Motion to Take Note
My Lords, for the first time this century there is an opportunity to design and implement a government strategy for sport and physical activity. The appointment of John Whittingdale and Tracey Crouch ensure that we have the strongest ministerial combination of Secretary of State and Minister for Sport since the DCMS was founded. Their knowledge, experience and expertise provide British sport with a unique window of opportunity. They will be strengthened by the contribution that my noble friend Lord Hayward will bring to this subject and this House, not least in his maiden speech today.
However, it will be principally decisions taken outside the DCMS that will determine the fate of the Government’s sports strategy, since in the current economic climate new investment is highly unlikely to be forthcoming. The opportunity to persuade other, better-resourced departments to respond to the review with investment must therefore be a priority for government. The role of government in sports policy has become a co-ordinating one. Co-ordination as a theme should resonate throughout policy foundation. All departments have a role to play.
In the context of departmental co-ordination, and in the interests of sports fans and concert-goers, earlier this year your Lordships, with the support of my noble friend the Minister, worked hard to protect true fans from being ripped off by one of the most manipulated markets in our society. Legislation was passed and from 27 May this year new laws applied to the online secondary ticketing platforms. The Government announced their review this week. All interested parties will study this carefully and be proactive in their engagement with Professor Michael Waterson, who I wish well in this endeavour.
However, I make one request to my noble friend the Minister. This House, in seeking a statutory review of the consumer protection measures, believed that a year was adequate time for Professor Waterson and the committee of experts to undertake a comprehensive review. While the announcement of the review has come somewhat late—four months into the year—will my noble friend consult with Professor Waterson about the time for submitting evidence? A period of three months for submission of evidence would have been reasonable. The proposed five weeks is simply unacceptable and has caused widespread concern.
To give the House an important example, a vast amount of work has been undertaken by both the organisers of the Rugby World Cup and the RFU. Their evidence will be vitally important to the review, as repeatedly recognised in this House. Yet their current focus is rightly on doing their job to ensure the success of the World Cup and the vast organisational and administrative task associated with the ticketing process. It is simply not possible for them to turn their undivided attention to the illegal posting of tickets for the 2016 Six Nations tournament, which is already under way by online touts who are breaking the law. Surely it is unreasonable to insist that the Rugby World Cup ticketing team complete a comprehensive submission to the inquiry given that the current date closes a mere 15 working days after the final whistle is blown. Will my noble friend the Minister please consult with Professor Waterson and seek an extension for all parties to submit their evidence to the review by, say, the end of December? That would be in line with the timetable for other reviews from the DCMS, including the short nine weeks available to apply to the consultation period for the subject of our debate today.
Unlike the outstanding work to design an effective urban regeneration legacy led by Sir John Armitt, Sir David Higgins and the ODA, who between them delivered their vision for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its regenerative influence on the East End of London, the lack of a national sports strategy has meant that we have been unable to transform inspiration into participation anywhere near the levels that we in this Chamber had anticipated. As crucial to making an outstanding Olympic Games, a great Olympic decade touching the lives of everyone in the United Kingdom, both able-bodied and disabled, was always our priority. Lack of government legislation and inadequate funding at the grass roots by local authorities, whose mandate is to treat sport and recreation spend as discretionary and not mandatory, has cast a lengthening shadow over the historic and wonderful summer of London 2012.
In seeking a way out for the new ministerial team, first, I stress the importance of the national governing bodies being at the centre of strategic planning and delivery. NGBs look for a consistent, long-term approach to investment models. It is vital that well-managed governing bodies with best-practice strategic plans and development models are closely involved in all funding and development policies around their sport. This will ensure that there is a strategic approach to development programmes that addresses key needs, integrates the pathway programmes and avoids duplication and inefficiency.
Current sports policy and its measurement is too focused on the once-a-week participation figure. That has led to too much emphasis on a one-size-fits-all approach. Each NGB should be able to build a specific development plan that reflects its own strengths and strategic priorities. What works well for cricket may not be the same as what works well for rowing. NGBs are responsible for the promotion and development of their sport at every level and their engagement with Sport England should be tailored around a wider range of objectives reflecting this broad remit rather than the focus that has developed on judging everything on just an ad hoc, once-a-week participation figure.
In broadening the measurement of NGBs, Sport England should allow them to set their own targets in a number of areas, including: an increase in the number of women and girls playing the sport; social cohesion projects; pathway programmes leading to elite competition levels; governance and equality policies; sporting capital and value such as competitive sport; and the community value of teams and sporting clubs, to mention a few.
Access for the disabled to sports facilities should be a priority. The Government are engaged with the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, on his Private Member’s Bill to ensure appropriate and improved standards of access and facilities for disabled spectators at football grounds. It should go further and introduce legislation to deliver the necessary improvements at all sports facilities for disabled athletes, fans and their families. I would encourage the Government to introduce a step change at the Department of Health. Put simply, we need a comprehensive programme of preventive health measures as well as clinical targets.
The biggest neglect during the last two decades has been a lack of focus on local authorities, which—in the main—provide most of the facilities that clubs and NGBs of sport need and often finance the most accessible first-stage coaching opportunities across the range of sports. Not only should the delivery of sports and recreation be a mandatory rather than a discretionary spend, as I mentioned, but government should invest in incentives to local authorities through a more systematic provision of rate relief. There is far too much variance across authorities in allocating relief to clubs, transport vouchers, vouchers for governing body qualifications for volunteers and as regards a higher recognition of the role played by local authority facilities. If museums can offer free entry why cannot leisure centres? There are so many ways in which community sport should be better encouraged and supported. The elderly in particular are the largest age group for which there is robust evidence of the economic and social benefits of both getting and staying active, such as the prevention of falls, cardiovascular disease, depression and shortening periods of mobility, not to mention the generational benefit of young and old being active together.
On school sport, the most significant date of this century so far was 25 October 2006, when Gordon Brown—then Chancellor of the Exchequer—urged a national debate about taking sport and fitness more seriously. He, as Chancellor, wrote:
“Today, many schools offer children two hours sport a week, I want every school to do so and I want the hours to rise to at least four by 2010. This means that every child would do sports on most days. I want every school, too, to have a Sports Day to celebrate sporting achievement. And I want every school to offer after-school sport and links with a range of local sports clubs … I want every school to have teams playing in local leagues—encouraging a healthy rivalry with other schools ... every school should have access to playing fields and better sports facilities. And every talented young sports star should have extra support to help them train and develop … That’s a great ambition for 2012—a nation fitter in health and stronger in civic spirit”.
The key word, repeated six times, is “every”—a universal policy; not, as so often in sport, a patchwork quilt of good practice, rightly receiving applause in DCMS press releases, at the expense of those who miss out from policy delivery. It is hard graft, but we must deliver what we promise to everyone, not just to the fortunate few. Gordon Brown’s objectives would in each and every year since 2006 command all-party support in this House; yet sadly, not only have we failed to meet or exceed these targets, we have actually seen a steady decline away from each and every one of them, over a period in which the population has grown by 4 million.
A comprehensive review of school sport is now essential, covering the engagement between the independent and maintained sectors, the effectiveness or otherwise of the school sports premium, the quality of teaching material for the new curriculum and the delivery mechanisms of school sport. In the Governance of Sport Bill—which I introduced shortly before the general election to encourage debate and proposed some foundation stones for a government sports strategy—I included a clause which, in line with an increasing number of Governments and parliamentarians, seeks to criminalise the worst drug cheats in sport, namely those who knowingly cheat clean athletes out of selection or podium success.
These individuals are sports frauds. Fraud as a criminal offence should apply as much to them as it does to fraud in the City of London or in society in general. Yet the Fraud Act does not sufficiently cover the circumstances relevant to doping in sport, thus the need for primary legislation to address athletes who compete in this country and who have knowingly taken prohibited substances with the intention of enhancing their performance. It should be a criminal offence if a person belonging to the entourage of an athlete encourages, assists or hides awareness of the relevant athlete taking a prohibited substance with the intention of enhancing such an athlete’s performance.
The fact is that international doping in sport remains the worst crime an athlete can commit. It is cheating, and those who knowingly cheat have no place competing in the world of sport, let alone being selected to represent their country. Why? It is because they have defrauded a clean athlete, not only out of selection but out of their career; they have shredded the dreams of clean athletes with every needle they inject. They have destroyed the years of training and competition necessary to reach the pinnacle of sport.
Every hour of every day the vast majority of athletes are training—long winter hours devoted to a total commitment to deliver their personal best. Many have given up the chance of a career. All make huge sacrifices with the support of their families and friends, governing bodies, lottery players and coaching staff to train, to compete and to live their dream. That should never be dashed by an athlete who cheats, currently secure in the knowledge that a four-year ban can be reduced to two if they give the names of those who supplied them to WADA—a ban which, for some, is no longer than a very serious injury; a ban which, if lasting only a few years, enables them to return to their sport with the benefit of the muscle mass acquired through drugs, to be back on the starting blocks while the clean athlete sits at home.
It would not happen in any other sphere of life. Defraud the bank you work for, and you are fired. Defraud your clients as a lawyer, and you can no longer practise. A year ago, Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, spoke out in the face of Germany’s proposed anti-doping laws. He said that WADA is,
“completely opposed to the criminalisation of athletes”.
Yet its director-general, David Howman, speaking in Melbourne this week, proposed imprisonment as the most effective way to reduce cheating in sport. A consistent voice from the top is essential if the aspiring athletes of tomorrow are going to heed the message.
The problem is growing. It is time to act. It is athletes who have been consistently calling for action on doping, crime, inadequate governance, lack of transparency and conflicts of interest in the corridors of sports administrators and we should heed their call. There is no doubt that the real deterrent that cheating athletes face in going to prison—as they do in Italy—is significantly greater than a one, two or four-year ban set by WADA. I believe the deterrent effect of criminalising doping will send a message into the homes and classrooms of young athletes that if they want to compete in the 21st century, they must stay clean. However, it will take a major change in the approach of the international federations of sport and WADA if that is to be accomplished. Governments will have to take a lead.
In closing, what is the status of the Olympic and Paralympic legacy Cabinet committee and unit? When did it last meet? What has been the output of its work? When will this House have the opportunity to review its work in full? In what way has it achieved the objectives of delivering a tangible and coherent approach to the sports legacy from the Games in the regeneration of the East End of London and the promotion and development of sport? These are important questions. Key to the protection back at the grass roots of our playing fields is the role of Sport England as a statutory consultee on all planning applications, and I hope it will remain one. In the triennial review, there was a question about its ongoing role in that context. I hope that question will be answered positively. I wish the Government and, in particular, John Whittingdale and Tracey Crouch well with their endeavour. I beg to move.
My Lords, in my 40-odd years of making speeches in this House or the other place I cannot remember beginning a speech by heaping praise on two Tory parliamentarians. Perhaps some may say that maturity has shone through at last; on this side, they probably think I have gone soft in the head. Seriously, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is a remarkable person and giving this House an opportunity to discuss the admirable consultation paper A New Strategy for Sport is something he must relish, and we relish hearing him. It should not be any surprise that the noble Lord should be leading this debate and speaking so ably, for I witnessed over the years that, as a Minister for Sport in the other place, he always shone over the other Ministers at that time. I should know because I was one of his shadow Ministers and saw five Tory Ministers off in as many years.
I must also congratulate the current Minister, Tracey Crouch, the author of the paper before us, which is the first for 13 years. She is not only knowledgeable about sport but has played and coached sport at grass-roots levels for many years and was on the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee for five years. I am tempted to say she might even surpass the fine record of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, unless, of course, the Government do what has been the custom over the years of moving Sport Ministers before they can have been able to make their mark. I certainly hope this Government will resist that practice in her case.
I must register my interest in the debate: I am the former chairman, and now president, of the Football Foundation.
In this paper, the DCMS has called for ideas on how to increase long-term participation in sport and physical activity and which organisations would be best placed to deliver that aim. I have no hesitation in responding to that request, although I know that the Football Foundation has formally submitted a response to the department. For my part, I want to point out the indisputable fact that, despite many hundreds of millions of pounds being spent over the years by successive Governments, sport participation in this country is in decline and, without a coherent strategy, it will decline further.
Time prevents me from outlining in more detail the Football Foundation’s more lengthy submission, which I am sure the department will consider very carefully. After all the Secretary of State, with his vast knowledge of the issues under review, and having been a former chairman of the Select Committee, is an appropriate person, along with the Minister for Sport, to consider that submission carefully. I am sure that we can all take it for granted that we will not make the progress necessary until we break down the barriers that currently prevent that progress, by getting more participants in sport and physical recreation by tackling the lack of sporting facilities. It does not take a genius to work out that, if people are keen to take up a sport, they cannot do so if there is no place for them to participate in it.
The FA’s largest ever grass-roots survey found that 84% of respondents cited poor facilities as the most serious concern. Indeed, a separate survey among 2,500 grass-roots participants carried out by Sky Sports News also found that the lack of decent facilities was the biggest barrier to participation. We really ought to be ashamed that countries such as Germany, France and Holland are meeting the challenge of more participation and the growth in pitch demand. The FA chairman’s commission report states that whereas we have 639 synthetic pitches, the Germans alone have 5,000.
It is true that it is not the DCMS alone that should shoulder the responsibility for a new strategic plan. It is necessary for the Department for Education, the Department of Health and others to combine in that endeavour. Health is a particular concern when we consider the problem of obesity, which, according to a Parliamentary Answer to me this week from the noble Lord, Lord Prior, is estimated to cost the NHS £5.1 billion a year. Is it any wonder that the Government’s own Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has stated:
“If sport and physical activity was a drug, it would be regarded as a miracle cure”?
Those sentiments are of course true, but investment into local sport facilities is also good for the health of the economy. Grants from such bodies as the Football Foundation to build pavilions and pitches also create jobs. The Government also benefit from an unprecedented seven-to-one return on investment through the foundation. With the FA and Premier League as partners, the foundation more than doubles this again by attracting additional partnership funding, so from the Government’s direct investment of £200 million since the foundation was formed in 2000 they have managed to support projects worth more than £1.3 billion. I am sure that these are just the kind of funding facts that the Government are calling for in this consultation exercise.
I conclude by again congratulating the noble Lord on giving us the opportunity to debate this topic today.
My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for introducing this debate, but I feel, like so many of his noble friends in the past, that I have once again been dropped in it. Many years ago I was minding my own business here when Earl Jellicoe, who was one of my noble friend’s mentors, and mine, said, “Malcolm, are you a bit bored? I’ve got something sporting for you to do. We want to bring sport alive again. We’re going to make you chairman of the Greater London and South East Council for Sport and Recreation, responsible for the development of all sport and recreation in Greater London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent—so help me God”.
I then found that we were going to have a sort of session. We went off to Alexandra Palace. I found in the mean time that I had been made chairman of the regional sports council—the Greater London and South East Council for Sport and Recreation—and everybody who met me assumed that I was my grandfather. I said, “Couldn’t we get involved in playing games?”, and they said, “Well, yes”. I said, “That’s what sport’s about. It’s about enjoyment, isn’t it?”. I used to play almost every game rather badly. We found that at Alexandra Palace, where we met, 3,000 people turned up from the regions, who were waiting for instructions. We had not got any staff to give anybody instructions, so I made the suggestion, “Why don’t they write how they would like to be instructed, and I will arrange for it to be signed?”.
We then started to meet the ethnic minority groups. My favourites were the Rastafarians. They were extremely good at basketball, and they wanted to be able to play in the street. We found that in certain streets of London that were not busy at the weekend, if we arranged for a car to break down at one end and then at the other, basketball hoops with Rasta kit could go on the lamppost—they would not be straight. Jamaicans are very good at bouncing balls. So this happened, with the approval of the police, and everything seemed to work.
The problem was both money and commitment. We then asked, “Where are the green patches of London?”. I had to ask one of the airlines that had planes flying low over London—no one seemed to have a map—to tell us where were the places you could go and play friendly sorts of games, and where were the grounds. There were vast numbers of places, often belonging to great estates that would not allow entry. Now, over the years that has changed, and you will find that in many of the London parks, even those that are owned by institutions, at weekends you will see children kicking footballs being guided by football players, who are paid a small amount to do that. So we do have enough facilities.
What dropped me in it was when I was told, “The East End’s yours—go and sort it out. No one’s ever going to do anything there”. I was asked if we could build some kind of sports arena. We set out to build the Greater London and south-east regional council arena, called the London Arena. We were given the land free, and a little bit of money. It was necessary to raise an awful lot more, because one saw the potential for the East End of London, but there was no money. We found that there were always people who would help, such as builders and contractors who were working. If you spoke to them nicely, they would put the earth and materials in the right place for a BMX bike track.
That was a difficult time, but I then had the privilege of talking to Denis Thatcher, who of course had certain ideas. We looked at all the football pitches in London and said, “They’ve only got two goalposts, one at each end. If you got smaller people, couldn’t you have four goalposts across, where you would not damage the middle, and allow them to play during school time and so on?”. So this started regularly until the local authorities stepped in and said, “You’ve got to be a bit more careful”. However, we got into real trouble in the arena in Docklands, as we ran out of money. Nobody thought that Docklands and the East End would ever come alive in the way it has now—nobody dreamed of those glittering towers that are there. However, there were the rivers and the entrance things, which made life pretty encouraging.
What I am coming to is, how do we bring the private and public sectors together in this particular world? We need my noble friend with his initiative, but quite often it is up to the local authorities to do this. Over time, I found that there were people in each of the local authorities who would help.
The best things happened down in the East End. We were about to try to build the London Arena and there were some boxing matches going on. A little old lady came up and gave me a nudge. She said, “Hello, love, how are you?”. I said, “I’m very well, thank you very much”. She asked, “How’s your Da?”. I asked what she meant and she said, “Well, we haven’t seen him around lately”. I did not know that my father, who after the war spent an awful lot of his life motor racing, was a boxer. He used the name “The White Eagle” and boxed in Docklands. The old lady said, “You see, my husband was your father’s second”. I am speaking in a light-hearted way but it is little things such as that that bring things to life. I once made the mistake of saying something on television and I ended up with so many letters because people all feel the same way.
We do not have bad infrastructure at the moment, and the demand for watching sport on television has never been higher. People are watching games that they never considered they would. Little things like that make you wonder. We do not necessarily need a strategy; we need to look at what instruments are available to government, and here again I am thinking of things such as tax allowances. Certain things have happened following certain Olympic Games—for example, Mecca closed down its ice rink at the very time that Torvill and Dean won gold at the Olympics. We are now so successful in sport that there are leaders in the sports world who can encourage people to play their games. I am told that we have more active sports than any other nation in the world. Perhaps, when the Minister replies, she will tell me that she can arrange for me to be provided with a list of those sports.
This is an interesting time. We have had a very good start to this debate and I hope that your Lordships will do all that they can to help the sporting world.
My Lords, first, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for giving us the chance to have a look at this paper and discuss it properly. Like the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, I feel that the Crouch/Whittingdale pair deserve tremendous praise. I also salute their courage. Experience tells us that when you ask the rest of government to do something for sport, the response is, “Yes, it is terribly important, but you are asking us to change the way we behave for sport. No, that is somebody else’s business”. That is the great bugbear that is being taken on here.
The fact is that sport is seen as secondary—as a tag-on—in many people’s lives, particularly within the political class. I have mentioned before that I think that most people who get involved in politics have gone through the experience of giving up sport at about the age of 14, when they learned to fake their mother’s signature on a note to get out of it. I have said that several times and have not been seriously challenged, but it is certainly a fact that when people talk to a politician about sport, he panics and tells them about his local football team’s results. But that is watching. The fact that you are getting involved in something that affects your life comes through in this document.
It is also a very good document because it starts with participation and works through a series of things, which I read as being things that you need in order to get participation right. This list of things is actually a series of loops that come back and support each other to keep the participation going. Can you participate if you have not been given a degree of physical literacy in schools and local clubs? Is the local club going to be a better provider in certain sports because it has more expertise? We are going over old ground here.
How do we change behaviour to get the best out of this? The Department for Education has dealt with this and has come up with a series of answers, most of which have good points in them. We need a consistency of approach. What has changed is what seems to be a more aggressive attitude in the Department of Health—that big, muscular department with lots of spending—which can see at least a medium-term, and possibly a short-term, benefit from changing behaviour in relation to sport. That is a fundamental game-changer. How are we doing this to change what is coming forward? The rest of government then has to come in and say to the other departments: “You will be rewarded; you will be praised; but you will be punished if you don’t change your behaviour to get hold of this”. That is what we are going through. All forms of local government are also huge players here.
One issue that was not mentioned but should have been was transport. If you want people to take part in a sport, particularly at the ages when they tend to drop out—that is, in their teenage years, those pinch points of 16, 18 and 21, when they do not have their own transport and are dependent on a parent—are we making it easy for them to get to the sporting club? The middle class dominates sport. We have a huge culture here and are very lucky, with amateur sports taking on their own coaching underneath the auspices of the sporting bodies. It is a huge facility that other places do not have. However, if you cannot get to that club to access that expertise—that internal investment, that voluntary activity—you might as well not have it for this agenda. Do we make sure that local government and the Department for Transport say: “We need a bus route”? That is, a bus that runs when people have finished training to get them home. People will not go through some masochistic process when they are starting out with something of dealing with cold, wet weather for hours and having to walk in it. It just would not encourage anybody to do it. So you have to bring that in; you have to bring everything in together to move this forward.
This document is a good first step. It address that idea that it all comes together. Indeed, it includes the Foreign Office: what does the Foreign Office want from sport? Quite clearly, it wants quite a lot from sport. The Olympics were a wonderful example of soft power. Who knows what the Rugby World Cup will do? How much credit do they get after the host nation has been knocked out? That is a huge question to which we do not know the answer. There are even little spin-offs that allow other people to do things. I have referred very cheekily before to the fact that I was on the organising committee for a veterans’ rugby tournament of parliamentarians—possibly an international level of interaction which was unique to that particular tournament, but we still had a degree of interaction there, something that would not have been accomplished without sport, and a pretty grass-roots, basic level of sport at that.
All of these things are there to be taken from this. The challenge we have is making sure that all parts of government co-operate and accept that they have a responsibility for doing this. It is not just for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, because with the best will in the world, it does not have the muscle. Even with the Olympics behind it, it did not have the muscle to sustain this. I always predicted that the most powerful Sports Minister ever would be during the Olympics. I was right, but it is over: it had one moment, but it did not carry on. The whole of government must come behind this—and this document gives us an example of where to start and where to start looking, though it is not, in any way, a finished document: I do not thing anyone ever pretended it was—so that we can get the best out of this. That includes getting the best out of all the cultural interactive levels and giving a model for other voluntary activity.
Finally—and I think it is probably best to finish now as a maiden speaker is waiting to go—if we get this right, we will have a model for most forms of voluntary activity that can be transferred on. Even in this, we are not talking about sport by itself: we are talking about the whole voluntary and social interaction of the nation.
My Lords, in rising to follow the noble Lord, Lord Addington, I am reminded of the occasion when I refereed the first ever inter-parliamentary rugby match between the British Parliament and the French Parliament. Soon into the game, I had the misfortune and the necessity to lecture both front rows. I turned to the French front row first and lectured it in French. I then proceeded to lecture the British front row. It was only after I had finished the lecture that the front row pointed out to me that I had carried on in French.
My work background is primarily in industry in human resources, which resulted in me spending much of my time in negotiation with trade unions. It was time which, contrary to what many would think, I found overwhelmingly constructive, working with representatives who worked tirelessly for the benefit of their members—a possible parallel with this House.
In the other place, I served for nine years and had the great pleasure of representing the constituency of Kingswood, an area to which I still feel a strong attachment. Kingswood is roughly equidistant between my birthplace of Torquay and what I regard as my family home just outside Oxford, and it is that home village which I am proud to have adopted in my territorial title of Lord Hayward, of Cumnor—a location most noted as the place where Lord Robert Dudley either did or did not murder his wife, Amy Robsart, so that he could be closer to Queen Elizabeth I. I served in the departments of trade and transport, the latter of which drew me tragically into the events of Lockerbie, Kegworth, Clapham and King’s Cross, places which will for ever be etched in my and many other people’s memories.
My upbringing from Oxford to the West Country results in my having a slight or, one might say, occasional West Country drawl. It is an accent into which I would, and still do, drift on occasions. My lead supporter on my introduction was my noble friend Lord Moynihan, whom I thank and congratulate on seeking this debate. When he and I shared an office together as new Members in another place, this variable accent caused him much amusement, although his attempts to mimic my accent caused me equal mirth. My other supporter, my noble friend Lord Glendonbrook, I have known for the past 25 years and I have valued both the advice and friendship that he has given me in that time.
More broadly, I thank your Lordships from across the House and the staff throughout the Palace for the assistance which I have received. Nothing could better indicate the nature of this place and of its Members and staff than the rehearsal for my introduction, which needed multiple re-runs. The staff were so patient, despite valuable time being lost. What none of them could have known was that, because of a slight physical disorder from which I suffer, your Lordships almost had someone faint during the oath. I survived, not least because, in the minutes before, your Lordships and staff had been so helpful. I am sure that this help and generosity of spirit will continue throughout my time in this House. I hope that I can be as generous to other Members of this House and the staff.
Before I comment on sporting matters, I must declare an interest in that, over the past few years, I have been a paid adviser to Sporta, the organisation representing leisure centre trusts.
The debate today is about the Government’s review of sports and their strategy—how we can encourage more to participate for greater benefit. However, the more and the benefit will come in many guises.
I am fortunate enough to be the vice-chairman of trustees at Central YMCA. A few years ago, YMCAfit, which is part of our organisation, worked with Aspire to create a programme known as InstructAbility. This is a scheme which should be better known across the nation at large, although I am sure that there will be many in this House who will recognise the title. People who face all sorts of challenges become qualified personal trainers. Since the scheme was started, some 230 people have completed the programme and most have found industrial placements. Almost nothing in life can be more moving than seeing people, in wheelchairs or not, overcoming their own personal challenges and encouraging others, often fully able-bodied, to overachieve. I hope that when the Government complete their review, they will address how they can do more to encourage disabled people to participate in sport.
Twenty years ago, six guys met in Central Station, a bar in King’s Cross. That night, the world’s first primarily gay rugby club was formed, the Kings Cross Steelers, a club whose tie I wear with pride today. It is not, and should not be, an exclusively gay club; we exist to play rugby, and if social barriers are broken down in the process, that is excellent. Next month, Steelers, as the club has become known, celebrates its 20th anniversary. The club now fields three teams and was promoted to Essex 1 last season. Over the years, we have brought many people back to rugby, introduced others to the sport and helped in the process to break down many social barriers.
There are now 10 essentially gay clubs in the UK, with two more being formed. There are many more across the world, including in the United States, where virtually every city has a gay rugby club. In recognising our growth as a group of clubs, I thank the RFU and the WRU for all the assistance that they have provided in the past 20 years. They have created the atmosphere that it is possible, in what is apparently a macho sport, to have openly gay role models such as Nigel Owens, Gareth Thomas, Sam Stanley and Keegan Hirst. There are, tragically, no such equivalents in football.
I said that Steelers was bringing people back to rugby. This season, the club has developed a scheme called “Pathway to Rugby”. It has been so successful that recently we have had more than 100 players for training sessions each Tuesday and Thursday. We have had to close our books until January. We just cannot cope with any more players. Clearly, many people—in this case primarily gay—want to play rugby. The Government should ensure that everyone, including those within any minority group who want to participate fully in society and therefore in sport, can do so in whatever way they wish.
I ask the Government to do as much as they can to encourage communities to generate opportunities for sport. In formulating their policy in response to this strategy document, the Government should underline their commitment that tackling any form of discrimination, whether it relates to disabled or other minority groups, is a priority and that any form of discrimination is totally unacceptable, from wherever and whenever it may occur.
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Moynihan on securing this important debate. It is both a privilege and a pleasure to follow my new noble friend Lord Hayward after what I am sure your Lordships will agree was an excellent maiden speech. It is right that my noble friend chose sport for his maiden speech, having been skilfully schooled by my noble friend Lord Moynihan many years ago in their office share. However, I understand that later in the decade my noble friend Lord Hayward could gain access to the office only if he showed his football spectator identity card. I also congratulate my noble friend on the pace he has shown—an important characteristic and quality in sport. Introduction on Tuesday; maiden speech on Thursday. What has he planned for Friday?
This is not the first time in his career that my noble friend Lord Hayward has demonstrated such pace. As a psephologist, he brought us motorway man, one of the key factors in the electoral calculus in the 2010 general election. Motorway man—what a far cry from Basil Fawlty, who hails from the birth town of my noble friend. I am sure noble Lords would all agree that the experience my noble friend has demonstrated will bring much to our deliberations over the coming years, and that, in the light, too, of his humanity and sense of fair play, he is an excellent new addition to the team sheet.
I have a joke for noble Lords. There is an Englishman in a bar. Noble Lords know how the joke goes. There is normally an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman. This time there is not. They are still in the Rugby World Cup.
So, to sport. I commend the strategy. It is comprehensive, far-reaching and hits many of the issues that many of your Lordships taking part in this debate have been involved in for decades. In the Secretary of State, John Whittingdale, and the Minister Tracey Crouch, we have two excellent individuals with great track records, real commitment and passion in this area—a passion shared by everybody participating in this debate today.
I will limit my comments to three areas: equality, world-class performance and the National Lottery. I am lucky enough, as a commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission—an interest declared in the register—to lead a sports inclusion programme. We work with Premiership Rugby, the England and Wales Cricket Board and National Governing Bodies of Sport to increase the participation of black and ethnic minority people, girls and young women, and to increase access at the sports stadia of our first-class county cricket grounds and the Premiership Rugby teams. We have already seen tremendous success: audits of the stadia show that more disabled people are able to enjoy that match-day experience which others have been able to take for granted. Hundreds more black and ethnic minority players and thousands more girls and young women are playing rugby for the first time, led by newly trained coaches and teachers. This is what we need in sport in 21st century Britain—more people from more backgrounds getting involved.
In terms of world-class performance, let us be in no doubt whatever that none of what we experienced or witnessed in the summer of 2012 happened by chance. It happened because thousands of people wanted it, willed it, planned it, strategised it and made it happen, not least those at UK Sport. The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, was very much at the spearhead of that during the years in the run-up to, and including, that fantastic golden summer of 2012. Mission 2012 monitored that progress, working alongside all the governing bodies and the great work they were doing and there was a no compromise funding agreement. Will the Minister give a commitment—that when it comes to elite sport, there will always be no compromise on the no-compromise approach that delivered gold, silver and bronze for our Olympians and Paralympians?
So much sport in this country is underpinned by the marvellous—some may say even miraculous—National Lottery. What a fantastic creation of Sir John Major, on which we should never stop congratulating him. It has changed not just the heart but the mind, the head, the soul and the spirit of the United Kingdom. We do not need just to cherish or champion the National Lottery; we need to guard it and guard it well. We are at a pivotal point on the National Lottery. I ask the Minister to commit to looking at what happens with the so-called society lotteries, and say that there will be no change to the proceeds and the prizes that can be given out. Will she consider reintroducing the cap on expenses for challenges to the National Lottery? Will she look at creating even more clear blue water between the National Lottery and gambling, not least in the area of gambling on the outcome of the lottery? Will she redouble government efforts to ensure that every recipient of National Lottery money and every National Lottery partner does everything, relentlessly, to promote the good work the National Lottery does in respect of UK sport?
In short, we need more people from more backgrounds being more active more often. In conclusion, I am sure noble Lords would like to join me in offering our support to all our Olympic and Paralympic athletes as they continue their preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, and beyond.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Moynihan on securing time for this debate on this important subject. I also congratulate my noble friend Lord Hayward on his witty and moving maiden speech. If that speech is a sample of the contribution we can expect from him, we can all agree that this House is very fortunate to number him among our Members.
Sport is a subject on which I feel very strongly. It played a key role in my life. It was partly because of my active participation in sport as a student that I was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, which brought me, all expenses paid, from Montreal to New College, Oxford. That set the course of the rest of my life, so in a sense it is because of sport that I am addressing your Lordships today.
Before I say anything more, I declare my interest as chairman of the Basketball Foundation, which was established by the British Basketball League to encourage the playing of this sport outside schools. I emphasise the words “outside schools” because most people do not appreciate that basketball is the second most popular team sport among those aged 11 to 15. Seven out of 10 schools provide it—no prizes for guessing the most popular.
These statistics tend to be greeted by incredulity by most people to whom I mention them, particularly Members of this House. This may be because basketball is a game that is played in state, rather than independent, schools. Nearly all schools entering national basketball competitions are state schools. Contrast this with rowing, for example, where 80% of schools in national competitions are from the independent sector. This might be why basketball is probably the most underappreciated team sport in the country. It might also explain why basketball is so underfunded by government and gets so little attention in the media.
Take the BBC website, which we all consult for scores. If one wants to know the latest British Basketball League scores, one has to click on “Sport”, then “All Sport”, then “A-Z Sport” and then scroll down to the bottom of a long list of almost every sport one can think of. Then comes another tab which says “Full Sports A-Z”. If one clicks on that, one will discover basketball listed between baseball and bowls. While I am a great admirer of both sports—I am an enthusiastic baseball fan—I find it very odd that news about the second most popular team sport among 11 to 15 year-olds should be presented in this way.
I very much hope that the new sport strategy that emerges from the consultation process we are discussing will ensure that the young people who want to play basketball after school have as much opportunity to do so as those who wish to row, or play rugby or tennis. Sadly, I fear that this will not happen unless the new sports strategy really does put equality of opportunity at its heart, as the consultation paper claims it will. The facts are that a very large proportion of those who play basketball live in crowded inner-city areas with limited public sporting facilities and are from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds. Some 35% of the young people who play basketball thanks to the Basketball Foundation are from the most deprived 20% of postcodes in the country. These young people cannot afford to fill the gaps in state-provided sporting facilities from their own private resources. For them, the Government’s sport strategy is the key to participation in sport and to all the good things that such participation brings.
The question is how to reach these young people and how to fulfil the Government’s commitment to using public money to provide more equal opportunity in sport. I suggest an effective and simple way of doing so that does not involve new structures, agencies or tsars, but involves,
“joining up effectively across government”,
as the Minister for Sport urges us to do in her foreword to the consultation document.
We know that the people from disadvantaged backgrounds living in deprived urban areas, to whom I referred, are also those most likely to get sucked into crime and anti-social behaviour. It is a fact that although 14 to 24 year-olds comprise only 10% of the population, they account for over 40% of the crime. And if they go to prison, 67% of them are locked up again within two years.
We also know that the proven benefits of participating in sport such as good health, a sense of self-worth, a better education, a wider set of skills and a better chance of a job also help keep these same young people out of trouble. Indeed, we know that playing sport simply as a way of passing the time will make an enormous difference to these young people, to their lives and to the lives of their neighbours. That is why police and crime commissioners, whose primary mission is to keep their communities safe, are outspoken advocates of sport as a way of keeping young people off the streets and out of trouble. That is why PCCs across the country sponsor a wide range of sporting activities.
I have examples I will not mention because of lack of time, but that happens in Leicester, Cumbria and Staffordshire, where, for example, a PCC launched and funded a summer holiday programme called Space 2015, in which 7,000 youngsters aged between 10 and 16 took part. Some 75% of the activities were sports. Because PCCs have to be local residents, they understand the needs of their communities and, more particularly, the needs of the young people in these communities who are most in need of support and would benefit most from it. Because PCCs are already involved in sponsoring and encouraging sport, they are able to make immediate use of any new money available to them. Because they have at their disposal large teams of police officers and civilians who share their commitment to public safety and their belief in the value of sport, they could get new programmes off the ground in weeks, if not days.
PCCs offer us a perfect mechanism for delivering equality of opportunity in sport to those most in need of it. Using PCCs would also enable the Government to ensure that public money spent on sport contributes to their primary objective, which is to keep us safe. What better way of joining up effectively across government?
I hope that I have made the case for giving PCCs a role in this new joined-up strategy for sports. If I have, I hope my noble friend the Minister will ensure that she involves the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, which stands ready to help, in implementing or developing the strategy. I also hope that she will seek the advice and assistance of the two government departments not mentioned in the consultation paper: the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. Given their responsibilities for community safety, I hope that they, too, can be joined up.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, not just on securing this debate but on the, as ever, passionate and authoritative way in which he introduced it. His passion and authority in this subject has been obvious all his life and he has shown that to your Lordships’ House again this afternoon. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, on an outstanding maiden speech. I certainly look forward to future speeches from him in your Lordships’ House.
Sport has many benefits for individuals and for society, not least in physical health, but also in contributing to the skills and attributes of team building—loyalty to a team and to a club—learning to respect rules and building confidence. It ensures that people who come from difficult situations are able to build back into their lives some form of routine by taking part in regular activity, particularly in a team environment. Sport also contributes to national pride. But it has a unique ability to combine that pride with the development of cultural understanding between nations and between peoples at the same time.
I want to focus on two points today, not to duplicate anything that has already been said but perhaps to add other perspectives into our discussion, in the hope that the Minister and the Government can respond. I have had the incredible pleasure, particularly when I was First Minister of Scotland, of enjoying some of the great sporting events of the past 15 years. I particularly remember moments such as running through the sports stadia of the Athens Olympics to ensure that I was in the velodrome just in time to see Chris Hoy win his first gold medal for Team GB; or the first night in the swimming pool in Melbourne, when I was sitting next to the Premier of Victoria, who had been boasting to me that morning that the Scots had no chance against the Australians in the swimming pool—only to see Scotland top the leaderboard after Caitlin McClatchey and others had won their first gold medals in the pool that night. I was hoarse for many days afterwards.
The athletes who inspire us on these occasions should be at the centre of our strategy for elite and competitive sport. While those athletes have been increasingly well supported over the years, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, and others have already mentioned, through the National Lottery and other funding schemes, it is also the case that life can be tough for a competitive athlete at the peak of their career. I know from personal experience that athletes sometimes do not fully understand the decisions that are made that have an incredible impact on their lives. They can have spent 10 or 20 years training hour after hour, day after day, in demanding circumstances to reach the level at which they are able to compete across the world, only to find that from year to year decisions on funding, team selection or team organisation affect their performance in ways that they do not understand and which seem to disadvantage them.
Yes, there is a real case for supporting the national governing bodies and the National Lottery and for making a tough effort to ensure that those who deserve the most get the most in our elite sporting programmes. But surely there is also a case for hearing the voice of the athletes themselves and giving them a role in any guidance, in speaking within their own governing bodies and the national sporting bodies in ways that can be heard; for greater transparency in decisions over funding allocations and team selection; and for a greater involvement of athletes in the organisation and preparation of major events. Perhaps the Minister might like to comment on the potential for some kind of statement of athletes’ rights and responsibilities—a charter for athletes, perhaps—that could be built into our national sporting programmes in return for the incredible effort that they put into representing their country.
In relation to athletes who come from Scotland—I am sure that this is also true for those who represent Wales and Northern Ireland—there are issues about the fact that these athletes represent both Scotland and the United Kingdom in different international championships and in different teams at different times. Therefore, it is very important that UK Sport and Sport England do not become one and the same organisation but that UK Sport is seen to represent equally all four nations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is particularly true in relation to the allocation of resources and the identification by national governing bodies and by UK Sport of centres of excellence or programmes of excellence, and their location throughout the country. There should be an active promotion at the UK level of different centres throughout the four nations of the UK that can host programmes of excellence, training and other facilities.
There should be a very clear indication in the outcome of this debate on a national strategy for sport that UK Sport will treat all four nations of the UK on an equal basis and that there will be clear distinction between the organisation, management and purpose of UK Sport and those of Sport England. Only through a clear and transparent understanding of that relationship can the structures and the culture be right so that athletes from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland feel genuinely represented at the UK level as well as at their national level. That will be important for their performance and for the encouragement of future generations.
My final point, which follows on from the incredible success of Glasgow 2014, is in relation to major events. Incredible increases have already been seen in Scotland in the membership of local sporting clubs and the use of leisure facilities, in the west of Scotland in particular. Glasgow will hold the world gymnastics championships at the end of this month and there has been an increase in participation in gymnastics clubs of 37% in Scotland since the fabulous events in the Scottish Hydro arena last year during the Commonwealth Games. So that issue of legacy is critical and, again, it applies across the whole of the United Kingdom.
However, I would make one point about something that I have observed over the years at both UK and Scottish levels. The inconsistency of individual Governments—new Governments coming in and abandoning the programmes of the previous Government, only to start their own programmes in school sport, community sport or community facilities—does not contribute to a long-term investment in the physical activity of the nation. I therefore urge the Government to do what they can to ensure that any new strategy for sport is all-party in nature, so that it can withstand the tests of time and the turbulence of politics, and ensure that the next generation has years in which to flourish and not just one parliamentary term.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Moynihan on introducing this debate and my noble friend Lord Hayward on his maiden speech. I am fascinated that, as a referee, he understood what happened in the front row—he is probably the only person on earth who does.
Sadly, sport and money have become inextricably linked both in people’s minds—even young people’s minds—and in reality. Sport is no longer seen as simply fun to play and enjoy but as a possible lead to a career as a player, coach, administrator, pundit or commentator. There are now university degrees in sport. It has become big business. The problem is that sport of all kinds is exciting to watch, and in these days when television screens have to be filled and advertisers’ demands met, it has become an easy peg on which to hang all sorts of commercial interests. Sepp Blatter is perhaps the worst example of someone succumbing to the temptation from lots of money sloshing around in his sport but—and I am not suggesting any dishonesty at all—so many people now at all levels have a commercial finger in the sporting pie.
I take as my example the game of rugby union. It is not only topical but a game I know quite well—I spent many happy years playing for the Bedford club and I venture to suggest that I am the only Member of your Lordships’ House to have played against the Springboks. Until some 20 years ago, there were two quite distinctive and separate codes in rugby: rugby union, which was amateur, and rugby league, which was a professional game. Then a movement started to turn rugby union professional. Two reasons were given for this: first, that union players were already being paid, which they were not; and, secondly, that we would never compete with the southern hemisphere teams unless we paid our players as they did, which in turn was untrue. The true motivation, I am sad to say, was pure greed. We have paid our players from that time on and, from an English point of view, the results are there for all to see.
At the time, as a Member of Parliament and with the support of my son who, like me, is a Cambridge blue, I tried desperately to persuade our unique game to stay amateur. I wrote to every club in the land but, although many did not want to do it, I was told that it was inevitable. Nothing is inevitable, apart of course from death and taxes. I remember standing on the terrace of the House of Commons with the late, great Cliff Morgan, who was totally opposed to professionalism. He agreed that if I started an amateur rugby union, he would be its first president. But the tide against us at that time was too strong and we bowed to the inevitable. So a great and unique game was lost and a new one has evolved, with its laws constantly tweaked to try to make it more exciting for the paying customer.
In reality, as winning has become all-important, rugby has become more brutal and more dangerous, with little room for traditional flair and skill. Sadly, parents encourage children to emulate top players. Mini rugby is all the rage. Hits are encouraged. In my day, you did not run through a player; you tried to run round him. Rugby is a contact sport, nevertheless, and should not be played, for all sorts of reasons, until at least the age of 11. All the wrong attitudes and ambitions are being encouraged from the touchline, and injuries abound. Despite everything, winning is not everything. For every winner, there must be a loser. Children should be taught to play hard but to win with modesty and lose with cheerfulness.
In the current Rugby World Cup—and “World” has to be taken with a commercial pinch of salt, as only 20 countries are involved and only a handful have any chance of winning—the so-called second-tier countries have played all the best rugby in the right spirit and provided the most fun and excitement. The first-tier countries, from whom the ultimate winner is expected to come, practise what is basically all-in wrestling, with the occasional pass, kick and chase thrown in. The referee is now the most important player, aided by his camera and microphone. He talks non-stop and is ruining the game. His decisions in the World Cup have decided game after game.
The game has become too brutal and dangerous. Very serious injuries occur regularly. Soon, there will be a call for helmets to be worn, as in American football. Already, commentators and pundits—who have multiplied incredibly—are preparing the way for American football terminology. We hear about “fumbles”, “carries” and the “first receiver”. The destination is clear. What parent in their right mind would want their child to play this game in the long term?
What can be done? We must acknowledge what professionalism has created and accept that the game for young people is not what it was. It is dangerous and no longer fit for purpose. Today’s debate is entitled, “A New Strategy for Sport”, and perhaps we must, under a new umbrella organisation, encourage schools and universities to get together and amend the laws for their own use to recapture the essence of the old amateur game—and in so doing recapture the joy and excitement created by William Webb Ellis at Rugby School so long ago. The present manufactured monster can then continue its lumbering, commercial, American journey.
Despite all my concerns, I still retain a huge affection for the game and will be watching the matches this coming weekend and wishing all the home nations still in the competition the very best of luck.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for introducing this topical and very important debate. It is important as it is the second time that we have debated a strategy paper—the first being in 2002 and the second at this topical time with the Rugby World Cup.
I fundamentally disagree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Framlingham, that rugby is now a dangerous sport. The thought of wearing rugby helmets is unheard of. Nevertheless, that is not for now. Certainly, the exit of the English team was somewhat unfortunate, but it has displayed that the teams from the southern hemisphere—I would say this because I originate from South Africa—are in a different league. I note that the noble Lord, Lord Addington, disagrees with me.
The consultation paper gives an excellent overview of some of the key opportunities but also some of the major challenges which we need to address to promote more participation in sport across the country. I wish to take up the challenge mentioned by the Minister of Sport, Tracey Crouch, who has been here for most of this debate, when she said:
“We need to consider how we make sure that everyone—no matter who they are and no matter what their ability—has the opportunity to take part”,
In my allotted time, I will devote my remarks to three areas. The first is what can be done to promote rugby at grass-roots level, to be played by not just boys but also girls, and in not just private schools but also state schools, as well as at universities after children leave school, and in clubs for those who do not go to university. Secondly, I want to follow up on some of the recommendations that many noble Lords mentioned on how to promote more participation in sport. Thirdly, I will talk briefly about the importance of youth clubs.
A week before the start of the Rugby World Cup, I asked a Starred Question as to what steps our Government are taking to maximise the grass-roots impact of hosting the tournament. I did so because, in January 2012, the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, declared that the Government would establish at least 1,300 partnerships between schools and rugby clubs, making it easier for young people to continue playing rugby union after leaving education. The Minister answered that the RFU was,
“well on its way to meeting that target by 2017. It has 960 new links between clubs, schools and colleges in its targeted work”.—[Official Report, 10/9/15; col. 1481.]
She went on to say that much has been done to promote rugby with women and girls’ clubs.
The RFU is to be congratulated on starting up the All Schools programme that works with secondary state schools, many of which have never played rugby before. Rugby union has traditionally been played mostly by private schools—I was amused by the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Wasserman, when he said that basketball is played traditionally just in state schools. The All Schools programme plans to take rugby to 750 secondary state schools in England as part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup legacy. If it achieves that and gets to these schools by 2019, that could result in more than 1 million boys and girls playing rugby. That would be a commendable legacy of the Rugby World Cup.
The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, rightly remarked that sports participation since 2012 is in decline. Several suggestions have been made as to how to increase participation. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, recommended that incentives should be given to local authorities to promote sport with more leisure centres. More focus needs to be placed on stronger governance and better leadership. I would also like to see more marketing campaigns promoting the health benefits of playing sport. Certainly, more can be done to promote more partnerships between sports bodies and non-sports organisations and government departments. Finally, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, mentioned, we need more access to good coaches and sport professionals.
One initiative not mentioned so far in this debate or in the report is the important role traditionally played by youth and social clubs across the country. Youth social clubs play a pivotally important role targeting children, a lot of whom come from deprived backgrounds with a lack of sports and recreational facilities. The clubs provide not just the opportunity to participate in a wide range of sports, but also assist in teaching core job-related skills, such as plumbing and building, and provide religious activities. Sadly, many of these clubs are closing down through lack of adequate funding.
In conclusion, I warmly welcome the aims of this consultation paper A New Strategy for Sport. If properly managed and co-ordinated, it will go a long way towards promoting more participation in all sports. However, we need to be realistic. Many would hope that we will win many more gold medals at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Brazil next year. I think that is highly “un-Rio-listic”.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Moynihan has demonstrated impeccable timing—a trait of this fine sportsman—by securing this debate so soon after the Government closed their consultation, A New Strategy for Sport. On that I congratulate him. I would also like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, on his dynamic maiden speech. If his political contributions match his sense of humour, I think we are in for a fine time in this Chamber.
I welcome this most important debate. It is 13 years since Parliament has had a chance to deliberate such proposals from DCMS, and I declare my interests as a member of the England and Wales Cricket Board and vice-president of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club—a noble role indeed. Having consulted with six major sports plus the Sports and Recreation Alliance, which represents over 300 governing bodies, I am not in the least bit surprised that a core governance theme has emerged: that the importance of public policy and investment decisions for sport by government must be joined up. This theme has already been mentioned both here and in the strategy introduction by my honourable friend the Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch. The DCMS, she states, is not the only government department that cares about sport.
The “We care about sports” pledges are emphasised throughout the report. In the consultation document, 10 key headline themes are contributed by 10 different government departments, which all praise the huge benefits that can be secured through sport and recreation to improve the health of the nation. Now, we must ask my noble friend the Minister whether the various Ministers, with their encouraging words for sport, will be supported by financial backing for the project.
David Gauke, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, states:
“It is therefore crucial that Government and sport work together to consider new ways of ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the sector, building on—but not relying on—public funding”.
That last line sounds rather ominous, given the looming government spending reviews. Both the FA and ECB urge two main thrusts: the final strategy must have genuine support from across government, and government should be more co-ordinated in using sport to deliver public policy outcomes, with particular emphasis on how the two key departments, health and education, should support sport.
NGBs should own the strategic development of their sport and create a long-term delivery plan covering all ages and genders, from the grassroots to the elite level—and not forgetting disabilities.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance suggests that the cross-departmental nature of the consultation is welcome, but the commitment from government departments must go beyond encouraging words. It must manifest itself in understanding the role that sport and recreation can play in achieving its objectives by supporting such action through—here we go again—joined-up, co-ordinated investment. I therefore urge my noble friend the Minister and the Minister for Sport to bring together the 10 government departments represented in the strategy to build a sense of purpose, knowledge and expectation in sport policy delivery, backed by accountability and strong governance. When she has got them all together, please can she lock the door of the room until they have come to some sort of agreement?
Another plea is for a joined-up strategy, with government investment in sport being made in a collective manner, thus erasing wasted opportunities and funding. Given the right financial contributions, NGBs can establish vital policy priorities to improve the health of the nation and its physical and mental well-being, increase educational attainment and participation and bind communities together through socially cohesive economic growth.
The ECB also urges co-ordination of messaging on tax issues through the SRA to focus on community amateur sports clubs’ and NGBs’ expenditure. NGBs set the strategy but fundamentally create partnerships with local authorities and charities, which should be welcomed. The Youth Sport Trust national charity, which has 20 years’ experience in delivering high-quality PE, sport and physical activities in schools, was sadly hit by the withdrawal of government funding by the Department for Education in 2011. This decision had pan-departmental implications and serves as a poignant reminder of why such decisions should not be taken in isolation.
A strong relationship between sport and recreation and local authorities is critical, as has already been mentioned. All local authorities should have a duty to provide a sports and leisure strategy, including preserving recreational space and facilities and offering working partnerships. My beloved football club, Wolves, offers a good example of such a partnership. For several years, the Wolves Community Trust has delivered key messages providing health education, promoting healthy eating and encouraging physical activity for all ages—and I am not talking about the players. Even a Nordic walking programme for adults was devised. Key to this success is the positive partnership Wolves Community Trust established with local partners West Midlands Police, the former primary care trust and local authority schools. Recently in Wolverhampton, public health, which is now within the local authority, has provided funding to deliver a series of workshops for young people in the city and its environs, featuring issues such as employability, sexual health, knife crime and a diabetes programme.
I commend this new strategy for sport. Now let us urge its implementation and witness joined-up government policy and investment, which must be a win-win for all sport.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is to be thanked for initiating this debate today. The consultation paper’s title is A New Strategy for Sport, to which I would add “before it is too late”. There are some questions it is best not to ask, and this is one. If the Government seek answers to why their sports strategy has gone so horribly wrong, the reply has to be along the lines of, “Your Government, your time in office and your decisions”. The consultation paper seeks to pull together all the ministries that have a crucial impact on sport in England. We must have co-operation between Ministers, and topics such as participation, funding, coaching, governance and provision of sport for those with physical disabilities are essential, but I maintain that they are irrelevant when we consider the real problem underlying the miserable decline in sport and participation.
The decline is even more astonishing, given the amazing opportunities given to sport in the past decade. Could the marvellous London Olympics have been more inspirational? Could more funding have been made available to our athletes? No. The support was unstinting. Could Andy Murray have done more to create a new generation of tennis players? Yet again, the answer has to be no.
Alongside these positive factors, individual sports organisations have performed extremely well, with UK Sport, Sport England and the governing bodies all promoting and encouraging greater participation. By any judgment, it should have been a launch pad to success. However, it has not, and the decline in participation is quite horrendous. The blame has to be laid at the Government’s door, and they have to rectify it.
There appears to be a terminal decline in participation, with very few exceptions. The facts and figures tell their own story. How, given the positive climate for the provision of sport, could this have happened? The simple answer is the Government’s inability to inspire and promote grass-roots sports across the whole country, and the failure of the Government to put sport itself into state schools, both secondary and primary, and give a sporting opportunity to the around 90% of our young people who attend state schools, against the 7% who are educated in independent schools.
I honestly thought that we had turned the corner in the late 1990s. Sport was brought into the central part of the state school curriculum, with two hours of sport guaranteed, specialist PE staff employed and funding given for enhanced facilities. At last, I thought, sport has its rightful place in schools across the nation. Alas, though, the dead hand of Michael Gove, when Education Secretary, throttled those aspirations. He slashed sport from the school curriculum, inadequately ring-fenced funding for school sports and added insult to injury by selling off more than 10,000 playing fields. There has been no attempt to replace those lost fields since.
The divide between state and independent schools cannot be overemphasised. Take a look at the sporting provision in your nearest independent school: wonderful playing fields, ample time in the school day and outside it, and extra PE staff. If your Lordships do not believe me, listen to the Chief Inspector of Schools, Michael Wilshaw, who warned us that sport was now an optional extra for many state schools. It is not only old Labour lags like me who are constantly demanding a change in the Government’s policies for sport. Our own illustrious lordly Olympians, the noble Lords, Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan, have bravely added to the voices of the Opposition. State school children have to rely on sporting parents to give them a chance.
The downwards graph of decline will continue unless there is change. The outcome will be dire for participation, health and sporting success. We saw last week the humiliating spectacle of England’s rugby team being eliminated early in an event hosted, promoted and lavishly funded by England. That will become the norm, especially in team sports. Thank heavens for the Davis Cup, where our Scots brothers can take us to victory in a few weeks’ time.
However, much can be done to improve the situation. Let us look again at grass-roots provision, bring back school sports for all our youngsters and, while we are at it, why not provide sport more vigorously in universities and colleges? The Americans are creaming off our best sports men and women, offering huge scholarships and robbing us of our future sports stars. My suggestion to the Government is: forget this irrelevant consultation paper and, as someone once said, go back to basics. Sport can be rescued but only if we make fundamental changes. It has to be worth the effort. I hope the Minister can take back these perhaps discomfiting messages, because these issues have to be addressed before we can see genuine improvement in the future of sport in this country.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Moynihan is one of the terrier-like politicians that we have in this country. We are all the more grateful for that because we are all believers in sport and hope to assist him this afternoon.
I enormously welcome my noble friend Lord Hayward. He and I did a bit of canvassing in Bedford. Somehow we managed to walk together; he is much fitter than I am, but I kept up. I have to remind him, however, that this is a self-governing Chamber. There are no referees here, just self-governing restrictions.
I have the privilege of being nearly 79; I think I have played eight sports quite reasonably. Sadly, I now have the advantage of having two artificial knees, but nevertheless I am delighted to say that I shall be turning out in a fortnight’s time as president of the all-party parliamentary golf society to play in the annual golf match.
I will raise four issues in a message to Her Majesty’s Government. First, I congratulate all our Governments who have taken big sporting events seriously. Of course I think in particular of the Olympics, of which we all have memories—and, again, my noble friend Lord Moynihan played an absolutely crucial role. That was followed by the Rugby World Cup, and we should say thank you to those in government who were responsible for that. In 2019 we face the Cricket World Cup—I declare an interest as president of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club—and there we have another opportunity to do something really exciting. I have consulted with my noble friends Lord MacLaurin and Lady Heyhoe Flint—the latter is sitting on the Bench with me today. I think that we in Parliament should do something in relation to that, and I have volunteered to the ECB to try to be a catalyst to make it happen.
Secondly, we and the Government need to recognise that hundreds of thousands of men and women, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, go out at weekends and in the evenings with their children, to organise, help, support and cheer on whatever sport their children, or they, are involved in. That means that we must say a huge thank you to them. On 10 September I went to the All England Club, because I am a member there, although I am no longer able to play tennis, to listen to a talk on what it calls Beyond the Baseline. It is a mentoring session taken by those who are currently or have been professional tennis players, who mentor children who are having some difficulty in handling life socially one way or the other. It is a very exciting programme. Admittedly, it is only in 27 schools now, but it is a foundation for something very exciting.
After that I had the opportunity to talk to the Tennis Foundation and I asked them, “What can we do to take some of these things forward in life?”. My noble friend Lord Moynihan mentioned the number of hours of sport. He is absolutely right. Four hours, which is the figure he gave, is not asking too much. Secondly, teachers have not been mentioned. It is absolutely fundamental that every primary school teacher, whatever size or shape he or she may be, is trained to teach sport. That would help a great deal.
I also look at the world of cricket, which I love greatly. I was not terribly good at it, but I am still very active in it. There are myriad bodies there: the Lord’s and Lady Taverners, Chance to Shine, local charities, and the MCC. In Northamptonshire we have just supported locally the Fred Trueman State School Cricket League, which gives complete sets of kit to state schools. On top of that, of course, we have the ECB. There are all these bodies, and I say thank you to all of them. The big change I have seen recently is that integration gender-wise is progressing, with girls’ and ladies’ cricket coming on wonderfully. The ethnic dimension is so obvious for cricket because, quite frankly, most of the ethnic communities can play cricket far better than we can. But—and this is a big but—both government and governing bodies cannot just take this for granted. They have to understand that dealing with volunteers can be a sensitive relationship. If you understand that sensitivity, the relationship will succeed, but if you begin to direct too strongly, it will wilt away.
With regard to governing bodies, I shall give two examples where there are slight danger signals. On rugby, I read in the press that the RFU is contemplating moving the Six Nations, or part of it, to the north. I am all for involving the north in rugby, but some things are fairly sacrosanct and that one needs to be looked at very carefully. Secondly, we have a lot going for us in the world of cricket. There are some very exciting developments. We have to be a little bit careful that commercialisation does not take over to the detriment of the grass roots—which in this case are the 18 counties.
Finally, I look at local government. I am very lucky: I was a Member for Northampton, where the county council and borough council are involved in rugby, cricket, football and motor racing. It is a good case history that my noble friend on the Front Bench might like to take note of.
And really finally, I get tired of reading in the press that MPs are being criticised for taking part in sport. We should recognise that we need fit MPs, not those who put on too much weight. I hope that my noble friend—I will speak to the Minister of Sport as well—will make it quite clear to the press that it is a requirement of our public servants to be fit and to take part in sport.
Compulsory press-ups all round!
My Lords, I start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for securing this debate and for his impeccable timing, as has already been mentioned, in allowing us, at the very last minute, to feed into the consultations around the Government’s publication. He is a human dynamo when it comes to sports policy. He is everywhere and his productivity must be unmeasurable. He ought to be bottled and put into the British economy so that we can stop whinging on about it, because he seems to know how to do things. I am also particularly grateful to him for making what I think has been the only laudatory reference to my friend Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, who got it right on sport. He is to be listened to on many subjects but is very much out of fashion at the moment, although there may be changes down the corridor that mean that some of the times over which he presided may well be regarded as sunny uplands in the current state of play.
I thank all speakers for their contributions. It has been a very good debate, and I am only sorry—this is meant as no disrespect to those who did speak—that an administrative problem seems to have withdrawn the opportunity to take part from the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough. Her contribution, particularly in relation to the Olympics, would have been very helpful to us.
I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, on his maiden speech. He will soon realise that his rate of progress in making speeches following his introduction—a point picked up by his noble friend Lord Holmes—raises expectations, but on this occasion he certainly satisfied them. It will have done a huge amount of good to the interests that he represents to have seen that tie represented on these Benches, and the words that he said about discrimination will resonate far beyond this Chamber. I am grateful to him for that.
We on this side welcome the fact that the Government recognise that there is a failure in sports participation. I want to make only two points in relation to the document, which I thought was extremely good: the proportion of people taking part in sport once a week is lower than it was in 2009-10, despite the 2012 Games, and the percentage of those on the lowest incomes participating in sport has hit the lowest level since records began.
The consultation paper pulls no punches, which possibly tells us why it was published in the depths of the recess, but it should be praised for its recognition that this is a whole-of-government issue—a point picked up by a number of speakers. It is good to read that a single government department like DCMS does not expect to solve all the problems on its own, and I am sure that the Minister will want to reflect widely across the possible responses that may come back from the whole of government on this matter, because it is necessary to do so.
However, this is not a government-only issue. We have to recognise that all the various agencies, all the clubs and all the volunteers—as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby—right across the country have to pull together if we are to salvage something from this. There is a real problem and, although the paper is a bit sketchy on the reasons for the present crisis, many people, including my noble friend Lady Billingham, suggest that a number of the decisions taken by the previous Government have impacted badly on sport, particularly where they have involved the cutting of activity or sport in schools.
As another snapshot, since 2010, fewer children are participating in a minimum of two hours a week. It is worse for girls and even worse for black and minority ethnic children and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. That, together with a decline in adult participation, is what is causing the difficulty.
Of course, the problem of young people losing interest in physical recreational activity is not a new one. It was first identified in a report in 1960 by Wolfenden. Successive Governments have attempted to tackle the issue for more than 50 years, and I do not think we can look at any particular period with any feeling that they cracked the problem. It is, of course, relatively easy to provide for those who have private resources and are enthusiastic about sport, but we have to work much harder to encourage those who are not so blessed. Our aim must be to encourage more and more young people to keep up with a sporting habit and to remain physically active throughout their adult lives. As the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, said, more people from more backgrounds need to be more active more of the time. That is a wonderful aphorism.
To achieve this, we have to be prepared to offer a broad mix of choices that include competitive and non-competitive physical recreational activities—a choice so that children will find a sport that they enjoy and wish to take forward in their adult lives. In this way, we can bridge the gap between children leaving school and leaving sport and getting them back when they are in the community.
A number of noble Lords have mentioned the following point, but I want to emphasise it. The loss of interest in sport is, of course, particularly acute for young girls, whose participation drops off rapidly through secondary school. Although participation levels are lower for girls throughout primary school, the difference is only three or five percentage points; but by year 11, the average difference between boys and girls has gone up to 13 percentage points. There is therefore a real problem here and I hope that when the Minister comes to respond, given the interest she has previously expressed in your Lordships’ House, she will want to pick up on it.
I cannot understand why we cannot find a way forward on this, because sport is every bit as important for women as it is for men. Some 80% of women are not doing enough exercise, according to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, and 1.8 million fewer women than men play sport regularly. The great gap is in the teenage years, but women from disadvantaged groups also participate less. Nevertheless, surveys show that the majority of inactive women would like to participate and a majority of active women would like to participate in more sports. Building on good practice and successful programmes, we have to be able to find ways to tackle these issues and get more women and girls engaged with sport.
In passing, it is also important to note that women are not represented in the numbers that they should be on governing bodies or in coaching. This point has been picked up as well. The overall percentage of women on boards of national governing bodies is 27%, and on nearly half the boards, women make up less than a quarter of the membership. If young women are going to be inspired to get involved in sport, we also need to see them in places of influence within sport. This will also help ensure that the specific needs of women are considered better at every level within the sport, which has not happened in the past.
As the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, reminded us, sport for people with disabilities should be part of every plan for sport. There are people with a variety of disabilities who want to get involved in every type of sport. As I have already quoted from the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, more people from more backgrounds being more active is true for every adult, including those who are disabled. It is good to hear of the progress that has been made by the HRC, both in terms of facilities for sport and for those who wish to watch it and perhaps to get into it through that route.
All individuals should have access to the richness and enjoyment sport brings, as well as to its health benefits. Of course, we saw it in absolute, glorious Technicolor during the Paralympic Games. I have said already in your Lordships’ House that one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had was being asked to present medals to winners at those Games. It is something that will stick with me for my whole life.
I want to mention two or three points that did not, perhaps, get as much coverage in the debate, but are important topics to be addressed by the Minister when she winds up. The question of financial sustainability raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Heyhoe Flint, is really important. Of course, it is good that the Government will continue to fund, directly and through the lottery, the sports that we need. However, we need a step change here. One source that has been touched on in relation to one sport—horseracing—is a levy on the gross profits made by gambling. This introduction of a sports right seems to me capable of being moved further around the sporting field. Perhaps the Minister could reflect on that, if not in this debate then at some future stage. We will need to find new sources of revenue, and this seems to be a way to do it.
There is an outstanding issue in relation to football to which I would also like to hear a response. It is the promise made by the Premier League to spend 5% of TV revenues, rising to 7.5% and 10% as the income increases, to develop grass-roots football. This has never taken place and I wonder whether the Government will hold the Premier League to its promise.
I agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, about the review of secondary ticketing and hope that the Minister will be able to comment on it. I was at a conference this morning where the delay and the tight timetable for responses to the review came in for great criticism.
My noble friend Lord McConnell spoke about the need to think carefully about the way in which funding flows to the nations of the UK and the worry that there might be a problem if funding for individual areas such as Sport England became mixed up with that. We need to make sure that we have clean lines of accountability and transparency. My noble friend’s point about the need for athletes to be better involved was also interesting and merits further consideration.
Why does this matter? The consultation paper gets this right. We live in a sports-mad country, with parents, children and local communities all participating in sport and watching sports at events or on television. People’s love for sport and enjoyment of it make it an important issue for public policy, but it has many more important beneficial effects as the noble Lord, Lord Wasserman, said. Sport is good for children, helping them to build key life skills; it also makes them feel positive about what they can do and contribute. It also makes us healthy. Physical activity can play a great part in tackling illness, including diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. It brings communities together, creating and strengthening social networks. If we build on universal participation, we will see even greater achievements at elite competition.
To make sport and physical activity a part of the daily lives of many more people will be a challenging task over the coming years. It cannot be a top-down approach; it will be achieved only if we involve people who are already engaged professionally and voluntarily in organising planning and delivering sports activities in our communities. We should still try to achieve that dream of greatly increased participation, even though it may take us 10 or 20 years. We should do it because it matters.
My Lords, perhaps I may begin by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, on his excellent, informative and very amusing maiden speech. He is a great addition to our Benches and to the powerful sports network—I will avoid the term “mafia”—that exists in our House. I am delighted to underline the Government’s commitment to tackling discrimination in sport, as he suggested. The Government’s commitment to equality and fairness throughout the world of sport is reflected in our consultation paper and will be to the fore when the strategy is published later this year.
It is no good claiming that sport is for everyone if everyone is not made welcome. Professional sports clubs and sporting venues have a legal duty to provide reasonable adjustments for spectators with disabilities. Further progress is vital. Clubs must look carefully at the whole experience of every fan, from transport—as has been said—to ticketing, to sightlines and to seating, to ensure that needs are being met reasonably. The Government welcomed last month’s statement by the Premier League committing clubs at last to compliance with accessible stadia guidance. I am not sure whether that was the point that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, was referring to—he made a point about the Premier League; perhaps we can catch up afterwards because I did not get it.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for introducing this excellent debate. His experience is exceptionally wide-ranging and his contributions are always compelling—sometimes so compelling that they can cause trouble. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, that every contribution this afternoon has been excellent.
Sport matters. It matters for its own sake and because it has an impact on so many aspects of our lives. That was why, in August, the Government launched a consultation paper entitled A New Strategy for Sport. As has been said, this was a genuinely cross-Whitehall effort to which Ministers from 10 different departments contributed themed forewords. This represents departmental collaboration rather than departmental wars—possibly, in the words of my noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint, in one room. I share all that has been said about the refreshing approach to sport from the Secretary of State and Tracey Crouch, the Sports Minister. They have a little more muscle than some have suggested this afternoon.
We have received over 3,000 responses to our consultation covering a huge range of experiences and viewpoints. I am delighted that this includes responses from business, local government and charities as well as the sports sector and sports fans. I will ensure that today’s debate is also fed into the process part of that consultation. My noble friend Lord Moynihan has brilliant timing, as has already been said.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, commented that transport was important. That might fit in under the heading of “Theme Seven: Infrastructure”. And my noble friend Lord Wasserman said that the Home Office and the MoJ were important because community, safety and order matter.
As several noble Lords have said, sport builds responsibility. It brings together communities and teaches us that common endeavour is best for us all. In a world that has become more individualistic, it has an awesome power to bring together those who play and those who support them, from the Olympics down to the most junior league. Sport uses the skills of people from all backgrounds and builds skills. It brings discipline and the ability to work in a team, which is so vital in the workplace today. In a team game, you have to do your job, or you let the team down. That is really important in the real world. And we are not just interested in team sport, as we made clear in the consultation paper. We want to get people active, not only through sport, in ways that suit them.
There is a definite link between a nation’s sporting prowess and its standing in the world. Sport binds us together and affords us a wholesome way to express our patriotism. I think national pride was the phrase rightly used by the noble Lord, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale. Like him, I was enthralled by the Glasgow Games, not just by those wonderful Scottie dogs, but because the games created a huge and brilliant legacy. Sport entices people to our shores. Nearly 3.5 million tourist visits were made to the UK because of the 2012 games, resulting in £2.1 billion in additional spending. Former IOC President Jacques Rogge said that our work to create a lasting legacy was a blueprint for future hosts. We have learnt from the experience of others and are left with no white elephants.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan asked about the legacy committee. The legacy committee met during the last Parliament. The Legacy Unit is now in my own department, the DCMS. It published its most recent annual report in August 2015. The report sets out progress against the Government’s and the Mayor of London’s legacy plans for the previous 12 months. I am glad for the opportunity to draw its attention to the House and to the fact that £14.2 billion of economic benefits in trade and investment followed the Olympics.
We are expecting more than 450,000 international visitors for the Rugby World Cup. Although some of us are licking our wounds after England’s exit, other home nations are still in the hunt and the tournament is proving to be a tremendous success, including, as has been said, with second-tier teams. More than 2 million tickets have been sold and it is expected to generate £2.2 billion of spending. The Government and their agencies are working closely with England Rugby 2015 and the Rugby Football Union to ensure that it leaves a lasting legacy. As a mother of a rugby player, I listened with great interest to the comments of my noble friend Lord Framlingham. Like him, I wish all the remaining home nations the greatest of success.
Hosting major events exercises a cultural and soft power that goes beyond economics. We want to see lasting change in terms of communities, the economy, regeneration, equality and participation. Just as sport can bring the international community together, so it does the same thing at a local level. Teenagers, accountants, artists, retired colonels, plasterers and civil servants may all play in a village cricket team, helping to give the village a shared sense of identity. I agree that the lottery has had a massive impact on both community and elite sport, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, explained.
We are looking through the sports strategy both at funding sources and how that funding is used. Local authorities also deserve a mention. They have a major role in delivering sport, spending around £1 billion a year. They are experts at joining up with other agencies and community groups to get local people active. The strategy will consider how Government can best engage with them to ensure optimal use is made of resources. I took the point about parish councils as well as other local authorities.
It is a matter not merely of quantity but also of quality. A good example is Orford Jubilee Park in Warrington, which opened in 2012 and brings together excellent new sport and leisure facilities in the same place as a GP clinic. I also enjoyed very much the Wolverhampton examples of my noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint.
Sport is good for us—good for soul and body. It is a fantastic way to combat diabetes, depression and heart disease and to give people of all ages a chance to shine and to do something healthy that gives them pleasure. Nationally, one child in 10 is obese when starting school. But at St Ninian’s Primary School in Stirling, all pupils walk or run a mile every day. That has been going on for more than three years and not a single child is overweight. What a splendid individual example of good practice. The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, will be pleased to know that we will be bringing forward plans for action on childhood obesity in the coming months. To get children more physically active will be a key part of that action plan.
The Government have ring-fenced more than £450 million for the PE and sport primary premium for all primary schools for the three academic years from September 2013. The average time spent on curricular PE at primary level has increased, I am glad to say, from 109 to 122 minutes per week—every improvement is useful. Sport England is investing more than £1 billion in a youth and community strategy over five years, and the School Games programme, which aims to give every child the chance to play competitive sport, attracted 1.3 million participants last year.
Although 1.4 million more people play sport than when the Olympic bid was won in 2005, there has recently been a recorded decline in sports participation, which has been mentioned, and which we want to see reversed. As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, hinted, there is a problem with the figures. We need to look at the Active People survey. It only uses landlines, the noble Lord explained yesterday. It also fails to take account of children below the age of 14, when we know that this is an incredibly important group in sport. I can say today that we are considering the changes that need to be made, and we will be announcing them as part of the new sports strategy before the end of the year.
Like my noble friend Lord Naseby and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, the Government particularly want to see more girls and women playing sport. The recent rugby, netball and football world cups displayed some excellent role models and we need to build on this at both the elite and grass-roots levels, such as in Chance to Shine in cricket. There are obstacles that put women and girls off sport, including body image and self-esteem issues, and a fear that they lack the right skills. Sport England’s “This Girl Can” campaign has been a huge success on TV, on the Underground, on the buses and virally on social media, with 67% of 14 to 40 year-old women recognising the advert—that is a lot—and, more importantly, 60% saying that they have taken action.
I also commend the legacy of the Rugby World Cup in relation to grass-roots sport, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso. I really think that an important contribution is being made.
I was a little sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, took such a partisan view and did not appreciate the fundamental change of approach that has generally been welcomed today. However, I appreciate her experience in sport and in tennis. I very much agree with her about the Davis Cup. I look forward to its final stages.
I was also glad to hear from my noble friend Lord Naseby about mentoring, which is a terrific opportunity in sport. I agree with him about Members of Parliament—and, indeed, Members of this House—taking exercise. If only we had more time to do it.
I am happy to confirm to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, that we have no intention of merging UK Sport and Sport England, which I think was his concern. UK Sport will continue to nurture elite athletes from all parts of the UK.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan made some excellent points on governance in sport. We will certainly reflect on them in drawing up our strategy. The integrity of sport must be upheld in its governance. Those who run sport owe it to the athletes, fans and volunteers to behave ethically. The recent spectacle at the top of FIFA is depressing and unacceptable. The sooner that Sepp Blatter goes, the sooner the process of reform can begin. By contrast, how welcome it is that my noble friend Lord Coe has become president of IAAF, the world athletics body. He is unquestionably the right person for the job. I would like to see more Britons in leading governance roles.
An expert working group is currently considering how to give football fans a stronger voice in how their club is run and how to encourage greater collective supporter ownership. The group will report to the Government in November.
The integrity of sport is also compromised when competitors cheat by using banned drugs. My noble friend Lord Coe has long been a leading advocate of tough sanctions, and UK Anti-Doping has a good record. As I said, my noble friend Lord Moynihan is always compelling, but I am not sure that new criminal offences are necessary. Serious doping is already covered under existing criminal legislation. At present it is not obvious to us that further legislation is the answer, but allegations of doping are matters for serious concern and it is important that investigations are very scrupulously conducted.
Given its widespread popularity, it is no surprise that sport is also big business. According to the Sport Satellite Account, the value of the sports economy was almost £39 billion in 2012, with 1 million people employed in the sector. That is 3.6% of UK employment, up from 2.2% in 2004—so a real growth industry. Hosting events allows us to demonstrate the best of British business to a global audience. Even if we are not the hosts, major tournaments offer a chance to win contracts and promote ourselves. A good example is Sainsbury’s, which sponsored the 2012 Paralympics. It gave the company superb exposure and prompted it to think about how it treated disabled people, as an employer and as a business. Of course, it also brought more funds into sport.
Local sport, including amateur sport, provides another platform for business to advertise and to invest. As we have heard, sponsorship brings in valuable income, with the Rugby Football Union reporting an increase in sponsorship from £19 million in 2013 to £24 million in 2014—so before the world cup.
Sharp practices in ticketing have rightly exercised this House. The measures in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 provide better information for consumers so that they can make informed choices when buying tickets on the secondary market. We nevertheless encourage consumers to check official ticket sites in the first instance.
I am delighted that we have announced the commencement of the review of consumer protection measures in the ticket resale market and, as has been said, that the chair of this independent review is Professor Michael Waterson. He is eminently qualified. He is an industrial economist, an expert in online sales and was a member of the Competition Commission for nearly a decade. I believe he has also acted as a special adviser in the Houses of Parliament.
I appreciate, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, has said, that the deadline of 20 November is a tight one. Because it was in legislation, the events industry, the ticketing platforms and other interested parties have known about this review since March and there has been close on six weeks for interested parties and fans—because I think they are important—to make their views known. I know Professor Waterson will also be consulting experts and we do look forward to seeing people’s comments.
To conclude, this debate reflects the fact that sport now represents a very important part of British life. This is true for the individual, for the community, at the political level and for the businesses and creative industries that it supports. I once again thank all noble Lords who have contributed today. We are determined to turn our belief in sport, as a powerful and positive thing, into a national reality.
My Lords, I thank all those who have participated in this debate, and particularly my noble friend Lord Hayward for his powerful maiden speech. It has been an impressive debate. We have looked for the first time in this House at the proposed new strategy for sport, which, as has rightly been pointed out, has just seen the end of the consultation exercise. We have also considered related subjects.
The initiative by the Government has been welcomed across the House, with the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, rightly urging us to go further. I congratulate the Minister, Tracey Crouch, on taking this initiative and, indeed, on the widespread praise and support that she has received. I hope that will prove an asset and not a liability, because none of us underestimates the challenges that lie ahead of her. All of us are willing to help in any way we can and we appreciated the fact that despite the challenges of being heavily pregnant and having to stand at the Bar—there are some ways in which we should update our traditions—she managed to be present for virtually all of this debate. That was noted and appreciated.
My noble friend the Minister has answered many questions and I should say on behalf of all of us interested in sport that we are fortunate to have both her and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, at the Dispatch Boxes in this House. Through their combined interest in this subject we do manage to achieve a lot on a cross-party basis on sport and I am sure we will do so over the next four and a half years. The only point that I might pick up on is that I did detect a window of opportunity to consider representations on the inquiry, not within a very strict timetable but, in conversation with the new chair, to be a little more flexible, to take into account, not least, the Rugby World Cup. I hope that can be done, because I would hate to think that we were overly time-constrained on what is a vitally important review, which was initiated in this House and is placed on the face of the legislation.
As for doping in sport, I have to say to my noble friend the Minister that I was interested to hear that it is a criminal activity in this country. I can assure her that it is not at the moment. But if there is a law that captures those who knowingly cheat clean athletes out of selection and competition and that is a criminal activity, I look forward to discussing that with her outside the House.
In conclusion, as the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, said, the ultimate rationale for all of us involved in sports administration is the participant, the athlete. They must always come first and must always be listened to. I am delighted to see today in your Lordships’ House someone of the standing of Caitlin McClatchey, who won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, and who I had the privilege of watching in both of her freestyle finals at the Olympic Games in Beijing and London; and also to see young athletes spending their afternoons listening to this debate and taking it upon themselves, as a priority in their lives, to understand and hear what we have to say. We need to thank her and, through her, all the athletes. We are here only because of those athletes. The only reason I give my time is to try to ensure that in a small way we can give the next generation better opportunities than we had when we were competing. It is a way for all of us who love sport to give something back.
So against that background, again, I thank everybody who participated. I beg to move.