HC Deb 25 October 1993 vol 230 cc566-7
12. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to increase the amount of public funds allocated to sports coaching; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke

The National Coaching Foundation is the lead body providing coaching support for sports organisations. In 1993–94, the foundation will receive a grant of £1,340,000 from the Sports Council, an increase of 40 per cent. over the previous year. This reflects the importance which the council attaches to this area of work.

Mr. Greenway

I welcome my right hon. Friend's reply. If he compares the amount of sport played by children out of school time nowadays with when he was at school, he will see that much less sport is played. Is that not a tragedy? Does it not mean that financial assistance must be given to clubs, at all levels, in all sports, to enable them to welcome and coach children? That would overcome this difficulty and give our children a chance.

Mr. Brooke

My hon. Friend was kind enough to refer to my schooldays. He engages in a wide variety of sports, and that does him tremendous credit. There is a common feeling in the House, among those interested in those matters, that we have to find new ways in which the young can become involved in sport. It is a preoccupation of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and myself and I am encouraged by the fact that my hon. Friend takes an interest in the subject. In so far as it relates to the national curriculum, that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education.

Mr. Maxton

When allocating public funds to sports, will the Secretary of State have regard to whether their governing bodies or members are discriminatory, particularly on sex grounds? Golf clubs in particular discriminate against women, either by not allowing female members or by discriminating against women who are members.

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Gentleman well knows—this applies north as well as south of the border—that the decisions about the allocation of central Government money for sport are made through the Sports Council. I am certain that the Sports Council will read the hon. Gentleman's question.

Mr. John Carlisle

My right hon. Friend is justifiably proud of the increased funding available for coaching, but he should not forget that thousands, if not millions, of volunteers, parents and teachers give up their Saturday mornings to coach our youngsters. On a similar basis, will he encourage some of our famous sportsmen and sportswomen who, through their sports, have become personalities and millionaires, to give voluntarily of their time so that the excellence that we all seek may be passed on to our youngsters?

Mr. Brooke

I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to those who give up their free time so gladly to assist with the coaching of the young and to share the enjoyment that they experienced earlier in their careers. I also pay tribute to the sports personalities who provide such heroic role models for those returning to the field. The more of that, the better. I commend my hon. Friend for his interest in the subject.

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