HC Deb 11 July 1994 vol 246 cc651-2
5. Mr. Colvin

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what was the value of business sponsorship of sport in the latest period for which information is available.

Mr. Sproat

The total value of commercial sponsorship of sport in the United Kingdom in 1993 was estimated to be approximately £250 million.

Mr. Colvin

I am sure that the House would agree that the introduction of the Sportsmatch sponsorship scheme for sport will be welcome, even if it is only half as successful as the business sponsor incentive scheme for the arts. Additional funding can be made available for improvements and safety features at sports grounds through the Football Trust. What plans do Her Majesty's Government have for extending the scope of the trust to include non-league football, rugby union, rugby league and cricket?

Mr. Sproat

With regard to Sportsmatch, I very much agree with my hon. Friend. In fact, Sportsmatch has been responsible for pumping some £10 million extra into grass roots sports since it was set up in November 1992. As for widening the Football Trust's activities, clearly it is extremely important that we should try to spread the money and ensure that safety at sports grounds, which could apply to games such as rugby league, for instance, is as good as it is at football grounds. We are currently looking at ways in which to do just that.

Mr. Flynn

What is the Minister's reaction to the plea from the Heritage Select Committee that advertising for tobacco should be banned? Does he not think it damaging for young children to see business sponsorship of tobacco displayed all over the uniforms and kits of sportsmen? Would it not be better to allow business sponsorship of Members of Parliament to be displayed on our suits when we speak here so that the country can know who is filling the pockets of Members and so that the mother of Parliaments does not an the international reputation as the whore of Parliaments?

Mr. Sproat

On the first point, I know roughly what the Select Committee said. I shall be studying the report over the coming few weeks and I shall be making an official response in due course.

Mr. Jessel

When my hon. Friend studies the Select Committee report, will he pay particular attention to the point that sports sponsorship by tobacco companies tends to encourage young, impressionable and gullible people to identify healthy and glamorous activities such as sport and the hero figures in it with a habit that is likely to be lethal to some 8 or 9 per cent. of them, on present trends?

Mr. Sproat

As I said in reply to the last supplementary question, these matters are well rehearsed in the Select Committee's report, and I look forward to examining them in detail. My hon. Friend will be aware that the current voluntary agreement provides that there shall be no sponsorship by tobacco companies of events that are attended by a majority of persons under the age of 18.

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