§ 27. Mr. Ashton
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimates he has made of the savings to Government funds and increased costs to local government funds with regard to his decision on the future of the Sports Council.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
There is no basis in fact for doing this. The Government's allocation to sport is being substantially increased, and will be distributed to better effect. Local government expenditure will depend on the use local authorities choose to make of their powers.
§ Mr. Ashton
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are still not satisfied with the situation? Many hon. Members on this side of the House and certain sporting bodies believe that some clever duplicity is taking place over this matter. In view of the hon. Gentleman's statement that direct grants to local clubs will be discontinued, can he assure the House that local clubs will get the same or more money as easily as they did in the past?
§ Mr. Griffiths
To a great extent local sports clubs ought to be supported by local funds. The advantage of the changes I have announced is that national funds, substantially increased, will be able to be distributed for the benefit of sport as a whole. I am sure that this is the right way forward.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
Having regard to the fact that in making this announcement the Minister expressed the view that these grants should be paid by local authorities, and in view of the fact that 1332 he not only did not bother to consult the Sports Council but did not even bother to consult local authorities—and indeed, received no commitment from them to take over these local grants—is not his arrogance to the sports bodies matched by the impudence of his attitude to local authorities?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The hon. Gentleman will be disappointed, because the sporting bodies have shown considerable enthusiasm for these proposals. I emphasise that the Sports Council, acting independently, will have substantially more money than the hon. Gentleman was able to get for it.