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Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

7. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department’s expenditure on climbing in raising participation levels of young people in the sport. (269389)

No overall assessment of the effectiveness of expenditure on climbing in raising participation levels of young people has been commissioned by my Department. However, the school sport survey demonstrates that mountaineering is offered by 13 per cent. of schools, which is up from 7 per cent. in 2003-04. Climbing is also proving very popular among young people through the Sport Unlimited project, which is managed by Sport England as part of the Government’s PE and sport strategy for young people. Nottinghamshire county sports partnership alone is investing around £8,000 in the period 2009-10 in climbing schemes that will involve more than 200 children and young people.

Given that so many hon. Members are desperate to join the parliamentary climbing club—and they are welcome to do so—will the Minister, in the week of the British Mountaineering Council’s annual general meeting, congratulate the sport on the way in which it has involved a wide range of young people in recent years? Will he also undertake to liaise with his colleagues in the Department for Children, Schools and Families about the excellent myplace initiative, which involves the funding of more than 20 new climbing walls this year, and ensure that the BMC and his Department are fully involved in the design features of those walls?

I am happy to support what my hon. Friend has said. I pay tribute to him for his work with the British Mountaineering Council. I was happy to host a reception at No. 10 last year for the council. What impressed me most was the breadth and depth of skills among those mountaineers and climbers. The point that my hon. Friend mentioned about the offer of climbing in school sport is also important. We are trying to widen participation and the number of sports available to young people, and climbing is one of the sports that can help us do that. We will continue to work with climbing and the BMC.