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Sports Strategy

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 3 December 2015

The Department’s own “Taking Part” figures show that children’s participation has dropped under this Government. The number of five to 15-year-olds playing competitive sport outside school has dropped 19%. Given that my city, the great city of Stoke-on-Trent, has been awarded European City of Sport for next year, when are the Government going to give us some detail, stop talking and start delivering so that my constituents can get the most out of next year?

The hon. Lady has to wait only a very short time to see what the Government will be doing to deliver a brand-new policy on sport. Making sure that children participate in sport at a very early age is incredibly important. We know that if children develop the habit of sport at a very early age, it is something that they will continue. If she can bear with us for a few more days, I hope that she will get the answer to her question in more detail.

I know that the Minister is very keen on increasing participation in sport. Is she aware of the work of Wheels for All, a Lancashire charity which allows cycling for those with a disability? It is concerned that its activity levels are not being included in the Government’s activity survey because it does not count as sporting. There is too much focus on elite paralympic sport and not enough on activity levels that benefit the disabled community.

My hon. Friend makes a really good point. The previous sports strategy relied on only two crude measurements around participation and medals. As I have indicated during previous discussions in the House, the new sports strategy will look beyond those two measures to see what social value sport brings to the community. That of course will mean that nobody should be prevented from participating in sport or any kind of physical activity.

Any new strategy should involve the participation of more ladies and girls but must also address obesity, particularly at primary school level. Can the Minister say what discussions she has had with our Health Minister to address that issue?

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that I regularly meet Ministers across all Departments, but especially Health and Education Ministers. The new sports strategy is cross-departmental and will deal with many different issues. We will ensure that it aligns carefully with what the Department of Health is doing in the long term to combat obesity and childhood obesity.