HC Deb 16 July 2001 vol 372 cc4-5
3. Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North)

What plans she has to improve coaching facilities throughout the United Kingdom in all sports. [2422]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn)

The development of coaching and coaching facilities is mainly the responsibility of a number of organisations, which receive Government funding, including the national governing bodies of sport, the Sports Council, UK Sport, Sport England and Sportscoach UK. The Government's plan for sport also includes a range of initiatives to provide significant new investment in coaching and coaching education, which will assist the grass roots and clubs. The coaching taskforce, which aims to initiate action to improve coaching at all levels, had its first meeting on 28 June.

Dr. Gibson

I start by assuring my right hon. Friend that his success in his new position will not depend on being able to answer pub-style questions. All he need know are the names of the manager and the coach of the all-conquering parliamentary football team—that is good enough. Will he seriously support a programme of major investment in coaching for all our schools and communities, based not just on producing superstars, but on developing the performance, skills, prowess and, indeed, enjoyment of everyone in our schools and communities?

Mr. Caborn

As my hon. Friend suggests, it is very important that we get the coaching right. That is why we look to the taskforce to produce recommendations. We are already committed to a programme of investment to create 3,000 full-time paid coaching posts by 2005, but I hope that when the report is produced in, I think, March next year, we will be able to have a debate in this place, or at least in the Select Committee or a Standing Committee.

I do know who the coach of the all-party football club is—it is none other than my hon. Friend himself, so there was a little self-promotion in the question. May I give my hon. Friends some advice? Do not take part in pub quizzes on the radio; it is very dangerous. Still, I am more likely to get the answers to pub quizzes right than the Conservative party is to pick a leader who will win it the next general election.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

Despite the new Minister's protestations, does he not recognise that what he most needs are coaching and knowledge in relation to his responsibilities? Does he not recognise that, in the eyes of the entire sporting media and the entire population, he shot himself in both hands and feet before even reaching his first Question Time? Will he not further recognise that his attempt to rehabilitate himself in this weekend's Daily Telegraph was a case of not getting the name of one of England's recent rugby heroes right and of pretending that he organised a Lords and Commons cricket tour in 1995? That showed great disrespect to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen), who actually knows something about sport—[Interruption.]—and as Max Boyce, another rugby legend of whom the Minister has probably never heard, would say, "I know because I was there"—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Caborn

I take no lectures from Conservative Members about sport and participating in sport. Yes, I played cricket with the hon. Gentleman in South Africa and, if he examines the record to which he has just referred, he will find out who exactly organised the tour.