HC Deb 19 April 2004 vol 420 cc1-3
1. Hywel Williams (Caernarfon) (PC)

What public funding has been given to the sport of underwater diving in the past five years; and if she will make a statement. [166139]

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn)

Before I answer, I am sure that hon. Members will join the world of football in passing their condolences to the family of George Hardwick, who captained Middlesbrough and England and who died this morning at the age of 84. He was, I believe, unique in that he captained the Great Britain side that played Europe in 1947, and that should be recorded.

Between 1999 and 2004, sub-aqua diving in England received lottery funding totalling more than £1.1 million. Sport is a devolved matter, as the hon. Gentleman will know because I wrote to him about this issue on 25 February 2002. Funding for sport in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is devolved to their respective sports councils. Responsibility for sport therefore lies with the devolved Administrations.

Hywel Williams

My concern is that there was yet another death about three weeks ago at the Dorothea quarry pool—the 21st in 10 years. I am afraid that the vast majority of those deaths involved visitors from England and beyond. Will the Minister tell us how much of the money spent on sub-aqua diving in England is devoted to safety, which is clearly paramount in these circumstances?

Mr. Caborn

I join the hon. Gentleman in passing our condolences to the family of the young person who died in March. A record of 21 deaths in 10 years in that location ought to be the subject of further discussion. The hon. Gentleman knows that the owner of the site has now put it up for sale, and it is to be hoped that safety regulations can now be brought in there. The British Sub-Aqua Club is the governing body responsible for safety in this sport, and it takes that responsibility very seriously. I hope that a solution can be found for this site, but I reiterate that this is the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly, because sport is now a matter for the devolved Administrations.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con)

Will the Minister ensure that youngsters who want training in sub-aqua diving can get it? Their schools may not be able to afford the necessary equipment or specialist training for smaller numbers of youngsters, but there might be one school that specialises in the sport. If the schools could talk to one another and encourage the grant-giving bodies to provide the necessary funding, those youngsters could get the training that would enable them to do sub-aqua diving in safety.

Mr. Caborn

I take note of what the hon. Gentleman said and I shall raise the matter with the governing body. Anything that either the Government or the governing body can do to promote safety will be done. There is an element of danger involved in these sports, and it is important to manage the risk. The governing body for this sport is very responsible and takes its duties very seriously. The issue could also be linked to the sports colleges that we are now developing, to the school sports co-ordinators and to the new coaching structure that we are putting into place. I hope that, in that way, we can avoid any more deaths similar to the 21 that have occurred on the site in question over the last 10 years.