HC Deb 02 April 2003 vol 402 cc904-5
5. Tony Cunningham (Workington)

What the role of sport is in his campaign against social exclusion.[106163]

The Minister for Social Exclusion and Deputy Minister for Women (Mrs. Barbara Roche)

Sport is an important part of neighbourhood renewal. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has now met its commitment under the national strategy for neighbourhood renewal of a £750 million lottery-funded programme to enhance school sports facilities, especially in deprived areas.

Tony Cunningham

May I draw the Minister's attention to the report on sport and social inclusion recently published by the Central Council of Physical Recreation? To place it in context, I should like to quote a young teenager who said: It's good coming to … football because usually we play chicken—where the winner is the last person to jump out of the car we've set on fire. That certainly provides some context. Will the Minister assure me that she will promote across the Government the use of sport to deal with social exclusion?

Mrs. Roche

I agree with my hon. Friend, who is absolutely right that sport can play an important role in areas of social deprivation. It can provide good diversion schemes, particularly for young people. I know that in my hon. Friend's constituency, Keswick town council has consulted local young people on the redevelopment of Fitz park, which my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister visited in February this year.

Bob Russell (Colchester)

Will the Minister have a word with her colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills and explain that sport is important in education as well as in the community? With 75 per cent. of our young people not participating in the minimum two hours of physical education currently recommended on the school curriculum, that shows where the problem lies. Social exclusion and sport should go together.

Mrs. Roche

I shall certainly draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills. I am also aware that many of the new deal for communities partnerships encourage sport, particularly among young people, and much good work is being carried out in that direction.

Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

When the audit of sport facilities gets under way, will the Minister ensure that it starts in poorer communities first, so we can assess what facilities are available for the socially excluded?

Mrs. Roche

My hon. Friend makes a good point, which I shall ensure is drawn to the attention of the appropriate Ministers.

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