Skip to main content


Volume 739: debated on Monday 8 October 2012


Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will build on the success of British sport in summer 2012.

My Lords, I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in taking this opportunity to congratulate all our athletes who participated and won medals in the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, the wonderful volunteers who made the Games so special and everyone who contributed to the organisation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Government are committed to making sure that both the Olympic and Paralympic Games have a lasting legacy. Elite sport will receive £500 million over the next four years leading up to Rio. Grass-roots sport will benefit from £1 billion of investment to provide facilities and opportunities to take up sport. The UK will host a number of major sporting events and we will build upon the already successful School Games providing competitive sport in schools.

The legacy of the Games goes beyond sport and all parts of the Government will work together so that the UK as a whole takes advantage and reaps the benefit of what we achieved as a nation this summer.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that response and echo her sentiments. Does she think that the sense of solidarity and national purpose which was so visible during the Olympics can be sustained or, possibly, extended? If so, how might that be achieved?

I agree with what the noble Lord has outlined as being part of the success of the Games this summer. I was very proud that my noble friend Lord Coe was at the Labour Party conference last week to pay tribute to Dame Tessa Jowell for everything she did as a Minister to ensure that we succeeded in getting the Games. He made the point very clearly that to build on the success of the Games—and as I said in my previous Answer this is not just about sport, although sport is hugely important and we need to build on it—we must continue that bipartisan and cross-party approach to make sure that we take all the available benefits.

My Lords, given the huge number who have been inspired by the extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, could the Minister explain how good access for disabled children to PE in schools and mainstream clubs can be ensured? This is not just about continuing to develop an elite pathway—in which I declare an interest—but about changing the whole culture towards healthier lifestyles.

I would like to pay particular tribute to the noble Baroness for all the vital work she did in commentating on the Paralympics—I know she also did so on the Olympics—and helping to ensure that the rest of us properly understood what was being achieved.

It is not just disabled people who are inspired by what was achieved at the Paralympics: the rest of us were, too. We need to build on the success of the Olympics by ensuring that all stages of the sporting strategy, which has been covered in great detail in a ministerial Statement which is available in the Printed Paper Office today, integrate disabled sport at all levels. I was particularly pleased to learn that when Sport England confirms its next round of investment in national governing bodies in December, it will require, for the first time, delivery of specific targets for participation of disabled people.

My Lords, this is the first false start of the summer. In declaring my interest as the outgoing chairman of the British Olympic Association—

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was ready to speak on the past two occasions and gave way. We will have the opportunity to hear from the opposition Front Bench very shortly after his question.

My Lords, I apologise for the earlier false start. In declaring my interest as the outgoing chairman of the British Olympic Association, may I thank noble Lords from all sides of this House for their consistent support for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games since we first debated them some seven years ago?

The challenge is now to turn inspiration into participation. Does the Minister agree that central to this objective is a priority focus on school sport and the establishment of new links between clubs, volunteers, governing bodies, primary, secondary and, indeed, independent schools?

My noble friend, to whom I owe a great deal of gratitude for everything he has done, is absolutely right, and I should make one small point. The Secretary of State for Education met representatives of some of the national governing bodies last week and is building on what is already known about in terms of strategy.

I welcome for the first time today the face of the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, at the Dispatch Box and I look forward to hearing from her frequently. I also pay tribute to her predecessor who worked so well at the Dispatch Box; we enjoyed listening to her. However, since they came to power, the coalition Government have cut the school sport budget by 69%. Now Michael Gove’s curriculum proposals threaten to tear the rest of the heart out of school sport by ignoring the fact that sport and physical education should be part of the core curriculum. We all know that to be good at sports you have to start young. That start, as we have just heard, has to be made in primary schools. How will the Government therefore follow up all the good will that is now engendered by the Olympics by ensuring that the very people we need to make that start in primary schools are given a fair and reasonable chance?

Sport in schools is a vital part of our ongoing strategy for and commitment to sport, and I should just say to the noble Baroness that PE is a compulsory part of the national curriculum at all key stages of education. That is the only topic, in addition to maths, English and science, that we have made compulsory at this time.