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Sport and Recreation

Volume 722: debated on Thursday 11 November 2010

Question for Short Debate

Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they propose to strengthen the governance of sport and recreation in the United Kingdom to assist clubs, voluntary organisations and governing bodies.

My Lords, we are now left with a truly outstanding sporting array in your Lordships' House. I thank those who are taking part for doing so, because this debate has at its heart the importance of our voluntary organisations and the governing bodies in the development and delivery of sport and recreation throughout the United Kingdom.

First, I declare my interests. I am chairman of the British Olympic Association, a director of the London Organising Committee and a member of a number of International Olympic Committee and European Olympic Committee commissions and committees.

The word governance derives from the Greek verb “kubernáo”, which means to steer and was used for the first time in a metaphorical sense by Plato. As a former Olympian coxswain who once again is celebrating the outstanding performance of our rowers in New Zealand last week, the word has an important resonance for me. For governance has become an increasingly relevant issue throughout sport. Sport has been built on a foundation of volunteering and amateurism. That is, of course, one of its many assets, and the reason why sport and sport clubs thrive in local communities up and down the country. However, it has also meant that sports organisations have struggled to adapt as the world of sport has become more political, professional and global. In the UK, with the increase in Exchequer and lottery funding in the lead-up to London 2012, our governing bodies and sports organisations have had to address their internal governance as they seek to stabilise their own management and financial processes. It is a similar story around the world, and throughout the Olympic movement as sport adapts to the changing yet opportunistic corporate world around it.

The British Olympic Association recognised the need to review its own governance and last week concluded the most comprehensive review of its governance processes in its 105-year history. As well as ensuring that we met basic governance standards, we also wanted to create a framework which enables the BOA to discharge its duties to the athletes that it represents and its 33 member governing bodies. We needed to modernise our practices and operate within the Olympic charter to seek to deliver our mission in an exemplary fashion and ensure that the business of sport is conducted to the highest standards. To achieve this, there must be clarity of roles and accountabilities, clear communication between all parties, appropriate checks and balances and a culture of trust and transparency. We as a National Olympic Committee want to ensure that we set an example to our membership and many sports are indeed reviewing their own governance as a result.

In 2004, I led a debate in your Lordships' House urging the Government of the day to back the BOA’s proposed bid to host the Olympic Games in London. The Government took note of the all-party support, which has remained cross-party and remarkably strong to this day. The work of Tony Blair, Tessa Jowell and my noble friend Lord Coe proved invaluable to the success of our bid. Sport acts best when there is unity of purpose.

Winning the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games in London has placed sport higher up the political agenda than it has ever been in the United Kingdom. The consequential increase in the exposure and investment awarded to sport is most welcome, aiding Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes in their quest for success in the home games in 2012. However, with the added interest in sport comes the danger that political intervention will affect the autonomy of sport and the strong foundations and principles of the Olympic charter itself. Over the past 105 years of the BOA’s existence, it has always sought the best possible relations with Government while retaining its independence, allowing for the freedom to act in the best interests of the sportsmen and women. With the enormous honour of the Games being bestowed on London in 2012, the BOA is for ever conscious of the growing involvement of government in all aspects of sport, driven by their direction of lottery and central government investment into elite and community sport, and the growing global recognition of the political and electoral power of sport in the 21st century. Whether it is taking inner-city kids off the escalator to crime through sport, recognising that sport and recreation should form a key component of health policy or as a central tenet of education policy, nowadays there is not a single department of state which does not have an involvement in policy affecting sport and recreation.

Hosting the Olympic Games increases exponentially the desire of Government to seek political benefit. The Olympic Games are regarded as the golden goose, eagerly sought by politicians for its glistening electoral egg. Throughout the 21st century, the temptation felt by politicians to reach out for Olympic and sporting magic will be too seductive to avoid on a scale not seen before. Sport has a duty to respond and to protect its autonomy. To do that, my message today is that it has to be equally well prepared and equipped.

All organisations involved in sport in the United Kingdom have recognised the magnitude of the challenge before them. Sport is built on the work of volunteers and those coaches, clubs, governing bodies and international federations who protect and promote their interests. No sporting organisation should ever succumb to being part of a politically controlled, centrally managed or nationalised industry—however strong the political pressure. The British Olympic Association believes that governing bodies are best placed to run their own sports and will continue to provide services, assist, represent and support them to ensure their autonomy and freedom to deliver are protected.

I firmly believe that the way to deliver a true legacy for the 2012 Games is not just through wider sporting participation, better facilities and a successful Team GB performance; it is about responding to the issues we face with greater politicisation of sport at the national and European level. I support the stance taken by the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, who stated in September 2007:

“The responsibility sport has in society and the autonomy with which it regulates itself are central to its credibility and legitimacy. Autonomy thus means preserving the values of sport and the existing structures through which it has developed in Europe and around the world. Sport can play its unique role thanks to its autonomy, and this role would be seriously compromised if the governing bodies of sport are subject to public interference”.

I shall give an example of the importance of preserving the autonomy of sport and in particular the Olympic movement. The British Olympic Association has been asked by the coalition Government to work with them and Sport England to see whether it is possible to develop an “Olympic-style school sport” event as one of the key legacy programmes from the 2012 Games. From the outset, I warmly welcomed the Government’s approach to improving competitive sport in schools—the bedrock to ensuring we have a consistent stream of potential future Olympians, club membership and a pyramid of participation.

The Olympic-style school sport event should not duplicate existing good practice but should include those school sport organisations that are organised, without government intervention, by the national governing bodies of sport. As a membership organisation of the 33 Olympic governing bodies, we resolutely maintain that any new competition should fully incorporate the work of our sports and indeed, any other governing bodies which can be encouraged to join the project.

Similarly, there is no better model to follow in constructing the Olympic-style school sport event than the outstanding work of the London Youth Games, which many of us have followed over the years. The young talent on display there is impressive and typical of what we would hope to see nationwide throughout the new event. In this context, we at the British Olympic Association are working to meet our International Olympic Committee obligations regarding the protection of Olympic rights, the protection of our autonomy and the best possible structure, governance, commercial approach and, above all, the involvement of governing bodies in the design of the project.

The Team 2012 model, supported by the International Olympic Committee, provides an excellent starting point and I congratulate the Secretaries of State in both the DCMS and the Department for Education, as well as Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust, on their initial hard work to see whether it is possible to deliver an Olympic-style school sport event. We will need to avoid duplicating existing good practice and an inefficient use of resources, financial or otherwise, seeking instead to build on the outstanding work done by the voluntary sector. The Olympic-style school sport event has the potential to be a classic case of empowering local communities, schools, volunteers and clubs through an association with the Olympic movement.

We should also take note, however, of dissenting voices and concerns; for example, the indefatigable noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, who wrote to me recently and offered her regret for being unable to speak in today’s debate due to a wholly understandable prior commitment. She expressed concern about the governance of sport in Britain, the large governing bodies that sometimes fail, as she sees it, in their fundamental task. She wrote:

“Not only are they falling short in sporting excellence but grass root sport is also suffering. Some minority sports seem to have little or no support and they are often the activities that depend on volunteers to survive. We need a much stronger framework for sport in general, with transparency and accountability at its heart”.

Her comments should be studied carefully.

The best legacy that British governing bodies can receive in the context of today’s debate, and indeed in the context of the Games, is to be empowered. The clubs, voluntary organisations and governing bodies must be fit for purpose to deliver services of the very highest order to their membership and, through them, to the sportsmen and women who they ultimately represent. If sports organisations are fully equipped with good governance, transparency and in-house expertise and increasingly backed by lottery money resulting from the Government’s welcome reform plans, they will then be able to continue to resist attempts at interference from politicians of all political complexions, at whatever level, and protect the freedom and autonomy of sport and the sporting movement. The life blood of that movement is the volunteers who invest their time so heavily in the love of sport.

I call on the coalition Government to continue to dismantle the bureaucracy of centralised control; to retain the level of financial support to our athletes though the lottery for 2012, 2016 and beyond, with the light-tough regulatory control required by recipients of lottery money and public funding; and to leave a lasting sports legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games by empowering volunteers, clubs and governing bodies to be the sports delivery mechanisms for future generations.

My Lords, when I saw that the noble Lord had tabled this debate, I rushed to put my own name down but, unfortunately, I did not bring dozens with me. I thank him for doing so, because sport is one of those subjects that politicians tend to clap about loudly but forget about when it goes away or when there is something else to clap about. That is the fact of the matter. Without people like the noble Lord taking the initiative, the subject tends to disappear under the radar.

The noble Lord made a central point about politicians tending to interfere in sport and then forgetting about it. I do not know how much interference has taken place in school sport. Maybe a few people have said, “We’ll have non-competitive sport in school”. Every time that we have discussed this, I have said: “You mean exercise? You mean formulated exercise, walking up and down and carrying something? That is not sport”. Sport has an element of competition. Whoever wins the game of some sort of tag race in the playground may not be a matter of life or death, but it has an element of sport in it, and that is what makes it attractive and gives you the buzz of taking part.

The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, has talked about one sport in particular but, in general, when it comes to governance, large governing sports bodies have a nasty habit of talking to themselves about themselves and resenting anyone who tells them that they are not doing it right. They usually turn round and say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about; this is the way we’ve always done it”. And, because they have not spoken to people outside, the governing bodies themselves do not know what they are talking about, even if what they are doing is out of date and horrible. This circular process has occasionally been broken down, often because of a need for resources from outside.

We must not lose sight of these things. All sports have suffered from the fact that sportsmen like to talk about themselves to themselves. They are almost as bad as politicians; I give as an absolute example of this the next series of debates that the House of Lords will have about itself and, indeed, had last night. We like to talk about ourselves in select groups.

Having got that off my chest, I would like to talk about the bedrock of our sporting culture—that is, the volunteer and the volunteer-run clubs of this country. In Britain particularly, we have a tradition of clubs that get their own grounds, organise themselves on a volunteer basis and generate their own funds. They do not make heavy demands on the state. This means that there are governing bodies that do not talk to each other. There is also a political structure and a governing structure that do not have to pay much attention to each other. Traditionally, these two have worked together. Then there is resentment at the interference as one says “Oh, you need some help”. These two have got in each other’s way.

One logical extension of this is that you intervene positively and aggressively to make sure that these bodies are run better. Many nations do this. For instance, in providing grounds, the French stade municipale—where everybody plays in all the village events—is an excellent way forward. However, since we already have grounds, that might be duplication. We should make sure that schools are always open and always available to volunteers. Most sports clubs start by using school grounds. Previous Governments—the degree of sin here is eternal—have closed down school sports grounds or made them unavailable because it is uneconomic, under the models being used, to support them with staff. They also charged for their use under various underfunding relationships. These are ways in which government does not help.

You start a sports club by borrowing a ground. You get out there and you provide the kit and the opposition. Once you have got beyond that and are running your own ground—which you might have borrowed, rented or bought—it is a case of lowering the regulatory burden. That is another way forward if you are not going to invest positively.

I have had a go at offering some solutions. In the company of the CCPR I came up with a Bill that suggested one or two areas where we would like to see the regulatory burden cut back a bit. That approach seems to stand a better chance of being accepted by the Government in the current climate than asking for quite a lot more money. Also, money given sensitively and with thought and care is rare at all times, and money is particularly tight at the moment.

I had a series of examples but I will not weary the House with all of them. I would probably weary myself first. However, let us take the Licensing Act 2003. Club premises should not be looked on in the same way as an ordinary pub—a high-volume drinking den. Can we do something to reduce this burden? You may not approve of selling calorie-rich alcohol, which can lead to problems, as a way of funding a healthy activity, but it is the only way that these clubs can generate income on a regular basis. Their bar receipts guarantee their activity. The suggestion that the CCPR made to me was for a levy on sports club premises to certify fees against 20 per cent of the rateable value, in line with those other sports clubs that have CASC status. It would be a good step forward if that were brought in across the board.

We can go through other ideas but my favourite has to do with music licensing. If you have a television on the premises and you happen to watch programmes that have music in them, you end up with fees that are estimated this year at £369. Why do we have this if all people are doing is watching a football, rugby or hockey match with music at the beginning of it or in the programme immediately afterwards? Can we not make some form of derogation that means you only have to pay for this licence if you are using the place to generate income through playing music? Can we not have some way in which people can break out of this, or bring in some form of sensitivity?

These are very small fees that are being charged; they cannot be that beneficial to collect. Then there is the person who has to fill in the forms. I am secretary of the parliamentary rugby club and there are enough forms to frighten many people, although I manage to get somebody else to do most of them for me. But being faced with great volumes of forms can put off the secretary, the treasurer or the chairman. People need support and help in carrying out those roles. Can we not say, “Don’t do so much. If you cannot get somebody in who can show you how to do it, cut down”? Cutting down the burden will allow and encourage people to take part.

The Olympics is a catalyst for legacy; if we think that the legacy will disappear after the Olympics, we are doing sport the greatest disservice we can. It required people to think that the Olympics had to have a legacy. Let us face facts, something had already gone badly wrong. If we are going to make sure that people find it easy to do something, it is one of the best ways. People take a lot of time and put in a vast amount of effort and spend their own money so that they and others can play sport. They do it voluntarily. They do it because of the thousands of Saturday and Sunday morning soccer and rugby teams that are out there, not to mention cricket, tennis and hockey. These organisations are basically organically grown. If the state will not assist them aggressively, it must make sure that it does not impede them.

I look forward to hearing what my noble friend has to say about this. If you are not going to help, get out of the way.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for initiating this debate. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience at all levels of sport, which makes him an ideal sponsor for this debate, and he has raised some important questions.

I approach this debate not as a sports expert—indeed, I can still vividly remember a number of rather painful experiences on the sports field of Whitchurch High School, which I will not regale noble Lords with now—but as someone who is rightly proud of my party’s achievements in investing in sport and encouraging all young people to find a sport that they can enjoy. So I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that Governments meddle inefficiently in sport.

When we were elected in 1997, competitive school sports had virtually disappeared from the curriculum. Since that time, school sport has been transformed, with 84 per cent of pupils now doing two hours of PE per week and 78 per cent involved in competitive sport in school. In addition, strong partnerships with primary care trusts, local authorities, transport, police authorities and the voluntary sector have maximised the overall health, skills and confidence-building benefits that give young people a greater start in life.

Had we been re-elected, our manifesto aimed even higher: to extend participation in school sport further; to open up school facilities to the community; to create 10,000 new volunteer coaches; and to invest in new sports facilities. We were truly aiming for a golden decade of sport which, from the grass roots to the elites, would have allowed Britain’s sporting talent to be supported and celebrated. But now, instead of that hope and ambition, one of the first acts of Michael Gove at the Department for Education was to wind up the Youth Sport Trust, which had done so much to develop a nationwide programme of school sport, and instead redirect the money to general school funding. On this I very much share the view of my noble friend Lady Billingham, who, as we have heard, cannot be here today. She argued persuasively in the CSR debate last week that the outcome of this move will be inevitable; school heads, desperate to do well in Ofsted inspections and league tables, will be bound to transfer the money from PE into more academic subjects. The result will be a loss of all that expertise and commitment that have been nurtured over time. Therefore, I should like to ask the noble Baroness how much sport per week she envisages pupils taking under this Government’s proposals. What local partnerships does she envisage overseeing the sporting activities that will remain? What will be the impact on governance of sport at a local level?

As we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, this is a crucial time for UK sport in the run-up to the Olympics, and we are in the global spotlight as never before. We will be judged on our delivery of a successful Games and an increase in our cache of medals, but most importantly we will be judged on our legacy of embedding sport as a universal activity at grass-roots level, so is this not a rather strange time to start merging some of our key national sports organisations such as UK Sport, the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England? This will inevitably result in them taking their eye off the ball, so to speak. If we care about succeeding in delivering the Olympic legacy, surely the better route would be to leave the current bodies in place and build up their governance and accountability structures. I should be grateful if the noble Baroness could comment on this point.

At the heart of this debate is a very real concern about standards of governance in grass-roots and national sports. It is fair to say that sporting bodies have been slow to take up the challenge that business and the voluntary sector have been grappling with for years. Again, I slightly disagree with both previous speakers on this issue because it seems to me that the voluntary sector does understand the need for good governance in a way that some local and voluntary sporting organisations may not. It is obviously dangerous to generalise, but there have been some high-profile cases that have shone a painful light on some of our much loved institutions. In football, the recent cases of the disputed ownership of clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United have raised the question of supporters’ rights to a say in the ownership. In cricket, issues of match fixing, betting and corruption haunt the international sport. In track events, the continuing shadow of performance-enhancing drugs and the lack of effective controls regularly hit the headlines. Even the Lawn Tennis Association is accused of a lack of transparency in its funding and a failure to deliver promises to roll out a grass-roots programme.

Some of these examples underline the fact that many sports are big business and there are obviously limits on how far government can intervene. But even in professional sport government can, and should, play a supporting role in order to get fans a fair deal from the sports they love. For example, government can intervene to combat cheating and ban the use of illegal substances. It can also prosecute those involved in match fixing, improve the regulation of betting and work with sporting bodies to make sure that they are accountable to their stakeholders, are transparently run and have the power to scrutinise the takeovers of professional clubs. Of course, where government money is used to help fund specific activities of these organisations, our powers to intervene are that much greater.

It seems to me that there are some key principles of governance that we could require sports organisations to adopt. It is no longer good enough to make excuses for the poor performance of some amateur organisations. The participants and supporters have certain rights. Sport England has already taken a first step by producing a self-assessment tool for governance, but more could, and should, be done. A recent report by Birkbeck College entitled, Good Governance in Sport, researched what national sports bodies were doing and set out a set of standards for the future. Its blueprint is a great starting point for governing bodies struggling to raise their game. It includes advice on the size of boards, the need for independent non-executive directors, annual board performance evaluation, appointments procedures and risk management policies. It also proposes that boards understand their stakeholders better and implement engagement and participation strategies, including representation on the board. For those of us who have been involved with governance in other sectors this might all sound rather obvious, but it seems that what is needed now are some core principles and measures of good governance that can underpin every sports body and reassure everyone involved.

This is a welcome debate that raises some fundamental issues about how our sports bodies are run. There is an opportunity here for the Government to follow on from the good work already carried out by their predecessor, and I look forward to hearing from the noble Baroness how she intends to take this crucial work forward.

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for calling this debate today and for his excellent opening speech. As a former Olympian and Minister for Sport, and current chair of the British Olympic Association, he has great expertise in this area which is valued by colleagues across all sides of the House. I also thank the two noble Lords who have also spoken today on this important issue.

The governance of sport, and particularly the governance of sports by their national governing bodies—NGBs—is a key part of the sporting landscape. Over half of all the government and lottery funding distributed by UK Sport and Sport England goes to NGBs, so NGBs need to get their governance right if, as a country, we are to deliver Olympic and Paralympic success and encourage more people to take part in sporting activities. That is why I am grateful for the helpful and erudite contributions made to the debate today. We will take them away and reflect on them further as we develop our proposals in this area.

Before I turn to NGBs specifically, I ought to mention what the Government are doing to strengthen the governance at the very top of the pyramid; all three noble Lords referred to this. As they will be aware, we intend to merge UK Sport and Sport England after the Olympics and Paralympics, to simplify the current landscape. That change will facilitate a more coherent approach to issues which affect sport at all levels, such as coaching, and be more efficient, maximising funding to our front line. I reassure noble Lords from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that we do not propose any changes to the sports councils in those countries, which are not our responsibility as they have been devolved. Also, we are discussing the details of our proposals for UK Sport and Sport England with Ministers and officials in those countries. We want the merged body to have an even stronger relationship with the home country sports councils and work with them even more closely for the benefit of sport across the UK.

The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is absolutely right that we need to work with NGBs to strengthen their governance, while protecting their autonomy and trusting in their expertise. But I add that we have a responsibility to ensure that their spending of public funding represents value for money for the taxpaying and lottery-playing public. It is not money for nothing. Along with the other speakers, I add tribute to the volunteers who do so much to ensure the high quality of sport in this country. Both UK Sport and Sport England have sought to tread the fine line in recent years, improving the regular mechanisms for holding NGBs to account for public money through their Mission 2012 and whole sport plan processes, while avoiding continual bureaucracy. Both bodies monitor the governance of NGBs as part of their overall assurance work.

However, that has been given added focus by an independent investigation established by Richard Lewis, chairman of Sport England, and undertaken by Timothy Dutton QC in 2009 into Sport England’s world-class payments bureau, set up under previous management and operated between 1999 and March 2007. The bank account had operated outside the usual financial controls of Sport England, falling far short of the procedures and safeguards now in place in the organisation. There were mistakes in the way this was run, which have since been addressed by the new management team in Sport England, but it was set up because it was not possible to have the appropriate confidence in certain NGBs’ governance and systems in relation to the use of public money.

More recently, there was the collapse of the British NGB for skiing and snowboarding, Snowsport GB, less than a month before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. The quick work of the organisation of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, together with support from the talented athlete scholarship scheme and UK Sport, ensured that our skiers and snowboarders were able to compete in Canada.

In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, UK Sport and Sport England are currently working together even more closely than before to help improve the governance of NGBs. Governance, together with performance and finance, is one of the components of Sport England’s and UK Sport’s overall assessment of NGBs. They are currently developing at nil cost a governance, finance and control framework tool which is shortly due to be available on both websites, and which has previously been referred to. This will set out the necessary standards for bodies and provide prompts on how they might go about meeting those standards.

However, the Government do not view this as the end of the story. We want to continue to work with NGBs to help them further to improve their governance as part of our Olympic and Paralympic legacy plans. London is not just about building fantastic sports venues, boosting the UK economy, regenerating east London and hosting a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is also about putting in place a world-class sports system with proper governance from top to bottom.

There are two areas in particular that we would like NGBs to work on. First, we would like to ensure that they have high-calibre independent non-executives on their boards to help drive business forward, whether this is in terms of financial management, efficiency or capitalising on their commercial potential. Secondly, we would like NGBs to consider whether their current boards reflect the diversity of our society today, in order to help sports provide a service for underrepresented participant groups who may feel that they do not have the opportunity to play, such as women, ethnic minorities, the disabled, gays, lesbians and transsexuals. We would hope that all with enthusiasm and talent can feel able to participate and to feel welcome when they do so.

As well as governance processes, we believe that reducing bureaucracy in sport will assist clubs, voluntary organisations and governing bodies, and this is why the Minister for Sport and Olympics, Hugh Robertson, has tasked the Central Council of Physical Recreation with carrying out a review of bureaucracy and red tape as they affect sport. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, referred to two particular issues which the CCPR has been asked to address, and I assure him that it should report its findings to the Minister in early 2011 and then pass recommendations to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible for reducing bureaucracy in the life of the nation as a whole. Certainly, the items that my noble friend mentioned regarding the licensing of alcohol and music are pertinent. It will be very relevant to review how much of a hindrance they are to the good and honest management of local clubs.

Strengthening governance and reducing red tape in sport is not an easy task, but the Government are committed to taking this forward and to being accountable to communities for doing so. There are specific aspects to this which noble Lords have mentioned. Various references have been made to the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham. She spoke to me to say that she regretted not being here. She has in particular been a tremendous champion for lawn tennis and has done great things in widening access to young people and others to enjoy that sport.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, also mentioned school support. Indeed, this Government are fully committed to introducing more competitive sport within our schools and between all schools across the country. An aspect in the business plan of DCMS states that its overriding aim is to encourage competitive sport in schools by establishing an annual Olympic and Paralympic-style schools event, improve local sports facilities and establish a lasting community sports legacy. The words of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, in support of that Olympic-style school sport event were highly pertinent here. That is something which could get local communities and young people really enthusiastic about sport and able to participate as they wish.

I also take on board the comment of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, about the competitive element in sport. I agree that running an egg-and-spoon race where it does not really matter who hits the line first is probably not as exciting as having one where there is just that edge of getting there before the others. I have grandchildren and I know that primary school sports days can be truly exciting as long as no child is totally depressed and they can all find something that they can enjoy. That is something that the local community can be involved in: not turning off young people from sport if they are not winning, but finding something that they can participate in and truly enjoy.

Various noble Lords mentioned volunteers. Empowering volunteers is of the utmost importance. The Government must make sure that they help rather than hinder by moving things forward and making more sporting facilities available to more people.

I am conscious that I may not have answered all the questions that have been asked in today's debate. I will look through Hansard and, if I have not, I will of course reply to noble Lords in writing. I commend the business plan that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published this week. It contains some noble aims and aspirations, and we intend to keep to them. I commend also the work done by all sporting communities, particularly in the run-up to the Olympics and Paralympics, which will be a focus for energising interest in sport. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for the opportunity to debate sport and recreation, which play such a significant part in the life of the nation, and I thank other noble Lords who contributed this evening.

House adjourned at 6.32 pm.