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The noble Earl, Lord Howe, made an interesting comment about the targets for obesity being set by a Conservative Government. I wish to make two comments on that. It was a Conservative Government who put us in the terrible position in which we found ourselves as regards school meals. It was also a Conservative Government who allowed the sale of playing fields and did not even bother to record the number of playing fields that were sold, thereby reducing the availability of playing facilities. We have steadily reduced that. The first thing we did in 1998 was to start to count the number of playing fields that were being sold.
Lord Moynihan: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way, but how would the Government know the number of school playing fields that had been sold given that she has just said that no statistics were kept to identify whether new playing fields were being added or sold?
Baroness Thornton: The point I am making is that if you are not even counting the number of playing fields that are being sold, that suggests there is no commitment to ensuring that children have access to those playing fields. The first thing you need to do to stop the sale of playing fields is to find out how many of them you are selling and where.
However, I think that the noble Earl and I agree on most of these issues, particularly as regards food and alcohol labelling and people taking responsibility for themselves as well as the Government providing leadership on these issues.
As regards the 2004 target for halting the rise in child obesity, we wanted a more ambitious target which included overweight as well as obese children.
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No one should be in any doubt that this Government have made tackling obesity a top priority. I thank my noble friend Lord Pendry and all other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I hope that noble Lords will be assured that we are working across government to help today's children to have a healthy and happy future as the young people and adults of tomorrow.
Lord Pendry: My Lords, I, too, thank everybody for participating in this debate. I am glad that my throat virus did not prevent me being here. I do not intend to reply to all the points that have been made. However, I thank those who covered points other than the ones I made about sport and physical recreation. Food was the first one that came up. We also heard about the problems of alcohol with youngsters.
There have been some very thoughtful contributions. I always enjoy the speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Giddens. He referred to the problems of obesity in a more global way than I did and I learnt a great deal from what he said. I also enjoyed contributions from the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and from the noble Lord, Lord Addington, who is always here in debates relating to sport and physical recreation. I agree with the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Bradford and his daughter that the importance of this should not be put on children alone, or even parents alone, but on the environments in which they are brought up. The highest percentage of obesity is in those run-down estates.
I would like to thank my old sparring partner, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for his kind words. When I was shadow Minister for Sport in another place, I had to shadow five Ministers for Sport but he was by far the best. I have said that publicly before but I say it here in this House. However, I must correct him on his intervention in the Minister's speech. We do know that 3,000 playing fields were sold off. When I debated this with the then Prime Minister, John Major, he agreed. We must place on the record that the Prime Minister
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Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
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