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House of Lords Hansard
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10 November 2014
Volume 757

Question

Asked by

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the allocation of resources for the Great Britain Olympic and Paralympic teams due to compete in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

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My Lords, through UK Sport, the Government are investing £355 million into summer Olympic and Paralympic sports during the Rio 2016 cycle, which is an increase from London of 7% into Olympic sports and 45% into Paralympic sports. Our ambitions for Rio are to be even more successful than London in both the Olympics and Paralympics, which no host nation in history has achieved. With record investment, UK Sport believes that this is attainable.

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My Lords, Olympic and Paralympic sport is fair set for Rio, underpinned by unprecedented UK sport funding. Does the Minister agree that, post-Rio, there should be no compromise to the UK Sport no-compromise funding model? Does he also agree that we all owe a tremendous debt to the father of the lottery, Sir John Major, whose vision, drive and determination transformed the sporting and cultural framework of our nation for the better for ever?

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My Lords, as one of our greatest Paralympians and the only Briton to win six gold medals at a single Games, my noble friend comes to these matters with exceptional experience. I entirely agree with him about Sir John Major and that many of the causes favoured by so many of your Lordships have been transformed because of what was done with the National Lottery. Looking at Sochi, where the no-compromise principles were adhered to for the first time, and the great successes at the Olympics and Paralympics, what my noble friend says has a lot of merit.

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My Lords, what mechanisms are in place to ensure that all the home nations have been proactively engaged in the decision-making around the allocation of UK Sport’s investment for the GB Olympic and Paralympic squads for Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020?

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My Lords, UK Sport works very closely with all the national sports bodies, including Sport England, Sport Wales, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Scotland, precisely to ensure that the allocation is correctly placed. It is trying to ensure that the best athletes come forward and are supported.

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My Lords, what will be the effect on this programme of a decline in lottery receipts?

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My Lords, I very much hope that there will not be a decline in lottery receipts generally and that people will play the National Lottery. I believe that there are many good causes. Clearly, if that happened, we would have to look at these matters across the piece.

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My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, although the problems we had were solved by developing the lottery for the Olympics, we must go on and look at the funding of team games to give ourselves a broader base to encourage participation?

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My Lords, my noble friend raises the issue of team sports and clearly we want all sports to have as many opportunities as possible—my noble friend may be thinking of basketball in particular. That has enormous potential to reach young people and we want it to grow in the country. That is why Sport England in particular is investing a great deal of money. Over the funding cycle about £10 million will go into basketball. We want teams to succeed but they need to be in a position to win Olympic medals, which basketball is not at the moment. While it is not in a position to win medals it is not in the Rio funding scheme.

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My Lords, the no-compromise approach has winners and has done very well but it also has losers. Basketball has had its £7 million grant from UK Sport cancelled and yet, as the Minister said, it is hugely popular, with 70% of participants aged under 25 and more than 50% of those who play the game coming from BME communities. What can they do now? The Minister mentioned Sport England but its contribution is £1.2 million, hardly making up the gap to £7 million.

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My Lords, as I said, the total funding to basketball is nearly £10 million over the cycle to 2017. In fact, there is investment through Sport England and also the youth and community scheme. Some £1 billion has gone from that scheme into precisely the sports and activities that the noble Lord was referring to, such as basketball.

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My Lords, is my noble friend aware that in the year 1808 Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Portugal? Does he agree that the allocation by the British of resources behind the lines of Torres Vedras during the same period is a very good long-distance omen for the British teams competing in 2016?

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That is a most intriguing question and I am not sure how best to answer it other than to say that I am sure that all your Lordships wish all the athletes, wherever they come from and whichever discipline they are participating in, enormous success.

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My Lords, going back to the question from my noble friend Lady Armstrong, can the Minister say what the trend is on spending on the lottery? I do not mean spending of the lottery funds but spending by people who buy lottery tickets and whether therefore it is likely that the long-term sustainability of funding to both culture and sport will remain constant.

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My Lords, I do not have the precise figures in front of me. I will look at the projection for National Lottery proceeds and come back to the noble Baroness. As I said, this is something that we will need to look at and I very much hope that the National Lottery will continue to be the enormous success it has been.