HC Deb 18 November 2002 vol 394 cc357-8
11. Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon)

If she will extend the definition of sport to include mind sports, with specific reference to chess and bridge. [81378]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn)

Officials from my Department are currently considering the potential for amendments to the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937 to include mind games, and the possible implications.

Dr. Evan Harris

I thank the Minister for that answer, and for his support for chess and bridge. We have achieved great success in both bridge—notably women's bridge—and chess, coming fifth in the chess Olympiad. Does he recognise that his answer takes us back to the commitment to move matters along—given in March 1999 by his predecessor but one—so that, for example, disabled players of these games can access lottery funds to enable them to participate to the same degree as able-bodied players? Will he arrange a meeting between his officials and representatives of the British Chess Federation and of the English Bridge Union, to progress matters further?

Mr. Caborn

I am more than willing to meet the individuals and organisations that the hon. Gentleman refers to, but I should make the very important point that sport is now a devolved matter: devolved Administrations would have to take action to amend the 1937 Act, and we are far from having reached that position at the moment. The hon. Gentleman would do far better to lobby those devolved Administrations to get unanimity, so that we can consider amending the 1937 Act.

Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough)

With the pressure on Sport England funding for genuine sports, will the Minister assure me that no funding will be diverted to chess?

Mr. Caborn

That will have to be considered if and when the 1937 Act is amended to include chess and bridge. It is not only lottery funding that is important: we also have to consider VAT and the other tax advantages of being designated a sport.