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Grassroots Sport

Volume 671: debated on Thursday 13 February 2020

The Government are committed to making sure that everyone is able to participate in sport and physical activity, regardless of their background or ability. Sport England is investing over £1 billion of lottery and Exchequer funding in grassroots sports over the period 2017 to 2021 to support a physically active nation.

As we all know, rugby is in the blood of the Welsh, but in Wrexham football is prevalent. Would the Minister like to accompany me to Wrexham rugby club to see the work it and Welsh Rugby Union are doing to introduce grassroots rugby to the children of Wrexham?

Of course, I would love to go to Wrexham. I would love to go to Wrexham regardless of whether I have still got the job. I can tell my hon. Friend that it will not be my first visit. If anybody remembers, Goole Town—the mighty Goole Town—played Wrexham in the FA cup third round in 1976, and I was there. If anybody can tell me the score, there will be a prize for them.

I would like to thank my hon. Friend for her interest in this area. Nowhere has a richer rugby heritage than Wales. I would like to offer my commiserations on Wales’s disappointing Six Nations result on Saturday—a valiant clash—but we look forward to 7 March. She will know that sport is a devolved matter, but I look forward—fingers crossed—to coming to Wrexham very shortly.

At the moment, horse racing is the only sport where there is a levy from gambling. Are the Government considering taking a levy from gambling in other sports to pay for grassroots sports participation, given that there has been a 20% drop since 2010 in grassroots cricket and tennis?

The hon. Member will be aware that there is huge investment going into grassroots sport, no more so than the £550 million that we announced for grassroots football. Of course, currently the lottery does play a big part in grassroots sport, and Exchequer funding goes in. She asks about the levy. We have no plans currently to introduce a levy on other sports, but like any Government, we keep an open mind.

Just a few years ago, Buckingham Ladies hockey team were using marmite jars on a table top to plan their tactics, and they had only five players and no goalkeeper, but I am delighted to say that, on 2 February, they lifted the cup, winning the Jaffa Super 6s final. Will my hon. Friend join me in warmly congratulating Buckingham Ladies, and let me know what plans the Government have to support more teams like them to thrive?

First, I congratulate my hon. Friend on taking his seat; it is great that Buckingham has a Conservative MP once again. I also congratulate Buckingham Ladies: what a fantastic effort to win the Jaffa Super 6s. I really encourage my hon. Friend to get the club to engage with local representatives from Sport England. These are exactly the sorts of clubs we need to nurture and see grow.