HC Deb 28 October 1980 vol 991 cc189-91
9. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is Government policy for the Armed Forces to encourage the development of sport; and if so, what steps he is taking to implement that policy.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. Barney Hayhoe)

Yes, Sir. We regard the promotion of sport within the Armed Forces as an important contribution to the morale, physical efficiency and public image of the Armed Forces, as well as to the quality of life within the Services. Service personnel are therefore provided with a wide variety of sports facilities. It is also our policy to allow the maximum use of our facilities by civilian sports clubs, associations and individuals, where there is no conflict with Service requirements.

Mr. Canavan

Is the Minister aware that I recently went to a football match at Crossmaglen, at which, midway through the second half, some of the players and spectators were in danger of being decapitated by a British Army helicopter that was coming in to land at the side of the pitch? As this type of provocation and intimidation of young people seems to be a regular occurrence in that area. is it not about time that the British Army stopped adopting such spoilsport tactics, and also stopped occupying part of a football ground that does not belong to it?

Mr. Hayhoe

I am not aware of the hon. Gentleman's habits, sporting or otherwise. However, I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's interest in the football ground at Crossmaglen, but I can add nothing to the answers that were given to him by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 10 July.

Mr. Stoddart

If the Minister is so concerned to assist sport through the Services, why has the Services' entry to the round-the-world yacht race been cancelled?

Mr. Hayhoe

Because the sporting activities of members of the Armed Forces must be governed by the same financial restraints as apply across the whole field of expenditure.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Services have always encouraged sport? Will he consider sending congratulations to Squadron Leader George Lee on again being selected to defend his world championship gliding title?

Mr. Hayhoe

It might be more appropriate for my hon. Friend to do that.