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The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may ask him to clarify one point which will be important for the charity Kids Company. In welcoming the important new funding for that charity, can the Minister clarify that the charity will not receive funding unless it can itself match the funding? So the charity will have to go out and find equal funding. I am sorry if I did not make that clear earlier.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, there is a danger in me clarifying something I am not totally sure about. But, yes, I am fairly sure that there will be matching funding. If I am wrong, I shall write to the noble Earl.

1.48 pm

Lord Puttnam: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. As much as anything else, it has been valuable for establishing the quite extraordinary level of consensus that exists in the belief in a linkage between the economy, people's lives, urban regeneration and the quality of the environment, all of which is having such a tremendous impact throughout the length and breadth of this country.

I should, in a sense, apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer. I inherited the title of the debate. But as someone who lives in a rural community, I should be very happy to join with the noble Baroness at any time in a debate to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist in rural regeneration.

Perhaps I may make a couple of points. I was riveted by the description of my noble friend Lord Jones of Kensington in Liverpool, which I know very well. Only three weeks ago I had the privilege of going to Liverpool to speak at the memorial service of our late and much missed colleague the former Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard. On the way from the station in a cab, as we passed one miraculous new building after another, I said to the taxi driver, "What do you put the extraordinary sense of confidence that is taking place in this city down to?". He said—and I will have a crack at the accent—"Oh, it's simple. We just stopped feeling sorry for ourselves". That is not a bad way of summing up the impact of regeneration on a city's sense of itself. I was especially encouraged by the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Best. The fact that such an important organisation as his is taking a serious position in this area can only augur well for the future.

If this were a movie, the credits would roll for a considerable time, but it would be quite wrong for me not to acknowledge a little of the help that I received in preparing for today's debate. My principal thanks go of course to my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall for securing the debate in the first place. It is a sadness to all of us that she was not able to be here to speak. I must again doff my cap to the noble Lord,
 
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Lord Chadlington, from whom I learnt so much during our enormously productive time working together on the Arts Council lottery panel; to the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, for his brilliant volumes on the life of Lord Keynes, which gave me a beginning to my speech; to Sir Christopher Frayling, the present chairman of the Arts Council, whose enthusiasm for and knowledge of the subject far exceed mine, and the Arts Council staff, especially Kelly Wiffen; to Sir Nicholas Serota and his staff and at the Tate and, last but not least, to my noble friend Lady Andrews, for the help that her officials at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister gave me.

Speaking of officials, two things occurred to me while listening to the debate. The first—I have been wanting to say this for a long while—is that, according to the DCMS report, £16.5 billion has been spent since the lottery began, on 190,000 projects. One of the great benefits of speaking in your Lordships' House is that you know that you will never be reported and the media will take no notice whatever. But it strikes me as interesting that none of our media has sought to comment on the fact that £16.5 billion spent on 190,000 projects has resulted in no scandals. No one has run off with the money. There have been no disasters or catastrophes. What other country in the world could have managed its processes, its unpaid committees, and its officials so admirably as to deliver that? It would be nice to think that one or two members of the press might pick that up, but we can be fairly certain that they will not.

One final thought. At the height of Athens's fame, on attaining the age of 17, all Athenian young men were required to pledge an oath to their city, which finished roughly like this: "Thus, in all these ways, I will leave the city not less but greater and more beautiful than it was left to us". We pass a great deal of legislation through this House—sometimes, I think, too much—but how happy I would be if we were able to find some means to suggest to our young men and women that they might take on some similar form of obligation, because then we could look forward to an extraordinary continuation in urban regeneration that would stretch way past my lifetime. With that, my Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

Sport

1.53 pm

Lord Pendry rose to call attention to the development of sport in local communities and its contribution to the achievement of sporting excellence; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a timely debate with 6 July looming when the International Olympic Committee decides on the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, for which we are hopeful of being the successful candidate. That bid is not of itself the reason that this debate has been tabled, but there is a link between a successful bid and grassroots participation.
 
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We have all seen what has happened in Barcelona, Sydney and Athens, where, following those countries' successful bids, the amount of grassroots involvement rose dramatically at every level. Also, in the games themselves, record numbers of medals were won by all the host nations. So there is correlation between the success of our Olympic bid and of elite and community sport. I am sure that your Lordships will back our bid to the hilt before 6 July.

In 1997, when Labour came to power, sport was in the doldrums. Minister after Minister failed to get to grips with the declining sporting scene. Only the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, when in that position seemed to understand the problems we faced—as far as he was allowed by his masters or, perhaps more accurately, by his headmistress to act in the way that I am sure he would have preferred. I clearly exempt the noble Lord, Lord Monro of Langholm, who was a capable Minister for Sport, from that charge, but I am referring to a different period from when he was in charge.

I have to remind the House that the situation in 1997 was dire. School sport was in decline, with extra-curricular sporting fixtures, in particular, down by three-quarters. Every free-standing physical education college had been closed. It was reliably estimated that physical education in 40 per cent of our primary schools was not of a suitable standard. On top of that, 5,000 playing fields had been sold off, with many more under threat.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt my noble friend, but if he could speak under a microphone—there is not one in the aisle—our colleagues and friends opposite would be able to hear what he is saying.

Lord Pendry: My Lords, I thank my noble friend. I would certainly not want any of my words not to be understood, so that was a very wise intervention on the Minister's part.

I was saying that physical education in 40 per cent of our primary schools was not of a suitable standard. On top of that, 5,000 playing fields had been sold off, with many more sales in the pipeline. So in 1997 the incoming Government had a mountain to climb and have understandably taken some time to implement all the required changes to effect the kind of change necessary to put sport on the footing that it deserves. Enormous progress has been made. Even this week, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills has announced plans to extend school days from 8 am to 6 pm, which will provide more opportunities for extra-curricular activities, including sport. I am sure that we will see the benefits in years to come and welcome the positive reaction of teachers and, in particular, headteacher unions.

The delivery of funding is improving, not least as a result of the reform that has taken place at Sport England, which has undertaken a rigorous programme of modernisation. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Carter of Coles, will refer to that in his contribution.
 
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I know that the current Minister for Sport has had to take some difficult decisions regarding funding streams to ensure that funds are being directed to those in the frontline, not being absorbed by bureaucracy. So too at UK Sport, where its own modernisation process has focused funding on performance ratings, as it targets the sports that can demonstrate that they will do well at forthcoming international events.

The development of sport within the local community thankfully is now at an all time high. So many successful schemes are being undertaken by various organisations, but I should like to highlight one or two which have impressed me. In the debate on the gracious Speech, I referred to the PE, school sport and club links, which will develop further as schools and clubs integrate into not only the provision but extension of participation by widening the scope of accessibility for young people. That mechanism will develop not only sport but emerging talent. That will encourage lifelong participation and activity.

I make no apologies for referring to one such scheme funded by the Football Foundation, of which I am president. Buckhurst Hill Junior Football Club, in Essex, had faced closure after an arson attack on its ground. The club was able to build a new clubhouse and purchase the ground from the local council as a result of a grant of £290,546 from the Football Foundation. Now the club is thriving, providing some of the best facilities in the country to hundreds of young people. Its membership has been doubled, with nearly 500 players using the site every week. Participation has escalated. Buckhurst Hill now has a girls' section, running teams between the ages of six and 16. About 250 boys are playing in 16 teams each week, as well as 160 adult male players, accompanied by 25 professionally qualified coaches who run sessions and provide after-school football for local children.

Local community sport is also important because of its wider benefits. By that I refer to the important impact that sport and physical activity have in improving community safety, health, social inclusion and cohesion. Sport can have many health benefits, including reducing obesity and combating heart disease. Such are the advantages of participating in physical activity and sport that the Government in their public health paper, Choosing Health, point to the use of sport participation and outline measures to promote the opportunities and benefits as a priority. In their health paper, the Government recommend the expansion of the scope of activeplaces.com, the facilities database, to ensure that everyone is aware of the opportunities that exist, which will drive up interest and participation.

There are also programmes within the Prince's Trust—for example, Positive Futures—and the work undertaken by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, which use sport and leisure activities to engage disadvantaged and socially marginalised young people positively to influence the participants of substance misuse and offending behaviour towards physical activity. Unique projects such as these use the power and popularity of sport to
 
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provide professional coaching and competitive games, as well as educational opportunities, training and healthy lifestyle information.

Those projects are undertaken in partnership with local organisations, the police and youth offending teams to combat anti-social activities within society. A recent survey of the project partners illustrates the potential that those schemes have already shown: 72 per cent believe that anti-social behaviour has fallen as a result of Positive Futures; 80 per cent believe that sport-based activities are more available as a result of Positive Futures; 78 per cent state that Positive Futures helps participants to relate better; and 63 per cent believe that local crime has fallen as a result of Positive Futures.

Of particular interest to my noble friend Lord Davies of Oldham, who is on the Government Front Bench today, will be the Positive Futures programme in Oldham, which has received a grant of £91,293 from the Football Foundation to develop a programme in Oldham, which is part of Oldham's crime and community safety strategy. It will provide activities for young people between the ages of eight and 16 in several areas identified as socially and economically disadvantaged.

A scheme based in Manchester draws heavily on the idea of development of sport and the identification of talent. This scheme was originally organised by the head of leisure at Manchester City Council in 1992, but has been spearheaded since by the remarkable athlete Geoff Thompson, who comes from a socially deprived background. I am hopeful that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, who will make a contribution today, will be able to speak in more depth than I on this subject.

Football clubs are playing their part in developing community schemes—for example Manchester City, which is to run a ground-breaking project aimed at encouraging disengaged 16 to 19 year-olds to return to full time education or employment. It is entitled Kick Start and is being organised in partnership with Manchester Youth College. A welcomed bridge between community level and elite level sport is the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme for young athletes. The Government in their manifesto stated that they have launched,

Scholarships and bursaries can provide the young promising Olympians of the future with access to high quality facilities and sporting services. That is the sort of investment required to enhance the levels of sporting excellence by providing the opportunities that would otherwise not be available.

It is clear that sport is an important mechanism by way of inspiring and motivating more people to participate. Again, I refer to the Football Foundation, which uses Premier League stars in its ambassador scheme to promote,


 
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I witnessed the launch of one ambassador, Wes Brown of Manchester United, in my home town of Stalybridge, at which many children, mostly girls, were present. Having a "star" at such events generates interest and engages more people in sport.

What better way to engage more people—children and adults—in sport in the future than hosting the Olympic Games? The Olympics is the epitome of sporting excellence and victory on 6 July would be greatly advantageous not only to London, but also to the country as a whole. There will be tangible benefits, such as thousands of new jobs, a boost to UK tourism and a sporting legacy for the UK, which would be felt by generations to come.

The country has already shown its capacity to deliver events of this kind and we cannot forget the contribution made by volunteers. Without volunteers sporting excellence would be only a fraction of what it is today. Volunteers play a massive role in national sporting life. The London Marathon relies on 6,000 volunteers and the Manchester Commonwealth Games involved 10,000 volunteers, thus suggesting that the role of the volunteer will be a vital ingredient to the 2012 Olympic bid. The development of sport at local and club level is also dependent on volunteers. Sport is the most common form of volunteering, accounting for 26 per cent of all volunteering.

In that context, I welcome the recommendations of the Russell commission report, which identified Sport England as a key delivery partner in meeting the aspiration of attracting 1 million more young volunteers. Volunteers have and will continue to make an important contribution to the development of sport and sporting excellence.

I am also pleased to say that the All-Party Group on Volunteering, headed by Julian Brazier MP, is campaigning for the rights of volunteers following the CCPR survey, which identified eight reasons why people were reluctant to volunteer—the top reason being the blame culture and threat of litigation. Last year, a Private Member's Bill in the Commons sort to provide protection for volunteers in that area, but it fell off the legislative timetable because of the general election. I am pleased that the Government are to bring in a Bill soon to rectify the problems in that area.

By way of conclusion, I wish to refer to the Cabinet Office strategy document, Game Plan, which has emphasised two major objectives; namely, increasing international success and increasing participation. These are the two interdependent aims that form the backbone of this debate. I therefore urge the House to back the Government in pursuing sporting developments within the community in order to increase the opportunities for sporting excellence in the UK. I beg to move for Papers.

2.7 pm


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