Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:14 am on 2nd December 2022.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to support the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Addington. It encapsulates the work of the committee of which a number of members have spoken today. I will introduce an element of dissent with the noble Earl, Lord Devon; he said he introduced a Devonian voice—I got there first. With that minor correction, I agreed with everything else he said.
The message has come loud and clear from a host of speakers that we need to tackle the issue of sport and exercise, not at the top level but at the lower level. This is encapsulated in Clause 1(3)(a), to
“identify and address health disparities”.
These health disparities were covered well in the report and touched on very clearly by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. She identified that there is, in effect, a marked difference between male and female participation and a difference in terms of class—higher class levels clearly participate to a level that lower class levels do not. There is a massive deficit among the ethnic communities. It is probably the failing of our report that we do not address that well enough or recommend any solutions, because we really need to turn our minds to that group of people—the ones who do not participate in physical activity of any form.
While we have been debating this Bill, I think I am right in saying that seven groups of schoolchildren have come to listen. I wonder how many of them participate in any physical activity at all and how many will continue to do so after they leave school. For me, that is the key issue in terms of overall societal health.
The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, commented on media coverage. She is absolutely right that the coverage of our sport, whatever event it is, before and after the actual event involves discussions of people at a high level—what they did and what they are doing at that high level. There is no attempt to look at how they got there or how they started at some community level. They do not go back and say, “This is the pitch I played on and these are the people I now want to encourage.”
The contrast in this country is stark. I am an avid fan of viewing US college football. In the four or five hours every Saturday before the matches, a substantial segment is allocated to looking at people who have come from severely deprived communities and what they are putting back into them. I ask the media to look very seriously at how they cover sport, because it should be so much more inclusive. It would be better for all of us and better for society in general.