Sport: Women on Governing Bodies - Question

– in the House of Lords at 11:22 am on 6th April 2017.

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Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat 11:22 am, 6th April 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage all sports governing bodies to increase the number of women on their boards and in senior posts.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, in December 2015 the Government published their Sporting Future strategy, which stated that UK Sport and Sport England would agree to a UK sports governance code to strengthen existing commitments. The code for sports governance was published in October last year and requires each funded organisation to adopt the target of a minimum of 30% of each gender on its board. That will be in place by October this year. The new governance code will be mandatory for all sports bodies seeking public funding from April this year.

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat

I thank the noble Lord for that Answer. Can we have some enlightenment about what the Government are doing to make sure that there is not only an attempt to recruit but also a steady stream of candidates? Are we doing enough to identify women with the correct talents and letting them know that there is a pathway to go forward? If not, are these sports required to undertake the correct training?

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, Sport England is developing its future leadership programme, which will be launched later this year. Women are a priority group identified by Sport England for the scheme. It will identify suitable female candidates who will be given the chance to develop their leadership potential in sports organisations and succeed in senior leadership roles.

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Conservative

My Lords, I declare an interest as an officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women’s Sport and Fitness. I congratulate the Government on the progress which has been made on this issue, but does my noble friend the Minister agree that we should give equal priority to those from BME and disability backgrounds to become members of British governing bodies of sport? At present they are severely and unacceptably underrepresented.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend. The figure of 30% for women is one thing, but the Sporting Future strategy also outlines the requirement for diversity in all areas and expects the sports national governing bodies to produce diversity programmes which should be published annually in order to report on progress.

Photo of Baroness Grey-Thompson Baroness Grey-Thompson Crossbench

My Lords, I declare a number of interests in this area that are listed in the register. A number of governing bodies could do much better on this. The pipeline is incredibly important, but what are the Government doing to ensure ex-athletes—I declare an interest—have an opportunity to move on to boards? A number of athletes are on programmes. There could be training opportunities. It is not just sitting on boards and being chief execs and chairmen of governing bodies, but senior coaching roles, where we have a huge lack of women numbers.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, I completely agree with the noble Baroness, who obviously knows about these things first hand. UK Sport is working to address this, but there are issues that have to be addressed. The main thing is there has been a sea change in attitudes towards diversity in general and women in sport in particular. The present Sports Minister deserves great credit for taking a very firm approach to this and making significant progress.

Photo of Baroness Jowell Baroness Jowell Labour

My Lords, will the Minister reflect on the progress achieved in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics in increasing participation, particularly among girls in school? I therefore invite him to take the opportunity of the Athletics World Championships, which will be held in London this summer, to declare once again the Government’s support and commitment to increasing participation in sport among schoolchildren, with a very particular focus on boosting participation among young girls.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Again, I agree entirely with that. Key to our strategy is getting people involved in sport, but also activity in general, not just sport. We definitely want to include children at a younger age. As I said the other day, we have included children down to the age of five. We want to get all children and young people involved in activity.

Photo of Baroness Burt of Solihull Baroness Burt of Solihull Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

My Lords, the poor state of women’s representation on boards is not confined solely to sports boards. Last year, the number of women being promoted to boards of the UK’s largest companies slowed for the first time. Women’s representation on boards of all kinds is vital if we want a prosperous economy that works for everyone. What do the Government intend to do about this situation?

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, that really is not in the remit of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, but I will refer the noble Baroness’s question to the relevant department.

Photo of Lord Tebbit Lord Tebbit Conservative

My Lords, will my noble friend say whether the Government intend to publish quotas for all categories, not just men and women but all those in between and people who do not feel comfortable with one or the other of those categories? It would be so unfair if we did not—would it not?

Photo of Lord Dykes Lord Dykes Liberal Democrat

My Lords, will the Minister confirm that the Government are still very keen on more women in Parliament in both Houses, because they are half the human race? If we had that, we would have less hysterical politics.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Again, I do not think that is within our remit, but the Government are keen to have more women in Parliament.

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

My Lords, this Question is really about ensuring access to sport, particularly for women. While we have been discussing this Question on governance, we are seeing UK Sport reducing its funding for premier sports in areas where women have been involved. Has the Minister any further comment on the turning down of the recent appeals by synchronised swimming, badminton and handball, which has sent a very wrong signal to women?

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, I think the noble Lord is referring to Tokyo funding for elite sports. We had a debate on that. The Tokyo funding settlement for the next four years has been decided and is still on the same basis, which is to achieve the maximum number of medals. The decision has been made in line with that strategy. However, I said at the time that there is a debate to be had on whether that will be the correct approach in future and whether we should encourage people to take more active participation in sport below the elite level. That debate is to be had, but the strategy has been set for the next four years.