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Sport: Health and Well-being of Children and Young People

Volume 723: debated on Thursday 9 December 2010


Moved By

To call attention to the role of sport in the health and wellbeing of children and young people; and to move for papers.

My Lords, this is a timely debate. By now, the House will be under no illusion that feeling is running high in the sporting world on the issue of the run-down of money for school sport in this country. Last Wednesday, in the other place, it was clear from the Opposition Benches and from some Members from the coalition Benches that there are grave doubts about the wisdom of these sad proposals of the Government. Clearly, the Secretary of State has little or no knowledge of the importance of sport. I hope that he and this Government will reflect on the damage that they will cause if they go ahead with these ill thought through, unfair and disruptive measures. As my honourable friend in another place, Andy Burnham, so eloquently pointed out, Mr Gove has never cared much for sport. As a schoolboy, his school report suggested that he was not one for the playing fields. It now appears that, in government, he plans to impose his feelings on the children of today.

Let me take obesity rates as a starting point. The Government’s own Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has expressed his grave doubts over obesity, particularly in young people. As I stated in a previous debate, that is a concern that I undoubtedly share. In fact, the National Health Service information centre report on obesity published last year states that 30 per cent of girls between the ages of two and 15 and 31 per cent of boys of the same age are classed as overweight. Furthermore, 16 per cent of the girls and 17 per cent of the boys are obese. Such worrying figures directly cost the NHS some £500 million per year, with a further £2 billion in costs to the wider economy. The worst projection of recent trends suggests that 75 per cent of the population will be suffering from the ill effects of excess weight within the next 15 years. Surely if we are serious about tackling these crippling statistics, one of the key initiatives must be school sport, yet by removing opportunities for young people to partake in regular sport, these problems will only worsen rather than improve. Sport offers young people a focus and a discipline to help them develop as individuals within communities.

The proposed Government measures run counter to the pledge that we would have a legacy following the 2012 London Olympic Games. It is clear that school sport partnerships must play a central role in such an aspiration. After all, as the noble Lord, Lord Coe, said at the time that we won the bid for the Games at Singapore,

“Give London the Games and we will inspire millions of young people to choose sport”.

In view of the Government’s approach to sporting provision, I doubt that he could make that promise today.

Since the announcement that the Government are to slash the budget for school sport partnerships from £162 million to £10 million, the response from head teachers, schoolchildren and some of the country’s leading sports stars has been little short of overwhelming in its condemnation. In a letter to the Prime Minister, 80 of the country’s top athletes, including Tessa Sanderson, Denise Lewis and James DeGale, expressed their support for SSPs. However, it is not only our elite athletes who are protesting. I would like to refer to a young lady who has contacted me after discovering that the SSP in her area will no longer be funded. Her name is Debbie Foote. She is 17 years of age and chair of the national young ambassador steering group, which is a group of young people who aim to inspire their peers to choose sport and take up a healthy, active lifestyle through the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. I quote from a message that she sent to me:

“Through the support of my SSP, I have been able to fulfill my journey with fantastic opportunities and experiences, such as organising world record skipping and hooping events and delivering presentations and workshops to various sporting bodies. I have developed skills such as confidence, time management, leadership, teamwork, communication and responsibility that have provided me with clear aims and a pathway; they have set me up for the rest of my life. I fully believe that these skills have supported my academic development (achieving 11A Stars at G.C.S.E. and 4 A grades at AS level)”.

Indeed, Debbie goes on to say:

“I don’t want other young people to miss out on these experiences and miss out on the chance to fulfill their potential. I believe the SSPs to be so much more than just sport; they enable the development of young people, encouraging them to see beyond themselves to think about the welfare of their peers and inspire them in turn to be the best they can be. This surely only provides hope for the ‘Big Society’ the coalition government wishes to create”.

If the big society is to mean anything at all, surely it must encompass the aims of the school sport partnerships.

With the support of the Youth Sport Trust, the school sport partnerships have delivered on every participation target set for young people. Not only that, the SSPs provide a model that is highly regarded across the world. As was pointed out in the debate in the other place, the Australian sports commissioner has asked how this country could possibly dismantle a “world-leading” school sports system. At the same time, the chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Committee has personally written to the Secretary of State to ask how we can take such steps backwards so close to a home Olympics. It should also be pointed out that New Zealand has expressed its support and is, indeed, eager to learn from our programme. The respect of the programme from other countries has been earned, due to the positive changes in school sport.

When referring to youth sport in this country and, indeed, worldwide, both Houses would agree that the leading voice on the issue over the years has been the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough. No doubt she will speak for herself in this debate but I wish to place on record my appreciation, which I know is shared by thousands of sportsmen and women, for her tireless support for sport in this country, in particular her devotion to school and youth sport.

I also want to bring to the attention of the House the value of school sport partnerships, not only within schools but across the wider community. The impact can be seen from the number of children taking part, which has risen dramatically. From 2006 to 2009, a further 600,000 young people have taken part in extra-curricular activities. All of that has been further helped by the increased support of the national governing bodies countrywide. Even the LTA is, at long last, on board and is now making a substantial investment in tennis in schools by providing free equipment and by training teachers in more than 8,000 state schools since the start of 2009.

An example of the excellent work being done comes from the Lancaster area, where James McNally is a tennis coach. Two years ago, he quit his office job and began coaching full time. Since then, he has received the full support of his SSP and provides hundreds of local children with the opportunity to play tennis. It is his legitimate fear that, because of the proposed budget cuts in schools, he will no longer be able to work and those hundreds of children will lose their opportunity to play tennis.

Another young lady, Laura Cummings, who is the competitions manager for Tameside schools sports partnership, informs me that 10 years ago, while attending a mainstream school where she was a high academic achiever, she was discouraged by teachers—even her head teacher—from taking PE in order to concentrate on more academic subjects so that she could pursue a career in medicine, science or business. Fortunately, she believed strongly in what sport had to offer the world and she achieved great academic grades at both school and college. She achieved five A* grades at GCSE level and four A grades at A-level before going on to study sports science at Loughborough University. Her story gives a true reflection of the way in which the great majority of teachers view sport, which is a view that will dramatically return if the Secretary of State is left to undo all the hard work that school sport partnerships have achieved.

In answer to the Secretary of State’s belief that sport should be at the discretion of head teachers—many of whom, although by no means all, care not a jot about sport and will encourage pure academic achievement alone by dispersing the allocation of funds to non-sporting events—Laura Cummings would testify that Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council has a very enterprising approach to sport. The council is rightly considered to be one of the best in the country for sporting provision. The New Charter Academy schools sports partnership in Tameside should be congratulated on its approach to sport within its boundaries. Laura Cummings informs me that, since 2005, there has been: a 28 per cent increase in the number of pupils accessing high-quality inter-school competition; a 24 per cent increase in the number of pupils accessing high-quality intra-school competition; a 20 per cent increase in the amount of primary curriculum time allocated to PE and sport; a 9 per cent increase in the number of pupils participating in community clubs; an 8 per cent increase in the number of pupils actively engaged in leadership opportunities; and more than 750 teachers and school support staff accessing accredited PE training courses.

The Secretary of State’s statement that school sport partnerships have not been successful in increasing the number of competitive opportunities for pupils is a complete nonsense. The introduction of SSPs in Tameside has proved that. It has 9,732 pupils with inter-school competition and 4,906 pupils with intra-school competition. All this was achieved since the new charter for school sport partnership was set up. If this represents the opportunities from a single partnership, imagine how great the impact has been through 450 school sport partnerships. For instance, in Greater Manchester alone last year, more than 40,000 competitive opportunities were provided by competition managers and the school sport partnerships network in priority national governing body sports.

The Government have shown that they do not understand, or perhaps even care, about the importance of sport and its enormous value and fun. Sport has been one of the defining features of my life. It has helped me to reach this place. It has shaped my life in a way that I could never have imagined when I laced up my first pair of football boots or first stepped into the boxing ring. With a single stroke of a pen, the Government have set out to deprive future generations of that same chance. The Prime Minister has requested the Secretary of State to rethink; if he does not rethink, he should be moved on.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for initiating the debate. His dedication to sport and what it offers is widely acknowledged. I have seen him many times at the Conservative Party conference championing the cause of sport.

We all recognise the great number of benefits that sport provides children and young people—and, let us not forget, those who are somewhat older too. Participating in sport not only gives young people the opportunity to expend the abundance of energy they have, but also plays a major role in developing key skills needed for future life. Learning how to be part of a team, self-discipline, how to experience winning and losing, dealing with challenges and setting goals are only some of the many skills acquired through participating in sport.

For these reasons, I welcome the Government’s proposals that there should be an emphasis on competitive sport within schools. I also agree that school leaders should be trusted to make decisions about school sports. As the Secretary of State has said, with giving schools this new freedom he expects that every school will maintain, as a minimum, the current levels of provision for PE and sport each week for every pupil.

We should remember that not all children are academic; some are talented in other directions. With these new freedoms, school leaders can use sport as a principal way of getting children and young people outdoors, which can have a positive role in improving children’s physical, mental and behavioural well-being. An increasing amount of research confirms this. We have one of the finest outdoor environments in the world and families, community groups and schools can capitalise on the thousands of acres of publicly available land that we have in this country for outdoor sport. Sport in the countryside, such as walking, cycling, fishing and riding, I am told, can burn up 380 calories per hour. Better to burn these calories there than in the high street.

There are many other outdoor sports projects which provide the benefits that I have just outlined. However, I draw your Lordships’ attention to Fishing for Schools, an outdoor educational sports programme about which I have some knowledge. Fishing for Schools is a project run by the Countryside Alliance Foundation, a charity set up in 2007. I declare an indirect interest as a board member of the Countryside Alliance. The aim of Fishing for Schools is to teach children the skills of fishing and, in doing so, allow them to explore and enjoy other areas within the natural world. The project offers short courses for children between the ages of 14 and 16, often those with special educational needs and often those based in urban schools. Fishing for Schools not only gives young people the opportunity to fish and learn a sport for life, but also helps to teach them life skills that will serve them well in later years. The programme is taught by one of the country’s finest fishermen, Charles Jardine, and over the past year more than 400 youngsters of varying abilities have benefited from it. Fishing for Schools has received positive and uplifting feedback from teachers, students and people in the media who have experienced the programme at first hand.

Robson Green, actor and presenter of channel Five's “Extreme Fishing” programme, congratulated the foundation because, as he put it:

“Fishing for Schools really can make a difference".

Likewise, a teacher noted that, after completing the Fishing for Schools course, a pupil, had improved in confidence, was more motivated in school and talked endlessly about what he had learned. He had been suffering from bullying and was in trouble, but since participating in the course he had worked hard, been positive, behaved well and was a more mature and sensible young man.

However, the best advocates for Fishing for Schools are the children who participate. On one recent course an autistic child was so engaged by Charles Jardine’s demonstration that he talked to him about what he had experienced. This was the first time he had ever spoken to anyone outside his family. I believe that such a successful outcome speaks for itself.

Often when we talk and think about the impact of sport, we focus on major sports and how they can be supported, and how future sports stars and Olympians can be trained. This is of course very important not only for those participating but also for national morale. Taking part in a range of sporting activities, which enhance the lives of young people, increase their self-esteem and provide a sense of purpose, has an enormous role to play in a child's development. We should do all that we can to create a climate and the opportunities in which regular participation in sports is encouraged and promoted. In this computer age, should we not see sport as a subject? We should regret profoundly, over many years, the sale of playing fields. In addition, should we not see the academic and physical education of young people as a partnership, as we all seek to do the best that we can for the next generation?

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Pendry on securing this debate. I think it is very timely, particularly because this week, for the first time in history, we have seen children demonstrating for the right to participate in sport. This is a fantastic thing to see.

I also declare an interest. My sister-in-law, Leslie Shepherd, is a school sports co-ordinator in the north-east, so I have a personal insight which I would like to bring to the debate today. I would like to register my concern about two key issues and ask the Minister two questions which I think are important.

First, I am deeply concerned about the process that the Government have adopted in deciding to cut support for the school sport partnerships. The school sport partnerships are populated by people who are literally the most solution-focused and dynamic I have come across. Therefore, can the Minister explain why the Youth Sport Trust and the school sport partnerships were not given the opportunity to develop proposals that would address the concerns expressed by the Secretary of State for Education in his now notorious letter of 20 October; namely, that he wanted to see more competitive sport and less red tape? Why was there not an opportunity there? To abolish the partnerships and the dedicated fund, and only then to think about what to do about the gap left behind and about what the impact on the Olympic legacy might be, seems reckless to me. It seems irresponsible and really quite destructive.

The right honourable Andy Burnham, the shadow Secretary of State for Education in the other place, has recognised that if he were in government he would have had to have brought about cuts to school sports, but he has also been responsible and clear in saying that he would have worked hard to conserve the infrastructure and expertise that enable school sport networks and partnerships to be created and to thrive.

My second concern is the perhaps rather naive idea on the part of the Government that the enormous investment in and commitment to the school sports infrastructure could be replaced by the creation of a schools Olympiad. There has been for some time a national school sport competition, and I do not think that it is an either/or situation. It is the school sport partnerships that are bringing the Olympic message to schools throughout England, and it is they that have been working tirelessly to embed an Olympic legacy in the hearts, the minds and, yes, the healthy bodies of our young people.

I have been privileged to see at first hand the work undertaken by one such partnership and its school sports co-ordinator over the past 18 months to bring together her community to create the Redcar and Cleveland Olympics, culminating, it was hoped, in the national sports week in 2012. The plan was for all PE staff and the school sport partnership to run a programme of competitions after school, involving all the usual sports that the Secretary of State wanted to see—rugby, football, netball, hockey; you name it, they were going about making it happen. They wanted to have this programme of competitions over the whole academic year, and it was to be launched in September 2011 as the Redcar and Cleveland school Olympiad.

There was to be a proper pilot beforehand to iron out any glitches. Events would have been run in partnership with local clubs, something that we have all argued is a good thing, with the support of national governing bodies, which again is something that we have all been arguing is an important development to ensure that the transition from school to lifelong sport can be made. There would have been a strong sense of competition but an ethos of building participation too. The results of all the interschool matches were to be added to a medal table, and then in national school sports week there would be the big event. The year’s activity would have culminated in a county-wide week-long Olympiad, starting with a torch procession running through the streets of Redcar and Cleveland, with an opening ceremony in each school and FE college and then a day of interschool competitions for each year, with each school providing a minimum of 50 pupils. Tees Valley Leisure facilities were to be provided, and all the venues were to be made available by the local authority. The extended schools programme was adding £10,000 of funding to cover all the transport, something that can be very difficult to co-ordinate, giving head teachers confidence that their investment of their teachers’ time would be well spent. There was a real buzz about the idea of the Olympiad. There was interest from local business and, importantly, endorsement from the London 2012 Inspire programme, so that all those participating would know that the London Olympics was their Olympics too even though they lived in the north-east.

To make this Olympiad happen, though, there needed to be someone to drive it forward, with the know-how to catalyse a network of contacts in all the schools around the county as well as all the volunteers who run the clubs—remember, they do their day jobs too—and the sports development people in the local authority. There needed to be someone who could garner the support of national sporting bodies and local businesses and, of course, who could win the confidence of those important head teachers. That person was a school sports co-ordinator, working in a school sport partnership that is soon to become extinct. The whole project now hangs in the balance.

The Redcar and Cleveland school Olympiad might be symbolic of the future of school sport around the country. While the Government prevaricate about what to do about school sport, momentum is being lost. My second question is therefore: can the Minister explain what the Government will do to ensure that the work of school sports co-ordinators continues? These are the people on the front line who make the competitions—which the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, says are so important—happen.

My Lords, I have been talking about sport in your Lordships’ House for a long time and have a great deal of baggage about it. However, one thing I am convinced about is that we should not worry too much about the name of a group that delivers any sport. If we have to get rid of the existing structure, the name of the structure does not matter. It is what is done on the ground that is important. If the good legacy that is currently there is to be kept, do not worry about the next change. The questions that my noble friend must start answering today are how we are going to preserve what has been good, and how we build on it.

Let us face facts. School is only a part of this process. It may not be the best part of the process. The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, put his finger squarely on this: schools are academic institutions, primarily judged by academic results. This is why things have slipped in the past. There is a messy history of unintended consequences for activity in education. We need to hear how that is guarded against and structured into any new set up. We need to ensure that we use school-time sport to build up a foundation for what goes on. It is easy to forget that the important thing about child sport is that it prepares people for an active life later on, and helps that step to become much easier. It also helps to improve the links between the amateur sports clubs, which are the main driving force for physical activity and sport in this country.

We are not currently in a nirvana; we are just stepping away from one. We may be in a place that is better than it was, but it could be better. We must look at, go through and try to keep the best, and enhance where it is going.

One thing that the coalition has spoken about is that the clubs are always being held back by red tape to an extent, but also by insensitive and inappropriate bits of regulation: CRB checks that are not transferable, and the weight of regulations for bars which would be more appropriate for nightclubs. If we can ensure that they are freed up, we can then being them in and ask them to do some of what has not been done, or even to replace some of the work that has been done. It is another model. It is not that what has gone before is bad, or wholly good. It is simply another way of delivering the same stuff.

The real complaint is that we have not heard enough about how we set up something new. If we can hear about that, I will become much less worried. There will be winners and losers with any change. It is about ensuring that we have an idea of what is to be done. We have not quite heard that yet, and I encourage my noble friend to start telling us about this today if we are to move on and build on the legacy of the past few years.

The Olympics has fundamentally changed the tone of the sporting debate in this country. We take it seriously now. Anybody who has been involved in it knows that there was a sea change when we decided that the political class would combine together to take sport seriously. We have worked in the fact that the White Paper on public health refers to sport and exercise. Previous ones have, too. It interrelates with everything else we do. It is almost impossible to deliver in many other aspects if we ignore exercise, health and sport. Establishing patterns with the young is a very important part. I have a set few minutes in any speech about punching through the Chinese walls in Whitehall; we will take it as read this time. Unless we can have some idea about how we get all parts to come and talk together, what will happen with school sport? This ties in with the rest of the things here. We have now established that aspirin may be a good drug. However, exercise is the wonder drug for public health. We know that. How will we tie everything in? How will we establish these patterns of behaviour? How will we encourage those who do it voluntarily?

Publicly funded outside bodies are a way of delivering some of these changes; they are not the only way. Some people will say that I put too much emphasis on clubs. Sometimes the school is the only delivery mechanism available for people at certain ages. This is probably true. However, we must bear in mind the continuation and flow through. What happens at school age is the start, not the end, of the process. However, if you mess up the base—the foundation—the rest of it will be more difficult.

My Lords, I add my support to my noble friend Lord Pendry, someone who, by the way—many of you will not know—has spent all his political life dealing, both in the other place as a Minister and here in this House, promoting sport both in general and as a basic requirement for the wellbeing of children and young people. My noble friend Lord Pendry is exemplary in this respect. Sport is vital in this country. We all know about it, about the test victory the other week and how brilliant that was and about how disappointed we all were when we did not get the World Cup. Is not sport in schools—for children and young people—of utmost importance to us all?

My noble friend Lord Pendry mentioned the debate last week in another place, which I thought was brilliantly handled by Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh. Together with many other MPs, he congratulated the Youth Sport Trust and school sport partnerships as being responsible for achieving major advances in youth sport over the last decade. This is a fact that cannot be hidden. The advancement has been quite remarkable because of those two organisations. However, the coalition Government defeated the Motion that was put before the other place overwhelmingly—which has not been mentioned yet. It seems to me that the Government want to end what they refer to as ringfenced funding and allow schools to decide how best to teach and develop young people. The enormous amount of money that has been cut has been mentioned. People are worried about it.

There are some 450 school sport partnerships in being, covering every school in the country. My reading of that situation is that they have been a very strong success story. In this respect they should continue to fulfil the job of ensuring our children and future generations enjoy sport and, as a consequence, have a healthier lifestyle facing them. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister means it when he states that he will reflect on the Government’s approach to school sport. Leaving school sport partnerships to further build on their success would be welcomed in this House and across the country.

My Lords, I declare an interest as I am involved in many areas of sport in the UK: Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Sports Leaders UK, UK Athletics, LOCOG and International Inspiration. I have previously sat on the Sports Council for Wales, Sport England and UK Sport, and have also worked as a development officer in the late 1990s.

There are many ways in which we can engage young people, whether it be through participating in sport, sports leadership, coaching or officiating. However, it is also important to remember that this should be done both inside and outside school. It is easy to equate sporting opportunity for young people with schools as this is where their friends are, the facilities and the trained people to deliver. School also provides a pragmatic way of focusing resources to have a real impact, but we should not forget parents, governing bodies and non-sporting organisations such as youth groups which can help play their part. Part of the difficulty is that we may all have different ideas of what sport means. Many may not have had a great experience of school sport. Who can remember undertaking cross-country runs in gym knickers or being picked last for the school team? However, this should not affect what is happening now. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our next generation of young people, and ourselves, are fit, healthy and happy. I readily accept that competitive sport is not for all. The size of the Paralympics GB team is around 300. Even if we consider the talent pyramid beneath that, hundreds of thousands of children are outside that and need our support.

There are three areas that we need to look at to encourage young people to reach their potential: participation, whether that is in the form of playing, dancing and enjoying the outdoors and the joys and benefits that being active can bring; experiencing competition and endeavouring to win, but with a sense of balance; or competitive sport and striving to be selected for the team. This is where high-profile events such as the Olympics and Paralympics can inspire people. However, we also have to recognise that the issues are complicated; there is not one solution. Whether you are a boy or a girl, where you live, whether you are disabled and parental income all have an impact on what you can do. Where are we now? We know that female drop-off in sport starts earlier than male drop-off and is more dramatic. By 16, girls are half as likely as boys to meet recommended levels of exercise. Girls think that sports traditionally played by boys, such as rugby and football, are seen by society to be more important than sports played by girls. The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation has reported that 80 per cent of women do not do enough exercise beyond school to be considered healthy.

From recent data from the Department for Education’s PE and Sport Survey 2009-10, we know that those children in rural areas are more likely to participate in at least three hours of PE and school sport than those in urban areas. The highest performing schools tend to have fewer pupils who are eligible for free school meals, although this is changing rapidly. In the lowest performing schools there is a higher proportion of pupils with special educational needs. What are the risks of not getting this right? We need only look to the USA—I recognise that the numbers are different, but possibly not the percentages—to see what we can expect in the future unless we radically change what we do.

The following data are from the Get Set survey. Up to September 2009, $2 billion had been eliminated from after-school sports programmes. A study of Los Angeles county showed that school communities with more extra-curricular sport activities had drastically lower crime rates than those with fewer programmes. The ratio was 1:18. The cost of losing one child to a life of crime is estimated to be between $1.4 million and $1.7 million. Some 9 million young adults are too overweight to join the military, according to an April 2010 report from retired officers, Mission Readiness. That represents 27 per cent of all Americans aged 17 to 24. The US military spends $60 million annually on recruiting and training replacements for first-term enlistees discharged due to weight problems. One in three young Americans are overweight, obese, or at risk of becoming so, and the obesity epidemic costs $147 billion annually in extra healthcare. In the UK, obesity costs the NHS £8.2 billion a year, and that figure could rise to £46 billion in 2050.

Evidence suggests that spending money now on sports helps to save money later. For example, the cost-benefit analysis of typical after-school programmes for at-risk children shows that each dollar invested returns between $8.92 and $12.90, which is 1,000 per cent return on average.

Participation in sports can also be correlated with positive lifelong indicators of health and of academic and social success. However, I am done with the gloom—on the positive side, there are significant data from the UK to show that young people who participate in sport are more confident, better able to learn, more physically developed and build friendships. I do not believe it is a coincidence that the specialist sports colleges have been show to be the fastest improving, if you judge by academic measures such as GCSE pass rates.

For a few examples: in the school sport partnership where I live in the north-east of England, they offer basketball, cricket, dance programmes, street Latin, early morning pilates, fencing, cycling proficiency, quicksticks—a version of hockey—artistic gymnastics, yoga, judo and Thai boxing. The list could go on and on. It is a far cry from hockey in winter and athletics in summer. For many, it is the first club they belong to, and so much better than a gang.

Sports Leaders UK expect to train 180,000 sports leaders in 2010/11, who will be trained in schools, FE colleges, higher education institutions and youth and community settings. In the next three years, this will lead to over a million hours of volunteer-led sports activity. Just a few miles from here in Newham, Fight for Peace is an international non-profit organisation that started in the favelas of Rio and then came to London, which provides real alternatives for children and youth in disadvantaged communities, dealing with crime, drug dealing and organised armed violence by using sport and education. I could list so many more organisations that change young people’s lives by using sport.

What do we need for the future? In my time, I have sat through many Sports Council reorganisations, various changes in policies and land-grabbing, and I ask that we do not throw out all the good work that has been done to see what still needs to be done. In sport, there is bureaucracy and political culture which needs to be worked on. I believe we need still to work more with primary school PE teachers, many of whom are not trained as PE or sports specialists, who need assistance in running physical activity sessions. We need to keep working with secondary school teachers, and also engage in more sports leadership. We also know that there is a gap in provision for disabled children.

However, we also need to think more widely. Some projects I have seen internationally engage with the mums, teaching them how to play so that they then encourage their daughters and allow them to carry on participating. We in sport need to be much better at putting the case for why sport is important, because it does make a difference, and the figures are there. This is challenging and there are no easy fixes, but improvements will not happen on their own. There is a need to provide a sustainable physical education structure in schools, and support ideas of what to do outside that will benefit children, parents and society. Surely this should be part of our Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Our children deserve it.

My noble friend Lord Pendry—and a very good friend too—has done this House a real service by raising this issue today.

My remarks have been preceded by a fascinating and informative speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, whose prowess we much admire. We are very glad that we can count her among our number. I am also glad that this debate is being wound up by my noble friend Lady Billingham and the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, both of whom I count among my friends today.

The coalition Government have a remarkable proclivity to say one thing and do another. That is exemplified by their approach to the forthcoming Olympics and Paralympics. Young people have always been at the heart of the Labour Party’s thinking, and that is absolutely true regarding the preparation for the Olympics. It is particularly disappointing that the Government have declined to put themselves squarely behind the imaginative ideas that have guided the Labour Party towards its thinking about the Olympics. I say that not as a case of sour grapes, or of political hostility for the sake of it. Indeed, I would have been among the first to have applauded the Government had they reached a more positive conclusion regarding young people and the Olympics. Labour in government tried manfully to apply more hopeful criteria. More young people than ever were becoming eligible through sport in our schools to enjoy sporting facilities that for too long had been virtually the sole property of private schools.

Our constructive approach began to work. Unbelievably, it has been replaced by what I can only call an ideological and verbal dexterity, and little else. However, there emerged indications of public displeasure—even anger—about the approach of the Government, and stubborn governmental minds began, albeit slowly, to change. It is not too late to hope that this process will have an abiding effect on the Government. The £162 million cut in the school sport partnership programme, the SSPP, together with cuts designed to hit the specialist sports colleges, could end up in the dustbin of failed policies.

Why inflict unnecessary damage in the first place? It is never too late to have a change of heart. The alternative of sticking to the Government’s ideas is too grim to contemplate, particularly at this juncture. To think that existing schools’ budgets could fund sport is wholly impracticable, as is uncertainty concerning implementation. To muse, as has been the habit of the coalition, that specialist colleges can choose to pay for their specialism out of the big pot that they receive from the dedicated schools grant is simply illusory.

The Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, has certainly changed his mind. When in opposition, he supported the Labour Government’s ideas; but in government, he does the exact opposite. Innumerable opponents of the coalition, who are in no way limited to the Labour Party, have fulminated against this damaging reversal. On 22 April this year—not long ago—Hugh Robertson said:

“There has never been a more important time for school sport, and the Olympic legacy must have school sport at its heart”.

He was right then, and it is right now that we should pursue that policy.

My Lords, the subject of sport in schools is currently an emotive one and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for initiating this debate, which is important for every pupil who aspires to sports of any kind. We are at a crossroads.

It is not just desirable but vital that sport flourishes in schools where it prevails, and is developed where little or none exists. The arguments in favour of the additional benefits of sport, beyond nurturing sporting skills, have been well rehearsed; sport encourages healthy competition and promotes teamwork and camaraderie as a life skill. There are, of course, strong links to health—from increasing pupil self-esteem to decreasing obesity rates—with the potential for a reduction in demand over the long term for the NHS.

I start with the reality—the premise that I support the Government in their necessary strategy to dig deep to repay the huge debts inherited from the previous Government. Let us not forget that the CSR highlighted the protection of the schools budget, which will increase in real terms at a rate of 0.1 per cent per year. The network of school sport partnerships, led by the Youth Sport Trust, has been achieved—but at a substantial cost. The infrastructure includes 450 partnership development managers, 225 competition managers, 11 regional development managers and three national development managers, who work alongside the members of the governing body for each sport. There is undoubtedly some bureaucracy here, as exemplified in the school sport partnerships’ “self-review tool”, which contains 115 boxes to tick. This is clipboard management, as opposed to time spent on coaching, training and inspiring sport on the pitch or track, or in the pool.

This may explain why £2.4 billion was spent on school sports between 2003 and 2010, but there was only a 20 per cent take-up on average in competitive sports. There has been considerable variation around the country, as the statistics demonstrate. There are 1,280 secondary schools—one-third of the total—in which no pupils take part in regular competitive sport within the school, let alone with other schools, yet there are 320 schools where all pupils regularly take part. There has to be improvement, better value for money and greater consistency. However, it is less wise to cancel the budget over such a short timescale. I hope to hear that the Government will have a rethink. It is unrealistic to expect all schools to source funds for school sport out of the protected schools budget. The only guarantee is that the 6 million pupils who currently play no competitive sport will continue not to do so.

Where there are successful partnerships, it is unwise at best, and foolhardy at worst, to endanger the infrastructures that have been set up with up to 200,000 volunteers. Some may wither and die. Many people are dedicated to improving sport in schools, and they should be applauded. Where there has been a 100 per cent take-up, there is no doubt that it has been the result of extraordinary efforts by the schools and their teachers, and the communities, including parents.

Maximum continuing encouragement must be given to all primary and secondary schools to play sport, especially in poor areas where facilities are minimal and obesity rates are high. Surely it is better to argue that funding will be withdrawn or substantially reduced, if necessary over an agreed timescale and with a three-year time limit, to take account of different local sports infrastructures and funding, in order to allow time for schools and communities to review their partnership structures and finances. As outlined by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education, this process should be led by the heads of schools, but what if they are unwilling to prioritise this, or they say that they are not able or are not going to allocate funds? What steps are being taken to advise and incentivise head teachers to ensure that in future they commence, maintain or improve school sports activities? For example, should the Government adopt a fund-matching scheme, with every pound found for sport by a school outside its budget being matched by government, or perhaps with a different ratio?

In agreeing with the granting of greater autonomy to head teachers, I believe that there will be a requirement actively to manage them through the process to approach philanthropists and local businesses to support school sports. The role of parents in sport should not be underestimated as an obvious source of practical help, both in helping to supervise sports where their own children are involved and in effecting introductions for help in schools through their work or communities. I am aware that in the poorest areas this is much less likely to happen, and schools may be reduced to receiving help sourced only from local businesses or benefactors. There is also the question of whether there are playing fields in the first place.

Schools in which sport is prevalent are more likely to attract high-quality teachers. Sport is known to improve behaviour in the classroom, with teachers in these schools seeking involvement in sports coaching. Funding for sports may have to continue well beyond the spring of 2011 in areas where there is a danger of networks of volunteers built up over the past decade ceasing to exist.

There has been much debate, in particular resulting from the CSR, about legacies left to our children and grandchildren. We would have much to answer for if the “Interests” section of the CVs of our young read “going to the cinema” or “seeing my friends” rather than “cricket”, “rugby”, “football”, “captained my team” or, even better, “represented my country at the Olympics”. We must do more.

My Lords, I will speak about one particular sport that has in the past and will in future benefit the health and well-being of our young people. I speak of cycling. My family and I have cycled for years. We took our children on cycling holidays and we now cycle with our grandchildren. Cycling has certainly grown in popularity and esteem among young people, particularly in the past couple of years, because success at the Beijing Olympics has made it cool.

My wife and I have become heroes to our grandchildren, because in 2010 we will have ridden more miles by bike than we have driven in our car—albeit with a little electrical pedal assistance. Knowing his generosity of spirit, I am sure that my noble friend will not mind my joining the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, in mentioning sport for older people in his debate about sport for young people. I am sure that the Minister, too, will be delighted to hear about it: after all, her leader and deputy leader are cyclists.

The noble Viscount, Lord Younger, mentioned box ticking. Cycling ticks all the boxes in the coalition agreement—and I mean all. Does it save the planet? Yes—tick. Getting people out of their cars and on to their bikes to travel long and short journeys reduces pollution by particulates. It also reduces congestion. Both these reductions improve air quality, which we urgently need to do because in some parts of Britain it has fallen below EU minimum standards, and this makes us liable to hefty fines. Are noble Lords aware that some streets are being washed with a mixture of salt and vinegar to remove particulates that each year cause several thousand premature deaths?

By the next box is the question: does cycling improve health? Yes—tick. The Government's recent paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People, is full of support for the idea that exercise such as cycling helps reduce obesity, heart disease and related illnesses. My noble friend Lord Pendry gave us the numbers. Consequently, it improves longevity and well-being. The beauty of cycling is that it has an attraction all of its own. It certainly does not need the stealthy techniques of behavioural science to get us on our bikes. Perhaps this is what is meant by the paper when it states:

“Reframing the concept of exercise as a fun and positive game taps into salience, while rewards and the social aspect strongly incentivise a change in behaviour”.

Perhaps the Minister can translate that; obviously, the Prime Minister's behavioural insight team is at work. Frankly, it seems pretty feeble when compared with the practical work done during the past 10 years, some of which was described by my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis, in such schemes as the school sport partnerships programme, described by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. These schemes get children doing two or more hours of sport a week. I hope that the Minister will listen to the arguments of my noble friend Lord Pendry, and all other noble Lords who have spoken, about why that work should continue, and forget the gobbledegook, which I find rather sinister.

By the next box is the question: is it good for the economy? The answer is yes. Cycling is growing not only as a sport but as a form of non-polluting tourism that helps rural economies. Cycle tourism attracts investment from the private sector, from local authorities and from European structural funds. It helps to create welcome employment in many rural areas. The C2C route has certainly encouraged tourism in the north Pennines, as any noble Lord who has done that route will confirm. Only today, during Question Time, the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, quoted, as an example of an important piece of growth in the economy, the rise in the manufacture of bikes in this country.

Cycling also attracts high-tech investment, not only in new materials for lighter and better bikes but in the batteries for electrically-assisted bikes. Battery technology is a huge growth area in the green economy, and there is a growing market in lithium ion batteries and metal hydride batteries, which are being developed and produced in Britain not just for bicycles but mainly for the many applications where batteries replace carbon fuel.

The question by the next box is: is there a government body that supports and organises all this excellent work? There was. Cycling England has an annual budget of £60 million, which is match-funded by local authorities. It is the government body that is largely responsible for promoting and facilitating cycle use in this country. The first six towns and cities in which it has concentrated on improving cycling showed an average 27 per cent increase in cycling. It has also helped to attract structural funds from Europe and from cycle manufacturers.

The next question asks: has it been abolished? Yes, tick, even though its administrative budget was less than £200,000 a year because some of the work was done by enthusiastic volunteers. Presumably, in the name of political correctness and ideology there will be no more ring-fenced central grants for cycling in England, except for a small amount for cycle training. Meanwhile, its work is on hold and the European structural funds are still in Brussels.

I look forward to hearing the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, chair of the Youth Sport Trust. As a taster, perhaps I may quote from her letter of 29 October to the Minister’s right honourable friend Michael Gove, the letter to which my noble friend Lady Morgan referred. It says that the trust:

“is also committed to ensuring that those young people who do not enjoy team sports are provided with opportunities to engage in an activity that they can pursue throughout their lifetime. This investment in young people's wellbeing, as well as their sporting prowess, is essential to a healthy nation and a vibrant economy”.

The noble Baroness is absolutely right. I ask the Minister to please tick one more box for us, the box marked, “Made a mistake, will think again”.

My Lords, I am honoured to be taking part in this important debate, as it concentrates on two issues close to my heart: children and sport. Both, if nurtured, will bring joy and happiness to the world. Many people in our society realise that world-class athletes would never have discovered their talents if they had not been introduced to sport at an early age, especially by sports specialists. As sports men and women become younger and younger and achieve international success, children have to begin participating in sport at as early an age as possible if we are to remain world-class competitors.

This is happening in some parts of our society, but not for all children and young people. Not a day goes by without a mention of the dangers of childhood obesity, as already mentioned by noble Lords on all sides of the House, and of the long-term effects of the lack of exercise on the nation's health, with the resulting impact on healthcare resources. There are other benefits, apart from the benefits to the health and well-being of the nation as a result of sporting participation. For some, sport is an ideal way of harnessing the energy which they may otherwise use less productively, as it brings discipline into their unstructured lives. For children and young people, sport is without doubt a pathway to confidence and self-belief. It gives them a chance to excel and to achieve success. For many of them, participation in sport can open up new horizons and lead to personal development beyond their wildest dreams.

One of our greatest Olympians, Sir Steve Redgrave, often relates the story of how he got into rowing through the enthusiasm of the head of English at his comprehensive school. His wife, Ann, got into the sport of rowing through Charing Cross medical school, where she was chosen because she was tall. She was sitting in the canteen and they picked her. Those are two chance encounters that have had a tremendous impact on both Ann and Steve but have also benefited the entire nation. However, we cannot leave to chance the involvement of children in sport, and the issue is getting the ones not normally enthused or excited by sporting activity to get active.

It remains a fact that many children, for a variety of physical, social and cultural reasons, are unable to participate in sporting activities, and we must make extra efforts in these areas to find ways of giving them the obvious physical and psychological benefits of sport. For example, the inclusion of Muslim girls in physical education has to be sensitive to the needs of the diverse Muslim population. A school in the West Midlands realised that it had to encourage Muslim parents to allow their daughters to take part in PE because many of them were nervous or had reservations about their daughters participating, especially after school. So the school decided to change its PE curriculum to reflect the needs and concerns of parents and their children and offered opportunities to explore cultural diversity, community participation and well-being.

To raise parents' awareness of the importance of PE and school sport, a health and fitness club was set up for mothers during the school day and, later on, children were invited to join them. At the same time parents were consulted on changes to the PE curriculum, highlighting the emphasis on developing learners' skills in communication, listening, problem solving, co-operation and teamwork through PE. Almost all the girls now attend PE lessons regularly, and many also participate in out-of-hours clubs, summer schools and family fun days. By welcoming the challenge of providing PE and school sport that is appropriate for the school's cultural context, it has succeeded in achieving marked improvements in learners' motivation, commitment and enjoyment.

In the past the PE curriculum was prescriptive and weighted towards games activities, but now many schools have had a radical rethink of their curriculum. Pupils now experience a range of activities such as strategies and tactics, creative movement and health, fitness and well-being. The aim is to give children and young people the expertise, knowledge and skills to enable them to make informed decisions in their lives. Teachers have noticed the impact that this has had because students are now learning skills and strategies that help them to achieve in all subjects. They tackle new tasks with greater confidence and they feel empowered. That has been proven over and over again.

We all know that team sports can help children and young people to develop a range of skills as they have to work independently as well as being good team players, which can help them to develop excellent leadership skills when organising and motivating others. It also helps them to develop physical competence and performance to outwit opponents when competing. It goes without saying that sporting activities and exercises help children and young people to improve and strengthen their muscles, develop a deeper understanding of the physiological effects of exercising and develop confidence in order to communicate more effectively, giving them a great sense of achievement.

On a personal note, at school I always loved sporting activities that helped me to excel in others areas of my life. As I took my love for sporting activities into my adult life, which includes running marathons, I have gained huge health benefits by keeping a steady weight and low cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of high blood pressure and the likelihood of having a stroke, as well as developing skills of endurance and perseverance. This proves to me that childhood lasts a lifetime. What we expose our children to today will stay with them for ever, and that includes a healthy sporting lifestyle, supplied with passion and understanding of their needs and abilities.

I ask my noble friend the Minister what measures are being put in place to ensure today's children will experience the joy and health benefits of sporting activities which they can take with them into adulthood.

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Pendry on introducing the debate. There is no doubt about his expertise and knowledge of sport, not only in schools but outside them. It is unfortunate—he would have been the best sports Minister we have ever had. I would have liked to have seen him in that position, and I am sorry he never had it.

The noble Lord, Lord Brookman, was modest in what he said. He could have told us that he was one of the best cricketers in Wales when he was younger, purely because of his experience in school. He could join in sport at school—and he did so.

I declare an interest in that I am president of Warrington Wolves rugby club—

Thank you. We have an education department that sends people with expertise to schools and we send our players, which helps to develop the interest of schools in sport generally. It is not just about rugby league; it is about other sports as well.

Everyone who has spoken today, whatever view they have taken, has agreed on one thing: school sport is absolutely essential to all of us. It is good for the health of children and it is good in reducing obesity, about which we talked earlier. Nothing is better than engaging in school sports. That is the way to have healthy children with healthy bodies, and it gives them an interest as well. As the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, said, when we won the Olympics in Singapore, we undertook to inspire young people through sport. I think that is essential.

How have we gone about it? One way was setting up the school sport partnerships in 2000. We should look at what was done and it is right to ask how the Government are going to replace what was done then. They used collaboration between secondary and primary schools—with the secondary school as a hub for the primary school. This meant that you were looking not only at one school but at an area where people could develop their sports activities—not only the school within its curriculum, but the curricula of all the other primary schools in the area.

That led to quite a number of things occurring. In primary schools, it not only encouraged those who loved sport, it was also to encourage children who disliked sport—as my noble friend Lord Haskel indicated in the boxes he was ticking—so they engaged in physical activity. It has been highly successful in that respect, because by doing it in this way, having one school as a hub and covering an area, it enabled a wide variety of sports to be offered. My noble friend Lord Haskel referred to the fact that not only did it offer traditional sports—and he made a plea for cycling—but also other activities, because of the school sport partnerships. Fishing was referred to earlier, also archery, golf, riding and basketball, and that enables more children to participate in different sports. It has been a success story. So I cannot understand why it is being abandoned. It also brought in leadership within the school and leadership within the primary school, with older children being able to encourage younger children to participate—obviously with the supervision of teachers.

As a result, the school sport partnerships have a wide appeal and are working. On 21 November, an editorial in the Observer said of the school sport partnerships system, “it works”. It said that since it became operational,

“the number of children involved in inter-school competitions has increased”—

and I want to emphasise this—

“has increased by 1.63 million; the number involved in competition within schools”.

The Government say they are going to have such competition, but this has already increased by 1.15 million, so success is there. The editorial goes on to say,

“the proportion of children in state schools fulfilling the curriculum requirement of at least two hours’ PE per week increased from 25% to 95%”.

So it has increased from 25 per cent in 2001 when we introduced the school sport partnerships to 95 per cent now. Surely, whichever way you look at that, it is a success story. That is why I cannot understand the Government taking the attitude they are. Unfortunately, while 93 per cent of children are in state schools, this has largely been looked at by Ministers who have had private education. That is the unfortunate aspect of it. I do not think they understand what they are going to destroy, particularly the Secretary of State for Education whose achievements—or lack of achievements—were described by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, earlier.

There have been some protests of course. I understand the Secretary of State for Health was quite upset about what is happening. The Deputy Prime Minister was asked if all the coalition had been involved in taking this decision. I am not sure they were. I want to ask the Minister one pertinent question: the decision has been taken, but has the Secretary of State for Education visited a school sport partnership? My understanding is that he has not visited to see it on the ground, and that is one of the difficulties that we face.

The abolition of the school sport partnerships—which I have described as a success—is a decision that has been taken hastily, is ill-thought-out, and will put the progress that has been made in school sport back a decade.

Does my noble friend agree that in his remarks about the experience of Ministers in the private sector of education—and I am a product of the private sector of education—sport is regarded as absolutely essential to character-building and that many children were preferred because of their sporting abilities as distinct from their academic abilities? If we want to emulate in the state system what is best in the private sector, then we should be determined to see that sport is given the pride of place it should have.

I could not agree more with my noble friend. Although he had a private education, he is looking at the wider field. If we are to develop our sports stars of the future and to give people who have not had an interest to take an interest in some sport, we must continue with the school sport partnerships. I thank my noble friend for his support.

My Lords, first, I add my thanks to my noble friend Lord Pendry for initiating this debate. As we have heard, he has a notable record as a tireless campaigner for many years on sports issues, and he has today again illustrated how passionately he is committed to that cause.

There are good reasons why this issue is topical today. For me, it is not least because it raises important questions about joined-up government. In fairness, I acknowledge that the previous Government came rather late to that concept, but latterly their track record on co-ordinating action to improve child health was good. We now appear to have gone backwards. Joined-up thinking, co-ordination and partnership are out. Autonomy, independence and individualism are in. That has far-reaching implications for the universal provision of sport and exercise in schools, which underpinned the previous Government's success in this area.

That, of course, brings us to Michael Gove's announcement. Like some of my noble friends, I am interested to know how much liaison there was with his ministerial colleagues in other departments in advance of his decision to downgrade the compulsory features of sports facilities in schools. Did he, for example, consult the Minister for Sport, who described the Youth Sport Trust in 2005 as “a fantastic organisation”, and who argued earlier this year that it would be wrong to dismantle 13 years of hard work carried out by the school sport partnerships? Did he consult the Minister for Public Health, whose recent White Paper identified that,

“children need access to high quality physical education”,

backed by a requirement to provide PE in all maintained schools?

Did he consult the Secretary of State for Health, who is faced with growing statistics of childhood obesity, with the UK now having the highest levels in Europe, and with the associated epidemic of childhood diabetes and cardiovascular disease? Did he consult the Prime Minister, who personally announced that in future the nation's whole progress will be measured by happiness and well-being standards as well as economic indices? Where was the joined-up government thinking on the health and well-being of children, and how is it being rolled out into specific departmental action plans?

Like my noble friend Lord Pendry, I read the debate on school sports held in the other place last week. I was amused by my right honourable friend Andy Burnham's suggestion that Michael Gove's attack on the current sports regime might be some kind of revenge for some unpleasant memories of his sporting experience at school. I am sure that that is not the case, but it raises the question of what his motives really are. Michael Gove's views on the curriculum are well known. He wants to see children sitting in rows, learning the kings and queens of England and the great works of literature, but he also shares the previous Government's ambition to drive up academic standards.

If he had taken a more holistic view of children's education, he would know that exercise has been shown to improve children's exam results and their concentration in lessons. A study in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology earlier this year reported that children who take vigorous exercise every day boost their mental age by an average of 10 months. In addition, a report from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in 2009 found that physical activity has a motivational impact on children,

“increasing their self-esteem and general wellbeing”,

and helping them,

“to develop essential social skills such as concentration, self discipline, cooperation and an awareness of the need to think of things and people other than themselves”.

Even in Michael Gove's new favourite country, Finland, which has improved academic performance impressively, regular breaks for exercise and a nutritious, free school meal are interspersed with intensive teaching on a daily, universal basis. So even if we shared his narrow objective of raising academic achievement, the evidence clearly shows that regular daily exercise is part of the solution.

I understand that Michael Gove's educational conservatism extends to the type of sport that is played in school. Apparently, there is not enough Rugby Union, netball, hockey and gymnastics. I do not know about other noble Lords, but I do not have one good memory of my experience on the hockey field of Whitchurch High School. In fact, it came close to putting me off sport for life. Surely, the first step in developing a good sport policy is to find sports which people can enjoy. That was the point captured by the NICE guidelines, which the Library kindly supplied for this debate. They identified the need to ensure that physical activity is healthy, fun and enjoyable and tailored to the child's development and physical ability. That is precisely what the school sport partnerships were achieving. They expanded the choice of sports available and made them enjoyable and accessible, with the result that, between 2002 and 2010, the proportion of young people doing at least two or more hours of sport per week rose from 25 per cent to 90 per cent.

We all want children to do well at school and be happy and motivated, but we cannot ignore our wider responsibility to head off the growing threat to children's well-being which comes through the rise in obesity. In the UK, about 27 per cent of children are now overweight. That is partly the result of poor diet, but it is also the result of lack of exercise. It is not enough to say that parents should take responsibility for that, as they themselves are often the problem. The strongest predictor of being obese is having an obese parent of the same sex. A report by the University of Glasgow found that parents wildly overestimated the amount of exercise that their children were undertaking. If we are serious about protecting young people from the ill-health that arises from obesity, we need more opportunities for sport and exercise in schools and after-school clubs, not fewer. We need a programme that appeals to all, not just the elite sportsmen, and we need guarantees that every child in this country will have access to a minimum national provision.

Finally, we need a robust system to measure whether we are being successful in raising the standards of child health. It is not much to ask, and I hope that the Minister can reassure me that, on reflection, it is the model that the Government intend to adopt.

My Lords, I add my congratulations and thanks to my noble friend Lord Pendry on securing this debate and on his personal tribute, which was greatly appreciated. The timing of this debate is very important, given the release of the White Papers on public health and education.

I believe that sport is one of the most powerful tools we have to shape young people's lives. It is a cross-cutting tool that can deliver health improvements, educational achievement, community cohesion and great moments of sporting inspiration. Over recent weeks, school sport has been the subject of much debate. I will therefore focus my contribution on how the delivery of sport in schools is crucial if we are to impact on the health and well-being of our young people.

First, I must declare my interests. I am chair of the Youth Sport Trust, an independent charity established in 1994 by Sir John Beckwith with the support of Duncan Goodhew. Our mission: to build a brighter future for young people through physical education and sport and to return school sport to the heart of school life. With the support of the Youth Sport Trust, the first 11 specialist sports colleges were established in 1996 under the previous Conservative Administration. We now support 522 sports colleges and academies, including 40 special schools. The inclusion of all young people has been a central tenet of our work from the outset: something for everyone. Those 522 schools have become beacons of good practice, acting as important centres for research and innovation in health, physical education and school sport.

In 2000, the first school sport co-ordinators were funded. It was agreed to use sports colleges as the hubs and to appoint part-time school sport co-ordinators in the surrounding secondary schools. These families, developed by the Youth Sport Trust, became known as school sport partnerships, and government funding to establish and support those partnerships went directly to the hub school. None of this funding went through the Youth Sport Trust, and it was never administered by the trust then or now. There are now 450 school sport partnerships that include all primary, secondary and special schools in England. It is the only strategy of its kind to embrace every school in the country.

The context of my contribution today stems from the current debate on the future funding of school sport partnerships. Emotions are running very high, but that is because young people, head teachers, parents and sports men and women care so deeply about this issue and have seen the steady and remarkable progress made in the past 10 years. School sport partnerships are a unique nationwide delivery system providing national governing bodies of sport and commercial partners as well as government initiatives in health, Change 4 Life clubs, transport, Bikeability, education and sport with an efficient and cost-effective way of delivering their programmes to every school and child in the country. Each school sport partnership has been built around local needs and shaped by head teachers to drive whole-school improvement, to support young people to develop active lifestyles and to provide opportunities for young people to participate, perform, excel and lead in sport.

I am conscious that we have heard many statistics, but I make no apology for sharing again from the independent national PE and school sport survey some of the evidence that shows the impact of these partnerships on young people. Sports colleges are the fastest improving academically of all specialisms, which totally dismisses the notion of sport being a distraction from educational achievement. The work we have done with BSkyB on behaviour change has produced outstanding results, retrieving many young people from school exclusion and crime. Participation in two hours of physical education and sport a week has risen from an estimated 25 per cent in 2003 to over 90 per cent now, which is surely an enormous contribution to the future health of this nation. The range of sports available to young people has been expanded giving greater choice for all young people no matter what their ability, disability or interest. Three-quarters of a million young people have taken part in leadership and volunteering programmes enhancing their self-worth and self-esteem. Schools have doubled the number of links with sports clubs, which is an important part of linking school and community. We now have 49 per cent of five to 16 year-olds taking part in some form of inter-school sport competition and 78 per cent of them taking part in intra-school sport, or house sport as it is often known.

These increases in participation and competition have been achieved because of a collaborative network of outstanding sport professionals who share expertise and dedicate thousands of hours to their work. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to every single one of them. They have not only met every target set for them by government but have exceeded them all. They have made a life-changing difference for a whole generation of young people, and whatever happens now they should be proud of their legacy and we should loudly praise their efforts.

Talking of legacy, let us not forget that we made a promise to the world in Singapore. When we won the right to host the London Olympics, we said that we would inspire young people around the world to choose sport. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are nearly upon us and surely there can be no greater opportunity to inspire and motivate young people to take up an active lifestyle or to pursue their own dreams of one day becoming a champion than right now. However, for that to be possible, we need to retain a network of people dedicated to creating the right kind of opportunities. What will happen if we lose these people? There is no doubt that many secondary schools, with their specialist physical education teachers, will continue to provide a number of extracurricular opportunities, but the great range of options that we have heard about today will be more limited, time to recruit, train and deploy coaches will be reduced, school club links will become more random and the number of opportunities to compete will decline. However, the biggest impact will be felt in our primary and special needs schools where there are only a few specialist physical education teachers and where general classroom teachers have very limited training in physical education and sport. Without the energy, expertise and professionalism of the school sport co-ordinators, we will see a reversal of the progress made in the past 10 years. If we are truly going to affect the health and well-being of our young people, we must ensure that their first opportunity to play sport within a school environment is positive and that we develop physical literacy with the same zeal and vigour that we pursue academic literacy.

Finally, I want to make a point about international comparators. As well as being chair of the Youth Sport Trust, I am also chair of UK Sport, which is responsible for driving our high-performance system and for investing government and lottery money in our Olympic and Paralympic sports. This is a world where international comparison is the ultimate test. In the past few years, the Youth Sport Trust has been privileged enough to be invited to work with colleagues in Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, the 17 developing countries presently involved in International Inspiration—the London 2012 international legacy programme—and others. While there is no podium in PE and school sport, I suggest that if there were, we would, by common consent, be gold medallists.

I fully appreciate the present economic challenges that we are all facing, but I ask the Government to re-examine the independent data that unequivocally verify the incredible progress that has been made by schools across this country and to seek to preserve the very best of this world-leading system for the future health and well-being of our next generation.

My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, has secured this debate. We are, I know, all grateful to him for his persistence in pursuing issues of sport and well-being. I am delighted to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, who has done so much for youth sport and whom I thank for her wise words today. I, too, read last week's debate in another place on sport, and I was amazed at the Government's perception of what sport is about, which almost all noble Lords have referred to. For me, sport means an enjoyment of physical exercise and encouraging young people—and older people, too—to do some form of physical activity. Many examples have been given today.

I am not against competitive sport. On the contrary, I used to love participating in it. I have good memories of hockey and lots of other games. I love watching competitive sport, but competing is not the whole story. The letter written by the noble Baroness to Michael Gove has been quoted today. She emphasised opportunities to engage in activity that people can pursue throughout their lifetime. I want to go beyond the arguments about sport and physical health and to look at how sport can benefit general well-being throughout life, which has been referred to by other noble Lords.

An American professor at Harvard, Dr John Ratey, has explored the connection between the brain's performance and exercise. He maintains that even moderate exercise will enhance memory, combat stress and affect hormonal function. For example, after a fitness programme was introduced in an Illinois school district, test scores soared and the district came the world’s first in science and sixth in mathematics. Exercise counteracts stress by increasing blood flow to the brain and creating protective neurochemicals. Exercise raises endorphin levels, is more effective than anti-depressants and can ward off memory loss. Research indicates that women who exercise decrease their chances of dementia by 50 per cent. Exercise can combat addiction and attention deficit disorder. Dr Ratey has shown that exercise is particularly important for women in each stage of the life cycle because it tones down the negative consequences of hormonal changes. Clearly, the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, has benefited from that, and my noble friend Lady Billingham may have done so, too. I do not know how much encouraging physical activity has saved the NHS, but the saving must be worth millions.

Such research—and there is plenty—shows that one of the fundamental experiences that we should be giving to children is exercise, not so that they can think about how much good it is doing them but so that they can enjoy it. The research to which I referred is talking not about competitive sport but about exercise. In its latest report card on child well-being in rich nations, UNICEF—in which I must declare an interest as a trustee—does not talk about competitive sport as affecting well-being; it, too, talks about exercise. The Central Council for Physical Recreation has recently changed its name to the Sport and Recreation Alliance to reflect a better idea of what it does. One of its divisions is movement, dance and outdoor pursuits. Exercise such as dance, yoga, pilates, walking, cycling, swimming and fishing can start in childhood and still benefit people well into old age. Exercise can benefit those who have an illness or a disability if they are given the opportunity to take part in appropriate forums. It is essential to get children moving and not just competing.

Chance to shine is an example of an imaginative and inclusive approach to sport for young people and is supported by the English Cricket Board. The campaign involves encouraging participation in cricket in inner-city schools where there is often limited access to playing fields. It is hugely popular with pupils and staff. More than 4,000 schools are involved already and the millionth child participated this summer. It involves boys and girls of all abilities. A case study from that initiative illustrates some of my earlier points about the effect of sport on well-being. A boy, Paul, aged 11, had changed primary school 10 times and had been expelled from the last two schools that he attended. Both his parents were in prison and several foster placements had been tried without success. Paul had episodes of violent and verbally abusive behaviour, but through chance to shine he discovered a talent for sport. He got in the school team and his behaviour improved dramatically. His school attendance is now 100 per cent. That is one of many success stories. Of course, it is not simply playing cricket that has done this for Paul, but cricket was the beginning. He gained one-to-one support, learnt to be in a team, learnt self control and gained confidence and aspirations. The Labour Government matched 50 per cent of the expenditure of the chance to shine campaign. What will be the future funding for this excellent initiative? We can all be proud of the England team’s fine performance in the recent test match—I hope that no Australians are present today—and of the building blocks of this participation in cricket.

The issue of girls in sport was also mentioned earlier. We certainly need to keep working on encouraging girls to take up sport.

I hope that the Minister will sympathise with the concerns that I expressed earlier. Sport is important as an enjoyable activity. To enjoy it, a wide offering of activity is needed, not just competitive games. As a spin-off to enjoyment, sport has beneficial physical, emotional and intellectual impacts. All those are more likely to be effective if participation in sport is started early and built into growing up. I hope that the Minister will give some reassurances about sport funding, not just for chance to shine but for a wide variety of sport.

My Lords, we are indeed indebted to my noble friend Lord Pendry for securing this debate. We all know that his involvement in sport is acknowledged to be second to none. But even he could not have foreseen that sport would be headline news this week—all over the media—with an unprecedented number of leader columns and serious articles. Perhaps I may also take the opportunity to congratulate all speakers today. This has been a wide-ranging debate with many interesting contributions. I will acknowledge as many as I can, but I regret that time may prevent me from going into much detail. In this excellent debate, we have had many contributions from new Members. To those who had not spoken in debates on sport previously, welcome to the House of Lords sports club.

In his opening speech, my noble friend Lord Pendry referred to the Government’s unfair and destructive proposals. He laid out a comprehensive view of the place of sport in society. He costed the removal of school sports—evidence for which we are very grateful. The noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, the second speaker, is a new voice in this Chamber and he is most welcome in our sports debate. He introduced a subject which we have not discussed previously in sport, which I welcome. I hope that he will continue to take an interest in the wider areas of sport as well.

I thank my noble friend Lady Morgan for a wonderful and passionate speech, and for giving us at first hand her experience in Redcar and Cleveland. That was extremely interesting because we saw how the lives of people in that area were influenced. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, is an old pro in these debates. We always welcome his contribution. He is the most powerful supporter of clubs, which I am too. What he said was a timely reminder that when we look at schools, we must remind ourselves of the links between schools, clubs and the wider community, and how they can be bound together and reinforce each other.

I also thank my noble friend Lord Brookman who lent his support and drew on his experience. What can I say about the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson? How fortunate we are to have her in this House. Her peerless knowledge and influence are sensational. She said that we must make our sporting case much more powerful if we are to be heard.

The contributions have ranged widely and show the concern that many Members feel on numerous occasions. I was very grateful for the contribution of my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis who challenged the Government. He said that they say one thing and do another. I say, “Hear, hear”. He contends that the cuts will cause unnecessary damage. He used his experience within the Labour Party. That task was not easy because sport was never at the head of the agenda when the Labour Party came into power. It certainly improved subsequently.

The noble Viscount, Lord Younger, took me by surprise. I had expected a speech full of cuts and the necessity for following the Gove pattern, but there was not a bit of it. I am wondering whether you would like to join us on this side.

What the noble Viscount said was absolutely in tune with our views about how important sport is across the piece and how schools must keep PE in their curriculum.

Let me turn the clock back five years to the granting of the 2012 Olympic Games to London, which has transformed the debate and the place that sport takes in our national life. The focus is intense and the scrutiny forensic. Will we ever forget the final days of the bid with Tony Blair, Seb Coe, David Beckham and Tessa Jowell at the helm? We were proud of them. We were even prouder of the schoolchildren who took centre stage in persuading the judges that ours was the best prepared and the best focused bid for the future—our children, our legacy.

We pledged to use the Games to stimulate Britain into a rejuvenated sporting nation. Let us keep that vision in our mind’s eye—those eager, excited children hearing the promise of a new sporting age. For five years, politicians kept their word. The building of the Olympic Village became hailed as an outstanding cross-party success and enterprise. How often we heard the mantra, “on time and on budget”. The promise to the children was translated into a transformation of school sport. All parties pressed ahead. We shared a vision of sport and exercise becoming a powerful weapon against the threat of obesity. Two hours per week of physical education became a standard in all state schools and the “Kelly hours” offered a prospect of extra-curricular activities before and after school, and at lunch time. Given the lack of qualified PE specialists, especially in primary schools, the school sports partnerships were formed, and the transformation has been stunning.

I shall go back to some of the other contributions to the debate. My noble friend Lord Haskel was fascinating on the benefits of cycling, and I can vouch for that. As I was walking back from my tennis club in Thorpeness, having just been thrashed yet again by Christine Truman, someone flashed past me on the Thorpeness road. Who was it but my noble friend Lord Haskel? I have witnessed him cycling at speed as he disappeared down towards the Mere in Thorpeness. He was right to tell us that cycling is a sport that we can pursue for the whole of our lifetimes. I play tennis on a daily basis and while I am much slower, by no means am I any less competitive.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, and welcome her again to the House—we ought to get some Members’ badges. She suggested that sport must be introduced at the earliest possible age and quoted the benefits of sport to us as a nation, and as a pathway to confidence and success. I liked her theme of a childhood that lasts a lifetime. That is something I want to take away with me. My noble friend Lord Hoyle is always an active member in these debates. He reminded us of how the Olympic Games can inspire us as a nation and he praised the skilled collaborations made by the SSPs, particularly in enabling primary schools to offer a much wider range of sports. He asked if the Secretary of State had visited a school where school sports partnerships were in evidence, and if not, why not? That is a good question.

We now find ourselves in the grip of Michael Gove’s maelstrom. What has possessed him to put all the outstanding achievements of the past years in jeopardy? Surely it cannot be, as was mentioned earlier, some sort of “Gove’s vengeance” brought about by unhappy memories of his unsporting schooldays. He must know about the correlation between sport and a healthy, happier nation, for which other speakers have made the case. My noble friend Lady Jones of Whitchurch raised the issue of joined-up government and how sport and exercise are being put under threat. What liaison did Michael Gove undertake before his announcements? Critically, my noble friend also reminded us of the success of sports schools and colleges in examination results, which is a matter of fact and on the record.

I come to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell. How fortunate we have been to hear at first hand from her the contribution that school sports partnerships have made to our sporting children. Her speech is one that I am sure we will take away to read again. It was too detailed for me to go through it now, but I certainly want to use it in the future in support of arguments reflecting the views expressed in the House today. We know about the cost to the NHS and the economy of an inactive lifestyle, and the value of introducing sport and recreation to young people. It gives them a head start for the rest of their lives. My noble friend Lady Massey is a wonderful ambassador for the organisation A Chance to Shine and shared an interesting success story that came from that project.

As a nation, we have long accepted the role of sport as a way to social inclusion. Would we rather see young people kicking a football around or kicking the back door in? For those of us lucky enough to have enjoyed sport all our lives, can we ever forget the exhilaration of acquiring sporting skills, not always at the highest level, but being part of a team or mastering individual skills in a multitude of sports that we can play all our lives? I agree with David Cameron that sport brings happiness, and that is a factor which should be measured and valued within our society.

Against all this, it is inconceivable that the Secretary of State should perform such vandalism and rob our children of their sporting right. It is unforgivable and it is divisive because only state schools will be affected. The independent schools will go on regardless, enjoying a vast range of sports in impeccable facilities with fully qualified sports staff. Are we really in this shambles together? I think not.

This has been an excellent debate and I thank everyone who has taken part. I hope that there will be a rethink—we have had a promise that the Government are going to look at this again, but I am not sure whether that is going to be fulfilled. Let us hope that the message from this Chamber, which has been very powerful in this debate, will help towards making No. 10 think again because there is overwhelming opposition to this cut from so many sources. The positive links between the health and well-being of our children and young people through their involvement in sport is well known. We must not allow their sporting legacy to be jeopardised.

My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for tabling a debate on this important subject, and I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, on a masterly winding-up speech from the Labour Benches. We have heard from a star-studded cast of speakers who have reflected both expertise and achievement in sport. We have had confirmation of the strong health benefits associated with children being active and playing more sport. These are widely accepted and relate to the physical and mental health benefits for those involved. As we know, sport reduces the risk of ill health and improves health-related quality of life; it improves life chances and focuses energy; it helps to tackle obesity and contributes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; and, if we are being mercenary, it can generate substantial savings for the taxpayer in terms of avoiding health costs. We have heard tremendous arguments about these issues from all around the House.

In 2004, the Chief Medical Officer recommended that children and young people should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day to help realise these health benefits, and we wholeheartedly support that recommendation. This is highlighted through the Change4Life campaign and remains the standard that children and young people should strive to achieve, supported by schools and their parents.

It is right to say that school sport is not in a bad position in England. There have been significant increases in the amount of organised physical activity young people undertake in recent years, and we celebrate that. I give due credit to the previous Government for the role they played in encouraging increases in the levels of activity and sporting participation among children over the past decade. I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, whose dedication to and passion for sport through her stewardship of UK Sport and the Youth Sport Trust has brought many benefits to this country, in the form both of medals at the elite level and of participation in schools. She made a most valuable contribution to this debate.

Yet it is true to say that the proportion of young people taking part in wider physical activity and competitive sport, especially regular competition between schools, remains relatively low. Only one in five children participates at this level, which means that many progress through their school days lacking experience of the thrill of competition and the chance to develop their physical and social confidence through winning and losing. In short, to,

“meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same”,

by learning how to be a good winner and a good loser.

The coalition Government want to increase everyday physical activity and sport, with a particular focus on competitive sport for all. At the heart of our ambition is a traditional belief—that competitive sport, when well taught and appropriate to “age and stage”, brings out the best in everyone, be they the Olympian or Paralympian of tomorrow, or the child who wants to keep fit and have fun learning new sports and games. Competitive sport has obvious physical benefits, but can also improve mental agility, develop team-working and co-ordination, build moral character and give a sense of personal development and achievement. We heard the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, say in opening the debate that sport should be fun, a thought that was picked up by my noble friend Lord Gardiner, my noble friend Lady Benjamin with her examples of diversity and creativity in providing sports that meet the needs and skills of all children, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, who referred to the importance of variety in sport—it does not all have to be hockey or lacrosse—and of course the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, as well as other noble Lords.

The previous Government’s strategy for school sport relied on a centrally determined infrastructure within schools, and various national top-down programmes. We applaud the progress that was made under the last Government, but we are looking to do better by encouraging schools to put sport and competitive sport at the top of their agendas. As the noble Lord, Lord Addington, put it so clearly, we want to preserve what is good. My noble friend Lord Younger also clarified where some funds could be better spent.

We are proposing removing central programmes and ring-fenced funding and national targets, and in their place providing freedom of choice and putting schools in charge. The overall schools budget will increase by £3.6 billion over this spending period, with head teachers able to take their own decisions about how to spend budgets. What is clear is that head teachers can continue to work in partnership with other schools, if they wish, and where school sport partnerships have been successful we see no need why they should not remain in place. However, we believe that school communities are most likely to be successful when they have certain elements of freedom to take ownership and responsibility for what they are doing.

The noble Lords, Lord Pendry and Lord Brookman, referred to the value of the school sports partnership. The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, in his opening remarks described eloquently the many activities of the SSPs in Tameside and Manchester but, as the Secretary of State has confirmed, those partnerships can continue if that is locally determined.

We understand the concerns about removal of ring-fenced grant to schools. This is one of the difficult decisions the Government have needed to consider in managing their finances properly so that the deficit is reduced, school budgets are protected and the pupil premium for disadvantaged pupils is introduced. Of course, that pupil premium can extend to PE and to sport. Let me also be clear, however, that we fully recognise the efforts of schools, parents and coaches—including all those who worked in SSPs to increase participation—and I assure noble Lords that further discussions are ongoing on these issues. Again, I heard with great interest what the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, was saying about the importance of the co-ordinators in these activities.

We very much hope that schools will choose to invest in sport. Among the incentives will be a voluntary new Olympic and Paralympic-style competition. We are working closely with Sport England and the Olympic family to develop that competition. What is 100 per cent clear is that this is not about an elitist agenda; we do not want to see competition simplistically confined or packaged for only the most talented or sporty children. We want there to be second teams, third teams, even fourth teams and more, so that every child has the opportunity to participate in physical activity and to experience regular competitive sport against other schools and be able to benefit from all that competitive sport can bring to a young person’s development. We certainly wish to see the networks of volunteers continue to support that.

A package of locally determined events will ensure that annual school sports days are the culmination of regular competitive activity within schools; that more leagues are set up allowing regular competition between schools; that the most talented individuals and teams are given the platform to progress to county-level events; and that young elite performers have the chance to be selected to represent their schools at the first annual competition in the Olympic stadium in London 2012.

We recognise the need to attract those children not already engaged in sport, which is why over £5 million of funding is being used to set up over 3,000 after-school Change4Life sports clubs on school and further education college sites across the country, as already mentioned in this debate. These clubs will be in a range of seven Olympic and Paralympic sports, harnessing the inspiration of London 2012. This will pay for the equipment and qualified coaches helping to engage around 100,000 children aged between 13 and 19 who do not currently take part in sport, with a specific emphasis on using young volunteers to lead these sessions. All 3,000 clubs will be established by April 2011 and this complements other investment for youth sport which will strengthen links between schools and community clubs and increase the number of children participating in sport outside the curriculum and beyond the school gates, themes which have been picked up already.

We believe that the model of these clubs means that they will be sustained beyond 2011. By developing agreements and partnerships between schools, local authorities and community clubs we foresee these clubs becoming embedded within local areas, and I certainly pay tribute to the work of sportspeople who and organisations that support these. I shall briefly mention cricket later but I think also of the Lawn Tennis Association, which provides free equipment and training in schools; there are many other sports where the sportspeople and organisations voluntarily do this to encourage young people.

We need a mass shift in current activity levels, creating opportunities to change the physical and cultural landscapes to build an environment that supports people in more active lifestyles. Therefore, in addition to continuing the best elements of school sports provision and boosting competitive school sport we are enhancing the sporting infrastructure in communities across the country. As a result of our reforms to the National Lottery, for instance, we are investing £135 million in grass-roots sport through Places People Play. This was launched last month and will deliver a real legacy of sporting participation from London 2012. It includes £80 million for local and iconic facilities, with £10 million to protect playing fields, which are such key assets in this area, and £2 million for a new programme supported by the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association to recruit, train and deploy 40,000 sports leaders across the country by 2013.

As well as enhancing provision we are determined to support volunteers, practitioners and clubs—the lifeblood of grass-roots sports—by removing the barriers preventing them delivering more sporting opportunities, so that they can attract and retain more people into their sport, as referred to by my noble friend Lord Addington. It is why the Minister for Sport and the Olympics has tasked the Central Council of Physical Recreation with reviewing the red tape that prevents so much good activity, and this review will complement the coalition Government’s reviews into the vetting and barring scheme, the criminal records regime and health and safety.

The public health White Paper, launched last week, set out our plans to ring-fence the public health budget so that it is used to tackle the key causes of preventable ill health, rather than being raided to solve NHS deficits, as happened once or twice under Labour. Physical inactivity is one of those preventable causes of ill health and the White Paper sets key ways of addressing this in children and young people, including updating guidelines on physical activity, the broadening of the Change4Life programme, and ongoing funding for Bikeability cycle training, which works towards every child being offered high-quality instruction on how to ride safely and confidently by the end of year 6 of school. I commend the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, for his contribution and his support for cycling; we just need to take care that he avoids colliding with the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, as she is on her way back from the tennis courts.

At the national level we are working with all sections of society through our public health responsibility deal to drive improvements in healthy living, with a specific network to take forward new partnerships aimed at reducing inactivity. The Department for Education will shortly be in a position to announce what additional funding it will make available to support school sport in line with its new approach.

I would like to pick up some of the other points mentioned in this very wide-ranging debate. My noble friend Lord Gardiner made welcome comments on the positive impact of Fishing for Schools and the evidence that physical activity and sport can provide health benefits and engage hard-to-reach groups, including those with certain disabilities. The noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, asked why the Youth Sport Trust was not consulted in the decision to cut. Throughout this debate we have heard that there are effectively three government departments involved in this: the Department for Education, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Health. In fact the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has met the Youth Sport Trust on many occasions and consults the Secretary of State for Education. I understand that a meeting is shortly to take place with the Secretary of State for Education.

The Government recognise the excellent continuing work done by the school sports co-ordinators and this should, in future, be a core part of school PE teachers’ roles, so we hope it will be fundamentally incorporated within schools. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, mentioned the links with clubs and reducing red tape, which I have already referred to, and of course the role of the clubs has featured at various stages throughout this debate; their importance in generating enthusiasm and access for young people cannot be underestimated.

The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, gave an inspirational speech; she is indeed a role model in this area and enhances greatly the debates in this House on these subjects. She mentioned a variety of subjects, including linking sport to the reductions in crime. That issue has not been picked up directly, although the increase in sociability and young people feeling that they can contribute actively to society has featured in a number of speeches today. I entirely agree with her that the increase in the number of sports available in schools is a positive development. As we develop our new Olympic/Paralympic-style competition in schools, we will ensure that it includes a wide variety of school sports formats to attract all young people.

The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, referred to the importance of ring-fencing the legacy from London 2012. The Government are firmly committed to delivering a real legacy from 2012; we are right behind that.

My noble friend Lord Younger of Leckie asked about the schools’ transition to sport. We will consider what further support can be given to help schools manage the transition to the new schools-led approach and, indeed, develop new incentives for heads to prioritise sport. The fear that heads might decide not to use the money for sport will be monitored.

In the other aspect of his input on cycling, the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, referred to its positive benefits. Indeed, the Department of Health White Paper mentions the Bikeability cycle training scheme and the £560 million local sustainable transport fund, which includes active travel and will have an impact on cycling.

My noble friend Lady Benjamin spoke on the issue of high-quality PE and sport. We will consult on this and the role of PE will feature in the forthcoming curriculum review.

The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, asked whether Michael Gove had visited a school sport partnership. I am given to understand that he visited one prior to taking up his appointment in government; I am not aware that he has visited one since. However, I believe that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has been in touch with such partnerships.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, asked whether the Education Secretary had consulted colleagues. Discussions between Ministers within all three departments took place in advance of the announcement and I understand that the government departments for health, education and sport are in further discussions even as we speak about what further support will be made available. We expect an announcement on the legacy later this month, and certainly before Christmas. I hope that gives some reassurance to noble Lords—and obviously I expect to come back to the Dispatch Box if it does not.

The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, referred to the progress made and to the risks of the cuts. We agree that significant progress was made under the previous Government. Of course, the decisions we have taken have been driven partly by the economic position and by our determination to put schools in charge of their own budgets.

The noble Baroness, Lady Massey, mentioned cricket and the Chance to Shine programme. Yes, it will receive £7.2 million of funding from government over 2009-13, and sport as a whole will benefit from the revisions to the lottery shares through investment into many national governing bodies of sport after the Olympics portion of the lottery budget comes to its completion in 2012.

I have a feeling that there are other points in the debate which I have not picked up. Pressure of time will not allow me to go into more detail but I shall certainly read the debate with great interest. It has been a valuable and thought-provoking debate containing some inspirational contributions. I hope noble Lords will find that the stubborn government mind has listening and problem-solving characteristics too. I know we share a common aim on all sides of the Chamber, and the coalition Government are committed to implementing the best policies to ensure the well-being of children and young people. Again, I thank most sincerely the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, for securing the debate and all noble Lords who have taken part today.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this important debate. I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, who set the tone that was followed by so many other speakers.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, made another powerful contribution; there would be no debate in this House on sport if he did not do so. This is not to the detriment of the Minister, but it is baffling to many of us why, with his knowledge of sport, the noble Lord does not have a place on the Front Bench.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Grey-Thompson, Lady Massey, Lady Benjamin, Lady Jones of Whitchurch and Lady Campbell, all mentioned that sport was not only about team sports. It comes in various forms, all of which are incorporated in the school sport partnership and all of which are growing.

The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, again shone with her vast knowledge of sport and I thank her. We are also indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, for her usual major contribution from the Front Bench.

The Minister had a difficult task—bless her—following the stance taken by the Government, but she batted very well and I am sure that they will be proud of her in the other place for doing so.

The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, ticked all the boxes that made cycling such an important sport but he missed an obvious one—the use of a bike for a particular Minister, the Secretary of State for Education. He should certainly get on a bike and pedal away from his current job. That would be the best tick of all. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion withdrawn.