Sport (Coaching Facilities)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th July 1963.

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Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South 12:00 am, 16th July 1963

I only want to trouble you, Mr. Speaker, for a moment or two in order to express my warm agreement with the general argument which has been put by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). I should like to give a personal illustration, if you will forgive me, Mr. Speaker, of what I believe to be the potential importance of a really comprehensive and efficient coaching scheme. If I had been in charge of such a coaching scheme in 1956, I believe that I could have persuaded the Parliamentary Secretary to spend one more year of his life competing on the track, and I have always been convinced that, if he had done so, he would have proved that he was of Olympic Gold Medal class, that he was defeated by Kutz in Melbourne only because he was struck by a virus infection, and that he would have made a world record which certainly would not have damaged his subsequent political career.

I am glad to have these words on the record in Hansard and I only add, as I do not want to cut the Parliamentary Secretary's time, that for fifty years—I speak very feelingly of what was said and done fifty years ago, because I was then competing on the track—we in this country have had far too much sanctimonious humbug about professionalising British sport. Thank God, it is dying away, but it is not yet quite gone. We need a comprehensive coaching scheme with a lot more Government money of the kind which my hon. Friend has sketched which reaches right down to the enthusiastic rabbit by whose support sport really lives.