Sport: Health and Well-being of Children and Young People — Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:23 pm on 9th December 2010.

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Photo of Baroness Billingham Baroness Billingham Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 1:23 pm, 9th December 2010

My Lords, we are indeed indebted to my noble friend Lord Pendry for securing this debate. We all know that his involvement in sport is acknowledged to be second to none. But even he could not have foreseen that sport would be headline news this week-all over the media-with an unprecedented number of leader columns and serious articles. Perhaps I may also take the opportunity to congratulate all speakers today. This has been a wide-ranging debate with many interesting contributions. I will acknowledge as many as I can, but I regret that time may prevent me from going into much detail. In this excellent debate, we have had many contributions from new Members. To those who had not spoken in debates on sport previously, welcome to the House of Lords sports club.

In his opening speech, my noble friend Lord Pendry referred to the Government's unfair and destructive proposals. He laid out a comprehensive view of the place of sport in society. He costed the removal of school sports-evidence for which we are very grateful. The noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, the second speaker, is a new voice in this Chamber and he is most welcome in our sports debate. He introduced a subject which we have not discussed previously in sport, which I welcome. I hope that he will continue to take an interest in the wider areas of sport as well.

I thank my noble friend Lady Morgan for a wonderful and passionate speech, and for giving us at first hand her experience in Redcar and Cleveland. That was extremely interesting because we saw how the lives of people in that area were influenced. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, is an old pro in these debates. We always welcome his contribution. He is the most powerful supporter of clubs, which I am too. What he said was a timely reminder that when we look at schools, we must remind ourselves of the links between schools, clubs and the wider community, and how they can be bound together and reinforce each other.

I also thank my noble friend Lord Brookman who lent his support and drew on his experience. What can I say about the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson? How fortunate we are to have her in this House. Her peerless knowledge and influence are sensational. She said that we must make our sporting case much more powerful if we are to be heard.

The contributions have ranged widely and show the concern that many Members feel on numerous occasions. I was very grateful for the contribution of my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis who challenged the Government. He said that they say one thing and do another. I say, "Hear, hear". He contends that the cuts will cause unnecessary damage. He used his experience within the Labour Party. That task was not easy because sport was never at the head of the agenda when the Labour Party came into power. It certainly improved subsequently.

The noble Viscount, Lord Younger, took me by surprise. I had expected a speech full of cuts and the necessity for following the Gove pattern, but there was not a bit of it. I am wondering whether you would like to join us on this side.