and to drop their selective amnesia. Every Member of this House has something to learn from our party history and I would like us all to pull together for the NHS.

We all have lessons to learn, so let us look at the UK statistics on A&E services. NHS England has a 95% A&E target and achieves 93%; the figure for Labour-controlled Wales is 83%, and for SNP-controlled Scotland, 87%. [Interruption.] Those are the figures from NHS Scotland, so perhaps hon. Members should check that out.

Karin Smyth: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Andrea Jenkyns: No, as I have only three minutes.

My point is that every Member of this House has lessons to learn. I think we should be critical friends, looking honestly at what works and what does not, and sharing best practice. If we look at our record, we see that NHS England has the best emergency care of any western nation. We should celebrate that fact. In Yorkshire and Humber alone, we have 582 more doctors and nurses than in 2010, and I celebrate that. I have worked

24 Jun 2015 : Column 954

for healthcare charities for the last four years. Today I met a patients’ association and, together, we are setting up an all-party parliamentary group on patient care. We need to do things in a constructive manner, rather than using this issue for political means. It is only through collective working, including working with patients’ groups and healthcare charities, and by looking at strong local leadership on a ward-by-ward basis, that change can happen.

I welcome the Government’s decision to have a seven-day NHS. We will need to look at how that is managed, but it will take pressure off our A&E services. I will finish by saying that we need to be a critical friend. We need to be honest and make sure there are consequences when things go wrong, and that lessons are learned. We also need to celebrate our fantastic NHS, in which we are still investing. I urge every Member in the House to support that.

4.10 pm

Dr Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) (Lab): First, I place on record my condolences to the friends and family of the two people who tragically lost their life at Ealing Broadway station yesterday. I am sure that all Members of the House will join me in that.

Who was it who said,

“I think of the emergency nurse practitioner in Surrey, still in his overalls, telling me that closing A&E means an hour long drive to hospital for some people, and potentially lives lost”?

Does anyone know? It was the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) in 2007. In my constituency, that possibility is becoming a reality. Four of our A&E units have either been closed or are closing. Charing Cross hospital has numerous specialisms, but 55% of the site has been earmarked for luxury housing—you couldn’t make it up. Both Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals’ A&Es have already shut their doors, although Central Middlesex’s was a brand-new, well-rated facility. People are being diverted to Northwick Park, over 7 miles away from those two, which the Government’s own Care Quality Commission has rated as a failing hospital.

The Government claim that these units have been saved, but their replacement—urgent care centres—cannot be used for emergencies, are staffed by general practitioners rather than consultants, and do not take ambulances. In short, they are not A&Es. Ealing hospital—my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) has gone now—loses its maternity services this month. The last projected birth is today, 24 June. People see that as a precursor of things to come, given what is happening to A&E.

Ealing hospital is where I lost my dad in September, so it is a place I know well. I remember the building going up in 1979. My dad was nearly 80 and had been ill for a long time, but we hear of cases such as that of the two-year-old in north London who was taken to what people thought was an A&E, but it had closed down, and he died. These cases are dismissed as anomalies, but they will become more and more frequent, if not the norm.

In my constituency, Mrs Khorsandi lives in the next road to Central Middlesex hospital. In November, after its closure, she had a seizure and was taken to Northwick Park. Her daughter Shappi Khorsandi told me that the

24 Jun 2015 : Column 955

hospital discharged her, even though she was not well enough. It was clear that there was no room for her. Her daughter said, “As I don’t drive, she came home in a taxi. She has no recollection of that.” The mother had another fit at her daughter’s house, hit her head on the sink, was taken to hospital again, and had a third seizure in front of the doctors. The daughter told me that they were amazing. Out of nowhere, five people appeared, and they were excellent; however, they had no time to breathe, let alone answer questions. NHS staff are doing the best they can, but they are operating in incredibly uphill circumstances.

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that while her urban constituency contrasts dramatically with my rural constituency, Government Front-Benchers should recognise the challenging geographical differences between our constituencies? The reason why the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust may run a £26.3 million deficit is our challenging rural area.

Dr Huq: Yes. My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. Another constituent of mine, Mr Anand, lives near Hammersmith hospital and its now closed A&E. He wrote to me describing what he called “near third-world conditions”, and a queue of 10 ambulances. NHS North West London has had the worst waiting times in the country. We have witnessed cutting corners in a process that adds up to its fragmentation and selling off.

The Tory promise, “No top-down reorganisation of the NHS”, did not come to pass for my constituents. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter) described, NHS North West London has spent £33 million in two years on consultants. It spent £13.2 million this year alone, including on Saatchi and Saatchi and McKinsey, through its programme “Shaping a healthier future”, which the locals see as trying to justify the closure of hospitals. Do not get me started on the famously airbrushed poster from 2010 that proclaimed, “I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS”. In west London, that does not ring true. Ealing used to be known for comedy, but what has happened to our NHS locally has gone beyond a joke.

4.15 pm

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): We have had a good debate. I pay tribute to hon. Members who made their maiden speeches. I particularly congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff) and for Salford and Eccles (Rebecca Long Bailey). Having been a student at the University of Salford, I had not realised until now that I followed in the footsteps of Marx and Engels by supping in The Crescent; you learn something new every day. The hon. Member for Dumfries and Galloway (Richard Arkless) also made his maiden speech. I congratulate them on their contributions. It is clear that all three will make their presence felt in the House of Commons in the coming years.

I thank the other Members who have contributed, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart), for Hartlepool (Mr Wright), for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter) and for Ealing Central and Acton (Dr Huq), and the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), who leads on health issues for the SNP. On the Government Benches, we

24 Jun 2015 : Column 956

heard from the hon. Members for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Gordon Henderson), for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), for Crawley (Henry Smith), for Braintree (James Cleverly), for Bath (Ben Howlett), and for Morley and Outwood (Andrea Jenkyns). Many Conservative Members stuck very closely to their party’s policy research unit paper, a copy of which I was conveniently sent earlier today. I congratulate them on being so loyal to their Whips Office.

It would be very remiss of me not to place on record my own tribute to the doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and other dedicated NHS staff who provide such extraordinary and professional care. Many Members of this House who have been here for a number of years will know that I had a run of bad health about five years ago. As a result, I became far more familiar with my own local hospitals, Tameside general and Stepping Hill, than I had hoped to, even given my position as a constituency Member of Parliament and a shadow Health Minister. I have experienced the very best of NHS care. If I am honest, I also experienced some care that did not meet the standards that we perhaps expect of our NHS. I know, however, that we have a workforce who are completely dedicated and caring.

The House should be in absolutely no doubt, though, that those staff are under a great deal of pressure—sustained pressure that has been building over the past five years. The facts need to be laid out in the open, and Ministers need to be challenged on their fictions. They made all sorts of desperate promises to get them through an election campaign, and now they need to show where the money is going to come from to pay for those promises and to set out exactly how they are going to deliver them. Yet what have Ministers been doing since the general election? I do not disagree with Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s decision to improve the publication of data for mental health and for cancer—that is welcome—but I do disagree with what this Government intend to do in relation to A&E data. Instead of dealing with the pressure facing the NHS in England, they have decided to stop publishing weekly data about those pressures.

Helen Whately: Will the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that the NHS leads the world in transparency, and that an excessive focus on one data point—the four-hour target for A&E—is detrimental overall to patients?

Andrew Gwynne: We should remember, of course, that the last Labour Government started that transparency with heart and stroke data.

I think we all know what is going on here. There can be no clearer sign of the Tories’ failure on the NHS than the fact that hospital accident and emergency departments have now missed their own four-hour target for 100 weeks in a row. This is a landmark failure, to which the Prime Minister promised he would not return. The reality is that this Government caused the crisis by making it harder to see a GP and by stripping back social care services.

Let us be under no illusions—[Interruption.] The Secretary of State can chunter, but social care cuts are NHS cuts. The Government made damaging mistakes that have seen the number of people going into hospital soar. The best thing that they could do is to admit it and explain what they are going to do to fix the problem. It is stunning that their only solution is to spin their mistakes and to make the NHS less transparent.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 957

Let me briefly come on to nurse staffing problems. Only this week, we have seen yet another example of poor policy coming out of the Department of Health. If it insists, along with the Home Office, that migrants not earning £35,000 after six years must go home, that will cut a hole right through the middle of our NHS. The Royal College of Nursing estimates that 6,620 nurses will have to leave the country by 2020. Because of the Government’s failure to train adequate numbers of nurses in the UK, those nurses will have cost almost £40 million to recruit from overseas. People coming from other countries to work in the NHS make a huge contribution and our health service would not be able to cope without them, but this is now a mess entirely of Ministers’ own making.

The short-sighted cuts to nurse training in the early years of the last Parliament left NHS hospitals with no option but to recruit from overseas or hire expensive agency nurses. That is also one of the main reasons why many hospital trusts are now in deficit. It was an absolutely profound error and I hope that the Minister will acknowledge that. As ever with this Government, patients and taxpayers will pay the price for the Prime Minister’s mismanagement of the health services.

There have been further mistakes. On GP access, it stands to reason that if it is made harder to see a GP, people will be more likely to end up in hospital. As we have heard, the reasons for the crisis are many, but the lack of access to GP services appears to account for much of the problem. No amount of obfuscation and massaging of figures can hide the fact that this Government have made it harder to get a GP appointment. All Members will know of constituents who have had to phone their doctors only to be told that no appointments are available and that they should ring back the next day—which they do, only to experience the same problem again. That they end up in frustration in A&E should not come as any shock.

The Prime Minister has now repeated his 2010 promise to provide access to GPs seven days a week, but he cannot even provide access to them five days a week. When patients want up-to-date information on how their local hospital is performing, this Government plan to publish the data less frequently. I hope that the Government will now see sense, and I commend our motion to the House.

4.24 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): Time is rather short, but I want to start by acknowledging one or two things. First, it is nice to see at least one signatory to the Labour non-grandstanding pact present for the closing speeches, if not the opening ones.

More importantly, there were three maiden speeches. The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff) mentioned James Brown, and the hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Rebecca Long Bailey) mentioned The Pogues, so a musical theme has run through the debate. The hon. Member for Dumfries and Galloway (Richard Arkless) took us to the Scottish Riviera, via a wonderful Burns quote. We all enjoyed their maiden speeches very much. We also heard some thoughtful speeches from people with experience in the service.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 958

I say to those who are new to the House that those of us who were here in the last Parliament have a sense of déjà vu about this debate and, indeed, the motion. We want to move on from that. The public gave us a mandate in the election based on our record on the NHS, our commitment to safeguard its future, our honesty in accepting the challenges that lie ahead and the need to find long-term solutions. A number of right hon. and hon. Members alluded to those challenges and solutions. The public saw through the Opposition’s tired attack at the election and realised that we were the party that was not only acknowledging the long-term pressures, but committing the resources that the NHS said it needed to continue to be the best health service in the world. That remains the big challenge for the Opposition.

As was said by the Chair of the Health Committee, whom I congratulate on her re-election, the election is behind us and we need to look forward; we need to look at the areas where there is consensus and remember the impact that debates in this House have on the wonderful staff in our NHS.

Let me put on the record what is happening in our accident and emergency services. The NHS in England achieved 94.9% of people in A&E being seen, treated and discharged in four hours. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), who spoke for the SNP, underlined just what an achievement it is to deliver on those targets. We all enjoyed her thoughtful and measured contribution very much.

The change from weekly to monthly A&E performance reporting is based on the clinical advice of Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director, as other Members have said. Far from reducing transparency, the change will increase it because, from August, NHS England will publish the key NHS performance data together. That will include more frequent reporting of cancer waits—something that is widely welcomed by cancer charities. The change is not only clinically based, but is supported by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Nuffield Trust, the NHS Confederation and the Patients Association. The Opposition are way out of line with all those bodies in their criticisms of the change.

There has been talk of deficits in NHS providers. Of course that is cause for concern, but we are taking action on those deficits. As I said, during the general election campaign we talked about what we could do to address such long-term challenges. In opening the debate, the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer) mentioned the specific measures that are being taken to address trusts’ deficits and help them get back into a better situation.

On GP access, the fact is that four out of five people are able to get an appointment when it is convenient. We are building on that by investing £175 million in extending GP access. By March next year, the Prime Minister’s challenge fund will cover 18 million people, who will get extended hours and weekend appointments if they need them.

We have heard from hon. Members that GPs and other health professionals are responding positively to the challenges that the circumstances have set them. I was interested to hear of the innovations that my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Gordon Henderson) told us about in his area. We

24 Jun 2015 : Column 959

heard about the focus on increased access to mammography in Crawley. There were many other great examples of how the service is innovating.

To meet demand, we have 1,200 more GPs than in 2010. The Secretary of State spoke only last week about a new way forward for GPs and an increased focus on under-doctored areas. That came out in a number of contributions, including that of the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr Wright).

Providing the funding to support the NHS’s “Five Year Forward View” has only been possible because of our long-term economic plan. We remain committed to listening to and supporting the NHS as it works through the detail of the delivery of the “Five Year Forward View”.

We are building on our record of achievement. Compared with five years ago, our NHS performs over 1 million more operations; has 9,100 more doctors and 8,800 more nurses; and sees, treats and discharges 3,000 more people within the four-hour target. We intend to build on those achievements in this Parliament. It is a great track record. However, the NHS simply cannot go on treating more people at that rate, so as Simon Stevens has said, we need to go up several gears on prevention—a subject to which I hope we will return at another time.

There is growing political consensus on the need to integrate health and social care, which hon. Members have spoken about, and this Government have started to do that. It is all right to talk about it, but with the better care fund the Government have started to do it.

A strong NHS needs a strong economy, and that remains the unanswered question for the Opposition, both in the election and every time they sponsor one of these debates. We are committed to supporting our NHS, not running it down. We are backing the NHS’s own plan for meeting the challenges and opportunities of the future. That promise was not matched by the Opposition, and the public knew it. It remains the elephant in the room for their Front Benchers.

As we go forward, that is where we on the Government side will be putting our collective energy: patients before party; prevention as well as cure; backing our NHS, not running it down. I urge the House to reject the motion.

Question put.

The House divided:

Ayes 270, Noes 309.

Division No. 24]


4.30 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Ms Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Butler, Dawn

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, Rosie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Debbonaire, Thangam

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Elliott, Tom

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Ferrier, Margaret

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Grant, Peter

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinahan, Danny

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Bridget Phillipson


Tom Blenkinsop


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, Glyn

Davies, James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Osborne, rh Mr George

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Guy Opperman


Jackie Doyle-Price

Question accordingly negatived.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 960

24 Jun 2015 : Column 961

24 Jun 2015 : Column 962

24 Jun 2015 : Column 963

24 Jun 2015 : Column 964

Sport and the 2012 Olympics Legacy

4.43 pm

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): I beg to move,

This House notes that the number of people participating in regular sport or physical activity has fallen significantly since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; fears that the Government has squandered the Olympic legacy it was bequeathed in 2010; believes that increasing participation in a wide range of sports is key to creating the next generation of elite athletes and to improving the health and wellbeing of the nation; and urges the Government to take urgent action to boost participation and support local grassroots sports clubs and associations.

Nobody seriously doubts that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games were an enormous success. They were a beacon for the world; we showed how these things can be done and should be done, from the magnificent opening ceremony with its celebration of the industrial revolution and Labour’s part in creating the NHS through to the best-attended Paralympic games ever. Team GB won 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze medals at the Olympics, and 120 medals at the Paralympic games. There were so many great moments: Mo Farah; Jessica Ennis; Charlotte Dujardin; Alistair Brownlee; Ellie Simmonds; Jade Jones; Nicola Adams; Chris Hoy, winning his seventh Olympic medal; Victoria Pendleton, winning her third; Rebecca Adlington and Katherine Grainger, winning their fourth medals; and David Weir and Sarah Storey, wining four golds each in just one games.

The very fact that the baton was passed from Labour to the coalition underlined basic British values: democracy, fair play—or, as we say in Wales, chwarae teg—and the rule of law. They were great times, but the point of hosting the games was never just to run a big event; there had to be a legacy. We were spending a lot of taxpayers’ money and diverting £675 million of lottery funds away from good causes, including the arts. The total cost of both games came to just under £9 billion, so there had to be a legacy; otherwise, it was just the most expensive party in our history.

When we were in government and made the original bid, we said that we wanted to see

“millions more young people—in Britain and across the world—participating in sport and improving their lives”.

The coalition reaffirmed that in 2010, saying that it wanted to

“foster a healthy and active nation.”

That is why Labour set a target of getting 2 million more people in England being active by 2012 and set up a £140 million fund to provide free swimming to the over-60s and the under-16s.

In December 2010, the coalition set itself four legacy aims: increasing grassroots sporting participation; exploiting opportunities for economic growth; promoting community engagement; and ensuring the development of the Olympic Park after the games, to drive the regeneration of east London.

What has happened since then? Frankly, it has been an own goal, a dropped baton, a belly flop. The primary legacy aim was to increase participation, but, in virtually every region of this country and in virtually every sport, that has not happened—quite the reverse. It is striking. The figures are down in the north-east, the north-west, the east midlands, the west midlands, the south-east, the

24 Jun 2015 : Column 965

south-west and the eastern region. There are 62,100 fewer people participating every week in the north-west, and 72,200 fewer people participating every week in Yorkshire.

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the decline actually started before the Olympic games? Is it not possible to pinpoint it to the scrapping of the schools sport partnership, which did such good work in spreading best practice and sports participation among young people in schools?

Chris Bryant: My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point and I hope the sports Minister was not booing in disagreement, because she made that point herself on 18 December 2013. I look forward to her joining us in the Lobby later this evening.

This is not just about every region in the country; it is about every sport. Participation is down in non-Olympic sports, including cricket by 73,200 and squash by 79,900. Participation is also down in Olympic sports, including archery by 23,600, badminton by 119,800, basketball by 46,900, football by 121,400 and table tennis, or whiff-whaff, as the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson)—who bears some responsibility for all this—has often referred to it. Most striking of all, participation in the one sport that is participated in equally by men and women and boys and girls—it is the most popular sport in this country—is down by a massive 818,500. Thirty-three out of 45 funded sports have seen a fall or practically no increase at all in participation since the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab): On the schools sport partnership, it is a fact that low sports participation is heavily correlated with deprivation. One of the greatest problems in recent years is the decline in participation in areas of deprivation, which is exactly where the schools sport partnerships were doing such a superb job, including in my own constituency and in parts of London where space and external space are at a premium and where we have to work hard to overcome that.

Chris Bryant: We should rename my hon. Friend Mystic Karen, because that is the exact point I was going to come on to. She is right. It is one of the most depressing factors—[Interruption.] I can hear some chuntering from the Government Front Bench. Yes, it is true that trampolining figures went up a little bit, but the problem with trampolining is that you always come back down.

Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the major drivers of school sports and sports inclusion in areas of deprivation is the local council? Given the excessive cuts to local councils, is it any wonder that sports participation has gone down?

Chris Bryant: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. [Interruption.] I think I have managed to hear another little squeak from the sports Minister. [Interruption.] I am sorry; I would not want to malign her. Perhaps she will agree with my hon. Friend later in the debate. In 2013, the Minister pointed out that it was a disgrace that so many schools had sold school playing fields

24 Jun 2015 : Column 966

since 2010. Why did they do that? They did it because of the problems that local authorities had. Whichever way we cut the figures, they are a disaster.

Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con): Will the hon. Gentleman give way? He is talking rubbish.

Hon. Members: Give way!

Chris Bryant: I have been dealing with the hon. Gentleman since I was at university with him, and I know when to give way and when not to give way. He will just have to wait a little bit longer.

Hon. Members might have thought that the success of the Paralymics would have encouraged more people with limiting disabilities to take part in sport, but one major problem is that the figure for people with limiting disabilities taking part in sport has fallen dramatically, by 171,000.

Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) rose—

Boris Johnson rose

Chris Bryant: I will give way to the hon. Gentleman and then to the former Secretary of State.

Boris Johnson: If the sporting legacy from the Olympic games is as bad as the hon. Gentleman says—by the way, he is completely wrong, because as far as I know, another 1.4 million people are playing sport in this country since 2005—can he explain why, in London since the Olympic games, there has been an increase of 400,000 people playing sport? Is that something to do with the great work done by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) as the commissioner for sport in London?

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Chris Bryant: I warn Conservative Members who are enjoying a little moment of Borisonics that the truth of the matter is that the hon. Gentleman likes to elide his figures. It sounded as if he was comparing like with like, but of course he was not. He was comparing 2005 with now. It is true the Labour Government dramatically increased the participation in sport from 2005 to 2010, but his lot—his Government—managed to destroy that legacy. He can try to catch your eye later, Madam Deputy Speaker, and we will see whether he can recount better statistics.

All hon. Members can perhaps congratulate the new award-winning “This Girl Can” campaign. With such campaigns and with all the talk of improving female participation in sport, we might have thought that the figures for women would have improved, but unfortunately not: 212,000 fewer women take part in sport every week than at the time of the Olympics. That is why we needed that excellent campaign, run by Sport England, to try to fix the Government’s failures.

Mrs Miller: The hon. Gentleman might be being a little selective in his use of statistics. When my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) mentioned the 1.4 million extra people playing sport, he was rightly referring to the time at which the bid was secured. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman rightly refers in the motion to the fact that the Olympic legacy started well before the Olympic games were staged in London.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 967

Chris Bryant: I am sorry, but the former Secretary of State does not seem to understand that she is praising the Labour Government. We had significant success between 2005 and 2010, and I would argue that the success we achieved up to 2012 was significant, before she and her Government managed to get their hands on the situation. The problem is the legacy after the games, which happened entirely on the watch of the Conservatives. I noted earlier in Prime Minister’s questions that he kept referring to “the former Government”, but the former Government is his Government. The Conservatives can no longer run away from their own record on such matters.

Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of the statistics is what has happened to participation among those on lower incomes. In 2005-06, the year that the right hon. Lady and the hon. Gentleman referred to, when the bid was won, 27.2% of people on the lowest incomes participated in sport. When we left office, that had risen to 27.9%. In the post-Olympic year, 2012-13, which we are using as a baseline in these debates, participation had risen again to 29.3%, but in the most recent statistics, participation has fallen to 25.7%. Who can wonder why those on the lowest incomes are finding it difficult to participate in sport when it is expensive to take part in sport, local authorities are under the cosh financially, and many of the services they have relied on have simply disappeared?

Things are no better in Scotland. The Scottish Government do not keep accurate statistics on sport participation, perhaps for an obvious reason, but people living beside some of Glasgow’s most prominent Commonwealth games venues are now playing significantly less sport and taking less exercise than they did before the event last year. In particular, many people have complained that the games felt as though they were intended for posher and better-off parts of Glasgow and Scotland than for the people on the very doorsteps where the games were taking place.

Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con): I had the privilege on Sunday of taking part in the Great Notts bike ride, where there were more cyclists than at any point in the event’s history. Surely, the hon. Gentleman would recognise, just by stepping out on to Bridge Street, that the number of cyclists making use of cycle roads in London, courtesy of my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), has increased dramatically. Surely, that is a success of the Olympic games and the Great British cycling team?

Chris Bryant: Everybody would like to praise Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and the many others who have led by example and the 46,000 additional people who have taken up cycling, but there are still significant problems that the Government and local authorities need to tackle and that is a small drop in the ocean compared with the overall figures, which have fallen significantly. In Labour-run Wales, by contrast, the figures are considerably better. Some 70% of adults participated in sport or physical recreation in the four weeks before the most recent survey, compared with just 44% in England.

Stewart McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP): I really must take issue with hon. Gentleman’s comments about Glasgow, particularly since his own party runs the

24 Jun 2015 : Column 968

council there. The price of using local football pitches has quadrupled because of that Labour council. That is why it is an issue—nothing to do with the Scottish Government.

Chris Bryant: Oh dear, the Scottish National party always love to find somebody else to blame. The truth of the matter is that Scotland is run by the SNP, and that 80% of local authority budgets in Scotland are determined by the SNP in Holyrood. When the hon. Gentleman starts attacking Glasgow Council, he needs to start looking into his own backyard.

The coalition Government said they would ensure the development of the Olympic Park after the games, but here there are further legacy worries. So far, the cost of transforming the venue into a stadium ready for football has reached £272 million: £15 million coming from West Ham, £1 million from UK Athletics, £40 million from Newham Council and £25 million from the Government. The overall spend on the venue will now top £700 million for the 54,000 seat arena—considerably more expensive per spectator than the £798 million lavished on the 90,000 capacity Wembley stadium. The project is now over budget by about £35 million, which comes close to the total cost of converting the City of Manchester stadium after the 2002 Commonwealth games. This has the feel, frankly, of a fiasco cooked up somewhere between the Mayor’s office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury, which is why, in the interests of transparency, I urge the Government to publish the full details of West Ham’s secret deal as a matter of urgency.

Boris Johnson rose

Chris Bryant: I will give way to the hon. Gentleman if he will agree with me on this matter.

Boris Johnson: I will agree with the hon. Gentleman on that. It was indeed a mess cooked up between the Mayor, the Treasury and DCMS: it was the Labour Mayor, the Treasury under Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown who decided to go ahead with a stadium that was completely unsuitable for the purpose.

Will the hon. Gentleman have the decency to admit this single fact? The economic legacy in east London is absolutely superb and the sporting legacy in London—it was called the London Olympics—is that more people are playing sport after the Olympics than were before.

Chris Bryant: If the people of east London felt that there had been such an enormous success due to the hon. Gentleman’s antics in the Mayor’s office there would probably have been more people voting Conservative in the east end of London, whereas I note there are quite a lot of Members sitting around me on the Labour Benches representing the east end of London. I note, and the Secretary of State should note, that the hon. Gentleman agreed with my call for the Government to publish all the details of the deal with West Ham.

Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab): The Education Committee visited east London as part of its inquiry into the Olympic legacy for school sport in 2013, and we warned the Government then of the lack of legacy and the fall in participation in physical activity generally.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 969

In their response, the Government acknowledged that, yet we have still seen a failure. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is worrying for everyone in this country that the Government chose to ignore the advice they were given by the Committee and their own comments on that Committee’s report?

Chris Bryant: My hon. Friend makes a very good point. He, too, is mystic, as that is a point I am coming on to.

There has been this signal failure because, immediately on coming into office in 2010, the coalition abandoned the target on getting more people active. They scrapped the free swimming fund, putting local authorities under real pressure. They sold off school playing fields and they scrapped ring-fenced funding for sports school partnerships, as my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) mentioned. They abandoned all targets for PE and sport in school. They have had four Secretaries of State in five years, and three sports Ministers all peddling their own preoccupations, rather than laying out a clear 10-year strategy for sports and activity. Their lazy, laissez-faire, hands-off attitude to sports has simply wasted our Olympic legacy.

Frankly, all that is very Conservative. We should remember that Mrs Thatcher did not close only the mines; she closed all the lidos in London as well. It is a fundamental principle of the Tories. How do I know that all this is the fault of the Government? Because the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport told us so herself. She said the other day:

“Government is in part to blame in that we have got a sport strategy that is very much out of date”.

Five years of your Government, seven years of the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip as Mayor—it is all your fault. They have had plenty of warnings, too, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) said. The Education Committee report of 2013 was absolutely explicit:

“There is clear evidence that the ending of the school sport partnerships funding has had a negative impact”.

It continued:

“School sport is too important to rely on occasional efforts at pump-priming”.

Its starkest warning of all was:

“We believe that the opportunity to realise a London 2012 legacy for school sports has not yet been lost”.

It said that in 2013. Well, it has now been lost because that warning was ignored.

The Secretary of State used to chair the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Even that Committee warned last year:

“We are very concerned about the lack of communication and co-operation between Government departments, which we think presents a serious obstacle to the DCMS in its attempts to deliver the Olympic legacy.”

This week, in national school sports week, the Youth Sport Trust has said that we are at a “critical crossroads” where

“action is needed now to modernise the approach to PE and school sport”.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 970

Dawn Butler (Brent Central) (Lab): I am sure that the Mayor of London is a lover of statistics and will enjoy this one: 71.2% of adults in Brent would love to do more sporting activity, compared with 55% in the country as a whole. Unfortunately, however, the lack of access and opportunity prevents that from happening. I declare an interest in being the Member of Parliament representing Wembley stadium, where we should have seen a lasting Olympic legacy.

Chris Bryant: My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and it is a delight to see her back in her rightful place in this House.

There are further dangers ahead. Let us take swimming, for example. As I said, this is the one sport in which participation among girls and boys is equal. Swimming is the most popular form of activity in this country, with 2.6 million people taking part every week. There are, however, many things that put people off swimming, including communal changing rooms, lack of privacy, tired facilities, never learning to swim in the first place, particularly among poorer families, and simply the cost of using a swimming pool. Every Member will have heard of the problems faced by local authorities in maintaining leisure centres, and many of us might have had to fight for swimming pools to stay open in our own constituencies. In fact, the number of pools is pretty stable, at about 5,000 in England alone. More than half of all local authority pools, as opposed to pools in expensive private members’ clubs, were built before 1985 and require significant investment to continue to operate and be attractive to modern swimmers. There are dramatic challenges ahead in respect of just that one sport. We must ensure that more people go swimming.

Stewart McDonald rose

Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) (Con) rose—

Chris Bryant: I have already taken one intervention from the hon. Member for Glasgow South (Stewart McDonald), and I am sure that he will have an opportunity to speak later, but I have not yet given way to the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman).

Huw Merriman: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to interrupt his fantasy. What he is saying is not correct: it does not apply throughout the country. My local authority, Wealden, has redeveloped all its swimming pools with the help of the Government’s house building premium,

Chris Bryant: What I am saying is perfectly correct. It comes straight from the Amateur Swimming Association. Local authority swimming pools all over the country face problems because a small majority were built before 1985. They are less attractive facilities, and they therefore require significant investment. Such properties are difficult to maintain.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) says that things have improved in his part of the world, but that proves another point. The Government have slanted funds away from some parts of the country to other parts. In Gateshead, a bowling centre that is a lifeline for hundreds of elderly people will have to close simply because my council has lost 48% of its budget over the last five years.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 971

Chris Bryant: I think that all Members understand the basis of local authority funding, which is that 80% of it comes from Westminster and 20% from council tax and other sources. The problem is that—particularly in deprived areas where many people rely on council services for the elderly, for the protection of children and for their livelihoods and living standards—local authorities are under the cosh, and are finding it very difficult to maintain supposedly non-statutory services such as leisure and libraries. That is undoubtedly having an effect.

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): As the hon. Gentleman will know, the latest Sport England data show that, in respect of the last two comparable years, he is quite right: the number of people involved in swimming did fall. However, the number of people involved in athletics, cycling, football, rugby and cricket rose. What analysis has he made of those statistics?

Chris Bryant: I said earlier that the number of people involved in four sports had risen. I disagree with the hon. Gentleman about the football statistic, and I am quite happy to have a row with him about it. The overall point, though, is that fewer people are taking part in sport. We have not seen the dramatic increase for which we all hoped. We hoped that spending significant amounts, and diverting moneys from other lottery good causes, would produce a dramatic legacy, and that all the leadership shown by elite athletes would bear fruit in the form of a healthier nation, but that has not happened.

What are we calling for? First, we are calling for a proper, 10-year sport strategy, with a particular focus on involving more women, on disability sport, and on those in areas of multiple deprivation and with the lowest incomes. I think that the sports Minister agrees with us, because she suggested some of that last week.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tracey Crouch): I do agree.

Chris Bryant: If I am agreeing with the Minister and she is agreeing with me, this is quite a love-in—and all the more reason to support Labour at the end of the debate.

Secondly, we are calling for a renewed determination to make the premier league divert more of the proceeds of its broadcast rights to grass roots football, funding coaches, kit and pitches. Football does not belong to those at the top; it belongs to the kids who put up posters in their bedrooms, and to the parents who take them to play soccer every Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon. It belongs to the grass roots, and more of the money should be going down to them.

Thirdly, we are calling for immediate action to divert money away from dormant betting accounts and unclaimed betting winnings, and towards the grass roots of the 45 funded sports. Fourthly, we are calling for the restoration of two hours a week for sport and physical education at schools. We used to talk about five hours a week; is it too much to ask for two hours? Fifthly, we want the Government to set a proper target, and aim for an increase of 2 million in the number of people who take part in sport. Surely to God, we can get more of our countryfolk engaged in an active lifestyle.

Finally, we are calling on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of Health and the Department for Education to present an annual report

24 Jun 2015 : Column 972

on school sport to Parliament, so we can all agree on the facts, which would be brought to the House on a cross-party basis.

Why does all that matter? A more active nation will be a healthier nation, see more people physically able to work, see fewer people succumb to long-term debilitating illnesses and see fewer people die prematurely. Engaging more people in a healthy lifestyle is the best, most effective and most efficient form of healthcare. If we want to tackle ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke and many mental health conditions, we have to build a healthier, more active nation. As Sport England put it:

“If a million more people across the country played sport each week, it would save the taxpayer £22.5 billion in health and associated costs.”

Sport is an essential aspect of rehabilitation, improving people’s sense of self-worth and of wellbeing. As the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, under the current Secretary of State’s chairmanship, put it last year:

“It is widely acknowledged that one of the major health issues facing the UK is the decline in physical activity by the population, leading to a rise in obesity and associated conditions.”

So it must surely be a scandal for all of us that we spend more in this country—three times more—on weight loss surgery than we do on the Change4Life health campaign. We should be spending more money on preventing obesity than on surgery to tackle it.

I believe, therefore, that we should lead by example, so I make an offer to the Secretary of State. There will be a London marathon next year. I am quite happy to run, if he is happy to run.

5.11 pm

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr John Whittingdale): I thank the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) for giving the House this opportunity to celebrate not just the fantastic success of the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, but the amazing legacy that this country has enjoyed as a result. It is right that we consider it now: we are just over a year away from the Rio 2016 games, and it is a little more than three years since we hosted the games in London.

There is not a lot in the hon. Gentleman’s motion with which I disagree. It is unfortunate that he has adopted some rather snide language, as that makes it impossible for us to support it, but once we take that out and remove the synthetic outrage that permeated many of his remarks earlier, we will find there is quite a lot of agreement across the House, and that, I hope, will come out. I certainly agree with the start of his speech, when he talked about the enormous success of the 2012 games. Without any question, they gripped the public’s attention and fired imagination right across the UK.

Almost to the surprise and disappointment of some detractors in the press, we managed to construct the facilities on time and within budget, and we then had the superb organisation, for which congratulations are due not just to Lord Coe and Lord Deighton, but to the thousands of people involved in the games, both employees and volunteers. That sent a clear and long overdue message to the world that we can still put on a magnificent event with a degree of friendliness and good spirit, which impressed the whole world and showed that this country is prepared to welcome any visitors to our shores.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 973

Our athletes were outstandingly successful, coming third in the medals tables for both the Olympic and Paralympic games. One reason for the original success of our bid was that we put the question of legacy at the absolute core of our plans right from the start. I remember going to talk to a Greek Minister about the legacy of the Athens games, when he confessed to us that his main concern had been getting the facilities prepared in time and he had not even thought about what would happen to them afterwards. That was not the case here. We were always clear that legacy was at the heart of our preparation, and we focused in particular on regenerating a particularly disadvantaged area of east London, on our economy and the potential boost to tourism, on volunteering, on the lives and perceptions of disabled people and, yes, on sport, both elite and in terms of participation and healthy living. We have made strong progress on all those five themes.

On the regeneration of east London, as my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) has said, we have a secure future for each of the permanent venues on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Nearly 5 million people have visited the park since it reopened two years ago, including hundreds of thousands who have been able to swim in the aquatics centre or ride in the velodrome or on the BMX track. All eight of the permanent venues have their long-term futures secured, and this is the first time a host city has managed to achieve that within a year. In particular, we have secured a long-term future for the Olympic stadium itself—that has not always been the case for previous host cities. I can remember visiting the Olympic stadium in Athens, where grass was growing out of the running track.

In the next two years alone, the Olympic stadium in east London will host the world athletics championships and five matches during the rugby world cup, including the semi-final. It will also become the permanent home to one of the UK’s most famous football clubs. In addition, the athletes’ village has been converted into housing, with more than 4,500 people already living in this new community. We should also note that those residents will have not only world-class sport on their doorsteps, but world-class culture. The House will be aware that the Government are contributing towards the costs of a new cultural and educational quarter on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park—Olympicopolis. I am delighted that it will provide a new campus for my own university, University College London, as well as a campus for the University of the Arts London, and that already Sadler’s Wells and the Victoria and Albert Museum have committed to being a part of it. We are now in discussion with the Smithsonian about it establishing its first permanent museum outside the United States.

Chris Bryant: While the Secretary of State is on the physical legacy elements, will he respond to the request that I and others have made for the full details of the deal with West Ham to be made public, in the interests of transparency?

Mr Whittingdale: The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that things such as the terms of the rent are commercially confidential and to reveal them may jeopardise future

24 Jun 2015 : Column 974

negotiations with potential tenants. There are good reasons why doing what he suggests is not possible, but we will of course respond to him and set those out in more detail.

Let me finish my remarks about the physical legacy by saying that the transport links to and from the park have also had a huge impact on that part of London. There has also been an economic legacy more generally. There is no doubt that the games provided a showcase for British business—in construction, in event management and across a number of other sectors. Where other countries have followed suit, in Rio, in Baku and in the Commonwealth games and elsewhere, it has often been the expertise that we have developed in this country that is now winning jobs and orders for this country across the world. The total international trade and investment benefits from the games and games-time activity has already exceeded £14 billion, against an already ambitious target of £l1 billion.

The games were also the opportunity to show off the United Kingdom to the world and, as a result, we are on track to deliver tourism targets of an extra 4.7 million visitors, spending £2.3 billion, over a four-year period. An evaluation of the legacy benefits from the games by an independent consortium has estimated that the total economic benefit in terms of UK gross value added will be between £28 billion and £41 billion over the period from 2004 to 2020.

Stewart McDonald: We would get through this debate a lot better if Members on both sides of the House stopped kidding themselves that we have any of these benefits in Scotland. This was a games for London. They were great and I do not seek to take that away, but the only benefit I can remember was when the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) was hanging from a zip wire and all of Scotland laughed. So let us not pretend that these economic benefits came to Scotland, because they did not—they came to London and that is where it ended.

Mr Whittingdale: The economic study I just referred to said that the impact on Scotland was a boost to the gross value added between 2004 and 2020 of between £2.3 billion and £2.75 billion and the creation of between 51,200 and 62,400 jobs in Scotland.

Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con): Earlier today, I had the honour of visiting the Association of British Travel Agents’ Travel Matters conference, where comments were often made about the legacy of the Olympic games, including the 33.4 million in-bound visitors to the UK last year, many of whom also went to Scotland, the significant economic benefit from that and all the tax that was raised from those visits.

Mr Whittingdale: My hon. Friend is entirely right. The benefits that we gained from those games have been felt, and are continuing to be felt, right across the United Kingdom.

Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC): We have heard much about one region of England, but Wales missed out on several hundreds of millions of pounds of Barnett consequential funding as well as structural investment and foreign direct investment both

24 Jun 2015 : Column 975

before and after the Olympic and Paralympic games. Will the Secretary of State inform the House what he and his Department will do to right that wrong?

Mr Whittingdale: I regret to say that I do not have the figures for Wales on the economic benefit of the Olympic games, but I have absolutely no doubt that they are of the same order as that which I have already quoted for Scotland, and I would be happy to provide them to the hon. Lady in due course if I can obtain them from the report.

Mims Davies (Eastleigh) (Con): I can tell hon. Members of one economic benefit. There is a brand-new half marathon in Swansea, which is now in its second year. That development certainly has a lot to do with the growth in athletics. Just this week, I ran round St James’s park in my Eastleigh 10 km T-shirt, trying to get back into running. There is a new all-party group of Members who want to return to running after the campaign. I would certainly like to see Members joining in if they are training for the London marathon. Innovation is really important, as, too, are the financial benefits. In Eastleigh, young women are returning to exercise. They are going to spin classes and bringing their babies with them. Innovation is certainly important.

Mr Whittingdale: I am most grateful to my hon. Friend and I am delighted to hear what she has been doing to increase sporting participation on a personal level. I absolutely agree with her. I am about to come on to the issue of sporting participation in due course. Before I do so, let me touch on one or two other aspects of the legacy, particularly the volunteering legacy, which was one of the most extraordinary achievements.

Chris Bryant: What about the motion?

Mr Whittingdale: The motion is on the legacy of the Olympic games. This is an absolutely critical part—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. I have been very lenient with the way the debate has been going, but the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) knows that he must not point—[Interruption.] Nor must the other hon. Gentleman to whom he is pointing. Neither of you should be pointing from a sedentary position, especially when the Secretary of State is speaking.

Mr Whittingdale: Let me just point out to the hon. Gentleman that the title of his motion includes the words “2012 Olympics legacy”, so it is relevant to talk about it.

On volunteering, one of the greatest successes of the games were the 70,000 games makers, who gave up their time and enthusiasm to make the games as welcoming as they were. They have left a very real legacy. We have seen games-makers style volunteers at the rugby league world cup, the Tour de France Grand Départ, the Glasgow Commonwealth games and we will see them at the rugby union world cup this autumn. They have also inspired thousands of others to volunteer in their communities.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 976

Mr Nick Hurd (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) (Con): It is extremely telling that the shadow Secretary of State had absolutely nothing to say about volunteering, because he does not want to talk about one of the great success stories of the games and of the legacy. Does my right hon. Friend agree that community-based sports volunteers have a crucial role to play in driving participation in sport? Will he join me in congratulating the independent charity Join In—it was set up by the coalition Government—on recruiting and retaining more than 100,000 volunteers a year since it was set up?

Mr Whittingdale: Absolutely. I join my hon. Friend in welcoming that charity. He is being unduly modest in not taking credit for the part that he played in establishing that initiative. It is the case that volunteering is continuing, and that many, many grassroots sports clubs simply would not be able to survive without the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers. Like many Members in this House I suspect, I will be going this weekend to the rugby club in my own constituency to see the NatWest RugbyForce, which is renovating and working on that club. That initiative has been signed up to by more than 650 clubs.

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): It was my pleasure on Sunday to take part in a 100 km Williams Farm Kitchen cycle ride in Hornsea in my constituency. That follows the Tour de Yorkshire, which followed the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire, and it all follows from the Olympics, where volunteers made such a difference. We see elite athletes all the way down to people at the opposite end of the spectrum, such as myself, riding out on Sunday.

Mr Whittingdale: I am hugely impressed by my hon. Friend’s sporting participation, like that of our hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mims Davies). There has undoubtedly been a great boost to participation in this House, although I will not promise to take up the hon. Member for Rhondda on his kind offer. None the less, I am delighted that so much activity is taking place.

I want to talk briefly about the Paralympics, because they also had a terrific legacy.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Before the Secretary of State moves on from the legacy, what does he have to say about the legacy for lottery-supported charities that are still hurting from the billions of pounds that were diverted from their activities and that are greatly concerned about how this is going to be resolved? What does he have to say to lottery-supported charities that feel they lost out so dramatically because of the London Olympics?

Mr Whittingdale: One of the purposes of the lottery was to support sport in particular, as well as charitable activities, and it seemed to me to be an extremely good use of lottery money to invest in something that has produced such enormous benefit in many different areas. Also, the lottery will benefit from some return, once the sale of the Olympic village has fully gone through.

To return to disabled sport and the Paralympics, one of my greatest moments was to have the opportunity to present flowers to some of the medal winners in the Olympic stadium during the Paralympics. The atmosphere

24 Jun 2015 : Column 977

in the stadium at that time was quite extraordinary. According to a survey taken the year after, more than half the population felt that the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way they viewed disabled people, and nearly a quarter of a million more disabled people are now playing sport than was the case when we won the bid 10 years ago.

The hon. Member for Rhondda talked about the sporting legacy of the games. At the elite end, we have talked about the huge success of Team GB in the games themselves, but we have gone on from that. We are currently sitting fourth in the medal tables in Baku—I thank my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), who attended the opening ceremony in Baku on behalf of the Government. As many hon. Members know, the England women’s football team is now playing in the World cup quarter final this weekend. We wish them every success. We achieved our best ever results at a winter games in Sochi; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all finished in the top 15 in the Commonwealth games medal table last year; and we are going to Rio next year in a spirit of optimism of even greater success.

The hon. Gentleman addressed the question of participation levels. It is correct that the figures in the recent Active People survey are disappointing. There is no question but that one of the prime aims of the games was to increase participation, and we did achieve that: there was a huge boost to participation after the games. As has already been pointed out, some 1.4 million more people are participating in sport than when we won the bid.

Andrew Gwynne: The Secretary of State mentioned the Rio games next year. Does he see in the fact that they are fast approaching an opportunity to reinvigorate school sport in particular, so that we can get young people active and involved in sport, and fired up for the Rio games?

Mr Whittingdale: I absolutely do. The games in London, and particularly some of the wonderful role models established in many different sports, certainly led to growing enthusiasm among young people, and hopefully the games in Rio next year will have a similar impact. Some of those effects are not picked up in the Active People survey, because young people do not yet come into the statistics.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): The Secretary of State touched briefly on women’s participation in sport, but there is a key issue, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) referred. We already had a gender gap of 1.8 million, and 200,000 fewer women are taking part in sport, but the only activities that are growing are things like park runs and the 10 km runs hon. Members have mentioned. There is a serious problem when that is the only type of sport that is increasing.

Mr Whittingdale: I agree, which is why the Select Committee that I chaired in the last Parliament carried out an inquiry on women and sport. As the hon. Member for Rhondda mentioned, the barriers to women’s participation are varied. A lot have to do with image,

24 Jun 2015 : Column 978

embarrassment, and the nature of the facilities available. It is a complicated picture. That is certainly something that I am keen to see addressed. There are few people more qualified to talk about women’s sport than the Minister with responsibility for sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), who is a very active participant. This is an issue to which we both attach considerable priority.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Whittingdale: I am conscious that many people want to speak in this debate, but I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley).

David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his compelling speech, and his new position. Does he recognise that there is growing cross-party support for outdoor recreation and its important role in physical activity? Does he agree that outdoor recreation should be part of our future strategy for modern sport in the 21st century?

Mr Whittingdale: I am most grateful to my hon. Friend. The simple answer to his point is: yes, we entirely agree with him. There is no question but that recreation has a considerable part to play in increasing participation.

Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): There is a real risk of everyone being a bit negative about the legacy of the Olympics. In my constituency of Gloucester, the Government have rejuvenated the Blackbridge jubilee athletics track. That is making a huge difference in an otherwise slightly deprived ward. Also, funds have gone towards a brand-new Gloucester rowing club, which has some of the best women rowers in the country and is on the Sharpness-to-Gloucester canal. That will make a significant difference. My right hon. Friend should see that as cause for optimism.

Mr Whittingdale: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving that example, which is mirrored up and down the country. He is absolutely right that we should not be negative, because we have made a huge amount of progress, and benefits are still flowing from the games. I do not want to speak for much longer, as a lot of people want to speak in the debate.

Graham Stuart rose

Mr Whittingdale: If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I want to bring my speech to an end. We share the concerns of the hon. Member for Rhondda about the figures that came out. That is why my hon. Friend the sports Minister has already announced that we will review our sports strategy and look to adopt a fresh approach to seeing what more we can do to increase participation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) said, we should not be negative, so I conclude by quoting the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach:

“Ensuring a positive legacy from the Olympic Games for a host city…is very important…This is why I am delighted to see that our British partners have succeeded in maximising the legacy of London 2012 across a number of different areas…I see that London and Britain have also understood that the Games can be a catalyst for positive long-term economic, social and sustainable legacies.”

That is the true legacy of the games. On that basis, we are not able to support the Opposition’s motion.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 979

5.32 pm

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP): Mòran taing, Mr Deputy Speaker. Thank you for this opportunity to give my maiden speech and hopefully inject notes of calm and good sense in what has been a very robust debate.

I am the first woman to rise to speak in this place representing Edinburgh North and Leith and, I believe, the first woman to represent any part of my constituency in this House. I am pleased to play my small part in changing politics by making the profile of the population of this place more closely match the profile of the population that we serve, and I am absolutely delighted to represent Edinburgh North and Leith. My immediate predecessor was of course Mark Lazarowicz, who represented the constituency for some 14 years and was held in high regard by many of my constituents. I wish him very well in his future endeavours.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you may have heard in recent weeks a succession of Members extolling the virtues of their constituencies and claiming them to be unsurpassed. That can only be because they have not yet visited my constituency. From the elegance of Edinburgh’s New Town—completed a couple of centuries ago, but still the new town to us—to the Shore at Leith, which may have been tamed a little in recent years but still loudly proclaims its independence from Edinburgh, despite the treachery of 1920, my constituency embraces variety, and rebellious spirits are cheek by jowl with more douce residents. It hugs the Forth from Seafield to the Birnie rocks at the foot of Granton, and that relationship with the firth and the sea has shaped the place. International trade in and out of Leith for centuries meant that our links were well enough established that when England took the huff with France and banned claret, we imported it in vast quantities and smuggled it into England—keeping the best for ourselves, of course.

The people of my constituency have always been inventive and resilient, and those qualities have served us well over the years, but it seems we will need them afresh now. While Edinburgh North and Leith has areas of affluence and more than its fair share of professionals from the legal and financial worlds, it also has areas of poverty and deprivation, and communities full of people whose life experiences are not comfortable. In my few weeks as an MP and in my role as a councillor before that, I have seen people in desperate situations. They face grinding poverty and their hope has been bulldozed from their lives.

In 1922, James Maxton rose to make his maiden speech here and talked of the people of Glasgow living in poverty, with the equivalent of benefit sanctions forcing children to the parish council to be fed, just as they are now being sent to food banks. A century on, and it seems little has changed. The voices of the Red Clydesiders would still be regarded as revolutionary in here.

The Chancellor recently informed the House that he intends to cut more deeply than he already has—that the austerity orgy would continue. Leaving aside the fact that austerity has never worked, and wherever it has been tried it has caused long-lasting damage, we can perhaps look at the human face of the cuts—the suffering and the misery—and decide that we should decide a different path; that we should choose a different future.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 980

In his maiden speech, Maxton said:

“We have had many lectures on etiquette, manners and conduct from right hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House, and from the Press of this city, addressed particularly to those of us who come from the West of Scotland. We admit frankly that perhaps on the nicer points of good form we have different ideas from hon. Members on the other side of the House. Our dialect is somewhat different also, and perhaps our mode of dressing is slightly different. But we think it is the very worst form, the very worst taste, that it shows very bad breeding, to kick a man who is in the gutter, or to withdraw a crust from a starving child.”—[Official Report, 8 December 1922; Vol. 159, c. 2231-32.]

We have had something similar here in the past few weeks. We on the SNP Benches may not have the delicacies of this House’s customs and manners perfected, but we too think it is the very worst form, the very worst taste, and that it shows very bad breeding to kick people who are in the gutter or to withdraw a crust from a starving child.

We might have been entitled perhaps to expect that the loyal Opposition would have had something to say about the crushing weight that austerity is for the poor. We might have expected a party that was built on a promise of creating fairness in society to consider that it had a duty to stand up for those with least. Instead, today we find ourselves with a motion in the name of the interim Leader of the Opposition that talks of the supposed squandering of the London Olympic legacy. Given the amount of infrastructure spending that was denied other areas of the UK, as we have heard, to be focused on London for those games, some of us may be forgiven for asking whether the legacy in question should be thought of as a positive one.

I shall be generous, though, and leave that aside, and say that creating the next generation of athletes, elite and otherwise, and improving the health and wellbeing of our people cannot be done unless there is investment in facilities, in coaching provision, and in society. For a child lacking nourishment is far less likely to perform well at any sport, never mind excel, and a parent queuing up at a food bank is not really in the best position to encourage their children’s participation in sport. The same applies to education, health, and life chances. Poverty kills hope, kills opportunity, and smothers ambition. We have to do exactly the opposite.

It seems to me that we stand at a crossroads—a junction of decision—but our duty could not be clearer. We have an obligation to offer hope and ambition. We cannot be the doom-mongers, the nay-sayers, the harpies of hardship. We should be lighting the way to a better future for individuals and communities. A broken society, shackled to a future of despair and trying to hold itself together by its fingertips, is surely too high a price to pay for a marginally improved economic performance now, even if austerity could work. The orgy of cuts must end and rebuilding what has been broken must start. That has to begin with investment in our infrastructure, in our public services and most urgently of all, in our people. No more despair, no more distrust—it is time to invest.

I say to Members on both sides of the House that we have a chance now to make sure that Maxton is not still relevant in another century, and that there is a different way. Come to Scotland. Find a politics that has been rescued by hope, where people are engaged and talking about the future and possibilities. While Members are there, they can take a look at the investment that the

24 Jun 2015 : Column 981

Scottish Government have made in community facilities through the Cashback for Communities scheme, financed by money recovered from the proceeds of crime. The next generation are being given somewhere to hone their talents, somewhere to get fit and somewhere to respect each other. Come to Scotland and see the difference it makes, and while you are there, come and see Edinburgh North and Leith. It is the best constituency in the country. I will show you around and let the people tell you that they need more than you are offering, and then you can come back here and make a difference.

We Members were not sent here to mark time and hope that we get out the other end unscathed. We were sent here to do a job. The people we represent need more from us than we have given so far. They need hope. The question for each of us in this House is: are we good enough to deliver that hope, to offer it? If people cannot look to Parliament, they will look elsewhere. If we cannot offer hope or its associates, we will be offering exactly the opposite: alienation. Failure to act would be a crime against society, a demonstration that we are incapable of mending that which we have broken.

I appreciate that the election of so many SNP Members must have seemed, to some honourable incumbents, akin to an uprising. I have heard it called “Ajockalypse Now”. We may have ruffled a few feathers since we got here, but I really want to extend a hand of co-operation around this House. Anyone who would like to work with us to address poverty, reverse the effects of austerity, and start building for a future where we can do such things as improve the health and wellbeing of all the nations of the UK through encouraging physical activity, will be more than welcome. This is not a one-time offer, nor is it a deal that ends at midnight; this is an offer that lasts. For those interested in taking society forward, work with us, and by God, we’ll work with you.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): May I just say that, unfortunately, there will be a four-minute limit on speeches?

5.42 pm

Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) on a rather challenging maiden speech—perhaps not in the best traditions of the House, but I congratulate her on putting her points over in a forceful way.

Looking at the legacy of the Olympic games is one of the most important things to do. My noble Friend Lord Coe opened the 2012 Olympics by saying:

“London 2012 will inspire a generation”,

and he was right. Our games inspired people not just in the UK, but abroad as well, and we should be very proud of that.

It was the very first “legacy games”, with the legacy, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, built in from the outset. It challenged an outdated, crusty image of a faded Britain and it demonstrated that after a great recession, Britain was open for business, once more thriving and leading the world, not only in sports, but through its Cultural Olympiad, its culture and its arts. It regenerated huge swathes of our capital city and gave us pride in our country.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 982

The success of the London 2012 Olympics for Britain was not a success just for one political party or another, as the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) might like to imply. It was a success for the whole nation, because it brought our nation together. We presented ourselves to the world with confidence, passion, professionalism and, above all, fun.

I am somewhat surprised at the focus of the Opposition motion. It rightly talks about the importance of the Olympic legacy, yet in his opening statement, the hon. Member for Rhondda talked about very little of that legacy. He talked simply about increasing participation in sport, which, although important, is only one part of the Olympic legacy that he should have covered. He fundamentally missed the true scope of the legacy of the event. He should perhaps put that right later on.

The motion states that the Government

“squandered the Olympic legacy it was bequeathed in 2010”,

which was some two years before the games were held. In fact, participation in sport has increased by 1.4 million people since the London bid won in 2005. I fear that the shadow Secretary of State is breaking the first rule of his job by trying to score political points off the back of sport. It simply does not work and he should not do it.

I will make three observations in the short time available to me. We should continue to be proud of the success that was London 2012 and should not pull it apart. A lasting legacy was built in from the start and, as we have heard, it has been hailed as a blueprint for future hosts by the International Olympic Committee.

Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): My right hon. Friend said that to ensure that there is a legacy, it must be built in from the start. Does she therefore agree that the Rugby Football Union was right to appoint a legacy group for the upcoming rugby world cup, which means that the advantages of the tournament will be seen in future years, in exactly the same way as she is describing in respect of the Olympics?

Mrs Miller: I could not have put it better myself. My hon. Friend is absolutely right.

There are other parts of the legacy, such as the cultural Olympics, increased participation, and the challenge to the way in which disabled people are viewed, so that people are viewed for what they can do, rather than for what they cannot do. My hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Mr Hurd) mentioned the importance that was attached to volunteering, which successfully reversed a long-term decline started under a Labour Government, resulting in more people putting themselves forward.

Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mrs Miller: If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I will continue because other Members want to speak.

We have touched briefly on women’s sport. The Olympics challenged the views of the media and sponsors on the appeal of women’s sport. About 40% of the UK’s medals were won by women and the audience levels that those events commanded demonstrated the huge, untapped appetite for mainstream coverage of women’s sport. I applaud the BBC and Sky Sports for the work that they are doing, which I am sure they will continue, to put women’s sport at the forefront.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 983

London 2012 put Britain on the world stage and promoted the regeneration of one of the poorest parts of our capital city, but Members are right to say that we need to scrutinise carefully the investment that is being made into increasing participation in sport, because we are putting a huge amount in. We are investing £1 billion in youth and community sport through to 2017 to instil a sporting habit for life. We need to hold the national governing bodies to account for the money they are spending and the work they are doing on our behalf.

5.48 pm

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) on her maiden speech.

I welcome the sports Minister and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to their roles. I hope that the sports Minister will continue in the long tradition of sports Ministers working across the political parties. I also hope that she will try, as many of us have over the years, to get the Department of Health, the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to work together, because together we can solve a lot of problems.

I am sad that we have used the word “squandered” in the motion. If I am honest, I do not think that that is a sensible word to use. This is a difficult issue. A legacy is not something that happens overnight, but something that has to be worked at. All the people who were involved in the Olympics knew that increased participation would not simply happen just because a few people won a few gold medals. That is not how it is done. We have to start from the bottom up.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): The hon. Lady has a passionate interest in shooting sports. The one sport that was not mentioned by the shadow Secretary of State in his introduction was clay pigeon shooting, in which Peter Wilson won a wonderful gold medal. Does she recognise that fantastic win, and does she feel that more could be done to introduce young people to shooting sports?

Kate Hoey: I am a great supporter of shooting sports and the discipline they bring. I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman mentioned that gold medallist, because he comes from an area I know very well in Northern Ireland, and I know that it brought great pleasure to people there.

I want to say a few words about how I think we can get a legacy. I will point to London. As many Members will know—some Opposition Members were not too happy about this—I have been the Mayor’s commissioner for sport. I wanted very much to ensure that the Olympics would leave a legacy for grassroots sport. I genuinely congratulate the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), because when he became Mayor there was no sports unit at the city hall and grassroots sport was not seen as important; there was something going on about the Olympics, but grassroots sport did not really matter. He made sure that we had some ring-fenced money, and with that we were able to work with Sport England, local authorities and the London Marathon Charitable Trust, for example, bringing a co-ordinated approach to try to get London

24 Jun 2015 : Column 984

to speak with one voice, because one of the crucial problems was that London was not speaking with one voice.

As a result of all the money that has gone in—the £20 million, the extra £30 million in additional match funding and the investment in sports facilities, such as our mobile swimming pools, and in different sports right across London—we are the only part of the United Kingdom where participation has increased. However, that alone will not solve the problem. We really need to look at what makes it work. We have to get local authorities to see sport and physical recreation as a priority. I am delighted that Southwark, a Labour borough, has just decided to introduce free swimming, so local authorities can do more if there is the push and the intention to make it happen.

It is very important that we look at our schools. I remind Members that I was the sports Minister when the school sports co-ordinators were introduced. The reality is that it was never meant to be long term; it was meant to raise the standard in schools, so that they themselves could help make sport and physical recreation a really important part of school. I welcome the ring-fenced money—the only money that goes to schools that is ring-fenced, at just over £8,000 for each primary school. In London alone, £15 million is therefore invested in school sport. If those 1,900 primary schools work together, as they have been doing in some areas, we will see a huge amount of good things going on.

Graham Stuart: One of the recommendations of the Education Committee’s report on school sport and the Olympic legacy in the previous Parliament was the need to extend the woefully small amount of training that primary school teachers, in particular, receive in physical education. I wonder whether the hon. Lady would like to comment on that.

Kate Hoey: Training is absolutely crucial, and I used to be a qualified physical education teacher, back when we had physical education colleges that taught it in a much better way than it is taught now. Teaching physical education in our primary schools is important. Money is hugely important, but this is also about people and about motivation, getting people to want to instil in young people an enjoyment of sport early on. That is what we have to work towards.

One of the things we are doing in London that is really crucial relates to major sporting events, which are very important and draw millions of people to London. We have to ensure—the Mayor has made this happen—that no big sporting event comes to London without the governing bodies first having to prove what they will do for grassroots sport and what will be the legacy, so it is not just a case of people coming along, having a wonderful two or three days and then nothing happens.

The thing that I am most proud of in London is that we have finally brought together what would be called the county sports partnerships outside London and the pro-actives in London under something called London Sport—Sport England wanted that to happen as well—so we now have a partnership right across London. Instead of people coming to London and thinking, “We have to go to all these different London boroughs,” we will all be working together to ensure that the money goes a lot further. That is absolutely crucial.

24 Jun 2015 : Column 985

I do not think that we should be negative. I genuinely think that sport is one of those matters that we should be able to have a mature debate about, rather than just playing ping-pong with statistics. We should be able to work together closely. I suggest that one of the things the Secretary of State might want to do is have a proper, full debate in Government time, so that we do not have to rush through things in three or four minutes. Members could then have a proper discourse and welcome the fact that sport does so much in this country.

5.54 pm

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): This is an important debate, because participation in sport is not simply about improving elite sport or the success of our Olympians and footballers and cricketers at an elite level. It not only improves people’s health and wellbeing but all the studies show that it is incredibly important in turning around the life chances of many young people, including those who have been involved in crime or who have fallen out of education. It gives them back structure and confidence, and that is why it is such an important part of the fabric of our society.

Of course, we should be ambitious to increase participation in sport and we should hope to see a boost in that, particularly after the incredible success that was the London Olympic games. We can look at the figures in Sport England’s most recent study on sports participation and say that we would like to be doing better. That should be our aspiration. As the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), the shadow Minister, said at the beginning of the debate, in some sports, such as swimming, the figures are down, but in others, such as football and athletics, in the past two comparable years—

Chris Bryant: No, you’re wrong.

Damian Collins: No, according to the figures I have seen, participation in football, athletics, cycling, rugby and cricket was up in the last two comparable years.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): The hon. Gentleman mentions football, but does he not think that we have things to learn from other countries? I believe that in Belgium the aim is that any 19 or 20-year-old from across society will have touched the ball in football about 200 million times. That is building quite a high pyramid of talent, as we have seen in the Belgian national team at the moment, from what is being done at the grassroots. We could and should be learning from other countries.