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For the first time we have something that allows that to happen. Someone said to me that it was something that others had been doing for over two decades, and we have been fairly slow. Along with the Australians, who felt that winning nothing was humiliating, finally we seem to have got our act together after a couple of disasters. For far too long we have allowed our sporting pride to be nurtured by the odd burst of brilliance here and there. The brilliant will always emerge. We merely try to give them a few extra hurdles to jump over. At last we are giving these people a chance to compete consistently. The answer is consistency. The National Lottery has been seen as the crock of gold that is allowing this to happen. Unfortunately, since the National Lottery has been in existence the good causes that drink from this bountiful cup have grown. The amount of money available is becoming smaller. Initially, it made far more money than people expected. We said that we should do something else. In the original debates it was said that this was designed not to supplement taxation but to be extra money on top. We have already crossed the line, where certain things we expect the Treasury to have financed out of public taxation have come from the lottery. It was inevitable, but I did not think it would happen this quickly. The slices are becoming awfully thin. If the cake disappears we are in trouble.
I attended a conference about sport and health at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in December 2000. The Secretary of State for Culture and a Minister from the Department of Health attended. They both said that sport is great and that the lottery helps. It reduces the necessity for ideas to limit spending in other departments. It is good in itself. It gives people motivation. Unless we are prepared to guarantee that funding, even if it means funding something out of taxation, some of these good results will disappear: the incentive to do well, the bonus of feeling good about something and of achievement and a healthy life style by playing sport at any level. Let us face it, the designer label lycra culture does not drag many people to sport long term. Aerobics does not do it, but possibly playing tennis and enjoying it, as the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, said, will keep one fitter and healthy for longer. Certainly, it is a better strategy. Is that something that would be helped by these achievements? It is good in itself and it gives society a bonus by having a lower burden on the National Health Service.
I make a comment about the national dilution from the sports councils. We have to recognise that the culture of sport is very important. If certain people in certain sports regard the fact that they should have Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England represented separately, we have to accept that that will happen. The culture of sport is something one cannot remove. It is ultimately more important that an athlete gets to the Olympics in the best shape to compete rather than whose jersey he is wearing when he takes part. I leave your Lordships with that one thought.
Lord Luke: My Lords, I echo the words of noble Lords in thanking my noble friend Lord Brougham for initiating this short but important debate. I feel daunted by the Olympians behind me. I miss my noble friend Lord Cowdrey.
I have a personal interest to declare. As my noble friend Lord Higgins mentioned, my father was a representative member of the International Olympic Committee in Britain for many years and a member of the Finance Committee of the IOC for much of that time. He would have been immensely proud of the games in Sydney, not only because of the great success of British athletes but also the universal praise the organisation and presentation of the games achieved.
It is now the right time to tap into the interest of the British people, so very well nurtured by the BBC presentation, and to start thinking about four years hence. We must look at where we could do better. The answer is everywhere. Despite our successes in Sydney, as mentioned by my noble friends Lord Brougham and Lord Glentoran, our average number of medals compared to population is not very good.
The services have become a great deal better recently but are still lacking. Swimming and diving have been two of our best post-war successes in the Olympics but not at Sydney. We need many more pools. There is no Olympic-sized pool in reach of London. Why not? Surely that is a priority. To compete against the rest of the world, let alone to win against the best in the world, requires continual upgrading of facilities and coaching at all levels, upwards from young children. All these requirements cost, and continue to cost, increasing amounts of money. In my view, the advent of lottery funding, effectively from 1996, under a Conservative Government is the significant factor in our performance in Sydney, as my noble friend Lord Brougham said. Can the Minister clarify for me the press speculation on the amounts available in the next two or three years? Can he also comment on whether the Government agree with Sir Rodney Walker, speaking as chairman of UK Sport, when he said that unless the Government provided more money, funding for sport would decrease from next year?.
One of the great successes at Sydney was cycling. The main reason for that was the existence of the Manchester velodrome. Are there plans to build any more? Certainly, I suggest, London will not host the 2012 games without one. Indeed, does London have any Olympic-standard facilities at the moment? Getting the games to London in 2012 will do more to focus the attention of aspiring athletes of all ages and to all sports than anything else.
The coming on stream in 2002 of the United Kingdom Sports Institute is very important, as is continuing support for the British Olympic Association. It would also be very helpful if the Government could redress their broken promises to protect playing fields, particularly school playing fields. During the year April 1999 to March 2000 some 646 applications for development on playing field sites were made. Where are the revised planning and policy guidelines on sport and recreation? Money is short, so when will the £20 million paid to help provide athletics facilities at Wembley be returned, or is there another U-turn on this matter?
There were 98 best personal performances at Sydney by British athletes in many fields. Getting the games to London in 2012 would be wonderful. But when will the Government sort out the Wembley Picketts Lock situation and give urgent priority to the badly needed facilities in London and elsewhere? I look forward, as always, to the noble Lord's reply.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I join other noble Lords in expressing gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, for initiating this debate. I congratulate him on attracting such a distinguished group of speakers, including, as has been said, distinguished players and competitors. We do indeed miss Colin Cowdrey. I assume that Mr Hague needs the noble Lord, Lord Coe, so much these days that he could not spare him for this debate. I personally regret that.
As will become clear during the course of my remarks, we have high aspirations for sport in this country. We take the view that sporting success is important for the country. It lifts morale and brings the country together. It captivates the imagination of our young people and encourages them to participate and emulate sports people.
In congratulating those who took part in the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics, I can only repeat the highlights of what has already been said. The medal haul of 11 golds was the best performance since 1920. We secured 28 medals in total. We were 10th in the final medals table, the best since Los Angeles in 1984. Of course, it is never good enough and it is true that we are still behind some countries with smaller populations. But this is very considerable progress. The Sydney Paralympics were the best ever games so far. Great Britain and Northern Ireland won 131 medals--41 gold, 43 silver and 47 bronze, and we gained second place in the overall medals table. That is worthy of congratulations. I join the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, and others in congratulating the British Olympic and the British Paralympic associations, the coaches, the performance directors, the physios, the doctors and all those who took part. I join the noble Lords, Lord Higgins and Lord Luke, in agreeing that Sydney was outstanding as a venue for the games.
What do the Olympics and the Paralympics teach us? They teach us that investment in sport works. I hope to be able to say something helpful about that. It is not simply enough to carry on as before--even with the significant investment we are now making. We need to learn the lessons of Sydney in order to provide the maximum benefit. Kate Hoey has had meetings with the British Olympic Association and the chief executives and performance directors of the Olympic sports to identify the lessons learnt from Sydney and to discuss how the support to our athletes can be improved. She was also at the training camp in the Gold Coast before the Sydney games to hear at first hand from athletes, coaches, sports scientists and others. I am sure that she would have been glad to hear the expert advice of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, on the hand-over in the relay, although I do not think that it is quite the job of the Sports Minister to intervene in that way.
I acknowledge that devolution and the issue of what national teams are fielded are significant matters. But I do not think that it is a defect. I know that some people call for teams to be either more local or less local. But I do not think that the way we are organising support for sport has been adversely affected by devolution. It is right for the noble Lords, Lord Brougham and Lord Glentoran, to say that we should not let devolution damage our chances. However, I think that the distinction which has been made; namely, of UK responsibility for elite athletes--those who will compete in the Olympics and other international competitions--and most other aspects of sport, including the Commonwealth Games, coming within devolution seems to be working fairly well.
In order to ensure that it does work well, we have set up the Sports Cabinet which brings together the Ministers responsible for sport in the four parts of the United Kingdom under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The chairs of the five Sports Councils may be invited to attend the meeting, as may others. They met for the first time in November 1998. The next meeting is to be held on 16th February. That meeting is succeeding in its efforts to co-ordinate the work of all of the devolved administrations as well as of the Westminster Government.
On the subject of funding, of course the lottery is probably the most significant individual factor. Funding from the lottery has made an enormous difference. In view of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, I do not think we need fear that the amounts are getting smaller. It is still the case that amounts going to good causes are greater than the £9 billion originally anticipated. Sport is receiving money not only from the original sports scheme; it also receives an enormous amount from the New Opportunities Fund.
In the three years leading up to the Sydney games, more than £60 million of lottery awards was given to the programme for British Olympic and Paralympic sports. Home countries also supported home country-based sports, Sport England world class programmes, Wales Elite Cymru and Scotland and Northern Ireland's talented athletes programmes. In response to those who expressed fears that these initiatives might not continue, last October the Sports Cabinet agreed to continue the World Class Performance Programme at least at its current level of funding. That will provide
I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Luke, will expect me to comment on individual applications such as the rowing lake in Bedfordshire. Indeed, that would breach the arm's length principle which the Opposition have been at pains to defend, with some reason.
I turn now to the UK Sports Institute, referred to and welcomed in particular by my noble friend Lady Billingham. In addition to direct financial support, elite athletes and governing bodies benefit from the facilities and services of the UK Sports Institute, which is not based in Sheffield. It is only one of the centres, contrary to what was originally intended. The institute consists of 10 regional networks in England, along with national network centres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will be fully operational by the summer of 2002. A central services team is in place, which provides sports with technical, operational and programme support services. We are investing £120 million in 80 facilities for the English Institute of Sport network. Over £80 million of new lottery funding has so far been committed by Sport England, with most of the remaining lottery applications--over £40 million--to be made over the next six months. Comparable figures are available for Scotland and Wales.
I turn now to what is a proper concern of the debate; namely, Exchequer funding. The spending review announced Exchequer funding for sport effectively to be doubled to £102 million by 2003-04. Of course, the advantage of having three-year expenditure figures is well recognised. Under those circumstances, the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, as regards whether this is to be index linked rather takes a back seat. In any case, the expenditure is linked to a review of programme success rather than to any other measure.
Furthermore, I challenge the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, that there is a gap in the funding. I have said that we are committed to continuing world-class funding. All these issues are included in the Cunningham review. Our investment will produce a major step-change in children's participation in sport through high quality sports teaching and coaching, as well as the expansion of competitive sports in schools. I address that remark in particular to my noble friend Lady Billingham.
The situation on playing fields is simply not true. Under the last government, we were losing 40 playing fields a month. We are now losing three playing fields a month. Those fields are almost all related to schools which no longer exist or which no longer require them.
As regards the national curriculum, to which several noble Lords referred, I must refer to the announcement made on 11th January that there is no longer merely an aspiration but an entitlement to two hours of sport and physical education a week. All that stands apart from what is being done for sport in the New Deal.
If I continue for two minutes, we shall be able to avoid adjourning during pleasure. I hope that that is acceptable to noble Lords. I should like to say a few words about the next Olympic bid, a matter referred to by the noble Lords, Lord Brougham and Vaux, Lord Higgins and Lord Luke. My noble friend Lord Faulkner mentioned his dream of staging the Olympics in Great Britain. Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, remembers his participation in the 1948 games held in London. I recall those games as a mere schoolboy spectator. It was enormously exciting and it would be wonderful to see the Olympics held here once again.
So far the department has seen only a draft of the British Olympic Association's report which is to be presented to Ministers in February. It indicates the substantial level of public infrastructure investment--billions of pounds worth--which will be needed to stage an Olympic Games. The association has not yet taken a decision on whether to bid for the Olympics in 2012 or later. The decision rests with the association, which has already stated that any UK bid would have to be based on London. We have not yet taken any decision as regards whether to support such a bid. We have a manifesto commitment which states that we shall continue to work with national and international bodies to try to attract more major events to the UK. We also remain committed to supporting a viable bid for the Olympic Games. However, at the moment the ball is firmly in the court of the British Olympic Association.
We share the great pleasure expressed from all quarters of the House over the success of our athletes and players at Sydney, both in the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. I hope it is clear that we have practical programmes in place for the next Winter
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