Whenever the question of apprenticeships is raised, it reminds me of a television programme from quite a number of years ago on the industrialists and entrepreneurs of the late 1900s. They were men who had made vast amounts of money and built significant organisations in shipbuilding, the arms trade, textile manufacturing et cetera. None of those men had sent their sons—nobody thought about daughters in those days—into those businesses. They had ensured that their sons went into the professions, as they called them—into medicine and law et cetera. We have an ongoing snobbery in this country about trade. It is up to all of us here to promote the value of trade and that sort of learning. I hope the Government will be prepared to give a good lead on this because we need a big cultural shift, so that we can begin properly to compare ourselves with other countries which do not have that history and that attitude. I thank all noble Lords and the Minister for their contributions.

Motion agreed.

Redcar Steel


2.13 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat in the form of a Statement an Answer given earlier today by my right honourable friend Anna Soubry MP in another place. The Statement is as follows.

“When we debated these issues on Tuesday, I was clear then, and am happy to repeat, that the significance of SSI’s closure is not lost on anyone. This is a deeply worrying time for anyone affected. We have made

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clear our commitment to supporting those affected by the liquidation of SSI. That is why, on 2 October, the Secretary of State and I were in Redcar when we announced a package worth up to £80 million to help the workers directly affected, the supply chain and the local economy more broadly. We briefed the local task force that day on the contents of the package, including the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

As Members will know, some elements of that package have already been rolled out and are delivering support. In terms of helping the individuals, the Jobcentre Plus service only yesterday co-ordinated a large jobs fair to help people affected move into jobs as quickly as possible. Initial reports from that event suggested that around 1,500 individuals attended the event, along with around 50 employers offering 1,000 vacancies. That is on top of the individual support sessions that Jobcentre Plus has offered locally.

The redundancy payments service has established a dedicated team to process the redundancy pay, holiday pay, arrears of wages and other elements that are due to SSI employees, subject to statutory limits, as quickly as possible. I would also note that the Government’s business support helpline is prioritising calls from businesses directly affected by the SSI closure, from businesses in the local area with the potential to grow and take on former SSI employees, and from former SSI employees looking for advice on starting a business. These callers will be fast-tracked to an expert adviser who will provide advice on the issues that they are facing, provide information on the local support package, and refer them to any other forms of support that they need. That is a good start, but we must do more.

As Members will be aware, we established a local task force to help shape the support to be provided. Right from the start, our intention was not to impose solutions from Whitehall but to ask the local task force for solutions on how best to target money and support. We have received some initial proposals from the task force around supporting workers impacted by the closure of SSI, mitigating the impact on other companies directly affected by the proposal, and supporting the growth of the wider economy. We are assessing these projects urgently.

Finally, I know that the honourable Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland asked about further education colleges. The full cost of retraining former SSI workers and others made redundant in the supply chain will be met. Local colleges will therefore be able to claim full funding for education and training provided to any learner who was employed at the SSI UK plant in Redcar at any time during 2015, or to a learner made redundant in the supply chain as a result of the plant closure, to support them to gain employment or start their own business. Eligibility will be confirmed by a referral from a DWP work coach or National Careers Service adviser working with affected individuals. This will enable local colleges to provide wide-ranging support to learners, from short programmes of training to support immediate entry into the labour market, or it could involve study leading to full qualifications such as A-levels or equivalent. Colleges which meet quality criteria will receive additional funding to cover the costs incurred by these additional flexibilities.

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I will continue to work closely with the local task force, as I hope will the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, on how we can best support the workers of SSI, the affected supply chain and the local economy. I can pledge that no worker will be left behind”.

2.18 pm

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab): I thank the Minister for repeating the Answer, but it is really only about how to help redundant workers. While it is welcome, it is not all new money and it does not help other businesses, from shops and services to suppliers and transport, which will also be affected.

More than this, we should not be in this place. Redcar was to be a major player in the zero-carbon industrial zone based around carbon capture and storage in Teesside. Its loss is a major blow to the project, which had received BIS funding. The Government are overseeing the death of 170 years of steelmaking in Teesside despite the site being viable.

We welcome the steel summit, but why not mothball the site to save the asset? There are companies which are willing to supply the coke ovens or do the mothballing, but the Government have not given the time. Could three months not be found? How can we have a northern powerhouse without this fundamental manufacturing capability? How can the Prime Minister say that steel is vital and do nothing to save it?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her comments. The local task force that we have set up, which of course did very good work in 2010, will be looking innovatively at options. It is able to come forward with proposals. As she says, we have 170 years of great steel heritage and we need to look forward and find good options for Redcar. Like her, I welcome the summit, because it will look more broadly, obviously well beyond Redcar, at the problems and opportunities for the steel industry.

The noble Baroness asked about mothballing. The company made a last-minute, and I am afraid unrealistic, request for the taxpayer to make an open-ended funding commitment to maintain the coke ovens in Redcar. We were not able to accept that request. On the basis of a limited case, the Government had no confidence that there was a realistic proposal for viability and therefore could not give taxpayer support, even if they wanted to breach state aid rules. The awful truth is that there is a world oversupply of this type of steel. The company had already lost £500 million in its operation over the past three or four years, so despite all the endeavour and optimism of 2012, things did not work out. We have to look forward.

On the northern powerhouse, Teesside is actually making an impressive contribution. The Tees Valley LEP is one that I have visited and is very impressive. The latest investment, while not actually on Teesside but in Darlington, was in the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre. We share common ground that that sort of northern investment is very important for the future of the country.

Lord Tebbit (Con): My Lords, we should all be grateful to the Government for their efforts to do something to help the workforce at Redcar, but it is

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common ground among us that the fault leading to the closure was not that of management or of the workforce. To what extent was it caused by high energy prices in this country? On the continent, there are steelmakers far less efficient than Redcar, with a far less able workforce and far worse management, which are continuing to be in business. How can that be, in a common market? Furthermore, how can it be that the Chinese are dumping steel into Scotland at the behest of the Scottish Administration? How do these things happen? Why can our steel workers not have a level playing field?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My noble friend asks a very good question, which is the question I first asked when I heard about this great challenge. But we have in fact provided more than £50 million in compensation to steelmakers for energy costs under the emissions compensation scheme. We voted—in fact I voted—for anti-dumping measures on certain Chinese steel products and we have identified a pipeline of more than 500 infrastructure projects to help the industry to win contracts. The trouble is that we have a worldwide problem in the steel industry. I know from talking to the French, the Germans and the Luxembourgers that they share that problem.

Lord Brookman (Lab): My Lords, following on from the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, I have a straight question for the Minister. Is it true that the Lord Chancellor, on his recent visit to China, discussed with the Chinese Government and the steel manufacturers using Chinese steel to build the rail for HS2, which is forthcoming? That is of great concern and follows on from what the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, said. Why are we using foreign steel—Chinese steel—when we have a use for our own steel in this country to build things that we need in this country? We were talking about the steel industry, not about the general politics of industry and so forth. My plea to you last time was to do something for the steel industry.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, I am not privy to discussions between the Chancellor and Chinese senior Ministers, but I do believe in free trade. The point about the visit was to build relationships both ways. I believe that the Chinese can invest in Britain and can be helpful to Britain. Our industry obviously has to be competitive and produce great steel, as they did for example on Crossrail. That is what we need more of. We are looking forward. We are having a summit, which is taking place tomorrow, to look forward at other opportunities and prospects, and I look forward to hearing the results of that.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab): My Lords, the reality is that there was an offer from a local company, Hargreaves—which ironically is based just outside Consett and is essentially now a coal-mining and haulage business—to put money in and maintain the coke ovens. The coke ovens produce a new form of coke called foundry coke, which is much more value driven and therefore raises a much higher cost because it is more efficient. The Germans want to buy this coke and the only place that it can be made is at

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Redcar. The Government not working with the receiver to give some time has meant that the coke ovens will close today and no more opportunity will be there. That is surely something that the Government can and should do something about.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, the Government and the receiver did take time. They used the notice of intention to appoint an administrator. Talks had been going on before. As I said, it was not possible to come up with a viable case for continued use of these coke ovens and the blast furnace on a basis that would be competitive in the world. We all regret that. My heart goes out to the thousands of people who have lost their jobs. We now have to look forward, help them and find new opportunities.

Lord Stoneham of Droxford (LD): My Lords, the tragedy of Redcar is that it was overdependent on one sector. When that sector has problems, which it does because of world capacity, that community is very vulnerable. The hope is that this area should be helped with diversification. Will the Minister explain something? In Portsmouth two years ago, a ministerial task force was set up in a far less tragic situation than Redcar yet I am not sure from what she is saying that the task force has direct government representation on it locally. I respect her view that local views should prevail, but should the Government not be directly involved in this task force in order to make sure that all government departments are properly co-ordinated in the rescue of this area?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, I agree that there is a problem where you are very dependent on one industry. The noble Lord made a very powerful point. The local task force will get support from government officials. It is looking widely at options. On the task force will be Paul Booth, the head of the LEP, which has a large amount of funding from the growth fund and other interests will come in as necessary. We believe that that is the right way forward. Obviously, we stand ready to look at broader issues in the way that the noble Lord described, but this seems the right way forward. We do not see a case for doing quite what we did in Portsmouth. A great deal is going on. The steel summit is taking place tomorrow. The focus on the lessons and the future are strong.

Affordable Housing in Rural Communities

Question for Short Debate

2.29 pm

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to deliver a sustainable supply of affordable housing in rural communities, particularly in the light of the planned extension of the Right to Buy scheme.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am very grateful to all those who have agreed to contribute to this debate, many of whom have huge experience in this area, and I am looking forward to what they have to say.

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The provision of affordable housing is vital to the long-term sustainability of rural communities so that they continue to be places where a broad cross-section of people can live and work. It is all the more important, given that rural house prices are currently well beyond the means of many lower-income and middle-income people. Indeed, it is estimated that in 90% of rural authorities, the average home costs eight times the average salary. However, rural communities currently face a serious lack of affordable housing. Only 8% of rural housing stock is considered affordable, compared with 20% in urban areas. The amount of new affordable rural housing is also low. In 2013, only 2,886 affordable homes were built in rural areas out of nearly 40,000 affordable homes nationally.

Creating more affordable accommodation, particularly rented accommodation, must be a central aspect of any drive to create sustainability in rural communities. I would welcome an update from the Minister on what plans Her Majesty’s Government have to boost the supply of affordable rented accommodation, especially in rural areas. Given the current shortage of rural affordable housing, I am very concerned that Her Majesty’s Government in partnership with the National Housing Federation are, in effect, forcing a right-to-buy scheme on rural housing associations that may further endanger the supply of affordable rented accommodation in the countryside. I say “in effect” forcing because, while the overall majority of housing associations have agreed and signed up to the NHF deal, rural-specific housing associations raised some very serious concerns, with many of them abstaining from the agreement.

I welcome some aspects of the proposals as they may benefit some of the housing associations—not least, for example, the greater flexibility over how they invest the proceeds of sales. It is also to be welcomed that the deal specifies some circumstances in which housing associations will be exempt from the requirement to sell their housing stock: for example, in rural communities of fewer than 3,000 people and where developments are subject to clear restrictive covenants. I want to mention three areas of the proposals which raise concerns. First, it has been widely acknowledged that the current definition of “rural” used within the agreement is very narrow in scope. To restrict the definition of “rural” to settlements of fewer than 3,000 inhabitants is to exclude some market towns and villages that face exactly the same planning and development difficulties as smaller communities.

Under the current proposals, rural housing associations would be forced to sell off vital affordable housing stock in locations where they have little chance of providing like-for-like replacement, leading to a net loss in the availability of affordable rented accommodation in these rural areas. This is a concern shared by my ecumenical partners within the Methodist church, particularly Richard Teal, chairman of the Cumbria Methodist District. I know that the Hastoe Housing Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England have written to the Secretary of State for CLG to propose a rural definition that allows for a larger rural communities at the discretion of the Secretary of State, and I hope that the Minister will look at this option very carefully.

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Secondly, it is important to point out that the rural exemptions contained in the agreement are not exemptions placed on the tenant from the right to buy but exemptions placed on housing associations from the requirement to sell. That means that housing associations which operate across both rural and urban areas can choose to sell off their rural stock, which can be expensive and difficult to maintain, and use that money to build new affordable housing in cheaper urban areas where larger developments can sometimes prove more cost-effective. Such arrangements would again lead to a net loss in the availability of affordable rural housing, despite the safeguards that Ministers have rightly tried to put in place.

Two days ago, the Minister for Housing and Planning in the other place claimed that,

“for every home sold an extra home will be built in that area”.—[Official Report, Commons, 12/10/15; col. 43.]

Under the agreement as it stands he can provide no such assurances as there is currently no restriction on where housing associations choose to reinvest the proceeds of sales. This needs to be remedied.

Does the Minister recognise the problem and will she tell the House what safeguards will be introduced to prevent this happening? If Her Majesty’s Government will not accept the recommendation made by numerous rural housing associations that affordable housing in rural areas should be actively excluded from the right to buy, will the Minister inform the House whether the Government will consider working with the NHF to introduce a presumption into the right-to-buy agreement that rural housing stock sold under the right to buy will be replaced by housing stock in the same rural communities and that the money will not be invested somewhere else in other urban areas?

Thirdly, on the issue about those areas where affordable housing developments have been built on land that has either been donated or sold at a very favourable price to housing associations by local landowners, very often this land is transferred on the condition that it is made available for affordable rental in perpetuity. A number of rural housing associations are deeply reliant on these arrangements. Indeed, I declare an interest as land and property belonging to a number of Christian denominations, not least the Church of England, has been transferred precisely under these conditions. I believe that the current right-to-buy agreement protects such development from forced sale but that has not been made clear by either the Government or the NHF. Indeed, I have heard of one landowner who has threatened to withdraw from an arrangement to provide land for affordable housing on the basis that those houses may in future be sold on at a profit. Can the Minister confirm that landowners will still be able to donate land or sell it at a clearly favourable price on the condition that those developments will be retained as affordable rented housing in perpetuity?

I want to finish with a comment on the Government’s proposals for starter homes, which are an excellent idea to help people on to the housing ladder. At 80% of the market rate they are not affordable for many families. I am therefore particularly concerned at the suggestion that starter homes could provide an alternative means for development to fulfil Section 106 requirements. Given that Section 106 regulations are

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one of the principal ways that new affordable homes are created in rural areas, the impact of such a change would undoubtedly be devastating. Taken alongside the current right-to-buy proposals they pose a threat to the future availability of rural affordable housing. So finally, will the Minister assure the House that Her Majesty’s Government will review this matter carefully?

2.38 pm

Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con): My Lords, it is excellent that this subject been brought to your Lordships’ House today. I cannot claim to know a lot about rural housing, but I do know a bit about housing as I served on my local council and, in the Greater London Council, I had quite a major responsibility for it. The points raised by the right reverend Prelate are fascinating and I should like to take up some of them.

I, too, am most concerned about the sustainability of replacements for properties that housing associations might be forced to sell. I noted that the words of the right reverend Prelate were very careful. I served a long time ago on the Sutton Hastoe Housing Association. Indeed, it was there that I first met the noble Lord, Lord Best. I am delighted that he is speaking today because no one knows more about the situation than him.

My only experience of rural housing is that I have had a shared home in a village in Oxfordshire for more than 30 years. We have quite an interesting history, in that in the first instance five or perhaps seven small homes were built and no one wanted them. It was quite difficult to fill them, whereas more recently and currently everyone wants more housing for the people who were born and brought up in the village, as they do not want to change their way of life or be forced to go far away. That is important. Another very good thing in that village is that the people are really consulting carefully about where would be the best places to have developments, and whether the place you would most like is available or not available. A great deal of thought is being given in these small villages to this situation.

On Right to Buy for housing association properties, I support the point that the right reverend Prelate made about the problem of affordable housing. I ask the Minister: what is affordable? What is affordable to one person is not at all affordable to another. Therefore, it is far too wide a phrase to say “affordable housing” and then clump a whole lot of things together that all come up as “affordable housing”. We need to think about that.

My uncle, who was the Premier of New South Wales—a Labor Premier, I regret to say—introduced the first affordable housing built on the fringes of Sydney. At the very beginning, the only way they could decide who was entitled was to draw names out of a hat, because huge numbers of people wanted these houses. They built them on a different basis: every penny you paid in rent went towards your eventual ownership of the property you lived in. It changed, and now the housing commission is a vast organisation. I have been out of touch with what has been going on there for 60 years, so I am reporting only on the very beginning of affordable housing in Australia.

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On Right to Buy, in the GLC days I met with Mrs Thatcher when either the 1,000th or 10,000th GLC home was sold—I do not know which. The people who bought it were terribly pleased to be able to do so. The GLC officer said that this particular family had phoned every day for six months with a query or concern about what would happen when they bought their house. It was a very momentous thing for them.

I have only another minute to say something, so I cannot say very much. One very important point is that sinking funds are terribly important. If people have the right to buy they should also be helped to have the means to continue to live in the property.

2.42 pm

Lord Stoneham of Droxford (LD): My Lords, I declare an interest as chair of Housing & Care 21. I am delighted to speak in this debate, initiated by the right reverend Prelate. I start by paying tribute to the role of the church in encouraging social housing initiatives to help those with modest means. I have been involved in housing for 12 years, first with the Portsmouth Housing Association, which was set up by a clergyman in Portsmouth, Bill Sergeant. He bought his first house as part of that association in 1972. Forty years later, there are 5,000 houses in that housing association, worth £1.5 billion in assets. He was an amazing social entrepreneur who remains a hero of mine.

I will talk about a much smaller scheme in the limited time that I have, which is in the village of Wickham, just north of Portsmouth, just south of where I live. It is a medieval village that has a small rural housing scheme, an initiative started by the then Bishop of Portsmouth, the late Kenneth Stevenson, who was a very energetic, enthusiastic and highly intelligent Member of this House. In 2004, he asked parish churches to identify the needs of their communities and challenged them to think of new ways in which the church could and should serve them better. St Nicholas Church identified the lack of affordable housing in that community and it sought to meet this need. This is at the heart of the good society, which we really should support and which I thought the Government supported in the early days. They need to support it.

The housing scheme started with a local farmer being approached by a doctors’ practice that wanted a surgery. It wanted land at the edge of the village. I know this individual well; he is in his late 70s. He thought that, for his own good, it would be good to have a better local surgery. He was very happy to contribute land at a discount. Out of the discussion came the decision that they should put some affordable housing either side of it, which they did. The housing association was involved. The church decided to set up a community land trust. It took eight of the 20 houses. Four were rented and four were for intermediate housing—so shared ownership, with the trust maintaining 20% ownership of the properties in the shared-ownership scheme. It has the right to buy the property back. It is an excellent scheme that has provided affordable housing in the village.

What will happen under the current government policies? I talked to the trust. It is very cautious. I am glad to say that it will be excluded, although we have yet to see the detail of the Bill. I have, at least: I do not

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think there is much mention of rural exceptions; it is certainly implied by the voluntary agreement that has been arrived at. It is very cautious about the future. Of course, it has already had the announcement that, over the next five years, its rent flow will be reduced. Again, I emphasise that that is no problem for the larger association because it has a certain amount of fat that it can cut and it can improve efficiencies, but it is absolutely terrible for smaller associations.

The landowner in this situation is very angry because he thinks that, if he wanted to give further land, Right to Buy would lead to other people getting the surplus value. The housing association will have an exception with its properties, but it will be under great pressure to allow them to be sold, otherwise it is unlikely to get other grants to build new houses. Possibly it will want to build elsewhere. Interestingly, just to the south of this village, another huge development of 3,000 new houses on the edge of the urban area is coming, but the Government are now beginning to say that, under Section 106, they will be limited in the amount of affordable housing that can be provided for rent.

This is disastrous for these communities. We have to understand that housing associations and community land trusts can contribute to balance communities, but Right to Buy and a whole range of government policies are an attack on social housing. The consequences will be substantial and deeply depressing for those who have a commitment to encouraging thriving, dynamic, settled rural communities where families can aspire to see their younger members housed locally, where they were brought up, and where family links can strengthen that local community.

2.46 pm

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab): My Lords, we passed an amendment to the charities Bill that charities should not be compelled to sell their assets contrary to their trust deeds. While the new proposals make some exemptions, the Charity Commission, which was not consulted in advance, remains concerned about how trustees can,

“administer … housing associations in the best interests of their beneficiaries”.

We have heard about the lack of rural social housing: just 8% of housing in small villages is owned by councils or housing associations. A third of rural local authorities own no housing. Land for housing associations to keep working-class or low-income people in the community will not willingly be made available if, within three years, they could be sold off to tenants, and, three years later, resold to richer owners or buy-to-let businesses, which can then rent them at twice the housing association level. Even community land trusts are not automatically excluded from this so-called deal. Furthermore, if a housing association builds, say, 10 units as a group, one of which is then sold, the money from that would not allow the building of one new flat or house, even if land was available nearby at a reasonable price.

The chairman of Tiddicross charity wrote to me and told me that it owns two almshouses. They are lived in by single, less well-off people, usually spinsters or widows who could not otherwise stay in the

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conservation village where they grew up. It would be awful, he said, if the tenants could buy their properties, which would inevitably find their way into the open market. Interestingly, his MP, Mark Pritchard, concurred, with his support for our successful amendment to the charities Bill.

How would we pay for these rural sales? It could come only from urban areas. For Westminster, this means selling three-quarters of its much-needed council houses as they become vacant. Camden will lose some 400 units. The price against which the ones to be sold will be judged is an all-London average, but obviously Camden and Westminster are well above the outer London prices, so a higher proportion of their stock will be deemed to be high value and forced to be sold. This money has to be used to pay for new builds in Camden or Westminster, which are not cheap given land prices there, and has to compensate housing associations for their forced sales. Those housing associations will not even be in their own boroughs but might have to be sent, for example, to Norfolk, to compensate for its losses. There will be a real and substantial outflow of funding from London.

Many rural housing associations, as we have heard, including the largest, Hastoe, have not signed up to this so-called voluntary deal, yet they will be forced to go along with it. Money for much-needed affordable rural housing should not come from those in need in urban areas and from the loss of council homes here. Almost 7,000 council houses a year will have to be sold under the proposals if no extra funding is provided, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing today.

This is an unaccountable policy. It is being forced through without parliamentary debate or approval. It is misguided, it is unaccountable, it is a waste of money, which will be spent in a way that means it will get into the private sector and push up rents, and it should be scrapped.

2.51 pm

Lord Taylor of Goss Moor (LD): My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate. I draw attention to my interests around housing and planning, although I have recently stepped down from chairing the National Housing Federation, as its term expired.

I was involved in some of the work which achieved the agreement with the Government. They were elected on a manifesto that clearly committed them to extending right to buy to housing association tenants and I welcome the flexibility they and housing associations have shown, in an overwhelming majority, in finding a settlement that allows recognition of the independence of housing associations and makes it very clear that there are many assumptions about exceptions, including in rural communities where affordable housing is in very short supply.

My interest in extending the opportunities for housing for people on low incomes in rural communities has been long-standing. I did a review for the last Labour Government on rural housing and economies and I very much welcome the fact that, through the neighbourhood planning process, communities have been empowered, in ways very similar to those I

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recommended at that time, to take the initiative in bringing forward affordable housing and other housing measures to improve and maintain the sustainability of rural communities. There is no question that, on average, wages are substantially below the national average—about 20% below—and yet house prices are substantially above it. Because we want to protect rural villages, in general, from unsuitable development, opportunities for delivering new housing are limited.

In many ways I support the Government’s work, particularly through the National Planning Policy Framework, to deliver more housing, but I want to raise two specific things that I hope the Minister, and indeed housing associations, through the NHF’s work on this, will respond to. I think the Minister is aware of my concerns. The first is that rural exception sites have been brought forward with landowners very often offering up land either for free—and we heard about the church doing so—or, certainly, much below the market value in order to deliver what communities have understood to be in-perpetuity affordable housing, to meet local needs. In some cases that has been guaranteed by covenant, either by the landowner or through long-term lease rather than freehold, or through Section 106, with the local authority covenanting it. In that case, right to buy would not in any place be applicable because housing associations would not be able to sell them, but not in all cases. Very often “in perpetuity” has been assumed because housing associations have not been under any obligation to sell.

Landowners who have offered up land in this way and communities that agreed permission where it would otherwise not have been agreed would be in great distress if those houses were sold. While I believe that most rural housing associations would not wish to sell those—giving the tenant, if they wished to buy, the portable discount to buy elsewhere—none the less some might. I think that would be a breach of faith and I look to both the Government and the NHF to make it absolutely clear to housing associations that they should not do so in those circumstances and if it is possible, through regulations, to prevent it.

Secondly, the provision of fewer than 10 homes, under which the Government do not want any affordable housing to be required is applicable in many urban cases, but in rural communities the great majority of sites brought forward are for fewer than 10 homes. If houses are being sold through right to buy, it is not the case that a council, or indeed a neighbourhood plan, can say that some of those homes should be affordable, and it is very difficult to see what, if any, opportunities there will be to bring forward new homes. Given the legal challenges we do not quite know where this will end but I hope the Government will take the opportunity of the time provided by those legal challenges to consider whether in very small rural communities it is appropriate to lift any obligation for affordable homes at all. Otherwise, it is difficult to see, in those villages, how they will be delivered, unless they are fortunate enough to have a landowner willing to provide a site as an exception site for affordable housing.

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2.56 pm

Lord Best (CB): My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans for initiating this debate and for his very helpful opening speech. In essence, the national problem for the next generation in obtaining a decent home people can afford, is appreciably worse in most rural areas. Average house prices are significantly higher; average wages are markedly lower. There is only half as much council and housing association accommodation, not least because of the high levels of sales of council housing in villages over past years.

I declare my interest as chair of the Rural Housing Policy Review, sponsored by Hastoe housing association, a leading rural housing provider. Our review involved some of the nation's greatest experts on rural housing matters, including the noble Lords, Lord Cameron of Dillington and Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, along with Jo Lavis as our incredibly helpful secretary. Our report is available on the Hastoe website and I strongly commend it to all those interested in these matters.

Since our report was published in February, three issues have risen to the top of this agenda. With the noble Lords, Lords Cameron and Lord Taylor, I was very glad, yesterday, to discuss these issues with the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, and the noble Baroness, the Minister.

First, there is serious concern over the Government’s plan to remove the opportunity for local authorities to require affordable homes on sites of fewer than 10 properties. This measure has been subject to action in the courts and is not yet resolved, as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, said. Because around 80% of sites in rural areas are small and because the affordable housing obligations on housebuilders have produced two-thirds of all the new affordable homes in rural areas, this measure—however helpful in urban areas—would be disastrous for local people requiring a home in their village. Without any homes for local people, the opposition to new development in rural areas is likely to be much intensified, meaning fewer homes overall.

Secondly, the Government’s intention to allow housebuilders to substitute starter homes—properties for sale with a 20% discount—in place of shared ownership or rented accommodation would, again, be problematic in rural areas. In most of these localities the 20% discount would not be enough to help those on average incomes and below. The opportunity for purchasers to sell on the open market after five years would mean that, in time, all the properties would be beyond the reach of those for whom previously affordable housing had been provided and kept available.

Thirdly, there has been much anxiety about the extension of the right to buy to housing association tenants. Thanks to the good judgment of the Secretary of State, plans for a statutory right for these tenants will not be pursued and a much more flexible voluntary scheme will be introduced. This will mean that housing associations operating in rural areas will be able—and will be strongly advised—to reject requests to buy and instead to offer the opportunity for the same discount to be applied to the purchase of another property elsewhere. Although some rural housing associations

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remain very anxious, this is a much improved outcome from the negotiations between the Government and the National Housing Federation.

Nevertheless, some aspects of the right-to-buy deal continue to be particularly problematic for rural communities. In particular, local authorities that have retained their council housing will be required to raise the money to pay for the right-to-buy discounts, and will have to do so by selling on the open market the most valuable council homes when they fall vacant. Although the details are yet to be hammered out, in some rural areas—including in North Yorkshire, where I am based—it seems likely that a high proportion of the remaining rural council homes will need to be sold when they become vacant to pay for the housing association discounts.

There are now three potentially serious new obstacles to creating and retaining affordable homes for those not able to buy, even with a 20% discount under the starter homes initiative. There is a real danger that people in rural communities on average and below-average incomes will face an even worse housing future in the months and years ahead. I get the feeling that Ministers are willing to consider ways of addressing these difficulties and I hope that the Minister will work with all of us in standing up for the needs of local people in all our rural communities.

3.01 pm

Lord Teverson (LD): My Lords, I declare an interest as a director of Anchorwood Developments and of Wessex Investors, and as a landlord of a single rural property in Devon.

I am less sanguine about this voluntary agreement. In the Housing and Planning Bill that was published in the House of Commons yesterday, there are just two pages on the right to buy and there are lots of blanks even on those. This gives an impression of plea bargaining, like in the United States, in that the Government have a proposition—they were elected on it, it was a manifesto commitment; no one is disagreeing with that—but they have looked at how to implement this and have thought, “Good grief, how are we ever going to get this through Parliament? How are we going to do this legally without the”—as my honourable friend Tim Farron called it—“Mugabisation of action in this area?”. The housing federations have said, “My goodness, how do we mitigate this problem?”. So there has been a sort of alliance that somehow bypasses Parliament and the democratic process to get to a solution that both sides see as a compromise because neither side wants to lose the whole thing completely. That really concerns me.

In the voluntary agreement there are a number of exceptions. What concerns me is the reference to:

“Examples of circumstances where housing associations may exercise discretion over sales”.

There is very little certainty there, particularly when we come back to the issue mentioned by many noble Lords, particularly my good and noble friend Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, around certainty for people who have offered in the past and wish to offer in the future parts of their estate for affordable housing to be

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provided. We have very little legal certainty into the future, which will not allow people to be beneficial in that way.

The other side of this is the selling-off of valuable properties. This really concerns me in rural and coastal areas in particular, such as Cornwall, where I live. If you go and knock on the doors of the main street of the port of Fowey, as I have done when electioneering, you will find that the properties are empty or certainly do not have residents there during the winter. Yet these are the most valuable properties—the ones most likely to be sold off. Who are the purchasers likely to be? They are not residents; they are second-home owners. One question I would ask—which was raised, very rightly, in the report of the noble Lord, Lord Best—is: will the Government guarantee that when these high-value properties have to be sold off there will be a covenant around them being the principal residences of those who buy thereafter? Otherwise, what are currently deserts in parts of those coastal villages will become much broader.

I just want to say one thing that is slightly off the agenda, concerning the private rented sector. One of the things I praised the Labour manifesto for in the last election was that fact that Labour wished to extend shorthold leases from six months to two years. This gives much more certainty and is particularly important in rural areas, where it is difficult to change schools and any move from one private rental to another is much more difficult. Will the Government look at that area? I am sure that my own tenant, who is on a shorthold lease, would appreciate that.

Lastly, the question I would really like to ask the Government is: what happens if and when those housing associations do not wish to be a part of this voluntary agreement? How do the Government deal with that situation?

3.06 pm

Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LD): My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans for securing this debate on a topic very dear to my heart.

We are blessed in the UK with vibrant cities, industrial heartlands, beautiful coastlines and idyllic countryside, all of which contribute to the character and economy of our country. At varying times through history, all have suffered to some extent from cyclical patterns of prosperity and decline. But it seems to me that rural communities are continually being penalised. Many living in villages and hamlets struggle to survive: their wages are low, their buses are infrequent, and housing is expensive and in very short supply. Families with children bus them to schools in the next, larger village and watch them develop. The young people who go to university rarely, if ever, return. While there may be jobs nearby, there are certainly no homes for them to rent and they cannot afford to buy. The families of children not leaving for university find their children staying at home far longer than they themselves consider healthy.

Rural communities are a vital part of life. Vibrancy comes from a mixture of people from different backgrounds, all contributing to community life. Nearly

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every village has a clutch of what were council houses. These homes ensure an equitable mix of residents. Sadly, the right to buy has seen many of these homes move into private ownership and they have rarely been replaced by more rented homes. This has drastically reduced the stock of rented properties in villages. Under the rural exceptions policy, some homes have been built. As we have heard, many landowners are happy to support such schemes but this is not likely to continue if the homes are sold off into private ownership, with the new owner enjoying a massive discount—plus the prospect of making a healthy profit when they sell on to another.

The Housing and Planning Bill published earlier this week and its accompanying notes make no mention of what the Secretary of State’s criteria for home ownership will be. There appear to be no protections for rural exception sites or community land trusts. This House has had verbal reassurances from the Minister that there would be safeguards in the Bill. Now we have seen the Bill and those safeguards are absent. There are 1.6 million people on housing waiting lists in the UK. We must build more homes for a mixture of tenures, including rented. There are nearly 100,000 homeless children in our country. This is a total disgrace—these could be our grandchildren.

Some 40% of properties sold under the right to buy end up in the private rented sector. There is a desperate need for rented properties. The Government should allow local authorities and housing associations to build more homes, instead of selling off those already in the rented sector.

As the right reverend Prelate said, only 8% of homes in rural areas are affordable as opposed to 20% in cities. Are we really happy to create middle-class enclaves in our villages? The elderly naturally become frailer. Village shops and services close down as those with cars travel further afield rather than buying locally. There are insufficient fit adults living locally to provide the care needed for the frail and the disabled. Carers have to travel out from the towns. Very few young families can afford to move to villages. Who wants to live anywhere without the sound of children’s laughter? I, for one, do not. We must protect a sustained mixed economy of housing in perpetuity in our village communities or face creating elderly ghettos. The Minister must rise to the challenge.

3.10 pm

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, I open my remarks by thanking the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans for putting this Question down for debate today. It comes at a most opportune moment, so I and all the House are grateful to him. I should also declare an interest as a local councillor.

I have no objection to the right to buy per se but I do have concerns about how this proposed scheme is to be funded and operated through the sale of the most expensive properties that local authorities have, and about the process for replacing the homes sold, given the time it will take to replace them. When I was previously a councillor in the 1980s and 1990s, we used to have hard-to-let properties. In 2015, there is no such thing as a hard-to-let property as the pressures to

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provide social housing have grown enormously. We are in the midst of a housing crisis in both our rural areas and our towns and cities. Rural areas face particular challenges. I have great concerns that the Government’s proposals run the risk of making it more difficult to provide a proper supply of social housing at rents that people can afford in rural areas. The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, made an excellent point about affordable housing in her contribution.

Earnings, on average, are lower in rural areas than urban areas. There is much less housing association and council housing generally in rural areas, so what there is is a precious resource making up just 8% of rural properties, as other noble Lords said. The right reverend Prelate made the point very well about the deal and its effect on smaller rural associations. I am in complete agreement with him there.

Rural areas face particular problems to get the right mix and balance of housing types to ensure that their communities thrive and prosper. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, referred to exceptions in this agreement and I look forward to seeing them in more detail. I hope they will offer the protection he referred to. However, if it could take up to three years initially to replace a home sold under this scheme, that seems a very long time to me. The fact that housing associations will have great flexibility about where the replacement home will be placed means that rural areas could be changed very quickly—and not for the better, as communities lose all or most of their social housing. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans again made that point in his contribution this afternoon.

My noble friend Lady Hayter of Kentish Town focused on the charitable status of housing associations and the problems this policy will cause them, and I am completely in agreement with the point she made.

It is difficult in a short contribution to cover all the points one would want to make, but I would be grateful if the Minister answered a few questions for me now or perhaps wrote to me and other Members after the debate. What assessment have the Government made of the effects of the loss of large parts of social housing, in particular in hamlets or villages, and the replacement for that lost housing asset being put elsewhere? Does she expect, or will she require, housing associations to put the replacement property in the same rural local authority area it came from, funded by the sale of authority assets? Or is that not to be considered, so that the associations can put the replacement house anywhere?

Have the Government had any discussions on how a replacement property could be provided more quickly than those initial three years? What assessment have the Government made of how many properties will be bought under this scheme? How will they incentivise landowners to release land for affordable housing, rather than keep it for other opportunities? What consultations has the Minister had with organisations such as the pub is the hub, the Association of Convenience Stores or the National Federation of SubPostmasters on the possible long-term effects of this policy on rural communities? Their members need communities to remain vibrant so that their businesses can remain operational and thrive in future. I again thank the right reverend Prelate for his contribution today.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate for initiating this timely debate. I also pay tribute to the church and the work it has done in providing rural housing, and to all the other landlords who have done the same thing philanthropically to preserve and sustain their local communities. Perhaps I could start with the context; then, I am very keen to answer noble Lords’ specific questions.

In 2010 we inherited the lowest peacetime rate of housebuilding since the 1920s, a dysfunctional planning system and levels of housebuilding that were tumbling. Today, we are growing faster than any other major advanced economy and our job creation is the envy of the developed world. Now, we are meeting the aspirations of people to own their own homes.

On affordable rural housing, this Government believe that meeting the housing needs of rural communities is very important: since 2010, more than 85,000 affordable homes have been delivered in rural local authorities in England. Some communities have gone over and above their commitments. I pay tribute at this point to Willersey in Gloucestershire, which has done just this. But we know that more are needed and we are committed to delivering 275,000 affordable homes over this Parliament in rural and urban areas. The 2015 to 2018 affordable homes prospectus makes it clear that where a particular scheme, for example in a rural location, involves higher than average costs, the HCA will wherever possible seek to take account of such genuine comparators. Our intention is that bidders will not be systematically disadvantaged where there are some higher costs or higher grant bids within their proposed programme.

Local authorities should plan to reflect local needs, particularly for affordable housing, including through rural exception sites. They should also consider whether allowing some market housing would facilitate provision of significant additional affordable housing. Through the Rural Productivity Plan, we will review the planning and regulatory constraints facing rural businesses, including how permitted development rights can better support the provision of new homes, jobs and innovation.

The Government are committed to reforming the housing market and boosting the supply of much-needed housing. Housebuilding starts have more than doubled since 2009 and planning permission was granted for 242,000 houses in the year to June 2015. Almost 800,000 new homes have been delivered in England since 2009. Completions are up and housing starts are at their highest annual level since 2007. More than 260,000 affordable homes have been delivered since 2010 and, with nearly 186,000 affordable builds, we have exceeded our 2011-15 target by 16,000. Over this Parliament, we will ensure the fastest rate of affordable housebuilding in the last 20 years, with 275,000 new affordable homes by 2020.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans asked whether there should be a wider definition of rural. The Government would be willing to revisit the definition if evidence can be provided that this would convincingly increase new housing supply. He also made the point that many new starter homes will not be

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affordable to people in rural areas. A number of noble Lords also made the point that starter homes may be a threat to rural affordable housing supply. Starter homes are a new form of low-cost house ownership to help young first-time buyers on to the property ladder, including in rural areas. The definition of affordable housing will be expanded to include starter homes, and a consultation on that will take place shortly.

The August 2015 rural productivity plan announced that starter homes will be encouraged through the use of rural exception sites to help villages thrive. Young first-time buyers face significant affordability pressures in many rural areas, so we want the development of starter homes to make a significant contribution to housebuilding in those areas.

The right reverend Prelate also asked what safeguards are in place to ensure one-for-one replacements locally. Under the agreement with the National Housing Federation, there is a clear commitment to all properties sold being replaced with an additional home. Rural areas will benefit from that and there is a clear exemption for rural housing under the agreement, whereby housing associations can decide not to sell those homes.

Both the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, asked about situations where landlords donate land and want it kept for the specific purposes for which they originally intended it. The agreement we have in place includes examples of types of property that associations may decide they do not want to sell to the tenant, including supported housing, historic legacy stock and homes in rural areas. It also includes rural properties that are protected by clear restrictive covenants in existing residence contracts. That should give a good basis for housing associations to engage with local landowners and their wishes on the issue.

The right reverend Prelate also asked what the Government will do to deliver affordable rented accommodation in rural areas. That is a very good point. Affordable rent was introduced in 2011, and rents can be set at 80% of local market rents. More than 260,000 affordable homes have been delivered since 2010, as I said, of which 85,000 have been provided in England in 2014-15. I cannot provide more specific figures because of the spending review.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, asked about community land trusts being excluded. They are included in the agreement and are one category where properties can be exempted. She does not look convinced, but perhaps I can meet her afterwards.

My noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes asked for the definition of affordable housing. It is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008. The NPPF defines it as:

“Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision”.

The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 defines social housing as “low cost rental accommodation” and “low cost home ownership accommodation”. In the Act, a low-cost rent is simply defined as below market

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rate. Low-cost home ownership is defined by availability for occupation on a shared ownership or equity percentage basis.

My noble friend also asked about sinking funds. Registered providers are generally required to make provision for a sinking fund, for example to meet future costs in shared ownership developments.

The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, asked about landowners selling land above market price. It has to be at discount of market price, otherwise they will not qualify. He also asked about the 10 units limit on Section 106 orders—we discussed this last night—the small sites threshold. A judgment was issued on 31 July this year quashing the Section 106 small sites threshold. Increasing the number of homes is a top priority, and our policy was aimed at securing it by helping small builders and developers to contribute. Section 106 requirements can be very burdensome and prevent developments actually being built. We now have permission to appeal against the judge’s decision.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, said that this was being forced through and was a waste of money. The Government had a clear manifesto commitment to extend right to buy, and we are very pleased that the sector has come forward with a voluntary offer, rather than needing to legislate. The policy will boost not only new home ownership but supply through replacement.

The noble Lord, Lord Best, asked about the impact of high-value council sales in rural areas. We are legislating to require local authorities to pay the Secretary of State a sum in line with the anticipated receipt from the sale of high-value council housing. Councils will be able to retain some of that fund to support new housebuilding in their area.

The noble Lords, Lord Taylor and Lord Kennedy, talked about house prices versus wages in rural areas. It is a particular problem in rural areas; we recognise that there can be that gap. That is why we allocated £1.4 billion through the 2015-18 affordable homes programme in both rural and non-rural areas.

In conclusion, we want to support people who aspire to buy their own homes, and to support young families who sign up for a starter home. As much as possible, we want to support their aspirations by building homes in every part of this country.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark: Obviously, I asked a number of questions that the noble Baroness has not responded to. I assume she will write to me and perhaps place a copy in the House.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I was about to conclude by saying that I recognise I have not covered everybody’s points, and I will write to them in due course.


Motion to Take Note

3.27 pm

Moved by Lord Moynihan

To move that this House takes note of the Government’s consultation paper, A New Strategy for Sport.

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Lord Moynihan (Con): My Lords, for the first time this century there is an opportunity to design and implement a government strategy for sport and physical activity. The appointment of John Whittingdale and Tracey Crouch ensure that we have the strongest ministerial combination of Secretary of State and Minister for Sport since the DCMS was founded. Their knowledge, experience and expertise provide British sport with a unique window of opportunity. They will be strengthened by the contribution that my noble friend Lord Hayward will bring to this subject and this House, not least in his maiden speech today.

However, it will be principally decisions taken outside the DCMS that will determine the fate of the Government’s sports strategy, since in the current economic climate new investment is highly unlikely to be forthcoming. The opportunity to persuade other, better-resourced departments to respond to the review with investment must therefore be a priority for government. The role of government in sports policy has become a co-ordinating one. Co-ordination as a theme should resonate throughout policy foundation. All departments have a role to play.

In the context of departmental co-ordination, and in the interests of sports fans and concert-goers, earlier this year your Lordships, with the support of my noble friend the Minister, worked hard to protect true fans from being ripped off by one of the most manipulated markets in our society. Legislation was passed and from 27 May this year new laws applied to the online secondary ticketing platforms. The Government announced their review this week. All interested parties will study this carefully and be proactive in their engagement with Professor Michael Waterson, who I wish well in this endeavour.

However, I make one request to my noble friend the Minister. This House, in seeking a statutory review of the consumer protection measures, believed that a year was adequate time for Professor Waterson and the committee of experts to undertake a comprehensive review. While the announcement of the review has come somewhat late—four months into the year—will my noble friend consult with Professor Waterson about the time for submitting evidence? A period of three months for submission of evidence would have been reasonable. The proposed five weeks is simply unacceptable and has caused widespread concern.

To give the House an important example, a vast amount of work has been undertaken by both the organisers of the Rugby World Cup and the RFU. Their evidence will be vitally important to the review, as repeatedly recognised in this House. Yet their current focus is rightly on doing their job to ensure the success of the World Cup and the vast organisational and administrative task associated with the ticketing process. It is simply not possible for them to turn their undivided attention to the illegal posting of tickets for the 2016 Six Nations tournament, which is already under way by online touts who are breaking the law. Surely it is unreasonable to insist that the Rugby World Cup ticketing team complete a comprehensive submission to the inquiry given that the current date closes a mere 15 working days after the final whistle is blown. Will my noble friend the Minister please consult with Professor

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Waterson and seek an extension for all parties to submit their evidence to the review by, say, the end of December? That would be in line with the timetable for other reviews from the DCMS, including the short nine weeks available to apply to the consultation period for the subject of our debate today.

Unlike the outstanding work to design an effective urban regeneration legacy led by Sir John Armitt, Sir David Higgins and the ODA, who between them delivered their vision for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its regenerative influence on the East End of London, the lack of a national sports strategy has meant that we have been unable to transform inspiration into participation anywhere near the levels that we in this Chamber had anticipated. As crucial to making an outstanding Olympic Games, a great Olympic decade touching the lives of everyone in the United Kingdom, both able-bodied and disabled, was always our priority. Lack of government legislation and inadequate funding at the grass roots by local authorities, whose mandate is to treat sport and recreation spend as discretionary and not mandatory, has cast a lengthening shadow over the historic and wonderful summer of London 2012.

In seeking a way out for the new ministerial team, first, I stress the importance of the national governing bodies being at the centre of strategic planning and delivery. NGBs look for a consistent, long-term approach to investment models. It is vital that well-managed governing bodies with best-practice strategic plans and development models are closely involved in all funding and development policies around their sport. This will ensure that there is a strategic approach to development programmes that addresses key needs, integrates the pathway programmes and avoids duplication and inefficiency.

Current sports policy and its measurement is too focused on the once-a-week participation figure. That has led to too much emphasis on a one-size-fits-all approach. Each NGB should be able to build a specific development plan that reflects its own strengths and strategic priorities. What works well for cricket may not be the same as what works well for rowing. NGBs are responsible for the promotion and development of their sport at every level and their engagement with Sport England should be tailored around a wider range of objectives reflecting this broad remit rather than the focus that has developed on judging everything on just an ad hoc, once-a-week participation figure.

In broadening the measurement of NGBs, Sport England should allow them to set their own targets in a number of areas, including: an increase in the number of women and girls playing the sport; social cohesion projects; pathway programmes leading to elite competition levels; governance and equality policies; sporting capital and value such as competitive sport; and the community value of teams and sporting clubs, to mention a few.

Access for the disabled to sports facilities should be a priority. The Government are engaged with the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, on his Private Member’s Bill to ensure appropriate and improved standards of access and facilities for disabled spectators at football grounds. It should go further and introduce legislation to deliver the necessary improvements at all sports

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facilities for disabled athletes, fans and their families. I would encourage the Government to introduce a step change at the Department of Health. Put simply, we need a comprehensive programme of preventive health measures as well as clinical targets.

The biggest neglect during the last two decades has been a lack of focus on local authorities, which—in the main—provide most of the facilities that clubs and NGBs of sport need and often finance the most accessible first-stage coaching opportunities across the range of sports. Not only should the delivery of sports and recreation be a mandatory rather than a discretionary spend, as I mentioned, but government should invest in incentives to local authorities through a more systematic provision of rate relief. There is far too much variance across authorities in allocating relief to clubs, transport vouchers, vouchers for governing body qualifications for volunteers and as regards a higher recognition of the role played by local authority facilities. If museums can offer free entry why cannot leisure centres? There are so many ways in which community sport should be better encouraged and supported. The elderly in particular are the largest age group for which there is robust evidence of the economic and social benefits of both getting and staying active, such as the prevention of falls, cardiovascular disease, depression and shortening periods of mobility, not to mention the generational benefit of young and old being active together.

On school sport, the most significant date of this century so far was 25 October 2006, when Gordon Brown—then Chancellor of the Exchequer—urged a national debate about taking sport and fitness more seriously. He, as Chancellor, wrote:

“Today, many schools offer children two hours sport a week, I want every school to do so and I want the hours to rise to at least four by 2010. This means that every child would do sports on most days. I want every school, too, to have a Sports Day to celebrate sporting achievement. And I want every school to offer after-school sport and links with a range of local sports clubs … I want every school to have teams playing in local leagues—encouraging a healthy rivalry with other schools ... every school should have access to playing fields and better sports facilities. And every talented young sports star should have extra support to help them train and develop … That’s a great ambition for 2012—a nation fitter in health and stronger in civic spirit”.

The key word, repeated six times, is “every”—a universal policy; not, as so often in sport, a patchwork quilt of good practice, rightly receiving applause in DCMS press releases, at the expense of those who miss out from policy delivery. It is hard graft, but we must deliver what we promise to everyone, not just to the fortunate few. Gordon Brown’s objectives would in each and every year since 2006 commanded all-party support in this House; yet sadly, not only have we failed to meet or exceed these targets, we have actually seen a steady decline away from each and every one of them, over a period in which the population has grown by 4 million.

A comprehensive review of school sport is now essential, covering the engagement between the independent and maintained sectors, the effectiveness or otherwise of the school sports premium, the quality of teaching material for the new curriculum and the delivery mechanisms of school sport. In the Governance of Sport Bill—which I introduced shortly before the general election to encourage debate and proposed

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some foundation stones for a government sports strategy—I included a clause which, in line with an increasing number of Governments and parliamentarians, seeks to criminalise the worst drug cheats in sport, namely those who knowingly cheat clean athletes out of selection or podium success.

These individuals are sports frauds. Fraud as a criminal offence should apply as much to them as it does to fraud in the City of London or in society in general. Yet the Fraud Act does not sufficiently cover the circumstances relevant to doping in sport, thus the need for primary legislation to address athletes who compete in this country and who have knowingly taken prohibited substances with the intention of enhancing their performance. It should be a criminal offence if a person belonging to the entourage of an athlete encourages, assists or hides awareness of the relevant athlete taking a prohibited substance with the intention of enhancing such an athlete’s performance.

The fact is that international doping in sport remains the worst crime an athlete can commit. It is cheating, and those who knowingly cheat have no place competing in the world of sport, let alone being selected to represent their country. Why? It is because they have defrauded a clean athlete, not only out of selection but out of their career; they have shredded the dreams of clean athletes with every needle they inject. They have destroyed the years of training and competition necessary to reach the pinnacle of sport.

Every hour of every day the vast majority of athletes are training—long winter hours devoted to a total commitment to deliver their personal best. Many have given up the chance of a career. All make huge sacrifices with the support of their families and friends, governing bodies, lottery players and coaching staff to train, to compete and to live their dream. That should never be dashed by an athlete who cheats, currently secure in the knowledge that a four-year ban can be reduced to two if they give the names of those who supplied them to WADA—a ban which, for some, is no longer than a very serious injury; a ban which, if lasting only a few years, enables them to return to their sport with the benefit of the muscle mass acquired through drugs, to be back on the starting blocks while the clean athlete sits at home.

It would not happen in any other sphere of life. Defraud the bank you work for, and you are fired. Defraud your clients as a lawyer, and you can no longer practise. A year ago, Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, spoke out in the face of Germany’s proposed anti-doping laws. He said that WADA is,

“completely opposed to the criminalisation of athletes”.

Yet its director-general, David Howman, speaking in Melbourne this week, proposed imprisonment as the most effective way to reduce cheating in sport. A consistent voice from the top is essential if the aspiring athletes of tomorrow are going to heed the message.

The problem is growing. It is time to act. It is athletes who have been consistently calling for action on doping, crime, inadequate governance, lack of transparency and conflicts of interest in the corridors of sports administrators and we should heed their call.

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There is no doubt that the real deterrent that cheating athletes face in going to prison—as they do in Italy—is significantly greater than a one, two or four-year ban set by WADA. I believe the deterrent effect of criminalising doping will send a message into the homes and classrooms of young athletes that if they want to compete in the 21st century, they must stay clean. However, it will take a major change in the approach of the international federations of sport and WADA if that is to be accomplished. Governments will have to take a lead.

In closing, what is the status of the Olympic and Paralympic legacy Cabinet committee and unit? When did it last meet? What has been the output of its work? When will this House have the opportunity to review its work in full? In what way has it achieved the objectives of delivering a tangible and coherent approach to the sports legacy from the Games in the regeneration of the East End of London and the promotion and development of sport? These are important questions. Key to the protection back at the grass roots of our playing fields is the role of Sport England as a statutory consultee on all planning applications, and I hope it will remain one. In the triennial review, there was a question about its ongoing role in that context. I hope that question will be answered positively. I wish the Government and, in particular, John Whittingdale and Tracey Crouch well with their endeavour. I beg to move.

3.42 pm

Lord Pendry (Lab): My Lords, in my 40-odd years of making speeches in this House or the other place I cannot remember beginning a speech by heaping praise on two Tory parliamentarians. Perhaps some may say that maturity has shone through at last; on this side, they probably think I have gone soft in the head. Seriously, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is a remarkable person and giving this House an opportunity to discuss the admirable consultation paper A New Strategy for Sport is something he must relish, and we relish hearing him. It should not be any surprise that the noble Lord should be leading this debate and speaking so ably, for I witnessed over the years that, as a Minister for Sport in the other place, he always shone over the other Ministers at that time. I should know because I was one of his shadow Ministers and saw five Tory Ministers off in as many years.

I must also congratulate the current Minister, Tracey Crouch, the author of the paper before us, which is the first for 13 years. She is not only knowledgeable about sport but has played and coached sport at grass-roots levels for many years and was on the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee for five years. I am tempted to say she might even surpass the fine record of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, unless, of course, the Government do what has been the custom over the years of moving Sport Ministers before they can have been able to make their mark. I certainly hope this Government will resist that practice in her case.

I must register my interest in the debate: I am the former chairman, and now president, of the Football Foundation.

In this paper, the DCMS has called for ideas on how to increase long-term participation in sport and physical activity and which organisations would be

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best placed to deliver that aim. I have no hesitation in responding to that request, although I know that the Football Foundation has formally submitted a response to the department. For my part, I want to point out the indisputable fact that, despite many hundreds of millions of pounds being spent over the years by successive Governments, sport participation in this country is in decline and, without a coherent strategy, it will decline further.

Time prevents me from outlining in more detail the Football Foundation’s more lengthy submission, which I am sure the department will consider very carefully. After all the Secretary of State, with his vast knowledge of the issues under review, and having been a former chairman of the Select Committee, is an appropriate person, along with the Minister for Sport, to consider that submission carefully. I am sure that we can all take it for granted that we will not make the progress necessary until we break down the barriers that currently prevent that progress, by getting more participants in sport and physical recreation by tackling the lack of sporting facilities. It does not take a genius to work out that, if people are keen to take up a sport, they cannot do so if there is no place for them to participate in it.

The FA’s largest ever grass-roots survey found that 84% of respondents cited poor facilities as the most serious concern. Indeed, a separate survey among 2,500 grass-roots participants carried out by Sky Sports News also found that the lack of decent facilities was the biggest barrier to participation. We really ought to be ashamed that countries such as Germany, France and Holland are meeting the challenge of more participation and the growth in pitch demand. The FA chairman’s commission report states that whereas we have 639 synthetic pitches, the Germans alone have 5,000.

It is true that it is not the DCMS alone that should shoulder the responsibility for a new strategic plan. It is necessary for the Department for Education, the Department of Health and others to combine in that endeavour. Health is a particular concern when we consider the problem of obesity, which, according to a Parliamentary Answer to me this week from the noble Lord, Lord Prior, is estimated to cost the NHS £5.1 billion a year. Is it any wonder that the Government’s own Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has stated:

“If sport and physical activity was a drug, it would be regarded as a miracle cure”?

Those sentiments are of course true, but investment into local sport facilities is also good for the health of the economy. Grants from such bodies as the Football Foundation to build pavilions and pitches also create jobs. The Government also benefit from an unprecedented seven-to-one return on investment through the foundation. With the FA and Premier League as partners, the foundation more than doubles this again by attracting additional partnership funding, so from the Government’s direct investment of £200 million since the foundation was formed in 2000 they have managed to support projects worth more than £1.3 billion. I am sure that these are just the kind of funding facts that the Government are calling for in this consultation exercise.

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I conclude by again congratulating the noble Lord on giving us the opportunity to debate this topic today.

3.49 pm

Lord Selsdon (Con): My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for introducing this debate, but I feel, like so many of his noble friends in the past, that I have once again been dropped in it. Many years ago I was minding my own business here when Earl Jellicoe, who was one of my noble friend’s mentors, and mine, said, “Malcolm, are you a bit bored? I’ve got something sporting for you to do. We want to bring sport alive again. We’re going to make you chairman of the Greater London and South East Council for Sport and Recreation, responsible for the development of all sport and recreation in Greater London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent—so help me God”.

I then found that we were going to have a sort of session. We went off to Alexandra Palace. I found in the mean time that I had been made chairman of the regional sports council—the Greater London and South East Council for Sport and Recreation—and everybody who met me assumed that I was my grandfather. I said, “Couldn’t we get involved in playing games?”, and they said, “Well, yes”. I said, “That’s what sport’s about. It’s about enjoyment, isn’t it?”. I used to play almost every game rather badly. We found that at Alexandra Palace, where we met, 3,000 people turned up from the regions, who were waiting for instructions. We had not got any staff to give anybody instructions, so I made the suggestion, “Why don’t they write how they would like to be instructed, and I will arrange for it to be signed?”.

We then started to meet the ethnic minority groups. My favourites were the Rastafarians. They were extremely good at basketball, and they wanted to be able to play in the street. We found that in certain streets of London that were not busy at the weekend, if we arranged for a car to break down at one end and then at the other, basketball hoops with Rasta kit could go on the lamppost—they would not be straight. Jamaicans are very good at bouncing balls. So this happened, with the approval of the police, and everything seemed to work.

The problem was both money and commitment. We then asked, “Where are the green patches of London?”. I had to ask one of the airlines that had planes flying low over London—no one seemed to have a map—to tell us where were the places you could go and play friendly sorts of games, and where were the grounds? There were vast numbers of places, often belonging to great estates that would not allow entry. Now, over the years that has changed, and you will find that in many of the London parks, even those that are owned by institutions, at weekends you will see children kicking footballs being guided by football players, who are paid a small amount to do that. So we do have enough facilities.

What dropped me in it was when I was told, “The East End’s yours—go and sort it out. No one’s ever going to do anything there”. I was asked if we could build some kind of sports arena. We set out to build the Greater London and south-east regional council arena, called the London Arena. We were given the

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land free, and a little bit of money. It was necessary to raise an awful lot more, because one saw the potential for the East End of London, but there was no money. We found that there were always people who would help, such as builders and contractors who were working. If you spoke to them nicely, they would put the earth and materials in the right place for a BMX bike track.

That was a difficult time, but I then had the privilege of talking to Denis Thatcher, who of course had certain ideas. We looked at all the football pitches in London and said, “They’ve only got two goalposts, one at each end. If you got smaller people, couldn’t you have four goalposts across, where you would not damage the middle, and allow them to play during school time and so on?”. So this started regularly until the local authorities stepped in and said, “You’ve got to be a bit more careful”. However, we got into real trouble in the arena in Docklands, as we ran out of money. Nobody thought that Docklands and the East End would ever come alive in the way it has now—nobody dreamed of those glittering towers that are there. However, there were the rivers and the entrance things, which made life pretty encouraging.

What I am coming to is, how do we bring the private and public sectors together in this particular world? We need my noble friend with his initiative, but quite often it is up to the local authorities to do this. Over time, I found that there were people in each of the local authorities who would help.

The best things happened down in the East End. We were about to try to build the London Arena and there were some boxing matches going on. A little old lady came up and gave me a nudge. She said, “Hello, love, how are you?”. I said, “I’m very well, thank you very much”. She asked, “How’s your Da?”. I asked what she meant and she said, “Well, we haven’t seen him around lately”. I did not know that my father, who after the war spent an awful lot of his life motor racing, was a boxer. He used the name “The White Eagle” and boxed in Docklands. The old lady said, “You see, my husband was your father’s second”. I am speaking in a light-hearted way but it is little things such as that that bring things to life. I once made the mistake of saying something on television and I ended up with so many letters because people all feel the same way.

We do not have bad infrastructure at the moment, and the demand for watching sport on television has never been higher. People are watching games that they never considered they would. Little things like that make you wonder. We do not necessarily need a strategy; we need to look at what instruments are available to government, and here again I am thinking of things such as tax allowances. Certain things have happened following certain Olympic Games—for example, Mecca closed down its ice rink at the very time that Torvill and Dean won gold at the Olympics. We are now so successful in sport that there are leaders in the sports world who can encourage people to play their games. I am told that we have more active sports than any other nation in the world. Perhaps, when the Minister replies, she will tell me that she can arrange for me to be provided with a list of those sports.

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This is an interesting time. We have had a very good start to this debate and I hope that your Lordships will do all that they can to help the sporting world.

3.56 pm

Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, first, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for giving us the chance to have a look at this paper and discuss it properly. Like the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, I feel that the Crouch/Whittingdale pair deserve tremendous praise. I also salute their courage. Experience tells us that when you ask the rest of government to do something for sport, the response is, “Yes, it is terribly important, but you are asking us to change the way we behave for sport? No, that is somebody else’s business”. That is the great bugbear that is being taken on here.

The fact is that sport is seen as secondary—as a tag-on—in many people’s lives, particularly within the political class. I have mentioned before that I think that most people who get involved in politics have gone through the experience of giving up sport at about the age of 14, when they learned to fake their mother’s signature on a note to get out of it. I have said that several times and have not been seriously challenged, but it is certainly a fact that when people talk to a politician about sport, he panics and tells them about his local football team’s results. But that is watching. The fact that you are getting involved in something that affects your life comes through in this document.

It is also a very good document because it starts with participation and works through a series of things, which I read as being things that you need in order to get participation right. This list of things is actually a series of loops that come back and support each other to keep the participation going. Can you participate if you have not been given a degree of physical literacy in schools and local clubs? Is the local club going to be a better provider in certain sports because it has more expertise? We are going over old ground here.

How do we change behaviour to get the best out of this? The Department for Education has dealt with this and has come up with a series of answers, most of which have good points in them. We need a consistency of approach. What has changed is what seems to be a more aggressive attitude in the Department of Health—that big, muscular department with lots of spending—which can see at least a medium-term, and possibly a short-term, benefit from changing behaviour in relation to sport. That is a fundamental game-changer. How are we doing this to change what is coming forward? The rest of government then has to come in and say to the other departments: “You will be rewarded; you will be praised; but you will be punished if you don’t change your behaviour to get hold of this”. That is what we are going through. All forms of local government are also huge players here.

One issue that was not mentioned but should have been was transport. If you want people to take part in a sport, particularly at the ages when they tend to drop out—that is, in their teenage years, those pinch points of 16, 18 and 21, when they do not have their own transport and are dependent on a parent—are we making it easy for them to get to the sporting club? The middle class dominates sport. We have a huge

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culture here and are very lucky, with amateur sports taking on their own coaching underneath the auspices of the sporting bodies. It is a huge facility that other places do not have. However, if you cannot get to that club to access that expertise—that internal investment, that voluntary activity—you might as well not have it for this agenda. Do we make sure that local government and the Department for Transport say: “We need a bus route”? That is, a bus that runs when people have finished training to get them home. People will not go through some masochistic process when they are starting out with something of dealing with cold, wet weather for hours and having to walk in it. It just would not encourage anybody to do it. So you have to bring that in; you have to bring everything in together to move this forward.

This document is a good first step. It address that idea that it all comes together. Indeed, it includes the Foreign Office: what does the Foreign Office want from sport? Quite clearly, it wants quite a lot from sport. The Olympics were a wonderful example of soft power. Who knows what the Rugby World Cup will do? How much credit do they get after the host nation has been knocked out? That is a huge question to which we do not know the answer. There are even little spin-offs that allow other people to do things. I have referred very cheekily before to the fact that I was on the organising committee for a veterans’ rugby tournament of parliamentarians—possibly an international level of interaction which was unique to that particular tournament, but we still had a degree of interaction there, something that would not have been accomplished without sport, and a pretty grass-roots, basic level of sport at that.

All of these things are there to be taken from this. The challenge we have is making sure that all parts of government co-operate and accept that they have a responsibility for doing this. It is not just for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, because with the best will in the world, it does not have the muscle. Even with the Olympics behind it, it did not have the muscle to sustain this. I always predicted that the most powerful Sports Minister ever would be during the Olympics. I was right, but it is over: it had one moment, but it did not carry on. The whole of government must come behind this—and this document gives us an example of where to start and where to start looking, though it is not, in any way, a finished document: I do not thing anyone ever pretended it was—so that we can get the best out of this. That includes getting the best out of all the cultural interactive levels and giving a model for other voluntary activity.

Finally—and I think it is probably best to finish now as a maiden speaker is waiting to go—if we get this right, we will have a model for most forms of voluntary activity that can be transferred on. Even in this, we are not talking about sport by itself: we are talking about the whole voluntary and social interaction of the nation.

4.04 pm

Lord Hayward (Con) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, in rising to follow the noble Lord, Lord Addington, I am reminded of the occasion when I refereed the first ever inter-parliamentary rugby match between the

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British Parliament and the French Parliament. Soon into the game, I had the misfortune and the necessity to lecture both front rows. I turned to the French front row first and lectured it in French. I then proceeded to lecture the British front row. It was only after I had finished the lecture that the front row pointed out to me that I had carried on in French.

My work background is primarily in industry in human resources, which resulted in me spending much of my time in negotiation with trade unions. It was time which, contrary to what many would think, I found overwhelmingly constructive, working with representatives who worked tirelessly for the benefit of their members—a possible parallel with this House.

In the other place, I served for nine years and had the great pleasure of representing the constituency of Kingswood, an area to which I still feel a strong attachment. Kingswood is roughly equidistant between my birthplace of Torquay and what I regard as my family home just outside Oxford, and it is that home village which I am proud to have adopted in my territorial title of Lord Hayward, of Cumnor—a location most noted as the place where Lord Robert Dudley either did or did not murder his wife, Amy Robsart, so that he could be closer to Queen Elizabeth I. I served in the departments of trade and transport, the latter of which drew me tragically into the events of Lockerbie, Kegworth, Clapham and King’s Cross, places which will for ever be etched in my and many other people’s memories.

My upbringing from Oxford to the West Country results in my having a slight or, one might say, occasional West Country drawl. It is an accent into which I would, and still do, drift on occasions. My lead supporter on my introduction was my noble friend Lord Moynihan, whom I thank and congratulate on seeking this debate. When he and I shared an office together as new Members in another place, this variable accent caused him much amusement, although his attempts to mimic my accent caused me equal mirth. My other supporter, my noble friend Lord Glendonbrook, I have known for the past 25 years and I have valued both the advice and friendship that he has given me in that time.

More broadly, I thank your Lordships from across the House and the staff throughout the Palace for the assistance which I have received. Nothing could better indicate the nature of this place and of its Members and staff than the rehearsal for my introduction, which needed multiple re-runs. The staff were so patient, despite valuable time being lost. What none of them could have known was that, because of a slight physical disorder from which I suffer, your Lordships almost had someone faint during the oath. I survived, not least because, in the minutes before, your Lordships and staff had been so helpful. I am sure that this help and generosity of spirit will continue throughout my time in this House. I hope that I can be as generous to other Members of this House and the staff.

Before I comment on sporting matters, I must declare an interest in that, over the past few years, I have been a paid adviser to Sporta, the organisation representing leisure centre trusts.

The debate today is about the Government’s review of sports and their strategy—how we can encourage more to participate for greater benefit. However, the more and the benefit will come in many guises.

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I am fortunate enough to be the vice-chairman of trustees at Central YMCA. A few years ago, YMCAfit, which is part of our organisation, worked with Aspire to create a programme known as InstructAbility. This is a scheme which should be better known across the nation at large, although I am sure that there will be many in this House who will recognise the title. People who face all sorts of challenges become qualified personal trainers. Since the scheme was started, some 230 people have completed the programme and most have found industrial placements. Almost nothing in life can be more moving than seeing people, in wheelchairs or not, overcoming their own personal challenges and encouraging others, often fully able-bodied, to overachieve. I hope that when the Government complete their review, they will address how they can do more to encourage disabled people to participate in sport.

Twenty years ago, six guys met in Central Station, a bar in King’s Cross. That night, the world’s first primarily gay rugby club was formed, the Kings Cross Steelers, a club whose tie I wear with pride today. It is not, and should not be, an exclusively gay club; we exist to play rugby, and if social barriers are broken down in the process, that is excellent. Next month, Steelers, as the club has become known, celebrates its 20th anniversary. The club now fields three teams and was promoted to Essex 1 last season. Over the years, we have brought many people back to rugby, introduced others to the sport and helped in the process to break down many social barriers.

There are now 10 essentially gay clubs in the UK, with two more being formed. There are many more across the world, including in the United States, where virtually every city has a gay rugby club. In recognising our growth as a group of clubs, I thank the RFU and the WRU for all the assistance that they have provided in the past 20 years. They have created the atmosphere that it is possible, in what is apparently a macho sport, to have openly gay role models such as Nigel Owens, Gareth Thomas, Sam Stanley and Keegan Hirst. There are, tragically, no such equivalents in football.

I said that Steelers was bringing people back to rugby. This season, the club has developed a scheme called “Pathway to Rugby”. It has been so successful that recently we have had more than 100 players for training sessions each Tuesday and Thursday. We have had to close our books until January. We just cannot cope with any more players. Clearly, many people—in this case primarily gay—want to play rugby. The Government should ensure that everyone, including those within any minority group who want to participate fully in society and therefore in sport, can do so in whatever way they wish.

I ask the Government to do as much as they can to encourage communities to generate opportunities for sport. In formulating their policy in response to this strategy document, the Government should underline their commitment that tackling any form of discrimination, whether it relates to disabled or other minority groups, is a priority and that any form of discrimination is totally unacceptable, from wherever and whenever it may occur.

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4.12 pm

Lord Holmes of Richmond (Con): My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Moynihan on securing this important debate. It is both a privilege and a pleasure to follow my new noble friend Lord Hayward after what I am sure your Lordships will agree was an excellent maiden speech. It is right that my noble friend chose sport for his maiden speech, having been skilfully schooled by my noble friend Lord Moynihan many years ago in their office share. However, I understand that later in the decade my noble friend Lord Hayward could gain access to the office only if he showed his football spectator identity card. I also congratulate my noble friend on the pace he has shown—an important characteristic and quality in sport. Introduction on Tuesday; maiden speech on Thursday. What has he planned for Friday?

This is not the first time in his career that my noble friend Lord Hayward has demonstrated such pace. As a psephologist, he brought us motorway man, one of the key factors in the electoral calculus in the 2010 general election. Motorway man—what a far cry from Basil Fawlty, who hails from the birth town of my noble friend. I am sure noble Lords would all agree that the experience my noble friend has demonstrated will bring much to our deliberations over the coming years, and that, in the light, too, of his humanity and sense of fair play, he is an excellent new addition to the team sheet.

I have a joke for noble Lords. There is an Englishman in a bar. Noble Lords know how the joke goes. There is normally an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman. This time there is not. They are still in the Rugby World Cup.

So, to sport. I commend the strategy. It is comprehensive, far-reaching and hits many of the issues that many of your Lordships taking part in this debate have been involved in for decades. In the Secretary of State, John Whittingdale, and the Minister Tracey Crouch, we have two excellent individuals with great track records, real commitment and passion in this area—a passion shared by everybody participating in this debate today.

I will limit my comments to three areas: equality, world-class performance and the National Lottery. I am lucky enough, as a commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission—an interest declared in the register—to lead a sports inclusion programme. We work with Premiership Rugby, the England and Wales Cricket Board and National Governing Bodies of Sport to increase the participation of black and ethnic minority people, girls and young women, and to increase access at the sports stadia of our first-class county cricket grounds and the Premiership Rugby teams. We have already seen tremendous success: audits of the stadia show that more disabled people are able to enjoy that match-day experience which others have been able to take for granted. Hundreds more black and ethnic minority players and thousands more girls and young women are playing rugby for the first time, led by newly trained coaches and teachers. This is what we need in sport in 21st century Britain—more people from more backgrounds getting involved.

In terms of world-class performance, let us be in no doubt whatever that none of what we experienced or witnessed in the summer of 2012 happened by chance.

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It happened because thousands of people wanted it, willed it, planned it, strategised it and made it happen, not least those at UK Sport. The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, was very much at the spearhead of that during the years in the run-up to, and including, that fantastic golden summer of 2012. Mission 2012 monitored that progress, working alongside all the governing bodies and the great work they were doing and there was a no compromise funding agreement. Will the Minister give a commitment—that when it comes to elite sport, there will always be no compromise on the no compromise approach that delivered gold, silver and bronze for our Olympians and Paralympians?

So much sport in this country is underpinned by the marvellous—some may say even miraculous—National Lottery. What a fantastic creation of Sir John Major, on which we should never stop congratulating him. It has changed not just the heart but the mind, the head, the soul and the spirit of the United Kingdom. We do not need just to cherish or champion the National Lottery; we need to guard it and guard it well. We are at a pivotal point on the National Lottery. I ask the Minister to commit to looking at what happens with the so-called society lotteries, and say that there will be no change to the proceeds and the prizes that can be given out. Will she consider reintroducing the cap on expenses for challenges to the National Lottery? Will she look at creating even more clear blue water between the National Lottery and gambling, not least in the area of gambling on the outcome of the lottery? Will she redouble Government efforts to ensure that every recipient of National Lottery money and every National Lottery partner does everything, relentlessly, to promote the good work the National Lottery does in respect of UK sport?

In short, we need more people from more backgrounds being more active more often. In conclusion, I am sure noble Lords would like to join me in offering our support to all our Olympic and Paralympic athletes as they continue their preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, and beyond.

4.19 pm

Lord Wasserman (Con): My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Moynihan on securing time for this debate on this important subject. I also congratulate my noble friend Lord Hayward on his witty and moving maiden speech. If that speech is a sample of the contribution we can expect from him, we can all agree that this House is very fortunate to number him among our Members.

Sport is a subject on which I feel very strongly. It played a key role in my life. It was partly because of my active participation in sport as a student that I was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, which brought me, all expenses paid, from Montreal to New College, Oxford. That set the course of the rest of my life, so in a sense it is because of sport that I am addressing your Lordships today.

Before I say anything more, I declare my interest as chairman of the Basketball Foundation, which was established by the British Basketball League to encourage the playing of this sport outside schools. I emphasise the words “outside schools” because most people do not appreciate that basketball is the second most

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popular team sport among those aged 11 to 15. Seven out of 10 schools provide it—no prizes for guessing the most popular.

These statistics tend to be greeted by incredulity by most people to whom I mention them, particularly Members of this House. This may be because basketball is a game that is played in state, rather than independent, schools. Nearly all schools entering national basketball competitions are state schools. Contrast this with rowing, for example, where 80% of schools in national competitions are from the independent sector. This might be why basketball is probably the most underappreciated team sport in the country. It might also explain why basketball is so underfunded by government and gets so little attention in the media.

Take the BBC website, which we all consult for scores. If one wants to know the latest British Basketball League scores, one has to click on “Sport”, then “All Sport”, then “A-Z Sport” and then scroll down to the bottom of a long list of almost every sport one can think of. Then comes another tab which says “Full Sports A-Z”. If one clicks on that, one will discover basketball listed between baseball and bowls. While I am a great admirer of both sports—I am an enthusiastic baseball fan—I find it very odd that news about the second most popular team sport among 11 to 15 year-olds should be presented in this way.

I very much hope that the new sport strategy that emerges from the consultation process we are discussing will ensure that the young people who want to play basketball after school have as much opportunity to do so as those who wish to row, or play rugby or tennis. Sadly, I fear that this will not happen unless the new sports strategy really does put equality of opportunity at its heart, as the consultation paper claims it will. The facts are that a very large proportion of those who play basketball live in crowded inner-city areas with limited public sporting facilities and are from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds. Some 35% of the young people who play basketball thanks to the Basketball Foundation are from the most deprived 20% of postcodes in the country. These young people cannot afford to fill the gaps in state-provided sporting facilities from their own private resources. For them, the Government’s sport strategy is the key to participation in sport and to all the good things that such participation brings.

The question is how to reach these young people and how to fulfil the Government’s commitment to using public money to provide more equal opportunity in sport. I suggest an effective and simple way of doing so that does not involve new structures, agencies or tsars, but involves,

“joining up effectively across government”,

as the Minister for Sport urges us to do in her foreword to the consultation document.

We know that the people from disadvantaged backgrounds living in deprived urban areas, to whom I referred, are also those most likely to get sucked into crime and anti-social behaviour. It is a fact that although 14 to 24 year-olds comprise only 10% of the population, they account for over 40% of the crime. And if they go to prison, 67% of them are locked up again within 2 years.

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We also know that the proven benefits of participating in sport such as good health, a sense of self-worth, a better education, a wider set of skills and a better chance of a job also help keep these same young people out of trouble. Indeed, we know that playing sport simply as a way of passing the time will make an enormous difference to these young people, to their lives and to the lives of their neighbours. That is why police and crime commissioners, whose primary mission is to keep their communities safe, are outspoken advocates of sport as a way of keeping young people off the streets and out of trouble. That is why PCCs across the country sponsor a wide range of sporting activities.

I have examples I will not mention because of lack of time, but that happens in Leicester, Cumbria and Staffordshire, where, for example, a PCC launched and funded a summer holiday programme called Space 2015, in which 7,000 youngsters aged between 10 and 16 took part. Some 75% of the activities were sports. Because PCCs have to be local residents, they understand the needs of their communities and, more particularly, the needs of the young people in these communities who are most in need of support and would benefit most from it. Because PCCs are already involved in sponsoring and encouraging sport, they are able to make immediate use of any new money available to them. Because they have at their disposal large teams of police officers and civilians who share their commitment to public safety and their belief in the value of sport, they could get new programmes off the ground in weeks, if not days.

PCCs offer us a perfect mechanism for delivering equality of opportunity in sport to those most in need of it. Using PCCs would also enable the Government to ensure that public money spent on sport contributes to their primary objective, which is to keep us safe. What better way of joining up effectively across government?

I hope that I have made the case for giving PCCs a role in this new joined-up strategy for sports. If I have, I hope my noble friend the Minister will ensure that she involves the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, which stands ready to help, in implementing or developing the strategy. I also hope that she will seek the advice and assistance of the two government departments not mentioned in the consultation paper: the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. Given their responsibilities for community safety, I hope that they, too, can be joined up.

4.27 pm

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, not just on securing this debate but on the, as ever, passionate and authoritative way in which he introduced it. His passion and authority in this subject has been obvious all his life and he has shown that to your Lordships’ House again this afternoon. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, on an outstanding maiden speech. I certainly look forward to future speeches from him in your Lordships’ House.

Sport has many benefits for individuals and for society, not least in physical health, but also in contributing to the skills and attributes of team building—loyalty

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to a team and to a club—learning to respect rules and building confidence. It ensures that people who come from difficult situations are able to build back into their lives some form of routine by taking part in regular activity, particularly in a team environment. Sport also contributes to national pride. But it has a unique ability to combine that pride with the development of cultural understanding between nations and between peoples at the same time.

I want to focus on two points today, not to duplicate anything that has already been said but perhaps to add other perspectives into our discussion, in the hope that the Minister and the Government can respond. I have had the incredible pleasure, particularly when I was First Minister of Scotland, of enjoying some of the great sporting events of the past 15 years. I particularly remember moments such as running through the sports stadia of the Athens Olympics to ensure that I was in the velodrome just in time to see Chris Hoy win his first gold medal for Team GB; or the first night in the swimming pool in Melbourne, when I was sitting next to the Premier of Victoria, who had been boasting to me that morning that the Scots had no chance against the Australians in the swimming pool—only to see Scotland top the leaderboard after Caitlin McClatchey and others had won their first gold medals in the pool that night. I was hoarse for many days afterwards.

The athletes who inspire us on these occasions should be at the centre of our strategy for elite and competitive sport. While those athletes have been increasingly well supported over the years, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, and others have already mentioned, through the National Lottery and other funding schemes, it is also the case that life can be tough for a competitive athlete at the peak of their career. I know from personal experience that athletes sometimes do not fully understand the decisions that are made that have an incredible impact on their lives. They can have spent 10 or 20 years training hour after hour, day after day, in demanding circumstances to reach the level at which they are able to compete across the world, only to find that from year to year decisions on funding, team selection or team organisation affect their performance in ways that they do not understand and which seem to disadvantage them.

Yes, there is a real case for supporting the national governing bodies and the National Lottery and for making a tough effort to ensure that those who deserve the most get the most in our elite sporting programmes. But surely there is also a case for hearing the voice of the athletes themselves and giving them a role in any guidance, in speaking within their own governing bodies and the national sporting bodies in ways that can be heard; for greater transparency in decisions over funding allocations and team selection; and for a greater involvement of athletes in the organisation and preparation of major events. Perhaps the Minister might like to comment on the potential for some kind of statement of athletes’ rights and responsibilities—a charter for athletes, perhaps—that could be built into our national sporting programmes in return for the incredible effort that they put into representing their country.

In relation to athletes who come from Scotland—I am sure that this is also true for those who represent Wales and Northern Ireland—there are issues about

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the fact that these athletes represent both Scotland and the United Kingdom in different international championships and in different teams at different times. Therefore, it is very important that UK Sport and Sport England do not become one and the same organisation but that UK Sport is seen to represent equally all four nations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is particularly true in relation to the allocation of resources and the identification by national governing bodies and by UK Sport of centres of excellence or programmes of excellence, and their location throughout the country. There should be an active promotion at the UK level of different centres throughout the four nations of the UK that can host programmes of excellence, training and other facilities.

There should be a very clear indication in the outcome of this debate on a national strategy for sport that UK Sport will treat all four nations of the UK on an equal basis and that there will be clear distinction between the organisation, management and purpose of UK Sport and those of Sport England. Only through a clear and transparent understanding of that relationship can the structures and the culture be right so that athletes from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland feel genuinely represented at the UK level as well as at their national level. That will be important for their performance and for the encouragement of future generations.

My final point, which follows on from the incredible success of Glasgow 2014, is in relation to major events. Incredible increases have already been seen in Scotland in the membership of local sporting clubs and the use of leisure facilities, in the west of Scotland in particular. Glasgow will hold the world gymnastics championships at the end of this month and there has been an increase in participation in gymnastics clubs of 37% in Scotland since the fabulous events in the Scottish Hydro arena last year during the Commonwealth Games. So that issue of legacy is critical and, again, it applies across the whole of the United Kingdom.

However, I would make one point about something that I have observed over the years at both UK and Scottish levels. The inconsistency of individual Governments—new Governments coming in and abandoning the programmes of the previous Government, only to start their own programmes in school sport, community sport or community facilities—does not contribute to a long-term investment in the physical activity of the nation. I therefore urge the Government to do what they can to ensure that any new strategy for sport is all-party in nature, so that it can withstand the tests of time and the turbulence of politics, and ensure that the next generation has years in which to flourish and not just one parliamentary term.

4.36 pm

Lord Framlingham (Con): My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Moynihan on introducing this debate and my noble friend Lord Hayward on his maiden speech. I am fascinated that, as a referee, he understood what happened in the front row—he is probably the only person on earth who does.

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Sadly, sport and money have become inextricably linked both in people’s minds—even young people’s minds—and in reality. Sport is no longer seen as simply fun to play and enjoy but as a possible lead to a career as a player, coach, administrator, pundit or commentator. There are now university degrees in sport. It has become big business. The problem is that sport of all kinds is exciting to watch, and in these days when television screens have to be filled and advertisers’ demands met, it has become an easy peg on which to hang all sorts of commercial interests. Sepp Blatter is perhaps the worst example of someone succumbing to the temptation from lots of money sloshing around in his sport but—and I am not suggesting any dishonesty at all—so many people now at all levels have a commercial finger in the sporting pie.

I take as my example the game of rugby union. It is not only topical but a game I know quite well—I spent many happy years playing for the Bedford club and I venture to suggest that I am the only Member of your Lordships’ House to have played against the Springboks. Until some 20 years ago, there were two quite distinctive and separate codes in rugby: rugby union, which was amateur, and rugby league, which was a professional game. Then a movement started to turn rugby union professional. Two reasons were given for this: first, that union players were already being paid, which they were not; and, secondly, that we would never compete with the southern hemisphere teams unless we paid our players as they did, which in turn was untrue. The true motivation, I am sad to say, was pure greed. We have paid our players from that time on and, from an English point of view, the results are there for all to see.

At the time, as a Member of Parliament and with the support of my son who, like me, is a Cambridge blue, I tried desperately to persuade our unique game to stay amateur. I wrote to every club in the land but, although many did not want to do it, I was told that it was inevitable. Nothing is inevitable, apart of course from death and taxes. I remember standing on the terrace of the House of Commons with the late, great Cliff Morgan, who was totally opposed to professionalism. He agreed that if I started an amateur rugby union, he would be its first president. But the tide against us at that time was too strong and we bowed to the inevitable. So a great and unique game was lost and a new one has evolved, with its laws constantly tweaked to try to make it more exciting for the paying customer.

In reality, as winning has become all-important, rugby has become more brutal and more dangerous, with little room for traditional flair and skill. Sadly, parents encourage children to emulate top players. Mini rugby is all the rage. Hits are encouraged. In my day, you did not run through a player; you tried to run round him. Rugby is a contact sport, nevertheless, and should not be played, for all sorts of reasons, until at least the age of 11. All the wrong attitudes and ambitions are being encouraged from the touchline, and injuries abound. Despite everything, winning is not everything. For every winner, there must be a loser. Children should be taught to play hard but to win with modesty and lose with cheerfulness.

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In the current Rugby World Cup—and “World” has to be taken with a commercial pinch of salt, as only 20 countries are involved and only a handful have any chance of winning—the so-called second-tier countries have played all the best rugby in the right spirit and provided the most fun and excitement. The first-tier countries, from whom the ultimate winner is expected to come, practise what is basically all-in wrestling, with the occasional pass, kick and chase thrown in. The referee is now the most important player, aided by his camera and microphone. He talks non-stop and is ruining the game. His decisions in the World Cup have decided game after game.

The game has become too brutal and dangerous. Very serious injuries occur regularly. Soon, there will be a call for helmets to be worn, as in American football. Already, commentators and pundits—who have multiplied incredibly—are preparing the way for American football terminology. We hear about “fumbles”, “carries” and the “first receiver”. The destination is clear. What parent in their right mind would want their child to play this game in the long term?

What can be done? We must acknowledge what professionalism has created and accept that the game for young people is not what it was. It is dangerous and no longer fit for purpose. Today’s debate is entitled, “A New Strategy for Sport”, and perhaps we must, under a new umbrella organisation, encourage schools and universities to get together and amend the laws for their own use to recapture the essence of the old amateur game—and in so doing recapture the joy and excitement created by William Webb Ellis at Rugby School so long ago. The present manufactured monster can then continue its lumbering, commercial, American journey.

Despite all my concerns, I still retain a huge affection for the game and will be watching the matches this coming weekend and wishing all the home nations still in the competition the very best of luck.

4.43 pm

Lord St John of Bletso (CB): My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for introducing this topical and very important debate. It is important as it is the second time that we have debated a strategy paper—the first being in 2002 and the second at this topical time with the Rugby World Cup.

I fundamentally disagree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Framlingham, that rugby is now a dangerous sport. The thought of wearing rugby helmets is unheard of. Nevertheless, that is not for now. Certainly, the exit of the English team was somewhat unfortunate, but it has displayed that the teams from the southern hemisphere—I would say this because I originate from South Africa—are in a different league. I note that the noble Lord, Lord Addington, disagrees with me.

The consultation paper gives an excellent overview of some of the key opportunities but also some of the major challenges which we need to address to promote more participation in sport across the country. I wish to take up the challenge mentioned by the Minister of Sport, Tracey Crouch, who has been here for most of this debate, when she said:

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“We need to consider how we make sure that everyone—no matter who they are and no matter what their ability—has the opportunity to take part”,

in sport.

In my allotted time, I will devote my remarks to three areas. The first is what can be done to promote rugby at grass-roots level, to be played by not just boys but also girls, and in not just private schools but also state schools, as well as at universities after children leave school, and in clubs for those who do not go to university. Secondly, I want to follow up on some of the recommendations that many noble Lords mentioned on how to promote more participation in sport. Thirdly, I will talk briefly about the importance of youth clubs.

A week before the start of the Rugby World Cup, I asked a Starred Question as to what steps our Government are taking to maximise the grass-roots impact of hosting the tournament. I did so because, in January 2012, the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, declared that the Government would establish at least 1,300 partnerships between schools and rugby clubs, making it easier for young people to continue playing rugby union after leaving education. The Minister answered that the RFU was,

“well on its way to meeting that target by 2017. It has 960 new links between clubs, schools and colleges in its targeted work”.—[

Official Report

, 10/9/15; col. 1481.]

She went on to say that much has been done to promote rugby with women and girls’ clubs.

The RFU is to be congratulated for starting up the All Schools programme that works with secondary state schools, many of which have never played rugby before. Rugby union has traditionally been played mostly by private schools—I was amused by the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Wasserman, when he said that basketball is played traditionally just in state schools. The All Schools programme plans to take rugby to 750 secondary state schools in England as part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup legacy. If it achieves that and gets to these schools by 2019, that could result in more than 1 million boys and girls playing rugby. That would be a commendable legacy of the Rugby World Cup.

The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, rightly remarked that sports participation since 2012 is in decline. Several suggestions have been made as to how to increase participation. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, recommended that incentives should be given to local authorities to promote sport with more leisure centres. More focus needs to be placed on stronger governance and better leadership. I would also like to see more marketing campaigns promoting the health benefits of playing sport. Certainly, more can be done to promote more partnerships between sports bodies and non-sports organisations and government departments. Finally, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, mentioned, we need more access to good coaches and sport professionals.

One initiative not mentioned so far in this debate or in the report is the important role traditionally played by youth and social clubs across the country. Youth social clubs play a pivotally important role targeting children, a lot of whom come from deprived backgrounds with a lack of sports and recreational facilities. The clubs

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provide not just the opportunity to participate in a wide range of sports, but also assist in teaching core job-related skills, such as plumbing and building and also provide religious activities. Sadly, many of these clubs are closing down through lack of adequate funding.

In conclusion, I warmly welcome the aims of this consultation paper A New Strategy for Sport. If properly managed and co-ordinated, it will go a long way towards promoting more participation in all sports. However, we need to be realistic. Many would hope that we will win many more gold medals at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Brazil next year. I think that is highly “un-Rio-listic”.

4.50 pm

Baroness Heyhoe Flint (Con): My Lords, my noble friend Lord Moynihan has demonstrated impeccable timing—a trait of this fine sportsman—by securing this debate so soon after the Government closed their consultation, A New Strategy for Sport. For that I congratulate him. I would also like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, on his dynamic maiden speech. If his political contributions match his sense of humour, I think we are in for a fine time in this Chamber.

I welcome this most important debate. It is 13 years since Parliament has had a chance to deliberate such proposals from DCMS, and I declare my interests as a member of the England and Wales Cricket Board and vice-president of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club—a noble role indeed. Having consulted with six major sports plus the Sports and Recreation Alliance, which represents over 300 governing bodies, I am not in the least bit surprised that a core governance theme has emerged: that the importance of public policy and investment decisions for sport by government must be joined up. This theme has already been mentioned both here and in the strategy introduction by my honourable friend the Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch. The DCMS, she states, is not the only government department that cares about sport.

The “We care about sports” pledges are emphasised throughout the report. In the consultation document, 10 key headline themes are contributed by 10 different government departments, which all praise the huge benefits that can be secured through sport and recreation to improve the health of the nation. Now, we must ask my noble friend the Minister whether the various Ministers, with their encouraging words for sport, will be supported by financial backing for the project.

David Gauke, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, states:

“It is therefore crucial that Government and sport work together to consider new ways of ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the sector, building on—but not relying on—public funding”.

That last line sounds rather ominous, given the looming government spending reviews. Both the FA and ECB urge two main thrusts: the final strategy must have genuine support from across government, and government should be more co-ordinated in using sport to deliver public policy outcomes, with particular emphasis on how the two key departments, health and education, should support sport.

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NGBs should own the strategic development of their sport and create a long-term delivery plan covering all ages and genders, from the grassroots to the elite level—and not forgetting disabilities.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance suggests that the cross-departmental nature of the consultation is welcome, but the commitment from government departments must go beyond encouraging words. It must manifest itself in understanding the role that sport and recreation can play in achieving its objectives by supporting such action through—here we go again—joined-up, co-ordinated investment. I therefore urge my noble friend the Minister and the Minister for Sport to bring together the 10 government departments represented in the strategy to build a sense of purpose, knowledge and expectation in sport policy delivery, backed by accountability and strong governance. When she has got them all together, please can she lock the door of the room until they have come to some sort of agreement?

Another plea is for a joined-up strategy, with government investment in sport being made in a collective manner, thus erasing wasted opportunities and funding. Given the right financial contributions, NGBs can establish vital policy priorities to improve the health of the nation and its physical and mental well-being, increase educational attainment and participation and bind communities together through socially cohesive economic growth.

The ECB also urges co-ordination of messaging on tax issues through the SRA to focus on community amateur sports clubs’ and NGBs’ expenditure. NGBs set the strategy but fundamentally create partnerships with local authorities and charities, which should be welcomed. The Youth Sport Trust national charity, which has 20 years’ experience in delivering high-quality PE, sport and physical activities in schools, was sadly hit by the withdrawal of government funding by the Department for Education in 2011. This decision had pan-departmental implications and serves as a poignant reminder of why such decisions should not be taken in isolation.

A strong relationship between sport and recreation and local authorities is critical, as has already been mentioned. All local authorities should have a duty to provide a sports and leisure strategy, including preserving recreational space and facilities and offering working partnerships. My beloved football club, Wolves, offers a good example of such a partnership. For several years, the Wolves Community Trust has delivered key messages providing health education, promoting healthy eating and encouraging physical activity for all ages—and I am not talking about the players. Even a Nordic walking programme for adults was devised. Key to this success is the positive partnership Wolves Community Trust established with local partners West Midlands Police, the former primary care trust and local authority schools. Recently in Wolverhampton, public health, which is now within the local authority, has provided funding to deliver a series of workshops for young people in the city and its environs, featuring issues such as employability, sexual health, knife crime and a diabetes programme.

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I commend this new strategy for sport. Now let us urge its implementation and witness joined-up government policy and investment, which must be a win-win for all sport.

4.58 pm

Baroness Billingham (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is to be thanked for initiating this debate today. The consultation paper’s title is A New Strategy for Sport, to which I would add “before it is too late”. There are some questions it is best not to ask, and this is one. If the Government seek answers to why their sports strategy has gone so horribly wrong, the reply has to be along the lines of, “Your Government, your time in office and your decisions”. The consultation paper seeks to pull together all the ministries that have a crucial impact on sport in England. We must have co-operation between Ministers, and topics such as participation, funding, coaching, governance and provision of sport for those with physical disabilities are essential, but I maintain that they are irrelevant when we consider the real problem underlying the miserable decline in sport and participation.

The decline is even more astonishing, given the amazing opportunities given to sport in the past decade. Could the marvellous London Olympics have been more inspirational? Could more funding have been made available to our athletes? No. The support was unstinting. Could Andy Murray have done more to create a new generation of tennis players? Yet again, the answer has to be no.

Alongside these positive factors, individual sports organisations have performed extremely well, with UK Sport, Sport England and the governing bodies all promoting and encouraging greater participation. By any judgment, it should have been a launch pad to success. However, it has not, and the decline in participation is quite horrendous. The blame has to be laid at the Government’s door, and they have to rectify it.

There appears to be a terminal decline in participation, with very few exceptions. The facts and figures tell their own story. How, given the positive climate for the provision of sport, could this have happened? The simple answer is the Government’s inability to inspire and promote grass-roots sports across the whole country, and the failure of the Government to put sport itself into state schools, both secondary and primary, and give a sporting opportunity to the around 90% of our young people who attend state schools, against the 7% who are educated in independent schools.

I honestly thought that we had turned the corner in the late 1990s. Sport was brought into the central part of the state school curriculum, with two hours of sport guaranteed, specialist PE staff employed and funding given for enhanced facilities. At last, I thought, sport has its rightful place in grass-roots sport across the nation. Alas, though, the dead hand of Michael Gove, when Education Secretary, throttled those aspirations. He slashed sport from the school curriculum, inadequately ring-fenced funding for school sports and added insult to injury by selling off more than 10,000 playing fields. There has been no attempt to replace those lost fields since.

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The divide between state and independent schools cannot be overemphasised. Take a look at the sporting provision in your nearest independent school: wonderful playing fields, ample time in the school day and outside it, and extra PE staff. If your Lordships do not believe me, listen to the Chief Inspector of Schools, Michael Wilshaw, who warned us that sport was now an optional extra for many state schools. It is not only old Labour lags like me who are constantly demanding a change in the Government’s policies for sport. Our own illustrious lordly Olympians, the noble Lords, Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan, have bravely added to the voices of the Opposition. State school children have to rely on sporting parents to give them a chance.

The downwards graph of decline will continue unless there is change. The outcome will be dire for participation, health and sporting success. We saw last week the humiliating spectacle of England’s rugby team being eliminated early in an event hosted, promoted and lavishly funded by England. That will become the norm, especially in team sports. Thank heavens for the Davis Cup, where our Scots brothers can take us to victory in a few weeks’ time.

However, much can be done to improve the situation. Let us look again at grass-roots provision, bring back school sports for all our youngsters and, while we are at it, why not provide sport more vigorously in universities and colleges? The Americans are creaming off our best sports men and women, offering huge scholarships and robbing us of our future sports stars. My suggestion to the Government is: forget this irrelevant consultation paper and, as someone once said, go back to basics. Sport can be rescued but only if we make fundamental changes. It has to be worth the effort. I hope the Minister can take back these perhaps discomfiting messages, because these issues have to be addressed before we can see genuine improvement in the future of sport in this country.

5.04 pm

Lord Naseby (Con): My Lords, my noble friend Lord Moynihan is one of the terrier-like politicians that we have in this country. We are all the more grateful for that because we are all believers in sport and hope to assist him this afternoon.

I enormously welcome my noble friend Lord Hayward. He and I did a bit of canvassing in Bedford. Somehow we managed to walk together; he is much fitter than I am, but I kept up. I have to remind him, however, that this is a self-governing Chamber. There are no referees here, just self-governing restrictions.

I have the privilege of being nearly 79; I think I have played eight sports quite reasonably. Sadly, I now have the advantage of having two artificial knees, but nevertheless I am delighted to say that I shall be turning out in a fortnight’s time as president of the all-party parliamentary golf society to play in the annual golf match.

I will raise four issues in a message to Her Majesty’s Government. First, I congratulate all our Governments who have taken big sporting events seriously. Of course I think in particular of the Olympics, of which we all have memories—and, again, my noble friend Lord Moynihan played an absolutely crucial role. That was

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followed by the Rugby World Cup, and we should say thank you to those in government who were responsible for that. In 2019 we face the Cricket World Cup—I declare an interest as president of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club—and there we have another opportunity to do something really exciting. I have consulted with my noble friends Lord MacLaurin and Lady Heyhoe Flint—the latter is sitting on the Bench with me today. I think that we in Parliament should do something in relation to that, and I have volunteered to the ECB to try to be a catalyst to make it happen.

Secondly, we and the Government need to recognise that hundreds of thousands of men and women, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, go out at weekends and in the evenings with their children, to organise, help, support and cheer on whatever sport their children, or they, are involved in. That means that we must say a huge thank you to them. On 10 September I went to the All England Club, because I am a member there, although I am no longer able to play tennis, to listen to a talk on what it calls Beyond the Baseline. It is a mentoring session taken by those who are currently or have been professional tennis players, who mentor children who are having some difficulty in handling life socially one way or the other. It is a very exciting programme. Admittedly, it is only in 27 schools now, but it is a foundation for something very exciting.

After that I had the opportunity to talk to the Tennis Foundation and I asked them, “What can we do to take some of these things forward in life?”. My noble friend Lord Moynihan mentioned the number of hours of sport. He is absolutely right. Four hours, which is the figure he gave, is not asking too much. Secondly, teachers have not been mentioned. It is absolutely fundamental that every primary school teacher, whatever size or shape he or she may be, is trained to teach sport. That would help a great deal.

I also look at the world of cricket, which I love greatly. I was not terribly good at it, but I am still very active in it. There are myriad bodies there: the Lord’s and Lady Taverners, Chance to Shine, local charities, and the MCC. In Northamptonshire we have just supported locally the Fred Trueman State School Cricket League, which gives complete sets of kit to state schools. On top of that, of course, we have the ECB. There are all these bodies, and I say thank you to all of them. The big change I have seen recently is that integration gender-wise is progressing, with girls’ and ladies’ cricket coming on wonderfully. The ethnic dimension is so obvious for cricket because, quite frankly, most of the ethnic communities can play cricket far better than we can. But—and this is a big but—both government and governing bodies cannot just take this for granted. They have to understand that dealing with volunteers can be a sensitive relationship. If you understand that sensitivity, the relationship will succeed, but if you begin to direct too strongly, it will wilt away.

With regard to governing bodies, I shall give two examples where there are slight danger signals. On rugby, I read in the press that the RFU is contemplating moving the Six Nations, or part of it, to the north. I am all for involving the north in rugby, but some things are fairly sacrosanct and that one needs to be

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looked at very carefully. Secondly, we have a lot going for us in the world of cricket. There are some very exciting developments. We have to be a little bit careful that commercialisation does not take over to the detriment of the grass roots—which in this case are the 18 counties.

Finally, I look at local government. I am very lucky: I was a Member for Northampton, where the county council and borough council are involved in rugby, cricket, football and motor racing. It is a good case history that my noble friend on the Front Bench might like to take note of.

And really finally, I get tired of reading in the press that MPs are being criticised for taking part in sport. We should recognise that we need fit MPs, not those who put on too much weight. I hope that my noble friend—I will speak to the Minister of Sport as well—will make it quite clear to the press that it is a requirement of our public servants to be fit and to take part in sport.

5.11 pm

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): Compulsory press-ups all round!

My Lords, I start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for securing this debate and for his impeccable timing, as has already been mentioned, in allowing us, at the very last minute, to feed into the consultations around the Government’s publication. He is a human dynamo when it comes to sports policy. He is everywhere and his productivity must be unmeasurable. He ought to be bottled and put into the British economy so that we can stop whinging on about it, because he seems to know how to do things. I am also particularly grateful to him for making what I think has been the only laudatory reference to my friend Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, who got it right on sport. He is to be listened to on many subjects but is very much out of fashion at the moment, although there may be changes down the corridor that mean that some of the times over which he presided may well be regarded as sunny uplands in the current state of play.

I thank all speakers for their contributions. It has been a very good debate, and I am only sorry—this is meant as no disrespect to those who did speak—that an administrative problem seems to have withdrawn the opportunity to take part from the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough. Her contribution, particularly in relation to the Olympics, would have been very helpful to us.

I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, on his maiden speech. He will soon realise that his rate of progress in making speeches following his introduction—a point picked up by his noble friend Lord Holmes—raises expectations, but on this occasion he certainly satisfied them. It will have done a huge amount of good to the interests that he represents to have seen that tie represented on these Benches, and the words that he said about discrimination will resonate far beyond this Chamber. I am grateful to him for that.

We on this side welcome the fact that the Government recognise that there is a failure in sports participation. I want to make only two points in relation to the document, which I thought was extremely good: the

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proportion of people taking part in sport once a week is lower than it was in 2009-10, despite the 2012 Games, and the percentage of those on the lowest incomes participating in sport has hit the lowest level since records began.

The consultation paper pulls no punches, which possibly tells us why it was published in the depths of the recess, but it should be praised for its recognition that this is a whole-of-government issue—a point picked up by a number of speakers. It is good to read that a single government department like DCMS does not expect to solve all the problems on its own, and I am sure that the Minister will want to reflect widely across the possible responses that may come back from the whole of government on this matter, because it is necessary to do so.

However, this is not a government-only issue. We have to recognise that all the various agencies, all the clubs and all the volunteers—as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby—right across the country have to pull together if we are to salvage something from this. There is a real problem and, although the paper is a bit sketchy on the reasons for the present crisis, many people, including my noble friend Lady Billingham, suggest that a number of the decisions taken by the previous Government have impacted badly on sport, particularly where they have involved the cutting of activity or sport in schools.

As another snapshot, since 2010, fewer children are participating in a minimum of two hours a week. It is worse for girls and even worse for black and minority ethnic children and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. That, together with a decline in adult participation, is what is causing the difficulty.

Of course, the problem of young people losing interest in physical recreational activity is not a new one. It was first identified in a report in 1960 by Wolfenden. Successive Governments have attempted to tackle the issue for more than 50 years, and I do not think we can look at any particular period with any feeling that they cracked the problem. It is, of course, relatively easy to provide for those who have private resources and are enthusiastic about sport, but we have to work much harder to encourage those who are not so blessed. Our aim must be to encourage more and more young people to keep up with a sporting habit and to remain physically active throughout their adult lives. As the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, said, more people from more backgrounds need to be more active more of the time. That is a wonderful aphorism.

To achieve this, we have to be prepared to offer a broad mix of choices that include competitive and non-competitive physical recreational activities—a choice so that children will find a sport that they enjoy and wish to take forward in their adult lives. In this way, we can bridge the gap between children leaving school and leaving sport and getting them back when they are in the community.

A number of noble Lords have mentioned the following point, but I want to emphasise it. The loss of interest in sport is, of course, particularly acute for young girls, whose participation drops off rapidly through secondary school. Although participation levels

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are lower for girls throughout primary school, the difference is only three or five percentage points; but by year 11, the average difference between boys and girls has gone up to 13 percentage points. There is therefore a real problem here and I hope that when the Minister comes to respond, given the interest she has previously expressed in your Lordships’ House, she will want to pick up on it.

I cannot understand why we cannot find a way forward on this, because sport is every bit as important for women as it is for men. Some 80% of women are not doing enough exercise, according to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, and 1.8 million fewer women than men play sport regularly. The great gap is in the teenage years, but women from disadvantaged groups also participate less. Nevertheless, surveys show that the majority of inactive women would like to participate and a majority of active women would like to participate in more sports. Building on good practice and successful programmes, we have to be able to find ways to tackle these issues and get more women and girls engaged with sport.

In passing, it is also important to note that women are not represented in the numbers that they should be on governing bodies or in coaching. This point has been picked up as well. The overall percentage of women on boards of national governing bodies is 27%, and on nearly half the boards, women make up less than a quarter of the membership. If young women are going to be inspired to get involved in sport, we also need to see them in places of influence within sport. This will also help ensure that the specific needs of women are considered better at every level within the sport, which has not happened in the past.