HC Deb 07 March 1984 vol 55 cc842-3
8. Mr. Frank Cook

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give further details of the joint use policy for sport as announced by him in November 1983.

Mr. Macfarlane

I propose to mount a campaign, with and through the Sports Council, to encourage greater shared use of schools and other community facilities. That continues the initiative I began last year with my approach to the country's largest companies, to make the fullest use of existing sport and recreation facilities in the public and private sectors. It is proposed that at least £500,000 of the £29.359 million made available, subject to parliamentary approval, for the Sports Council next year, will be allocated to new shared use schemes.

Mr. Dormand

Had my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) recovered his voice on time, I am sure that he would have said that that reply was hardly reassuring. However, it says here — [HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] Does the Minister realise that since his November announcement nothing appears to have been done, save that the attitude expressed in the Prime Minister's Office has been one of opposition to the Minister's proposals? Does the Minister recall that over the past three years capital spending on new sports centres has decreased? Finally, what plans are there to facilitate the development of youth, as epitomised by Robin Cousins in 1980 and Torvill and Dean in 1984, or will British skaters have to go on succeeding in spite of the facilities available rather than because of them?

Mr. Macfarlane

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his reading of that question. I know that his hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) is a reasonable man, and that he would not have posed that question in the first place. He knows that the Sports Council grant has been more than doubled within four years and that the better part of £20 million has gone into sport, leisure and recreation facilities in the past year, through the urban development programme. Over £2 million has gone into sport, leisure and recreation from the derelict land grant. In addition, some £60 million overall from central Government funding has gone into sport, not including money from local authorities. I am indebted to what the Sports Aid Foundation has done in addition to that. It has enabled the Cousinses, the Ovetts, the Coes, the Torvills and Deans to train and practice. Therefore, there has never been so much money spent on sport, leisure and recreation facilities.