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Volume 648: debated on Thursday 1 November 2018

13. What assessment he has made of the correlation between the number of professional tennis tournaments played in the UK and the level of domestic participation in that sport. (907408)

Mr Speaker, I know that you would not want to miss out on any information about tennis. The Lawn Tennis Association continually reviews the number of professional events held in this country with the international tennis associations. As the hon. Gentleman knows, Britain has the world’s greatest tournament, Wimbledon, and also hosts the Association of Tennis Professionals world tour finals, which will celebrate its 10th year being held at the O2 later this month. We continue to encourage participation in tennis, with more than £9 million given to the LTA between 2017 and 2021 to encourage more participation.

As I was saying, the Secretary of State is absolutely right to talk about our world-class tournaments, but at challenger and future levels, we have far fewer tournaments than the other major European nations. Holding tournaments right across the UK is an important part of the participation strategy, so what more can the Secretary of State tell us about what he is saying to the LTA about getting tournaments held throughout the country at that lower level?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is important. The other important thing he will recognise is the development of the talent pipeline to give young players the opportunity to play in more and more tournaments. I should have made it clear that part of the £9 million I referred to in my previous answer is for the development of the talent pipeline. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says and we will do anything more that we can.

Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating England Hockey on the successful hosting of the women’s world cup this summer? Does he support the Hockey Futures programme, which was launched off the back of that tournament to encourage more young people from all walks of life to get the health and social benefits of playing hockey?

Yes, the question was about the UK, but the main question was about professional tennis tournaments, not random activities in the UK. Nevertheless, although entirely disorderly, the hon. Gentleman’s question was quite fun, so let us hear the answer.