HC Deb 19 January 1968 vol 756 cc2176-204

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Harper.]

2.31 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)


Mr. Speaker

I understand that the hon. Gentleman has acquainted the Minister of his intention to raise a matter on the Adjournment. Is that so?

Mr. Dalyell

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Speaker, anticipating that the House might, perhaps, conclude its other business today early, I gave my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State notice that I wished to raise on the Adjournment the subject of educational and sporting provision for youth in the light of the decision not to raise the school leaving age as planned.

Mr. Speaker

So be it.

Mr. Dalyell

Perhaps it might have been better had it been possible to have a major debate on sport, which affects the lives of so many of our constituents, but I think it right and proper that, in l he absence of time provided for such a debate on this important matter, we should seize this opportunity today to progress-chase the work of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. If there are few hon. Members present on a Friday afternoon, at least what he has to say may be widely read outside.

It is appropriate at this time that, when the Government have done something good, their supporters should at least say so loudly and clearly. It is my conviction that, ever since he assumed office in 1964, my hon. Friend has pursued with energy and application, and commendable activity the cause of promoting sport. I pay tribute also to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, although he has not occupied his present position for quite so long, for the activities of the Government in Scotland in this respect. There is a very good story to tell, and it is right that it should be told here in the House of Commons.

Before coming to certain specific points, I have a general question to raise about public expenditure on sport. At a time when there is a great hue and cry, rightly in many respects, to restrict public expenditure, those who are loudest in their criticism of the Government for the way in which public expenditure has risen ought to understand precisely what we mean when we talk of cutting public expenditure.

The truth is that civil public expenditure mostly goes on things which all of us want. Many of those who are loudest in their criticisms of the rise in public expenditure would be horrified if they were confronted with the question, "Do you mean that sports facilities in this country should be cut back?". The immediate answer would be, "Of course not". So let us be clear about it.

In that connection, I should like to hear from my hon. Friend what his Ministry's figures for expenditure and finance in this matter have been over the past three years compared to pre-1964.

I am one of those who think that the Government were, in present circumstances, right to decide not to raise the school-leaving age as planned. My whole background bears testimony to an attitude of mind which would have wanted it done, but we must be clear that, if the school-leaving age is to be raised, the operation must be done successfully. Much of what I shall have to say today bears relation to making certain that, when the school-leaving age is eventually raised, it is successful.

It bears relation, also, to another question. In a sense, what we are talking about is how we can make up at least some of what they have lost to the 15 and 16-year-olds who will not have full-time education opportunities at least between 1970 and 1972. Although I have always held that what happens academically is more important than what happens in sport, it seems to me that the gap in time which exists between the time when many boys and girls leave school and the time when they can take part in some serious sporting activity is a gap which we should do our best to fill.

I know that my hon. Friend is well aware of this problem, but I should like to know specifically what the Government propose to do to make up to this generation something of what they have lost now that the unwelcome decision has been taken. Any of us who might have had doubts about the Government's decision should, perhaps, study the very interesting report of the Scottish council of the Teaching Profession which reached the same conclusion as I have advanced.

What can be done? What are my hon. Friend's views on how the best value for money can be achieved? It is most important that the sports budget is not only as cost-effective as possible but is seen to give value for money. With a considerable interest in his activities, I am certain that my hon. Friend is achieving this object, but I have certain specific questions to put.

The first question concerns indoor facilities. Is it not still true that we tend to put too many facilities which are far too subject to weather conditions? What is my hon. Friend doing to promote the construction of floodlit facilities? On 7th December last, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Roebuck) asked my hon. Friend what is his policy in respect of the need for indoor and all-weather sports facilities; and what action he intends to take". My hon. Friend replied: In conjunction with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Wales, I have constantly urged upon local authorities the importance of including them in future plans. The regional sports councils are aware of the importance of these facilities for community recreation and are doing all they can to stimulate provision, but the pace of development must, of course, depend on the resources available in the present economic situation. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East then made the point that the objective should be for local authorities to include these facilities in the designs for new schools which could then be used by the community generally so that everybody would get the benefit of the capital invested."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 1638.] This raises an important question, the extent to which there is no doubling-up on the facilities and resources which are available as between school and sporting use.

I want also to refer to the question raised in December by my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. Arthur Davidson), who, I hope, may have the opportunity himself of catching your eye, Mr. Speaker. He asked whether there was anything in mind, not necessarily in his own constituency, although he would not find that objectionable. The Minister replied: I agree that the need is for indoor recreational areas, but also for outdoor floodlit all-weather areas, which is not quite the same thing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 1639.] Perhaps my hon. Friend would enlarge on that distinction, because it is an important matter.

My next question is to ask how my hon. Friend can help school sport, and refers to a Question, of which I have given notice, on 19th January, 1968. If I am a little detailed in these requests, it is because I believe that it is part of the function of the House of Commons to progress-chase in detail and not stick all the time to generality.

One generality, however, which I wish to put is to ask how my hon. Friend views the success or otherwise of the sports councils. He set up the councils in 1965 and 1966, with enormous energy. My impression is that they are doing a good job, but I would have thought that this was the time and place to substantiate whether the hopes which he then had are being fulfilled.

The particular question which arises is the problem of grant-aiding local authority projects. Both my hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland are aware of the difficulties which arise in the grant-aiding of local authority projects. At the same time, pending the Reports of the Maude and the Wheatley Committees, I would like to know how the Government's thinking on this matter has developed. With our mosaic of local authorities, it may be that we are not making the best use of the resources available, and when we talk about cost effectiveness, I think that this is a sphere of activity in which we could be more cost effective. I should like to know the Minister's views.

Progress-chasing again, I would refer to the Fairbairn Committee, which looking at the youth services in relation to schools and particularly the use of school buildings and their relationship to youth services and the formal educational services. The question is the extent to which communal facilities are being built rather separately from the main academic centres of the schools. My hon. Friend has said a great deal about the subject, and I would like to know what kind of success he has had with the architects and others who must necessarily be involved.

I would also like to raise the question of multi-sports centres. As an hon. Member representing a Scottish constituency in a development area, I would again say that, in the decision-making of great industrial firms, it really matters whether they think sports facilities and arts facilities will be available for their employees. It is a factor in deciding whether to bring industry to an area of under-employment. To what extent do the Government still feel that this is true, and to what extent is priority given to problems arising from regional development when discussions take place about the provision of sports facilities? This matters. It is not just an attractive idea which should be mentioned in speeches. I would like to see tangible evidence that the Government really think along the lines of providing facilities where they also want to provide new industry.

I move from the Fairbairn Committee lo the Byers Committee. I get the impression, which may not be justified, that the Byers Committee is taking rather a long time to report. I know that a number of Government committees take two or three years and that this Committee has been sitting for less than a year. But, granted the terms of its remit, I should have thought that one would be justified in supposing that, at any rate, it should have come near to reporting.

If I am a little critical of Lord Byers and his colleagues, I am extremely critical of Mr. Chester and his, because the Committee on Football, which was set up in June, 1966, should have reported by now.

When they are faced with tricky problems, all Governments tend to take refuge in distinguished committees. I recall Nye Bevan's remark about the hen and the china egg, when he likened a Royal Commission to the china egg on which the broody hen was sitting. Although a Royal Commission is very suitable for certain problems, are we sure in this case that it is not an excuse for evading decisions which could be taken by the Government, anyway? Perhaps I am wrong, but it is up to the Parliamentary Secretary to say so if that is what he feels.

In the same breath, I would inquire what has happened to Lord Longford's Report on the Youth Services. With the resignation of Lord Longford from the Cabinet, what are the Government's intentions in this matter?

After all that has been said over the past few months about the Commonwealth Games, both of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench would expect me to be making inquiries about the Government's view of the preparations for those Games. As one who hopes to be attending a meeting as a member of the Games Committee on 30th January, I would like to know the Government's present attitude towards the 1970 Games, relating particularly to the cycling track. I know that this is a great problem, and that there is no easy answer. Perhaps the Minister can tell us about any counsel which he has been able to give the Edinburgh authorities?

I would also ask about progress in the preparations for the Olympic Games in so far as it affects the Government. I believe that the Minister has a good story to tell, and he might like to take this opportunity to comment.

Currently, there is a great controversy in the tennis world, and I declare myself as a supporter of an open Wimbledon. I welcome what the British authorities have done, awkward though it may be in the coming months. However, it is proper to inquire whether there is any Governmental thinking on the present controversy, and perhaps the Minister would care to take this opportunity to express the Government's attitude.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going a little wider than the subject which he proposed to raise. I do not think that Wimbledon can be classified as a youth organisation.

Mr. Dalyell

With the exploits of Mr. Warboys at the age of 14, that might be open to controversy, but, Mr. Speaker, I bow to your Ruling, of course.

To get back to the absolute point, in a sense I want to express an opinion which is different from what I said about athletics and youth in a debate one early morning in March. Following that debate, I had interviews with Harold Abrahams and Arthur Gold, and I would like it to be on record that the views about the Amateur Athletic Association which I expressed then were perhaps less than fair.

All those who give their services to amateur bodies in the cause of youth, particularly among those officials who are extremely conscious of the lack of sporting facilities for 15 to 17 year olds, ought to know that we in this House appreciate the work that they do.

I wish to raise a few more topics. The first of them is to ask the extent to which defence facilities could be used for sports purposes. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will know that as President of the Scottish Amateur Basketball Association I have had correspondence with him about the possible use of the facilities at, for example, the Kirknewton air base. I quite understand that in the final analysis permission for the use of such facilities is a decision for the Ministry of Defence. At the same time, with the defence run-down, although I am aware of the difficulties created by the bringing-back of forces, is it not true that there are a number of gymnasiums and other facilities in the country that could well be used for civil purposes and the kind of purposes with which my hon. Friend is concerned?

I think particularly of the Territorial Army facilities. My specific question is: is the Ministry having talks with the Defence Secretary and his staff on the possibility of using Territorial Army facilities for youth purposes? I emphasise this point; it is practical and sensible and would not cost much money and it would be extremely helpful to many organisations which find it difficult to get facilities in our over-crowded cities. At this time of all times when the Government have had to a certain extent to retrench—I will not say "cutback "because we know that the rate of expansion goes on—there is a argument for a detailed inquiry on a local basis into the ways in which Territorial Army facilities can be used.

It is not only a question of the physical facilities. At a time when Service careers are, perhaps, being brought to a premature end, and those of us who have been defence critics are extremely sensitive on the question of the shattering in most cases of careers, is there not a positive way in which the Department of Education and Science and the Scottish Education Department could take the initiative in approaching the forces in the new situation and saying "We offer such-and-such a career to potential ex-members of the forces who can be coaches or teachers."? I think it quite practical to talk in terms of a crash programme in this respect.

Goodness knows, the shortage of physical training teachers and, indeed, technical teachers is such that some drive and imagination ought to be put into a campaign to provide new careers for members of the forces who through no individual fault of their own find themselves in rather changed circumstances. If I feel passionately strongly on any point this afternoon it is perhaps that one. I want the Government to make clear to the forces that in the new situation there is an alternative career for which some—not all; it is not a panacea —are suitable and where they can find appropriate positions.

The title of the debate is both educational and sporting facilities, and I wish to raise a matter that does not concern sport but on which the Parliamentary Secretary and the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland have given answers in the House. It concerns the shortage of technical teachers. My information is, for example, that at the Moray House College of Education, Edinburgh, the number of technical teachers in training and likely to come out this year is eight, next year it will be six, and the year after it will be nine. This is to serve as wide an area as the entire south-east of Scotland.

This seems to me to constitute something of a crisis situation. If the debate today is partly in the direction of making sure that when we raise the school-leaving age it is a success, it must be about the provision of facilities in 1972 and 1973, and now is the time to try to grasp the nettle of providing sufficient technical teachers to make sure that when the school-leaving age is raised there is adequate provision. I must warn the Government that as one with a background in this field I should be less than happy about raising the school-leaving age in the absence of proper provision in the technical field because if one is to keep 15- and 16-year olds at school, often against their will, one must provide courses that are relevant, and the course that boys, and many of the girls, too, will see as relevant is precisely the course in technical subjects.

There is also—I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) would raise this—the question of some kind of a package. In a situation where one decides not to raise the school-leaving age, however justified it may be it does not mean to say that the whole saving in future years should go to the Exchequer. I think that at any rate in the next two or three years when the situation, we hope, will become a little better, some of the saving ought to be made up to education. It is my view that one can do this partly by paying perhaps more attention to the campaign that is developing in many quarters, led by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough, for the provision of pre-schooling and facilities for the under-fives.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is now quite wide of his own subject.

Mr. Dalyell

Finally, Mr. Speaker— this is absolutely final—on the question of youth I should like to raise one particular proposition. Before enunciating the proposition I should like to quote my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister speaking as Leader of the Opposition at the Oxfam Conference in January, 1964. He said: Another task of this Ministry would be to help and encourage voluntary action in this country. Freedom from Hunger, Oxfam, War on Want, have shown the great and inspiring desire of our people to play a part in the war on world hunger. I should like—as I said on T.V. the night I was elected Leader of the Labour Party—to see special encouragement given to adoption schemes under which goodwill organisations here, churches, towns, cities, villages, Rotary and Round Tables, scouts and guides, schools, etc. adopt villages or communities overseas, and supply them with school-buildings and perhaps teachers, hospitals, doctors and nurses, agriculture, industrial and transport equipment. What my right hon. Friend was getting at, I think, in that memorable speech was the proposition that youth had a great deal to give in the British aid programme. There are some of us who, while proud of the fact that the aid programme has been kept more or less intact, think that rather than giving money to large projects the same resources perhaps could be better spent in helping organisations, and particularly youth organisations, in this country on a £ for £ basis because this would create an attitude of continuity and sustained relationship with organisations in developing countries.

This is not the occasion for me to go into the various disputes that I have had with the visiting Prime Minister of Singapore. None the less, what Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and I agree upon is the possibility of using defence facilities in Singapore for youth purposes, and perhaps for teacher-training purposes as well, and I hope that when certain propositions are put to the Department of Education and Science, to the Foreign Office, and to the Secretary of State for Defence, they will be given a searching appreciation as something that could be based on a kind of practical reality.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence in this matter. I feel that it is relevant to our present discussions.

2.59 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Davidson (Accrington)

We are all grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) for raising this subject. We discuss many things in the House, but we seldom seem to discuss sport, whether as it affects very young people, or as it affects those of us who are not quite so young. This topic is discussed more than any other by the man in the street, in pubs, and elsewhere, and when people open their newspapers in the morning, the first page that most of them read—and I have sad news for the Government, because I, too, do this—is not the front page, but the back one.

The subject about which I particularly want to talk, and I hope that I shall not be ruled out of order in doing so, is amateurism and professionalism in sport, and particularly what is known as "shamateurism". It is a dreadful word, but it is indicative of the disrepute into which sport has fallen. I think that I shall not be out of order in discussing this, because shamateurism not merely takes the form of back handers, or expenses, but can take the form of sponsorships, of education being provided for young people at a very early age to enable them to carry on what is virtually professionalism in sport.

I shall be glad to hear the Minister's view on what representations he has made, or what conversations he has had, with the governing bodies of sporting organisations, particularly those bodies which govern both amateur and professional sport, about getting some form of rational definition of what constitutes a professional, and what constitutes an amateur. The Minister has strong views on this. He has expressed them before, and I shall be grateful for his opinions now.

All those who take an interest in sport were gratified at the refreshing decision of the Lawn Tennis Association, to which my hon. Friend referred, to get rid of the hypocrisy which has surrounded this branch of sport for so long.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must lower his sights a little and come to the youth of England.

Mr. Davidson

If we are to have any help at all in international sport, it depends on the youth of England. This is what I thought I was talking about. Unlike my hon. Friend, I have not recently met any Prime Ministers, so I cannot bring them into it.

Having made the point, which I shall not be able to expand, not having the wisdom of my hon. Friend so to do, perhaps I might touch briefly on the subject of athletics, which affects young people. What have been the results of the considerable Government assistance to our Olympics squad? This is the first Government in history who have actively done something about seeing that our competitors at the Olympic Games are for once not only properly acclimatised, but properly trained. Many of our swimmers are extremely young. Possibly some of them are no more than 16, so I think that I am not out of order in raising this issue. I have asked the Minister about this before, and received a satisfactory answer. I should like to give him this further opportunity of expanding on what he said then.

My hon. Friend has covered almost every aspect of the sporting scene. I do not think that, without getting completely out of order, and without again delving into Prime Ministerial level, I can expand on it. I do, however, welcome the opportunity of asking the Minister to clarify the two or three points which I have raised.

3.4 p.m.

Mr. Alan Lee Williams (Hornchurch)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) on raising this matter today. I know that this has been a particular interest of his—as it is of mine—for some time.

I wish to raise only one general point. It arises from the extra leisure time which young people now have, and which will increase in the years ahead. In spite of the excellent sentiment of the "Back Britain" movement to work an extra half hour a day, as time goes on the working week will be shortened. Therefore, it is very important that, in lieu of the increasing of the school-leaving age, proper attention should be given to the problems of the young and their leisure. Is my hon. Friend in a position to inform us of how this side of his work is developing, whether any particular pattern is emerging?

In my own constituency, I am very keen to develop sports centres for young workers who do not have the benefit of sports facilities provided by universities or colleges. Can my hon. Friend tell us of any trends or ideas he has in this direction?

3.5 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Denis Howell)

I appreciate the ingenuity of my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) in finding an opportunity, in the space of 24 hours, to raise a matter which many of us would not have expected to find a place in Parliament, certainly this week. Some extremely interesting points have been raised in the debate and I shall do my best to answer most of those you declare to be in order, Mr. Speaker, as briefly and as adequately as I can. I thank my hon. Friend for the personal references he made at the beginning of his speech. I much appreciated them.

My hon. Friend took as his starting point the question of the 15 to 16 year old age group, mainly in view of the decision to postpone the raising of the school leaving age. The easy thing— indeed, the correct thing—to say in answer to that is that nothing has changed in that respect. This group will continue to have the same provision or lack of provision in the country for the two years during which the raising of the school leaving age is postponed which it enjoys or does not enjoy at present.

But it is true to say that, in the youth and sport activities for which I have special responsibilities, throughout the last three years we have made considerable progress in trying to change the thinking and ideas of people and voluntary and statutory bodies in order that leisure facilities available to youth can be more geared to the needs of our present-day society. I think that we can claim some encouraging movement and change of thinking, both in the local authorities and in the sporting and recreational bodies, along these lines. I shall endeavour to show in detail some of these changes as I come to them.

This especially applies to recreational facilities in respect of the detailed points made about overseas aid and the use of young people and youth groups for service overseas. But that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development and not for my Department. I shall certainly see that my hon. Friend's comments are conveyed to him.

The Youth Service has been geared for many years to the old traditional forms of youth clubs and youth service organisations and it is no disrespect to them to say that, if we are to gear ourselves to the current thinking of young people, we have to change our ideas and the services we offer very radically.

I served on the Albemarle Committee, which reported to the House in 1960 about youth service. At the time, we thought that one-third of the youth of the country were involved in some form of youth service, that one-third could not be expected to be so involved because they were in higher education and that one-third were what came to be known as "unattached" and upon whom there should be a special attack—if that is the right word. After studying some researches which I have had done, far from one-third of our youth being involved in youth organisations, I would be surprised if the percentage is half that, which clearly shows that the problem of the unattached and so on is greater than ever before.

One of the reasons is that young people do not want to belong to a set organisation with a formal obligation of attendance at a club, week in and week out, in the way that they did in our day. What they want is youth organisations servicing their needs in many ways, and it is this new thinking that I am trying to encourage. It can best be done by the existing organisations and I think that they themselves believe this. One of the most heartening things is the idealism of young people who want to give voluntary service to the community in so many different ways.

For this reason, the Government recently announced the setting-up of a new trust, the Young Volunteer Force Foundation, with an eminent set of trustees, led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) as Chairman and, as Vice-Chairmen, the right hon. and learned Member for the Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) and the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). A very formidable all-party team is thus now engaged in trying to create, throughout the country, opportunities for young people to give voluntary service. The Government have backed them with a grant of £100,000, and I understand that the Trustees will shortly be making an appeal to raise similar sums for even more.

The object of the scheme is that a central unit of 30 young people would go, at the invitation of a local authority or other responsible body, into an area to set up a local scheme, and create a local initiative, and to find jobs which need to be done. I assure the House that there is no shortage of these social service tasks. They include helping old people in their homes by caring for them or by decorating, working in hospitals, and helping to reclaim derelict land like that of the Coal Board for recreational areas. A whole host of jobs needs to be done.

The second task is to form a local organisation to bring in local businessmen, Rotarians, chambers of commerce and trade unions to help support such a local initiative. Having found the jobs needed and created the organisation, the third thing, of course, is to attract young people to the idea of giving service by doing a specific job.

The growth of this development has been almost phenomenal and already, in the month or two that this unit has been established, and the director, Mr. Anthony Steen, has been appointed, the most heartening thing has been the number of local authorities which have told the unit, "This is exactly the sort of thing which we want in our area. When can you come and create such a scheme here?" The fear already is that they will be overwhelmed with work.

I must emphasise that they are not going into any area to interfere with any of the existing voluntary schemes. That is the last thing in our minds. There is such a need for voluntary service and so many social service requirements in our society and such a large number of young people who, I feel, should be attracted to this sort of work that there is certainly room for all comers, with no intention of duplication, overlapping or elimination of existing voluntary services.

Because the Government thought that this was a tremendous break-through in social and youth service, we felt that this pioneering work, which is so often supported by voluntary bodies, should be given the stimulus of active Government support. I am sure that the whole House will wish the new unit well and the people trying to direct it. I mention this particularly because this is exactly the sort of sphere in which we can give new opprtunities to the 15- and 16-year-old age group which my hon. Friend mentioned.

My hon. Friend asked specifically about an Air Force base in Scotland and a general question about Territorial Army drill halls, and made the proper and pertinent point that, as these facilities become redundant and on the market, they should be taken over for community service actvities and, if necessary, for sports facilities. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland took careful note of the point about basket ball and will let my hon. Friend know what is the position.

I share the views expressed by my hon. Friend about drill halls, and so does the Sports Council, to whom this matter was referred at a very early stage. Immediately we knew that drill halls were coming on to the market, we had each one of them examined from the point of view of use for sport and recreation. We drew up certain categories. It is obvious that all drill halls have good social facilities, for they have had officers' and warrant officers' messes and amenities for other ranks. They usually have a very large hall or a parade ground which could be floodlit.

The Sports Council and my Department arranged for the Regional Sports Councils to make a detailed investigation of each of the drill halls which became available. On that basis we were able to advise local authorities which of these drill halls were suitable for them to take over and to tell them that if they wished to take them over for community purposes, the Government would arrange for local authorities in those circumstances to be treated on the same level as any other Government Department.

I am happy to say that that process is continuing and that quite a number of drill halls are being turned into sports halls. As more of them become available—if they do become available—I hope that a similar process will be followed because, as my hon. Friend rightly said, they provide excellent facilities at very small cost indeed and with very little use of the capital resources of the nation. Such a policy makes good economic sense in these days.

Mr. Dalyell

My hon. Friend is giving an excellent answer. Will he tell me who is to be the catalyst who takes the initiative with local authorities? Could information be sent to local authorities pointing out that there has been this change in defence policy and that now is the time for them to take this action? That is the problem.

Mr. Howell

It is the Sports Council. In the Department we work in very close collaboration with my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Ministry of Defence. We are given advance notice of drill halls which are to become redundant. We ask our Regional Sports Councils to look at each of them and to apply the criteria laid down. Where they think that a drill hall would be suitable for conversion to a sports hall we immediately inform the local authority. Indeed, I believe that we do the survey in association with the local authority. If the local authority are interested in taking over a hall, they notify us and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. There is special machinery to deal with these problems.

I turn to the questions which my hon. Friend asked about the Youth Service. First, he asked about the Fairbairn Committee. Because I think that the Youth Service has to change its outlook and its thinking—I sit as Chairman of the Youth Service Development Council —I have had some working parties set up to bring that change about. One of them was the Bessey Committee, which recommended Service by Youth. I have reported to the House what happened in respect of that Report. The second was the John Hunt Working Party, which looked into the question of immigrants and the youth service, a matter of very great importance. I cannot go into that matter in great detail except to say that I have recently had discussions with over 20 local education authorities, who have to bear the brunt of the immigrant youth problem, in order to make sure that they are looking ahead to provide for the time when the large number of immigrants in our schools move into the area for which the youth service is responsible. That Report has created such interest that all copies of it have been sold out by the Stationery Office. However, I understand that a reprint has either recently been made or is in the process of being made. Two working parties have, therefore, looked into the problems and have reported on them.

Two other major matters needed consideration and, in this connection, I considered that they should be the subjects of two further working parties. The Fairbairn Committee is looking into the whole future of the Youth Service in relation to schools and formal education —the part that the Service and formal education can play together. In other words, it is looking at the bottom age range within the Service. The Youth Service ranges from the age of 14 to 20 and the Fairbairn Committee is looking at the problems at the early end of that range.

Meanwhile, the Milson Committee, which is being chaired by a tutor of Westhill College for youth leaders, is looking at the problems at the top end of the age range and is advising me about the future of the Youth Service in relation to the community as a whole. The Youth Service Development Council is now looking ahead fundamentally at the future needs of, and provision for, youth, both in relation to formal education, and the changes that will occur in that, and in respect of the community as a whole, bearing in mind the need for better facilities, social service needs, and so on. I will certainly arrange for the Reports of these Committees to be published as a contribution to public thought and discussion. I will do that particularly in view of the wonderful response to the first two Reports of the working parties.

Although I will return to the subject of sport, it might be helpful if, at this point, I refer to capital grants in the Youth Service, having regard to the present economic situation. This is a time when we must get value for money. That is the key to the problem. It is a time when some sacrifices must be made in the programmes that we are carrying. This week we have spent two whole days discussing the economy.

We expect that next year our programme of capital grants for the Youth Service—that is, grants for the building of youth clubs—will not be £4.8 million but £3.8 million, a reduction of 20 per cent. This figure was mentioned by the Prime Minister earlier this week. This underlies the need to get multi-use buildings and to design our schools and sports facilities for use with this in mind.

I assure the House that this is something extremely dear to my heart. It is a campaign which I started three years ago, when I took my present job, and I assure hon. Members that I intend to put every possible momentum into this attack. I will return to this subject later in my remarks, when I speak about sport generally.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian asked me to comment on the training of Scottish technical teachers. I am told by my hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has been listening to this discussion, that my hon. Friend is right and that there is a shortage of technical teachers. While the Government would not accept everything that my hon. Friend said on this score, I assure him that they share his concern.

I gather that a working party has recently reported on the subject of training technical teachers and that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is giving his urgent consideration to that Report. My hon. Friend will, no doubt, pursue this matter when Scottish affairs are debated. This must be something of an historic moment; perhaps the first time that an English Minister has been asked to speak on Scottish affairs. I do so gladly. I am always glad to get into the pages of history.

I therefore turn to sporting matters. I was asked questions about lawn tennis— my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. Arthur Davidson) asked whether I had a Government view on this matter—and the distinction between amateurism and professionalism. One of the great problems that I have always to consider in carrying out my duties is to maintain a delicate balance between the justly independent interests of sport and the need to produce political assistance for sport and to make quite sure that there is no political direction of sport. Therefore, although I have my own views, which I will give presently, I do not think that this is a matter on which the Government are called upon to express any governmental thinking or view.

It is, however, worth saying that both the amateur and the professional in any sport have a very proper place in our order of things. I have certainly never approached my task with the view that the amateur is more important than the professional, or vice versa. I am often asked why I bother so much with the World Cup, why I do not concentrate on the Olympic Games and questions of that sort.

In many sports, it is not easy to draw a dividing line. There will always be a place for the true amateur, who, indeed, represents the broad mass of sportsmen of whom we are speaking. Ninety-eight per cent, of all sport in this country is played by amateurs, and it is proper that the Government are giving attention to their needs.

To say that, however, is to cast no doubt on the proper place of professionals in sport in our society. In my view, few higher compliments can be paid to a man than to say that he is a true professional, a master of the whole of the art of his sport and his following. That, therefore, is my background thinking before passing a specific comment on lawn tennis.

All sportsmen must, I think, welcome the move which is being made by the Lawn Tennis Association to terminate the falsehoods and the hypocrisy which have so long dominated that sport. The L.T.A. has shown considerable courage. While it is a matter entirely for that Association and, therefore, no words of mine might be important, the Association should have the encouragement of all true sportsmen in what it is trying to do. I certainly congratulate the Association on what it is doing. One can be proud to be a true amateur or of being a true professional. The humbug is when a man or woman who is one of these pretends to be the other. It is this humbug which the Lawn Tennis Association is trying to eradicate.

I was asked about industrial sports facilities. I was delighted about this and did not expect it. The Sports Council has recently had a working party under the chairmanship of Mr. Gibb, who serves on the Sports Council, representing industrial interests, to advise us what the business, commercial and industrial world thinks about sport and its development, because we were convinced that there was under-use of industrial sports facilities.

Most hon. Members know that I have made many speeches about the need to open up schools after hours to make sure that school playing fields are opened up at weekends and during school holidays. There was a tendency to forget that perhaps the biggest source of underused sports facilities was in the industrial sports sector.

If I may modestly say so, having read my speeches on this matter, I received a communication from Lord Pilkington, who said that he entirely agreed about this. He asked the Sports Council to advise him how his industrial facilities should be developed in future, not merely for the use of his workpeople, although that would be their prime importance, but also for the benefit generally of the neighbourhood of St. Helens, in Lancashire, where his works are situated. We were delighted to have that approach from Lord Pilkington. We established a working party comprising representatives not only of the Sports Council and of Pilkington's and Beecham's, the other great industrial concern in St. Helens, but also of local authorities in St. Helens and elsewhere in Lancashire. They have recently produced for me a fascinating document about the whole development of sports facilities. We are hoping to publish it shortly for the guidance of local authorities and industrial concerns. I hope that it will set the pattern for future co-operative efforts needed among all such organisations.

My hon. Friend the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Alan Lee Williams) asked questions about growth sports. This is another specific area of activity to which the Sports Council has given particular attention. A research committee of the Sports Council is presided over by Dr. Roger Bannister, another well-known name in British sport. We are fortunate in having him because he not only knows the needs of sportsmen, but he is a distinguished medical man. That committee has started work on some very important research, particularly to help our athletes and sportsmen in the special problems of this year's Olympic Games in Mexico where they will have to compete at high altitudes in a rarefied atmosphere. Dr. Bannister and his committee are turning their attention to sociological matters and this again is of great interest.

I have some figures about the sports which we consider great growth sports. They underline the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian about the need for indoor facilities and multi-use of facilities. In England and Wales in 1939 there were 1,312 badminton clubs. This last year the number has gone up to 2,975. The manufacturers tell us that the sales of badminton equipment showed a 40 per cent, increase in 1965 as against 10 years earlier. That is evidence of rapid growth. Perhaps the most dramatic evidence of growth of badminton is in the number of sessions or classes provided by the Inner London Education Committee in its evening institutes. In 1950, there were only six classes involved in coaching in badminton and by 1967 there were 609, a dramatic increase.

These figures have been provided by the Director of the Sports Council, Mr. Winterbottom, because we feel that the Sports Council must keep ahead of sociological changes and understand the growth of sports. Judo is another such sport. In 1948, there were 30 clubs and in this last year there were 600. This is one of the great growth sports in schools. The Amateur Judo Association was formed only very recently and it has experienced considerable growth in its activities. The British Schools Judo Association was formed only in 1963, but four years later it already has 16,000 members throughout the country practising judo in schools. That is another commentary on British youth of a kind not often read about in some of the popular newspapers. The number of classes in judo in London has risen from 50 in 1950 to 379.

Gliding is another growth sport. In 1946, there were 27 clubs. In 1965 there were 60. In 1946, gliders spent 1,667 happy flying hours. In 1965, the figure had risen dramatically to 37,617. That included one hour which I spent in a glider. There are over 80 different sports and recreations being carried on at present in Britain. As I go round the country, I am asked to practise all of them. Gliding is one. Deep sea angling is another.

I confess that there is only one sport which I have so far in these three years refused to practise—parachute jumping. At the time the Government had a majority of three, and I thought that I was fully justified in protecting the Prime Minister's interests.

Golf is another great growth game. In 1955, 98,559 rounds were played on the Birmingham public courses. In 1967, that figure had risen to 178,199. Sales of golf equipment rose from £731,768 in 1958 to £1,013,943 in 1964. The fact that the sport is now so much big business and so important to the business community is an added argument to those advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lotian about the need for recreational facilities.

Mr. Dalyell

What representations does my hon. Friend make to Departments such as the Board of Trade and the Department of Economic Affairs, when they are experiencing difficulty in bringing employment to a certain area, positively to create sporting facilities in that area by giving it a certain priority? I cannot stress sufficiently that economic development depends on such an amenity. I want to know what initiative my hon. Friend takes.

Mr. Howell

I am sure that my hon. Friend wants to know. I have made a note of that question. Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to come to it in my own good time. I hope to deal briefly with that point.

Sailing is another growth sport. Sales of new boats rose from £11.3 million in 1962 to £14.6 million in 1964. The number of clubs recognised by the Royal Yachting Association has increased from 315 in 1939, to 885 in 1958, and to 1,341 in 1965. This again demonstrates the growth of recreational sports.

Finally, in this part of my remarks, perhaps the greatest growth of all has taken place in squash. This has a great deal of attraction for many people because a great deal of energy can be expended and a great deal of exercise obtained in a short time. I recall the balmier days before I became a Minister of the Crown when I occasionally played squash with my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian, an experience which I always enjoyed, though I rarely succeeded in winning. The development in squash has been slower than that in other sports because of the expense of erecting squash courts. We believe that the potential of squash is as great as, if not greater than, that in any other sport. In 1948, there were 208 clubs. Today, there are 455. For this reason, perhaps, income from the six squash courts at the National Recreation Centre at Crystal Palace in 1966 –67 was almost £8,000.

May I now turn to the Reports about which I was asked. The Byers Report relates to an inquiry into the future of athletics in this country, and the Chester Report follows an inquiry into the future of association football in this country. My hon. Friend was critical of both Reports—I thought perhaps more critical of the football inquiry than the athletic one—and said that a year or a year and a half was a long time in which to bring out a Report. I shall be talking to Lord Byers very soon about his Report. He tells me that the Committee is now concluding its work and expects to deliver its report in March. This evening I shall be seeing Mr. Chester, who is a warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, when I visit that establishment, and I shall ask him about the possibility of presenting his Report. I understand that it is expected that the Chester Committee will be able to report in about the middle of this year.

I ought to say that when we set up Committees it ought not to be thought that the object of the exercise is to procrastinate and to get no answers. That was certainly far from my mind in the case of these two Committees. One thing that a Report can do is to create a climate of opinion in the country, and that is essential so far as sport is concerned. Therefore, I prefer a Committee to take a longer time rather than a shorter time in its deliberations, provided it gets the answers right.

I am glad the House has taken note of the fact that for the first time we have been able to offer grants to the sports organisations for pre-Olympic training. I have mentioned the research which has been conducted, financed partly by the Sports Council, into high altitude training which is necessary for competing in Mexico. We were able to negotiate with the French Minister of Sport for the use of high altitude facilities specifically for British sports, and three sports groups went to Font Romeu in the Pyrennees last year to take advantage of the kind offer of the French Government and to do some practical training at an altitude similar to that which they will experience in Mexico. Those three sports are athletics, weight-lifting and modern pentathlon.

In the period between now and the Mexico Games in October, seven groups of sports have already shown interest in sending teams, which the Government will help to finance, to give our British sportsmen and women every possible opportunity of acclimatisation. Those sports are weight-lifting, swimming, modern pentathlon, athletics, fencing, wrestling and canoeing.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington mentioned, we have also for the first time offered financial help to enable squads to be brought together and to try and get Olympic training on that basis. I can say that this new approach to sport is doing extremely well. The formation of squads to give international training and coaching to the people who are likely to represent us in the Mexico Games has been warmly welcomed. We have already had intimations from the governing bodies for swimming, weight lifting, gymnastics, athletics, hockey, the Horse Society, basketball and sailing, saying that they wish to take advantage of the Government scheme under this heading.

The Commonwealth Games in 1970 has been the subject of considerable controversy in Scotland and elsewhere and, therefore, perhaps I may be excused for saying only a few words on this subject. I am particularly grateful for the close co-operation of my Ministerial colleagues in the Scottish Office on this matter, especially since it is on their Vote that any help which the Government give has to be made available. I went to Edinburgh last weekend to talk to the Lord Provost and the organising committee about a whole range of details—reception for competitors, reception for the Press, reception for the public, the Meadow-bank facilities, the stadium and a swimming bath.

It is my belief that Scotland will put on the Commonwealth Games in a first-class manner and the country will be proud of the way the Games are staged there in 1970. There is still the problem of cycling, to which my hon. Friend referred, but 1 understand that Edinburgh and the Commonwealth Games organisation are shortly to meet the Scottish cyclists and the British Cycling Federation. We all have high hopes that agreement about the cycle track can be reached. This will then complete the whole picture.

I was pleased to be asked about school sports and school sports associations, and I am delighted that you have now returned to the Chair, Mr. Speaker, as I know your great personal interest in school sports and sports associations. We have for the first time properly recognised school sports associations in this country and we are trying to give them help in the work they are doing. There must be tens of thousands of school teachers giving us most commendable voluntary service in order to make it possible for young people, boys and girls, to enjoy good healthy recreation in the schools. It is a great voluntary service, and we thought in the Government—I certainly feel strongly about it—that these people who have been running national school sports on a shoe-string for so long ought to be given every help and encouragement. This should be done for their own sake, but there is another very good reason which affects British sport as a whole. The standards which are set in school sports and the enthusiasm created there are the very foundation of the future of British sport. I am glad to say that, under this head, 19 schools sports bodies now receive help and some encouragement from my Department. I hope that this will grow. It is something only recently started, and I know that it is welcomed in the education world.

Now, the question of coaching. I shall briefly give the facts, which speak for themselves more adequately than anything I could say. In 1963 and 1964, the amount of money given by the Govern- ment to aid administration and coaching was £381,000, going to 44 governing bodies of sport. This year, the sum has risen to £652,000, going to 111 bodies in this country. We can all be pleased about that.

The development committee and the coaching committee of the Sports Council have met all the 160 governing bodies of sport in this country and have asked each one of them for a five-year development plan in the hope that we can thereafter sit down and work things out together, through the Sports Council. I am happy to say that 30 of these bodies have already submitted their five-year plans, and we have high hopes that the others are doing their thinking, working out their arithmetic and preparing proposals about which they will soon be talking to us.

Next, the question of regionalism and finance. As the House knows, we have established nine regional sports councils in England, and we have a sports council for Scotland and one for Wales. Each of these 11 bodies has completed its initial appraisal and survey—the one for London is yet to be published—and these are showing the main deficiencies and, therefore, the need for the greatest priorities. I can tell my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian that, as he suspects, the greatest need of all is for multi-purpose facilities which can be used by many different sports.

It amazes me how little provision we have made for indoor facilities to cope with our climate and the fact that we have so much bad weather with it getting dark so early in the day for the greater part of the year. However, we hope to make great progress.

I want to say a word about the regional sports councils. It is a tremendous tribute to local government that the councils are working so well and do such a tremendous amount of work. The establishment of these councils is a most heartening sign in the whole sporting scene. I want to pay tribute to the local government officials, particularly planning officers, who have carried the bulk of the burden in getting out the initial appraisals.

I spoke about finance earlier and pointed out that these are difficult times. The amount of direct money which the Government gave to sport, including the facilities in local government and education, was £900,000 in 1964–65. This year, it reached £2 million. I might, in passing, say to my hon. Friend that I do not think that this was the week for him to ask the Government to embark on great schemes of aid to regional and local authorities, although we want to see regional schemes coming into existence as fast as we can.

There is bound to be some curtailment of the help which the Government can give to sports organisations, and, therefore, this will affect the facilities available to the age groups to which my hon. Friend referred. However, it underlines the importance of the point which he made, with which I agree wholeheartedly, that we must be more selective in the places in which we put our money. We must ensure that we have multi-purpose facilities, and we have' to encourage the joint use and opening of multi-purpose projects. We have to design our schools to bring this about. It is near criminal to build schools which are not properly designed for general community use as well as for educational use, and the same applies generally to sport and the youth service.

Although I am conscious that I have taken longer than I intended, I hope that I have dealt with all the questions of which my hon. Friends gave me notice and that, in spite of the economic difficulties of the last three years, they find the progress report which they asked to be encouraging, as I believe it to be.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at seven minutes to Four o'clock.