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Sport Participation

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 28 April 2011

3. What assessment he has made of the effect on participation in sport at youth level of the outcome of the comprehensive spending review. (52626)

The comprehensive spending review period started only on 1 April, so no formal assessment has yet been made. However, the increase in lottery funding for sport and the inspirational effect of hosting events such as the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics should encourage more young people to participate in sport.

I am grateful to the Minister for his response. Without the Newham-Barnsley partnership, London 2012 would be having little impact in my constituency. Will the Minister look at ways of using the example of the Newham-Barnsley partnership as a means of increasing youth participation in sport?

Does the Minister agree that holding the Olympics in London inspires youth participation in sport across the whole country?

Again, the answer is simply yes. Of course, there is not only the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics: in its wake a serious number of major events are coming to this country, including the rugby league world cup, rugby union world cup, cricket world cup and a number of competitions such as the world canoeing championships, which we have just secured. A host of sports events are coming to this country after 2012 that will have exactly that effect.

Will the Minister agree to study carefully the results of the survey that my right hon. Friend the shadow Education Secretary and I have undertaken on the expectations of sports partnership development managers regarding the impact of funding cuts on school sport? Does he share my concern that partnership development managers expect a decrease in the number of competitive events and sports in which children can participate? A significant number of them, some 90%, consider that that there will be a reduction in the number of children taking part in sport. Does he share my concern that if those predictions materialise, it will put at risk the legacy promise of transforming a generation of children through sport?

Yes. As with anything the right hon. Lady says or gives to me, I will consider it extremely carefully. We have to be absolutely clear about the matters to which she refers. They are matters for the Department for Education, not this Department, although clearly we keep a close eye on them. Everybody recognises that we are delivering this against a troubled economic backdrop and that there has to be less money available than there would have been. That would have happened whichever party was in power. Set against that, we have to make the most of the opportunities available to us. I am convinced that by safeguarding the whole sport plan funding and by introducing the schools Olympics, we are doing everything we can against a challenging backdrop to make the most of this fantastic opportunity. However, I will look at what she says carefully.