HC Deb 22 June 1988 vol 135 cc1121-2
13. Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to conclude his review of sport for the disabled; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moynihan

My review of sport for people with disabilities was launched in February and should be completed early in 1989. We shall be looking at how best to enhance the opportunities for those with disabilities to participate in sport from local to international level. With the paralympics taking place in Seoul in the autumn, it is time that newspapers began to report the achievements of our disabled athletes on the sports pages, not the news pages.

Mrs. Bottomley

I welcome my hon. Friend's answer. Is he aware that there is great respect for his commitment to promoting sports for the disabled? We have many disabled sportsmen and sportswomen of great distinction and their interests are best served by focusing on their sporting ability rather than on their physical disability.

Mr. Moynihan

I entirely endorse my hon. Friend's point.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

In the light of the Minister's justified recognition of the value to disabled sportsmen of international competition, may we take it that in any proposals to hold international competition for the disabled in the United Kingdom the Minister will do his best to ensure that adequate funds are available?

Mr. Moynihan

The hon. and learned Member knows well that the Sports Council decides on its priorities, irrespective of Government comment. He will also know that the intention of this review is to highlight the importance of such international events. I hope that that will encourage the Sports Council to look more favourably upon providing adequate financial support for these very important international meetings about which the hon. and learned Gentleman speaks.

Mr. Colvin

Is the Minister aware that one sport in which this country excels is rifle shooting? Will he have words with our right hon. Friend the Home Secretary about the retention of the self-loading rifle with integral magazine—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question is about disabled people.

Mr. Colvin

Yes, Mr. Speaker. The self-loading rifle with integral magazine for five rounds is the rifle most frequently used by disabled people.

Mr. Moynihan

My hon. Friend has asked me to refer the matter to the Home Secretary and I shall, of course, do so.

Mr. Denis Howell

The Minister made a statement yesterday to the Central Council of Physical Recreation that he intends to privatise the management services of local authority sports centres and swimming baths, but he quite rightly expects provision to be made for the disabled and unemployed. How does he expect local authorities to do that when most of them are already rate capped or cash limited and he intends to impose upon them responsibility for meeting all the loan charges, maintenance costs and central services for sports facilities which they no longer control and which are being run by private enterprise for profit?

Mr. Moynihan

I have made this point four or five times in the right hon. Gentleman's presence. The Government did not announce yesterday that they intend to privatise management services. I made it very clear that the Government are considering whether to put out to competitive tendering the management contracts for local authority sports and recreation facilities.

Mr. Bowis

Will my hon. Friend discuss with local education authorities how the welcome practice of making facilities in schools—especially swimming pools—available to the public can be extended to provide access for the disabled so that they, too may benefit from that increasing dual use?

Mr. Moynihan

I shall, and that issue has already been given full consideration by the review group.

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