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Noble Lords: No!

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Baroness's point goes wide of the Question. She asks a detailed question about a Treasury Select Committee report on an electronic commerce Bill. The Question relates to an e-envoy. If there is an answer that I can send to the noble Baroness, I shall certainly do so.

Lord Razzall: My Lords, can the Minister give any indication as to the likely timetable for the e-commerce Bill? For my part, I shall accept his answer, unlike the previous questioner.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No, my Lords. The complex issues to which I referred are still not fully

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resolved. It would be our intention to start the Bill on its progress during this Session. But it would be very unwise for me to be more precise than that.

Viscount Simon: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that one of the major French banks has set up a system whereby people can trade on the Internet with complete security?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I learn a lot at this Dispatch Box, things I did not know about Scots law, French banking and Lloyds Bank. I am grateful to my noble friend for the information. I shall ensure that the success of whichever French bank it is in achieving security is brought to the notice of those who seek to achieve security in electronic commerce in this country. It is a most helpful suggestion.

National Strategy for Carers

2.59 p.m.

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made on the implementation of the national carers' strategy.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, since the publication of the National Strategy for Carers in February, the Government have acted on a number of issues, including the special grant for carers to have a break from caring and issuing the draft long-term care charter for consultation. We have recently written to the main carers' organisations and other interested bodies explaining how we intend to implement further key policy strands. I am placing a copy of this letter outlining our plans for further action by April 2000 in the Library of the House.

Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. She will know that it is a year today since the Prime Minister first announced the national strategy for carers. Carers everywhere and their organisations are extremely grateful for the progress that has been made. It is National Carers' Week again, and the Carers National Association has recently published a report, We're in this Together, showing that caring is still a source of huge stress and strain within family relationships.

In view of that, can the Minister tell the House what progress has been made on bringing in legislation to give carers a right to services to help them with their caring duties, as opposed to the right to an assessment, to which they are entitled under the carers Act?

Baroness Hayman: Yes, my Lords. Since it is National Carers' Week, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the outstanding work of my noble friend in the field in terms of focusing attention on the needs and contributions of carers throughout the United Kingdom. I think she will understand that I cannot anticipate the future legislative programme, but we recognised clearly

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in the carers' strategy the difficulties inherent in the current position We made clear our intention to extend the powers of local authorities to provide services to carers and to introduce legislation when parliamentary time allows. That was again made clear in the letter that was issued this week.

Lord Laming: My Lords, does the Minister agree that because of improved health and social care there has been a huge increase across the whole of the age spectrum of people living much longer, despite disabilities of one kind or another? We should bear in mind that most of those people live in the community rather than in hospital. Does she agree that this has placed a great burden upon carers? That being so, does the Minister agree that every local authority should have a strategy in place to identify carers and ways of providing them with proper support and help?

Baroness Hayman: Yes, my Lords. The noble Lord is absolutely right in pointing out that we need to pinpoint those organisations that can give support to carers. One in six households in this country now contains a carer. They contribute an enormous amount and deserve more support, as well as more recognition than they have had in the past. Local authorities have a specific role to play. The recently announced awards scheme will draw the attention of the public and carers to their needs and to how organisations, employers and local authorities can support them. It will be very valuable.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, can the Minister tell the House what information the Government seek to obtain in the next national census on the number of carers, the kind of work they are doing and their needs?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the work on the exact details of what the census question will contain is part of the activities outlined in the programme of action that my honourable friend John Hutton described this week. That question will be absolutely crucial; it will be the first time that we have a question on carers in the census and it will give us a better base of information from which to work than in the past.

Lord Addington: My Lords, along with the aim of helping carers in their own right, can the Government give us an assurance as to whether they will introduce the second state pension for carers within this Parliament as opposed to having to wait for a new one?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, again I cannot anticipate the legislative programme. However, in our manifesto we promised that we would look into the matter. Carers will receive flat-rate credits for the new state second pension so that in broad terms they will get £1 a week pension for each qualifying year. Roughly 2.5 million carers, including 2 million child benefit cases, will begin to build up credits from the scheme's inception.

Lord Glenamara: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that one of the fundamental needs of

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carers is to have regular breaks, especially when they are caring for elderly people suffering from Alzheimer's disease?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I agree. That is why one of the first actions taken after the carers' strategy was announced was the introduction of special grants to allow carers to have just such a break from caring.

Earl Howe: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the research mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, indicates that many families find the social security system complex and off-putting? They find it hard to obtain comprehensive information about available benefits. What plans do the Government have to make the social security system more user-friendly?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, there is an enormous challenge in making the social security system more user-friendly. I know that my noble friend Lady Hollis and others are rising to it within the department. But there are ways in which we can help carers specifically. One of the interesting ways that is being supported by the Government and the Department of Health is the StartHere project, which provides accessible information on a wide range of subjects that include social security, specifically aimed at carers.

Business of the House: Debates this Day

3.6 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the debate on the Motion in the name of the Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge set down for today shall be limited to three-and-a-half hours and that in the name of the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein to two-and-a-half hours.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


3.6 p.m.

Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge rose to call attention to measures to improve sport in the United Kingdom; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to invite your Lordships to give thought to some of the issues facing sport in the UK, particularly the games' players and team games. I count it a privilege to lead this debate.

There are three areas of particular concern. I pause for a second to see whether Black Rod, with his sword, is in his seat because--I now tremble--he may well be commanded to usher me out of the Chamber for treachery! I certainly could not have made these remarks in 1940. At the highest level--the international front--I begin to wonder how we can get back to the top, how this country can be top dog again in the major team

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sports. It is a challenging comment and I need to alert everyone to the stark reality of the situation and the challenge ahead; serious action must be taken.

Secondly, I should like to ring out a clarion call from this House across the country demanding higher standards of sportsmanship and fair play. At every level, from the top to the bottom--and the bottom copy the top, especially now that television is so powerful--we have to put the fun and true spirit of sport back into what has become far too serious a business of sport.

Thirdly, more difficult because of the logistic complications--and I understand them well--we must do all we can to encourage some team games in the daily run of a school curriculum.

On a positive and more cheerful note for a minute, we must take pride in the astonishing range of sports on show in this country in the months of May, June and July, each one with its own character and style, presented in the most sophisticated way. Many of them are historic showpieces attracting huge crowds on the ground and millions tuning in to radio and television across the world. This being the winter season for the southern hemisphere, sportsmen come here in droves to participate in soccer, Rugby Union, Rugby League and all the rest of it. We move to Wimbledon which is the last grass court championship left in the world. It is laid on with such style and distinction that, happily, all the best players in the world go there to play and win. Ascot, Henley and Silverstone are three of the highest quality events in the world. We also have the Test Matches and this year we host the World Cup. We also have athletics and swimming championships. The piece de resistance is the gold nugget of golf: the Open.

This is a unique vista and we would do well to pause and be grateful for it. Those on the periphery of sport may well be excused for thinking that there cannot be a lot wrong with sport in the UK. It is only when we get to the highly competitive level and study in greater depth the prowess and stature of our top sportsmen and women in comparison with their overseas counterparts that we begin to notice a difference in flare and skill. It is not a great difference but it is enough to put us second and third best. We who are proud of British sport, the followers, do not enjoy that at all.

I believe that in this country we are superbly served--better than most countries--by a number of well organised sporting administrative bodies. I have a huge regard for the work of the new UK Sports Council, UK Sport, Sport England--which is the English Sports Council--the CCPR, the Sport Aid Foundation, which is doing a tremendous amount of work on the Olympics, the National Playing Fields Association and the relatively new and privately-led Sports Youth Trust. We are very lucky to have all those bodies in place.

I applaud the contribution of a number of these bodies in supporting the British Olympic Association and members of the team as they prepare to win Olympic medals in Sydney next year. It is very skilfully and professionally organised. We need the same kind of attention for team games. It is a more difficult exercise

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but somehow we must seek it. I believe that all those who realise the plight of our team games will be ready to assist.

It would be churlish to overlook the successes of individual sports. We have been very good at golf over the past 10 years. We have the finest players of the day. Perhaps the most successful sport of all--presided over by my noble friend Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare--is snooker which continues to be hugely entertaining. We remain very good at it.

Today, my rally is exclusively on behalf of team sports at international level: Rugby Union, Rugby League, soccer, cricket, hockey, rowing, basketball and one or two other minor ones. The plight of our team sports must be addressed if we wish to catch up with the rest of the world. Many other countries have moved on dramatically and are leaving us behind. There is a host of reasons for this which are clear to everybody. The main one is climate. We are probably the only people who have to survive a winter. Most other youngsters play for six, seven or eight months with sunshine on their backs. Other 18 year-olds are fitter, livelier, more supple and better movers.

In my lifetime we have come to expect that our success at international level is cyclical: we have ups and downs and our turn will come round again provided we work at it. But now the scene is different. We cannot afford to wait for that cyclical change. We must go on the offensive and properly co-ordinate the various bodies. I feel that we have all the guns and that the talent is there too, if we make better use of it. The UK Sports Council--UK Sport--has set up a world champion programme with appropriate funding. I welcome that initiative. I have recently talked to Chris Woodward, the rugby manager and coach who is in Australia preparing for the World Cup. I have also spoken to Kevin Keegan about his daunting task. We have not yet appointed the captain and coach to take on England cricket. All three have a fearsome course. The jumps look pretty daunting and they will need all the help that anyone can give.

Money must be spent but it must be spent wisely. I know that everyone in this House agrees that money alone cannot ensure success in the making of winning champions. There is a host of elusive personal qualities that we must instil at an early stage: strict personal self-discipline, the hunger to improve, the humility to listen and learn, and the determination to keep fighting even though sport can be pretty rough for all of us. How will we do it? I do not have the key in my hand but it must be found. We must address it and, in so doing, I believe that we will find it.

I move on to sportsmanship and fair play about which I and many others in the House today feel passionately. I should like to send out from this House a cri de coeur to every sportsman and woman in the land that we must arrest the decline in standards of behaviour on the field of play. It is the personal responsibility of every competitor. That was how we were brought up. Certainly, as a schoolboy I could not walk onto a field of play for my county or England without personal responsibility to behave correctly towards the umpire. There is simply no place in sport, whatever the cynics

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may say, for sharp practice, cheating, ill-temper, foul language and demonstrations of aggression against soccer and rugger referees. We must stop it. In a word, it is all about integrity. I hate to see soccer referees harassed and humiliated by players. Rugby Union and Rugby League have been clever over their penalties and sanctions which have helped them enormously. Soccer and cricket are studying the matter but still have not found sensible solutions.

I am president of the Cricket Umpires Association. I am thankful that I am not president of the body representing referees. Tens of thousands of volunteers up and down the country who are nutty about the game are prepared to spend most of the summer playing their part. It is sad to report--I hear it from my friends--that their role is becoming less attractive through the mindless bad manners of a few. The umpires do not seek further powers; they resist them with all their might. They long for captains who will keep their players in order.

When one speaks publicly on this delicate issue it is a difficult matter to get cross. When I speak about it occasionally I take great care because I see the cynics by the million coming out of the woodwork. "Bah! All that is old hat. There's no way of winning. That is why the British are such glorious losers", and all the rest of it. I tell them that what they say is rubbish and I am very happy to sweep them out of court.

All the truly great sportsmen I have met have been quite meticulous in their attitude to sportsmanship and fair play and their respect for the umpire. Take the noble Lord sitting on the Benches opposite. I believe that he is noted by some for a little work that he did in Liverpool. There he is, a benign, mellow, friendly, smiling and cheerful fellow, but I remember walking with him to the wicket in Melbourne the day that he made his 100 against Australia with three lions and a crown on his cap. We did not wear helmets, did we? I can promise noble Lords that the flames came out of his ears and nose. He was passionate about cricket and his desire to win for England. He was consumed with concentration and application with an inner determination to do well, and he was a marvellous competitor. One would love to see that invoked in our next team. Yet all the while, do not misunderstand me, his integrity shone through.

If you think that it is a matter of higher education, not at all. I came into the Kent team as an 18 year-old with Godfrey Evans, as rough as they come, the best wicket-keeper in the world, a professional boxer, no less, a man of boyish enthusiasm and fun who loved every minute of every day. But if one of our players put a foot out of line or would not toe the line, he would send him off, he would curse him and he would put him right. He did the job of a captain for all of us. There were a lot of Godfrey Evanses, not just in cricket but also in the soccer world, as is evident when you talk to Stanley Matthews and all the rugby players. There were a lot of them who did the work half-way along and put you in your place.

I think of the American golfer, Arnold Palmer, who, thanks to the fierce discipline imposed by his father, became famous not just for winning but for his

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impeccable deportment on and off the course, which lifted and helped to make the Masters in Augusta what it is today. He described Arnold Palmer as "a blue collar worker from the poorest side of town, who picked up the game from the upper reaches and gave it back to the masses. His way of life became a template for the behaviour of the modern professional golfer". What a tribute! I say to the cynics that there was nothing soft-bellied about him when he was playing.

I also think of dear Gary Sobers. I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, cannot be here today. I would like to have told her just how much we all appreciated playing with the West Indies under the three Ws and the great influence that they had. Gary was brought up in a simple bungalow, the sixth of a young family, his father dying at sea when he was 12, his mother, with little money, imposing a loving but strict discipline. He then became the best all round cricketer that the world has seen. Whether or not the good Lord was kind to me, I am not quite sure, but he ordained that I should captain England in 15 Test Matches against him. On every single occasion, he was the truest of sportsmen. Sharp practice or anything underhand simply never entered his head, and he would be very tough if any of his own players stepped out of line, a good humour never being far away. I can assure you that there was nothing soft about him. At my expense, he enjoyed an awful lot of wins!

I come to the end. There are no ifs and buts in this matter. Everyone who is involved in sport must hammer home this point. We must all fight for it with our lives. We have to put sport back into sport. What is more, linked to my first point, once we play as proper sportsmen, we will be better, we will stand out there with more pride and we will win.

With regard to the matter of team games in schools, I will leave that to others. However, I have a conviction that those schools that are able to keep them going in difficult circumstances will find that their youngsters will have a more rounded and better way of life through the experience of sport, where one does so much more losing than winning. That is what the teaching of sport is all about. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.23 p.m.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, the House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, for introducing this Motion and quite rightly speaking in a truly emotional manner about his experience in sport.

I remind the noble Lord that our friendship on a non-political basis goes back rather a long time--some 46 years. It is a curious coincidence that more or less on this day 45 years ago the noble Lord and I shared a partnership at The Parks for Oxford University against Lancashire when we put on 172 runs for the second wicket. Unfortunately, the noble Lord gave his wicket away when he was 94 and I went on to complete my century. But I pass that by.

I was once able to claim that I was the only former first-class cricketer in your Lordships' House. With the arrival of the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, and, of course,

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my noble friend Lord Sheppard of Liverpool, I had to come very low down in the batting order. They went on to glorious things; I went on to a less glorious career.

Nevertheless, the Motion is even more important than the noble Lord put forward. There are three points I wish to make. The first is that he referred to team sports. I would refer to participatory sports. That is an important point.

I endorse everything the noble Lord had to say about sportsmanship. There is no doubt that the standard of sporting behaviour in team sports has declined since the noble Lord, my noble friend Lord Sheppard, and I played cricket in our day. That applies also to football and other sports. The problem, of course, is money. That is where the rat has started to get at things. I refer to people who are paid big bonuses, who rely heavily on transfer fees and who obviously find it very difficult to contain themselves when they really have to fight for their money.

The third point, which I will come to later, concerns the political--by which I do not mean party political--and social aspects of sport.

I start with team sports. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, that there must be a mechanism for ensuring that many more people can engage in team sports. I do not believe that sport should simply be a mechanism for people sitting in front of a television set and watching Manchester United or the Derby, or whatever sport it may be, and doing nothing. The whole point is to get people to participate. That is why I used the expression "participatory sport." I believe that anything the Government can do to encourage that would be welcome.

Sadly, local authorities over the years have had to sell playing fields and get rid of facilities. My grandchildren, who go to a comprehensive school in Warwickshire, cannot even get on to a tennis court without paying extra. That cannot be right. I hope that the Government will pay attention to the matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, rightly pointed out that sportsmen are role models. There are other role models: there are the Spice Girls, there are stars in the soap operas, and so on. People, like the noble Lord, who have played sport, who are playing sport, and who are seen to be playing sport in a proper way are role models. I do not think that that aspect should be ignored. All those people who are role models, some of whom I am afraid have behaved in a manner of which your Lordships would disapprove, should be made aware that the youth of today are watching them and that they have to behave in a proper manner.

I now come to what I call the political/social element of sport. It has rightly been said that sport is not the history of sport. Sport is history. I cite three examples. In the 1930s, when Australia was going through a very bad depression, the cricketer Bradman was the one person who kept Australia alive in terms of the morale of the country. By making all his runs and being a convincing Australian, he kept the whole country going. It was collapsing in desperate economic times of the 1930s.

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Secondly, there is the Irish rugby team, a team representing all parts of Ireland. This means that there is a stand-off half playing for Ireland who actually comes from Northern Ireland. That must be a uniting force from within, due entirely to a sporting environment.

I recall the late Lord Wilson saying, when England were knocked out of the World Cup in Mexico in 1970, that it was entirely due to that event that the Labour Party lost the 1970 general election. That may be right or wrong: the fact that he said it indicates how strong sport is.

We have only to look at Manchester United or Tim Henman to see how national morale is affected by the sporting prowess of the champions. That feeds down, as the noble Lord rightly said, to younger people who get the urge to take up tennis, rugby or whatever. Speaking just for Wales, the fact that the Welsh rugby team beat England at the last moment gave an enormous uplift to the Principality. We cannot neglect that.

Having said all that, I believe that your Lordships will have to recognise, as the noble Lord said, that sport is not just a question of people going out and playing cricket or kicking a football around. It is not just a question of,

    "the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals". It is part of the social fabric of the nation. That is the message I hope your Lordships will be able to convey.

The second message which I hope your Lordships will convey is that facilities at the lower level--for my grandchildren attending their comprehensive school in Warwickshire--should be available just as those facilities were available to the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, to my noble friend Lord Sheppard, and to myself when we were playing cricket together. That is a vital point. I hope that the Government will be prepared to address it.

3.31 p.m.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Cowdrey for the wonderfully inspiring speech with which he introduced the debate today. I have spent a lifetime in sport, both as an Olympian competitor and administrator, and now I am fortunate enough to have a daughter-in-law who is an Olympian herself and holds an Olympic silver medal. There are many facets of sport in this country that I would like to have spoken about today. However, I have picked on perhaps a rather sombre one but one which I take very seriously. I refer to the availability and use of performance enhancing drugs in sport and recreation. I believe that they and their use are a serious cancer in the world of sport.

Like, I suspect, many noble Lords, for most of the time my only contact with that evil is through the pages of the press. But one day, in my capacity as President of the British Bobsleigh Association, I was the first person to be officially informed that our leading competitor for the coming Olympic Games had tested positively for performance enhancing drugs. After that event I asked some questions. What worried me most was the realisation of how widespread was the use of these drugs, how easily they are obtained and how little

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most users know about their effects when they set off down the road of using drugs. These drugs are not only used at international level but are widely available in gymnasiums and clubs and, dare I say it, I suspect at times in schools right across the kingdom.

Why is that the case? The noble Lords, Lord Cowdrey and Lord Williams, have both mentioned sportsmanship. There is no doubt that the ethic that we grew up with, of true sportsmanship, so brilliantly outlined by my noble friend, is not the same today. But that is not the only reason. The noble Lord, Lord Williams, also referred to money. The financial incentives in sport today are enormous. A top athlete, one of our best, can earn £3 million a year. Top motor-racing drivers and others can earn millions more. But it is not only those who wish to gain international honours for the first time or those with a chance to become world Olympic champions who might be tempted. There are also those, like my colleague in the bobsleigh world, who have reached the top: the tummy is growing a little, they are fading, they have this passionate desire, driven by money and ego, to compete for one more season or one more championship. They are tempted, and often, but not often enough, they are caught.

How do they start? Most teams now have coaches of one kind or another. The coaches, many of them amateurs, do a fantastic job. They range from those who look after little children to those who run our national teams--the Keegans of this world. But they are not all perfect. Sometimes a coach feels that with just a little more--perhaps it is his wife or a child--he or she will make the national team, win the championship and that a wee nibble will get them there.

The downside of taking these drugs is not so well known. However, it is not hard to find out. If one looks at and listens to the East Germans, for example, who were fed on performance enhancing drugs for many years, they are living examples of the destruction that the drugs have done to their bodies in later life. Some of them are prepared to talk openly about it. I understand that one of the most vulnerable parts of the body is the liver. The drugs cause nasty things to grow on it.

What is being done to prevent doping in sport? Not enough, I suggest. However, having said that, the UK Sports Council has a professional full-time team of testers, although there are those who would knock them and say that they are not adequately equipped. The British Olympic Association, probably alone of all national Olympic organisations, has, after intense pressure from athletes, passed a by-law stating that any athlete testing positively for an illegal drug will never compete in a British Olympic team.

This business of drugs in sport is international. I am informed that the UK is doing more than most countries to combat it. The IOC, since the retirement of the late Lord Killanin, has been guilty of many misdemeanours and its attitude towards drugs until recently has been at best laissez-faire. But the IOC, under a good deal of pressure, called a meeting in Lausanne in February and set up a worldwide doping agency. Furthermore, it

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pump-primed it with 25 million dollars. This time it is the national governments who are dragging their feet. Perhaps I may ask the Minister to consider giving that a little polish with his toe.

In summary, I would ask the Government to do a number of things. First, I believe that performance-enhancing drugs in sport are a greater evil than tobacco smoking. They should be treated as such and steps should be taken to educate people of the dangers in the way that the Government do with nicotine. I should like to think--I know it is optimistic--that one day a British government will feel that it can outlaw trafficking and trading in these drugs.

I should like to see some increase in the money available for research into methods of detection for these drugs. Those responsible for policing drugs in sport have hitherto always been technically one step behind the expert practitioners who are determined to cover their traces. It is well known in international sport that if many performance-enhancing drugs are well and carefully used with albeit expensive secondary drugs, the secondary drug can be used successfully to cover the primary drug.

Last but by no means least, I ask the British Government to support the International Olympic Committee's new initiative. Get the governments of the sporting world and the sporting countries to unite strongly and wholeheartedly behind a campaign to drive these drugs out of sport and the sporting world that we love.

3.40 p.m.

Lord McNally: My Lords, this House likes to take pride in the balance that it brings to its debates. The debate opened with what I describe as a Cowdrey century: a splendid knock by the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey. We then had the noble Lord, Lord Williams, telling of his century at county cricket; and the noble Lord Glentoran explained that he was a former Olympian. I bring balance. I have never in my life been selected for a first team of any sport except darts. So I probably represent the vast majority of people in this country who play, watch and love sport. I come from a generation which looked at that golden age of Cowdrey and Sheppard. I come from Blackpool so I had the benefit of Matthews and Mortensen as well. Because I had such pleasure from playing and watching sport I am keen that my children inherit a similar legacy in terms of the quality of sport they can watch and play.

Our sporting world today is one of contradictions. In many ways it is wealthier than ever before. Resources from television, radio, sponsorship, higher leisure spending and better commercial management have poured money into most of our major sports and provided better coaching, better facilities and wider opportunities. Yet as we have heard, and will hear again, school sport is under threat. Availability of playing fields and other recreational spaces continues to shrink, and sports opportunities, in particular in inner cities and areas of social deprivation, continue to be poor.

The Government cannot have a laissez-faire attitude to sports development. They have to protect the wider national interest for the very reason that the noble Lord,

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Lord Williams, hinted at. Large commercial interests are at work. Sport has become an adjunct of entertainment, and often it is the bottom line and shareholder value which takes precedence over national interest and social values.

There is a genuine dilemma here. If the noble Lord, Lord MacLaurin, were present he would explain it on behalf of cricket. Individual sports need to raise the commercial money that helps them to fund their operations. They have a right, as does the individual sportsman and woman, to try to maximise earnings in what is often a very short life. My brother is a few years older than me. He was a plumber. He had as his labourer a man called Johnny McIntyre. Johnny McIntyre once scored seven goals for Blackburn Rovers in a football league match. I think that is still a record. And Johnny McIntyre ended up carrying a 21 year-old plumber's tool bag.

We must remember that when considering the riches of sportsmen. Professional sportsmen and women have a short lifespan of earnings and do and should have the opportunity to maximise their earnings in any way they can. But, as has been pointed out, sport and sporting events are a shared national heritage. In replying to the debate today, I hope that the Minister will give a clearer explanation of the Government's attitude about the televising of sporting events. The pressure on exclusivity for sporting events will grow harder and make the decisions more difficult. There will be an increased need for clear guidelines otherwise, for that broader national audience, we shall lose the ability to watch those big events.

I believe that some sports are extremely short-sighted on this issue. The noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, referred to golf. Professional golf is not short of a bob or two. I cannot see why golf should receive a better deal from the few hundreds of thousands of people watching the Ryder Cup on satellite television than the shared national experience that terrestrial television would provide.

In some ways, I realise that those judgments will have to be left to the individual sports. But the Government have to be in there somewhere as a referee due to the massive commercial pressures now at work because of sport's tremendous underpinning of other investments in cable and satellite television.

Government have to nudge the sporting bodies. I continue to be appalled at the overall social responsibility of our major soccer clubs. They are often located in areas of deprivation and the majority of their supporters are very deprived. Yet the people who run those clubs seem to have little or no social awareness of that wider responsibility. I tend to follow the belief of the great Len Shackleton: he left blank the page in his autobiography about the intelligence of soccer directors.

I associate myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, said about sporting behaviour. But we do not want just pious words. I have a recording--it shows what an "anorak" I am--of the 1953 Blackpool Cup Final. I did not see any shirt tugging in that cup final. You see it every week these days. Shirt tugging is

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a blatant foul; and why it is not outlawed I do not know. In the game of the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, we are assured that the Australians have turned sledging into an art form. Reference has been made to snooker. If, when Steve Davis bent down to play a shot, his opponent began to talk about his parentage or where his wife was at that precise moment, I am sure the snooker referee would tell the opponent to stop. Why does not the umpire intervene to stop sledging?

The noble Lord is right about the intimidation of referees. I was watching a game at my local park where I saw exactly the same intimidation of the referee that one can see most Saturdays or Sundays on one's television screens. But there is a danger where professionalism rots a game. Why should a young fellow go on a Saturday or Sunday morning to referee an amateur football game and get himself physically threatened by someone apeing a professional footballer when he could be safely at home in bed or elsewhere? That is where professionalism begins to rot the game. That is why there is a need to underpin the call for a return to the earlier attitudes to sport. Such recollections are not merely imaginings of a golden age.

Finally, perhaps I may put the Minister on notice with regard to the question of playing fields. It is 17 years since I first raised in another place the question of the loss of our playing fields. That has continued under successive administrations. There is still widespread disquiet about the loss of such facilities, not least on the part of the National Playing Fields Association. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some real assurances about that in his reply.

Perhaps I may say briefly and in closing that a Labour Government, in particular, will be judged on how they get sports facilities to the poorest parts of our communities. As well as being a little star struck about support for sport--I know that there are many sports fans on the Government Benches--it is on the question of getting sport to all that they will be judged.

3.50 p.m.

Lord Feldman: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Cowdrey on initiating this debate and on introducing it with such authority, humour and experience. I hope that he will not blush when I say that he has been one of my heroes for very many years. He has had a remarkable record: playing 117 times for England; captaining the team 23 times; carrying out 11 overseas tours; and scoring 22 Test centuries in a career total of 107. That is really outstanding.

Why can we not produce as many sporting heroes these days as we did when I was a lad? I am sure that there are many reasons, and I hope to deal with some of them. In the arts, I have often proposed that we have to "catch them young" so that our young people from schooldays onwards can become interested in music, theatre, literature and all those pursuits which are so important to a civilised life in a civilised country. I think that sport is exactly the same. I was introduced to sport as a schoolboy and, although I never had any pretension about being more than average, I was always an enthusiast. I played cricket, football and tennis, getting

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up at the crack of dawn to book a public tennis court. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, that even in those days we had to pay to hire a public court.

I later played squash and golf and I have remained a regular spectator and an enthusiastic fan over the years. To this day, I often risk displeasure at home when I want to monopolise the television set to watch sport. I am proud to say that I still remain as sports-crazy today as ever.

I grew up at a time when there were fewer external diversions and when families were much closer. I remember that our garden was often full at weekends, with my father, uncles and cousins all playing football and cricket, which again helped to develop my enthusiasm for sport. I often ask: how can we recapture the spirit of those days? In my view, it is a question of money, leadership, coaching and, yes, catching them young.

The Government have an important role to play. As we have found in the arts, they use a lot of warm words and a lot of cold cliches but never give enough money. I understand that sport will lose in the region of £100 million a year in each of three years as a result of the Government's raid on lottery funding previously earmarked for sport. That short-term fix will lead to long-term harm for the future of sport.

As we know, good sport nationally creates national pride and the confidence that comes from success. Perhaps I may give a small family example. I have been a season ticket holder at Arsenal football club for very many years and I have tried on occasions to take one or other of my three granddaughters to watch the team play at home. They were never terribly interested, but when Arsenal won the double, they insisted that I took them to some of this season's matches. This once again demonstrates that success in sport leads to growing interest, pride and confidence.

We need money for better coaches, preferably from the United Kingdom, but, if they are not available, then from Europe or elsewhere. Great sportsmen today all earn large sums of money and great coaches also need substantial financial incentives. We need to find that money from somewhere. Today's growing interest in football is emphasised by the addition of foreign players and foreign coaches. In the Premiership alone, two of the top three teams have foreign coaches--one a Frenchman, the other an Italian. With better coaches, better facilities, meaningful encouragement from government--plus the return of the money taken from lottery funding--we could move forward much faster.

We have to catch them young, as I continue to repeat. That means we have to fire their enthusiasm while at school. The protection of school playing fields will play an important part. In the Government's sports manifesto, they pledged that they would,

    "tackle the decline in school sport by ending the sale of playing fields", That has not happened. In fact, it seems that their revised policy, announced only in the past two days, is just a rehash of previous policy. The National Playing

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    Fields Association has commented that the new criteria fall far short of the strong action needed to stop the land being sold off or used for building.

The fiasco over playing fields highlights once again the alarming decline in PE and sports activities in our schools, which has become a hallmark of this Government's so-called "sports policy". Protecting existing school playing fields and making better use of them would give a great boost to team sports in schools, and so please my noble friend Lord Cowdrey.

The Government seem to be allowing children to opt out of team sports, which illustrates their ignorance of the many benefits such activities bring. Sport improves health, breaks down barriers, and helps to instil the principle of integrity and fair play. It seems that the Government's view of sport is that it is not important but is a mere "optional extra." They ignore the direct link between sport and good health in later years.

In too many schools, competition--both in education and in sport--seems to be frowned upon. That is not the way to create champions. We know that we have to be good losers. That is right. But we also need to be given the opportunity to learn how to be good winners. It is therefore vital that the Government return the lottery money previously allocated to sport. Then, with more facilities and better leadership, we can boost our national identity and prestige, strengthen communities and contribute to the economy.

We must recognise the real significance of sport and take it more seriously. It has a wide-ranging impact commercially, from big business to the media and entertainment. It has an impact on tourism, the environment, our heritage and our culture.

In conclusion, whether it is for fun, for health or for general interest, everyone should have the opportunity and encouragement to participate in sport. They should have the chance to develop their skills in and their enthusiasm for, all manner of games. When that happens, our country will reap the reward of this major and important part of our lives.

3.58 p.m.

Lord St. John of Bletso: My Lords, it is indeed opportune that the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, with his distinguished sporting background, particularly in cricket, should have introduced today's debate soon after England's departure from the "Super Six" in the Cricket World Cup. Perhaps the English cricket team could have learnt a few lessons from the South African cricket team who, when at 60 for five, and looking defeat fairly and squarely in the face, came back resoundingly to defeat Pakistan. With so much talent in the English cricket team, winning is certainly not just about performance, but also about mindset, as I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, will agree. I have to admit that I sometimes fail the Tebbit test, having spent most of my life in South Africa where sport is almost like a religion and there is a far more clement weather pattern.

I totally agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, on his overview of all the wonderful sporting events that are hosted in Britain. There is a concern about more

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encouragement for some team games and the need to put more fun and, in his words, passion back into sport as well as to address improved sportsmanship and fair play.

However, I must applaud the efforts of the Sports Minister, Tony Banks, who I believe, with a few reservations to which I shall return, is clearly committed to improving sport in the United Kingdom.

There is no doubt that the National Lottery has also played a major financial role in improving not only sporting facilities but also enhancing the chances for the emergence of more British sports role models.

I wish to focus my remarks on the importance of, and the need to promote, more involvement in sport at school level. I am pleased that the Government have taken decisive action to stem the sale of school playing fields and to encourage schools to make their playing fields available for community as well as school use during out-of-school hours. However, I note from a recent Written Question in the other place that since 25th February Sport England is considering more than 45 planning applications in respect of commercially developing school playing fields in England alone. Can the Minister confirm whether Sport England has a right of veto in these applications before they are referred to the Secretary of State?

While the Secretary of State for Sport, Mr Banks, has regularly given his support and assurance that sport in schools is essential for a broad and balanced education, I am surprised by the Government's recent announcement that they propose downgrading team sport at key stage 4, effectively for children over the age of 14. What is the basis of the Government's assessment that at key stage 4, and I quote from the Minister:

    "team sports lack popularity among many children, particularly young women"?

Of course, I agree with the proposal to offer the broadest choice of sport to youngsters and with the proposal to try to encourage children to do at least two hours of sport every week. I understand that on average children have one-and-a-half hours of sport every week. However, I cannot help but feel that we are getting mixed messages from the Government. The Minister, Tony Banks, claimed that the Government are committed to team sports, but the proposed changes to the national curriculum appear effectively to decrease the opportunities for most children over the age 14 to participate in team games.

There appear to be plenty of high-profile national initiatives to boost interest in sport, particularly from Sport England, but not enough initiatives at school level to encourage all children to play more sport, particularly at a competitive level. I entirely agree with Professor David Kirk, Professor of Youth Sport at Loughborough University, who was recently quoted as saying,

    "Nothing short of a culture change is needed. We should be saying to the kids, play at your own level, enjoy what you're doing, and encourage them to move on to the next level if they want to".

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His intention in his research into new initiatives to maintain interest in sports by teenagers, particularly girls, is that if schools really want to prepare children for an active adulthood, they should make traditional sports more child friendly.

Even though Professor Kirk backs the shift away from the focus on traditional team games in the national curriculum, my support for team and competitive sport stems from my belief that, if we can achieve international success in any sport, team or individual--such as the achievements of Tim Henman and other sporting role models--that would be an invaluable stimulus to much more national participation in those sports of high achievement.

Many schools no longer offer much, if any, extra-curricular sport apart from team practices. A recent survey in March by the National Association of Head Teachers found that school sport had decreased significantly both during and outside school hours over the past two years. Having said that, I was most encouraged by the initiative of Sport England, which has established new sport action zones which can benefit from additional facilities, particularly in the less privileged areas of Britain, and the introduction of 600 schools co-ordinators who will provide secondary schools with the personnel to co-ordinate after-school activities and bolster links with local sports clubs.

In conclusion, while I wholeheartedly support Sport England's plans to create a nation of champions by spending £2 billion over the next 10 years, there needs to be a shift in culture and mindset at the school level. In the words of the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, we cannot wait for cyclical change; we need to be more reactionary in achieving national sporting success. Let us hope that England pull's the cat out of the bag and wins the Rugby World Cup later this year.

4.7 p.m.

Lord Monro of Langholm: My Lords, it is a privilege to speak in a debate which my noble friend Lord Cowdrey opened with such flair. Indeed, to bat between him and my noble friend Lord Sheppard is beyond my previous cricketing opportunities.

I wish to follow the noble Lord, Lord St. John, and my noble friend Lord Feldman in talking about schools. However, I would temper the noble Lord's enthusiasm for cricket and rugby with the fact that Scotland is the local champion in the United Kingdom and is likely to deal with South Africa in October.

I wish to speak about youth because that is where in the coming years we shall find the opportunities for improvement that my noble friend Lord Cowdrey so rightly wants. I want to comment on matters for which the Government have some responsibility rather than the other important issues of sporting enthusiasm and improving standards of play, as mentioned by my noble friend Lord Cowdrey.

By coincidence, in December 1997, my noble friend Lord Cowdrey and I made maiden speeches in a debate on sport in schools. I am disappointed that the Government listened to so little of what was said in the debate and have taken little action. There are many

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issues of importance. For instance, we heavily criticised the Government's decision to reduce the amount of money available to support through the National Lottery because they wished to put the money to other good causes. Of course, the other good causes were deserving of money, but that money should have come from the taxpayers and not from the lottery. We have made that clear time and time again in this House.

Furthermore, we should like a declared definition from the Government as regards Sports UK--the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh sports councils--particularly now that we have assemblies and parliaments, about who exactly is responsible for what. Certainly in the world of sport there is a great deal of concern as to where to go for the proper assistance.

In regard to Sport England, it is well known that a high percentage of its income--some 37 per cent--is spent on administration. That is something at which we must look very carefully indeed. I have a general criticism to make of the time that the Government took to appoint a new chairman for Sport England. It took months and months, but happily, at the end of the day, they came to the right decision in appointing Trevor Brooking.

As the noble Lord, Lord St. John said, the delay is symptomatic of the sporting world in this country. Decisions in the sporting world take far too long. There is a myriad of problems in planning, in local government, in the Sports Council and in the Government. Decisions about building a tennis court or rebuilding Wembley stadium take so very long to come to a conclusion.

In the debate we have rightly been concentrating on many aspects of sport, but playing fields are important. Of course, there will never be enough playing fields. Planners tend to forget that it rains in this country far more than it ought to and that one cannot play rugby and football on the same ground day in and day out throughout the winter. We need a substantial increase in the number of playing fields and not a reduction.

When I was shadow minister for sport from 1974 to 1979, I complained to the Department of Education about the sale of sports grounds, but nothing happened. I went again, as Minister for Sport between 1979 and 1981, to the Minister for Education and precious little happened.

We simply have not got to grips with the issue of selling playing fields. The National Playing Fields Association has done its best, as has the CCPR. I hope Ministers who are interested in sport will carefully read the CCPR brief that was sent to many noble Lords, which suggested a whole host of improvements that the Government may take on in the near future.

The Government produced new guidelines in October 1998 and again this week on selling school playing fields, but there are still many applications to sell before the Government. As far as I know, none has been refused. On we go, selling playing fields, and nothing is done to stop it. One of the guidelines issued by the Government this week is that objections by local residents must be taken into account. Frankly, they are not. The poor local residents and the mothers and fathers

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of the children who want the playing fields are driven aside and the local authorities get their way, sell the playing fields for development and a great deal of money goes into the kitties.

Donald Trelford, in the Daily Telegraph, has highlighted the issue of the playing field at Sherborne. The large field is to be sold and the public are told that the children will have to go a mile and a half down the road to another playing field. That is no way to treat children. They should be able to play nearer home.

We understand, under a system announced this week, that the final arbitration will be to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. That does not fill me with great enthusiasm. The Government simply must get a grip on the sale of playing fields. I also hope that the Government will come down on the side of mandatory derating of playing fields, especially as derating is falling into disrepute and local councils are taking every opportunity to stop discretionary rebates and making the sports bodies pay the rates in full.

As this is a short debate, one can only generalise, but I believe that some sport in schools is good, a lot of it is mediocre and a whole host of it is thoroughly bad. Part of the trouble is that children are in school for too short a period in the day and for too few days in the year. I do not see how you can add additional strain onto the curriculum, if children go to school at 9.15, leave at 3.30 and spend about an hour at lunch time eating chips. That is no way to get children interested in sport. The curriculum is too crowded and sport is being sidelined.

Sport is an essential part of education. As the saying goes: fit in body; fit in mind. Team games are so important. They bring discipline, respect for others, as the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, has said, for the umpires and for referees, and they develop good character and leadership. That is much lacking in the United Kingdom today. As the noble Lord rightly said, sport must always be fun and enjoyable.

We should encourage outward bound activities like the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which provide a challenge to children. They must not be foolhardy, but boys and girls should be able to achieve objectives that they previously thought impossible unless they are pushed to the limit. Schools must give them that opportunity. They should take children into the countryside for recreation and to understand its beauty, away from television and computer games.

I am very disappointed at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority saying that there should be no compulsory games for 14 to 16-year olds. The authority may be brilliant academically, but it does not appear to know much about sport. Naturally, if a diffident child is given a soft option, he will take it. Children should not be given that opportunity. They may be turning away something that later in life they will wish they had become involved with.

It is most important that we improve the link between schools and clubs, when school teachers themselves are not prepared to do the work. We must encourage

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inter-school matches, which are good for morale and for the team spirit of the school. A school doing well at games raises the whole level of education.

I am glad that the Conservative Party is consulting within sport, looking at the future plan and bringing forward some sound ideas for the future. I believe that the present Government have sat on the fence for too long and have taken far too long to come to any decisions, whether in the Department for Education and Employment, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions or the Home Office. They should co-ordinate themselves in the so-called sports cabinet because they are not doing enough to raise the standards of our children who will be the backbone of our sporting achievements in the next century.

4.16 p.m.

Lord Sheppard of Liverpool: My Lords, like other noble Lords, I warmly congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge, on introducing this debate and on the manner and passion with which he did so.

He has opened up a wide field. The main point that I want to make is different from those made so far. If we want to improve the quality of sport, we need an unbroken chain of sporting opportunities, if natural talent is to be given its chance to develop. In that unbroken chain I want to speak of the greater part that established clubs could play and the incentives that they could be offered to do so. I do not speak of professional clubs, or first-class clubs, but of local clubs that provide good sport.

However, first, I want to salute the personal contribution that the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge, has made to our game of cricket, as a great and selfless player, himself a symbol of the integrity about which he spoke. If you have seen the noble Lord run, you would not suppose that he was the greatest of runners between wickets. Having batted with him, I must tell you that he was the best runner between wickets that I remember. I made up my mind that I would trust him totally, and if he called me for a run I would go. That was true of no other player with whom I batted. Since the end of his playing days he has given himself wholeheartedly to strengthen all that is best in the game, not only in the UK, but all over the world.

Improving sport in the United Kingdom is not simply about the high profile matters of winning and losing at an international level, welcome and healthy as some winning would be. Improving the quality of sport at international level involves spreading the opportunities for young people more widely. However, simply spreading opportunities more widely is not enough if we want the quality to grow. It is not enough simply to give youngsters a taste of all sorts of sports. We need them to be able to move on to something more demanding and more competitive if they are to improve.

That is what I mean when I talk about an unbroken chain. Not long ago I went to Wigan to give awards to the winners of a keenly contested "quick cricket" competition between primary schools. There was a

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tremendous amount of enthusiasm from the boys and girls. But where do they go from there? Participating in something like that needs to be followed up with the possibility of more demanding cricket, perhaps in secondary school; then in village or park cricket; then, crucially, to good club standard--no doubt what goes for cricket will have its parallels in many other sports--and then to the first-class game.

For too long we have assumed that schools would offer all the opportunities that could be expected. But the reality surely is that they have not been providing them for a long time, and in some areas they have never been able to offer decent facilities. I would have said the same 10 years ago; I would have said the same when I worked in the East End of London 40 years ago.

For example, in Liverpool I was asked to offer an afternoon's coaching at our nearest community and comprehensive school--our daughter's school. Although it was a very hot June day, we could only be in the gymnasium. The school had got rid of its groundsman in the interests of economy in the same way, as some noble Lords mentioned, as some schools throughout the country have sold playing fields.

Improving sporting skills does not mean simply the chance to have a brief taste of many sports, but to make real progress in a chosen sport. So the main point I want to make is the crucial role that clubs play--or fail to play--in improving sport. We shall not see a sudden leap from the "quick cricket" that I saw in Wigan and which we sometimes see as a showpiece in the intervals of a big match, to demanding competitive cricket that will develop major skills. If there is no good club cricket in the area from which we come, a key link in the chain that would have given us a real opportunity is missing.

In 1989 I saw a vivid example of the point I am trying to make. I went to South Africa, together with my Roman Catholic friend and colleague, Archbishop Derek Worlock. The state of emergency was still in force. We spent some good time in 10 black townships. I wrote to Ali Bacher before we went. I asked if he would like to take me to see some of the coaching programmes he was running in the townships. He took me out to Tembisa near Johannesburg.

I was impressed with what was being done and congratulated him. I said, "You are trying to do something that we have failed to achieve in England, where we have been very unsuccessful in producing good cricketers from most of our inner cities. I am sure it will take you a good many years of persevering before you produce top-class cricketers". "I don't agree", he said, "I am confident we shall produce some black Test cricketers within two or three years". That was in 1989. It is taking longer than he thought.

To his great credit, Ali Bacher stayed with his vision. He remains determined to press on and achieve that difficult goal. We could do with some of his vision and determination. One of the key problems they face in South Africa is the same as the one of which I speak here, especially when it comes to inner cities; that is, there is no unbroken chain. Because apartheid removed the townships to inconvenient distances from the areas where strong sporting clubs were to be found, it was and

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is difficult for a promising young black player, after he has had all the youth opportunities, to move on into good club cricket.

There are parts of urban Britain where, as in the townships of South Africa, it would mean a considerable journey to a quite different neighbourhood to find a strong club. There is a challenge to those clubs. Or will they put up their guard at such a suggestion, afraid of the so-called rough element upsetting their well-ordered club? A trust approached me not so long ago to see whether I could point it to where they could make a grant that would help give good sporting opportunities for youngsters. It took me 18 months before I heard of a scheme that I could put to them. I am glad to say that they are currently considering helping to support a plan put forward by a cricket club keen to open itself up to inner-city boys.

What would that mean? It would mean running junior teams at different ages. It would mean offering persevering coaching and encouragement. That demands a great deal from older players, both as volunteers and in giving money to provide the costly equipment cricket requires, and perhaps to employ a coach. Is it really unrealistic to hope that those who have had rich experiences from sport might give themselves to opening up some sporting chances to youngsters? We should salute here the many who already give costly time in this way. Many of those will be teachers and they will realise that it is in the clubs that the easiest and firmest connecting links will go on; that if a youngster plays in the under-11s for a club, all the connections are there for him to go on growing, if the club will allow it. Those people will tell us that it is hugely rewarding when they do.

When it comes to public money, I hope that the lottery and other sources of public money and trusts will look seriously at projects put forward by clubs. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, may have something quite important to say in this debate about charity law and sporting clubs. Of course, the clubs would have to prove their commitment to a continuing programme. I have been disappointed in clubs that could have opened many doors and have not. Can we put a fresh challenge to them, perhaps with the bait that there would be new resources for them?

4.25 p.m.

Lord Chadlington: My Lords, I join noble Lords in thanking my noble friend Lord Cowdrey, first, for initiating this debate and, secondly, for his insightful and, if I may say so, motivational speech in introducing it. I wish to concentrate my attention on one specific but important element; namely, the role of team sports in schools. The weight of my argument is that team sports in schools may be important today, as they were among older generations, but that in the technologically-led world of the 21st century, the qualities they promote among the young will be even more important tomorrow.

Many noble Lords will know of the advice of the management guru, Peter Drucker, who argued that we

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should not try to predict the future, but rather understand,

    "the implications for the future of current events". I believe that those implications may involve substituting social and human interdependence with technological interdependence and this, in turn, may lead to the loss of many of the social and human values which team sport encourages, cultivates and nurtures. The technology-led revolution in which we are all observers, and in which the young are active participants, impacts on all our lives in three key areas: at work, in the home, and at play. Let me deal with each of those in turn.

Most of those in executive roles in Britain use a computer at work. By the end of last year nearly one out of three homes in Britain boasted PC ownership. Internet access has risen in the UK by 3 million people in the past five months to over 10 million--around 20 per cent of our population. The growth and acceptability of working at home has been made possible by these technologies; 1 million people in the UK last year, and over 4 million predicted by the end of next year. The European Union predicts 10 million teleworkers by the end of next year.

Mobile phones, modern digital switchboards, PCs, e-commerce and e-mail have all changed the way business thinks. As Milton Friedman said,

    "To a far greater extent than at any time in the world's history, it is possible for a company to locate anywhere, use resources from anywhere, to produce a product that can be sold anywhere". But screen-led working removes from our lives some of the most valuable social interaction which makes us conscious of, and sensitive to, the needs of others. We can see in the not-too-distant future a world when people do not need daily travel to work; do not need so many face-to-face meetings; do not have a sense of loyalty to colleagues, to company or to workplace. The individual becomes the sole driver, the only source of pride in achievement, and the only arbiter of the business decision. His or her personal interest overrides the notion of team, the group or even the company interest.

If this home-led distance working was supported by an increasingly stable home environment for family and children, it could be argued that home working and the end of long commuter days may be to the benefit of society. But the opposite is precisely the case. Since 1981 decrees absolute have doubled and the chances of a marriage lasting for a lifetime are now projected by some pundits as one in two--that is, a 50 per cent chance of ending up in the divorce courts. Families are smaller. We do not eat together or talk together as a family. We do not even watch television together. Multiple televisions in homes is one reason; the PC is the other. Children prefer to use their own computer rather than watch television with their parents and siblings. If the amount of social interaction in the home is to diminish further, so, too, will the ordinary day-by-day tasks which bring us into contact with other people in our local community.

E-commerce is predicted to represent 5 per cent of world trade in five years. In the US already one in 10 adults make on-line purchases. Twenty-five per cent

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of all private share purchases in the US in the first 90 days of 1999 were made on-line. A trip to the shops, to the local bank branch or even a visit to the doctor may soon be a rare event for a significant percentage of the British population.

Within a decade or less we could expect a world in which the social fabric to which we have become so accustomed will be replaced by a screen-led world. But this will be the world of the young adult of tomorrow. It will result in different values and in different skills, not necessarily worse, but different. The trillion dollar e-commerce industry will see to that. What is certain, however, is that these changes potentially detract from our day-by-day opportunities to teach our children and grandchildren the benefits of interdependence, one to another, which a full social life brings.

In my home, with four children under 15 years of age, I see every day, on the one hand, the impact of technology on the lives of the young and, on the other hand, the benefits that team sport brings. We cannot stop the former but we can encourage and invest in the latter. I see how team sports teach my children to depend on each other, how they create a sense of loyalty and team spirit. They teach them how to deal with the winning and, equally--indeed, maybe more--importantly, how to deal with the losing; how to recognise that others are better, more gifted and more skilled; how to be disciplined in training and practice; how hard work individually and as a team brings better performance; how to anticipate others' needs and thoughts; and how not to give up when a run of bad luck and losing seems to go on and on.

I suggest that if we take Peter Drucker's advice and try to see the implications for the future of current events, it is not difficult to predict that, for the young, social relationships, social intercourse, as we know it, and the skills associated with regular people interaction will become less and less important in everyday life. If we are not to lose those values, the key values of respect, especially respect for authority, and of sensitivity to the needs of others, then we must put team sports high on the education agenda for the young of our country--not just to keep them fit, or away from increasing drug use--but to ensure that the qualities and values which make us dependable, social human beings are nurtured from generation to generation.

4.33 p.m.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, perhaps I may join everyone in thanking my noble friend Lord Cowdrey for bringing this debate to the House. I should also like to congratulate him on his speech. I was fascinated by how many Members of this House wanted to be great cricketers. Today I find myself at number 10 on the speakers' list, which is one above my usual position when playing this part. However, as so many speakers have mentioned this, especially my noble friend Lord Feldman who talked in great detail about the distinction of my noble friend Lord Cowdrey on the field, I am bound to say that I was present at the

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end of his career. He had decided then that his cricketing days were finished and was "caught Willie Rushton, bowled Sir Timothy Rice" for a duck.

Like my noble friend Lord Feldman, when I was a child I did not bother with the beginning of my Latin primer; indeed, I turned to the back and on that white page wrote out the world's team to play the moon. How often one wrote down the words Hutton, Cowdrey, May, Compton, Laker and Truman, allowing perhaps Miller and Bradman also to be allowed in the team and, of course, the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard of Liverpool, who spoke a short while ago.

I suggest to my noble friend Lord Cowdrey that the problem now is that if one were to turn to one's Latin primer--and Latin and Greek are not being taught as much these days--and write out a list of a world team, this country would be very pressed to have a member of that team. Apart, perhaps, from Gower, Botham and possibly Gooch, it is 10 years since we have produced a cricketer of world class. I take this seriously; I actually think that it is important to win. I hate the fact that we are not in the "Super Six". I hate the fact that Zimbabwe, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, whose combined populations are less than that of England, are all in the "Super Six". I would like to see that change. When the Minister replies, although it is very important for him to talk about schools--and I shall come to that later--I hope that he will also talk about our role in the world.

Perhaps I may say something to my noble friend Lord Cowdrey and other speakers who have mentioned good manners in sport. My noble friend kindly mentioned that I have the privilege of being president of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. There was an incident in the semi-final, which my noble friend may have noticed, when Stephen Hendry was playing against Ronnie O'Sullivan. He was going for 147. My noble friend will remember the game well. Stephen Hendry had already won the game, but he bent down and touched the pink ball with the corner of his cuff. He stood up and said to the referee, "I touched the ball". However, not one person in the audience had noticed and the television cameras had not picked it up. People may well say, "Well, Jeffrey, it wasn't important because he had already won the game". But they would be wrong: if he had cleared the table he would have made £147,000. Why cannot those standards be found in every other sport? Why do we--dare I say it in this House--take that for granted?

I shall give your Lordships another tiny example of what I mean, and I do not apologise for doing so. I suggest that noble Lords watch the next snooker game and study the former world champion John Higgins. Whenever a ball is replaced--and I shall not spend a long time explaining "replaced"--the other person is allowed to say whether it is in the right place. John Higgins always assumes that the person he is playing will put it back where it was. He does not ever question it. How different that is from those footballers who take another 10 yards on the field. How different that is from those footballers playing in the Sweden match last week who had to receive a yellow card because they would not stand on the correct line. Indeed,

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how different from the footballer who brought someone down in something which was frankly nothing less than what is now called a "professional foul". I hate that.

I have heard my noble friend Lord Monro comment again and again when we attend rugby matches together about players who throw a rugby ball into the crowd or off to the side in order to give themselves a few more seconds to get back. I do not apologise for saying that when I played the game, however badly, that would have been called cheating. Perhaps I may suggest that we are not helped sometimes by our crowds who seem to think that they referee more brilliantly from the back rows of the stand than the referees on the pitch. Indeed, many speakers have said--and how true it is--that referees are getting fed up with it. They can have a better life not turning out on a Saturday afternoon and being maligned by everyone in the crowd. How different that is from American football, where one can take one's family and where one does not expect to hear bad language from the crowd nor witness bad manners on the field. It puzzles me why the standards in American football are so much higher than those which we have grown to take for granted in our own country.

Like my noble friend Lord Cowdrey, with whom I have discussed this subject many times, I accept that the future lies in schools. I am sure the Minister would agree that the future in this regard also lies with teachers, as the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, mentioned. How does one explain the fact that for 10 years in a row the team at Ampleforth beat that of every other school at rugby football? It has also produced the captain of the England team. How does one explain the fact that the cricket team at King's School, Canterbury, won every single cricket match in which it played for 10 years in a row? Those school teams did not comprise 15 and 11 superior people year after year; they had damn good teachers who, I dare say, gave extra hours of their time day in and day out and, I suspect, without extra pay. The other day I was appalled to read in a national newspaper that a headmistress had cancelled an egg and spoon race. The reason she gave was that she did not believe in competition. However, life is competitive and it is not a bad way to learn the manners of that competition on a sports field.

I turn to another matter on which I hope the Minister will be able to help us; namely, that we would like to bring the World Games to London in 2003. I hope that the Government will be represented in Seville in August in order to help us achieve that. That is the stepping stone to bringing the Olympic Games to this country in 2012.

I end as I began by expressing a passion and love for sport. I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, for bringing this debate before us. I have no shame in saying that I want my country to do well. An awfully long time ago the Greeks worked out that throwing the javelin, hurling the discus and running in a marathon were every bit as important as reading Homer. Whereas I admire those who can be described as good losers, I look forward to the day when we as a nation--as was the case when I was a child--take it for granted that we are good winners.

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4.41 p.m.

Lord Chalfont: My Lords, I intervene briefly to concentrate on one aspect of the problem raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, and indeed by many other noble Lords; namely, the question of sport in schools and in the education system generally.

The noble Lord, Lord Archer, expressed regret at batting No. 10. I hope that he will recognise my sensitivity at being No. 11, although of course that is where most people who have seen me bat think is where I should be placed. However, I have batted higher in the order than that. On one occasion in Singapore I played for the British Army against an Australian service eleven. The noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, may be interested to hear that I batted No. 3, first wicket down. However, the first ball I received took my off-stump out of the ground. I returned to the pavilion and was somewhat mollified to find on the score sheet opposite my name the words, "bowled Miller.K". I did not feel quite so badly about the situation after that.

There seems nowadays in some quarters in this country to be some kind of cultural or ideological prejudice against sports in schools, especially if they include team games and competitive sports. When he spoke at a primary school in east London on Monday, Mr. Charles Clarke, the schools Minister, is reported to have said that team sports will no longer be a compulsory part of the national curriculum for 14 to 16 year-old pupils. I much regret that. He then said there was,

    "no question of diminishing the importance and value of competitive team games in all our schools". As the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, said, there seems to be an internal contradiction in those two statements. When the Minister replies I hope that he will be able to assure the House--as there is a certain feeling abroad on this subject--that the Government have no prejudice against team sports and competitive games being part of school curricula.

My own experience at school, and my observations over the many long years since, lead me to believe that organised sports and competitive team games are especially important--indeed, I would go so far as to say they are essential--in the education of young men and women. As noble Lords have said, they teach and instil such important virtues as leadership--there is a distinct shortage of that at the moment--esprit de corps and self-discipline (perhaps one of the most important qualities of all) as well as promoting physical health and well-being. As the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, said, this is an integral part of the fabric of our national life.

In this context it is interesting to study an excellent report, which some noble Lords may have seen, entitled Learning to Succeed. It is a report of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation National Commission on Education. As some noble Lords may know, this was set up in 1991 following Sir Claus Moser's presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in the summer of 1990. In that speech he called for a Royal Commission to carry out an overall review of the education and training scene. The Government

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declined to do that and the national commission, under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Walton of Detchant, carried out a comprehensive, and, I think, excellent survey of what was needed in the United Kingdom to achieve higher standards in education to match those in the rest of the world. However--I say this not as a criticism of the report of the commission but simply as an example of modern trends--it contains no reference whatever to sports or games as an integral part of education and training.

Unhappily I believe this is a problem that will affect state schools especially. In independent schools there is still a certain emphasis on sports and games. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, said, the facilities provided are much inferior to those available in many other countries. Nowadays it is comparatively rare--even in the independent sector--to find a school which insists on everyone in the school taking part in sports and games. It is, of course, arguable whether this is a good or a bad trend. There are those who think that the old spirit of mens sana in corpore sano is outdated and archaic and that it should be forgotten. My own view is quite simple; namely, that a school in which no attention is paid to team and individual sports and games is one which provides an incomplete education. Indeed it is notable--we ought to note this--that even those schools which do place emphasis on sports and games offer more often sports of an individual character such as fencing, archery and target sports rather than those of a team character. It is possible to argue quite convincingly that we lag behind many other countries in recognising the importance of all this.

The rules on the disposal of school playing fields recently published by the Government are an example. As the noble Lord, Lord Feldman, pointed out, the National Playing Fields Association has already said that the rules are much too weak to prevent land being sold off for other purposes. A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment recently confirmed that not one of the 65 applications received so far for the disposal of playing fields has been refused. I hope, like the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that the Minister can reassure us that the scheme to prevent playing fields being sold off for other purposes will be given more "teeth."

As most of your Lordships will know--and as many have mentioned today--the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, has given great service to sport in this country. He has done us a considerable service today by raising this important issue and introducing the debate with such skill and passion. I hope that when the Minister replies he will give the House some encouragement. If, as the noble Lord's Motion suggests, we are to improve sport in the United Kingdom, we cannot afford to let this vital aspect not only of training but of life wither away in our schools.

4.50 p.m.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, I have not asked my noble friend Lord Cowdrey in which sports he still participates but, having contributed so much to our

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enjoyment by his long career in cricket, perhaps he may now relax; he is obviously helping others to follow in his footsteps. That was shown in his speech today.

Television is blamed for many of the young's ills and for their absence from sporting activities. But, surely, the excellent coverage of tennis and golf has led to many young people taking up sports in which they might not have considered participating.

One of the problems with sport in schools is that of children being either bussed to and from home or taken home by car immediately after lessons. There is no incentive for such pupils to stay on for activities on the field or in the gym. There is also disturbing evidence that from a very young age children are overweight. As my noble friend Lord Feldman mentioned, over time that surely leads to increasing problems with health when they become adults. That surely could be helped by more sport in their early years, perhaps starting at the age of five.

To be honest, I do not think I enjoyed lacrosse; I did not enjoy netball. But I have persevered with tennis and golf and have tried to keep fit. The Government should provide more facilities with enthusiastic coaches to ensure that we regain the high ground in so many sports at which in the past--as many noble Lords have said--as a country we have excelled. Good facilities and support from parents and instructors should ensure that the young grow to be fitter and healthier and generally better citizens in this now multicultural society.

4.52 p.m.

Lord Rowallan: My Lords, it is with great pleasure that I speak in the same debate as two of my boyhood heroes. I always remember with huge affection my noble friend Lord Glentoran many years ago when, as Robin Dixon, he used to go whizzing down the slopes at full speed with Tony Nash and win gold medals. I used to think what a marvellous job he was doing for our country in such an amateurish way--but in such a professional way for those times. There was a very good programme on television recently which showed how amateurish everything was in those days compared with today. It brought home to me that at that time they were ahead of the game.

My other hero was the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard. I regret to say that at my school, "Slough Grammar", one was either a Cowdrey or a Sheppard fan. I was a Sheppard man through and through. Now I have had a transfer of teams and I find that the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, is my noble friend. I thank him for introducing the debate.

I should declare an interest as a director of the British Show Jumping Association and a judge of that sport. I am a professional commentator on many sports. I have had the enormous pleasure of seeing my child at European championships and of hearing the National Anthem played for her. Nothing gives so much pleasure as having the National Anthem played for oneself or for someone to whom one is close.

The lottery has had the most amazing effect on sport. It is a great testimony to the previous government. Many would cry that there are not many testimonies to the

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previous government. The lottery definitely is. It is the best thing that ever happened to sport. I hope that it will go on to provide centres of excellence all over the country, with all-weather surfaces so that people can play, inside and out, at all times of the year. One of the problems with new football stadia is that the sun never gets to dry out the ground because of the overhang. Therefore, no one can practise on the football ground; it is necessary to go elsewhere. There is a great lack of proper training facilities around the country. The lottery is providing fantastic grants--grants for directors of coaching; grants for administration; grants for individuals to participate. That leads to better organisation and I hope to better competition.

The Government should address very soon the question of rate relief for sporting grounds. Many sporting facilities are crippled merely by having to pay rates. Voluntary sports clubs should be eligible for charitable status. We should have one Minister to cover all aspects of sport. I am aware that we have a Minister for Sport in the form of Tony Banks. In the horse world, with which I am most involved, if we want to do anything we have to deal with six different ministries--agriculture, the Treasury, the Home Office, transport, education and employment, as well as culture, media and sport. That is five too many. Things should be much more centralised so that when there is a problem in the sporting world we consult one person, who deals with all the other organisations therein.

We should surely encourage international sporting events to take place here. They generate income for local and national economies, create enormous incentives for the people of the country and encourage particular sports to flourish. Is it not a fact that after every Wimbledon we see more people than ever running around the streets with tennis rackets in their hands; and that after the Open, golf courses are flooded out?

We must persuade TV and the media to promote all sports, not only the few they do. The two sports I am particularly interested in, badminton and show jumping, are particularly badly let down by both TV and the media. Last year in badminton we had the world championships; this year we had the European junior championships; and next year we have the European championships themselves--but hardly a word at all about them in the newspapers. In the world of show jumping we have the European championships later this year. We have some of the top riders in the country--but not a word.

During the alternative Olympics, many disabled people worked so hard to do well for this country--and excelled for this country. But where was the publicity in the newspapers? One would not have even known the alternative Olympics were going on. That is a terrible thing.

As sport becomes more professional, so the whole of our organisation of sport today needs to be more professional. We need discipline. Discipline is a matter of respect: respect for the sport that one plays; respect for one's fellow man; and respect for one's country or for one's team. If one lets down that team or that person, then one loses one's self-respect.

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We should remind the media that the Olympics take place every four years and that it takes that long to get organised and fit and prepared for them. One cannot expect everything to happen in the year of the Olympics. Our media seem to be very bad and expect everything to happen in a short space of time, which it certainly does not.

All this takes money. The lottery funds should not be sidelined from what they were supposed to support--and sport was one of the five good causes. Sport England has drawn down only 56.6 per cent of its funding; the Sports Council for Northern Ireland 58 per cent; the Scottish Sports Council 42.5 per cent; and the Sports Council for Wales 57.4 per cent. That means there is presently £6,602,216,053 sitting doing nothing.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will straightaway say that the money is there for potential use when the necessary matching funding is found. But with over £6½ billion sitting there, would it be possible to set up a fund whereby the interest on it could be put back into other areas of sport to make sports funding even greater? I see no reason why that should not happen. It would not hurt any of the organisations that already have money; but it would certainly help to pool more money--money that will make all the difference.

I wish this country all that is best in the world, and I hope that we do well in sport in the future. But there is an awful lot to be tackled. At least we are beginning to talk about it and get on with it.

5 p.m.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, an inevitable nostalgia has crept into today's proceedings. My noble friend Lord McNally referred to the 1953 Cup Final with the blessed Stanley Matthews. I was there. It has been a particular pleasure to see Messrs Cowdrey and Sheppard in partnership again. I, like most other noble Lords, cheerfully echo the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, about the spirit of the game. It is easy to dismiss the imponderables of sport as sentimental and unimportant, but they are at the heart. The way in which the noble Lord dealt with that point was ideal.

Perhaps I may take up one aspect mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard. He spoke of the unbroken chain of sport, starting with the village club and the small town sports club, and working all the way through to national sides and national excellence. That is true. We cannot hope for revived glory in terms of national success unless we look to the roots of sport.

I want to refer briefly to the absence of charitable status for sports clubs, which was touched on by the previous speaker. Charitable status is not a minor matter. It would have a galvanic effect on resources for sport at the lowest level--the level of the village and small town. It would be a more effective way of priming the pump of sports for all, particularly where organised sports are most needed. It would be the most effective way of achieving that objective.

Perhaps I may briefly remind the House of the advantages of charitable status. There is complete tax exemption for any income earned from dividends and bank interest; there is complete tax exemption on any

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capital gains made, as for instance by the occasional sale of a sports field in order to acquire something better. More importantly, anyone who donates to a charitable sports club receives complete tax exemption in terms of capital gains, income tax and inheritance tax. Many noble Lords will be aware of the importance to charities these days of legacy income. It needs little imagination to see that many a grateful member of a local sports club would leave a legacy on death for the club to buy new equipment, to help in funding a new pavilion or whatever else. Charitable status is, therefore, a vital achievement at which to aim, and one that should be within the realms of possibility.

The drawback is the completely muddled state of charity law. There is in the way of giving charitable status to ordinary sports clubs a case which is 104 years old, Re Nottage--a decision of the House of Lords involving a bequest by will of Mr Nottage to the ocean-going yacht club of those days--of which there were only about 40 members, all of them the millionaires and billionaires of their time. Mr. Nottage left a bequest for silver cups for the winners of the club's annual jaunts. Even in the conditions of the time it was not so surprising that Mr Justice Lopes and others found the notion somewhat preposterous, given that charity law is built upon the notion of exclusive public interest.

That decision has been a roadblock to charitable status for sports clubs ever since. Given that charity law is one of the most vibrant branches of common law--for which we are all grateful--we are left in the hopeless position that no one can ever afford to challenge the decision in Re Nottage. In order to do, the case must be taken to the House of Lords, because only the House of Lords can overrule its own decisions. No one in their right mind would want to bear the burden of changing charity law at a cost that could run into six figures of a considerable quantity.

It is sad that the Rugby Football Union, which agreed to shoulder a challenge to Re Nottage, was frustrated two years ago when the particular small rugby club in north Devon that was chosen as the banner carrier of this legal charge decided that, after all, it might want to turn professional if the game proceeded along a certain course, little knowing that the London Scottish and Richmond are on the point of going bust. But that is another story.

I hope that, in replying, the Minister may comment on whether or not the Government will give serious consideration to implementing the recommendations of the Goodman committee, which reported in the early 1960s. The committee suggested that the Recreational Charities Act 1958, which was supposed to improve the law somewhat in the general field of charity and recreation, should be clarified. There again is a dead monument of statute law. Again, an obscure enactment has not been judicially reviewed, because no charity will under any but the most exceptional circumstances devote donated funds to bringing expensive court cases.

First, I urge the Government to reconsider the Goodman recommendations. Secondly, I refer briefly to the fact that at this very minute the Charity Commission

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is undertaking a consultation on a review of charity law vis-a-vis sports and the Recreational Charities Act 1958. Given that exclusive public benefit is the touchstone of charitableness, the present argument that the Charity Commission feels obliged to maintain to prevent the small sports club from having charitable status is that it bestows on the members of such clubs too substantial a private benefit: they receive too much enjoyment from it; it is too much about their own way of life, and the rest.

I should like the Government to give consideration to this point: I maintain that if the Charity Commission persists in that view, and if amending the 1958 Act is impossible, it is not beyond the wit of legislators to introduce a short amendment to existing charities legislation to allow amateur sports clubs to which members of the public have open access and which are not involved in sports which by their nature are available to only a small section of the public, the benefits of charitable status--as indeed some are presently allowed under the rating legislation and who benefit from that.

I conclude with this thought. Under present charity law the situation is bizarre. A skating rink can have charitable status; as can a swimming-pool; as can the pursuit of chess. But because by the nature of some sports people have to form teams, it is suggested that the personal benefit is suddenly obnoxious in terms of charitable status. Plainly, if you have teams, you must have clubs--you cannot have teams without clubs.

I would say, as others have said, that it is the very fact of combining together in teams that gives such intense public benefit at a time of fracturing communities, fragmenting society, de-communalisation, isolation and all the things to which others have referred. The existence and thriving of sports clubs in our communities have achieved a social importance today that they have never had before. That is particularly so as school sports are in decline and sports clubs locally are often the only routes to sporting activity, not just for adults but young people and people at school.

I hope very much that, although this has been an extremely sketchy review of a complex subject, the Government will give active consideration to doing that which would have more impact on sports for all than anything else.

5.10 p.m.

The Earl of Clanwilliam: My Lords, I join in the congratulations to my noble friend Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge on his clarion call for the return of integrity in our national sports. It was a call to bring back the successes in which he featured so magnificently in the past. The greatest need for all forms of sport is the availability of playing fields in which to nurture the developing talents of our growing youth. We need green spaces everywhere, not just in the great stadia and county grounds but particularly in schools and local greens. I declare an interest as one of the band of honorary advisers to the National Playing Fields Association, like my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord McNally.

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The NPFA has an agreeable understanding with the department, as is clearly demonstrated in Circular 3/99 issued on Monday. This is an ambitious programme and the aims are excellent. But there is an element that says, "All right, if you insist on selling, then there are caveats about the use of the money raised." There is the presumption that sales will continue which is worrying.

I would like to ask the Minister why, when the provision of playing fields is so vital to sport, the NPFA, which is the specialist organisation, has no formal role in protecting them. Secondly, why do we not have statutory protection for recreational space? Does the Minister believe that Section 77 is sufficient?

We ask for a total embargo on currently used playing fields being sold. Tough guidance, as propounded in the circular, is not good enough. Nevertheless, it is a step forward and the Government are to be congratulated so far as the measure goes. It goes a bit further than some of the measures that my party put in earlier. I say that in advance before the Minister says it to my face!

The pressure is constantly upon school governors and local authorities to provide space for the ever growing menace of the car and its all devouring need for parking space and the Government's demand for increased housing, with the accompanying mantra of "infill brown spaces". Hard-pressed people need the authority of law to overcome the commercial interests that abound in that part of local politics. In particular, it is the village green and open spaces close to housing which are so important to nurture the spontaneous kick-about, spaces close to home rather than the formal football pitch which is usually on the boundaries of the town. We need space where there is room for recreation and informal development. A particular and, unhappily, typical example is the current NPFA struggle to preserve Fosters Field in Sherborne, which my noble friend Lord Monro mentioned. It is close to my neck of the woods. The council wants to use it for housing in spite of the fact that Fosters Field is the only green space in the heart of Sherborne and should be used for a children's playground and a public park for the residents. It is the Government in the shape of the DfEE who are to make the decision. The NPFA and the Central Council for Physical Recreation are firmly behind the local campaign to preserve the fields for community recreation. Those bodies need the support of the Minister very badly. I ask the Minister: will he give that support?

That is but a micro-example of the problems that abound throughout the country. It is in such spaces that our future football stars can develop their talents. The Government pledged to protect playing fields, but here we are, two years into the Parliament and the sale of school playing fields continues. No fewer than 668 playing fields have been under threat since 1996, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont said. Since October last year, when all school disposals were reviewed by the Secretary of State, over 100 applications have been made and some 65 have been approved. The department's brief says that there is a virtual halt on the selling off of playing fields. May that virtual halt be fixed in the Government's mind. May it long continue. Given the fields, we need the time in the curriculum and

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the teachers to turn out and inspire the team and the competitive spirit and sportsmanship which develop from self-discipline which will bring back the sportsmanship we need in this country.

5.15 p.m.

Baroness Brigstocke: My Lords, it is with some hesitation that I speak in this important debate, so superbly introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge. I have always been hopelessly unathletic all my life. Nevertheless, I believe I am qualified to take part because, as a teacher, a school head, a parent and, for the past six years, chairman of governors of a large comprehensive inner-city school, I have seen for myself the importance of sport in the overall development of children from early years, through adolescence to adulthood.

I have also noticed how often those who excel in team sports at school go on to top positions in industry, banks and the professions--not to mention becoming right reverend Prelates and noble Lords. I was surprised at one time that so many headmasters, particularly in the Headmasters' Conference of schools, were rugger players. I realise now that it is not simply through school life being a scrum that headmasters develop the ability to operate in a team with a structure of rules, to support colleagues, to take pleasure in the prowess and success of their team mates, to be observant of the needs of others and even to take appropriate risks. The same goes for cricket, as nobly exemplified by the leader of the debate today.

Educationists declare the merits of a well-rounded education. John Colet, who founded St Paul's School, put it well. Key words for him were severity--in modern parlance, rigour--liberality and breadth. Professor Howard Gardener, of Harvard University, has developed the theory of multiple intelligences. He identifies seven. The traditional two are linguistic ability and logico-mathematical ability. But others are spatial and physical ability; games and dancing. Keith Lester, who choreographed the Windmill shows during the war and then became director of the Royal Academy of Dancing, always used to say that ballet was geometry in motion. There are interpersonal skills--another of the seven intelligences. That means how you get on with other people. Surely that includes sportsmanship and fair play. Then there are the intra-personal skills: how good you are at assessing yourself, your own strengths and weaknesses, how to be a winner and how to be a good loser.

These important intelligences are at the heart of good sporting activities. Moreover, boys and girls who are not doing well in academic subjects can gain confidence and determination by practising a sport and doing well at it. A successful woman sculler some years ago, when asked the secret of her success, replied that she kept repeating to herself as she was practising, "Only you can decide what you want to do. You can do it. You must keep at it". Was it not an American baseball coach who pointed out that "potential" means, "You ain't done nothing yet"?

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Because I appreciate the importance of sport, especially team games, in the development of our children and teenagers I am saddened to see the place of physical education shrinking, and often withering, within so many schools as the national curriculum becomes more and more pressurised. Many teachers, who, a few years ago, gave freely of their time coaching school teams, accompanying them to matches on Saturdays and supporting and encouraging the players, find that administrative tasks, especially the unbelievable amount of paperwork they are asked to do, have eaten into their time. That is more common in state schools than independent schools where the difference is remarkable.

Moreover, all teachers are now pressured into raising standards in the classroom, often in difficult circumstances, and just do not have the energy or time left to work with sports teams. Apart from the demands of the curriculum itself, changed conditions of service have hit many extra-curricular activities. Staff in state schools who have been involved in school sport have become reluctant to devote their Saturdays to it. A teacher friend of mine tells me that in the early 1980s his comprehensive school in Yorkshire had approximately 20 staff running teams on Saturdays. After the new terms and conditions were introduced the only staff to run teams were the few full-time members of the PE staff.

I could take up more than my allotted time were I to relate the full story of the deterioration in sport in the past few years. We have already heard about school playing fields being sold off by local councils, the failure to maintain cricket pitches and sports fields and the lack of government encouragement. By "encouragement" I mean funding of sporting facilities in schools. No thought has been given to the provision of good quality coaching. Councils are not always co-operative, and are rarely pro-active, in making sure that playing fields, swimming pools and tennis courts within their control are accessible to schools that do not have adequate sports facilities of their own. I hope that I have made clear the value of sport in the overall development of the young as an integral, not add-on, component of basic education.

5.22 p.m.

Lord Moore of Wolvercote: My Lords, at No. 17 not only do I fail to get into the cricket side; I do not even get into the rugby 15. However, I am delighted to be able to take part in the debate. Like other noble Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, for having initiated the debate. There is no one in your Lordships' House better qualified than the noble Lord to speak about sport. The noble Lord made one of the best speeches that I have ever heard in your Lordships' House. I can go one better than the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel. I played cricket against the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, 50 years ago in a qualifier match against Tonbridge school, of which the noble Lord was captain. I do not think that either of us made 100 that day, but I had a great triumph: I managed to recruit Colin Cowdrey for my college at Oxford.

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I have been involved in sport ever since the age of two when my father put a cricket bat into my hands. Sport has helped me enormously morally, mentally and physically. We all need release from our work from time to time and this can often be found in sport, whatever its form, whether it be batting in the middle, shoving in the scrum or quietly fishing. One can then return to work feeling completely refreshed. I can bear personal witness to the truth of the old dictum (quoted by my noble friend Lord Chalfont) mens sana in corpore sano--a healthy mind in a healthy body.

But the value of sport lies not only in the pleasure and release that it gives; it can also provide invaluable character training, whether in team games or individual sports. The first lesson in sport is to learn how to lose gracefully, and that is also the hardest part. One was taught at school that the first thing one did on losing a rugby match was to give three cheers to the winners. Perhaps it was done through gritted teeth but it was very good for the character. But character training is not concerned solely with learning how to lose. Team games teach us how to work together. "Team spirit" may be a hackneyed phrase but it is a very real element in sport. A member of a team plays with and for the others and this involves trust and friendship. Those privileged to experience this will never forget the bonds that it creates.

For 20 years I was fortunate enough every four years to attend the Commonwealth Games, which exemplify much of what is best in sport. In the games village the competitors mingled happily together, helped by having English as a common language. The Commonwealth Games are rightly called the friendly games. If this is part of the ethos behind sport, what lessons do we learn for the future? As many noble Lords have said, the first is the importance of organised games in school curricula. Private schools understand this, but there is a terrible neglect of games in state schools. I have seen young boys and girls longing to play games but their schools providing little opportunity for it and their parents either not understanding or being unable to afford the equipment. If games have anything like the importance that I have suggested surely there should be more compulsory games periods in all school curricula. It is no good suggesting that parents should do this. How can they organise team games? This is primarily a duty for the schools.

I turn from schools to a wider purview of the sporting scene. One finds that the media and money are the dominant factors today. I had an early introduction to the significance of television for sport. It was 50 years ago that I played for Blackheath against the Harlequins at Twickenham in the first rugby match ever to be televised in this country or the world. We were three all with a minute to go when the Harlequins lay on the ball under their posts and we were given a penalty. I took the kick but lifted my head. The ball hit the crossbar and rebounded into my hands. I dropped for goal but the ball hit an upright, bounced back and the final whistle blew.

Normally, only the players and small crowd would have seen my humiliation, but on television the whole of Britain appeared to be watching it. My leg was pulled

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unmercifully for weeks afterwards. Such is the power of television. Television has been very beneficial for sport. One must never forget that sport gives immense pleasure to spectators as well as participants and has made it possible for millions more to watch sport at the highest level. That is all the more reason why the best sport should be available to everyone on television. It is very sad that in this sport-loving country so much top level sport is available only on satellite television which 85 per cent of the population cannot afford. I was glad, therefore, to hear the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, say in your Lordships' House the other day that the Government would continue to monitor the need for another review of this question.

One of the greatest challenges in sport today lies in the money provided by television. Even rugby union, the stronghold of amateurism, has become professional at the top level. Of course, the money is valuable in providing better facilities and professional training. However, playing for money involves an even sterner test of character in avoiding retaliation and accepting the decisions of umpires and referees without dissent. Watching modern sport, I can only hope that the players enjoy it as much as we did as amateurs 50 years ago.

I conclude with an illustration which matches the one given by the noble Lord, Lord Archer, about snooker. As every cricketer knows, the only person who really knows whether the ball has just touched his bat is the batsman. Neither the umpire nor the commentators nor the third umpire can be certain, even with the help of the might of television. This is the umpire's nightmare. That is why Colin Cowdrey, as the noble Lord was then known, used to walk for the pavilion the moment he realised that he had touched the ball. That is what sport is all about.

5.31 p.m.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, it is funny how times have changed in the course of a single lifetime. I was brought up on meat and two veg, with red meat in some form or another on about five days out of every seven; chicken was an occasional Sunday roast; pasta was eaten only in the form of spaghetti bolognaise; there was a sweet to finish off the main meal; and, of course, cheese with everything. Nowadays, the advice is that we should eat five portions of vegetables or fruit, red meat no more than once a week, chicken or turkey for the rest of the time and pasta with everything.

Similarly, at school we had compulsory gym for one double period per week and compulsory games: rounders, netball, hockey, football and rugby for the boys, lacrosse, tennis and cricket. The lucky ones were also able to do athletics and swimming. At weekends, our parents would take us out of doors to play yet more games. Any hint of boredom or a comment such as "There is nothing to do around here" was replied to, "There is walking or biking". In other words, sport formed an important part of my life.

Nowadays, children still have a double period of gym, but games have been reduced to one session per week. It would appear that almost any excuse for missing them is accepted. To cap it all, as other noble Lords have

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mentioned, the Government are now proposing that from the age of 14, all children can choose to opt out of all team games.

Like other noble Lords, I believe that sport and exercise are good for you and that the use of team games in this context was well supported last weekend in the Sunday Telegraph by a number of famous sportsmen.

Francois Pienaar said, "Team sports have taught me so many good things--team spirit, loyalty. It has made me a better person. It brings you together and makes you focus on one of the crucial aspects of life, which is caring for one another in the collective pursuit of wanting to win". Our own Sebastian Coe said, "Team sport teaches young people about winning and losing with dignity", a point again reflected by other noble Lords.

Earlier on, I worked as a tennis coach. I started by playing tennis at school and then went on to play at my club, I have to say at a very humble level and not at the distinguished level attained by many other noble Lords who spoke earlier. It was a great joy for me to play sport at school. I was christened in those days "the baby elephant", the one who had a lot of guts and go but not much skill! But we tried, we persevered and we enjoyed it.

When I came back to the club, I continued as a club member. Some 10 years later, I was asked if I would consider teaching and coaching juniors. For me, this was a new start in the late 1950s. The most wonderful thing about it was to see youngsters with a dawning recognition that they could actually do it. Hand and racket co-ordination, moving on to the ability to keep a rally going and the progression to match play all resulted in the growth of self-confidence. Doubles play, on the other hand, led to an acceptance that they did much better when they worked together to win rather than fall out.

The local tennis club in my village was a hugely important place. It was therefore a great joy for me when this weekend, some 40 years later, I drove past and saw a whole group of youngsters yet again attending the club for coaching sessions which were being freely given by people who followed on and took up from where I left off, because indeed I was an amateur.

Looking at this next generation of youngsters, how are we going to produce them and from whence are they going to come? They start in the schools. For the majority of people, this is where they are first introduced to sport. Michael Lynagh, returning to his quotes, put it very well when, speaking about team games, he said "Team games teach children to play with each other, to mix in while trying to achieve a common set of goals. After all, that is what most of us spend the rest of our lives trying to do, whether at work or at play".

To mix in while trying to achieve a common set of goals should not be a bad motto for all of us who are involved in training, in organisations or in any sphere of human endeavour. I accept that some project work can achieve this to a limited degree. However, I feel that the combination of physical activity and mental application, the need for skill in spatial relationships, which my noble friend mentioned earlier, the learning and

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implementation of rules and the subordination of self to referee or umpire are all important matters in the growth of the individual.

Today's Question, posed so aptly by my noble friend Lord Cowdrey, allows me to observe that opting out of team games at 14 is, to quote yet another sportsman, Jack Potter of the Australian Cricket Academy, "a cop out". Moreover, it raises serious issues relating to the organisation and funding of sport within our schools.

At the moment, most children come to sport through the school curriculum. The three options of games, dance or gymnastics will be handled comfortably in most schools. However, swimming, athletics and particularly outdoor activities, such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, will necessitate either considerable investment by schools or regular expenditure on visits to places where these pursuits can be carried out safely and to recognised standards.

I pose to the Minister the following questions. Will the Government provide new money for the building of specialised facilities in state schools? Will the Government provide transport or the cost of transport to existing facilities? Will the parents of those children opting out of team games at 14 be expected to pay for their offspring's new enthusiasms? Finally, will the secondary schools receive additional funding to pay for the extra teaching and supervision that will be needed to cover these other options? If more options are provided, it follows that more teachers will be needed.

One of my noble friends mentioned the question of providing finance to clubs and the unbroken chain, which was also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard. I hope that in my comments I have reflected the importance that I attach to that matter. Wearing a very rural hat, I would suggest that in some villages they are the only social meeting places in which children are able to meet. It is a hugely important point.

Finally, as a parent and now a grandparent watching little ones coming through, I would like all parents to have the right to choose team games for their children. I firmly believe that they confer multiple benefits and that the more solitary pursuits can be kept either for outside school hours or later life. Willie John McBride put it very well when he said:

    "I am amazed. As a society, we have lost our way, particularly in the area of youth and schools. Team sports are very important to later life. They build a better man or a better woman. Team sports are about loyalty and honesty and other great words which seem to be disappearing from society". I agree with Saturday's Daily Telegraph, whose headline read:

    "BLUNKETT'S DEATH KNELL? Minister's edict would further destroy team ethic".

I hope that our debate this afternoon has reflected our concerns about the demise of school team sports. While others have talked about excellence, I have concentrated my remarks on the broad base of sport from which we gain our expertise. Sport has been and still is an important part of my life. I hope that we have highlighted the benefits that sport can bring to future generations.

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5.40 p.m.

Lord Addington: My Lords, when it comes to making a summing up speech in a debate of this nature, one is always aware that virtually everything one wanted to say has been said, and usually better said. Therefore, all one can do is to enlarge on the various points that have been made.

The point I should like to make straight away is that all speakers have mentioned school sports. School sports are important, but we always forget that if you go to school you are required to play a certain sport. There are people who do not like that sport. I have heard many horror stories about people being forced to play Rugby Union, which is my sport. Their idea of Rugby Union, which is a game of grace, power, tactics and awareness, is of being hit hard in the chest, hitting cold wet ground and being walked on. My experience of soccer, or football, if I may be more democratic about its title, was of standing around in goal, being rained on and waiting for a crowd of players to come and kick me in the shins. As I became better at rugby I realised how to use a few tactical fouls to keep them at a distance and made them take longer shots. That meant that I became quite a good goalkeeper. Indeed, it prepared me for rugby in later life. But the idea that something might go wrong invariably stops someone trying a sport. We should remember that there is always a down side.

The more positive side of school sports is that they help people. Surely, in a modern society, when we have many sports available to us, sport must become a sampling process. We have a tradition of a great diversity of sporting activities. Surely we should be trying different types of sport and trying to bring in the clubs in a way that will allow people to try different sports. Under the current educational system, there is not time to give the same attention to team sports as was given previously. In schools, there are the standard assessment tests and a greater concentration on exams. There are reports, literacy hours and maths hours. Indeed, when will we have a history half hour, the technology 20 minutes and so on? That will all come and it is all pressure on time. Teachers do not need a second pair of hands in that environment; they need a clone. It is that simple. The man hours are not available. The pupils themselves will become tired. A tired mind stops you playing sport to the same extent as a tired body. So we have to be more realistic about school sports. We have to try to build up links with clubs and try to get them interested. That is one way forward.

It is also the case that clubs tend to be up to date with what is going on. Games teachers who took their coaching qualifications 20 years ago do not have a great reputation for improving their sports. Another point is that if you go outside to participate in sport, the social interaction is outside the confines of the school. You are there because you want to be there. Schools must take on a role which involves trying and sampling. It is not an opt-out; it is actually more difficult. It has to be a case of, "Try a new sport".

We have heard about "quick cricket". Rugby Union and Rugby League play a shortened version of their own sport which allows people to become involved. I am

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sure that most of the horror stories that I heard about Rugby Union would have been slightly less intense if that smaller person had not had to run into the biggest one on the field and had received the ball in his hands a few times. A little success encourages people. The same is true of all other sports. We need properly qualified teachers and we need to give them opportunities within the system to train and to keep up to date. In that way we will do better. But we shall have to fight very hard with the Department for Education to achieve that.

That brings me on to another point. Is the Minister for Sport a big enough fish to give himself the opportunity to survive in the shark tank of politics? I do not refer to the Minister himself. However, if we are trying to get an emphasis on sport, we need support. The Department for Education has already been mentioned. When it comes to club sports, other bodies are involved: the Home Office, the Department of the Environment and local government. As the noble Lords, Lord Rowallan and Lord Phillips, pointed out, we must look at the financial status of small clubs if we are asking them to take on this role of education and participation and providing a bedrock for excellence in sport. We need to encourage them. If we give them charitable status and rates relief, that will release funds. Most amateur clubs rely on subscriptions, match fees and bar profits. They are run by volunteers. If, whenever we can, we remove the financial burden on them we will be able to give them a boost. Indeed, if various parts of government and the Treasury were a little more generous, they might well make long-term savings. People are interested and want to become involved in sport. They enjoy it and get a lift from it. It is important that we allow that to happen. We can push on.

If we are interested in excellence in sport we must give the correct training and advice to our sportsmen so that they can reach a top level. The new United Kingdom Sports Institute is helping in that direction. However, we are all the time putting greater demands on people. As a Rugby Union player, I would regard myself not as a dinosaur but as a woolly mammoth. I quit at the end of the amateur period. The pressure on modern sportsmen is immense. They push themselves to the edge. They need help with dietary requirements and with career counselling after they finish. Any sportsman's career can be over in seconds. We must also ensure that there are better trained sports physicians. We are starting to take such matters on board.

The psyche of any nation is probably well represented by the way it reacts to sporting events. It seems to me that we should be winning but we are not. Why is that the case? We have not quite grasped the nettle of that fact that we can do something about it. It is starting to come through. But we will never have back the glory days because most of the time we remember only one glorious year. We do not remember the five on either side of it when we did not win anything. We see football as our national game and believe that we have the divine right to win. I would suggest that the results in the World Cup suggest that the Brazilians and the Italians have that divine right, closely followed by the Germans and not us. When it comes to cricket, I did not like

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England going out any more than anyone else, but at least we can safely say that it is now a world game. As someone who watched cricket throughout the 1980s, is it not vaguely reassuring to know that we are now at least as good as the West Indies?

Unless we take a holistic approach to this issue and remember that sport is important to our entire society--the learning process, the participation process, the fact that it provides heroes and role models, and the fact that it provides something for people to watch as they get older and slower--we will always leave it to fend for itself. There will always be cases of the lucky and the brilliant making it through. But unless we approach the issue in a holistic way, considering all the factors which apply to sport, we shall always come second best. We do not have to do a lot in one area but a little in many areas.

5.50 p.m.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, when I stepped out of the British Rowing VIII after the Olympic final in 1984, after seven seasons on the international circuit, at 50 kilos--under eight stone--I vowed then and there that I would eat my way through the rest of my life rather than shift grain in Mortlake Brewery. I kept to that, save for one unfortunate episode of steering the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, in the Speaker's Regatta and having to pull him out of the water.

I made another promise to myself. When I ended my term as Minister for Sport in 1990 I never expected to stand at the Dispatch Box in Parliament to answer a debate on sport. I had no intention of doing so from the Opposition Benches. But today I have the privilege of doing so; and there can be no greater honour when the privilege granted to me and this House was to listen to an opening speech of such eloquence and sound common sense by my noble friend Lord Cowdrey. His three main themes were excellence in sport, the importance of ethics in sport, and the critical importance of the benefit of team games. That was echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, and the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard of Liverpool. Batting in this context in his rightful place at number three, was my noble friend Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare.

The preservation of ethical values in sport is essential, as clearly and often amusingly stated by the noble Lord, Lord Moore of Wolvercote. It is imperative to campaign for the preservation and promotion of the most positive ethical values which sport engenders, and to support with the greatest determination initiatives aimed at education as well as responsibility in club life to that end.

There was not a great deal addressed to the Minister--no doubt he will be pleased on that front--with regard to current government policy on sport. But what was said was eloquently summarised by my noble friend Lord Monro. The points that he and other noble Lords raised can be summarised by pointing to three key aims of government policy on sport. The first, I believe, is to improve the nation's health. In the UK we have a relatively high death rate from heart disease. Sport and exercise helps to reduce that rate and the heavy call on

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health resources. We should promote the benefits of participation in sport for individuals and the community for that reason.

Sport is important as a policy objective for the Government in order to alleviate social deprivation. Sport can and should be used as a policy tool in areas of high unemployment and deprivation. In particular it can provide a catalyst for channelling the energies of the young into constructive and satisfying activities contributing to their self-esteem and discipline. Both recreational and competitive sport can also contribute to community confidence and cohesion especially in pockets of social deprivation.

There is a third aim, an aim which has been discussed and considered by your Lordships this evening; namely, to help to promote excellence in sport, but excellence in behaviour in sport as much as excellence in results in sport. That excellence should be supported by Government at national and international level. Some help will always be necessary to enable prospective international competitors to meet their rivals on equal terms; for success in sport reflects well on both our standing in the world and upon our trade and morale.

The noble Lords, Lord St. John of Bletso, Lord Chalfont, and the noble Baroness, Lady Brigstocke, focused, and rightly so, on the vital importance of sport's role in education. I wish to pick up one point made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and echoed in part by the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard. That is the importance of beginning to develop new initiatives in school sport. I urge the Government to encourage greater involvement of clubs with local schools, local businesses, and the local press: to encourage all those to come together at the local school level so that we do not have to rely exclusively on the PE teacher to assist in the development of sporting opportunities for young children at school.

The clubs have a vested interest in those children because they are their members of the future. I firmly believe that there should be new initiatives to focus on bringing the clubs together with the PE teachers to expand the opportunities for our young men and women. The local press could have columns highlighting success, not necessarily excellence but possibly the participation of an individual for the first time in sport: a good news story providing an opportunity for local businesses to participate and assist in the funding. This nexus, this opportunity to work together, is, I believe, the sort of new initiative that the Government can rightly launch and take forward at a local level.

I was disappointed by the absence of one subject from today's debate. It is important in a debate of this kind to place on record that it is vitally important for any government to focus on opportunities for sport for the disabled. We shall have another debate today on prostheses. When one sees, as I did at the Paralympics, the 100 metres run in under 11 seconds by a sportsman who has a rigid prosthesis from his knee down, one suddenly realises that we should be focusing on the abilities of those sportsmen and women and not their disabilities. I believe that much more can be done by Government to recognise the importance of integration

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not segregation; and to recognise that many disabled people desperately want to be integrated into able-bodied sport. Governing bodies can help to bring this about by assuming responsibility for everyone participating in their sports.

I believe that the governing bodies can go further. They can actively encourage disabled athletes to take part in the events and competitions which they organise. Wherever possible, able-bodied and disabled athletes should compete under the same set of rules. This point does not apply only to sportsmen and women who are disabled, but to the able-bodied too. I appeal to governing bodies to give sportsmen and women, whether able-bodied or disabled, a greater say in the decision making and administrative structure of their sport. They should not retire as top level sportsmen, and only 20 years later go on to their governing bodies. As active sportsmen they understand the pressures of the modern world. They understand the issues on the danger of drugs, referred to earlier in an excellent speech. Many sportsmen and women can bring that expertise to the benefit of their governing bodies.

On the subject of drugs, the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, was right. It is a vitally important issue that Government can do much to tackle. Testing must be independent. Testing must be more effective, rigorous and entirely random. Competitors in all sports must be required, I believe, to make a personal declaration of willingness to undertake tests in or out of competition; and they will. The competitors back that view 100 per cent. They should be given that opportunity. If we do not tackle the problem of drugs in sport, we shall not have competition between sportsmen and women. We shall have competition between chemists' laboratories. Although it is somewhat late in the day as regards the IOC-Lausanne initiative, the IOC needs to do more. It has the money, the opportunity and the status to tackle the problem head on, and to put together an international initiative with the NOCs and governing bodies to ensure that it is tackled vigorously as a number one international problem: to protect our young sportsmen and women from succumbing to the dangers of drug abuse in sport.

Finally, in reflecting on the questions on governing bodies addressed by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, I have the great privilege, and have had for a number of years, to be President of the British Biathlon Union. It is interesting that in the BBU we have insufficient funds to do everything that the Government would encourage us to do. The really interesting point, however, is that it is a tragic reflection on the status of the organisation of sport that the real reason why this year the BBU had to cancel all development courses and save £2,000, and had to stop promoting and obtaining a manager for its World Cup team was due to the governing body structure being reformed. The BBU, the new governing body, did not have three years of audited accounts. Yet we have been involved in biathlon for decades. We have been very successful. But, because the regulation says that, in order to apply for a world class performance plan lottery grant, there must be three years of audited accounts, the whole future of those sportsmen--the Michael Dixons of today and tomorrow, is being

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jeopardised, and sport cannot be run on a stop-go basis. Every sportsman, to produce his best results, has an eight to 10-year gestation period. We have to back the coaches throughout that period. We have to back the support staff who put in so much time on a voluntary basis. We have to commit resources in the long term through the good results years and the bad results years in order to develop in the future. That highlights the problem: to achieve excellence we have to back participation, and, unless we develop and nurture the grass roots over many years, we will not get excellence tomorrow.

In conclusion, it has been an honour to come back to sport, albeit that in about two and a half hours I shall return to foreign affairs. It has been a greater honour to listen to the outstanding contributions that have been made by your Lordships during this debate.

6.1 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I start by echoing the last words of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. It is an honour and a privilege to be asked to wind up this debate for the Government, a debate in which so many distinguished sportsmen and women have taken part, and in which we have had so much evident expertise. It is also, for somebody like myself, rather a problem because when my noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel recalled the double century partnership which he had put together 45 years ago, I recalled that 45 years ago I was for a brief time the bar billiards champion of the Oxford Union. It is better than snakes and ladders. At least you have to stand up!

When the noble Lord, Lord Addington, was generous about those who do not want to play Rugby Union, I recalled that at school I used to be a wing threequarter and I would wander up and down the side margins of the field in a long white sweater which reached down below my shorts, hoping that the ball never came near me and usually it did not, so I am utterly unqualified in those terms.

But I do have a story to tell about the Government's commitment to improving sport in the United Kingdom, which is after all the subject of this debate. This Government and, to be fair, all governments, recognise the importance of sport and the need to promote the effective delivery of sporting opportunities at all levels. Of course government have a central role to play in sport. They fund the sports councils--Sport England receives approximately £38 million and UK Sport £12.5 million--they allocate lottery money to sport, at least £200 million a year over the next 10 years through the Sport England lottery sports fund, and they provide PE and sport in schools.

Sport is also a mixed economy. Individual sports are represented by individual independent governing bodies. Local authorities and education authorities are the largest single providers of sports facilities and the strength of sports clubs, which have been saluted by the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, and my noble and right reverend friend, Lord Sheppard, among others, reflects the enthusiasm of one and a half million volunteers in

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sporting activities; and their contribution, although it may not be calculated financially, certainly cannot be underestimated.

I know your Lordships think that Government are a manufacturing industry whose purpose is to manufacture White Papers; and I am afraid that it is true that this Government are proposing to publish a sports strategy paper in the autumn of this year. I will not anticipate what that paper might say, but I will use as my theme the three elements in that paper, which will be sport in schools, lifelong participation and excellence. I acknowledge that when we talk about sport in schools and then go on to talk about lifelong participation, we must consider what my noble friend Lord Sheppard called the unbroken chain. We must recognise that unless there are continuing and effective links between sport in schools and sport in clubs, both for children and young people and for adults, then the seamless robe of sporting opportunity and achievement will simply not be available.

I will talk in those three areas, starting with the area of excellence, and then I will deal with some of the points which were raised in the debate. In case there is any misunderstanding about this, I do not propose to talk about the televising of sporting events. This debate has been about participation in sports, not spectator sports, and I think it is better to keep it that way.

The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, made a very important point when he said that excellence in sport is not simply a matter of results but a matter of behaviour, and that of course was the theme of the remarkable speech of Lord Cowdrey and of many other speeches. I shall come back to excellence in behaviour at the very end of my remarks.

I want to talk first about how we can help with excellence in results. We are determined that our top sportsmen and women should receive world class backing to give them every chance of achieving international success. We are making considerable progress in that area.

One of the problems which has been raised in our participation in international events is the relationship between the United Kingdom as a whole and the four countries which make up the United Kingdom. I certainly agree that there has been an element of confusion as we have been moving towards devolution. I think we have resolved it in the right way. This morning in another place the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport laid an order which will make the UK Sports Council a distributor of lottery funds in its own right; therefore our participation in international events and all of the events which require the United Kingdom to act in a unified way will be under the UK Sports Council.

It is right that in many ways sport should be a devolved matter. The devolved administrations are closer to the grass roots in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They are more able to decide sensibly what is needed for sport in schools and in localities; but when it comes to international competition and the use of lottery funds in particular, which is a reserved matter, it is proper that there should be a single distributor and that will now be the United Kingdom Sports Council.

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The noble Lord, Lord Monro, made a point about the sports cabinet, as did the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan. The sports cabinet is chaired by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. It brings together the four sports ministers in the four home countries. It is the political focus for the united effort. It is the sports cabinet who have agreed the arrangements for lottery funding from the UK Sports Council and who will oversee that programme. I think that, on balance, we have got it right. We have devolution where it is needed, and United Kingdom action and funding where that is needed.

I should like to say a few words about some of the elements of the support that we give to our most talented sports people. The noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, made a plea for lottery funding and for a network of centres of excellence around the country. That is exactly what is planned with the United Kingdom Sports Institute, based in Sheffield, with 10 associated network sites. It is the centrepiece of the Government's sports policy and will play a key role in promoting sporting excellence. All of the existing Sport England national sports centres will be incorporated into the network. They will have access to specialist science and medical advice. A network centre in Sheffield will provide national facilities for athletics, swimming, netball, table-tennis and judo. There will be performance directors, coaches, athletes and service providers to develop a menu of services to be delivered directly by the network.

The athlete career and development programme will enhance athletes' personal development and sporting performance through access to individualised services to help them to achieve a more balanced approach to their sporting and non-sporting lives. There is to be a high performance coaching programme. Fifty top coaches have already been nominated to benefit from that. All that is being done in close consultation with the relevant governing bodies of the sports. We hope to achieve the right blend of local provision and central co-ordination.

The noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, was good enough to praise the world class programme. The noble Lord, Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, did not praise that programme, but certainly highlighted the importance of such programmes. The programme was launched by Sport England. World-class start encourages young people to participate in sport. They identify promising young people and ensure that their talent is nurtured. The world class potential programme smooths the path from promising youngster to established sportsperson, while the world class performance programme ensures that our elite sportsmen and women receive the support that they require to improve their rankings and to win more competitions for themselves and their country. Perhaps I may advise the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, that the programme includes people with disabilities, and disabled sports. The British Paralympic Association is involved in the activities.

The world class events programme assists sports governing bodies in their efforts to bring major events, such as the 2006 World Cup, to these shores where, as the Select Committee reported, they could boost the economy, increase levels of active participation and

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stimulate urban renewal. The noble Lord, Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, hoped that we would win our bid to host the World Athletics Championship and that the Minister for Sport would be in Seville later this year to boost our claim. I can assure your Lordships that my honourable friend never lets pass any opportunity to promote British sport in any part of the world. I cannot believe that he will not be personally involved in our bid to host the football World Cup or in any top-quality future Olympic bid. Indeed, the Government have been so involved in hosting the cricket World Cup and will be so involved with the rugby union World Cup in the autumn. In the year 2000, we have the rugby league World Cup and in the jubilee year 2002 Manchester will host the Commonwealth Games. I do not think that there can be much doubt that sporting excellence is of critical importance. I shall return to the issue of behaviour.

I turn now to the issue of sport in schools because I am afraid that there has been a great deal of misunderstanding about what is proposed. I emphasise that although a change has been proposed at key stage 4--that is, for 14 to 16-year olds--physical education generally remains compulsory at all key stages. Games have not been dropped at key stage 4. They remain one of the six options. The others are gymnastic activities, athletic activities, swimming, dance, and outdoor and adventure activities. Every young person must take at least two of the six options.

With regard to team games, perhaps I should say that I prefer the phrase "participatory games", which was used by my noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel, because it includes games such as singles tennis. As such games are compulsory between the ages of 5 and 14, it is inconceivable to me that those who want to continue with participatory games and have to take two of the six options between the ages of 14 and 16 will not be able to continue to do so. It is also inconceivable to me that schools will not offer games at key stage 4. However, I echo the noble Lord, Lord Addington, in saying that it is important that those who are turned off by team games--I am well known to be one of them--should still have opportunities to undertake physical activity. That is what I believe that the new, more sensible proposal from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will do. Perhaps I may advise the noble Baroness, Lady Brigstocke, and the noble Lords, Lord Feldman and Lord Monro, that, contrary to their fears, what is proposed will not "downgrade" team games--I think that that was the word used. For the first time, we have the aspiration that all children should do two hours of PE and sport every week.

I advise the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that we believe that giving young children more choice over what sports they can do serves only to enhance their enjoyment of sport and exercise. People like doing things that they are good at and some people prefer activities such as athletics, swimming or tennis. That is why we accepted the recommendation of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Perhaps I may tell the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, that, I, too, read the piece in the Daily Telegraph, but that I agree rather with Phil de Glanville, the England rugby player, that

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people should be able to choose whether to play team games or individual sports. Both have to be offered to children--and that is what is happening.

I have left myself very little time to talk about the range of things which will be offered in schools. However, they include sporting ambassadors. I say that in response to the noble Lord, Lord Feldman, who spoke about sporting heroes. Perhaps I may now pay a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, who chaired the initial working group which considered the scheme. We now have 240 sportsmen and women signed up to be ambassadors. The National Coaching Foundation is developing a personal development package for each sporting ambassador. There is coaching for teachers, including coaching weeks. Among others, the noble Lords, Lord Cowdrey and Lord Archer, referred to the importance of sports teachers. We are not aware of any shortage of PE teachers, but we are certainly aware of their need for in-service training so that they can gain national governing body awards.

We also have "Sportsmark", which is a recognition award for secondary schools which provide a balanced and progressive physical education curriculum. Our active primary schools awards will be introduced in the next year.

There are also all the activities supported by the lottery. Some noble Lords seemed to suggest that there has been a reduction in lottery provision for sport. That is simply not the case. The sports strand of lottery provision is increasing over what was originally intended. In addition, the New Opportunities Fund does two things for sport. First, the after-schools activity strand of NOF will help considerably in providing after-school sports. The green spaces strand of NOF will help considerably in providing more playing fields, particularly on brownfield sites.

I turn now to life-long participation. I agree with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and others about the physical advantages of sports participation. The noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, referred to the social benefits of sports interaction and the role of sport in dealing with social deprivation, which is being considered by the Social Exclusion Unit.

I must comment on playing fields because there has been a great deal of confusion--innocent, I am sure--about playing field provision. The Government are determined to prevent the further unnecessary loss of playing fields. The measures we have adopted will require local authorities, schools and developers to consider the needs of school children and local communities for whom playing fields are a vital resource. The Department for Education and Employment has introduced new legislation to require all state schools to seek consent for the sale of playing fields. We are the first Government to do that.

In December 1998, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions published a direction ensuring that wherever Sport England objects to plans to develop any playing field owned by local authorities, where there is no identified surplus, the Secretary of State for the DETR will review the proposals.

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The noble Lord, Lord St. John, asked whether Sport England had a veto on planning applications. It does not have a veto, but it is a statutory consultee. It has a strong presumption against allowing any development which would result in a reduction in playing field accommodation.

It is true that some playing field applications have been accepted. After all, a number of them are for schools which have closed or are closing. Of the 109 applications received, 27 have involved areas smaller than a football pitch. But in making comparisons, we must remember that until this Government came into office in 1997, 40 playing fields were being sold off each month. Since October 1998, we have received an average of 12 applications a month. That is the effect of the policies we adopted and I believe that we are stanching the drain of playing field space, which was a conspicuous feature of planning and financial policies under the previous government.

The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, and others referred to drugs in sport. Drug abuse in sport is cheating. The only other thing that can be said about it is that it damages and cheats the person taking the drug as well as the others. The Minister for Sport, Tony Banks, has played an active part in all the proposals for strengthening controls against drug abuse. We have been in advance of the game in every respect. We spend more than £1.35 million a year on 4,500 tests a year; the quality of our out-of-competition blood testing programme is such that the UK Sports Council was the first organisation world-wide to achieve ISO 9002 accreditation for its testing system; and we are active in all the international forums, including Lausanne, to try to deal with the drugs problem.

I say briefly to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, that the Charity Commission is consulting on the status of recreational charities and necessary amendments to the Recreational Charities Act 1958. It is preparing a consultation on sport and I shall draw the noble Lord's remarks to it.

Finally, and necessarily briefly, I agree profoundly with those led by the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, who spoke of the need for sportsmanship and a return, as some see it, to a golden age of sportsmanship which some believe has been lost. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cowdrey, in particular that the captains and the players, rather than the umpires, must be responsible for sportsmanship. I add my voice to those who have called on the national governing bodies of sport to apply the rules of sport firmly and to support the work of thousands of volunteer referees and officials.

This has been an inspiring debate and I have been privileged to take part in it.

6.24 p.m.

Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge: My Lords, for myself, this has been an exciting afternoon and I appreciate the many fascinating contributions from our wide range of speakers. I was touched in particular by their enthusiasm for the importance of the subject. I hope that today will further the way to more discussions and debates with the various sporting bodies.

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I thank the Minister for his warm and encouraging summing up. I say at once that as an undergraduate at the same time as him, I never missed a debate in the Oxford Union--and how I would have loved to have been the bar billiards champion of the Union! I was unfortunate never to receive a champion's nod from the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey; that had to come later in life.

Time is getting on and I am satisfied that we have covered the ground with great interest and extremely well. I shall be brief. I shall be pleased if the main planks of the debate are put before the Secretary of State and the Minister for Sport.

Perhaps, finally, I may speak selfishly to the whole House, through Hansard, because every hour of every day I spend in this House my leg is pulled over the demise of English cricket. When England have a particularly bad day I am held wholly to blame. I know that in the days ahead I shall be attacked by the mischievous, who will say, "Funny, in that debate of yours you didn't spend much time telling us about English cricket, did you?". And so perhaps I may give a broadsheet answer to everyone. I learnt early in life that a lot of people are interested in cricket and an awful lot of people are not so interested in cricket. I have always been mindful of the remarks of an amusing broadcaster, Arthur Marshall, who many noble Lords will remember. He could not abide cricket and was once trapped in a game as the guest with a friend for an hour or two. He was able to escape soon after lunch and as he walked out of the gate he said, "Ah, if I find that they play cricket in Heaven I shall just have to pray that there will be an awful lot of rain as well".

I am happy to beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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