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Competitive Sport

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

It feels a little like the aftermath of the lord mayor’s show, Mr Speaker.

The Government are committed to encouraging young people to participate in competitive sport, principally through the introduction of the new school games tournament. The school games will roll out this September and give pupils of all abilities the chance to compete regularly against each other in a wide range of sports at local, county and national level. The first national finals will take place in the Olympic park in 2012.

I thank the Minister for that reply and welcome plans for the school games, which should help to provide a lasting sporting legacy for London 2012. Such a lasting legacy was under threat from the previous Government’s constant diversion of national lottery funding away from sport to other pet projects. What have this Government done to prevent that from happening in future?

The simple answer is that we have increased the amount of money that sport gets though the lottery back up to the 20% originally envisaged in the mid-1990s.

Is it not the case that opportunities for competitive sport will be cut, because the Government are slashing funding for school sport by 80%, forcing local councils to go too far and too fast with public spending cuts, closing facilities, sacking sports coaches and increasing fees and charges for local community and amateur sports clubs?

That question seems to ignore the economic backdrop that we have inherited. This decision is necessary precisely because the previous Government, of whom the hon. Gentleman was a part, left a financial crisis that sees us paying £120 million in interest charges each and every day. It is against that backdrop that we have increased the amount of money going into sport and made the changes that I outlined in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans). We will continue to do everything we can to drive up participation in sport.