HC Deb 08 May 1962 vol 659 cc225-9
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

During the debate on economic matters on 26th July of last year, I said that authorisations and loan sanctions to local authorities for desirable but not essential matters would have to run at a lower level. I said that the Wolfenden Report on Sport and the Community was something which would have to wait in the then circumstances.

In my Budget speech on 9th April, I said that I would start in a modest way to make good some of the deficiencies pointed out by that Report. I have, therefore, been examining the situation with my colleagues concerned.

Public capital expenditure on facilities for sport and physical recreation, including youth clubs, community centres and village halls used partly for sport and physical recreation was £15.6 million in 1960–61 and £20.1 million in 1961–62. I estimate that expenditure in 1962–63 will be £26.4 million, of which about £11 million will be in connection with the school building programme. Four million pounds of this total is estimated expenditure of this nature for the Youth Service in 1962–63, compared with less than £1 million last year.

So far as current public expenditure is concerned, there has also been an increase in expenditure: for example, the 1962–63 Exchequer grant for current expenditure on social and physical training of youth in Great Britain is £1,058,000, compared with £895,000 in 1961–62. With regard to the Exchequer grants to national voluntary bodies under the Physical Training and Recreation Act, 1937, and other legislation, the estimate for the recurrent grant in 1962–63 is £230,000, and the estimate for help over capital projects £240,000.

Against the background of these figures, I have examined the figures for starts in 1962–63 and following years. I find that the starts authorised in 1961–62 amounted to £22 million. Starts already sanctioned for 1962–63 amount to £26.5 million, of which, again, about £11 million will be in connection with the school building programme. I propose to increase that total to £27.5 million so that the starts in 1962–63 will, in fact, be £5½ million more than those in 1961–62. I have also agreed that schemes for major recreational projects by local authorities now being held up can be considered along with other public service investment.

I am also authorising my right hon. Friends the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland to make grants from the Exchequer within a limit of an additional £100,000 a year for recurrent expenditure, to national voluntary organisations for the development of schemes for coaching and to help in the administration of sport; and I am also prepared to make available an additional £100,000 a year for capital expenditure by these voluntary bodies, in other words, an increase of £200,000 upon an existing figure of £470,000.

The figures I have announced mark an advance on what was already an increasing programme for sporting and recreational facilities.

Mr. Willey

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that his statement will be warmly appreciated by sportsmen throughout the country? Is he also aware that it is disappointing that, a couple of years after the Wolfenden Report, we still have not set up a Sports Development Council and made provision for its financing? It is now two years since the Wolfenden Committee recommended that £5 million should be provided for such a council. Will the Chancellor assure the House that he is keeping this matter under review, and that he will take action as soon as possible?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly. That is a matter for consideration.

Mr. Denis Howell

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that his reply will be received with some dismay in sporting circles? Is it not a fact that his long and lamentable statement, for which we are very grateful, confuses the proposals contained in the Report of the Albemarle Committee on the Youth Service with those of the Wolfenden Committee?

Is the Chancellor further aware that the added provisions now made for sport are very meagre, compared not only with the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee, but with the specific commitment of the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, immediately prior to the 1959 General Election, that we should have £5 million? Are we not to have a Sports Development Council at all, as recommended by the Wolfenden Committee, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party? Can we have—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must be aware that it is essential that supplementary questions should not be of this length.

Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order. Is it not rather difficult to curtail the length of supplementary questions in view of the length of a statement made under the guise of an Answer given, by leave of the House, to a Question? Does it not put the Opposition at a terrific disadvantage if matters are dealt with in this way, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker

It is to everybody's grave disadvantage if supplementary questions are as long as that. We simply have to make progress. We have other business to follow.

Mr. Lloyd

May I say, in reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell), that I thought that I was scrupulously careful in my statement to draw attention to the various aspects of this matter. The hon. Member should remember that the Wolfenden Report referred to the Albemarle Report and suggested that these things should be considered as a consistent whole, as they are. The question of a Sports Development Council is another matter.

Mr. Milne

Is not the Chancellor aware that the figures that he has quoted merely look good when compared with the position in the past? Is not this a niggardly way of dealing with a pressing social problem? This is not what the Chancellor outlined in his Budget speech. He then said that the £50 million tax that he would draw from sweets and ice cream was in some way to be diverted to seeing that the needs of the youth of this country are considered. His statement today falls very far short of that.

Mr. Lloyd

In my Budget speech I said that I would make a modest start to remedy certain deficiencies, and I think that what I have said today comes within that definition. The hon. Member has referred to the amount spent in the past. I am concerned with the increase in expenditure, which is very substantial.

Mr. Prentice

Is not it a fact that because of the large number of births just after the war and the growth of the school population there was a larger demand for these facilities by young people in their late teens? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that he has done more than keep pace with that increased demand?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that I have done considerably more than that.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Is the Chancellor aware that hon. Members of all parties are grateful for what he said in his Budget statement and that we are grateful to him for doing something now? Is he aware that we are grateful to him for giving some modest help to the governing bodies of sport who are urgently in need of assistance in their administration of coaching schemes? May I ask that next year the right hon. and learned Gentleman should give a higher priority to this matter and do more?

Mr. Lloyd

Without making any promises, I will certainly bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Chataway

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that, whatever criticisms may come from football referees, runners will be a good deal more grateful for the help that he has given? Will he consider seriously the question of a Sports Development Council, because I believe that when making grants to the governing bodies in sport he would find that such a council would relieve him, for one thing, of the duty of making a great many invidious choices? Will my right hon. and learned Friend also consider whether a proper programme can be carried on without such a council?

Mr. Lloyd

I will keep that matter under consideration. As I have said, it is being considered.