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Sport and Physical Education

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 5 June 2008

rose to call attention to the case for a new sport and physical education strategy; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I raised the important subject of sport and physical recreation in a debate in this House some months ago. I make no apologies for raising the issue again today, as sport and physical activity are so important to the nation’s well-being. That cannot be overstated.

In my 38 years as a Member of this House and of the other place, I have long argued the case for a higher government priority to be given to sport and the promotion of physical activity. What has happened over the past 10 years? There have been huge advances under this Government. I was shadow Minister for Sport for five years up to the 1997 general election, and I was the author of the sport manifesto Labour’s Sporting Nation. It is particularly pleasing to me, therefore, to see that so many of the commitments that we made in that manifesto have come to fruition.

I refer in particular to the pledge that an incoming Labour Government would work tirelessly to bring major sporting events to the UK; how well we have delivered on that front. We staged the enormously successful Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002, and of course London won the opportunity to stage the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Only this week, we heard that the International Olympic Committee has given the preparations for London 2012 near-perfect marks following a three-day inspection visit. If we add to that the Prime Minister’s personal support for making it a top priority to secure football’s World Cup in 2018, it is clear that the Government are succeeding in putting this country firmly on the world’s sporting map.

It is not all about elite sport and world-class events, however. Sport and physical activity are just as important at grass-roots level. The Government are well aware of that importance and have acted to secure its delivery. Increasing participation and providing high standard facilities together make the bedrock of our sports policy. We recognised in that early manifesto that the provision of school sport was vital to the nation’s young people. Schoolchildren must have access to sports facilities, and the curriculum must provide time for sport and physical activity.

That is why I am so pleased that the Youth Sport Trust has revolutionised school sport and now has its sights set on delivering five hours of physical activity for the nation’s youngsters. It is in that context that school playing fields have been such an emotive issue in past years. I am pleased to note that government policy ensures that access and participation are safeguarded in any proposal to develop school playing fields. That was another commitment made in Labour’s Sporting Nation.

Another body that plays a vital role in school sport is the Football Foundation. Here I declare an interest, since I speak as a former chairman and now as its president. It is a partnership between government and football, and it has been hugely successful in providing grass-roots facilities in our schools and parks. Since its launch at No. 10 Downing Street in 2000, the foundation has supported more than 5,000 projects worth nearly £700 million with grant aid totalling more than £300 million. There is another £114 million-worth of projects in the pipeline. I commend the work of the foundation, and I am proud of its achievements.

Returning for a moment to the manifesto, we also undertook to tackle the issue of ticket touting. Again, I welcome the progress that has been made. I also welcome the recent policy announcement by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State that he wants to see more action taken against touting at major sporting events. I led a delegation to him earlier this year, when we explained the frustration that sports governing bodies have at people who rip off the ordinary sports fan. We must make sure that young people have the opportunity to see top class sporting events at prices that they can afford. I therefore urge the Minister to expedite the work that he is doing to secure voluntary agreements from secondary ticket agents. Those companies have a final chance to show that they can control the secondary market. If they cannot do so, they must understand that they face further regulation of their activities.

With that as a background, let me now turn to some of the other issues facing us. We can be proud that we have in this country a sector skills council that is a leading light in developing sport and physical activity. SkillsActive has a crucial role to play in ensuring that there are enough coaches out there to meet demand. The Government’s recent approval of the planned national skills academy for sport and active leisure will assist in that aim. All of that is a far cry from what the Government inherited in 1997.

Of course, there are areas where more improvements can still be made. Participation rates are still too low. Painful as it may be, we in this House have to face up to the fact that 65 per cent of men and 76 per cent of women do not reach the government minimum for physical activity. That is estimated to cost £8.2 billion per year. The economy is further hit by £13.2 billion per year in sickness absence alone. Individuals who are active are 1.9 times less likely to have a heart attack than their inactive counterparts. I could go on, but your Lordships will be clear about the picture that I am painting.

Over the past 50 years, as a nation, we have seen the systematic removal of physical activity from our daily lives, and the cost of that is adding up. The Foresight report on future trends in obesity predicted a cost, at current trends, amounting to £50 billion per year. That is what is at stake. Make no mistake: that places an unbearable strain on our National Health Service. To reinforce that view, there are 1.5 million sufferers of type 2 diabetes in this country, and 90 per cent of all diabetes sufferers are type 2. That has a cost to the National Health Service of some £3.5 billion a year, and no lack of human suffering.

Two weeks ago, the medical journal the Lancet said that exercise lifestyle interventions over six years can prevent or delay diabetes for up to 14 years after the intervention period. We know that an active lifestyle can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by between 33 per cent and 50 per cent. Last week Cancer Research UK told us that active men are 34 per cent less likely to develop cancer than their inactive counterparts, and I have not even mentioned asthma, stroke or osteoporosis. According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, up to 20 ailments and conditions could be alleviated, prevented or cured by opportunities to be more active.

We must also not forget the psychological impact. Physical activity is like fresh air to the brain. All of this is a message that can get across loud and clear, and we should get it across. Is it is not an impossible task to change a culture, and my proof is that it has already been done. We should look at Finland. Back in the 1970s it was in a similar predicament. It had among the highest rate of smokers and drinkers in Europe and the highest rate of deaths from coronary heart disease in the world. It set in place real, concerted actions around promoting physical activity. If more people are more active more often in any shape or form, more people play sport. Finland provided exercise on prescription across the country. It opened up extensive cycling and walking programmes. Look at Finland now. By 2008 there had been a 65 per cent reduction in deaths from coronary heart and lung disease—yes, 65 per cent. It now has one of the lowest rates of smoking in the world. Most compellingly, average life expectancy has increased by six and a half years on average across the population.

Just think of the effects that such a policy would have here. The British Heart Foundation says that coronary heart disease costs every single person in this country £250 per year—a total of £3.5 billion. Lives and plenty of resources can be saved at the same time. I am sure that the Government are aware of the issues that I raise and I hope that they will take appropriate action. To reinforce that view, the Prime Minister, in his speech in January, said that to ensure the future of the National Health Service, prevention has to figure higher on the agenda. As an average, 60 per cent of waking hours are spent at work, which is, therefore, an ideal place to encourage increased physical activity. Sickness absence cost the economy £13.4 billion in 2006, the equivalent of 175 million working days. Someone on incapacity benefit for six months has only a 50 per cent chance of returning to work. After 12 months off, that sinks to 30 per cent. Ninety per cent of the time, someone on incapacity benefit for between six and 12 months will end up out of employment for five years. Unless these people are provided with the opportunities to rehabilitate physically, they and their children are likely to remain in poverty—by which I mean economic, social and cultural poverty, let alone in terms of self-respect. Poverty is exactly what I mean.

One has to be reminded that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published evidence to show that physical activity can help alleviate and prevent 20 lifestyle diseases and reduce absenteeism by up to 30 per cent. The national crisis around health and obesity requires urgent and concerted action and—credit where credit is due—the Government are aware of this need. There has been a £372 million pledge from Alan Johnson and Ed Balls to fight the problem of obesity.

Delivery needs national, regional and local impact. Delivery needs effective networks to help the hardest to reach. Delivery needs a high level of customer service. It needs consistency and reliability in implementation. The achievement of many social outcomes requires greater engagement and participation from citizens and an understanding that governments cannot do it on their own. There are powerful moral and political arguments for protecting and enhancing personal responsibility. I am sure that the Government are not only aware of the opportunities at their disposal but determined to make use of them.

I was struck recently by an announcement that landed on my desk. Fred Turok, the chairman of the Fitness Industry Association has said that for every £1 invested in promoting physical activity by the Government, the health and fitness sector would invest a further £2. That is an offer that certainly must not be refused. Let us take a look at the current fitness and leisure infrastructure. There are more than 5,700 health and fitness sites across the country, including public facilities; 89 per cent of the population—53 million people—live within two miles of a gym facility; more than 30,000 licensed exercise professionals cater for more than 1 million people every day. Yet I am told that they operate at only 60 per cent of their capacity. Outside of peak hours, many of these facilities are almost empty. I very much hope that the Government will get together with the Fitness Industry Association to tackle this issue.

A number of bodies are out there with help to offer, not just health clubs and leisure centres. The Fitness Industry Association is only one. The Central Council of Physical Recreation, representing 105,000 sports clubs active in England, is another. The list includes British Cycling, the Amateur Swimming Association, the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health, and there are many more. I hope that the Government will propose to deal with all these bodies in a way that can make a difference. Working together, this alliance could have the national, regional and local structure required to back up any national campaign. It could provide the clubs, centres, coaches, facilitators and expertise that we need to change and adapt to a healthier lifestyle. Importantly, these bodies are already based firmly in the community. They will provide opportunities for all segments of society, from cradle to grave, and provide activities that are fun, sociable and accessible to all, regardless of ability.

Every town and village has a sports club of some kind within easy reach to aid physical exercise. We are surrounded by outdoor environments in which people can enjoy fresh air at the same time as fitness. Every community centre is an open space that could be filled with people from the local area being supervised by experts provided by these organisations. But this ready-to-roll wheel is not simply about places and people, vital as they are, as the essential cogs in a national campaign machine. These organisations represent the key networks and channels that the Government need to deliver real change. They represent an alliance of bodies coming together with proven ability to interact directly and effectively with people of all ages, creeds and interests, to generate the momentum of change that the Government and the community need. The Government have the ability to make this change happen, working alongside those people already active in this area. I sincerely hope that it will take place soon. I beg to move for Papers.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for starting this debate. He is widely recognized as a great ambassador for sport. He is no minor sportsman himself, as a former colonial boxing champion. He is a former chairman of the Football Trust and is now president of the Football Foundation. His efforts to support grassroots soccer are much appreciated. I have had the privilege of serving with the noble Lord on the sports awards committee of the Variety Club Children’s Charity and, more recently, as a co-patron of the Heritage Foundation, which raises funds for charity through sport and entertainment.

Sport is not a side issue. It affects so many areas of our lives—health, leisure, community relations, business. Sport transcends culture, class, race and religion. It can build bridges and not walls between people and places. Sport can inform and inspire. This is such a wide-ranging subject that one can focus only on certain aspects of it. I still remember, as a bright-eyed 15 year-old member of the Warwickshire Schools cricket team, practising in the indoor nets at the Edgbaston county ground in Birmingham. We were so excited when the coach suddenly announced that we would be bowling to the England captain. We all turned round, and in walked a woman. One of my colleagues said, “But it’s a woman, sir”. The coach said, “Well, I’m glad you can see. Just get on with it”. That woman was Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, bat in hand, padded up. She was the England ladies’ cricket captain.

We did as we were told. For the next 20 minutes, we bowled outswingers, inswingers, off-spin, leg-spin and googlies. In those days I could bowl a fairly wicked ball that could swing both ways in one delivery. Not many people throw that, to misquote Michael Caine. However, we did not bowl the maiden over. Rachael hit every ball with skill and force. She went on to become a director of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, an MBE and a personal friend. She showed that women can play an important role in sport as players and leaders.

My father, Derief Taylor, played cricket for the West Indies and county cricket for Warwickshire in the 1950s championship-winning team, but he was proud also to be manager of the England women's cricket team that toured the West Indies in the 1970s. It was him and 20 women; he was very pleased with that appointment. Although we have many modern-day examples of women sports stars, we know that, around adolescence, girls at school start to lose interest in sport. The reasons are often connected to the physical and emotional changes that they are going through, but we and the Government need to do more to encourage girls to pursue sports. The inspirational role played by Dame Kelly Holmes in the GirlsActive schools programme is vital, but it cannot be a one-woman campaign. I should be interested to hear from the Minister the Government’s plans to encourage more girls to stay in sport.

For many years, cricket has been overshadowed by the wealth and glamour of professional soccer, but the Chance to Shine project, encouraging competitive cricket in schools, has rekindled interest. However, there is no such thing as a free launch and I hope that the Government will continue to provide matching funding. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that. Cricket has also realised that it is part of the entertainment industry and personalities attract interest. Despite his problems, players such as Freddie Flintoff have helped to inspire a game which once had an image more akin to Freddie Flintstone.

There is no doubt that professional soccer has a massive influence in the modern world. As a patron of the Aston Villa Supporters Trust, I have followed the claret and blue for many years. I am delighted that this week Aston Villa turned down a potential multimillion-pound sponsorship deal. Instead, it has decided to publicise on its shirts the local Acorns Children's Hospice. That will bring awareness and funds to a fantastic charity. I hope only that other Premiership and professional soccer clubs will follow suit. Of course they have to run a business, but they have so much influence that they can help others in need. The Government can create the atmosphere to encourage clubs to do so.

I remember when Clyde Best, a black player from Bermuda, played for West Ham in the 1970s. He and other black players were subject to a lot of racist taunts. His pace could have been his fortune but he never fulfilled his potential, partly for that reason. Thankfully, the image of the game has changed radically in Britain since then. Now most teams in the football league, especially in the premier division, have black stars, but more needs to be done to encourage members of the black and ethnic-minority communities to become managers, coaches and trainers. However, the responsibility works both ways. The problems concerning gun and knife crime in the inner cities have been well documented. Sport can be a channel away from such activity. It can teach discipline and respect for others. But it is no use being young, gifted and slack. More people from the black community need to come forward and get involved as coaches and sports mentors.

I am a director of the Warwick Leadership Foundation charity. Part of its work is to partner groups in the inner cities, to provide role models and inspiration for young people. The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, alluded to the fact that the answer does not lie only with the Government. The WLF employs that partnership principle and the Government need to do more to partner certain groups, such as faith groups, charities and other voluntary organisations. The Warwick Leadership Foundation has a particular link with the black-majority churches. Those churches are almost the untold story of Britain. Often you can get 2,000 people attending one church service. Within those communities, there are potential stars—players, coaches and mentors—but they are not in the loop; they do not know how to engage with the wider community. The Government would make great progress by reaching out to those groups and partnering them.

I spent 18 years as a barrister, mainly a criminal barrister, at the Old Bailey and a few years as a judge. It saddened me to see young men, especially black men, with ability, especially sporting ability, wasting their lives time after time. I remember sitting in a cell with a young man who had just been sentenced to five years for robbery. He said to me, “D’you know what? I could have played for Arsenal”. I said, “I’m afraid it’s too late for that. You should have thought of that before you committed the robbery”. I am not excusing such young men, but many of them lack role models and inspiration. Inspiration cannot be taught—it is caught. The Government need to understand that, when that young man went to prison, it was bad not only for him but for Britain, because we all suffer as a result. The one thing I learnt from my years at the criminal Bar was the tragic waste in talent that exists in our prison system, which is overflowing. More young black men are in prison than in college, which is very sad. What thoughts and plans does the Minister have to engage those young men and women wasting their talent who could become sports stars of the future? They are not bad people; they just lack the right direction, motivation and inspiration.

The Government still have a lot of work to do. They set a target of five hours of sport per week for schoolchildren. I say with respect that the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, presented a rather rosy picture of the Government’s achievements, in my humble view. Their own figures show that nearly 1 million children are not getting the basic two hours of sport that they previously aspired to. That is failure, not success. The Government's Licensing Act has increased bureaucracy and cost voluntary sports clubs more than £2.6 million in its first year. That makes life difficult for voluntary clubs such as Ilford Town football and athletics club to operate; I have the privilege of being its honorary president.

I still feel that the Government need to grapple with the partnership principle. I do not dispute that they have spent money, but what is important is not just how much money but how effective it is. My plea to the Government is to cut the red tape. Small clubs simply cannot operate with regulation after regulation. They want the winning tape, not the red tape. Again, I should like to hear from the Minister what plans there are to simplify the system.

Many young men and women enjoy amateur sports. My father was the first black referee in the Birmingham amateur league back in the 1970s. He was very popular. In fact, teams used to request my father to be the referee, not because he was black but because he was good. I would go along with him and see these young men and women giving their time every Saturday and Sunday morning. They believed that they could be successful in their own way, although they never became soccer stars. At grassroots level there is a real passion for games such as soccer and cricket, and I feel that in many ways the Government are stifling that passion.

Furthermore, it is an unwelcome fact that, according to a survey by Sport England, around a third of people stop playing sport when they reach school-leaving age. As a nation, we are living longer, but living longer does not mean living better. The message that sport is for all, not just the young, needs to be promoted more by this Government. I spent a rather average time as an Aston Villa youth player, but now that I am in my fifties I am still hopeful of making my first team debut for that club. I believe that it has my contact numbers.

My Lords, it is almost exactly a year since my noble friend Lord Pendry last secured a debate on sport and, once again, he is to be congratulated on organising today’s debate and on the speech that he made in introducing it. I particularly endorse what he said about ticket touting, which is an issue that I have taken up in this House on more than one occasion.

I remember that in that debate, on 28 June last year, I spoke at some length about the changes that were under way at the Football Association. These have now substantially been carried through. The FA Council’s membership has been expanded to include players, managers, referees, women’s football, ethnic minorities, disability football, supporters and the senior levels of non-league football; they have established the semi-autonomous Football Regulatory Authority—that is their description of it—and they have appointed my noble friend Lord Triesman as their first independent chairman. I know that he carries the good wishes of us all as he seeks to drive forward the necessary changes in the governance of the game.

Looked at purely in financial terms, the state of the game in England has never been healthier. The Premiership continues to attract almost undreamt-of levels of income, and even the Championship—the old Football League second division—is reported to be the sixth wealthiest league in the world. The European Champions League final was contested by two English teams, and for every Ronaldo who thinks of leaving these shores, there are dozens of other foreign footballers anxious to play here.

Yet, all is not quite as rosy as it looks. The greatest disappointment that England fans are having to put up with this month, together with the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish, is to stay at home and watch 16 other countries contest the Euro 2008 championship because none of the home nations qualified. Although none of us expects Ministers to pick the England side, or even the team manager, it is appropriate to ask whether there is a role for the Government in creating a climate in which home-grown talent can thrive and challenge for places in our leading club sides, and thus better develop their skills in preparation for being chosen for the national team.

Perhaps when he replies my noble friend would like to comment on Mr Sepp Blatter’s proposal, which was overwhelmingly carried at the recent FIFA congress in Sydney, that by 2012 there should be at least six players in every starting line-up of 11 eligible to play for the national team of the country of the club. Our FA representatives in Sydney voted for this on the basis that:

“Bringing through more high-quality English players in the future is an absolute priority for the FA”.

However, if you go on to read the rest of their statement, you get the feeling that they think it will never happen, because they add:

“One of our reservations has always been that the ‘six-plus-five’ rule appears to contravene European law and we welcome further exploration of its legality”.

Can my noble friend say whether the Government would support moves to establish a “specificity of sport” rule, which would effectively provide a get-out from European employment legislation?

Staying in somewhat controversial territory, I referred a moment ago to the FA’s decision to establish the Football Regulatory Authority. More than eight years ago, the Government’s Football Task Force, on which I was proud to serve as vice-chairman, addressed the issue of independent regulation. The majority of our members signed a report which said that, if the game were not able to provide clear leadership in this area, the Government should consider the establishment of a statutory regulator.

It is no secret that the present Secretary of State, my right honourable friend Andy Burnham MP, who worked as our administrator on the task force, took that view. However, perhaps not surprisingly, the Government have tried to stay clear of the debate and have sought to rely on the Football Association to provide leadership as the game’s governing body. The adoption of much of the report written by the noble Lord, Lord Burns, has moved them in this direction and the FA’s Football Regulatory Authority is the outcome. However, if I am allowed one Latin quotation from Juvenal, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?—who will regulate the regulators? Until this year, the answer would have been the Independent Football Commission, the body set up by the game and the Government in 2000 to evaluate the performance of the governing bodies in managing football—a self-regulatory response to the final report of the Football Task Force.

In the words of the chair of the IFC, Professor Derek Fraser, in his valedictory annual report:

“The football authorities, who created the IFC in the first place, have now decided that the IFC experiment has run its course and something different is required”.

The “something different” is an independent football ombudsman to be created in time for next season. According to the FA’s website:

“The IFO will have a clear remit to receive and adjudicate on complaints from football supporters and participants which have not been resolved by the football authorities, and to raise any policy issues which have been highlighted by those complaints, directly with The FA, Premier League and The Football League”.

However, it does not look to me or to Professor Fraser that the IFO will be encouraged to monitor the implementation of the Burns report in the way that the IFC would have done, so perhaps, either today or later in writing if he prefers, my noble friend could let me know how the Government envisage that this job will be done in future.

In the month that the IFC is disappearing, it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the work that Professor Fraser and his colleagues have done over the past eight years. They have produced some reports of outstanding quality, and influenced for the better decisions on financial management, the introduction of a fit and proper persons test, better governance arrangements, equal opportunity, diversity and anti-racist initiatives, child protection, community programmes and customer relations. A lot of this is unfinished business and, in the absence of the IFC, a heavier responsibility is placed on the football authorities to keep driving those initiatives forward.

One initiative in which I have a particular interest is the provision of facilities for disabled people at sports grounds. My noble friend will recall that I asked an Oral Question about this in the Chamber on 29 April. In reply, he referred to the letter sent earlier this year by Gerry Sutcliffe, the sports Minister, to the football authorities reminding them of their responsibility to follow the guidance contained in the Accessible Stadia document produced by the Football Licensing Authority, which also builds on one of the major reports of the Football Task Force. Mr Sutcliffe encouraged all Premier League and Football League clubs,

“to work with local disabled supporters’ groups to ensure that the experience of visiting their ground is equal for both disabled and able-bodied fans”.

That is strongly supported by an Early Day Motion on the Order Paper in the other place, which has attracted more than 100 signatures. It,

“calls on all football clubs to measure their disabled supporter facilities against the Accessible Stadia Guide and Football Task Force recommendations and make a commitment to reach an equality of supporter experience for all football fans as set out in the National Association of Disabled Supporters Blueprint”.

There is one aspect of this issue on which I would appreciate the help of my noble friend; it relates to assessing how much work needs to be done. Between 2000 and 2002, the National Association of Disabled Supporters carried out access assessments at each professional club, and it is my understanding that most clubs conducted access audits in 2004-05. There is now a fear that we have taken our eye off the ball and that little monitoring has been conducted in the past three years. Indeed, the Minister for Sport answered a Question from the Liberal Democrat spokesperson in the other place on 2 June; the exchange went like this:

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many Premiership football clubs' stadia meet the needs of disabled spectators and other users in accordance with the accessible stadia guide …

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government do not hold or collate this information”.—[Official Report, Commons, 2/6/08; col. 615W.]

To which my only response is: why not? Surely, if we are serious about ensuring that our football grounds become accessible to disabled people, the Government must monitor, report on and if necessary, cajole the authorities.

I should explain that I have an interest in this area as a vice-president of the National Association of Disabled Supporters. I have a similar unpaid position with the Football Conference. Most noble Lords will know that it involves the level of football immediately below the Football League. The conference league is a unique competition; it has a rich mix of long-term member clubs, some former members of the Football League and clubs that have risen through non-league football, known as the national league system, to experience national competition for the first time.

These clubs are as vital to their local communities as those in the Premier League and Football League. The conference league recently conducted a survey of all of its member clubs so that we could assess what they did in the areas of community involvement and football development. Of the 68 clubs in the competition, 67 responded. This exceptional response demonstrated that football clubs, at every level of the game, have a part to play in their local community. Thirty-five—more than half—organise some form of community activity. Mostly, these projects are funded by the clubs themselves or an associated charity: they raise their own funds, grant aid or sponsorship.

Community activities include coaching, work with schools, special projects with disability groups, pre-school breakfast clubs, street football, a special needs theatre group, a reading project, several healthy living initiatives, kick out racism projects and a club for retired people. There are six study support centres—a further two are in the pipeline—which run in conjunction with the Department for Children, Schools and Families' Playing for Success initiative, and nine girls-only programmes.

It is hard to overestimate the value of this work or its impact on the lives of those taking part in the activities. Many clubs are working in deprived areas where there is no other football-based community work. In addition, more than 70 per cent of conference clubs offer youth development programmes, covering all age groups from eight to 18 for boys and girls. At least 6,000 young people are being involved in sport at these clubs. Their community programmes run regular coaching courses at schools outside school time. Most clubs offer the highest standard of football in their local areas—they do not always have Football League clubs in their immediate vicinity. Their work should be doubly applauded because, unlike the Premier League and Football League clubs, their central income from sponsorship and television is much smaller. They are under no compulsion to undertake youth football development or community initiatives. That happens because the clubs choose to do so.

I bring these issues to the Government's attention because, in the words of my noble friend's Motion, any,

“new sport and physical education strategy”,

needs to take account of the contribution that clubs in the Football Conference in particular, and in the national league system generally, can make towards it.

I have described briefly what is already being achieved with the most limited financial resources. Think, my Lords, how much more could be done with realistic levels of funding. I conclude by encouraging the Government to use their considerable influence with the Football Foundation to ensure that this is delivered in future.

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, on securing this debate and on emphasising the centrality of sport and physical activity in all aspects of life. I want to take one of those aspects—that is, the relationship between activity, sport and health—and stretch it a bit. Before doing so, I also pay tribute to the noble Lord for his analysis of the evidence involving health and the clear demonstration that there now is of the importance of physical activity and sport in many different aspects of health, mental as well as physical.

I want to add a further point: internationally—the noble Lord raised the example of Finland—these issues will become ever more important. As developing countries become more affluent, you see the growth in lifestyle diseases and the problems of affluence, which include the sorts of problems that we are suffering from. The issues that we are raising in this debate are important on the international scene as well.

I want to stretch the discussion a bit by talking more about not just physical health but mental health and well-being—the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, raised that—social health and spiritual health. We have known for a long time of the association between physical activity and all these other aspects of health. The Victorians knew about it but, for quite a long time, we seem to have lost it from public policy. Sport and physical activity was an add-on to education. I speak as one who was a member of the National Playing Fields Association and campaigned for the retention of school playing fields on the grounds that sport was not just an add-on but was quite often a subtraction, as has already been said. In reality, if noble Lords will excuse me extending the analogy, it needs to be much more of a multiplier and should benefit whatever else is going on in a school and a child’s development.

For any new strategy, the key issue is whether it will be genuinely cross-governmental with commitments from all the relevant parts of government. I am sure that the words will be cross-governmental, but the key is that this needs not just joined-up thinking but joined-up implementation and it should be accompanied by an appropriate implementation plan. Let me take three examples, which I think will be tests of the new strategy. The first is for the Department of Health and people working in health. I pick the aspect raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry: mental health. We know that people suffering from mental illness are often very isolated from society and occupied within themselves. We also know that there is good evidence that physical activity is beneficial clinically. Will the strategy specifically address that sort of issue? Will it deal not just with the young and healthy but with the older, the infirm and those who are mentally ill? Will we take the opportunity of the Olympics, as friends of mine in east London have said, to draw into sport people from all sectors of society who are not normally engaged in sport?

The second question is more for the Department for Communities and Local Government. How will such a strategy tackle the issues of social inclusion and social coherence? I was struck by the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, about issues to do with particular sectors of our society and people from black and minority ethnic communities. One again thinks of girls and women, as the noble Lord said. How will that be addressed, particularly in view of the fact that we know that some of those communities are especially vulnerable to some lifestyle diseases? The one statistic that I will add to those given by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, is that people from south Asian backgrounds are, I believe, six times more likely to get diabetes type 2 than those from the majority community. It is important that the strategy reaches everywhere.

I want to emphasise, however, how this will be linked into education. I recognise that a great deal is already going on, that the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is seeking the development of a new integrated curriculum and that Every Child Matters lays responsibilities on departments to bring all those activities together. But let me give one example that I came across recently, the kind of example that needs to be tackled if we are to have joined-up implementation. It reminds me of the interesting quote from the noble Lord, Lord Taylor—if I wrote it down properly—to the effect that inspiration cannot be taught, it can only be caught. David Hemery, the Olympic athlete, is leading a programme called Olympian for Life. The aim of this unique and special project is to inspire and empower young people and to help them become independent thinkers. That is the starting point; it is not immediately about sport and physical activity. He says:

“We kick off the time with a visit from an Olympian, a Paralympian or other special achiever and following their motivational story we let the children know that during the next term we will help them to identify their dreams and establish a success map to start their journey and look at what it would mean to Live Olympian”—

this is really important—

“being the best they could be in body, mind, emotion and spirit, plus a look at what Olympism and Olympic values mean”.

David Hemery talks about four intelligences: physical intelligence, intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence, and the importance of all of them being linked. I would ask the Government whether they will be ambitious enough in their aims for the new strategy. Will they see the linkage that David Hemery examples in the four intelligences, with physical intelligence linked with the intellectual, emotional and spiritual intelligences and all the interactions that go with that?

I am not here to speak for the project. It looks very good to me, but I do not know the details. However, it raises the big question of how ambitious we want to be and how fully integrated we think sport and physical activity need to be with every other aspect of development of the whole child. For me, it raises two questions. First, in practice, how does a good deal like that get backing? I know that not every idea is good, and that not every good idea is timely or can be followed through. I also know that the Government sometimes have their own plans. The key is what mechanisms there are to enable a practical project which seeks to implement the fine words of strategy. How do we ensure that implementation is followed through and that we understand not only joined-up thinking but also joined-up implementation and that the various departments involved will work together?

Secondly, I shall not give any tales of sporting prowess, but I remember from my schooldays and from friends' schooldays that we probably divided into two sorts: those who liked all the sporting activities and those who rather loathed them. I know numbers in the second category, although I am sure that there are none in the Chamber, as they would not be taking part in this debate. I know life has moved on and that, with recent policy, there is much more emphasis on physical activity. I know that there are many interesting examples, such as schools in London, where the children have short breaks for physical activity interspersed with academic activity. It is recognised that that helps people to learn better. If that is really to be integrated in schools, implementation depends not only on a plan but on individuals.

My question concerns what any strategy will do about motivating the teachers. This is actually about sport in education, not for PE teachers but for all teachers, and about understanding how that links in with all other aspects of life. What is being done about that? In such a strategy, who will ensure that teachers and not just their pupils are Olympians for life?

I am delighted to take part in this debate. I very much support the emphasis on physical activity, physical education and sport. Coming from a health background, I know that health improves only where it is linked with education, activity, diet and all aspects of our lives. It is an all-round programme. I also know that research demonstrates that but that we need to undertake important research to show not just the links between physical activity and health, but what we need to do to make those links work effectively. That is another very practical point about implementation.

Slightly tongue in cheek, I also wonder whether the Government will learn from sport. One of the chairs in my previous life was a man called Sir Brian Smith who used to use a sporting analogy in talking about how management had changed. He recalled how when he was a young man playing games of rugby, hockey, and football people played in a fixed position either as a centre-forward, left-back or full-back and they stayed in that position, as though they were pieces in a table football team. Over the years, however, the game has developed and people started moving about and backing each other up. There are now different formations and people fill in and multitask; they flex according to how the game is going and they flex to each other. Noble Lords can see where my analogy is going. Can the Government move away from the basis of independent departments working within their fixed domains? Can those departments play the modern game?

My Lords, like others, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Pendry on providing us with the opportunity to debate this important issue, in which he has taken a close interest and over which he has had a positive and powerful influence for many years.

Much as I enjoy watching and celebrating the successes of our top teams and top sportsmen and sportswomen, my greater area of interest is in sport and participation in sport at the less exalted levels, where the money, the adulation and hero worshipping do not flow so readily but where the enthusiasm, commitment and dedication of the participants and those who coach and organise the activities, often in their own free time without financial reward, know no bounds. Such people need support and encouragement, including financial support, and I believe that the Government have done a great deal in this direction.

Last year, I completed a parliamentary sports fellowship. The organisation with which I was particularly involved was Sport England. I was able to visit some of the projects in which it had played a major role with its partners in getting them up and running in different parts of the country. Sport England is concerned with the less glamorous side of the sporting scene—the grass-roots and community level of sports participation—although, through the support that it gives, a small number of highly talented individuals develop their skills to such a level that they come under the umbrella of UK Sport, the organisation geared to the needs of our top performers.

Sport England is not just about financing investment in infrastructure and facilities, important though that is. It also plays a key role in ensuring that appropriately qualified staff, including coaches, are provided to enable and to encourage people of all ages and from all backgrounds to take up a physical or sporting activity. I want to mention some aspects of the work that Sport England is doing and has done with the younger generation.

Sport England has been involved in the Government’s physical education and sport strategy for young people from its outset in April 2003. The Government provide funding. Sport England’s aim is to reduce the number of children dropping out of sport at age 16. One important way of doing that is through delivering the community and club element of the five-hour sport offer, to which my noble friend Lord Pendry referred.

The original target in 2003 was to offer all five to 16 year-olds two hours of high-quality physical education and school sport a week within and beyond the school day. In the summer of last year, the Prime Minister announced that five to 16 year-olds would be offered up to five hours of sport a week, with 16 to 19 year-olds having three hours, because they do not do curriculum PE. He also announced an additional £100 million investment. Sport England’s investment increases from just over £8 million in 2007-08 to £23.1 million each year from 2008-09. Total government investment in school sport and the five-hour sport offer has been over £1 billion for the five years to March 2008. The take-up of the two-hour offer, which was the original objective in 2003, has risen from an estimated 25 per cent of five to 16 year-olds in 2002 to 86 per cent in 2007. The progress made has exceeded the target set in 2003, which was for 75 per cent of schoolchildren to be doing at least two hours of sport a week by 2006, rising to 85 per cent by 2008. That is not failure, as was suggested earlier, but success.

As my noble friend Lord Pendry said, playing fields now have the best ever protection through government planning regulations and arrangements. Schools are not allowed to sell playing fields that they or their communities need for sport. More playing fields are now being created than lost. In its last annual review, which was for 2006-07, Sport England reported that the most recent 12-monthly figures then available showed that 62 brand-new playing fields had been created, a number that had grown for the second year running, and that only two had been completely lost.

The percentage of children and young people participating in club sports has also risen, from 19 per cent in 2003-04 to 29 per cent in 2006-07, and the percentage of older pupils involved in sports volunteering, whether in mentoring, coaching or helping to organise activities, has risen from 9 per cent in 2003-04 to 17 per cent in 2006-07.

As I saw, Sport England has been playing, and will continue to play, a leading role in creating more and stronger links between schools and sports clubs, a role that is vital if we are to reduce the figure of 25,000 16 year-olds who drop out of sport every year. Sport England also works to provide volunteering and leadership opportunities in sport by providing the training facilities to enable people, including young people, to take on that kind of role by developing their own skills and involvement in a range of activities and through that work to provide the encouragement and organisation to enable others to continue or begin their association with sport.

Creating additional supply and demand within community sport and clubs is a further area of activity for Sport England. While providing the physical infrastructure is important, at least as important is providing resources for qualified staff to coach, train and manage so that existing facilities can be used and developed to maximum effect and benefit and so that activities can be extended.

Sport England seeks to work through national sports governing bodies. I hope that the Government have stressed to all governing bodies that, working with Sport England, they have a responsibility for increasing participation rates in their sport within the community as a whole and that it will be unacceptable if they direct a disproportionate amount of their time, commitment and financial resources to the development and promotion of the top clubs and top sportsmen and sportswomen within their particular sport at the expense of increasing overall participation rates. I hope that financial and other resources from Sport England to national governing bodies will be conditional on their producing acceptable plans on how they intend to increase participation rates across the community, including among young people, women and black and minority ethnic groups. I hope that the Minister will feel able to say clearly and specifically that that is the Government’s position.

Of course, some governing bodies are already doing good work in encouraging more involvement in their sport within the wider community. One such sport is cricket. “Chance to Shine” is the Cricket Foundation’s campaign to revive and develop competitive cricket in state schools and, in so doing, to achieve the wider community benefits that the impact on participants of involvement in team sports and well managed competition can bring. The campaign was launched three years ago with the objective of raising £25 million of private funding, which the National Sports Foundation, led by the Government and administered by Sport England, is committed to matching pound for pound. In 2005, Cricket Foundation research showed that less than 10 per cent of state schools offered pupils opportunities to take part in at least five organised matches per year. The aim is to establish, over 10 years, a sustainable cricket culture within at least one-third of all state schools in England and Wales and in the process to reach some 2 million young people, both boys and girls. I am sure that this is the kind of sports project that the Government are seeking to encourage and develop across a broad front.

Of course, sport is not just about young people. Half the adult population—those of 16 years of age or older—do not participate in sport on a regular basis. The ambition of Sport England is to get 2 million people doing more sport by 2012. The target level of sports activity is 30 minutes at least three times a week. Twenty-one per cent of adults currently achieve that target and 28 per cent do sport between one and three times a week. When we break down the 21 per cent of adults who currently achieve the target, the figure is just over 19 per cent from black and minority ethnic groups, 9.5 per cent of those with a limiting disability, just over 15 per cent of those from lower socio-economic groups and 18.5 per cent of females.

Improving those figures needs resources. In 2006-07, Sport England, financed by National Lottery and Exchequer funding, invested in a range of areas including: £64 million into the 38 national sports governing bodies; just over £4 million into school-club links to connect schools, sports clubs and children; some £38 million as part of a five-year programme to improve sports clubs’ organisation and facilities, including more coaching staff, to further raise the skills, particularly of those with identified potential, at those clubs; over £10 million on a programme launched in 2005 that has already exceeded its objective by training and providing over 3,300 community sport coaches working locally running after-school sessions and developing club sport; over £14 million capital investment in community club development projects; and £4 million in encouraging teenagers to play a variety of volunteering roles in sport, including managing events and facilities and running clubs, as well as taking on assistant coaching and refereeing roles. Also in 2006-07, nearly £17 million from National Lottery funding went into over 230 regional sports projects and over £9 million went into the 49 county sports partnerships to help the delivery of sport within counties.

All these areas of activity, like the work being done to increase the involvement in sport of young people, receive very little publicity, with very little credit given for the many thousands of individuals, the organisations such as Sport England and local government that, with government and lottery funding, are enabling real progress to be made. Taking part in sport and physical activity not only offers a purposeful pursuit and keeps people healthy, but can help to develop leadership and teamwork skills, build confidence and provide participants with a real sense of achievement.

I appreciate that a balance has to be drawn between, on the one hand, investing to meet the needs of our potential and actual top sportsmen and sportswomen and the stimulus and enjoyment that their achievements can provide to many others and, on the other, the benefits, not only to the millions of individuals concerned but also to the community as a whole, of investing to encourage and facilitate an increase in sporting and physical activity among the population as a whole. It is not an either/or situation. However, money spent on grass-roots community sport and physical activity is money well spent, as this Government have recognised through the resources that they have provided. I hope that the Minister will, as well as responding to the specific points that I have raised, be able to indicate how the Government intend to make still further progress in developing and facilitating involvement and participation at the less exalted and less publicised levels of the sports pyramid and in so doing provide further encouragement to those many thousands of individuals and organisations that work so hard and contribute so much in this field.

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for introducing this debate. I never use the word “congratulate” because it means to thank collectively, and I would like to thank him individually because I have the advantage of knowing more about what he has done in this world than he knows about what I have done. I have spent most of my life as an ungifted amateur trying to play every game, including politics—never with much success. At school, I was slightly hyperactive, and instead of the required nine hours a week—we should normally have done 11 hours—I would do 20. We had to go on three-mile and six-mile runs. We had to play every game, and I would get up early, probably because I was not sufficiently academic. I wanted to be good at cricket but I was not; I was always the promising cricketer. Although I have been in your Lordships’ House for 45 years, I have been a member of the MCC for 47 years, because I was then a promising cricketer whose career was never realised. I wear the tie today because the ball will be swinging in every direction at Trent Bridge today, no doubt guided by the ancestors of my noble friend here.

This physical exercise has its penalties. As your Lordships may see from time to time in this House, there are people wandering around who have certain difficulties. A little while ago, I was one of them. Both my knees went, and I could not admit that anything was wrong. I happened to be abroad at the time, and I saw a very nice French doctor called Dr Villemin, who said after looking at me, “Monsieur, you are obviously not academic”. I thought he said that I was stupid. He said, “No, you see, the thing about academics is that they do not take much exercise so their bones and bodies do not wear out. I am sure you will find that in your Lordships’ House when you return”.

Perhaps it was my hyperactivity that led one day to a civil servant ringing me up and saying that my name had been put forward to be chairman of a new body that was being established by Peter Shore, with the support of Denis Howell, called the Greater London and South-East Regional Sports and Recreation Council, the mandate of which was to develop sport and recreation throughout Greater London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent—so help me God—looking after one-third of the population for one-third of the time when they were not working or sleeping. I do not know why; I think I was appointed only because the Labour Party in those days would choose for unpaid jobs young, hereditary, chinless-wonder, Conservative merchant-banking Peers. I am not saying who got the well paid jobs at the time.

I was then introduced to my secretary, Colonel Boris Garside, a remarkable man who immediately said, “You may call me Garside or Colonel, but I would prefer not Boris. I will call you my Lord”. For me, who was only a junior officer in the Navy, this was almost an insult, but it was a great promotion. For six years under Peter Shore and another six years under Michael Heseltine, I had enormous fun dealing with the greatest bureaucracy the world has ever created. On our council was every governing body of sport: the Royal Parks Agency, the Army, the Navy, the Royal Air Force—you name it; there was every local planning authority and everyone else. Worst of all, my mother turned up. She was on ILEA and Westminster City Council when she became Lord Mayor. She did not know I was chairman and asked me what I was doing at the meeting.

At the beginning of the meetings, someone would say, “Mr Chairman”, someone else would say, “On a point of order; it should be ‘My Lord Chairman’”, and someone else would then say, “It should be ‘chair’”. One of the great leaders of the trade union movement here said, “When you have your meetings, why do you not hold them on a Friday before a bank holiday, preferably an August bank holiday, send out the letters by second-class post because they are deemed to have arrived on the date of the postmark, and hold the meeting somewhere strange”. So we held our first big annual general meeting at Alexandra Palace on an August bank holiday. The idea was that the chairman would call the meeting to order and there would be the argument about “chair”, “Lord Chairman” or whatever. Then a roll call was proposed, and it was proposed that those who were present should be noted by a show of hands. Those who were not present and who had apologised for their absence would also be noted. Those who were not present but who had not apologised for their absence would also be noted; they had shown discourtesy to the meeting, and the chairman would have the right to their votes. At the time, therefore, I had the majority vote.

We had no money. We did, however, have the sports council, and we were allocated the right to something like £27 million a year. When we started to have our fun, we thought, “Would it not be a good idea if we could be good at cricket again? What about the villages?”. We partly started the village cricket scheme. I went to see the MCC, which wanted a new sports centre. It wanted funding for it, as all those people did, but it did not want it to be available to anyone other than the children of MCC members. After a lot of argument, we agreed that every MCC member who had a child would agree to sign the form for others. We then watched different schools coming to the centre, because cricket was a great leveller. It was then deemed to be a good idea to run and to jog.

Robin Marler was a great friend of mine and a cricket correspondent at the Times. Suddenly the Sunday Times decided that it would have a fun run. People would get up early and run around Hyde Park. They got a shock; 3,000 people got up in the morning and ran around Hyde Park, which led to the Sunday Times saying, “That’s not long enough. Let’s run a bit further”. With Chris Brasher, the London Marathon started. I was asked to deal with the inner city and Docklands. We were asked if we could build a big arena there called the London Arena, but of course no one had any money. We managed to get the marathon to run through Docklands on the Isle of Dogs. In those days, the LDDC had a picture of a crow with the caption, “Why be in the middle of nowhere when you can fly to the centre of … ?”—whatever it was. I got a lot of friends to dress up in crow clothes, which the LDDC provided. They went around on roller skates with buckets, and we raised £232 and then £15 million. We built the arena, but then came the Bradford fire.

With the Bradford fire came an, “Uh oh”. The arena building was built on the site of an old banana shed. It was a difficult building, but it was allocated and it was big enough to have many tennis courts inside. We were going to have the Amateur Athletic Association, with an up-and-down running track and 12,000 seats that would come out. It was brilliant, but we were not allowed to use it because technically it did not exist; it belonged to the Port of London Authority. For it to exist, it had to come under new planning rules and be deemed to exist. It was therefore not suitable for anyone to be inside it, even though we could put fire engines with pumps outside. We had enormous fun in the end. We held pop concerts there.

In the midst of this, I had the difficulty of being a hereditary Conservative merchant-banking Peer down in the East End. What they did not know was that my father went into motor racing after leaving school. He died very young, but he had boxed and wrestled for charity on the Isle of Dogs under the name of “The White Eagle”. As soon as that was known, one day when I was down there a little old bird gave me a nudge and said, “Hello, how are you?”. I said, “Hello, who are you?”. “Oh”, she said, “How’s your da?”. I said, “He died in 1963”. She said, “I thought I hadn’t seen him around. You know, you shouldn’t be a Conservative”. From that day on I wanted to be an unknown Peer. I became the well known Labour Peer, which opened up everything to me in that part of the world and we got on with whatever we could think of.

Then we needed to deal with the inner cities. The East End was fantastic. You have to deal with the street. Your Lordships may remember the Scarman inquiry in Brixton. Lord Scarman was a great chap, so I went there and we decided that we would appoint ethnic minority group leaders. That was the first time I heard the phrase “ethnic minority groups”. We wanted to give them £10,000 a year and I suggested that we give some of them cash. That was probably against all the rules, but I managed to get the cash from outside the government system. I had a great ethnic minority leader from Jamaica—I was conceived on the beach out there—called Mr Rasta. He called me Mr Lord.

Mr Rasta taught me the street business. Up in the streets, you give a bunch of people a ball and two basket nets, which we did in Brixton, and you watch a child bounce a ball off a kerb and send it back over his shoulder to his friends. If he was tall, under the rules he would often be allowed to put a small child on his shoulder so that he could score. That little activity led to tremendous fun. Over that period, we ended up producing the government regional recreational strategy. I shall dig out a copy and send it to the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, because many of the things in it have been discussed today and are still around. The playing fields were being closed. ILEA was selling its land. People were thinking only of money and not of the spirit that you can bring out with a bunch of individuals. I could go on about every sport.

My final punishment concerns my fear of heights. I do not know why I have that fear. I should really be sitting on a lower Bench, but I have always thought that. One day, it was decided that I should lead a major abseiling attempt for charity. I had never abseiled. Suddenly into my office in the City came a Royal Marine sergeant and a corporal. They had a rope and said, “If you’re ready, you can jump out of the window”, and they showed me what to do. Two days later I found myself in the wind, 400 and something feet up, on top of the Prudential building doing a jump for charity. But they did not tell me that if you are that high up, and standing on the edge with your gloves on, the weight of the rope is so great that you have to pull yourself down. I dropped off a plank for about 20 feet and was stuck. Everyone was shouting at me and I have never been so frightened in my life.

But there are always benefits, and before I close I shall return to cricket and to my noble friend. I used to be chairman of the Middle East trade committee and take missions out to difficult places like Saudi Arabia. We were trying to take over all the redevelopment of Riyadh when the Saudi Government were going to move there and I was taking out a team. One of the greatest teams in the Midlands—I will not mention the name of the company—made lovely cast-iron street furniture, including lamps and so on. It produced wonderful designs using the Saudi palm leaf. However, the owner of the company fell ill at the last moment and said that he would send a substitute.

At the airport, we suddenly found that his substitute, who was in long skirts rather like Madam Thatcher, was his wife. At that time, it was quite difficult for a woman to go on a mission to Saudi Arabia. However, she was there to sell street furniture. The engineers who were with me and others had a sense of humour. She was the vice-captain of the English cricket team, so you can imagine some of the remarks that a tough bunch of men were going to say to her. One of my favourites is a bit near the bone, but noble Lords will not mind. They said, “How do you protect yourselves. We men wear boxes”. She said, “We use manhole covers”, which was her main product. That week she sold 300 manhole covers with the coat of arms design to Saudi Arabia.

When I came back, a little note in the press, instead of referring to me as a trade man, said, “Lord of cricket arrives”. Weeks later, I returned to find a letter addressed to His Excellency Sir Lord Malcolm Selsdon Esquire, House of Lords, MCC, London. The letter said, “Dear Lord, how big are your balls? Our children’s balls are four and three-quarters, but we think they should be five and a half. Could you give a ruling?”. This was a letter from a Pakistan cricket coach wanting to know what size balls should be used for children. In those six years, I had tremendous fun. We did something, but it was the individual people who brought it alive from the grassroots upward and not from the top down. I believe that that is where we should go today.

My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Pendry on initiating this long overdue debate. I am exceedingly glad to see that the Government are refreshing their activities around these important areas. First, I should declare an interest as vice-president of Birchfield Harriers, the premier athletics club in Birmingham and one of the great clubs in the country. I shall be there on Sunday morning and afternoon at a men’s event, which follows the women’s events on Saturday. I shall be back again at the end of July for the AAA’s Olympic trial. However, I shall talk about tennis. I know that there is a tennis match on the television in our home when from the other end of the house I hear my wife screaming well meant advice at whoever is on the court. Unfortunately, Tim Henman did not take any notice of her, and she is hoping for more success with Andy Murray.

This week, many tennis fans will be following the French Open on the red clay courts in Paris, but not so many will be aware that this week also marks the official start of the grass court tennis season, with the first tournament taking place in the somewhat surprising setting of Surbiton. Very sensibly, the Lawn Tennis Association moves these events around centres across the whole of the country. The game is presently dominated by players from the eastern bloc because their youngsters seem to be more hungry for success than our players. In the run-up to Wimbledon there will be the inevitable chorus of voices bemoaning the lack of British champions on the tennis scene, and I confess that I have joined my wife in similar criticisms in the past. But apart from Andy Murray and his brother Jamie, there is promise of improvement.

In the women’s game in particular, progress is now being made. Britain now has five female players in the top 200, up from two only 12 months ago. Two weeks ago, Anne Keothavong became the first female in nine years to break into the top 100 players. This follows the Lawn Tennis Association’s decision to put women’s tennis on an equal footing with the men’s game, increasing the support it provides to women players. It is strange to be saying that in 2008 and makes you wonder why it was not done 100 years ago.

Among the juniors, Laura Robson at only 14 is flying high in the ITF junior world rankings, and youngster George Morgan ended last year on a high, winning the prestigious 14 years and under “Orange Bowl” against the top international performers in his age group. He is already performing well at 18-and-under events, and there are currently nine boys in the top 100 of the ITF rankings. The challenge is to convert these results into success in the men’s game. In wheelchair tennis too, we enjoy continued success as a nation and are serious contenders for Paralympic medal success in Beijing. Peter Norfolk is the reigning US Open champion, Lucy Shuker is No 10 in the world rankings, and Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley are making rapid progress up the senior rankings.

In the past year, the Lawn Tennis Association, the national governing body for tennis, has put in place a systematic approach across the country to discover, develop and nurture our best players. This includes increasing the support it provides to its high performance clubs around the country as well as establishing a network of talent scouts. The scouts visit clubs and competitions to spot talented youngsters, and run a series of county, regional and national level “talent ID” days. A key priority is how to keep these juniors in the game and the LTA support for its performance club network is central to this. The very best juniors have access to world-class facilities and services on offer at the National Tennis Centre which opened last year as the new home of British tennis down the road in Roehampton. As noble Lords who take part in parliamentary tennis matches will know, the centre now serves Britain’s aspiring tennis players—including, of course, your Lordships.

Of course, facilities alone do not create champions, but they are important. We need the right talent development structures in place and we need our youngsters to work hard to make the most of the opportunities which are there for their taking. We also need to do more to create quality opportunities to play and compete in tennis and other sports available to all, as has already been said by noble Lords. An estimated 10 million people will watch Wimbledon on television this year, and many more will follow the results. But for too many, that is their involvement in the sport for the year.

Tennis is a sport that takes place all year round and can be played by men and women, boys and girls, aged from four to 84. Indeed, tennis is already one of the highest participation sports in the country, with around 900,000 adults playing once a month or more. Working alongside its charitable arm, the Tennis Foundation, the LTA is committed to further growing the game as well as helping people to stay involved in sport throughout their lives, alongside the work I have already described: identifying and developing future British talent.

The Government’s strategy for sport has already contributed to improvements in this area. For example, thanks to the renewed emphasis on active sport in schools, tennis is again extending its reach. According to last year’s School Sport Survey, tennis is now offered in 79 out of every 100 schools across the country, an increase of 9 per cent since 2003-04. The links between schools and tennis clubs are a key strand of the Government’s PE and School Sport and Club Links Strategy—a name to conjure with. They are now in place in 39 per cent of schools, which represents a substantial increase of 12 per cent on five years ago, when only 27 per cent of schools had such links in place.

Over the past five years, the Government’s community club development programme has contributed some £14 million towards the LTA’s investment in tennis facilities across Great Britain. This has been put towards the development of 109 new indoor tennis courts, floodlighting for 488 courts, 469 new outdoor courts and 54 “kid zones”.

There are approximately 13,800 courts across Great Britain, 7,000 of which do not have floodlights. I still bear the marks across my back from getting involved in a campaign in my former constituency of Birmingham Erdington where an active and growing tennis club wanted to put in floodlighting. Unfortunately there was a housing development on its boundary which did everything it could to stop it. Indeed, it succeeded in doing so, but it was worth the shot. Some 5,300 outdoor courts have floodlighting; there are 1,250 indoor tennis courts; 126 partially indoor tennis courts; and there are something like 10,000 tennis courts in parks. However, from my observation, many of these are poorly maintained and the Government’s emphasis on trying to regenerate many of our large, especially inner city, parks is to be much welcomed. I hope that it leads to local authorities finding the resources to bring those tennis courts up to scratch.

As ever, of course, more should and can be done. We expect the Government to announce in the next few days their plans for the future of community sport. I hope they will say how they plan to maximise the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the decade of sport ahead of us. A renewed focus on growing sport, on sustaining participation and on helping talented youngsters to excel is critical to success in this drive and I look forward to seeing how sports such as tennis can maximise their impact going forward. However, I echo the point made by my noble friend Lord Rosser that it is not all about winning medals and competitions but taking part. Millions of people—it should be many millions more—find enjoyment in sport at levels much lower than championship level.

As I have said, tennis is one of the highest participation sports in the country and is a major spectator sport. Spectators have an important supporting role to play for our champions taking part in tournaments. It is good to have a crowd behind you. That is certainly the case at parliamentary elections, so why should it be any different on tennis courts, cricket fields and so on.

The Sport England Active People Survey 2005-06 found that 874,000 people aged 16-plus play tennis at least once a month. This makes tennis the ninth most popular participation activity among adults, higher if you exclude walking, going to the gym and recreational cycling. About 3,000 schools are members of the British Schools Tennis Association affiliated to the Lawn Tennis Association. The schools’ association offers a range of training courses for teachers involved in delivering tennis in our schools.

I am glad of the recognition that has been given, in the past five years in particular, to the importance of training and of the trainers and coaches who give their services on a voluntary basis. This is especially true in athletics. There will be literally dozens of unpaid volunteers at the athletics competition to which I am going on Sunday helping to make it possible. They give their time and take the training. It is absolutely magnificent to see the support that comes to such events in that way.

A great deal of money, effort and commitment is being spent to bring more young people onto the tennis courts, with expert scouts and coaching to nurture our future champions. I hope that in not too many years we can see its benefits on the tennis courts of the world.

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord can answer a question that I asked when I first went to Wimbledon when it wanted money. We asked, “Why do we not win? Why do we organise the best ever championships historically and we do not win?”. The answer was, “It is because of the weather and we do not have indoor facilities”. Now we have all the facilities. I know much of what the noble Lord has been involved in, but I was always brought up to believe that if you have a winner, everyone wants to play. When and how can we expect to have a real winner?

As I tried to explain, my Lords, the Lawn Tennis Association is trying to discover, develop and nurture young talent. There are more young players now playing tennis; 79 per cent of schools have tennis facilities. Like any other sport, this has to be built from the bottom up, provided that there is investment there and that there are people to encourage and coach those wanting to take part in those activities. It is my experience that playing a mentoring, handholding, nurturing role to young people taking part in athletics—quite young, in some cases—pays the most enormous dividends, because they have someone with them as well as their parents who can help and watch them grow and keep refreshing their interest.

I do not doubt that we will find there is renewed interest every time there is an Olympic Games. It is one of the great ambitions of the London Olympics in 2012. We have to use that opportunity to stimulate not just interest in sport but interest in participation in active sport.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for introducing this subject again. Indeed, one feels that without him doing this no one else would, so we owe him an extra vote of thanks. On that little exchange at the end, I liked what the noble Lord, Lord Corbett, said about nurturing people and bringing them on. There is always a great danger with certain sports that you rely on the lucky and the brilliant. There will always be a few of those and they can cover up enormous faults in any sporting structure, so we must look at the overall number of people. I would be rather more impressed by tennis if it got five people into the top 100 than if it produced one person who won a Grand Slam. That is just an aside.

Two things come across that show why we should pay attention to sport and physical recreation. One is that it is good for us. As numerous noble Lords have said, having fit and healthy people will save us quite a lot of money in terms of the National Health Service. The other is that it is fun. If you bring those two facts together, you ask, “Why don’t we put more into it?”. I do not know the answer, but I have a theory that the people who run political parties, the backroom boys, do not really appreciate sport. Indeed, when the Conservative Government introduced some well meant educational changes, they demolished the school sports structure unintentionally, because, when teachers counted their hours, the old structure broke down of, “Oh, you play for the fourth team in whatever sport it is; you’re on the school’s second team”, although often without proper training. It was, let’s face it, not brilliantly organised and probably failed many present-day health and safety standards. It should have gone away, but not with the crash and bang with which it went.

The disappearance of school playing fields is probably another part of the same process. The Government can take credit for stopping the sale of school playing fields. I would be rather more impressed if they had brought the process to a grinding halt as opposed to slowing it down over several years and only just having stopped it. If they are boasting about it, I would listen more intently if there had been a grinding halt and then a rapid reversal. However, we are where we are.

Sporting structures are now having attention paid to them, possibly because of the fact that there was a small crisis in that area. Particularly in school-age sport, we have made great strides forward. The real question about the dozens of schemes that the Government brought out—I probably will not get an answer today—is which ones did not work best and which ones worked well. It would be interesting to get that answer. They cannot all have been great successes, although they are easy to market. You get a bunch of children and you say, “Right, run around in front of a camera with the politician or the sports star and look terribly enthusiastic, and we’ll get a lovely launch”. Then you have increased participation figures. But how many carry on? Where does it go? What happens?

As has been mentioned, it is quite easy, if you shout at enough people in schools, especially the more pliant or enthusiastic ones, to produce a fitter, healthier bunch of, say, 14 year-olds. The problem is around the age of 19 or 20 and with adults from there on in. That is the group that we are failing. It is about the interface between the organisation of school and adult life.

Perhaps we should not feel too bad about that. My own sport of Rugby Union, for example, is probably the worst in terms of a school’s prestige among prestige schools. You would have a rugger team. You took a small bunch of people and drilled them like automatons to be good at a sport. After they achieved a degree of success, you paraded them around like trophies, more or less put them in the cabinet on the wall and said, “Aren’t we good?”. I have met at least half a dozen Rugby Union schoolboy internationals who refused to play the game again after leaving school as a result of that attitude. It is a real danger. Why? If it is not made fun, it is not taken on.

Modern training structures have been developed and, for most games, there are now shorter, easier, less technical versions—Rugby Union started to develop them before most, but tennis and cricket have followed. They aim to get people involved earlier and build up their participation levels so that they enjoy the sport, the process of being involved and the competition, and find out what they want to do. That is a vital part of building the success of the strategy. If the Government can tell us which schemes are working on that level of success, they will have taken a major step forward.

A few years ago, I produced my party’s sport policy development paper. It came just after that of the Government and just before that of the Conservative Party. The pages of those three documents were not interchangeable, but they were not far off. We all spoke to the same people and came up with the same findings: that the school model had some capacity, albeit that it was concentrated on those of school age, that we should get clubs involved so that people continued afterwards and that we should make sure that the coaching capacity existed. How that is delivered is the big question.

Let us not forget that sport can be used to divert people from other activities. Late-night soccer centres in places such as Cardiff have taken young men off street corners and allowed them to play sport at non-traditional times under floodlights. It has cut down street violence and crime. Sport can be used to that end. However, one wants people playing sport primarily because they are enjoying it, getting a buzz and forming teams.

What are we doing about sport for disabled people and how does it fit into the structure of what is going on? The Olympics have provided a huge impetus to sport by pushing it right up the agenda and making it a more serious matter. It receives more attention. Perhaps it is just my imagination, but I think that more money, attention and political kudos now surround sport in this country. How are we cashing in on that?

A huge part of the Olympics—indeed, half of it—is the Paralympic Games. I have received a briefing from Action for Blind People, which asks, first, how we are making sure that people with sight impairment can take part in sport and, secondly, whether we have looked at how we can integrate them more successfully into certain types of sport. For example, brighter-coloured balls could be used for those who are partially sighted. Certain levels of integration can be achieved. What is being done? What model are we using to bring those people together? What is the emphasis? Do the Government have an overall strategy, or is it just growing piecemeal in various sports and to various unofficial lengths?

Having been rather rude about my own sport of rugby, I draw the Government’s attention to a good scheme that the Rugby Football Union has brought forward called Go Play Rugby. It was marketed to 16 to 24 year-olds. I was not aware of it. It started at around the time of the World Cup and was probably helped by England’s surprising progress to the semi-finals—I usually cheer more loudly for Scotland, but there we are. The scheme aimed to get 6,000 people playing rugby again—people who had received training before but had dropped out. It managed to get over 9,000 people, of whom I think 840 were women. There was another scheme called, I think, Carry on Playing—it cannot be that, but I cannot remember its exact name—to monitor retention of players. The scheme marketed to an exact group, and then there were people at the clubs to receive people and look after them when they turned up asking to play. Everybody who has played a sport knows what it is like going into a new sporting club. If you happen to meet the right person, you feel welcomed; if you do not, you feel like a social leper, with the idea that you will never get out of that fifth team no matter what you do. Let’s face it, it happens.

If Rugby Union can run such a scheme and have a series of pathfinder groups and support for coaches and others to get people into the game, why cannot other sports do it? They should look at and learn from that scheme. Have the Government been briefed about the project? I did not get a chance to speak to the Minister before the debate. Are they aware of the scheme and have they looked to see whether it can be used as a model to reach that group with which we traditionally have the worst links and to say to it, “Yes, it’s okay to come out and play sport”? Part of the marketing was to say, “Find rugby, find some dates”. It is a social network that could relate to any sporting activity, or certainly to team games. You have to be able to relate socially at a certain level to be able to do a sport; you have a group of people whom you have met already and you go out with them. That social network has been part of most people’s participation in sport in the past.

Also, the more people you get playing those sports, the wealthier the sports become, because they draw their income at grass-roots level from their participants. It is that simple. If you get people involved, you get more money. Ultimately, the Government might even have to spend slightly less money if they pump-prime these projects. I hope that the Minister can give us a positive answer. If he is not aware of the scheme, he might like to go with me to talk to the RFU about it. Other members of the Government are, of course, aware of it. Perhaps we could take on this model and go further with it. We could see how relevant it is and how it should be developed in future. A great deal of effort has gone into various schemes, but we do not always report back on those that do not work. Here is one that seems to have started well and whose progress is being monitored. Can we find out what it is doing? If it is a successful model for that difficult-to-hit group—the one with the biggest wastage—it should be developed, and developed for other sports.

The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, is always entertaining, but his description of the sports bureaucracy is one with which I am afraid nobody can disagree. Indeed, I think that he slightly underplayed it, to be honest. But this scheme seems to be comparatively simple and is organised within one sport. I hope that all those groups involved, such as CCPR and Sport England, will be able to come behind it and develop it. Will the Minister give a positive response to this suggestion and encourage his colleagues in government to look at it and at the models around it? Unless we establish finally what does and does not work, we can carry on with our scattergun approach—okay, a lot of effort has been made—but we will not maximise our return unless we really concentrate.

My Lords, like others I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for initiating yet another debate on sport, this time with a slightly different angle. It is a chance to review the Government’s strategy for sport and physical education—and it is about time. We have had some very interesting comments on widely spaced subjects.

I make one comment, before I start formally, on the Paralympic situation. Your Lordships may not be aware that once a year we put on an event called the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, which I believe is the largest annual international Paralympic event in the world. It is sponsored now almost entirely by the Government, UK Sport, Manchester City Council and the Northwest Regional Development Agency. It has had a big impact on the Manchester area. It brings in 42 different countries and something like 400 athletes, and it is something that we can be proud of. We are ahead of the world in high-level Paralympics event management. That has come from the people who put it on, whom I had better not mention, and the funding is from government sources.

However, Her Majesty's Government’s long-term ambition through their new strategy started with a thing called PESSCL—PE, school sport and club links. The strategy stands at the heart of the Government’s current bid to improve the infrastructure for school sports. In April 2008 it was renamed the PE and sports strategy for young people. Its long-term ambition by 2010 is to offer all children five hours of sport a week. According to 2006-07 figures, 86 per cent of children are now getting only two hours of high-quality sport per week in school. The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, I and others in your Lordships’ House have been pushing at the Government’s door in previous debates to reach the 100 per cent target of two hours a week. We think that they have just about got there, and I am delighted that they have raised the bar to push on for five hours, which surely is a more realistic target for our young people.

The scheme is based around networks of secondary, primary and special schools, with a specialist sports college acting as a co-ordinating hub. The strategy has seen an increase in the amount of PE in schools. For the 2006-07 school year, 86 per cent of children in partnership schools received two hours of PE per week. So many children, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said, are still not getting any notable PE per week.

The figure of 86 per cent is an increase of 34 per cent since 2003-04. It is a significant increase, although it has taken a long time. It exceeds PSA1 target. The Prime Minister has committed £100 million to try to offer five hours of sport both inside and outside the curriculum. This money will primarily fund competition managers and the new national school sport week. In February 2008, Mr Brown announced a further £30 million for facilities and sports colleges. That has to be good news.

We have called for an increase in competitive sports in schools on a number of occasions. PESSCL’s main achievement is in creating a structure of school sport that works and can be developed. All schools are now covered by one of the 450 school sport partnerships. The club links programme run by Sport England, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, told us, shows that 27 per cent of pupils accessed one or more sports clubs linked to their school or school sport partnership in 2006-07, an increase of 22 per cent on 2004-05. This level of increase must continue. The Government must have a strategy to maintain progress in the field, obviously linked to Sport England.

An increase in competitive sport is justified—and this is somewhat dubious—by the statistic that 98 per cent of schools now have a sports day. That goes into the statistics that produce the 98 per cent. Some 35 per cent now take part in inter school sport and 58 per cent in intra school competition. Those healthy figures need to be maintained.

Is two hours of sport in schools enough? It is clearly not enough to curb the child obesity problem, which is getting worse. Fourteen per cent of children—more than a million—are not getting two hours’ high-quality sport, but what constitutes high quality? I suspect that we all have a different view on that.

The figures in the Government’s own PE PSA target are ambiguous. The 86 per cent figure comes from the 2007 school sport survey that examined data from 21,742 schools operating within a school sports partnership. Therefore, it did not cover all schools. There are 25,018 schools in England, so 13 per cent of schools are not included in this figure. In addition, the survey stated that,

“70% of pupils in partnership schools participated in at least two hours of curriculum PE, which means that for 16 % of pupils there is a ‘top up’ of extra curricular school sport which enables them to achieve the two hour PE/school sport participation target”.

These statistics are bullish and indicate progress. I am not knocking the Government but there is a long way still to go. There are weaknesses with the PESSCL strategy. For example, its focus falls on secondary schools and does not necessarily provide enough support for primary schools or further education.

On 13 July 2007 Gordon Brown announced yet another target for children’s participation in sport. This stated a goal to,

“give every child the chance of five hours of sport every week”.

As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said, this was originally included in Labour’s 2005 manifesto—we are now in 2008—which stated on page 95:

“Investment in school sports will ensure that by 2010 all children will receive two hours high-quality PE or sport per week. Building on that, we pledge that by 2010 every child who wants it will have access to a further two to three hours sport per week”.

The PSA announcement is simply a rehash of old policy. We do not want rehashes of old policy, we want new policies, forward-looking changes and to be able to move on. The delivery mechanism of the strategy has been questioned, especially given the lack of trained teachers to supply the sport. Sixty per cent of primary school PE teachers have fewer than six hours’ PE training within their course. This is reflected in the poor physical literacy of a number of our youngsters. The Government have reduced their recruitment targets for PE teachers from 1,450 in 2006-07 to 1,180 in 2007-08. There is a massive turnover of PE teachers due to frustration, career progression issues and a shortage of trained people. The strategy has been criticised as being too target-driven. Programmes such as these should be based on children, not on targets.

Grass-roots sport stands in transition as Sport England reviews its strategy to create a world-class community system. James Purnell announced in November 2007 that he wanted to focus the attention of Sport England on,

“making sport excellent for everyone who takes part”.

I agree with that, as we all do. That is the role of Sport England. However, he advised the Department of Health to take responsibility for promoting fitness and physical activity. This is, of course, linked to the Government’s concern about the obesity epidemic outlined in the Foresight report. The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, and my noble friend Lord Taylor mentioned health issues, as have other noble Lords on many occasions. Cross-governmental operating has also been mentioned; that is, joined-up government between health, sport and education.

I had a joyous morning yesterday at the other end. Richard Caborn, wearing his hat as president of the Amateur Boxing Association, had both Ed Balls and Gerry Sutcliffe beside him at the same table, with key players on the Amateur Boxing Association board and a number of youngsters. They were telling us how the association had worked with schools to get boxing going for both boys and girls, and not only had it done that but it had linked to clubs across the country. I do not have the numbers, but for me it was an exciting start. That should form a significant part, if it has not done so already, of government strategy for community sport, which is what we are about. If boxing can do it, and if boxing can get girls in, and can get into clubs and schools, why cannot everyone else? The passion from the guys running and helping it was tremendous to see.

There are also some problems on the financial side, as I think has already been mentioned. More than £10 million was invested by Sport England in 3,000 community coaches, which was an excellent decision, and 2,000 multiskill clubs for younger children have been implemented, with the dance links programme. That is good news. There is a lot of both good news and bad news. My point is that there is a long way to go when it comes to recognising excellence.

As a direct result of Gordon Brown’s raid on lottery cash, the amount of lottery funding going into grass-roots sport has fallen by nearly 50 per cent, and governing bodies think that it is likely to stay at that sort of level until well after 2012. It has dropped from £397 million in 1997 to £209 million in 2006. That is a significant amount, and you can see it among governing bodies. I am president of a governing body, and I meet others; everyone is seriously feeling the pinch for cash. About £70 million has been diverted from grass-roots sport, on top of that, to help pay for the 2012 Olympics.

Only 13.5 per cent of the UK population are members of sports clubs, whereas for Sweden it is 39 per cent and France 26 per cent. That is a big area of work to go on with. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about the active people survey and the figures that came out of that. He mentioned the Finns as well. Clubs are already struggling under current funding levels. Research carried out by the CCPR suggests that the number of voluntary clubs is falling, which is another worrying statistic, with 14 out of 21 sports reporting a worsening of the financial status of their clubs. That comes from the CCPR sports club survey of 2007. That means that there is insufficient funding to provide the sports facilities, space or personnel needed to accommodate growing demand.

Finally, obesity is getting worse. We have not got anywhere near to tackling obesity in boys, girls or adults. In my home province of Northern Ireland, seeing such people walk around the street is terrible.

In summary, Her Majesty’s Government have made some progress in recent years, but considerably more effort is needed. More money and less bureaucracy are needed. In particular, where it comes to increasing the hours of sport that can be given to young people in schools, a serious look at health and safety in relation to sport and recreation is needed from the Government. That has been accepted as something that needs to be done by both the former and the current Ministers for Sport, and it is time that the Government took it seriously. It inhibits children and young people from getting a chance to go out into the mountains and hills and on to the water doing some of the more exciting sports, because teachers, leaders and instructors are frightened of the claims culture and what is behind it. On that note, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for giving us the opportunity to debate this.

My Lords, I join other noble Lords in thanking my noble friend Lord Pendry for this opportunity to discuss sport and to outline some of the Government’s achievements since June 2007, when he last raised a significant debate in this House on sport in the community. I pay tribute to his work over a substantial period in bringing sport to the attention of Parliament and government, reflecting the fact that there is no doubt that sport has a much higher profile than it had a decade or so ago in terms of the perspective of the nation and the desirability that government should address some of the deficiencies in our sporting provision, which this debate has helped to identify. My noble friend also called attention to the substantial progress that the Government have made in improving sporting opportunities for our people, particularly young people.

I was very glad that my noble friend brought within this framework the role of sport in promoting other significant government objectives on the wider social agenda. The investment in sport and physical activity, which we will continue to produce, will help to combat rising levels of obesity, which we all recognise are of concern to the nation. There is no doubt that people who take exercise give themselves a decent chance of avoiding levels of obesity that are often the product of an exceedingly sedentary existence. Sport has a role in terms of promoting good health, additional to those relating to obesity. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, for emphasising mental health issues. There is no doubt that people often need an opportunity to develop self-respect in their lives and sport can play its part in that. The noble Lord constructively identified ways in which we could look at these issues more carefully in relation to that dimension of ill health and he said that a part of the Olympic legacy should direct itself to future sport opportunities.

Sport is a great means of bringing communities and people together and helping to improve educational attainment. It also helps to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime. We are all too well aware that young people in depressed circumstances often find that opportunities in sport can give their lives new hope and prospects; otherwise they would be led into a state of depression that is the breeding ground of people acting in anti-social ways. There is no doubt that sports clubs can be enormously important to local communities in those terms. That is why we are continuing to reform the sporting landscape. We are working closely with our key delivery partners, the Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and UK Sport, as well as many others.

We want to ensure that people of all ages play sport. I take on board the point that the noble Lord, Lord Addington, was keen to emphasise about strategies for the re-entry of people into sport. There is no doubt that the drop out rate from sport when people leave school and educational establishments is very high and we have to work hard to achieve re-entry into sport. I am grateful to the noble Lord for identifying one scheme.

My Lords, the noble Lord indicated that “Carry on” was probably an unlikely title, so I am grateful to him for being specific. We will certainly look at that, but the noble Lord will appreciate that we have identified interesting developments, apart from in Rugby Union, in other sports where opportunities are developing. In fact, my noble friend Lord Rosser mentioned Chance to Shine, with regard to cricket, about the relationship between schools and cricket clubs, which helps, we hope, to prevent the break that occurs when young people leave school and ensure that they have a welcome. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, indicated that that depends a little on what kind of welcome one gets in a club. Good links between clubs and schools no doubt ease the path so that young people feel confident when they join a club, and will help to reduce drop-out rate. They will also increase the profile of sports clubs in the community, so that we get people taking an interest in and feeling that they can happily return to sports that they might have dropped.

I emphasise that we have, and have had, tough targets to raise participation across the country. However, our work in the area gives us a strong foundation from which to make further progress. The Prime Minister’s announcement last year of an additional £100 million investment in PE and sport means that we aim to offer every young person between the ages of five and 16 five hours of PE and sport per week, with three hours of sport for 16 to 19 year-olds. The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, was a little anxious about progress in those areas, and he is right to chide us for the extent to which we have made progress. We now see high participation among girls as well as boys; the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, spoke about the importance of young women having the opportunity to participate and develop confidence in sport, and to continue in it after they had left educational establishments.

We are also keen to emphasise competitive sport in schools, which is why the National School Sport Week will take place between 30 June and 4 July. All round the country, in each of the school sport partnerships, there will be an exciting range of interschool and intraschool sport competitions throughout the week. We also have a brand new programme, which has already been successfully piloted in a number of areas and is due to roll out nationally from September. It will increase opportunities for children and young people aged five to 19 to participate regularly in sport in clubs and the community. Funding will be channelled through county sport partnerships and the activities themselves will be delivered through a broad range of local youth, after-school and community sports clubs, and will be determined locally by their relevance and interest to young people. I hope that meets the point of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon. He gave us the well known description—it is not a caricature—of how sports bodies in the past seemed to include everyone, including the kitchen sink, and then produced little after those vast meetings had taken place. We are concerned to make sure that the operation of support for young people in sport should minimise red tape and deal directly and sympathetically with youngsters. That lesson has been learnt.

The noble Lords, Lord Addington and Lord Glentoran, asked about those with disabilities and their chance to participate in sport. There is no doubt that the Olympics and Paralympics of 2012 will give us a great opportunity to focus increasingly on the question of the disabled in sport, but we need to take steps well before the Games hit their highest point of public appreciation. We are concerned that there be the high-quality participation and competitive opportunities for disabled young people and adults that their more able colleagues enjoy. We support the national governing bodies of Paralympic sport in their goals and will help schools to identify pupils with higher ability, through targeted continuing professional opportunities for teachers and termly “identifying ability” days. The theme behind that is that, if we can get into schools the realisation that the disabled should have opportunities alongside more able colleagues, that will translate into expectancy with regard to continuing adult life. In that area, I assure the House that the Government will not drag their feet in any way but will be very concerned to make progress.

My noble friend Lord Rosser very ably outlined issues relating to leadership in sport and volunteering. There is absolutely no doubt that volunteers always have played and will continue to play an important role in sport, with some 1.5 million people being involved. We recognise the importance of improving the quality and diversity of young people as leaders, volunteers and role models in sport. Far too few people volunteer, but we all know that clubs depend totally on a great deal of volunteer activity. We need more people to play their part and to see the sporting opportunities that they can provide for the next generation. Twenty-three national governing bodies of sport, covering all the major sports and many others, now have a volunteering strategy in place. As part of that strategy, 989 young ambassadors will help to spread the Olympic and Paralympic message and ideals within the school sport partnerships.

A number of noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Pendry, who opened the debate, commented on the Sport England strategy. There is no doubt that we will shortly publish a new strategy for Sport England. Considerable progress has been made in recent years, but the strategy will now set out how Sport England will develop a world-leading community sports system of high-quality sports clubs, coaches, volunteers and facilities. It will have an investment of £250 million a year and will be able to monitor progress. That point was emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, but I know that my noble friend Lord Pendry has also always emphasised that we should be able to monitor progress in relation to the government money that is devoted to sport.

The Government recognise that being physically active is important for everyone, and therefore they are keen that it should not only be the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that is concerned with the sports strategy. The House will appreciate that there is also involvement from the departments concerned with schools, from the Treasury in providing resources and, crucially, from the Department of Health, which will be the beneficiary of the end product of more successful sport and exercise participation in the country. That participation will help the department to hit its objectives. There is no doubt that people who become involved in sport and physical activity develop healthier lifestyles, and we intend to increase those opportunities.

More than half of English adults are now either overweight or obese, as is one in four children. According to research, by 2050 60 per cent of men, 40 per cent of women and 25 per cent of children could be clinically obese if we do nothing. There is therefore no doubt about the priority that needs to be attached to this strategy and no doubt about the role that exercise and sport can play.

My noble friend Lord Faulkner raised the issue of ticket-touting and welcomed the degree of progress that we have made. We are continuing to explore options for improving the market to increase affordability and access. We are all too well aware of the extent to which sports fans are deeply resentful of the way in which certain tickets for major events provide an opportunity for exploitation. We are looking at options for a voluntary agreement on tickets for certain “crown jewel” events. Those events underpin the list of sporting events that must be available for free-to-air television. However, there may be one or two additional events where voluntary agreements can be reached on how tickets are to be distributed and where controls can be put in place to ensure that the incidence of ticket-touting is greatly reduced. We want to develop a new code of principles to deliver improved access through distribution and other market-led measures that enables more fans to get tickets at source. If we can ensure that the vast majority of tickets are taken up by those with a genuine enthusiasm for the sport rather than for making money out of the opportunities that a special event provides, it would go a long way towards reducing ticket-touting. The House will appreciate that we have necessary objectives in this regard with the Olympic Games.

Finally, I come to our past success in sporting presentation; namely, the Manchester Commonwealth Games. They show how well we could organise great sporting events; they were no doubt also a factor in London’s successful bid for the Olympic Games. We are only a matter of months from the point at which Beijing hands over to London. When it does so, London and the country more widely will be vested with a tremendous opportunity to emphasise the importance of sport in our national life. Much of that will revolve round the achievements of elite athletes in the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. We want our Paralympic athletes to achieve in the Paralympic Games in Beijing at least what was achieved in the two previous Games at Athens and Sydney, when they had the second highest total of medals. We might even look at one stage above that—the top position. We would be gravely disappointed if we did not hit similar levels in the 2012 Olympics. The Olympics also provide the opportunity for the world to see the highest level of achievements. We have a clear target for our elite athletes and competitors and we want those targets to be achieved. That will require great emphasis on sport training at elite levels and the necessary investment in sport.

I assure my noble friend, who has done so much work in this area, and the House that the Government are committed to a strategy that will ensure that the nation benefits from sport, that the health of the nation benefits from the participation of our people in sport and that at the elite level London presents a superb Olympics in 2012. In addition, our elite athletes and competitors should show the kind of results of which this nation should rightly be proud.

My Lords, before the Minister sits down, does he feel able to say anything on the Prime Minister’s meeting this morning about the role that sport can play in getting knives off the streets? I checked the street word earlier and it was said to me, “Turn the gangs into teams and get them to play a proper game; that is the way to do it”.

My Lords, there will be several developments in the near future on the issue, which the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, raised, as regards the legacy of the Olympics. I had hoped to be explicit in this debate, but I cannot be as clear as I would have liked. There is a slight delay on the formulation of our plans in this area. As part of this general perspective on government policy, I can assure the House that the legacy of the Games and the necessary advantages to be derived for the country will be the subject of a major government initiative in the very near future.

My Lords, this House is at its very best when it debates issues such as this one. I thank all noble Lords who have made contributions. The quality of the speeches made me feel that tabling the Motion was well worthwhile. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, who at times could have been speaking from the government Dispatch Box, reflects the views of the shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who said, last week, that if, in the unlikely event, he had the chance, he would not change much that Labour had done on sport. I am sure that the House will wish the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, the very best of luck in his ambition to play for Aston Villa. Seriously, I thank everyone who has taken part in the debate and the Minister for his very helpful reply. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.