Damian Collins: I agree with much of what the hon. Gentleman says. Last Friday, I was in Folkestone to see the opening of the new 3G football pitch at Cheriton Road. We want to see more investment in such pitches. The Government have provided an additional £8 million for such facilities, but we should see more. I agree with the hon. Member for Rhondda that with all the billions of pounds coming into football we should get more of that money into the grassroots. We all want to see that. In his excellent book, “Bounce”, Matthew Syed gives a clear analysis of sports participation. Proximity to good coaches and facilities and the opportunity to engage increase the number of people who will participate

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and makes it more likely that we will find elite performers from almost any walk of life. It is a question of getting the combinations right.

Participation, which was mentioned by the Secretary of State, is important. The participation figures, as they are collected by the national sports bodies, are something of a blunt tool. One person who participates in three sports might decide to concentrate on one and spend more time on that one sport than they did on the three, but that is shown as a net drop in participation even though the hours involved in sport might have gone up.

We should be targeting interventions to get people who do no sport at all to start doing something, and we should focus on the most deprived communities, where people do not have access to facilities, coaches or the opportunities to participate. That agenda was set out by the previous Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and I think that it will be an important step forward in how we incentivise investment to get people who play no sport to play some sport.

We should question whether voluntary groups and charities should be able to access some of that funding and whether they are better placed to tackle some of the harder-to-reach places than the national governing bodies. Some of those organisations are supported by some of the national sporting bodies. For example, the Rugby Football Union’s HITZ programme has done a fantastic job in supporting young offenders and focusing their lives around sport. Kicks, the Premier League’s programme, has done a fantastic job. There have been some excellent studies of its benefit in London in reducing crime and antisocial behaviour. That should be our priority and our focus.

School sport is important, but encouraging people to partake in sport outside school is even more important. There will only be a certain number of hours in the school day, so participation outside school is significant. A lot of good work has been done by the school sports partnerships, but the link between schools and sports clubs in the community is important.

Caroline Nokes: Last Friday, 2,200 children took part in the Hampshire youth games. One of the best things to see was the link with the sports clubs that volunteered and ran the different sports, such as the Trojans club in my constituency, which spent all day running the hockey.

Damian Collins: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. In my constituency, an organisation called the Shepway Sports Trust is independent of the council and the schools. It is supported by funding from the Roger de Haan Charitable Trust, but it seeks funding from other sporting bodies as well. Its primary purpose is to connect schools with sports clubs, to drive up participation in sports outside school, as well as proactively recruiting new coaches. An organisation can have all the facilities in the world, but if it does not have the coaches to lead people through its programmes, they will not get the best out of it. That is the kind of co-ordinated approach that we need to see, with a focus on increasing participation among people who are outside the organisations that qualify for support and those who have otherwise missed out.

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We should look at the sports in which participation has increased over the past couple of years, particularly those I mentioned earlier. Has that increase happened because they invest in community facilities or because they link up sport in schools with sport in clubs? What lessons can be learned, and how can we match funding to increase participation?

How can we set about getting funding from other areas of Government activity? Why should not people be able to get Home Office funding for sports programmes set up to deal with antisocial behaviour and crime in the community? Why should not the Justice Department pay for some of the work of programmes such as HITZ, which is turning around the lives of young offenders? Reports reveal incredible statistics, showing that one or two big successes in keeping a young person from reoffending can almost pay for an entire year’s programme in the community. Relatively small amounts of money are involved, but the return that we get on the investment in community sport is enormous. That should shape our strategy. I have had a couple of extra minutes as a result of taking interventions, so I shall call it a day now.

6.1 pm

John Mann (Bassetlaw) (Lab): It is good to see that the cross-party consensus that won us the Olympics is still alive this afternoon. I have heard a bit of grumbling, but I am not going to grumble about money going into east London for the Olympics because my constituents and I loved the Olympics. Nor will I be grumbling about money going to Glasgow for the Commonwealth games; we loved them as well. I am sure that the Ministers would agree that it was part of the deal, when we all backed those games so unanimously, that areas such as mine that have not had the honour of hosting such events will have higher priority in the coming years, and I look forward to that happening. As we find that we want various things, I hope that the Ministers will be prompting and pushing to ensure that we get them.

I hope that, when the Government re-examine their strategy, they will acknowledge that the increase in pitch prices is a problem that has to be addressed, because it is turning people away from sport. I also hope that they will admit their error on school sports co-ordinators. It is honourable for new Ministers to admit that errors were made by others in the past, and to make changes. That was a serious error, but something can now be done to improve the situation. There has been a tail-off in participation in schools as a result of it.

Since the banking crisis, a lot of families have had a lower income. That means that the poorest in society—the lowest 20% in terms of income—are spending between £2 and £4 per household per week on sport, and they are suffering disproportionately from the lack of access. StreetGames is a charity that I know the new sports Minister has great affection for, and I hope that it will get more resources. It has produced an equity index on volunteering which shows that the brilliance of volunteering disproportionately benefits those in higher-income areas and works against those in the lowest-income areas. So the poorer you are, the less likely you are to benefit from volunteers and the less likely it is that you will participate in sport. One of the key reasons that the BBC needs to retain the major sports events as free to view is that

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those on the lowest incomes cannot afford to watch pay-per-view events. They would be still further excluded from major sporting triumphs such as the Olympics if the BBC were to lose those free-to-view events. That is a vital choice for the Department.

UK Sport’s gold event series has 70 events over the next six years, and the Government must give more of a push to that. Its pop-up rugby league sessions, in conjunction with the Chorley Panthers, were a great success, as I am sure its pop-up tennis will be, across the country, coinciding with Wimbledon. The shortly-to-emerge Bassetlaw sports village is not there yet, but it is on its way. It will have an athletics track and an all-weather football stadium, putting the resources back where they are needed. When we did it before, with girls’ football at Manton miners welfare club, we saw the biggest increase in girls’ participation in the football world. Give us the tools and the facilities, and the people will come forward to participate in sport.

Finally, I say to anyone out there who has not participated in sport that the all-party group on mountaineering will take you up to the hills. Anyone can participate—do join us.

6.5 pm

Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech. I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock), who spoke so eloquently in her maiden speech.

It is a great honour and privilege to be here as the new Member for Cheadle. Cheadle is a vibrant and beautiful constituency situated in Greater Manchester and on the border with Cheshire. It is a constituency that values communities and volunteering, business and enterprise, parks and sport.

I pay tribute to my predecessor, Mark Hunter, who represented Cheadle for 10 years. He will be remembered not only for his party role here as deputy Chief Whip, but for his hard work in the constituency. Like his Liberal Democrat predecessor, Patsy Calton, he used his maiden speech to highlight the need for a major relief road through the constituency. I am delighted to say that, after waiting decades for this vital relief road to Manchester airport, it is now off the drawing board and under construction.

My constituency is made up of a number of villages and small towns. It has a long and interesting history, but before hon. Members become concerned that I may be tempted to narrate it in its entirety, I am aware that my time is limited.

My constituency stretches from Woodsmoor, parts of Hazel Grove and Davenport, on the outskirts of Stockport, right down to Heald Green, Cheadle Hulme and Woodford on the Cheshire border. Indeed, for some of my constituents, their feet may be in Stockport, but their hearts are still in Cheshire.

The settlements of Cheadle and Bramhall date back to Domesday records, and the village of Woodford has a proud history, too. It was formerly the home of aircraft manufacturers Avro, and at its height in the second world war more than 29,000 people were employed at the site and more than 20,000 aircraft were manufactured there, including Lancaster bombers, Vulcans and Nimrods.

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Communities are really important to me, and the Cheadle Civic Society is a great example of community in action. Formed more than 50 years ago, its aims are to encourage higher standards of architecture and planning in the village. Recently, its dedicated members and volunteers invested more than £100,000 in bringing new life to the village green.

Indeed, it is in our parks and clubs that the Olympic legacy is most clearly visible in my area—from the cricket clubs of Cheadle Hulme and Woodford receiving grants for improved facilities, to local cyclists benefiting from the excellent new BMX track in the award-winning Bruntwood park.

Our amateur football clubs are also important. They include well-known teams such as Cheadle Town FC, who last season hosted the Russian under-19 team. We wish the number 19 had been reflected in the score, as Cheadle were unluckily beaten 22-0. However, pride was restored when the home goalie was named man of the match. When asked why he thought the Russian team had won, he said that the under-19s had the wind behind them. How unlucky it was that the wind turned around at half time.

I have a number of aims that I want to achieve for my constituency. For example, there are many small businesses in the area and their enterprise needs to be encouraged.

I am proud to represent Cheadle, where communities value their local parks, sports clubs and the facilities they provide. There is a great spirit of volunteering by people who give freely of their time, which was demonstrated to great effect in the games. As I serve the residents of Cheadle, I will do all I can to support and promote the spirit of volunteering and community.

6.9 pm

Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op): I am proud to follow the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson), who made an excellent speech, speaking eloquently about her constituency, its character, its history and its needs. I am sure she will have a successful Parliament standing up for her constituency. I congratulate her on her speech and on her election to the House.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this important debate, and not least to pay tribute to Feltham’s own Mo Farah, who, in his success in the Olympics and in other competitions since, has shown his commitment to sport and excellence, which continues to inspire many in my constituency, in Britain and throughout the world.

All hon. Members recall the Olympics—the excitement, the expectation and the pride. It was exciting to take part as the Olympic torch travelled around the country. Winning the Olympics was a truly national achievement. This week is national school sports week, which is an opportunity to send a strong message about sport and the importance of young people’s participation.

That is why the sports legacy from the Olympics is sad in that participation has declined in almost every region and across a range of sporting disciplines, which has been mentioned consistently in the debate. It is saddening that the school sport partnerships had their

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funding cut. I believe that that impacted on the ability of schools to participate in sports in the same way in my constituency.

Last year, I was proud to attend the launch of Motivate Hounslow, an important initiative that shows the need to motivate and encourage people to take part in innovations to bring about greater participation in support. The initiative was launched with Mo Farah and his former PE teacher, Alan Watkinson, who continues to play an important part in sports participation in Hounslow and in my constituency.

In the short time I have, I want to make a couple of points that have been made to me on the lack of a comprehensive strategy. There is a feeling that, in secondary schools, sports provision is in decline. There might be pockets of excellence, but provision is not reaching all areas. Participation has fallen in poorer areas and among those who are more deprived. That voice needs to be heard. We need to hear much more from the Government about how they will ensure that there is a comprehensive and longer-term strategy to encourage participation that takes advantage of our school system. We should ensure that there is a strategy for those aged 11 to 18.

I recognise the work of the Youth Sport Trust, which has published a manifesto for PE and sports. This week, it launched “Class of 2035”, its report on young people’s relationship with physical activity, and on the need to think about how the digital revolution can be used to encourage PE and sports participation, and to empower young people to take part in, and responsibility for, their activity levels.

This needs leadership from the top. We need the Government to show that they will take responsibility, so that we see not a decline but an increase in the years ahead.

6.13 pm

Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con): The debate has improved steadily as it has gone on, and Members on both sides of the House have made sensible points. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson) and to the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) for their excellent maiden speeches.

The language in the motion is unfortunate. Most international observers would say that to say Britain has “squandered” the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games is utterly nonsensical. I think most fair-minded people would say there has never been an Olympic games of modern times that has produced such a substantial legacy of every kind.

Dr Tania Mathias (Twickenham) (Con): The idea of the legacy having been squandered cannot be true when one takes into account the transport logistics, the amazing Olympic volunteers—who were almost at the level of the absolute hero, Ben Parkinson, the torch carrier—and, thankfully for Twickenham, the rugby world cup. We are benefiting from those transport logistics and the volunteers. Does my hon. Friend therefore agree that “squandering” is absolute rubbish?

Boris Johnson: I wholeheartedly agree that “squandering” is totally wrong. The reason the International Olympic Committee said that London offers a blueprint to the

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rest of the world is that it has been around other post-Olympic cities and seen, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, the buddleia sprouting from the athletics tracks and the dustbowl stadiums. It has come to the Olympic park and seen the exact opposite: all seven key venues with a long-term private sector solution and contractor.

Since the park opened only a year ago, 800,000 people have gone to the swimming pool, 600,000 have gone to the VeloPark, 600,000 to the Copper Box, and tens of thousands to the Lea Valley hockey and tennis centres. As Members have pointed out repeatedly, we are about the only Olympic city on record to have solved the problem of what to do with the stadium. We have a long-term future for the stadium, in spite of the catastrophic errors made by the previous Government. There will be not only premiership football, but rock concerts, baseball, rugby and all manner of entertainments. Our park in east London is going to be a centre of sporting excitement for generations to come. The Secretary of State rightly listed a procession of world championships: athletics, rugby, hockey, wheelchair rugby, swimming and so on.

We are succeeding in getting people from the poorest boroughs to play sport and to take part. Some 45,000 people have taken part in the Active People, Active Park project and 26,000 have enjoyed Motivate East, a programme to get disabled people more active in sport. I am absolutely confident, as my friend the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) rightly said, that those numbers will continue to rise. The area is changing out of all recognition.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con): Does my hon. Friend acknowledge the excellent work being done to engage schools and clubs to make sure that more grassroots sport is played by schoolchildren?

Boris Johnson: Absolutely—I acknowledge that completely. I acknowledge, too, the work of the grassroots sports teams. Much of that success flows from the increasing prosperity we are seeing in east London and at the Stratford site.

The village is already complete and occupied, with 4,800 new inhabitants. We have the largest green park in the UK for a century. Some 24,000 homes will be built on the site, many of them low-cost and family homes. That would not have happened without the Olympics. We will have tens of thousands of new jobs as a result of the Olympicopolis project, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State identified and which the Government are rightly funding. Just this very morning—in another capacity, I am happy to say—I was privileged to give planning permission for a new tech hub on Fish Island in Hackney Wick, an absolutely beautiful structure that will echo the Victorian warehouses there and incorporate all kinds of artist studios and tech start-ups. It is inconceivable that that kind of private sector investment would have come to that part of London without the Olympics. That is a phenomenal legacy.

Two university campuses are going to the Stratford site: not just a £270 million new campus for University College London, but a campus for Loughborough University, one of the great sporting universities in the world. Their mission is to help local kids to take up sport. I totally agree with the hon. Member for Vauxhall that taking up sport is not just a symptom of prosperity;

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it is a cause of prosperity. That is why she and I have campaigned so hard on this issue. I am proud to say—she is absolutely right—that we have had 400,000 more people doing some kind of sport since 2012 in London, which is a point that the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) totally failed to concede. Sporting participation, as well as every other kind of legacy, is up in London.

The London Olympic and Paralympic games of 2012 boosted sport across the city in which they were held. They are transforming east London and the lives of some of the poorest people in our society. As several Members have rightly pointed out, they have left a legacy of volunteering and engagement, which we are continuing to support through Team London, and they have brought untold billions of investment into this country. They projected an image of London around the world that was so attractive and so exciting that, for the third year running, we are going to achieve what we have never before achieved in my lifetime—to be the No. 1 tourist destination in the world, knocking Paris and New York off the No. 1—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. [Interruption.] Mr Johnson, you are back in the House and your behaviour should be better than that. We expect more from you. The Mayor of London should do better.

6.20 pm

Christina Rees (Neath) (Lab): There is little doubt that the 2012 London Olympics inspired people. From the majesty of the opening ceremony featuring Britain’s greatest artistic talents through to the astonishing achievements of our athletes and of the world’s best sports people, it was impossible not to be inspired by the games, as I was inspired when I went to the Munich Olympics as part of the GB youth team.

I am passionate about sport and the opportunity it gives to our children. Yet the legacy and the ambition of inspiring a generation to be physically active and to get hooked on sport have not been realised. Three conditions need to be met to encourage and enable people to be physically active: inspiration, access and infrastructure. Although there was no lack of inspiration present during and after the Olympics, the 2012 games were held in the early years of Tory austerity against a backcloth of crushing local government budget cuts, a strangulation of budgets within DCMS and the channelling of lottery funding to support the games themselves, so the other two conditions were missed.

Across England, just as young people were being inspired to take up athletics, swimming and gymnastics, local councils were closing the doors on leisure facilities. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were in charge for the 2012 Olympics, but they were also in charge for the unprecedented degradation of sports infrastructure across England, so the consequence of a Tory policy of promoting the Olympic games, but cutting off access to physical activity has contributed to a worsening of public health statistics and the deprivation of opportunities for people to be engaged in sport and physical activity.

How can the people who have suffered hardest through austerity afford pitch fees, court fees, gym fees and equipment hire? How, as a consequence of this

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Government’s tearing apart of the welfare state, could people on the lowest incomes hope to access childcare in order to attend fitness classes or sports club activities? The lack of a coherent physical activity strategy during and after the Olympics demonstrates how the Government walked away from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to inspire and activate a generation.

In Wales, during the same period in which the previous UK Government stripped local government bare, the Welsh Labour Government protected council spending. This protected not only social care, in contrast to what happened in England, but sports and leisure centres. Protecting council budgets gave Welsh councils time to transform services and gave time for leisure and sports centres to be turned from making losses in some cases to making a profit that enabled trusts and social enterprises to be formed.

The results of the Welsh Government’s continued support for their sports budget resulted in a record medal haul at the Glasgow Commonwealth games. Wales won 36 medals in total—20 bronze, 11 silver and five gold. This was more medals per capita than any other nation. Alongside this, levels of physical activity have increased since the Olympic games. The lesson of this contrasting picture on either side of Offa’s dyke is that investing in an event but afterwards cutting away access and infrastructure to the activities promoted by that event will achieve no positive legacy. In Wales, partnerships between the Welsh Government and the national governing bodies has led to a record number of 3G pitches being built, to multi-use leisure centres and learning centres opening in communities, and to the location of crèche facilities within sports, leisure and library services.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. It would be very helpful if Members could shave a little bit off their speeches. I am not going to reduce their speaking times, but any help that they can give will help me to be useful, because I want to be able to call everyone who wishes to speak.

6.25 pm

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con): I am grateful to you for calling me, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I shall bear your stricture in mind. Of course I had a great speech to make, but given what you have said and given that some of what I was going to say has already been said more eloquently by others, I shall make just two points.

It was a great privilege for me, nearly 10 years ago, to congratulate the then Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell, on bringing the Olympics to London, and on her assurance that the work to secure a legacy would be done on a cross-party basis. I therefore found it disappointing to see the word “squandered” in the motion. I do not think that any analysis of the regeneration to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred, along with the cultural legacy and the increase in participation that we have seen—notwithstanding some of the more recent falls—would prompt the use of that word. As Lord Coe said, the Olympics lit up the world and inspired a generation.

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Let me make a serious comment. Perhaps those who want to use the word “squandered” should consider the legacy itself. There are a couple of points that the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) did not make in his speech. First, a legacy is not something that happens two or three years after an event. The legacy of the Olympics will be judged by whether we have champions in 2020, 2024 and 2028, because that is where the grassroots come in. However, the hon. Gentleman was right to say that from 2005 onwards—and, indeed, from 2012 onwards—participation in sport had increased, but since October 2014 the increase has begin to tail off. That information comes from Sport England’s campaign for active participation in sport. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman wants to query it, but it is true.

The question that we must ask ourselves is whether we can sustain the legacy, and that is not true only of the Olympics. As many Members will know, I represent one of the greatest constituencies, and it is going to host a little tennis tournament next week. I remember being told time after time in the House that the legacy in that regard was that we were not producing champions, despite the money being spent year on year by the Lawn Tennis Association.

Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP): In the context of participation in tennis, is it not a disgrace that the Labour-run council in my constituency closed the public tennis courts and then put money into private tennis courts that only the most affluent can afford? The Scottish Government are trying to improve access—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Interventions are meant to be short. Members must not just come out with lists. I am sure that the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) has understood the hon. Lady’s point. I am trying to save time so that Members who have been waiting all day have an opportunity to speak.

Stephen Hammond: Given your stricture, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will not respond to the hon. Lady’s intervention,

My second aim in this short speech was to—well, to get the press release in, obviously. I would have liked to say more about the legacy, but our legacy in Wimbledon is a new floodlit BMX track, which is open, is being used and has a growing membership, and the new beach volleyball courts that have opened in Wimbledon Park, which also has a growing membership. London, in contrast to a number of other places, is experiencing growing participation in sport, and I think that that is part of the Olympic legacy.

6.28 pm

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): I want to talk about women’s participation in sport. As I said earlier, 212,000 fewer women have participated since 2012. That is a real issue, because there is already a wide gender gap: 1.8 million fewer women than men engage in sport once a week, and 80% of women do not get enough exercise to benefit their health. That is why this is a serious issue, and that is why we should be discussing it.

Even before the recent falls in participation, there were reasons for us to be concerned about the gender gap. Nationally, 40% of men participate in sport every

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week compared with 30% of women, but the figures for women are much lower in some parts of the country. It is all very well for Conservative Members to talk about London, but the position is not the same in Greater Manchester, and it is not the same in Salford, where the figures are 20% and 24% respectively. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) said, the low participation rates in some parts of the country will lead to diabetes, coronary heart disease and strokes. That is why this is a serious issue.

A number of barriers have been identified, as the Secretary of State said, to increasing female participation in sport, including practical, personal, social and cultural issues, but there are also financial reasons, which my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Christina Rees) laid out so well. I co-chair the all-party group on women’s sport and fitness with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. One of its three main aims is to investigate the participation of girls and women in sport and to reduce those barriers to participation. Its first meeting is next Tuesday and I urge hon. Members to attend, if they can, and to join if they care about this issue.

I congratulate the new sports Minister on her role. I know she cares about these issues. She was a member of the all-party group in the previous Parliament, and she has said that the Government have an out-of-date sports strategy. She says she is going to rip it up and start again. I hope she does.

The Minister might want to think about a couple of things as she does that. Unequal funding is the key issue running from school sports through to the unequal pay and poor sponsorship levels in elite women’s sport. Yesterday was the 43rd birthday of the Title IX legislation in the United States: landmark civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination in any educational programme or activity that receives federal support. It has been law since 23 June 1972 and is famous for its transformative effects on girls and women’s athletics. The US has the highest level of participation of girls in sport in the world, largely due to Title IX bringing in equal funding for girls and women. Figures show that participation has increased by 990% in high schools and by 560% at college level since the law was passed.

In this country, however, we do not have that law. We have very poor media coverage of women’s sport and a lack of sponsorship. The Select Committee that the current Secretary of State chaired looked at those issues, but we have to do something about it. The sports strategy must include working with the media to ensure better coverage of women’s events.

Finally, on pay and sponsorship, the pay levels of women footballers playing in the women’s super league and in international competitions are very low and probably a surprise to many. The majority of centrally contracted players earn about £20,000 from their clubs, but there are players in the super league who are on as little as £50 a week. Those who are tempted to comment on the standard of women’s football need to think about that low level of reward. We won the women’s rugby world cup with a team who were not even paid professionally; nearly all of them had other jobs. How could any of us train and win at international level if we had other jobs to do?

There are so many other issues we could talk about, and they will, I hope, be explored in other debates; that is a very sound idea. We will definitely explore them at future meetings of the all-party group.

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6.32 pm

David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): I, too, pay tribute to the wonderful maiden speeches that the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) and my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson) made. My hon. Friend has done tremendous work to enter the House, and I pay tribute to that.

I cannot claim to be an elite athlete, but, along with the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann), I am proud to represent what I believe is the peak of all-party groups, as co-chair of the all-party group on mountaineering. As we consider the motion before us, we should be concerned about levels of sports participation, but the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) has missed the point and a real opportunity by focusing on, and calling on the Government to boost, participation in traditionally defined sports. That is important, but the real focus should be on getting people physically active—helping them to be less physically inactive. That has to be the focus, but it can be achieved only by looking at a much broader definition of sport, which includes recreation and, in particular, outdoor recreation. It is clearly time to think more broadly.

The sports Minister has been on an heroic journey to climb Cotopaxi in Ecuador, where I know she developed a greater love—maybe that is too strong a word—for the outdoors, but I think that she, like many Members, understands the real importance of outdoor recreation. It leads to improved activity rates. Some 30% of the UK population is inactive. The figure for Scandinavia is only 8%, because people there have a broader sense of getting active outdoors. The “Moving More, Living More” document produced by the Department of Health shows that the costs associated with physical inactivity come to £20 billion, so we should all have an interest in tackling that huge challenge. Clearly, there are also big health and wellbeing benefits to be had, through working with groups such as Age UK Cheshire East or the East Cheshire Ramblers and its 700 members. That is clear to all those who participate. It is clear to all of us who are involved with the outdoors that a vast blue and green gym outside this place is available to nearly all of us, if we just make that extra effort. I should also mention the benefits in another important area: the rural economy. The “Reconomics” report by the Sport and Recreation Alliance shows that outdoor recreation will boost the rural economy by £21 billion.

There is good news, there is a clear opportunity and progress is being made. As I have said, there is clear cross-party support for making further progress in this area. We have had extensive debates in Parliament on this subject, notably on 20 September, when the hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) led an impassioned debate and many others joined in. There is a coalition of interested parties on moving this agenda forward, including the British Mountaineering Council, the Ramblers, the Youth Hostels Association and the Outdoor Industries Association. Last year, before the election, they made six key proposals for the Government to take forward, including measures on access and opportunities for young people. More than anything they wanted a clear focus. They were calling for a long-term strategy for outdoor recreation that is cross-departmental and that sits alongside or, even better, is integrated with the Government’s successful sports strategy. It was refreshing to see how the different Departments,

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from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department of Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, are working together in this cause. We have an outstanding sports Minister and I give her every vote of confidence in the work she does. Please remember this broader definition of sport and recreation in that work.

6.36 pm

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab): Many thanks for allowing me to participate in this debate, Mr Speaker. I do so as a keen sportsman and a true believer in sport as an essential element in building stronger communities, improving public health outcomes and teaching our young people the value of team ethics and fair play. In my younger days, I played rugby for London Welsh at junior level and for my college at university. Clearly, the motivation for doing so was partly that I was doing my constitutional and patriotic duty as a Welshman, but of course it was also based on my love of sport as a crucial feature of Welsh culture and identity. In my constituency, every weekend I see rugby’s power to bring our communities together across generations. Of course rugby is just one example of the power of sport as a unifying force for good.

It is against that backdrop that I must express my deepest regret at the failure of the coalition Government to build on the Olympic legacy. The 2012 Olympics created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the fitness levels of this country’s children and young people, but that opportunity was squandered by the coalition Government when they decided to scrap Labour’s school sport partnerships. Those partnerships played a crucial role in enabling primary school children to do competitive sport, and the decision to scrap them has led directly to the proportion of pupils doing two hours of sport a week collapsing from 90% under Labour to 50% under the last Government. Cuts to local authority budgets have also hit leisure centres and playing fields hard. In Wales, the £1.5 billion cut to the block grant has had a deeply damaging effect. In my constituency, the Cymmer community pool is threatened with closure, much to the despair of the local community, who are fighting hard to find a way to keep their pool, which plays a crucial role in community life and public health, open.

This Government must do better than their previous incarnation. The last five years saw a lack of strategy, piecemeal initiatives and announcements, and an absence of joined-up thinking. The coalition Government’s sports strategy can best be described as a litany of failure, with some of the lowlights including: scrapping Labour’s target for school children to do at least two hours of physical education and sport in school each week; undermining Labour’s successful school sport partnership, which was helping more children to do sport; watering down regulations on school playing fields; failing to carry out an audit of sports and recreation facilities available to local communities across the country; and failing to capitalise on the spirit and enthusiasm of the volunteer games makers.

The concerns that I am expressing are not narrow party political points. On the contrary, they are felt by a wide range of stakeholders, including the Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell, who said back in 2013:

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“I have grave concerns that cutting the funding to the School Sport Partnership network will have a hugely negative impact on the sporting opportunities that are available to our young people.”

Chris Dunne, headteacher of Langdon Park School in Tower Hamlets, London, described the Government’s decision as an

“enormously destructive act, verging on vandalism.”

He said that it was a tragedy that sporting opportunities had been cut back dramatically after the games.

The seductive vision was that the £9.3 billion invested in the games would not only hasten the regeneration of a neglected corner of east London and unlock a host of other benefits, but act as a corrective in Whitehall to the attitude of politicians towards sport. No longer would sport be left at the back of the policy queue when it came to funding discussions. Instead, it would be incorporated into policies on fighting obesity, tackling crime, boosting educational achievement and bringing communities together. If we fast forward to 2015, we see that a properly integrated, properly funded, cross-departmental plan for sport and wellbeing remains as frustratingly elusive as ever.

Meanwhile, childhood obesity rates continue to rise, PE in schools continues to decline, provision of facilities remains frustratingly patchy, and participation figures suggest a widening gap between the sporting haves and have nots.

6.41 pm

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): Let me make it clear at the outset that our reference in the motion is to sports participation. We bid for the Olympics because we understood all the wider aspects of the success of the Olympics.

We have had a wide-ranging debate with some very interesting speeches. I congratulate the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) on her maiden speech. She questioned whether there was a legacy from the Olympic games for Scotland. If she goes back and checks the figures, she will find that there was a considerable spin-off from the games. But the purpose of this debate is to find out how we can all benefit more widely from the legacy.

We also heard the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson). She spoke very fondly and passionately about her constituency. I am sure that she will be a fine champion of her local residents and constituents in the years to come.

There have been a number of well-informed speeches. The right hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) spoke about the wider generational issues. I found nothing in her speech with which I disagreed. The Olympic games will continue to benefit people more widely on a whole range of issues that go beyond sport, which is why investing and bidding for these major sporting events is so essential for the country.

Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab): While we are discussing participation, will my hon. Friend take the opportunity to praise those who enable others to participate in sport—those who drive the buses, cut the grass, make the food and drink, and carry the bags week after week, as they have done in rugby clubs up and down my constituency for many, many generations? Do they not also perform a vital role?

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Clive Efford: Absolutely, yes. A number of Members, especially the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins), and my hon. Friends the Members for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) and for Bassetlaw (John Mann), specifically referred to people at the grassroots of sport. I could not agree more with my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds), because it is time that we empowered those people. They are the ones who do the heavy lifting. They make a real difference in our communities. They know where the resources should go to make the biggest difference, and it is time that we had a long-term strategy for sport that empowered those people at local level, allowed them to make decisions about how resources are used and where they are targeted, and gave them oversight of local development plans for sport. When we use the term “sport” we must remember that we are talking about not just sporting activities but physical activities of all kinds. That point was made very well in one of the contributions.

My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) called for a comprehensive, long-term plan for sport. When we talk to people at the grassroots, the one thing they consistently say is that they want an end to the stop-start approach that they get from politicians. In saying that, they criticise us all, not just the current Government. We need what many speakers asked for: a long-term plan for sport, where all of us, in all parts of the House, agree on how we can take things forward and engage with people at the grassroots. It is an unfortunate fact that, in the past, the only consistency has been a consistent run of bad figures on participation since 2012-13.

Our motion focuses on participation. On the back of winning the Olympic bid, participation went up by 1.8 million people from 2005 to 2012, but since then participation figures have been going backwards. It is no good hon. Members saying, “Look at all the figures for transport, regeneration and jobs.” We accept all that—we are not criticising that side of it—but one of the targets for winning the Olympic games was to drive up participation. That worked from 2005 to 2012, on the back of winning the bid, but under this Government’s watch, since 2012, performance has not been good enough.

Boris Johnson: The hon. Gentleman is saying some sensible things, but will he not, in all candour and intellectual honesty, admit that even since the 2012 games, there has been a continuous increase in sporting participation in London?

Clive Efford: I accept that there has been a boost in London, but we are looking at the overall figures. There are underlying issues, which were highlighted by my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley). The figures for women’s participation are down, as are those for people with disabilities. There are some important issues that we need to address.

In a recent survey by the Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association, 70% of local authorities that responded said that they were looking to recover all or part of their costs through fees and charges. In the participation figures, the worst-affected sports tend to be those that rely heavily on local government facilities—sports such as gym exercise, dance, swimming, football and cricket. The impact is bound to be more severe

24 Jun 2015 : Column 1000

on those who rely on those facilities—people from low- income households. Nearly half a million fewer people participate in sport now than in 2012. It is that form of social exclusion that we should be tackling.

I accept that the sports Minister was in earnest when she said that the figures are not good enough and that the Government have to accept part of the blame. Sport England has said that the figures are disastrous. We can bandy figures back and forth, but we have to accept that what people are looking for is consistency. All they have had consistently so far is bad figures, year after year since 2012. We need to work together on this. I wish the sports Minister all the best in convincing her right hon. and hon. Friends to give sport priority in the future, although I have to say that her predecessors failed woefully. I will be there supporting her all the way if she can convince them that we need a cross-Government, long-term plan for sport that we can all work towards.

We need to empower the people who do the heavy lifting: the coaches, PE teachers, school games organisers, volunteers, people who run the clubs and classes, academics, businesses, local authorities and county sports partnerships. Incidentally, if anyone recognises any of this, it is similar to the points Steve Hilton was making just recently, only I wrote it all down a year ago.

Sport governing bodies have a role to play. They have nothing to fear from being part of a strategy to increase overall participation, as they can then fish in a much bigger pool of talent for the next generation of elite athletes. We need a long-term plan, so that policy does not change every time we have a bad set of figures or the Minister changes. We need to empower the people at the grassroots, let them tailor what goes on in their area to meet local needs and oversee local sports plans, and trust them, because they can do it. Let us put the failures behind us. Let us do what people out there want us to do: trust them, and set out a long-term plan that we can all work towards, so that we get our nation healthy, happy and active.

6.50 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tracey Crouch): This has, on the whole, been an excellent debate, not just because of colleagues’ contributions, which I shall turn to shortly, but because despite the Opposition’s attempt to say otherwise, we have a good story to tell about London 2012 and its legacy.

I will briefly turn to the 13 contributions from the Floor of the House. I congratulate the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) on her excellent maiden speech. I am very fond of Edinburgh, which has much sporting heritage of which to be proud.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller), as a former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, brings real expertise and knowledge to the debate. I pay particular tribute to her—and indeed my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant)—for progressing the issue of women in sport; my right hon. Friend was right to say that the Olympics started that process.

The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), who was of course the first female sports Minister—I am merely the third—gave a brilliantly measured speech. I reassure her that there will be a proper cross-departmental approach to the strategy, and I certainly share her passion to increase grassroots sport.

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My hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins) spoke incredibly well. I am hoping that if I say wonderfully nice things about his excellent speech, he will be very kind to me, now that he has been re-elected to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport.

I know how incredibly passionate the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) is about sport. He is a man of great foresight: we spent 21-odd days climbing a volcano for charity, and he lobbied me then on facilities for his constituency, 12 months before I was made a Minister.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson) on her maiden speech. I was delighted to hear her story about Cheadle Town football club and its score line. I believe the club was founded as Grasmere Rovers. She should not worry about the 22-nil drubbing; I have been a manager when we have won with a similar score line, but I have also been a player when we have lost with the same score line. Both are equally embarrassing.

The hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) made some very interesting comments. She has been in the House for a while now, but I must pay tribute to her late predecessor, Alan Keen, who also served on the Select Committee and was a real advocate for sport. She has picked up his baton wonderfully.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) of course made an excellent speech about a legacy that he helped deliver. As Mayor of London, he gave us a memorable games, and he is right to be incredibly proud of all that the Olympics and Paralympics delivered.

The hon. Member for Neath (Christina Rees) was right to talk about the link between physical activity and health outcomes.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) was right to point out the long tail of the participation legacy. Those inspired by London 2012 may not yet be out of primary school. His points were well made.

I have worked incredibly closely with the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley) on the issue of women in sport. She raised important issues. There has been progress, but challenges remain, and I look forward to working with her on those.

My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley) is a fantastic advocate for outdoor recreation, but it is his fault that my knees have not yet recovered from Cotopaxi.

Finally, the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) focused on school sport. I assure him that the Government have committed to funding the physical education and sport primary school premium for a further four years—something that Labour has not done. Furthermore, according to an independent assessment, 96% of schools reported improvements in pupils’ fitness, and 91% observed an increase in the quality of PE teaching.

If unnecessary attempts at political point-scoring were an Olympic sport, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) would win gold every time. He has done his best to impugn the legacy of London 2012, but the simple truth is that we have a great deal to be proud of, and it is shame that the hitherto consensus has been

24 Jun 2015 : Column 1002





I will come to participation shortly, but the legacy is more than that. There is the legacy of the park, the village, business, volunteers and the collective knowledge accumulated by those who delivered the games. The park is outstanding, with wonderful venues that are open to the public to enjoy. The Olympic stadium has an exciting and sustainable future. Unlike so many previous host cities, there are no white elephants from London 2012.

Stewart McDonald: Will the Minister give way?

Tracey Crouch: No, because I do not have much time—I am sorry.

The London 2012 games were the perfect showcase for the skills of our people and our businesses, which led to £14.2 billion of trade and investment benefits to the UK. British business has already won £60 million-worth of contracts for the Rio 2016 games, with up to another £100 million to come. About 200 people who worked at London 2012 are helping to deliver the European games in Baku and assisting Rio in its preparations. [Interruption.] If hon. Members will be patient, I will turn to participation shortly. As the Secretary of State said, games maker-style volunteers have become a fixture at major sporting events. London 2012 changed the perception of volunteering, and the nation has embraced it—a direct legacy that appears to have been forgotten by the Opposition.

I now turn to participation. I am happy to have an open and honest debate on this. The fact is that 1.4 million more people playing are sport than in 2005, and sport participation has increased by 300,000 since October 2010. Yet that is not enough—it is as simple as that. London 2012 has, without doubt, inspired many people to get involved in Olympic and Paralympic sports. There has been an increase in the number of people doing athletics, cycling, archery, judo, sailing and many other sports. Let us not forget, though, that inspiration and measurement do not always run concurrently. The girls I met in my local boxing gym are in the ring because of Nicola Adams. They are not measured on any survey because they are under 14. We will have examples like that from all our constituencies.

The strapline of London 2012 was “Inspire a Generation”. The participation results show that our 16 to 25-year-olds are, on the whole, “steady”. That is good, but not good enough. When the last active people survey results were issued a couple of weeks ago, I made it clear that I am not happy with the decline in the number of people participating in sport. However, let us be clear: the last time an all-encompassing sports strategy was drawn up was in 2002, and it has been the template for sport delivery since then.

Clearly, as the Opposition have admitted today, their strategy is not delivering. This Government have been working on the basis of a strategy that was delivered in 2002 and is no longer fit for purpose. So I have ripped up the old strategy, and before the recess I shall publish a consultation on a brand-new sport strategy that will reform how we deliver sport in this country. I am sure the Opposition will embrace this opportunity to revive the consensus that helped deliver such a successful games.

We are absolutely committed to continuing to make the most of the opportunities that London 2012 gave us and to make sure that generations to come benefit from

24 Jun 2015 : Column 1003

that fantastic summer three years ago. It is unfortunate that through the wording of their motion the Opposition sought to denigrate the legacy of London 2012. For that reason, we shall oppose the motion.

Question put.

The House divided:

Ayes 250, Noes 309.

Division No. 25]


6.59 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

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

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

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

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

Ellman, Mrs Louise

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

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

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

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lavery, Ian

Law, 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, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

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

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

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

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Blenkinsop


Phil Wilson


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

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

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

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Elliott, Tom

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

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

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

Kinahan, Danny

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

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

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

Paisley, Ian

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

Shannon, Jim

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

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

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Jackie Doyle-Price


Guy Opperman

Question accordingly negatived


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Public Health England: Porton Down

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(George Hollingbery.)

7.11 pm

John Glen (Salisbury) (Con): The first debate I secured as a Member of Parliament was five years ago on Monday, and it was on the future of the Public Health England site at Porton Down in my constituency. I did not imagine then that the first debate I would secure in the 2015 Parliament would also be on the future of that critical site, but I can think of no issue of greater significance to my constituency.

Porton Down is known across the world for the work that Public Health England and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory do there. It would not be right to open this debate without first paying tribute to all the staff for the work they have done to tackle Ebola in Sierra Leone in recent months. It has been truly humbling to hear the stories of my constituents, who have travelled at great risk and put themselves on the front line in the fight against Ebola. Their expertise has been vital to the people of Sierra Leone, and it is testament to the UK’s reputation for excellence in infectious disease research. I welcome the recent decision to award a medal for their commitment and dedication, which I know a number of my constituents will be very pleased to receive.

It is almost seven years since the Department of Health authorised Public Health England, then the Health Protection Agency, to develop an outline business case for the refurbishment of the facilities at Porton Down. That was after the Science and Technology Committee found the category 4 containment laboratory facilities at Porton Down

“to be in need of significant investment given their age”.

It recommended in 2008 that

“the Department of Health consider the redevelopment of the HPA’s Porton Down site as a priority”.

Project Chrysalis, the proposal for that multi-million pound redevelopment, was put forward shortly after the Committee’s report was published. In January 2010, a former GlaxoSmithKline site where Public Health England could consolidate its assets in one place was proposed as the preferred option, and a business case was put to the Department of Health just six months later. That was rejected—rightly, in my opinion—after scrutiny and further work were commissioned, but not as part of Project Chrysalis. Instead, Public Health England began putting together the case for a single science hub programme, which some might argue was a clear signal of an intention at an early stage to centralise before the business case work had even concluded.

The new outline business case was finalised in July 2014, and recommended that the facilities at Porton, Whitechapel and Colindale should move to a single campus in Harlow. The PHE board asked for a decision to be made by September 2014. I would like to take the opportunity to ask the Minister why, if the outline business case is so rock solid, it has still not been signed off nine months after Public Health England wanted it to be and 11 months after it was submitted.

There are certainly doubts remaining among many of my constituents about the decision, for a number of reasons. First, co-location in Harlow was recommended as, according to Public Health England’s officials, it

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“offers the best value to the taxpayer and delivers the lowest cost over the 60 year life of the programme”.

PHE also stated in its publicly disclosed annexe, however, that

“the differences in cost between the options are relatively small”.

Professor George Griffin estimated in his review of the single science hub work in 2012 that the difference amounted to 2.6% over 68 years, which I maintain is disputable given the complexities associated with modelling over such a long period. The resultant cost to the taxpayer might well be marginally smaller, but it is important to remember that the costs to my constituents will not be. The fact remains that they are being asked to uproot their lives and transplant to Harlow. For many of them, Salisbury has been their home for years. It is where their children go to school and where their family responsibilities lie.

Increasingly the trend in science is not to co-locate assets on single sites, but to harness the power of technology to work across larger areas. Centralisation remains an approach that the private sector left behind, in many cases a long time ago, in recognition that smaller specialist sites can be more effective. The direction of travel towards greater use of genomics and big data reinforces the argument for smaller entities such as Porton to continue to leverage global partnerships. I was previously told by Public Health England that it favoured the single hub model because of the approach taken at the Francis Crick Institute, but this is not a co-location of one entity’s assets; six distinctly different players all operate across multiple sites themselves and, in many ways, will continue to do so.

Secondly, the unwillingness to grasp the potential opportunities at Porton or fully to engage in a conversation about them is disappointing. Public Health England says that

“the Harlow campus has the potential to become a campus with an international reputation for public health science”.

Porton Down already has an international reputation. It has 250 external partnerships across the world and is supported by $55 million of investment from the US Government. It already partners more international universities than universities in the UK, eight US Government agencies, five international health bodies and nine global pharmaceutical companies. 

Public Health England has not yet articulated publicly precisely how being in Harlow will improve on that. How many new commercial partnerships does it believe will be generated from the site? What will be the impact on Public Health England’s revenue streams? Have those factors even been modelled thoroughly as part of the business case? I have long been concerned that the outline business case focuses too narrowly on Public Health England’s objectives as an organisation and the benefits it allegedly accrues from centralisation, not the wider opportunities for UK life science industries.

Thirdly, centralising in Harlow flies in the face of the Government’s agenda to promote more prosperous regional economies. The Chancellor said:

“The south-west contains some of Britain’s greatest economic strengths. It should be as central to our nation’s future prosperity as any other part of these islands”.

He said that it

“already has a strong reputation for life sciences”,

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and even asked the chief scientific adviser and the chief medical officer to

“explore the potential for new proposals for investment in life sciences in the south west”.

In the light of that ongoing work, will the Minister assure me that the chief scientific adviser has been consulted about the single science hub, given its implications for the entire south-west?

I appreciate that not all of Public Health England would move to Harlow, should the business case be approved, and that Porton would retain the manufacturing facilities. I also recognise that Public Health England management have given an assurance that they will not be abandoning those remaining facilities, and that they are meeting representatives of Wiltshire Council on Friday to examine how Public Health England can facilitate the optimal exploitation of opportunities that will derive from a new science park, which this Government have supported, right on its doorstep. However, it is unacceptable to assume that that would be appropriate consolation for the loss of the remaining facilities and capabilities, and I remain concerned that, if the Porton site were cannibalised in that manner, the temptation to examine commercial opportunities for those remaining facilities would be high.

Indeed, I understand from a letter that was recently sent by the Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman), to an interested party on 10 June that Public Health England is

“continuing to investigate commercial opportunities for its activities at Porton”.

I have long been an advocate for greater capitalisation on the commercial potential at Porton, but I would like assurances that the vaccine manufacturing facilities will be treated with the respect they deserve and not simply sold off to provide a quick win to allow the Government to balance the equation. This is not just a vaccine factory, and any proposal to maximise its potential needs to recognise its value to the south Wiltshire and regional life science economy.

More importantly, how do these concurrent agendas best serve the interests of my constituents? Can the Minister reassure me that individual Government Departments are not operating on different agendas? It seems to me that any discussions about commercialisation in advance of a decision on the outline business case would be premature and potentially misaligned.

Fourthly, the opportunity to consider the more effective use of existing public sector assets has still not been fully considered. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, located on the same site, has existing synergies with Public Health England and the two organisations work together closely. DSTL also has category 4 containment facilities which were refurbished relatively recently and are considered to be of the highest standard. Indeed, it has spare capacity in its facilities, and when the size of refurbished labs at the Public Health England site was being discussed, the decision was taken to request a smaller facility on the basis that DSTL would be expected to provide back-up capacity in an emergency. Professor George Griffin also told the Science and Technology Committee in 2008 that

“the Ministry of Defence has a facility at Porton…there is spare capacity there, we know, and we would be able to use that if necessary”.

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However, I have been told that there are conceivable emergency scenarios in which DSTL and PHE would need to occupy the entire space at the same time, resulting in a conflict of interest with severe implications for national security. Those scenarios have never been articulated—they may well be considered above my pay grade—but I would ask the Minister to put on record that the DSTL collaboration option has been fully explored with DSTL management and examined independently, and that the security concerns about the laboratories proved irresolvable.

DSTL and PHE have an important collaboration that benefits from their physical proximity. They are treated as the “Porton campus” by the regulator, enabling pathogenic samples to be transferred between the two sites without the need for additional licensing. Both are licensed for animal work, and I understand that PHE manages some of the sensitive resources occasionally used by DSTL. They can currently be safely transported at minimal risk, but a move to Harlow would completely remove that capability.

Fifthly, I again take the opportunity to emphasise that Porton Down is embedded in the Salisbury community. We support its staff and recognise the sensitive nature of the vital work they carry out. Porton’s relatively isolated location makes it an ideal secure site. Harlow remains untested, and rebuilding the relationship and acceptance of the sensitive work that Public Health England does will take valuable time and effort. As many of my constituents tell me, it is simply common sense to keep that work where it is, not move it to a more densely populated suburban area.

Finally, I reiterate that this is not just a conversation about keeping jobs in my constituency; it is a debate about what is best for our life science industry and the partners that depend on Porton’s expertise. I said in my previous Adjournment debate that my primary concern is that the decision is motivated by a desire to tidy up different entities within the PHE organisation on to a single site, when the advantages of co-location are notional, uncosted and unproven. Until I am permitted to see the full business case, my concerns will remain about the logic that is being used.

I appreciate that this is a decision that will have significant implications for our national security and I have always stressed it is imperative that we get it right. However, the Department of Health was informed in 2008 that the category 4 labs at Porton were

“built over 50 years ago and refurbishment and upgrading work is becoming increasingly difficult.”

In my debate five years ago this week, the then Minister with responsibility for public health, my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Anne Milton), told the House:

“The site is 60 years old, the building structures are in a poor state of repair and the laboratories clearly do not meet modern safety standards, so something must be done.”—[Official Report, 22 June 2010; Vol. 512, c. 273.]

I believed her, yet five years later nothing has been done. The facilities are deteriorating and my constituents have lived in the shadow of this decision for five years, not knowing if they will be moving to Harlow, although we have had the positive news of a science park, which will, I hope, open in the next year or so. I will persist in my questioning on this matter, because, frankly, some of my questions have gone unanswered.

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When I last met the PHE leadership team in November, I was told by the most senior official that he was the boss and he would decide how any re-examination of Porton’s potential would be evaluated, but I have heard nothing from him for six months. I have a responsibility to my constituents to seek assurance that the decisions that will have an impact on their lives are being made on the basis of rigorous analysis of the facts. I urge the Minister to finally clarify for my constituents, one way or the other, where their future lies. We owe the staff based at Porton Down that much.

7.27 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (John Glen) on having secured a hat-trick of debates on the future of Porton Down, which is a very important subject not just for his constituents, but for the whole country, given the work done there on a wide range of public health threats, including the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. I join him in paying tribute to his constituents for their service both in the UK and on the frontline in Sierra Leone. The medals are hugely deserved.

My hon. Friend has been a tireless campaigner for his constituents on this matter and on the creation of Porton science park, which I will turn to later. Through this campaigning he has shown a passion for growth and job creation in his area, and we all admire that.

Scientists have been doing invaluable work at Porton Down since the 1950s. As my hon. Friend has said, in previous debates it has been stressed that the buildings are more than 60 years old and are increasingly becoming unfit for purpose. I know that my hon. Friend agrees with the need to find a solution to the problem—indeed, he devoted his speech to that—to ensure that the vital work can continue. It is important that scientists have the benefit of state-of-the-art facilities that reflect the latest technological advancements, including the shift from Petri dish to big data. So much has happened in recent years and so much change is going on. There is a clear consensus that the status quo is not acceptable and that it will not enable Public Health England to deliver the public health scientific expertise that the Government and the nation require.

My hon. Friend ran through the options. He knows that Public Health England has looked at a number of options to meet the challenge it faces. It has had to consider a wide range of longlisted and shortlisted options, all of which have to demonstrate the best value for money to the taxpayer. The main focus of the options has been on the existing Porton Down and Colindale sites, and the former GlaxoSmithKline facility in Harlow, Essex.

As my hon. Friend mentioned, Public Health England has briefed him and the local MPs, local authorities and other key stakeholders, and has consulted the chief medical officer and chief scientific officer, about the three sites affected and considered in the option appraisal. As my hon. Friend will be aware, PHE’s case is that there are significant benefits from bringing together the range of public health science functions that it manages at disparate sites. I accept that he expressed scepticism about some of the arguments, but PHE believes that creating an integrated national science hub rather than reproviding the same facilities on the same sites would

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be its ideal. For that reason, in the PHE outline business case, the preferred option was to create a public health science hub based at Harlow.

My hon. Friend asked what was included in some aspects of the outline business case. I can confirm that no additional revenues from any relocation have been included, in line with the rules and guidelines of what is and can be included in such cost-benefit analyses. However, it is hoped that new facilities will lead to increased academic and commercial income.

As I have said, it is essential that the proposal taken forward offers the best value for money for the taxpayer while protecting the vital heath protection functions carried out by scientists. The scrutiny of the business case has included two external reviews organised by the Major Projects Authority. Both have concluded that the business case properly evaluates the options, including options based at Porton. Since our last debate on this topic last September, the review process has continued and the business case has been through a Major Projects Authority gateway process. I can assure my hon. Friend that that has been and will continue to be a thorough and robust process, and that the outline business case continues to be scrutinised by Ministers at the Department of Health, the Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

As I have said, PHE has considered a wide range of options in the outline business case, including those that would involve remaining at Porton Down. Alternative, third-party proposals have been put forward, including those of the Porton life sciences group, which were kindly forwarded to me and to other Ministers by my hon. Friend. I assure him that the proposals have been carefully considered.

We recognise the need for collaboration between Public Health England and its neighbours at Porton and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, in the interests of national security. PHE is committed to being collaborative, including having discussions about the use of specialist high-containment facilities. However, we need to be clear that, although PHE and DSTL will continue to collaborate closely, PHE needs dedicated high-containment facilities to ensure that it can properly respond to the threat our nation faces. PHE is the employer of the specialists that are registered to handle human health specimens. The DSTL facilities provide additional resilience, but they were built to meet military requirements. In addition PHE’s facilities provide resilience to the military if DSTL’s facilities are for any reason unavailable. Whatever the final decision, national security, and capabilities for national response, are paramount. It is therefore key for DSTL and all other potential agencies involved in the response to work with PHE to protect public health from current and future threats.

Public Health England has confirmed that it remains committed to the Porton site, even if it is decided to relocate the Porton research functions and staff. That would involve the PHE facilities remaining at Porton consisting of some 300 staff in development and production and regional laboratories. That has continued, with PHE spinning out development and production as a corporate company called Porton Biopharma Ltd, which

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is wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health. That will allow for Porton Biopharma Ltd to take a commercial approach to growing the business. I note my hon. Friend’s consistent support for that—he has not spoken against the idea. That allows more people across the world to benefit from the specialist products it manufactures. PHE has briefed my hon. Friend on that work and on maximising the commercial potential of the production facilities at Porton. As he said in his speech, that principle has his support.

The work to increase the commercial potential of the production facilities at Porton will be closely linked to the Porton science park, which I know my hon. Friend has worked hard to bring to his constituency. Porton Biopharma Ltd is next to the new science park and PHE is working closely with Wiltshire County Council on the further opportunities in the life sciences sector that this important development could bring to his constituency.

My hon. Friend rightly focused much of his remarks on the need to support staff in the most appropriate way, and on how unsettling it is for any group of staff to not quite know where their future lies. One third of the posts currently at Porton will remain there, even if research functions and staff are relocated. If those functions are relocated, PHE would work with each member of staff at Porton who is working in a post that would move to Harlow under the new proposals, to support them in decisions about their future. He is absolutely right to make that paramount and I take it very seriously. Some staff may want to relocate to Harlow and others may wish to retire or move to other roles outside PHE. The business case includes support packages for staff that are in line with the Government standard. I hope that gives him some reassurance.

As I have set out, the work conducted at Porton Down is of local, national and international importance. However, there is a consensus that, given the ageing facilities, doing nothing is not an option. PHE has looked at a wide range of possibilities for the future of health protection laboratories in the UK and at the benefits of combining various public heath functions. This has led to a preference for the Harlow site at the outline business case stage. Regardless of the final decision, PHE remains committed to the Porton site, as expressed through the commercialisation of its development and production arm. This will be closely linked to the Porton science park. The outline business case has been through, and continues to go through, rigorous, thorough and robust scrutiny before a final decision is reached by Ministers.

I thank my hon. Friend for his continued keen scrutiny of this important issue. I congratulate him once again on securing the debate and on continuing to be such an ardent champion for the interests of Porton as a science centre of excellence and for his constituents and their future.

Question put and agreed to.

7.36 pm

House adjourned.