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Olympic/Paralympic Games: Legacy

Volume 558: debated on Thursday 14 February 2013

1. What steps her Department is taking to secure a legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. (143148)

I am sure that you will not find it inappropriate for me to wish you, Mr Speaker, a happy Valentine’s day, although I am sure that I am not the first person to have done so this morning.

The Government are clear about our vision to deliver legacy over the next 10 years, and we have already made substantial progress across the five core areas: sport and healthy living, economic, community, regeneration of east London and the Paralympics.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Mr Speaker.

For sport in our country, 2012 was a fantastic year, but it is vital that we follow it up over the next few years, especially with the young people we have the greatest potential to influence. In my constituency, a charity called Kids Run Free organises events to get young people passionate about exercise and sets up races that are available to school and pre-school age groups. The races have spread across the west midlands and the charity is eager to do more. What support are the Government giving to innovative charities such as Kids Run Free, and how can we ensure that they get the resources they need so that we can build a long-lasting Olympic legacy?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to pay tribute to organisations such as the one he mentions in his community, which can inspire young people to get involved in sport and stay involved. The Government are supporting those organisations through our youth and community sport strategy, in which £1 billion is being invested over the next five years. Along with the work of Sport England, that makes us well placed to capitalise on the momentum from the Olympic and Paralympic games.

The Government initially tried to scrap school sports partnerships completely but then changed their mind and put some funding back in. How many of their targets for school sports participation are being met these days?

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will have read in the press that Ofsted has produced an important report, in which it found that there has been an improvement in the provision of school sport since 2008. Everyone in the House would applaud that, but clearly we want to do more to build on the momentum from the Olympics and Paralympics. That is why we are continuing to put forward investment for the school games, which we think is an important legacy project, but we will continue to look at how we can ensure that teachers are able to provide the physical literacy that we know young people need.

I commend my right hon. Friend for the Government’s work to achieve a lasting legacy, but I ask her to focus on the financial legacy, particularly the money that was left within the budget and not spent. She will be aware of the big lottery refund campaign, now supported by more than 3,300 charities, which is pressing for that money to be returned. I know that it is the Government’s intention to do so, but can she indicate when that will occur?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to bring that up. The lottery’s financial role in many organisations’ lives is pivotal. We cannot yet finalise the accounts, so it would be a little premature of me to give any indication about it or when it might happen, but I certainly understand the point he makes. Organisations want to know how that will work as we move forward.

I thank the Minister for her comments so far. Northern Ireland played a very significant role in participating and medal-winning for Team GB at the Olympics. What discussions has she had with the equivalent Minister in Northern Ireland to ensure that the legacy from the Olympics will also be in place for the young people in Northern Ireland who want a chance to be an Olympian?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that every corner of this great nation pulled together and supported the Olympics in a fantastic way. The Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Hugh Robertson), has a committee that looks particularly at sport participation, and the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Cabinet Committee, which I chair, is looking at how we can make sure that that participation continues to grow over time in every part of the country. There are also local organisations dealing with this in the hon. Gentleman’s part of the United Kingdom.