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Sports Coaching Facilities

7. John Mann (Bassetlaw): What plans she has to increase the number of sports coaches in schools throughout the country. [2426]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): We are currently carrying out a review of coaching in England, to which I referred earlier, with a view to professionalising it and to encouraging more people to consider coaching as a career option. In addition, the

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1,000 school sport co-ordinators who will be in place by 2004 will have funding for, among other things, bringing sport-specific coaches into schools to coach pupils.

John Mann: Would the Minister consider extending the sports coaching provision to those disaffected 14 and 15-year-olds who often do not attend schools in my constituency? Should he need a town that is rich in sports heritage to pilot such a scheme, may I modestly offer Worksop in my constituency as exactly the kind of town that would benefit from such expansion?

Mr. Caborn: My hon. Friend is right. Sport is clearly a major help in addressing many problems such as truancy. Worksop is obviously doing a tremendous amount in the sporting world. I understand that Worksop football club is thinking about relocating, and the Lawn Tennis Association is also considering a development in Worksop. If he writes to me, my officials and I will consider whether a pilot scheme could be established in Worksop.

Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking): Does the Minister agree that sport, especially team sport, for boys and young men in schools is important? I commend encouraging team sport among them to the Minister. With my judicial hat on, may I point out that young men who play a great deal of team sport are much less likely to turn to crime?

Mr. Caborn: That is true. We need to determine how we can develop high-quality facilities with high-quality coaching, because the two go together. Coaching is essential if we are to attract more people to sport. Figures that I saw the other day show that 150,000 young people in France are being coached for tennis. Here in the UK, the number is 18,000. I think that things are the same right across the sporting spectrum, which is why, when we receive the report of the taskforce on coaching, we will give it serious consideration. I hope that there will also be a constructive debate in the House.

Caroline Flint (Don Valley): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Lawn Tennis Association has had many years to get its game together and improve young people's access to tennis? It is important that we provide coaching in schools, but there should be access to good tennis courts both inside schools and outside in local parks, so that children can take what they learn in school out into their community rather than have to go through private tennis clubs.

Mr. Caborn: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This morning, I discussed with the Sports Council how to develop a strategy nationally and firm up delivery regionally and locally. That is what we shall be working on in the coming months and years. The statistics on tennis are startling: the Lawn Tennis Association says that a third fewer people now play tennis than played six years ago. I think that that is largely down to facilities not being in the right areas. We are considering those issues and we hope to have some answers soon.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): I congratulate the Minister on his appointment and wish him well.

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With the school holidays about to begin, will the right hon. Gentleman join me in urging parents, teachers and coaches to take every possible care and precaution to ensure the safety of children who take part in outdoor activities this summer? Does he agree that, for reasons of personal safety and physical fitness, every child should have swimming lessons and be able to swim by the age of 11? Sadly, as he knows, one in five children cannot swim by that age. We share a collective responsibility to put that right. Will he tell us when the national swimming facilities strategy will be published and what financial support the Government will give for a network of teaching pools throughout the country?

Mr. Caborn: I cannot give a precise date for the report, but I take the issue extremely seriously—especially as a parent. Both my children could swim before they could walk; I took them swimming when they were babies, which was absolutely the right thing to do. We will strive to create facilities and provide coaching to the standard necessary to ensure that every child can swim.

The little girl who drowned recently was a constituent of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Her funeral, which was held at the weekend, serves as a reminder of our responsibility to ensure that every child in this country can swim.

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston): May I recommend that my right hon. Friend visit Birmingham where, through the organisation Local Leagues, Birmingham university student coaches work with local primary and secondary schools to provide sports facilities outside school hours? In addition, I urge him to work more closely with local authorities to ensure that the sports facilities and fields that were sold under the Tory Government are restored to an appropriate state so that children, especially those in inner cities, can have access to sports fields and use the support available.

Mr. Caborn: As my hon. Friend says, it is important to have such facilities. Playing fields were being sold off at a rate of 40 a month when we came to power in 1997 and I became Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning. With others, including my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), then Minister for Sport, I put into operation an effective veto by the sports councils on any application to sell off a playing field. I shall take a look at Birmingham; and I hope that, in future, we shall be able to restore some of the facilities that were taken away by the Conservative Administration.

Lottery Grants

8. Mr. Kevin Hughes (Doncaster, North): What plans she has to ensure an even geographical distribution of lottery grants. [2428]

12. Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate): What measures she intends to promote the equitable geographical distribution of lottery funding. [2432]

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13. Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale, East): What action she is taking to ensure an increase in the distribution of lottery funding to disadvantagedareas. [2433]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): I understand that you have linked questions 8, 12 and 13, Mr. Speaker. With permission,I shall answer all three together.

Mr. Speaker: The right hon. Lady linked the questions, not me.

Tessa Jowell: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Government are determined to ensure that there is a fair distribution of funding throughout the country. We have directed distributors to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom have access to lottery funds. In addition, I have asked the community fund to target £100 million, and the new opportunities fund to target an additional£50 million of its funds, to 50 areas that are both deprived and have received less lottery funding than other parts of the country. The scheme will be UK wide and will begin in April 2002.

Mr. Hughes: I welcome my right hon. Friend to her new post, as, indeed, I welcome her answer. However, I have heard fine words before, from her predecessor. My right hon. Friend will be aware that the average for constituencies around the country is£14 million or thereabouts. We have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) that his constituency received as little as £2.5 million. However, I have to tell the Secretary of State that my constituency had less than £1 million: the amount is £900,000 for Doncaster, North. That was despite the meetings and correspondence with my right hon. Friend's predecessors, which were all to no avail. Will my right hon. Friend now address the issue properly so that my constituents have a fair share of the money that they pay into lottery funding? In all fairness to her predecessors—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I think the Minister has enough to go on.

Tessa Jowell: I entirely accept my hon. Friend's analysis. He is right about the figures for his own constituency. Nationally, the average per capita award is just over £76 but my hon. Friend's constituency received less than £11 per head of population. That is why I made my recent announcement about the investment of£150 million in precisely such areas, not only so that the lottery is fair in its distribution but so that it produces benefits for some of our most deprived communities, many of which lack the high levels of organisation and so forth that are needed to develop lottery bids. I intend to put that help in place to ensure that my hon. Friend's constituents benefit from the lottery as they should.

Glenda Jackson: I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. She is entirely right: it is not only the amounts that go to the most deprived areas—certainly in London we have the largest number of such wards in the UK—but the difficulty experienced by many community groups in

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actually putting together a bid. Will she ensure that it is not as difficult to tap into her proposals to assist such communities as it is at present?

Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for that question. Yes, we are determined—as was my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith)—to ensure that the bureaucracy and administration of the lottery are as simple and as cheap as possible, consistent with efficiency. However, it is also worth comparing the per capita lottery spend of £286 per head in my hon. Friend's constituency of Hampstead and Highgate with the sum of just under £11 in Doncaster, North to which I referred earlier. That makes the case for the Government's announcement.

Paul Goggins: I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend's remarks, but in my constituency, which has two of the 100 poorest wards anywhere in the country, projects have received a little more than £4 million over the past seven years—well below the average. In future, can my constituents who spend money on the lottery look forward to more of their cash coming back to fund activities in their own community?

Tessa Jowell: Yes.

Mr. Roy Beggs (East Antrim): I, too, welcome the right hon. Lady and her team to the Front Bench. Does she agree that a number of excellent projects that had attracted millennium lottery funding, such as the Gobbins Path project in my constituency, could not proceed because of the burden that was going to be placed on the sponsor—in this case, Larne borough council—and hence on its ratepayers? Will she examine those previously approved projects that did not proceed, and give consideration to alternative matching funding to enable those worthwhile projects to proceed at some time in the future?

Tessa Jowell: With respect, it would be a matter for the individual lottery distributors to reconsider any previously considered projects. I am sure that, as a strong advocate of his constituents and projects in his constituency, the hon. Gentleman will make sure that that step is taken if necessary.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): Does the Secretary of State think that she might have fewer complaints from her own Back Benches about the distribution of lottery funds if the Government had stuck to the pledge that they gave in their July 1997 White Paper, in which they stated that they

Perhaps if the Government were raiding the lottery funds less for health, education and environment matters, which are Government responsibilities, the right hon. Lady would not be facing criticisms of the kind that she is justifiably facing now.

Tessa Jowell: The most important thing about the lottery is that it has the confidence of the British people, 70 per cent. of whom play the lottery. The priorities of the new opportunities fund—health, education and environment—are precisely the priorities to which people wanted their lottery spending to be devoted. We are doing

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what people asked us to do. That is why my right hon. and hon. Friends support the Government's position. They know that in every one of their constituencies, there are about 21 lottery-funded projects improving the quality of life of their constituents.

Adam Price (East Carmarthen and Dinefwr): I am sure that the Minister is aware of the recent University of Newcastle study which showed that in rural and disadvantaged areas, the community fund was responsible for providing up to 50 per cent. of the funding for voluntary and community groups. In the light of that, will the Minister explain why the Wales committee of the community fund is projecting a cut in expenditure of43 per cent. over a three-year period, compared to a reduction in the UK of 17 per cent? Why is there such a discrepancy? The cut will be devastating to the voluntary sector in Wales. Will the Minister today agree to reverse that decision? Otherwise her protestations about a fair distribution across the UK will seem hollow.

Tessa Jowell: I will not announce a reversal of that decision today, but I will study with care the research that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, and I will write to him once I have had time to consider both its conclusions and the figures that he gave the House this afternoon.

Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): My right hon. Friend will know that the longer a lottery exists, the less people play it. Hon. Members say that they would like much more local distribution of the spend on the lottery. Will my right hon. Friend consider the idea that 10 per cent. of the spend on a lottery ticket should stay in the local community in the first place without having to go to the centre and come back, a process the cost of which is substantial and unnecessary?

Tessa Jowell: I have made clear in my replies the Government's intention to make sure that every part of the country benefits as it should from lottery funds and lottery investment. There will be a review of the lottery in the next two years or so. I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members will submit their specific proposals for further improvement of the lottery in the next licence period, although that is some years hence.

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