Participation in Sport

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 15th December 2011.

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Photo of Damian Collins Damian Collins Conservative, Folkestone and Hythe 10:30 am, 15th December 2011

What plans his Department has to increase participation in sport.

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

Sport England is investing £480 million in 46 national governing bodies between 2009 and 2013 to grow and sustain participation. In addition, we have introduced the new Places People Play lottery-funded legacy programme and will be launching a new sports participation strategy aimed at 16 to 25-year-olds in the new year, to ensure we create a real lasting sports legacy after London’s games.

Photo of Damian Collins Damian Collins Conservative, Folkestone and Hythe

Sportsmen and women need to have confidence in the governing bodies of the competitions they play in. Will the Minister send a message to FIFA that following the resignation of Mr Havelange from the International Olympic Committee, Sepp Blatter can and must allow the publication of the Zug court report into the $100 million bribery case involving FIFA officials and International Sport and Leisure—that is, ISL?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

I shall certainly do that, but I should warn my hon. Friend that I am not sure that FIFA pays a great deal of attention to what we say any more.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Labour, Bradford South

The Minister knows that one of the main reasons we won the Olympics was our promise on the participation rates, but the target of involving 2 million more people in sport and physical activity has been dropped. I have the greatest respect for the Minister, but further to his earlier answer on school sport, what discussions has he had with the Department for Education about the cuts in school sports and school sports co-ordinators?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

No one who is involved in sport wants to see money go out of sport, but the question completely overlooks the economic backdrop that sits behind that. If Opposition Front Benchers are seriously going to say that the level of funding that has been invested in school sport against an economic backdrop in which £120 million is paid out in debt interest payments every day can be maintained, they should tell us what else in sport should be cut instead. I have not heard a single constructive suggestion of that sort.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

Will the Minister welcome the National Football League’s efforts to increase the amount of American football played in this country—not at the taxpayer’s expense? Also, what position in an American football team would he play?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

I think I should honestly say that that is slightly outside my area of competence, but I would of course welcome any efforts in that regard, particularly efforts better to educate Ministers.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

The person who launched the school games was the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport—it was not the Department for Education. Ministers have been using the figure that one in five children are involved in inter-school competitive sport, and they will know that that figure comes from the PE and sport survey that is carried out in schools every year. That figure is measured on the basis of children taking part in nine competitive sport events against other schools in a school year. We know from what the Under-Secretary of State for Education, Tim Loughton said in a Westminster Hall debate that that is not an ambitious target. How is the Minister going to measure the impact of the school games on increasing participation in competitive sport? Is the benchmark nine times in a school year or more?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

Let me answer this in two parts. First, a number of schools want to sign up, and I am delighted to say that we have got 11,000 schools signed up, which I am sure the hon. Gentleman would welcome. On the part of the equation for which this Department is responsible—the cadre of people from 16 to 25—we will make an announcement in the new year.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

I recently visited the Desborough indoor bowling club, which has benefited from an investment via the landfill tax, and I was pleased to see a large, enthusiastic and mainly retired membership. At the other end of the age spectrum, what can the Department do to encourage the participation of retired people in sport?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

The next round of whole sport plans will have a concentration of young people, particularly those aged between 16 and 25, but that is not exclusive. I probably ought to be slightly careful about how I say this but for sports such as bowls, which might appeal more to those at the other end of the spectrum, it would be entirely within the remit of the new whole sport plans for the bowls governing body to put in a plan that drives up participation at that level.