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The Secretary of State knows that we were critical of the second tranche of cuts from the national lottery to pay for the Olympic infrastructure and that we proposed, some four years agoI am delighted that we now have Conservative supporta move to a gross profits tax approach for national lottery taxation. That approach is used in most other forms of gambling and betting. As
he knows, the figures show that, if we did that, there would be more money not only for lottery good causes but for the Exchequer. I therefore hope that he will consider such increased Exchequer funding as a possible source for the £79 million that UK Sport is missing, and make the much-needed announcement in December.
Mr. MacNeil: The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the legacy a lot. According to the House of Commons Library, funding before the Beijing Olympic games was £265 million, with £90 million for podium funding. I believe that the Secretary of State said that that would increase to £325 million in the four years before 2012. However, I revert to the point that Scotland will lose between £150 million and £200 million through the London Olympics. Although we all support the London Olympics, losing money from Scotland during a credit crunch sticks in the craw. Do the Liberal Democrats support the SNP in wanting to keep Scotlands money in Scotland?
Mr. Foster: I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman is surprised that I mentioned the legacy a lot, given that that is the title of the debate. None the less, I understand his concerns and those of colleagues in Scotland. I urge him to get behind the Liberal Democrat proposal for a gross profits tax on the national lottery. If he supported that, and the Government were persuaded to adopt it in the pre-Budget report, which will be made soon, Scottish good causes would receive significant additional funds.
It is worrying that some of our elite athletes are so concerned that they plan to sell computer-generated images of themselves for £1,000 a year. The creators of the website, gold medal-winning sailors Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton, have announced that they are £30,000 in debt after Beijing. We must address that genuine problem quickly. UK Sport needs a clear announcement as soon as possible.
Not only the elite legacy is important, so let me deal with other aspects of sporting legacy. It is critical to provide more support for community sports organisations and school sport. The Conservatives offered the solution of reverting to the fourfive if we count the millennium fundpillars that were originally designed for the national lottery. That is superficially attractive, and I am sure that it will get much good news coverage, but I hope that the hon. Member for South-West Surrey is prepared to say how Conservatives intend tackling the resulting black hole in aspects that they will no longer fund. As the Secretary of State said, education, health and the environment will lose £200 million a year. The hon. Member for South-West Surrey must explain where the money will come from.
I understood that volunteers and community groups were important to the Conservative partyvolunteers will certainly be needed for the Olympics. Yet, if we reverted to the four pillars, a further £65 million a year would be lost to community and voluntary groups. I have given the correct figures for the money that is spent outwith the four pillars.
However, I accept that the Olympic legacy plan has the key objective of maximising an increase in UK participation at the grass roots in all sports and for all groups. If we are to achieve it, we must do more work in schools, and with our national and community sports
and our recreational organisations. As the Secretary of State said, it is vital to get the country more active, and achieving that will not be easy. We cannot rely simply on our hosting the games. I am sure that the Secretary of State accepts the comments of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that no host country has yet been able to demonstrate a direct benefit from the Olympic games in the form of a lasting increase in participation.
As well as hosting the games, we must do much more. As I said earlier, many good things are happening. The Secretary of State was good enough to mention the excellent UK school games that were held during the summer in Bristol and, significantly, Bath. He, the Minister for the Olympics, the sports Minister and the shadow sports Minister all came along. I am sure that they will all testify that it was a wonderful and inspiring event. I remind the hon. Member for South-West Surrey that it was partly funded by millennium fundsone of the pillars that he would ditch. However, I am glad that he enjoyed it. One thousand five hundred Paralympic and able-bodied elite athletes took part. However, perhaps the Secretary of State did not know when he visited that, to make the event happen, many people volunteered.
Volunteering is a critical part of the legacy that we must build in our work leading up to 2012. It was fantastic to hear what some of the young people who volunteered at the UK school games saidthey now want to go on and get into the various programmes that will help them volunteer for 2012.
I accept that there have been some fantastic improvements in some matters. As the Secretary of State said, 90 per cent. of school pupils now do two hours of sport each weekindeed, in my constituency, the figure is 92 per cent. In my area, which is covered by the former county of Avon, we have a fantastic county sports partnership, Wesport, which is doing amazing work to increase participation by linking schools and sports clubs, encouraging more coaching and volunteering, organising inter-school competitions and much more. The Secretary of State referred to increases in inter-school sports competition. Perhaps the best evidence of Wesports success is the fact that in the past year 14,991 young people from the area took part in inter-school sports competitionan increase in one year of 9,053 which is a phenomenal improvement.
Sadly, however, the picture is not entirely as rosy as the Secretary of State made out. Despite the figures that he cited, 750,000 young people are not participating in two hours of sport in school time. He did not point out that that two-hour period includes changing time, so it is not two hours of sport. He also failed to make any reference to some of the age groups in which young people are not participating at anywhere near that level. Only 71 per cent. of pupils in year 10 and 66 per cent. of pupils in year 11 are doing the two hours, while 34 per cent. of pupils are not participating in intra-school competitions and 59 per cent. do not take part in inter-school competitions. One quarter of pupils do no sport outside school and the drop-out rate of people who leave school and then do no sport is alarming. Despite significant improvements, which I welcome, there is still a great deal to be done.
It is easy to reel off the figures, but if we accept that analysis, the question is: what can be done about it? I would like to suggest to the Secretary of State, the Minister for the Olympics and the sports Minister that
a number of things can be done, the first of which is to be very wary of setting targets. I welcome the reorganisation of Sport England and believe that the new approach is right. However, the Secretary of State should be well aware of what has happened under his Government over the past 10 years, during which time Sport England has missed nearly all the targets that were set for it. Of the 22 targets that I have asked parliamentary questions about, only two have been met. As for the others, either they were missed or we have been told that there are no data on them.
Let me give the Secretary of State an illustration. One of his Departments public service agreements was to increase participation in sport by ethnic minorities. To achieve that, the Department tied it to a Sport England commitment to make some 4,000 grant awards, which will significantly benefit people from ethnic communities. That is all well and good, but then I asked the sports Minister a parliamentary question about how well we had done in achieving that target, to which I received the following reply:
Sport England does not record information on which groups funding is focused. Therefore, it is not possible to give a figure for the number of awards made by Sport England to projects that have significantly benefited people from ethnic communities in each year since 1999.[ Official Report, 1 July 2008; Vol. 478, c. 883W.]
Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington) (Lab): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that to talk about getting funding for ethnic minority groups, but not to bother recording the necessary information, is to pay the most blatant lip service? When we consider the enthusiasm for sport and activity among ethnic groups throughout the country and their difficulty in accessing support, Ministers really should be ashamed.
Mr. MacNeil: The hon. Gentleman is making a speech decrying targets, but if it were not for targets he would have very little to say. His entire speech has been about mocking or deriding the targets that have been set.
Mr. Foster: I think not, but I shall try to make some progress and give him a few more suggestions. The introduction of a gross profits tax is one example and the suggestion for how that could fill the black hole in the Olympic elite athletes budget is another, but let me give him some more.
The first suggestion is to look into providing more support to community sports organisations. The first thing that we ought to do is to introduce a gross profits tax, which would put more money in. The second thing is to provide more support, to get more coaches and volunteers active. The third thing is to provide more protection for our playing fields. The Secretary of State rightly said that the Government had improved the arrangements. However, I hope that he will not deny that since 2001 some 267 playing fields that were covered under the legislation have been sold off, despite Sport Englands saying that doing so would be a threat to sporting facilities.
I hope that the Secretary of State will also agree that in 2002 the then Deputy Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), promised the House that increased measures would be taken to protect smaller playing fields, which are those smaller than the 0.4 hectare area covered by the current rules, but bigger than 0.2 hectares. In 2006, the Secretary of States Department gave me a parliamentary answer that said categorically that the Government were looking into the issue and that something would be done. In January 2008, I received a further answer that said categorically that they were looking into the issue and that something would be done, but to date nothing has been done. Will the Secretary of State intervene on me and give a categorical assurance that the Government will introduce measures to protect smaller playing fields, as was promised as far back as 2002?
Andy Burnham: The hon. Gentleman is making a good, balanced speech and has made some fair points about playing fields. My hon. Friend the sports Minister and I regularly discuss such matters with colleagues across Government. I believe that there is some scope to tighten further the way in which the regulations operate. However, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that we have created a tight system, through the double lock of Sport England and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. If the hon. Gentleman compares that with the pre-1997 situation that I described, he will find that it has been incredibly effective in ensuring that playing fields are not sold with a resulting loss of sporting provision.
Mr. Foster: I am of course grateful to the Secretary of State, but I was hoping for a commitment to do what the Government keep committing to, but do not do. In July 2002, and again on 24 July 2006, the Government said in a press release:
New legislation is also to be put in place to protect smaller playing fields. This change brings down the size threshold upon which Sport England must be consulted when a planning application for development is submitted from 0.4ha to 0.2ha.
I also received a response to a question in January that said that the Government were going to do that, so I hope that we will get some action and not just the words that we have heard today from the Secretary of State.
We also need to do more to help community sports clubs. The Government have rightly introduced the CASCcommunity amateur sports clubscheme, which we welcome. However, despite the enormous benefits that can accrue to clubs from becoming a CASCan 80 per cent. mandatory business rate relief, the ability to raise funds from donations under gift aid, tax-free income from interest and capital gains, and so onof the 30,000 clubs that are deemed eligible to qualify, only 5,000 have done so to date. It is critical that we all work together to get that message out so that more clubs can qualify.
We must do other things to help those clubs. As the Secretary of State has responsibility for licensing as well as for sport, may I ask him to look very closely into the concerns being expressed about the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on many sports clubs? Only yesterday, the Central Council of Physical Recreation presented evidence to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport of the huge additional burden being
placed on clubs of having to pay for the licence application and all the legal and planning work that is necessary for those applications.
This is admittedly an extreme example, albeit one that was cited yesterday, but one yacht club whose annual bar turnover is just £3,500 pays the same for its licence as a wine bar situated next door that is open until 2 am every night of the week and whose turnover is likely to be nearer £3,500 a week. That cannot be right. We need to look at ways of lightening that burden. Giving the 80 per cent. rate relief to clubs that become CASCs is a way forward. Perhaps a similar relief could be considered in respect of licence fee applications as well.
Only recently has it come to light that, because of changes in the way in which utility companies charge for land drainage, a huge additional burden is being placed on many sports clubs. Only one utility company has started the new procedure, but I am assured that it is to be rolled out to all water companies. That will result in a fantastic increase in charges to many sports clubs. One tennis clubs charges have gone up by 2,841 per cent., from £85 to £2,500. That is unsustainable, and I believe that the Government should look at positive measures to provide help.
A further way of providing help would be to consider a simple change to gift aid. If only the Government would accept the proposal to allow gift aid to be used on junior subscriptions to sports clubs. The cost to the Government would be a mere drop in the ocean £1.6 million in the first year, rising to £4.3 million in later yearsyet the measure could bring in about £1,500 per sports club per annum. That would be an enormous boost to the clubs, and provide enormous encouragement for young people to get involved in sport.
We are worried that some of the things that could be done have not been done, and we are somewhat disappointed with the present legacy plans. We are optimistic about the future, but we believe that more could be done. I have outlined a number of proposals, and I hope that the Government will be willing to listen to them and, more importantly, to act on them.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Before I call the next speaker, may I point out that we have spent almost two hours of this three-hour debate on Front-Bench speeches? There is very little time left, so please will hon. Members try their best to make their speeches as brief as possible, so that I can call as many Members as possible?
Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab):
I am almost at a loss for words when I try to describe the pride and anticipation that I felt when London was chosen as the venue for the 2012 games, and my delight that the Olympic parkcentred in my constituencyis now starting to take shape. The clearing of the site and the initial infrastructure works are going well, despite a few unexpected changes. The power lines that blighted the skyline of the area for years are now being dismantled, and work continues to
improve the waterways and the surrounding park, breathing new life into what were, quite literally, the backwaters of the east end of London. The stadium is emerging from the ground, and the seating support structure is already in place for all to see. An area that was a post-industrial polluted wasteland is well on the way to becoming the parklands of the Olympic site.
However, todays debate is focusing not on the progress being made with the constructionimpressive though that might bebut on the Olympic legacy. I want to focus not just on the sporting and cultural legacyimportant though they will bebut on the entire legacy of the games. This is unashamedly a speech by a local MP advocating on behalf of her constituents. As I do not have much time this afternoon, I am not going to reiterate the many reasons why I am standing on my feet making this speech. I am not going to give the House a statistical analysis of the poverty in Londona London which, despite City bonuses and high incomes, is also a London of real economic deprivation and hardship, in which many struggle to survive. Newham is the fourth poorest local authority in London. Its neighboursand fellow Olympic host boroughsTower Hamlets and Hackney are the poorest and second poorest respectively.
by staging the Games in this part of the city, the most enduring legacy of the Games will be the regeneration of an entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there.
The ambition of the bid was big, but not unachievable. The games present us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real, positive difference to an entire community in, arguably, the poorest area of the country. It is for this obvious reason that the Olympic and Paralympic games must not simply be a fabulous sporting and cultural spectacle for a few weeks in the summer of 2012. They must become a mechanism for leaving lasting improvements in the health, housing, employment and skills of Londoners. To spend that amount of money and not achieve a lasting positive legacy would be obscene.
The legacy commitments promised to east London were outlined in a document released at the beginning of the year, entitled Five legacy commitments. The commitments included a new urban park, which we were assured would be world-class, and an Olympic village of just under 3,000 affordable homes, of which it was stated:
After the Games, retained venues and new parklands will provide local people with places to spend their leisure time.
The Aquatics Centre will be open for community use and the Polyclinic, a medical services unit for athletes during the Games, will be transformed into a primary care centre for local residents.
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