HC Deb 30 July 1980 vol 989 cc1510-1
19. Mr. John Carlisle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to meet the chairman of the Sports Council to discuss the allocation of resources for those sporting authorities who refused to participate in the Olympic Games.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Hector Monro)

This was one of a number of matters that I discussed very recently with the chairman and principals of the Sports Council at one of our regular informal meetings.

Mr. Carlisle

Does my hon. Friend agree that the presence in Moscow of so many British athletes is an insult to the British Government and British taxpayers, who over the years have spent millions of pounds on providing facilities for them? Is it not about time that the Government either withdrew their facilities or asked the athletes to come home?

Mr. Monro

The Government have made their position clear in relation to the Olympic Games in Moscow. Little more can be added at this stage. My hon. Friend will know that the Sports Council has not assisted financially in the transport or other arrangements for the team in Moscow.

Mr. Dalyell

Is the Sports Council, or are civil servants, to give any money to bodies such as the Royal Yacht Squadron and the equestrian team, which refused to go to Moscow? If that is so, is it because the Sports Council has refused to muddy its fingers, quite rightly in the opinion of many of us, in something that amounts to bribery by the Government?

Mr. Monro

That is a convoluted question. The body to which the hon. Gentleman referred is not the Royal Yacht Squadron, but the Royal Yachting Association. The Government made a firm commitment to assist those sports which decided not to participate in Moscow, and that we are doing.

Mr. Wilkinson

Does my hon. Friend accept that many of us, notwithstanding the politically mistaken view of the athletes who are participating in the games, have great pride in the achievements of British athletes in Moscow? Will he undertake not to take action that is in any way vindictive, petty or mean-minded?

Mr. Monro

Of course we shall not take such action. I warmly welcome the successes of our medal winners and of the athletes who have broken British records in Moscow. However, I should have preferred them not to go, and to have taken the advice of the Government, bearing in mind that Russia has invaded Afghanistan and is committing atrocities there.

Mr. Hattersley

As the Minister responsible for sport echoes the Prime Minister's good wishes to athletes who have won medals, may I ask whether the Prime Minister intends to follow precedent and give a reception for the team when it returns?

Mr. Monro

The right hon. Gentleman will know that the Prime Minister and the Government do not indulge in U-turns. We have made it clear that we do not approve of our Olympic team being in Moscow. Naturally, it cannot expect a warm welcome on its return.