HC Deb 08 July 1981 vol 8 cc403-4
19. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied that the resources allocated by the Government to sport are adequate to enable British sportsmen and women to compete effectively in international events.

Mr. Monro

All Government money for sport is channelled through the independent Sports Council. It decides, in co-operation with the governing bodies of sport concerned, how much grant aid each should receive to assist its sportsmen and women to compete in international events. I understand that the Sports Council has had no complaints that its grants are inadequate.

Mr. Dubs

Does the Minister agree that the British men and women's athletics teams scored outstanding victories last weekend and that this success was partly due to the support that British athletics has received from the Sports Aid Foundation? Will the hon. Gentleman turn his attention to the more disappointing performance of British tennis players? Will he examine, in particular, the stranglehold imposed on tennis by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon, which seems to put the interests of its members ahead of any consideration of devoting its vast resources to aid British tennis?

Mr. Monro

It is a great pity that the hon. Gentleman should have spoilt his supplementary question with the second part of it. I agree that last weekend saw a triumph for British athletics in Scandinavia and in Edinburgh. Hon. Members will wish our team well in the final.

The hon. Gentleman's criticism of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is unjustified. A club that runs so effectively and efficiently the world's premier tennis tournament deserves our commendation and praise. There is no doubt that the sums of money from Wimbledon, paid to the Lawn Tennis Association for the development of tennis in this country, are significant. I hope that the hon. Gentleman has noted the grants made this week from the Sports Council for new indoor facilities and the Sports Council's involvement in Bisham Abbey. This shows progress in the right direction.

Mr. John Carlisle

Does my hon. Friend agree that sportsmen are not so interested in money allocated to them as they are in being able to play in whatever country they wish throughout the world? Will he confirm that the Government intend to give them the freedom of choice to play wherever they wish, including South Africa?

Mr. Monro

My hon. Friend has raised another question. I offer all praise to the Sports Aid Foundation and its chairman, Paul Zetter, who have done a tremendous amount for this country in international sport.

Mr. Denis Howell

On the question of resources for sport, does the Minister have regard to the social purposes that sport ought to be serving, particularly in view of massive youth unemployment, inner city deprivation and multiracial tensions? If resources were adequate, sport could play a tremendous role, but we know that resources have been cut, particularly to local authorities. Will the hon. Gentleman apply the Government's mind to the role that sport can play in that respect?

On international sport, we fully endorse the successful efforts of the Sports Aid Foundation, which has produced tremendous beneficial effects in athletics and other sports. What is the Minister doing to get the Smith report on lawn tennis implemented as soon as possible?

Mr. Monro

The right hon. Gentleman has raised three important questions. The Smith report is evolving rapidly through discussions with the LTA and the result will be beneficial to lawn tennis. I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Sports Aid Foundation, He raised an important point about urban deprivation. The Sports Council is looking at that matter carefully and I am having further discussions with the chairman today. Sport and recreation have a part to play in the problems that are facing us, but we need motivators and people more than facilities.