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Lord Bach: My Lords, not only does the English side and its brave West Indian opponents deserve congratulations, but so does my noble friend on her sense of timing in tabling this Question today. I believe that most of us in the House who were not lucky enough to be present at Lord's were either glued to our television or radio sets to follow a Test Match, the pure thrill and excitement of which must have achieved a huge amount of progress for cricket at all levels in this country. As regards the situation in the inner cities, the Spaces for Sport and Arts Programme is aimed at inner cities and the impoverished areas of our country. It seeks to improve sports and arts facilities in primary schools in deprived areas for use by children within and beyond school hours and by the community outside school hours. Childcare will be provided. Some £75 million worth of new money from the capital modernisation fund and £75 million from the lottery have been allocated to pay for it.
As regards older children, the noble Baroness may be aware that the Lords Taverners run an inner cities tournament for children who do not normally have a chance to participate in higher level cricket competitions. This splendid tournament has been running for some years and involves 16 cities. There are strict criteria to ensure that elite schoolchildren are not invited to participate. Individuals must not have played in a county board side and must be under the
Baroness Young: My Lords, I welcome what the Minister has said on this subject. Is he satisfied that the strong feeling that ran through the educational system against competitive sport of any kind is a thing of the past?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I am always loath to take issue with the noble Baroness. However, I do not accept that the anti-competitive spirit, as she calls it, ran through all our educational establishments. The Government believe that competition in sport and in schools is an excellent thing for the individual and for the community.
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, while the promotion of kwik cricket, and now inter cricket, has done an enormous amount to promote the game among young boys and girls, is it not the case that the lack of PE teachers who can teach cricket and the lack of time devoted to PE is curbing substantially the promotion of cricket in primary schools? How many schools have applied for sports college status, such as the school in Coventry which is now a cricket team school of sporting excellence? This has done an enormous amount to encourage children who can play sport at a high level.
Lord Bach: My Lords, to answer the noble Lord's last question first, 67 specialist sport schools will be up and running by September of this year. The aim is to have 110 by 2003. So far as concerns his other questions, there are no shortages at all of PE specialists training to become teachers in secondary schools. However, so far as concerns primary school teachers, there have been some difficulties and we are working extremely hard to ensure that there are PE specialists in primary schools. It is worth noting that many more primary schools now involve themselves in cricket--largely because of kwik cricket--than was the case a few years ago.
Lord Addington: My Lords, would it not be useful if relevant sport qualifications were taken into account on teachers' applications for performance related pay if they were prepared to use their qualifications for the improvement of schools as a whole? If not, can the Minister explain how the Government intend to repair the damage that has been done to our traditional school base of teachers helping after hours, which has been driven out by the amount of time and red tape involved?
Lord Bach: My Lords, before I answer the noble Lord, perhaps I may congratulate him and his board on a superb cricket report of the past year and on the undoubted progress that is being made. In that report, the ECB talks favourably of relations with the Government, with Ministers and with schools. Of course we wish to put much more into sport than we do at present. The noble Lord will know better than most that in February this year Sport England confirmed an Exchequer grant of just short of £1 million over the next four years, which is in addition to the much larger sum of £7 million a year that the ECB, under his leadership, and the counties spend between them on the development of cricket.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, the observers were generally warmly welcomed wherever they went in Zimbabwe. They had wide-ranging contacts with the political parties, the local authorities, civil society groups and the Zimbabwe Government. We agree with the assessment made by Pierre Schori, the head of the EU observer mission, that a deliberate attempt was made by the authorities to reduce the effectiveness of both the international observers and the domestic monitors through a series of administrative obstructions. The observers were, however, able to travel freely around the country and did a very good job in reporting on the electoral process in Zimbabwe. Their final reports will be placed in the Library of the House when they are available.
Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Does she agree that the fact that polling day itself was relatively well conducted after the mayhem leading up to it is a tribute to the presence of the international observers, and underscores their importance? As the final reports of both the Commonwealth mission and the EU mission are due to be published this week and clearly will contain reference to some of the matters that the
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I join the noble Lord in the tribute that he rightly paid to the observers. They made a significant difference and we should all be grateful to them for that. I can reassure the noble Lord that the Government continue to feel passionately about the issue of the maintenance of the rule of law. We share with our partners the need to keep that clearly in mind in terms of assessing the development of Zimbabwe and how matters should proceed from now on.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the outcome of the elections in Zimbabwe is a tribute also to the courage of the ordinary voters of that country, many of whom defied intimidation and threats in order to cast their votes in a way which was a tribute to democracy? In view of the extreme importance of the presidential elections in two years' time, will it be possible to work out in advance that electoral monitors will be welcomed and will be allowed to view the election throughout the whole of the country in a way that was not wholly achieved on this occasion, as my noble friend said?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I join wholeheartedly in the tribute that the noble Baroness paid to the people of Zimbabwe. They demonstrated enormous courage in voting in the numbers that they did. It is also a tribute to the international community which gave them the courage to do so; it supported them and enabled them to feel that the world was watching and did not turn away. Electoral monitors obviously played an enormous part. We must look very carefully at what happens in the next two years. If matters do not improve--we passionately hope that they will--everything that the noble Baroness said must be looked at very thoroughly. We shall consider whether the use of monitors should be advocated and when they should go in, but we must wait to see how matters develop.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the nightmare in Zimbabwe is far from over? The situation there--far from being one where we can wait and see--has been described by responsible commentators as "explosive". It is beginning to poison the whole of southern Africa, with investment drying up and a major crisis emerging. Can the noble Baroness reassure the House that everything possible is being done to sew together a responsible alliance of African leaders, which can bring pressure on Mugabe to come to his senses--and, indeed, to hasten his departure--so that the courageous MDC, which did very well in the elections, can have a chance to pursue democracy in Zimbabwe before it collapses completely?
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