Sport in the UK

Part of Social Security – in the House of Commons at 9:52 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 9:52 pm, 4th February 2019

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank all right hon. and hon. Members and friends from around the Chamber for their contributions this evening. We heard 36 contributions, excluding those made from the Front Bench. I know some were very full, but I felt, three months into the job, that they were important in putting matters on the record, and I took 21 interventions. I hope therefore that Members will feel that they have had a chance to participate this evening.

Dr Allin-Khan rightly pointed out the need to focus on school sport, and our new school sport plan will look at the quality and quantity of sport in schools. The Government give £320 million a year to the PE premium to support PE and sport in primary schools. I want to make sure that that is used well. We also heard about the closing of swimming pools and facilities. Facilities are extremely important, and Sport England is investing £40 million in its strategic facilities fund and £15 million in its community asset fund to help local communities and local people find the facilities they need. She mentioned our Foreign and Commonwealth Office colleagues and the concerning issue regarding Hakeem. FIFA, too, has expressed concerns, and I know that we will be working with colleagues to hear these worries about his treatment.

Concerns were raised about gambling advertising, and I want to address this very broadly. Since I have taken on this role, I have had roundtables with both the banks and gambling industry, and I have met the Gambling Commission and Gambling with Lives. We are making sure that a responsible gambling message runs through all our messaging, so we make sure we are protecting our vulnerable people and make sure the industry listens and works with us. We have seen that with the whistle-to-whistle changes. The Gambling Commission has toughened up and will be using sanctions. It does have the teeth and needs to use them. We have had several conversations about that.

The SNP’s retired rugby man, Gavin Newlands, talked passionately about not only the power and value of sport but what happens in retirement. That is very important. I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzy Yarnold earlier this year. It is important that such ladies come back in and use their power. Dame Katherine Grainger’s role at UK Sport is also important. The hon. Gentleman also talked about perhaps our greatest ever sportsman, Sir Andy Murray. If retirement is where he is headed, we wish him well, but I am sure that he will not be kept quiet.

My hon. Friend Andrew Griffiths spoke about the power of sport and physical activity and the good that they can do for mental health. Sport England has funded the Get Set to Go programme, in partnership with Mind, and it has received £3 million since 2014. We also launched the mental health and elite sport action plan last year to help to bolster the support for our top-level sports people and allow them to think about their future. I will be part of the Bring it to Burton campaign, because I will be coming to Burton, as requested.

Jim Shannon talked about the importance of country sports and their practically and about how we can all excel at sport. That just shows the power of sport: there is something there for everyone, and we should not rule anything in or out. Give it a go, because we do not know what we do not know. It is absolutely right that we talk about the whole breadth of sports in the UK.

My hon. Friend Stephen Kerr told us about the super power of swimming and about Stirling Knights basketball club. Again, that shows how, up and down the land, we demonstrate all different powers and abilities through sport.

I could go on, and I will, because I feel it is important. I was pleased to hear Carol Monaghan talk about the importance of body image and thinking beyond that to the power of sport for women and girls. I have previously spoken about the need to focus on opportunities for those with special needs and autism, and I will be taking action on that in my new role. She also mentioned the concern about predatory behaviour. I opened my remarks on that issue and I salute the NSPCC campaign. It is absolutely right that we keep sport safe and enjoyable.

We heard from my hon. Friend Rebecca Pow about her love of tennis and what sport can do for women who get involved. I have the Vipers cricket team near to me, and I know that Somerset does its bit. Sport for girls equals success. Those points were incredibly well made.

My hon. Friend Derek Thomas made some key points about the stadium in his area and the fact that inactivity in rural areas needs to be tackled. I will continue to encourage developers to work with Sport England and my Department on a robust business case for the needs in his area. There has been some positive discussion, and I am delighted that we can build on that.

Members have talked about how important it is that broadcasters and sponsors give women’s sport the profile that it deserves, and I will work on that. Women’s sports’ media profile has grown since London 2012, but we all acknowledge that there is more to do.

John Grogan was an active participant in the discussion about free-to-air coverage. On the possibility of the 2030 World cup being broadcast free-to-air, the process is in its early stages, but we are an active partner in that bid and any related discussions.

We have heard how sport absolutely has the power to change lives up and down the land. We have heard how important it is in different ways. We have heard about our local heroes—our referees. Without our officials and volunteers, how do we inspire? Volunteers absolutely do that work at the heart of our communities up and down the land. We have also touched on the serious side to sport and talked about some of the issues. We need to make sure that sport is run with safety and fairness at its heart. We have spoken about sport at the top level, and we should be very proud of our sporting successes. In the coming years, we look forward to welcoming sports fans to all the amazing events that we will host here in the UK. Ultimately, as I said, sport needs to be fun. It needs to continue to bring people together, and I look forward to working with all Members to help more people to enjoy the benefits of being active.

Finally, let me touch on loneliness. Some £11.5 million has been given out to all different types of groups across the land to tackle loneliness and keep connectivity. Sport absolutely has the power to reach all communities. I will keep the remarks made by Mr Reed under review, and I absolutely concur with him on the need to make sure that we support all sports and ensure that activity is there for everybody, young or old. That is my absolute priority in this role.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered sport in the UK.