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Much of this type of initiative could be self-funding, thereby freeing government financial resources. Has a full review taken place to consider how non-critical outsourcing could play a role in the diplomatic world? Consular activities have always seemed to be a natural candidate. The parallel-to-trade objectives of advocating the benefits of democratic principles-good governance, transparency and accountability, freedom of the press and human rights standards-could all be addressed in a similar manner by appropriate specialists in order to make diplomacy effective.
Resourcing diplomacy in the context of today's debate must also be about bolstering abstract diplomacy with concrete and figurative measures. Leaving aside the complexities of whether the ECGD could be privatised, for trade diplomacy to be successful three components must converge. The first is on-the-ground preparation by ambassadors and their staff. The second is the fullest engagement, at Secretary of State level and above, regularly to lead missions overseas and to leave more diary space for meeting incoming leaders in London. The third component-I declare an interest as I am on the advisory board of the newly formed Central Asia and South Caucasus Association at Asia House-is the formulation of a well-defined partnership between the UK's public and private sectors, made up of trade and industry councils and umbrella self-funding representative organisations. This structure could create cost savings and replace anything other than support in strategic emerging markets. The money saved could
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I congratulate the Prime Minister on leading two recent successful missions to China and India. I also welcome the Foreign Secretary's initiation of policy reviews of relations with priority strategic countries such as Brazil and Turkey. However, these endeavours need to be replicated many times over. Leaders such as Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy regularly travel around the globe signing bilateral trade MOUs and cutting megadeals in out of the way places. Secretary of State Clinton has even been supporting American interests in Papua New Guinea, where I happened to be this week. It is a country of crucial strategic regional importance to the UK, but our diplomatic financial resource is close to zero.
My concluding thought is that the Minister might wish to look at more speedily matching to requirements the qualifications of FCO London-based staff. Diplomats often find themselves in the corporate pool on their return from overseas postings. This human resource should be put to more immediate use and not be left to stagnate.
Lord Thomas of Swynnerton: My Lords, in requesting permission to speak in the gap, I should like to draw attention to the fact that in the past locally employed staff sometimes made major contributions to the work of an embassy. I recall, for example, travelling in Spain in the 1950s. The ambassadors, who were men of great distinction, had the benefit of the services of a former schoolmaster called Bernard Malley, who knew everything about the country in which he was serving. He had an honorary position and did not allow his loyalty to his Spanish friends to cause any difficulties with his loyalty to this country. He ended up with a CMG, which he greatly deserved. I believe that there was a similar person in Paris in the shape of Sir Charles Mendl. Malley in Madrid, however, was a wonderful example. I believe that in future we should consider this sort of appointment in many other countries than those that I have mentioned. For example, I recently went to a Latin American country where the only person who remembered the previous elections was the ambassador's chauffeur. He was a very good source, although I am thinking of someone more distinguished.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, for introducing this very timely debate today. The noble Lord has rendered the House two services: first, in his excellent speech he comprehensively and skilfully outlined the issues concerning a properly resourced and active Diplomatic Service; and, secondly, he has reminded us of the importance that we should attach to such proper resourcing by being the embodiment of active diplomacy himself.
I also add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Monks. I thank him, too, for choosing a foreign policy debate for his powerful maiden speech. In another life, my noble friend and I used to sit around the same
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I begin by acknowledging that we on this side of the House know that all departments, including the FCO, must take some share of the impending cuts. As the G20 meeting in Seoul is acknowledging today, the international downturn is a global issue, in spite of what is sometimes said in our domestic politics. As a colleague of mine remarked to me in the Middle East a couple of weeks ago, the only countries unaffected are the ones that are not part of the global economy.
In looking at resourcing effective diplomacy in this country, I turned to the FCO's business plan, in which the Foreign Secretary says that he has organised his department's work with three overriding priorities: safeguarding Britain's national security, building Britain's prosperity, and supporting British nationals around the world through modern and efficient consular services. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Bates, that these bear a striking resemblance to the priorities that the late Robin Cook articulated when Labour came into office in 1997, proving that very often there is nothing new in foreign policy. To any sensible person, they must be the cornerstone of what the Foreign Office is there to do.
including on human rights. I suspect that for many of us that is a bedrock point without which achieving security and prosperity on a sustainable long-term basis would be absolutely impossible, as my noble friend Lady Drake suggested.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Waverley, that the Government's energy in relation to trade is very much to be welcomed, but I know that there is concern that the Foreign Secretary's great emphasis on trade and investment runs the risk of undermining the FCO's work on human rights. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both warned us about that. Promoting human rights is not just right in its own terms; it is a matter of self-interest, too. Even countries where there is acute poverty see access to information and international communications as very obvious. Young people in all parts of the world have access to mobile phones and cameras, and of course televisions. They see injustice as it happens, and they see repression, the results of torture and the horror of innocent civilians caught up in warfare.
They have their own opinions about what is fair, just and decent. Working for human rights to protect those who cannot protect themselves is another hugely important factor in our efforts to maintain our security. It is part of how we develop our agenda on counterterrorism and counter-radicalisation. When I looked beyond the opening headlines in the business plan to see how the FCO would be maintaining and expanding its work on human rights, in the 24 pages that follow those opening headlines, the subject was not mentioned once. Can the Minister explain why not? How is that to be delivered if the business plan does not offer us a mechanism to do so?
One way in which the previous Government sought to deal with that kind of outreach, both at home and abroad, was through our support for the hajj. My
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Do Ministers really not understand that many countries in the Middle East want a rounded relationship with the United Kingdom? They want a partnership with mutual respect and mutual understanding. I hope that concentrating so hard on trade, as the Government are doing-which I understand and, in many ways, support-does not lead to some of our friends in the Arab world to feel that we are not engaging as we should in politics and in seeking their views on interfaith issues, on the peace process, on Iran, Turkey and Somalia, and on the many multilateral institutions. If we really want trade, we have to do politics properly. That is what marks a real partnership that respects opinions as well as wealth.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Anderson that at the heart of what we are discussing today is an active diplomacy, which means people. We need active diplomats, and they need to be spread around the globe. I notice that the FCO business plan says that we shall have an enhanced partnership with India and closer engagement-I am not quite sure how that is different-with China, Brazil and south-east Asia. We shall need diplomacy campaigns, apparently-can the Minister please tell us what those are? I see, too, that the education conferences launched under the Labour Government will go global to get more students into the UK. All of that needs people and resourcing. My concern is that the commitment to review the UK's bilateral relationships and to look at something that we are calling the overseas footprint is in fact code for shutting down embassies and consulates in countries in which we do not have huge commercial interests.
The noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Janvrin, are right: shutting our embassies is simply not sensible, because events catch up with us and stuff happens. By the Government's yardstick, it can backfire very badly commercially. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, emphasised, we need embassies to maintain our intelligence networks, for our security and to build confidence-and, yes, at a very basic level, to be ready for those commercial opportunities when they arise.
One of the passages in the business plan that I find most perplexing is what was said about consular services. The headline objective of supporting British nationals around the world is apparently to be achieved through cutting our consular services. Consular resources mean FCO staff being trained to deal with a huge variety of problems, from lost passports to natural disasters and terrorist outrages. It is hard, painstaking work, and sometimes it is heartbreaking.
In 1997, the consular services were the poor relation of the FCO, and when I was first a Minister, I was astonished that Ministers did not meet the victims of
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Let me turn to soft power. The noble Lords, Lord Parekh and Lord Hannay, emphasised its importance. The business plan states that there should be a strategy to enhance the impact of the UK contribution on conflict prevention by looking at the UK's educational scholarships, but in a Written Statement from the FCO on 10 July, a £10 million cut was announced in this year's programmes of scholarships. There are no Chevening scholarships in 2010-11. Soft power, so brilliantly described by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, is an enormously important building block in reconciliation and outreach, and we cannot have soft power without good networks. It all comes down to people and relationships. Often, we need our good diplomats to undertake that sort of soft power, and to do so they have to be properly resourced.
The World Service and the British Council have also been mentioned. I agree passionately with what the noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, and my noble friend Lord Parekh said. The BBC World Service is a huge asset. It is envied by so many other countries, particularly the United States, Germany and France. It is trusted, it is editorially completely independent of government, and it has a huge reach that is unrivalled by that of any other country. The important point is that we distinguish between the editorial independence on the one side and the responsiveness of the UK's national interest to talk to parts of the world that are so hard to reach otherwise. Similarly, the work of the British Council is the bedrock of our national interest. It is important that its functions are recognised and properly resourced because that allows us to have the contact in helping development in many countries in the world, particularly among young people and women.
To sum up, I was enormously pleased to have the business plan. It is very much to the Government's credit that they have published it. It is a real mechanism for accountability. It will help us and give us a real opportunity to ask questions and to get the answers we need. I appreciate the Minister's experience and his willingness to give answers to the questions that we pose-I sometimes wish that more of his colleagues followed his example-and I look forward to what he has to say.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Lords, like other noble Lords, I begin by warmly congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, on initiating this interesting debate. He has enormous experience from his previous profession as one of our country's leading diplomats. I also extend warm congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Monks, on his maiden speech. He brought to our Chamber his vast experience in matters of organised
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I shall start my comments in the limited time available by concentrating on the people, the diplomats. I start by paying tribute to the work of all our diplomats overseas and at home and our locally engaged staff, who number about 10,000 overseas in FCO posts worldwide. A third of UK-based diplomats working overseas are in hardship posts, and this debate comes only a few days before the seventh anniversary of the Istanbul bombing on 15 November 2003 when 11 colleagues lost their lives in the service of our country. As recent events in countries such as Yemen or Iceland have shown, those working on Britain's behalf continue to do so in the face of terrorist threats as well as of natural disasters. This creates extremely difficult conditions, as noble Lords have been good enough to recognise. The safety of all our staff is paramount, and our spending settlement, which I shall come to in some detail in a moment, will allow us to invest sufficiently in our overseas estate and in the security and safety of the staff. We continue to seek to upgrade our posts to meet modern-day threats, particularly in high security environments. We expect to complete all outstanding high- and medium-risk security projects by the end of this year, and our spending-round settlement, as I shall explain, contains adequate provision to allow us to continue this work over the next few years.
I apologise if I am putting excessive emphasis on the threat from terrorism, but it is very serious. The threat arises because terrorists are empowered with new weapons technologies, as well as emanating from other non-state groups and cells. It represents the biggest danger to the safety of our staff today. The number of posts where we assess the terrorist threat to be critical or severe has increased threefold since 2006. The nature of the terrorist threat is constantly changing and indiscriminate, as we saw in the two attacks on our staff in Yemen earlier this year. Fortunately, our security procedures worked in both cases and there were no casualties. However, it is not just Yemen, as although it is the latest place where our staff face a high threat to their personal safety, there are also acute terrorist threats posed in other locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, the threat of violent crime on top of terrorism is also serious and growing. Over recent months, several of our staff and their families have been the victims of armed robberies. Overall, our diplomatic network is operating today with much higher threats to the personal safety of its staff. It is a testament to them and their families' resilience that staff are ready to live and work with these risks. I wanted to put that on the record right at the beginning of my remarks in closing the debate.
I turn now to our objectives, which rightly have been discussed by a number of noble Lords on both sides of the House. The Government understand that to promote and safeguard Britain's priorities, we must have a firm picture of what we want to achieve in a very fast-changing world. We must properly resource our diplomatic effort to make this vision a reality, and have a clear understanding of our national priorities and positioning in today's global order that
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From the outset, this Government have brought a strategic basis to our overseas relations. The National Security Council was established as a centre of decision making on all international and national security issues. It oversaw the development of the National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review which, taken together, cement the position of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at the centre of delivering the Government's international priorities. The FCO played a lead role in setting the context for the National Security Strategy through its work on the changing threats and opportunities that the UK faces, and ensuring that the capabilities and structures set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review were fit for the purposes required. I can tell your Lordships that the FCO will be instrumental in taking forward the strategic defence and security goals of tackling threats at source, bringing all of the UK Government's influence to bear in order to achieve our objectives both at home and overseas, and working more closely with our key allies and partners, both old and new. The FCO will give the lead that allows foreign policy to be supported by other government departments.
As we have heard in the debate from the noble Baroness, the high-level foreign policy priorities have a lasting and enduring continuity. As she rightly says, they are to safeguard Britain's security, to build Britain's prosperity and to provide-which we will do-full and effective consular support to British nationals around the world. Those are the overarching objectives, and within them I want to discuss various policy issues.
First, however, I turn to the spending settlement itself and how it fits in with those overarching and broad objectives. After a lot of pessimism in the press and elsewhere about cuts at the Foreign Office and so on, the settlement we have secured is an extremely good one. Like everyone else, of course, we have to take our share of the austerity package because of the overriding need to cope with the budget deficit that certain people left behind that we have to clear up. That is our problem and we have to grapple with it.
The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, seems to have got the wrong end of the stick on this matter. The net outcome is not a 24 per cent cut but a 10 per cent cut in real-terms spread over four years-2.5 per cent a year. It works out as a flat cash settlement which, given some of the difficulties that have to be faced, is not a dramatic change. It gets better than that: we have secured the restoration of the foreign currency protection mechanism and we will move the BBC's World Service funding over to the BBC in 18 months' to two years' time, which will take 14 per cent off our budget expenditure straightaway.
What I have said means two things. First, we are reversing the previous Government's disastrous decision to abandon the foreign exchange protection which wiped overnight 10 per cent off FCO budgets-it was an appalling decision. We now have a major boost, with the restoration of that mechanism freeing us from exchange rate gyrations. I hope that the shadow Secretary of State in the other place, who was a Treasury Minister at the time of that terrible decision, now welcomes what we have done to put it right.
Secondly, the BBC World Service move will enhance its independence-I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, about that-and it gives the BBC, at the same time, a flat-rate licence fee. The objectives will still be set by the Foreign Secretary and his approval will be required for any language service closures. The BBC has given solid guarantees that it will safeguard the World Service and I am quite sure that will be done. Your Lordships raised worries about this issue, but the position is absolutely secured.
That is the story of our comprehensive spending review outcome and it does not match some of the gloom that has been perpetrated all around. Indeed, there is still more good news to come because, in addition, our budget is being reinforced by new funding from the Treasury-I emphasise from the Treasury-which recognises the increased development work that we are now promoting in line with OECD rules. It does not come from DfID; we are not draining funds from the increased DfID budget, which is very large. It is a subvention which for us, on our scale of expenditure, is of a very pleasant kind, to match the increased development work which is undertaken in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Several noble Lords raised the issue of posts, closures and postings around the country. In the coming weeks we will take strategic decisions on how to live within the settlement I have described. They will not lead to the kind of conclusion the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, has suggested. Our decisions-including on what we do, what activity we stop or scale back and whether our network of posts adequately meets the new realities-will be taken; none has been taken yet. I concede that this might mean closing some subordinate posts and consolidating in some capitals. Equally, in emerging markets or countries critical to UK security, it might mean opening new posts. We need a global diplomatic network to help bring the UK economy back to long-term health. The skills and expertise of our staff are vital to delivering active diplomacy. The settlement will allow us to invest in our staff, create a renewed focus on international policy and high-priority languages, and ensure that our diplomats are economic ambassadors for Britain, as all your Lordships wish them to be. The noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, asked for total staff figures. There are approximately 4,500 UK staff working at home and abroad, and 10,000 local staff, all overseas.
I turn to the other theme which ran through your Lordships' debate: soft power; that is, the capability required to match the hard-power resources that we have to maintain as a nation. We have provided the means to resource properly our diplomatic work. However, that was not the only part of the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. He also called on the Government
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China may be the new giant market, and one must not forget that Japan is often seen as our best and most reliable friend in Asia, but perhaps the best gateway to the great new markets of the world is the network that is the modern Commonwealth, as my noble friend Lord Sheikh rightly pointed to. Today's Commonwealth embraces at least six of the world's fastest growing economies and markets, providing access to emerging powers where wealth is accumulating and purchasing power soaring. Stretching across continents and faiths, and covering almost 2 billion citizens, it is a soft-power network par excellence which Britain needs to serve our interests in, and give us access to, the new global landscape-obviously, that is a matter of great interest to me personally.
Deepening our links with these countries will have multiple benefits for British citizens. We accept that diplomacy is no longer just a government-to-government business. We must and will engage all sectors of society as well as multilateral and regional bodies. Links forged through trade, education-my noble friend Lord Bates pointed to scholarships-culture, sport, science and an active global diplomatic network will help not only to secure our economic future but to guarantee our future peace and stability.
Where combined EU action works best, we will use it to the full-the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, made a very good point here. We see the European External Action Service as a useful additional tool for our common purposes in key areas, lightening and assisting our nationally resourced activities. My noble friend Lady Falkner made the same point.
All parts of the FCO family will have to contribute to the cuts in public spending. I am quite clear that they will have to face budget restraints. Details have already been published. The British Council plays an important role in helping spread the UK's culture and values, and its charitable status and ability to raise a significant part of its budget through commercial and full-cost recovery activities give it independence from HMG's policies. I was enormously impressed the other day in Kuala Lumpur to see how the British Council runs its programmes, including intercultural dialogue and promoting the UK's creative and knowledge economy, which supports our foreign policy objectives. The settlement that we have secured protects that fully.
When the hajj delegation was first conceived, local Saudi medical facilities were not of a standard that we would like to see. Since then, this situation has changed significantly. In the light of that, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office conducted an objective review of the delegation's medical element. The number of people treated for minor ailments was 5,967 in 2007, 2,965 in 2008 and 254 in 2009. I hope that helps my noble friend.
We will pave the way into emerging markets to ensure Britain's prosperity and our security. We will deepen our engagement with the rising powers and wealth centres and the great new markets of the modern and transforming world. We will steadily uphold our belief in human rights, political freedom, open trade and poverty reduction wherever we can. To reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, I see no conflict between that commitment and the commitment to our access into markets and our new commercial drive.
People say that the age of the Atlantic and the West is passing, but our own age certainly is not so far as the UK is concerned. On the contrary, I see huge new possibilities for this nation as the pattern of world power and wealth shifts. We will move forward on to this new stage by working more closely with our partners across the world, because that is good for our own national interest and for all our citizens. I am confident that the spending settlement set out for the four years ahead enables our diplomatic community, despite all the challenges it faces, to play a full and highly effective part in this national strategy. I believe that we can have a resourced and active diplomacy of the sort that the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, has wisely called for and we can do it with great effect.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this excellent debate. I have served long enough in your Lordships' House to know that it is not my place at this moment to mention everyone who spoke. If I did, I would be way outside the limits. I have also learnt that it is not wise to refer selectively, so I will simply congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Monks, on his maiden speech and say what pleasure it gave me personally to know that the UK permanent representation in Brussels is still the best team in town, as I hope it was when I left it 20 years ago.
One thing that startled me most about this debate was the absence of any reference to that phantom beloved by newspapers-the special relationship. Not one single Member who debated mentioned it. I do not say that as someone who believes that our relationship with the United States should be downplayed-quite the contrary-but I have fought all my life against what I call the false choice between Europe and the United States. Having a debate today in which we were able to look at the whole world in the
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On a final point, a lot of noble Lords spoke about realism. I am sure that we must have it, but we must not confuse it with that dreadful concept, declinism. There is no reason for us to think that we cannot look after our interests in the world we now live in, if we are ingenious about it and apply the resources we have in an effective way. I hope that when we talk about realism we will mean seizing new opportunities, not retreating into ourselves. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion in my name on the Order Paper.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, we are now left with a truly outstanding sporting array in your Lordships' House. I thank those who are taking part for doing so, because this debate has at its heart the importance of our voluntary organisations and the governing bodies in the development and delivery of sport and recreation throughout the United Kingdom.
First, I declare my interests. I am chairman of the British Olympic Association, a director of the London Organising Committee and a member of a number of International Olympic Committee and European Olympic Committee commissions and committees.
The word governance derives from the Greek verb "kubernáo", which means to steer and was used for the first time in a metaphorical sense by Plato. As a former Olympian coxswain who once again is celebrating the outstanding performance of our rowers in New Zealand last week, the word has an important resonance for me. For governance has become an increasingly relevant issue throughout sport. Sport has been built on a foundation of volunteering and amateurism. That is, of course, one of its many assets, and the reason why sport and sport clubs thrive in local communities up and down the country. However, it has also meant that sports organisations have struggled to adapt as the world of sport has become more political, professional and global. In the UK, with the increase in Exchequer and lottery funding in the lead-up to London 2012, our governing bodies and sports organisations have had to address their internal governance as they seek to stabilise their own management and financial processes. It is a similar story around the world, and throughout the Olympic movement as sport adapts to the changing yet opportunistic corporate world around it.
The British Olympic Association recognised the need to review its own governance and last week concluded the most comprehensive review of its governance processes in its 105-year history. As well as
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In 2004, I led a debate in your Lordships' House urging the Government of the day to back the BOA's proposed bid to host the Olympic Games in London. The Government took note of the all-party support, which has remained cross-party and remarkably strong to this day. The work of Tony Blair, Tessa Jowell and my noble friend Lord Coe proved invaluable to the success of our bid. Sport acts best when there is unity of purpose.
Winning the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games in London has placed sport higher up the political agenda than it has ever been in the United Kingdom. The consequential increase in the exposure and investment awarded to sport is most welcome, aiding Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes in their quest for success in the home games in 2012. However, with the added interest in sport comes the danger that political intervention will affect the autonomy of sport and the strong foundations and principles of the Olympic charter itself. Over the past 105 years of the BOA's existence, it has always sought the best possible relations with Government while retaining its independence, allowing for the freedom to act in the best interests of the sportsmen and women. With the enormous honour of the Games being bestowed on London in 2012, the BOA is for ever conscious of the growing involvement of government in all aspects of sport, driven by their direction of lottery and central government investment into elite and community sport, and the growing global recognition of the political and electoral power of sport in the 21st century. Whether it is taking inner-city kids off the escalator to crime through sport, recognising that sport and recreation should form a key component of health policy or as a central tenet of education policy, nowadays there is not a single department of state which does not have an involvement in policy affecting sport and recreation.
Hosting the Olympic Games increases exponentially the desire of Government to seek political benefit. The Olympic Games are regarded as the golden goose, eagerly sought by politicians for its glistening electoral egg. Throughout the 21st century, the temptation felt by politicians to reach out for Olympic and sporting magic will be too seductive to avoid on a scale not seen before. Sport has a duty to respond and to protect its autonomy. To do that, my message today is that it has to be equally well prepared and equipped.
All organisations involved in sport in the United Kingdom have recognised the magnitude of the challenge before them. Sport is built on the work of volunteers
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I firmly believe that the way to deliver a true legacy for the 2012 Games is not just through wider sporting participation, better facilities and a successful Team GB performance; it is about responding to the issues we face with greater politicisation of sport at the national and European level. I support the stance taken by the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, who stated in September 2007:
"The responsibility sport has in society and the autonomy with which it regulates itself are central to its credibility and legitimacy. Autonomy thus means preserving the values of sport and the existing structures through which it has developed in Europe and around the world. Sport can play its unique role thanks to its autonomy, and this role would be seriously compromised if the governing bodies of sport are subject to public interference".
I shall give an example of the importance of preserving the autonomy of sport and in particular the Olympic movement. The British Olympic Association has been asked by the coalition Government to work with them and Sport England to see whether it is possible to develop an "Olympic-style school sport" event as one of the key legacy programmes from the 2012 Games. From the outset, I warmly welcomed the Government's approach to improving competitive sport in schools-the bedrock to ensuring we have a consistent stream of potential future Olympians, club membership and a pyramid of participation.
The Olympic-style school sport event should not duplicate existing good practice but should include those school sport organisations that are organised, without government intervention, by the national governing bodies of sport. As a membership organisation of the 33 Olympic governing bodies, we resolutely maintain that any new competition should fully incorporate the work of our sports and indeed, any other governing bodies which can be encouraged to join the project.
Similarly, there is no better model to follow in constructing the Olympic-style school sport event than the outstanding work of the London Youth Games, which many of us have followed over the years. The young talent on display there is impressive and typical of what we would hope to see nationwide throughout the new event. In this context, we at the British Olympic Association are working to meet our International Olympic Committee obligations regarding the protection of Olympic rights, the protection of our autonomy and the best possible structure, governance, commercial approach and, above all, the involvement of governing bodies in the design of the project.
The Team 2012 model, supported by the International Olympic Committee, provides an excellent starting point and I congratulate the Secretaries of State in
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We should also take note, however, of dissenting voices and concerns; for example, the indefatigable noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, who wrote to me recently and offered her regret for being unable to speak in today's debate due to a wholly understandable prior commitment. She expressed concern about the governance of sport in Britain, the large governing bodies that sometimes fail, as she sees it, in their fundamental task. She wrote:
"Not only are they falling short in sporting excellence but grass root sport is also suffering. Some minority sports seem to have little or no support and they are often the activities that depend on volunteers to survive. We need a much stronger framework for sport in general, with transparency and accountability at its heart".
The best legacy that British governing bodies can receive in the context of today's debate, and indeed in the context of the Games, is to be empowered. The clubs, voluntary organisations and governing bodies must be fit for purpose to deliver services of the very highest order to their membership and, through them, to the sportsmen and women who they ultimately represent. If sports organisations are fully equipped with good governance, transparency and in-house expertise and increasingly backed by lottery money resulting from the Government's welcome reform plans, they will then be able to continue to resist attempts at interference from politicians of all political complexions, at whatever level, and protect the freedom and autonomy of sport and the sporting movement. The life blood of that movement is the volunteers who invest their time so heavily in the love of sport.
I call on the coalition Government to continue to dismantle the bureaucracy of centralised control; to retain the level of financial support to our athletes though the lottery for 2012, 2016 and beyond, with the light-tough regulatory control required by recipients of lottery money and public funding; and to leave a lasting sports legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games by empowering volunteers, clubs and governing bodies to be the sports delivery mechanisms for future generations.
Lord Addington: My Lords, when I saw that the noble Lord had tabled this debate, I rushed to put my own name down but, unfortunately, I did not bring dozens with me. I thank him for doing so, because sport is one of those subjects that politicians tend to clap about loudly but forget about when it goes away or when there is something else to clap about. That is
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The noble Lord made a central point about politicians tending to interfere in sport and then forgetting about it. I do not know how much interference has taken place in school sport. Maybe a few people have said, "We'll have non-competitive sport in school". Every time that we have discussed this, I have said: "You mean exercise? You mean formulated exercise, walking up and down and carrying something? That is not sport". Sport has an element of competition. Whoever wins the game of some sort of tag race in the playground may not be a matter of life or death, but it has an element of sport in it, and that is what makes it attractive and gives you the buzz of taking part.
The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, has talked about one sport in particular but, in general, when it comes to governance, large governing sports bodies have a nasty habit of talking to themselves about themselves and resenting anyone who tells them that they are not doing it right. They usually turn round and say, "You don't know what you're talking about; this is the way we've always done it". And, because they have not spoken to people outside, the governing bodies themselves do not know what they are talking about, even if what they are doing is out of date and horrible. This circular process has occasionally been broken down, often because of a need for resources from outside.
We must not lose sight of these things. All sports have suffered from the fact that sportsmen like to talk about themselves to themselves. They are almost as bad as politicians; I give as an absolute example of this the next series of debates that the House of Lords will have about itself and, indeed, had last night. We like to talk about ourselves in select groups.
Having got that off my chest, I would like to talk about the bedrock of our sporting culture-that is, the volunteer and the volunteer-run clubs of this country. In Britain particularly, we have a tradition of clubs that get their own grounds, organise themselves on a volunteer basis and generate their own funds. They do not make heavy demands on the state. This means that there are governing bodies that do not talk to each other. There is also a political structure and a governing structure that do not have to pay much attention to each other. Traditionally, these two have worked together. Then there is resentment at the interference as one says "Oh, you need some help". These two have got in each other's way.
One logical extension of this is that you intervene positively and aggressively to make sure that these bodies are run better. Many nations do this. For instance, in providing grounds, the French stade municipale-where everybody plays in all the village events-is an excellent way forward. However, since we already have grounds, that might be duplication. We should make sure that schools are always open and always available to volunteers. Most sports clubs start by using school grounds. Previous Governments-the degree of sin here is eternal-have closed down school sports grounds or made them unavailable because it is uneconomic, under the models being used, to support
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You start a sports club by borrowing a ground. You get out there and you provide the kit and the opposition. Once you have got beyond that and are running your own ground-which you might have borrowed, rented or bought-it is a case of lowering the regulatory burden. That is another way forward if you are not going to invest positively.
I have had a go at offering some solutions. In the company of the CCPR I came up with a Bill that suggested one or two areas where we would like to see the regulatory burden cut back a bit. That approach seems to stand a better chance of being accepted by the Government in the current climate than asking for quite a lot more money. Also, money given sensitively and with thought and care is rare at all times, and money is particularly tight at the moment.
I had a series of examples but I will not weary the House with all of them. I would probably weary myself first. However, let us take the Licensing Act 2003. Club premises should not be looked on in the same way as an ordinary pub-a high-volume drinking den. Can we do something to reduce this burden? You may not approve of selling calorie-rich alcohol, which can lead to problems, as a way of funding a healthy activity, but it is the only way that these clubs can generate income on a regular basis. Their bar receipts guarantee their activity. The suggestion that the CCPR made to me was for a levy on sports club premises to certify fees against 20 per cent of the rateable value, in line with those other sports clubs that have CASC status. It would be a good step forward if that were brought in across the board.
We can go through other ideas but my favourite has to do with music licensing. If you have a television on the premises and you happen to watch programmes that have music in them, you end up with fees that are estimated this year at £369. Why do we have this if all people are doing is watching a football, rugby or hockey match with music at the beginning of it or in the programme immediately afterwards? Can we not make some form of derogation that means you only have to pay for this licence if you are using the place to generate income through playing music? Can we not have some way in which people can break out of this, or bring in some form of sensitivity?
These are very small fees that are being charged; they cannot be that beneficial to collect. Then there is the person who has to fill in the forms. I am secretary of the parliamentary rugby club and there are enough forms to frighten many people, although I manage to get somebody else to do most of them for me. But being faced with great volumes of forms can put off the secretary, the treasurer or the chairman. People need support and help in carrying out those roles. Can we not say, "Don't do so much. If you cannot get somebody in who can show you how to do it, cut down"? Cutting down the burden will allow and encourage people to take part.
The Olympics is a catalyst for legacy; if we think that the legacy will disappear after the Olympics, we are doing sport the greatest disservice we can. It
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Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for initiating this debate. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience at all levels of sport, which makes him an ideal sponsor for this debate, and he has raised some important questions.
I approach this debate not as a sports expert-indeed, I can still vividly remember a number of rather painful experiences on the sports field of Whitchurch High School, which I will not regale noble Lords with now-but as someone who is rightly proud of my party's achievements in investing in sport and encouraging all young people to find a sport that they can enjoy. So I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that Governments meddle inefficiently in sport.
When we were elected in 1997, competitive school sports had virtually disappeared from the curriculum. Since that time, school sport has been transformed, with 84 per cent of pupils now doing two hours of PE per week and 78 per cent involved in competitive sport in school. In addition, strong partnerships with primary care trusts, local authorities, transport, police authorities and the voluntary sector have maximised the overall health, skills and confidence-building benefits that give young people a greater start in life.
Had we been re-elected, our manifesto aimed even higher: to extend participation in school sport further; to open up school facilities to the community; to create 10,000 new volunteer coaches; and to invest in new sports facilities. We were truly aiming for a golden decade of sport which, from the grass roots to the elites, would have allowed Britain's sporting talent to be supported and celebrated. But now, instead of that hope and ambition, one of the first acts of Michael Gove at the Department for Education was to wind up the Youth Sport Trust, which had done so much to develop a nationwide programme of school sport, and instead redirect the money to general school funding. On this I very much share the view of my noble friend Lady Billingham, who, as we have heard, cannot be here today. She argued persuasively in the CSR debate last week that the outcome of this move will be inevitable; school heads, desperate to do well in Ofsted inspections and league tables, will be bound to transfer the money from PE into more academic subjects. The
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As we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, this is a crucial time for UK sport in the run-up to the Olympics, and we are in the global spotlight as never before. We will be judged on our delivery of a successful Games and an increase in our cache of medals, but most importantly we will be judged on our legacy of embedding sport as a universal activity at grass-roots level, so is this not a rather strange time to start merging some of our key national sports organisations such as UK Sport, the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England? This will inevitably result in them taking their eye off the ball, so to speak. If we care about succeeding in delivering the Olympic legacy, surely the better route would be to leave the current bodies in place and build up their governance and accountability structures. I should be grateful if the noble Baroness could comment on this point.
At the heart of this debate is a very real concern about standards of governance in grass-roots and national sports. It is fair to say that sporting bodies have been slow to take up the challenge that business and the voluntary sector have been grappling with for years. Again, I slightly disagree with both previous speakers on this issue because it seems to me that the voluntary sector does understand the need for good governance in a way that some local and voluntary sporting organisations may not. It is obviously dangerous to generalise, but there have been some high-profile cases that have shone a painful light on some of our much loved institutions. In football, the recent cases of the disputed ownership of clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United have raised the question of supporters' rights to a say in the ownership. In cricket, issues of match fixing, betting and corruption haunt the international sport. In track events, the continuing shadow of performance-enhancing drugs and the lack of effective controls regularly hit the headlines. Even the Lawn Tennis Association is accused of a lack of transparency in its funding and a failure to deliver promises to roll out a grass-roots programme.
Some of these examples underline the fact that many sports are big business and there are obviously limits on how far government can intervene. But even in professional sport government can, and should, play a supporting role in order to get fans a fair deal from the sports they love. For example, government can intervene to combat cheating and ban the use of illegal substances. It can also prosecute those involved in match fixing, improve the regulation of betting and work with sporting bodies to make sure that they are accountable to their stakeholders, are transparently run and have the power to scrutinise the takeovers of professional clubs. Of course, where government money is used to help fund specific activities of these organisations, our powers to intervene are that much greater.
It seems to me that there are some key principles of governance that we could require sports organisations to adopt. It is no longer good enough to make excuses for the poor performance of some amateur organisations. The participants and supporters have certain rights. Sport England has already taken a first step by producing a self-assessment tool for governance, but more could, and should, be done. A recent report by Birkbeck College entitled, Good Governance in Sport, researched what national sports bodies were doing and set out a set of standards for the future. Its blueprint is a great starting point for governing bodies struggling to raise their game. It includes advice on the size of boards, the need for independent non-executive directors, annual board performance evaluation, appointments procedures and risk management policies. It also proposes that boards understand their stakeholders better and implement engagement and participation strategies, including representation on the board. For those of us who have been involved with governance in other sectors this might all sound rather obvious, but it seems that what is needed now are some core principles and measures of good governance that can underpin every sports body and reassure everyone involved.
This is a welcome debate that raises some fundamental issues about how our sports bodies are run. There is an opportunity here for the Government to follow on from the good work already carried out by their predecessor, and I look forward to hearing from the noble Baroness how she intends to take this crucial work forward.
Baroness Garden of Frognal: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for calling this debate today and for his excellent opening speech. As a former Olympian and Minister for Sport, and current chair of the British Olympic Association, he has great expertise in this area which is valued by colleagues across all sides of the House. I also thank the two noble Lords who have also spoken today on this important issue.
The governance of sport, and particularly the governance of sports by their national governing bodies-NGBs-is a key part of the sporting landscape. Over half of all the government and lottery funding distributed by UK Sport and Sport England goes to NGBs, so NGBs need to get their governance right if, as a country, we are to deliver Olympic and Paralympic success and encourage more people to take part in sporting activities. That is why I am grateful for the helpful and erudite contributions made to the debate today. We will take them away and reflect on them further as we develop our proposals in this area.
Before I turn to NGBs specifically, I ought to mention what the Government are doing to strengthen the governance at the very top of the pyramid; all three noble Lords referred to this. As they will be aware, we intend to merge UK Sport and Sport England after the Olympics and Paralympics, to simplify the current landscape. That change will facilitate a more coherent approach to issues which affect sport at all levels, such as coaching, and be more efficient, maximising funding to our front line. I reassure noble Lords from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that we do not
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The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is absolutely right that we need to work with NGBs to strengthen their governance, while protecting their autonomy and trusting in their expertise. But I add that we have a responsibility to ensure that their spending of public funding represents value for money for the taxpaying and lottery-playing public. It is not money for nothing. Along with the other speakers, I add tribute to the volunteers who do so much to ensure the high quality of sport in this country. Both UK Sport and Sport England have sought to tread the fine line in recent years, improving the regular mechanisms for holding NGBs to account for public money through their Mission 2012 and whole sport plan processes, while avoiding continual bureaucracy. Both bodies monitor the governance of NGBs as part of their overall assurance work.
However, that has been given added focus by an independent investigation established by Richard Lewis, chairman of Sport England, and undertaken by Timothy Dutton QC in 2009 into Sport England's world-class payments bureau, set up under previous management and operated between 1999 and March 2007. The bank account had operated outside the usual financial controls of Sport England, falling far short of the procedures and safeguards now in place in the organisation. There were mistakes in the way this was run, which have since been addressed by the new management team in Sport England, but it was set up because it was not possible to have the appropriate confidence in certain NGBs' governance and systems in relation to the use of public money.
More recently, there was the collapse of the British NGB for skiing and snowboarding, Snowsport GB, less than a month before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. The quick work of the organisation of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, together with support from the talented athlete scholarship scheme and UK Sport, ensured that our skiers and snowboarders were able to compete in Canada.
In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, UK Sport and Sport England are currently working together even more closely than before to help improve the governance of NGBs. Governance, together with performance and finance, is one of the components of Sport England's and UK Sport's overall assessment of NGBs. They are currently developing at nil cost a governance, finance and control framework tool which is shortly due to be available on both websites, and which has previously been referred to. This will set out the necessary standards for bodies and provide prompts on how they might go about meeting those standards.
However, the Government do not view this as the end of the story. We want to continue to work with NGBs to help them further to improve their governance
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There are two areas in particular that we would like NGBs to work on. First, we would like to ensure that they have high-calibre independent non-executives on their boards to help drive business forward, whether this is in terms of financial management, efficiency or capitalising on their commercial potential. Secondly, we would like NGBs to consider whether their current boards reflect the diversity of our society today, in order to help sports provide a service for underrepresented participant groups who may feel that they do not have the opportunity to play, such as women, ethnic minorities, the disabled, gays, lesbians and transsexuals. We would hope that all with enthusiasm and talent can feel able to participate and to feel welcome when they do so.
As well as governance processes, we believe that reducing bureaucracy in sport will assist clubs, voluntary organisations and governing bodies, and this is why the Minister for Sport and Olympics, Hugh Robertson, has tasked the Central Council of Physical Recreation with carrying out a review of bureaucracy and red tape as they affect sport. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, referred to two particular issues which the CCPR has been asked to address, and I assure him that it should report its findings to the Minister in early 2011 and then pass recommendations to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible for reducing bureaucracy in the life of the nation as a whole. Certainly, the items that my noble friend mentioned regarding the licensing of alcohol and music are pertinent. It will be very relevant to review how much of a hindrance they are to the good and honest management of local clubs.
Strengthening governance and reducing red tape in sport is not an easy task, but the Government are committed to taking this forward and to being accountable to communities for doing so. There are specific aspects to this which noble Lords have mentioned. Various references have been made to the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham. She spoke to me to say that she regretted not being here. She has in particular been a tremendous champion for lawn tennis and has done great things in widening access to young people and others to enjoy that sport.
The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, also mentioned school support. Indeed, this Government are fully committed to introducing more competitive sport within our schools and between all schools across the country. An aspect in the business plan of DCMS states that its overriding aim is to encourage competitive sport in schools by establishing an annual Olympic and Paralympic-style schools event, improve local sports facilities and establish a lasting community sports legacy. The words of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, in support of that Olympic-style school sport event were highly pertinent here. That is something which could get local communities and young people really enthusiastic about sport and able to participate as they wish.
I also take on board the comment of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, about the competitive element in sport. I agree that running an egg-and-spoon race where it does not really matter who hits the line first is probably not as exciting as having one where there is just that edge of getting there before the others. I have grandchildren and I know that primary school sports days can be truly exciting as long as no child is totally depressed and they can all find something that they can enjoy. That is something that the local community can be involved in: not turning off young people from sport if they are not winning, but finding something that they can participate in and truly enjoy.
Various noble Lords mentioned volunteers. Empowering volunteers is of the utmost importance. The Government must make sure that they help rather than hinder by moving things forward and making more sporting facilities available to more people.
I am conscious that I may not have answered all the questions that have been asked in today's debate. I will look through Hansard and, if I have not, I will of course reply to noble Lords in writing. I commend the business plan that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published this week. It contains some noble aims and aspirations, and we intend to keep to them. I commend also the work done by all sporting communities, particularly in the run-up to the Olympics and Paralympics, which will be a focus for energising interest in sport. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for the opportunity to debate sport and recreation, which play such a significant part in the life of the nation, and I thank other noble Lords who contributed this evening.
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