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Our direct budget support already provides a basis for parliamentary scrutiny: it forms part of the country’s government budget, which should be approved by Parliament and subsequently reported on. Where we provide direct budget support, we generally also support public financial management. In Zambia, DfID gives budget support and acts as lead donor for support to the parliament and for a financial management programme, which involves the Public Accounts Committee.

This has been an excellent, if too short, debate, covering many important issues. If I try to deal with the questions that have been asked, that will take me, and the debate, much over the allotted time.

The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, raised a point about democratic Governments and aid to those Governments. We do not believe that we should confine aid to countries with democratic Governments because, frankly, poor people are not confined to such countries, and a lot of poor people live in countries with poor Governments. Therefore, although it is not easy, we have to see how we can best make an impact, despite the problems. Where a Government are simply not committed to helping their own citizens, we will still use our aid to help poor people and promote better governance, but we will do so by working outside government with the civil societies and with international agencies such as the UN.

DfID’s policy is to make information on conditions attaching to individual programmes available on its website. Putting this into practice requires changes to DfID’s system, and we are working to introduce those changes. As to making public our aid agreements, I am advised that under the Freedom of Information

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Act a request could be made by a member of a foreign parliament for information from DfID on conditions attaching to budget support or other aid programmes.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, raised the issue of Uganda, where corruption, weak accountability across government and a lack of respect for the independence of the judiciary all need to be addressed. We want to continue working with that Government to ensure that those do not become problematic issues, and through our aid programme, we are helping to establish the institutions required to fight corruption.

I have not answered other questions. My time has run out, so, if it is acceptable to the Committee, I shall write with answers to the various points that I have been asked during the debate. I end by saying that the success, or otherwise, of the democratic process in Africa captures the attention of a watching world. A point made well by the noble Lord, Lord Steel, was that in Parliament Africa is now once again very high up on the interest list of many Members of another place and, clearly from this debate, of this House as well.

In Zimbabwe and Kenya—the noble Lord, Lord Steel, and I were guests at a lunch held by the Lord Speaker for Kenyan parliamentarians just a few weeks ago—we have seen what happens when things go badly wrong. We have seen that African citizens are not willing to tolerate rigged elections and authoritarian rule. That is why we include support for democracy in UK international development programmes. Elections are one part of that democratic process but, for a functioning democracy—as perhaps we know in this country too—states need structures and institutions that hold Governments accountable not just some of the time, but all the time. Parliaments are vital in this, and our support can help them to fulfil their role. Once again, I thank the All-Party Group for producing such an excellent report.

Sport: Go Play Rugby

5.01 pm

Lord Addington asked Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the Rugby Football Union’s Go Play Rugby scheme; and what lessons can be drawn for encouraging amateur participation in other sports.

The noble Lord said: I thank noble Lords who have put their names down to speak in this short debate. I must make a small confession about this scheme. I discovered it properly when it was finished and did not pay enough attention to it when it was building up, so I have a bit of the zealousness of a convert about it. I did not realise how revolutionary its approach was: it attracted adults back into participation. We have often spoken about sport, and there are a series of clichés about it. Everybody talks about children, school sport or school-age sport and then says that we must enhance the club link. However, until now, there has not been a scheme that addresses the primary problem of the huge drop-off in participation between the age of 16 to 18 and adult life. There are other drop-off points when people change their lifestyles; for example, between

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the end of college or university and the first job. It is clear that people’s lives are organised so that there are points where they break the contacts and the habit of sport.

We then tend to fall into the trap of having schemes where we have lots of children running around a politician and a sports star standing in the middle of a field—at a junior level, I have been that politician—and then the politician goes to another event. I got the feeling that the children might even be bussed from event to event—fresh-faced kids who do not know whether they are holding a cricket bat, a rugby ball or squash racket that afternoon. There were a lot of them. It is true that school sport has gone through something of a transformation and more energy has been pumped into it, but we always seem to miss the fact that getting adults taking part in sport is the most important thing.

There are other good schemes that try to maintain the good practice of keeping people involved from the transfer on, but changes in lifestyle mean that those who are casual participants and not natural first-teamers tend to be lost. That is why this scheme is so important, because it went out to recruit those who had stopped playing the game but were basically sport-literate and brought them back in.

Noble Lords may think that this is not rocket science, and that is its beauty. It is a targeted approach to bring people back. It was done round the greatest spike of attention that Rugby Union would get: the world cup, which comes once every four years. England were defending champions and it was expected that they would do fairly well. True, the expectations may not have been quite as high at one time in the tournament as they were by the time it ended, but nevertheless the team had a rollercoaster ride, lots of attention and the situation was transformed and was well used.

A scheme that was designed to get 6,000 players involved and coming back into the game got 9,500 people. It also inspired a considerable number of volunteers to get back involved with the game, in terms of organisation, support work, referees and coaches. The cross-section included people who had been away from the game predominantly for at least one season. Would the Minister not agree that that was something that many of the government targets aim towards? It fulfils virtually every single government goal; it ticks the boxes; it gets people back involved. Why is this so important to the sport? Because these are amateur sports clubs whose greatest asset is their players—their asset in terms not only of playing the game but also their financial stability. There was an investment of about £1 million and they got 9,000 players, so it was just over £100 each player. That is a conservative estimate for a normal rugby club. True, these are institutions with bars—although I am not sure that the relationship between Rugby Union and beer should be acknowledged, at least at the traditional amateur level. But those are clubs where those people come and spend money and use the leisure facilities. They will probably purchase some of the merchandise and take part in the social events; they will be socially integrated and interacting with a group of like-minded people. That is why this scheme is important.



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Having got the ideology in full swing, I turn to the scheme, about which there was one particularly attractive thing. At the previous world cup, which England won, people who did not know how many players there were on the pitch in a Rugby Union game suddenly became rugby fans and there was a great spike—or was that just my feeling as an old hack in the sport myself? According to the first page of the document, there was great attention and lots of activity but in the junior ranks; it did not attract the people who will support the clubs and ultimately support those juniors to go on. There was an admission and acknowledgement that something had not been maximised.

Then there was a pilot scheme in Surrey in 2006. It took a little digging, but I got the RFU to admit that there were problems with it and that it did not get it right first time. It always makes me feel better about a scheme when I realise that someone had to adapt it slightly. Indeed, certain things surprised me on reading the document through; for example, the phone lines did not work for giving out information about where people could go and find a club, which is a very important part of this. The text services did—but possibly my age shows. Also, there was the fact that advertising on buses was a total waste of time. Small things like that meant that it was a targeted audience. Then it was backed up by other forms of advertising later, which were targeted. We can go through what worked and what did not; if the club did not invest in getting people to receive people at the right time and help people as they turned up, it would probably lose them.

Messages of that type were taken into the scheme around the time of the world cup. Once again, it was not a universal success but it was a success across the board. There was a targeted advertising campaign and a better services website that allowed people to know where the nearest clubs to them were, and it was combined with preparing the ground properly and making sure that there were packs and people at the clubs. That apparently encountered resistance from certain clubs that wanted to have their name up, as opposed to rugby. Why people play for amateur clubs is usually down to accidents of geography and who their friends are. The scheme tried to ensure that those things meshed together and gave incentives to get friends to come to the rugby club for a social function and to play so getting people involved in the whole activity.

Another very important factor about this is that it brought people together. In certain cases, small rugby clubs that were in danger of folding found themselves with teams. Remember that most rugby clubs will now have other sports attached to them. Cricket and rugby are an old pairing; one summer, one winter. Rugby League and Rugby Union now coexist on many sites. The fact that you are taking part in one sport, a social activity at a set time, means that you are often prepared to do so for another sport.

A more recent example, closer to home, is that four members of the Commons and Lords Rugby Club were in the House of Lords boat that today beat the Commons in a race outside; I did not count the Commons team. There is interaction; these sports feed

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off each other. What steps has the Minister taken to encourage this model being adopted by other sports? Rugby itself will probably benefit indirectly if it is, but the agenda of getting people involved and supporting the social function of sports clubs will be enhanced and reinforced by this process. To adopt something where somebody from outside has taken on board the Government’s aims in this way, largely for selfish reasons, is effectively a no-brainer. How do the Government propose to enhance this position and the transfer of information?

I have not given universal praise to my own sport in this House, but this is one time when Rugby Union has got it right. It has something to teach the rest of the sporting world.

5.10 pm

Lord Pendry: My Lords, I begin by apologising; I misread my Order Paper. I was sitting in the Chamber wondering where the noble Lord, Lord Addington, was. Anyway, he is here now. I thank and congratulate the noble Lord on initiating this debate on rugby, and for highlighting the wonderful achievements of the Go Play Rugby programme. As a player of the game himself, it is close to his heart. His contribution showed that clearly. The noble Lord can always be relied upon to take part in any debate on sport in this House and his contributions are always based on a knowledge of sport in general.

I must confess that rugby was not a sport in which I excelled at school myself. I found it a bit brutal, so I reverted to the more gentle sport of boxing under the protection of the Marquess of Queensberry rules. Having said that, I congratulate Sport England for its involvement in the Rugby Football Union’s Go Play Rugby scheme—one of the first funders to do so. Sport England has invested £55 million in Rugby Union since 2002. The campaign aimed to attract 6,000 adult players back to the sport but has in fact actually attracted 9,500 players back to the game. I was given these impressive statistics by Alexandra Russell, the regional PR manager of Sport England.

Only this week, I spoke at the opening of a memorial recreation ground in Newham, east London. As part of a £15 million scheme to improve leisure and parks by next spring, they will have a state-of-the-art facility focusing on two of our country’s national sports, football and rugby. The East End of London is not as well known as the West End for Rugby Union teams, so it was most pleasing to learn of the developments taking place in Newham. Newham School’s tag rugby world cup competition for primary schools was held, and 20 primary schools took part and 200 children participated. Also, Newham Schools world cup rugby competition was held at Memorial Park, where 10 secondary schools took part and 100 children participated. Newham is definitely on the move as far as rugby is concerned.

I last raised the important subject of sport and physical activity in this House on 5 June. It was therefore with great pleasure that I learned of the Government’s announcement the following day—this was nothing to do with my debating skills—on free swimming for the over 60s. Swimming is the most

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popular participatory sport in the UK. Removing the cost barrier to swimming is an important step forward. After reading the Government’s Olympic legacy strategy at length, it is clear that it was not the only measure to be applauded. For example, I was particularly pleased to note the Government’s pledge to inspire 2 million people to take up sport and physical recreation by the 2012 Olympics.

There is considerable evidence to prove that exercise is the most effective way of reducing the risks of more than 20 diseases at least—diseases which, as a nation, we are all aware of, including stroke, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. I have made the financial case before in this House, and make no apology for doing so again. More than two-thirds of the British public do not reach the minimum level of physical activity. That affects the economy to the tune of £13.2 billion per year in sickness absence costs—the equivalent of 175 million working days. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has found that work based on physical activity programmes can significantly reduce absenteeism and staff turnover.

The Foresight report on future trends in obesity predicts a cost, at current trends, of some £50 billion a year. In Essex, there is a gym-based programme operating across five primary care trusts called condition management. It focuses on getting people on incapacity benefit back to work. Services include advice on diet and exercise but also focus on career development and helping people overcome barriers to work, whether they are emotional, educational or health-related. The programme works with people with stress, depression and muscular problems, giving practical advice to encourage positive thinking.

It is clear that without these huge investments in sport and physical activity programmes of this nature, the economy and health of this country would be much poorer. We have heard today of an excellent project, Go Play Rugby, which deserves all the attention it has received. These amateur sporting schemes, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, has said, are very important; they are essential cogs in the vast change we need to endorse across the nation.

We also need increasing national rollout schemes and mass promotion which have cost benefits in terms of economies of scale. It is encouraging to see the Government taking steps in the right direction. I only hope that they will do more to empower those bodies with a presence in our communities to do what they do best in providing opportunities to be physically active.

Go Play Rugby has made a huge impact and we applaud its success. I should like to highlight some other programmes which have been effective in introducing physical activity into people’s lives. Go London is an extension of the national Go programmes which were launched in March 2008 by the Fitness Industry Association to get more teenage girls more active. It is widely known that there is a massive drop-out rate among young girls around the age of 14 who are doing sport, and this can have detrimental effects in the long term, if not for ever.

The Go programme was originally developed in response to the Government’s research which highlighted the fact that teenage girls are a healthcare priority, key

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to reversing the escalating obesity crisis. The Go London project has given 14 to 16 year-old girls free access to health club facilities, allowed them to participate in non-traditional sporting activities and engage in a range of modern, exhilarating exercise sessions led by professional qualified instructors.

Another programme I commend is Adopt a School. Completely free of charge for the schools involved, Adopt a School pairs up health and fitness clubs with local schools to give kids access and opportunities to engage in fun physical activities.

Last week I received, as no doubt other noble Lords did, an update on the new opportunities for PE and sport programmes: a nationwide £750 million lottery investment in sporting facilities for young people and the wider community. Nearly 3,000 sports facilities have been funded to date, leading to a 70 per cent increase in the number of activities available in the communities in which these facilities have sprung up.

Active at Work is an adult programme that has been running across parts of Britain for over three years and targets inactive employees. The programme lasts for 12 weeks in which a group of up to 30 employees receive complementary gym membership and instructor-led group sessions at least once a fortnight. At the end of the three months, participants are offered avenues to carry on exercising in other ways. The health and fitness industry has a great deal of spare capacity. With more than 30,000 people on the Register of Exercise Professionals, these programmes can be channelled within clubs and leisure centres or out in the community. These are some examples of programmes run by the health and fitness industry. We must support these efforts wholeheartedly if the Government are to achieve their target of getting 2 million people more active more often by 2012.

I conclude by congratulating the noble Lord on bringing another important dimension into the debate surrounding sport. Let us hope that the points that he has made in this debate are heard by the wider public.

5.20 pm

Lord Clement-Jones: I join the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, in congratulating my noble friend on initiating this important debate. Nobody can accuse my noble friend of being an armchair commentator, which is unusual in this House in the sporting area. I particularly appreciate his positive approach to this subject. He has highlighted the RFU’s Go Play Rugby scheme as a great example of how to encourage participation in sport from school through the transition into the community. There is no reason why maximising success, developing talent and encouraging the greatest possible participation should not go hand in hand. They are not mutually incompatible, and they should not be competing priorities. It is clear that ensuring that the transition from school to the community has become the focus of many sports’ governing bodies.

Whatever one thinks about Sport England and its previous priorities and whether it was successful in meeting its targets—I am afraid I do not think it

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was—it is clear that its new strategy is far more realistic in placing its trust in the major sporting organisations and national governing bodies. I welcome that shift in emphasis in giving the national governing bodies a much greater role and money in return for delivery of key outcomes by means of whole sport plans. In its funding, Sport England has also recognised the importance of a network of modern, accessible clubs for each sport, which we welcome. The new strategy stands a much better chance of delivering its targets and being successful than the previous strategy.

The RFU’s Go Play Rugby scheme will form a template for the future in adult recruitment campaigns. It was remarkably successful. Some 700 clubs took part, which was more than was anticipated. It was centred around the 2007 world cup. At that time, there was a slight dip, and I suspect that at one point the RFU thought “Heavens! This is not going to work out.”. At one stage, it seemed to be a relatively high-risk strategy, but what a triumph at the end of the day.

We now have Play On, which is designed to help players stay in the game as they move between school, club and university. It will take place throughout 2008-09. The RFU has put forward the idea of a pathfinder to help players move through what it calls the rugby journey. Go Play Rugby achieved something like 9,500 recruits against a target of 6,000. The RFU has calculated that from an outlay of £1 million something like £23 million will come back over five seasons. That is quite some achievement.

With the Play On campaign, the RFU has some innovative ways of attracting the attention of the target groups. I recently received an e-mail, which I must admit made me feel as though Tuesday could not come too soon. It said, “Scrum down on the sand. This summer, O2 and the RFU have teamed up to bring you O2 Scrum on the Beach”. That is quite an invitation and I look forward very much to next week, although I may not necessarily be found scrumming down on the beach. It is no wonder that the RFU scheme achieved the accolade of being shortlisted for the Sports Industry Awards in the category of best promotion of a sport by a governing body. I am just sorry that the competition was so fierce that it did not end up as winner of that category, but that demonstrates that it has the accolade of its peers. It was a very professional write-up too.

What is remarkable is not just the nature of the campaign but the quality of the evaluation, which enables us, as opinion-formers, to form a view by very carefully examining some of the outcomes. I believe that it is a great model, as it shows how the Olympics can be used to drive greater participation. I am sure that a lot of very useful models could be derived from that campaign.

Of course, other sports bodies—perhaps not quite as successfully but certainly in a growing way—are also very much engaged in finding new ways of encouraging participation. We have the ECB’s Get Into Cricket campaign, which is resulting in something like £30 million of investment in facilities and in club cricket. There is the Grassroots Athletics roadshow and the Power of 10 scheme. I love the way that different sports use different metaphors in order to

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encourage participation. That is a very powerful metaphor for athletics. The Get Into Football campaign is funding something like 270 football development officers.


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