§ 3.14 p.m.
LORD ABERDARE rose to call attention to the Report of the Wolfenden Committee on Sport and the Community; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may seem odd at first sight to draw attention to the Report of a Committee which was not set up by the Government but by the Central Council of Physical Recreation. My excuse for doing so is twofold. In the first place, the Central Council subsequently referred certain of the recommendations of the Committee to the Government; and in the second place this Report has been received with great interest, both by the Press and generally throughout the country. I think it is regarded as a most important document. Its publication was foreshadowed in the
debate we had here last year—the most interesting debate on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Arran, upon the use of leisure, in the course of which my noble friend the Leader of the House said, if I may quote [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 221; col 678]:
…sport is one of the matters which must clearly be a matter for Government activity.
That statement gives me some hope that the Government will look with sympathy at the recommendations of this Report.
The Wolfenden Committee was appointed in October, 1957, with the following terms of reference:
To examine the factors affecting the development of games, sports and outdoor activities in the United Kingdom and to make recommendations to the Central Council of Physical Recreation as to any practical measures that should be taken by statutory or voluntary bodies in order that these activities may play their full part in promoting the general welfare of the community.
§ The Committee's Report was published in September last year, and the Central Council of Physical Recreation issued their comments on it last December. They afforded it a warm welcome, especially those recommendations concerned with the granting of more financial assistance to sport by the Government, local authorities and local education authorities, and they referred these various recommendations to the appropriate organisations. They also expressed a warm debt of gratitude to Sir John Wolfenden and his Committee for the work that they have done, and I should like respectfully to associate myself with that tribute. I think that Sir John Wolfenden and the Committee have surveyed a most difficult and complicated field most thoroughly, and have produced a Report which is not only interesting but full of most valuable suggestions. Sir John himself was associated with another Report. I find very little common denominator between the two, other than, perhaps an effort to clear the streets; but he certainly has dealt with both these problems with a great deal of success.
In my opinion, the Report we are discussing to-day is complementary to the Albemarle Report on the Youth Service. Sports activities play a large part in the Youth Service, and sporting organisations have a great deal of experience of working with young people, so that the
two can be considered closely together. The Albemarle Committee wrote in their Report:
There are powerful reasons why provision for physical recreation should be improved.
They recommended closer co-operation between the Youth Service and sports organisations. The Wolfenden Committee have cordially welcomed that recommendation of the Albemarle Committee, and they have recommended to sports organisations that they should, in fact, co-operate as closely as possible with the Youth Service. I hope, therefore, that in considering this Report the Government will look on it as a part of the contribution to their general social policy, particularly with regard to youth, and that they will be generous in the way that they treat it. The Report contains many interesting recommendations, but I intend to confine myself to those which concern the Government and local authorities. I fully realise that in the time available it may well not have been possible for the Government to come to any final decisions on the Report. The various recommendations which have been referred to have been in their hands only since December last, but I hope that some of the ideas which may be expressed in this debate will be useful before they come to any final decision.
§ I would draw your Lordships' attention, first of all, to the general introduction to the Report, contained in Chapter I, because to my mind never before has full justification of the place of sport in our national life been so clearly expressed and so cogently argued. I believe that in certain Parliamentary assemblies one can put into the official record documents which one has not read through in toto. Were it possible, I should very much like to print this chapter in Hansard, because it seems to me to argue the case so very convincingly. We have heard people express the view that sport already plays too big a part in our national life and that there is no excuse for spending more of the taxpayers' or ratepayers' money. People who think in that way consider all sportsmen as flannelled fools of the wicket or muddied oafs at the goals, but this Report is equally concerned with elegant "egg-heads" in the ocean. Not only cricket and football, but swimming, mountaineering, canoeing, water 818 ski-ing, rambling, dancing and every form of physical activity are brought in.
§ Such physical recreation can not only benefit the health of the nation, but also develop all those qualities of enterprise, co-operation, self-reliance, courage and endurance, which it is so essential to encourage in our young men and women to-day. Those qualities are required whatever form of life a young person is thinking of for the future, whether in industry, commerce or the Services; and any employer is looking for these qualities. They are essential in our young people if, in this very competitive world, we are going to survive. I believe that the vitality of the nation will suffer unless there are proper opportunities for adventurous sport.
§ I believe that we should set ourselves two aims: the first, to provide adequate facilities and opportunities for everybody who wishes to do so to take part in physical recreation; and, secondly, to provide advanced facilities for those who excel in one particular form of activity and are of the calibre to compete in international events. Quite recently there were rumours in the Press that the Government were thinking of making some grant towards the advanced training of sports teams and the sending of international teams abroad, though it was rather suggested that they were less anxious to help with facilities. In my opinion, those two aims must go together. In fact, if I had to make the choice I should prefer to provide facilities for all to enjoy first-class recreation and develop those qualities which I have mentioned, rather than send international teams abroad. But as I have said, and I say it again, I believe that both aims should go together; because unless we have the facilities we are not going to draw on the full talents of the nation and shall not be in a position to send our best teams abroad.
§ It is equally important that we should finance competition on a national scale, because, next to scientific achievement, sport achievement perhaps counts for more, prestige-wise, than almost anything else. Both these aims, unfortunatly, require money. It is sad that sport which has grown to be organised widely on an amateur basis should have to look to the Government for financial support, but unfortunately the Government are the 819 only source of money to which amateur sport can turn. I would emphasise, however, that there is no intention in the recommendations of this Report to subsidise individual sportsmen. They will remain just as amateur as they always have been and will continue to have to pay for their sport.
§ What is required is additional finance to strengthen the national organisation of sport at national headquarters level, if I may give some examples of where this financial support is badly needed, I would mention the British Olympic Association. Sending teams to the Olympic Games is no cheap operation. In 1952 it cost £34,000 to send our team to Helsinki. Four years later, when the Games were held in Melbourne, it cost £123,000; and recently, when they were in Rome, the cost was over £40,000. Since 1950, the British Olympic Association has had to raise some £292,000, all from voluntary sources, to finance the sending of our teams abroad. When we add to that the amount of money that has had to be raised for the English team to take part in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, the figure rises to something like £400,000 since 1950; and that takes no account of the additional money which has had to be raised in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to send their teams to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games; nor the figure of over £100,000 that Wales had to raise in order to put on the Games at Cardiff.
§ Again, the National Playing Fields Association, which does such splendid work in the provision of playing fields, and which in the last few years has been spending over £60,000 a year to that end, is in turn very short of funds at national level to finance a proper national organisation. Or take the Central Council of Physical Recreation. Already that Council is in receipt of certain financial assistance from the Ministry of Education, but it runs three national recreation centres for which no grant is received. I believe that those recreation centres are universally acknowledged to be doing a magnificent job in providing facilities for sport, but they are costing at least £12,000 a year; and unless finance can be provided from some source, their future is threatened.
§ My Lords, I take, lastly, the governing bodies of the various sports. Some of them 820 —the richer ones—are all right, but many of them are hopelessly ill-equipped to run their sport on a national level. Some have no paid officials, secretary or staff. They simply proceed through the efforts of some conscientious amateur who conducts their business from his home. This is no way on which to conduct a sport on a national basis, and it is certainly no way to conduct a sport in which we hope to compete effectively on an international basis. What we are asking for is financial support in the form of a grant to these national organisations so that snort can be efficiently organised without infringing on the amateur principle as far as the individual sportsman is concerned.
§ How this finance might be provided has caused some discussion. There are those who would like to continue the present practice of grants made by the Minister of Education. But there are objections to this way of operating, and these objections are fully covered in the Report. It has also been suggested that the Central Council themselves might act as the channel for these funds. But they are in an awkward position as they are themselves in receipt of grant, and they certainly do not wish to undertake this task.
§ The most popular solution which has been adopted by the Wolfenden Committee is the establishment of a Sports Development Council; and this solution has obvious attractions. Not only would it provide an independent body to allocate to the best possible advantage the money available, but it would also provide a pressure group to keep both the Government and local authorities, as well as the sports bodies themselves, up to the mark. It is interesting that this idea has already received a certain amount of political approval, in that before the last Election both the Labour Party, in their document Leisure for Living, and the Conservative Political Centre, in their document, The Challenge of Leisure, advocated the establishment of a Sports Council. I would only comment that what is needed most urgently are the funds to enable sport to be properly organised. That is far more important than quibbling over the means by which the money reaches the people who need it. It is the grants that are required, 821 and so long as there is a minimum of red tape, the method of distribution will, I am sure, be easily arranged.
§ So far as the provision of facilities on a national scale is concerned, this depends on the local authorities. They vary in their attitude to sport, but on the whole I am pretty confident that a great deal would be done by them in the provision of facilities were they able to spend the capital required. I would therefore plead with the Government that, following the recommendation in the Report, the ceiling of capital expenditure should be raised to enable local authorities to spend more money on the provision of recreational facilities. Because without the facilities we are not providing a proper opportunity for all those who desire to take part in physical recreation.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? The noble Lord, I take it, would wish that the general grant should in some way be increased, so that if the local government authorities spend extra money they will get some of it—half of it, perhaps—back from the Government. Would that be in his mind?
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, I certainly agree that that would be a great advantage. I think that certain local authorities would be only too willing to raise this money on loan, if they were enabled to do so, to expend as capital; but I quite agree with the noble Earl that if the general grant could be increased to help it would be of considerable assistance.
I would mention two other rather more technical points which are causing concern to amateur sports bodies. The first is the fact that they have to pay income tax on their annual surplus. They are not considered as legal charities, and therefore the money they receive from donations comes to them taxed in the individual's pocket and they cannot reclaim any tax on it; and should they have an annual surplus, then they have to pay income tax. That seems unjust. Maybe, because they are saving up to make some particular effort, they carry the money forward, in which case they have to pay income tax on it. I realise that the laws of income tax are a very complicated subject, and that some sporting organisations enjoy a certain 822 amount of affluence through gate money. But what I am pleading for is that there might be some special recognition of amateur non-profit-making organisations which receive money from voluntary donations so that they should not have to pay income tax on an annual surplus.
The second point concerns rates. At the moment, sporting organisations still enjoy the standstill provisions of Section 8 of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1955. But the legislation at present before Parliament would enact a statutory 50 per cent. reduction of rates on legal charities but would make no concession to sporting organisations. This might mean that, unless local authorities took a generous view, some amateur sports bodies would find themselves faced with greatly increased rates to pay. I realise that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is to decentralise such decisions to local authorities, and perhaps there is little they can do in this matter; but would appeal to the local authorities, at any rate, to look with generosity on purely amateur sports bodies which are non-profit-making and are encouraging physical recreation in their areas.
My Lords, there are other excellent recommendations in the Report. Many of them apply to sports bodies themselves, and many are already being actively taken into account and acted upon. Those that I would particularly draw to the attention of Her Majesty's Government are the need for direct grants to strengthen the national administration of sport, the, need to raise the restriction on capital expenditure by local authorities for providing sporting facilities, and the need to ease the income-tax and rate hardships. I believe, my Lords, that the vitality, the prestige and the health of the nation are at stake. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.38 p.m.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, in following the noble Lord who has moved the Motion, I want first of all to congratulate him on the way in which he has brought this particular matter to our notice. From this side of the House I am naturally pleased to be able to follow him in that respect. The noble Lord made some reference to rumours which were prevailing a short time ago as to the Government's having already come to some decision in this matter. But, 823 like him, I am hoping that the Government will take notice of what is said in your Lordships' House this afternoon before coming to a firm decision and publishing it either in the form of a Paper or in any other way. Perhaps when he winds up, the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will be able to give us good news of the Government's good intentions. There is no political flavour about the Report; neither will there be such in our discussions here this afternoon. I believe that every noble Lord who will speak will approach the matter from the angle of what will be in the best interests of clean and wholesome sport among the younger members of our community. I am glad to see the names of several noble Lords on the paper, and I am certain that we shall have a most interesting discussion before the end of the day.
I want to praise the Committee for what I consider to be a valuable Report. Naturally, it covers a very wide field—our sports and games should—and it offers something (in fact, in very great variety) to all who wish to participate in them. Adequate facilities may be lacking, but, as I say, the variety is there if one takes the trouble to search for it. In my view, the Report is full of interest. It is readable, well-written, well-paragraphed and balanced. Personally, I read it, as I have no doubt did other noble Lords, with great attention and with not a little accord with the suggestions and proposals which the Committee made. Noble Lords will approach a consideration of the Report in their own individual ways, but I hope they will lead us to the same conclusions at the end of the day.
I do not wish to cover all the sports and activities to which the Committee refer, nor do I wish to deal with certain sections of them. We could all do this from our own experience and knowledge, and with the deep interest which I am sure we all take in the sports of the country. I shall serve my purpose if I deal with one or two items. I will leave the financial and administrative suggestions to my noble friend who will speak last from this side of the House. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred to one Government statement, and he mentioned 824 another. I hope I may be excused if, at this stage, I remind the Government once again of a certain paragraph which was contained in the gracious Speech of a few months ago. I am sure it has not been forgotten or overlooked. In fact, the noble Lord more or less referred to it. It held good then, and it no doubt still receives Government approval. It is well worth repeating at this stage. It is this:They will continue to encourage the expansion of the Youth Service and will authorise an increasing level of expenditure on the physical recreation of the young".I like the word "encourage" in that paragraph, and I found then, as I find now, considerable encouragement from the fact that the Government thought fit to refer to the physical training of the young on that occasion.
May I say a word or two, briefly, about our national games? At the outset, I should, perhaps, offer an apology to rugger players and enthusiasts if I omit at this stage their own game from the category of the two national games. I find that the facilities for football and cricket are generally well covered. In most cities and towns, provision is made for these games, and in thousands of our villages you can find a football side and, in most places, a cricket team, also, in the summer. In some cities and towns too many of the youngsters and teenagers are watching and not playing; but where, in the villages, there is a ball to be kicked about or stumps to be bowled at, you will generally find the necessary group of boys and young men to take part in organised or "pick-up" games. Watching and not playing has a bad streak in it, and from our national point of view, so far as the youngsters are concerned, should not be encouraged. May I say, personally, that I actively participated in these two games until I had turned the half century, so I have not lost interest in my first loves: but I want to speak to-day particularly about those other branches of our sports in which the girls as well as the boys can compete and take part.
Athletics, quite naturally, immediately come to my mind, and I hope that that branch of our sport will be dealt with later on very comprehensively, as I feel it certainly will, by noble Lords who 825 are to speak. It does not seem to me that the same financial support is accorded to this particular branch of sport as to others, and for that reason I want to put in a strong plea for athletics and all the events that that word covers. I am concerned at the lack of encouragement and facilities for practice and training for those boys and girls who have done well in athletics at school and who almost invariably find themselves, on leaving, without any means of continuing the enjoyment and maintaining the fitness which their school life used to provide.
One of the country's most valuable assets can be found in the boys and girls who have kept themselves fit and healthy in mind and body at school and then continue in that respect in their adolescence and teenage. From a national standpoint, they are worth their weight in gold—in fact, their worth is greater even than that. Generally, suitable athletic tracks, both indoor and outdoor, are sadly lacking. I believe that the enthusiasm and the desire to do well still remains with those boys and girls. I hope that noble Lords who may, for one purpose or another, have been watching B.B.C. television last Saturday afternoon were as pleased as I was to see the athletic competitions at the indoor track at Stanmore. This is one of the very few places at which such winter athletics can take place—and more's the pity.
The school and young athletes to-day will play their parts in future international and Olympic contests if the facilities I desire to give them are there. Neither the Government nor noble Lords can have forgotten the great wave of enthusiasm and excitement which the last Olympic Games at Rome spread, not only through this country but throughout the world, and I think the same may be said of earlier Olympic Games. It would appear from this that now is an opportune time to bring into operation schemes for the advancement and encouragement of athletics. We have a national pride which is worth preserving: it should not be allowed to lapse. Here, indeed, is an opportunity for the Government to make a material contribution, to provide the facilities which our boys and girls merit, as the Committee suggests, in the right places, of the right kind and with the necessary ancillary accommodation— 826 changing rooms, baths and gymnasiums, and floodlighting where required.
Perhaps many noble Lords have had the same experience as I had some years ago when I flew by night over Sydney. I was struck by the many little lighted squares which one could see in the city, and for some time I wondered what they were. I came to the conclusion that they were floodlit tennis courts, and I then realised why the Australians excel at tennis. We have nothing of the sort in this country, so far as I know. I hope to stimulate interest in this branch of our sports, and trust that what I have outlined will be enjoyed by our rising generation. My plea may have been short and inadequate, but my sincerity in the matter is abounding.
My Lords, before I close I wish to commend the foresight of educational authorities, both local and at the Ministry, who are providing excellent playing fields wherever possible with their new schools. But I would call attention to the difficulties which some of our older schools have to meet in order to obtain adequate playing areas for the ever-increasing numbers of their pupils. Some of these older schools will be replaced by new, but many of their traditions of centuries are worth preserving and have benefited in no small way the communities in which they are situated. I would, however, say this to the Minister and to the educational authorities: you willingly cater for the educational and physical instruction of pupils under your charge, but only in a few cases do you provide the means whereby they can learn to swim. To be able to swim is so essential that I hope this oversight in our educational facilities will be remedied, and that in future educational programmes, when our schools grow in numbers, cursory visits to the public baths, which do not seem to fill the requirements of our children, will not be necessary.
The healthy growth of the Welfare State was referred to two days ago on behalf of the Government. It was thought that its healthy growth can no longer he delayed—and with that I entirely agree—so far as the physique, fitness and athletic prowess of our young people are concerned. The problem which confronts us is immediate; we cannot delay its solution. We shall not have a decent 827 and fair-ordered society, a Welfare State in practice and not only in theory, unless we make the interests and well-being of our children one of the cornerstones on which we can build such an edifice. A generous gesture by the Government can help us to survive as an A.1 nation, sustain our youngsters, and give them enjoyment of their life in their outdoor and indoor sports, with pride in their achievements. The national advantage of this must be apparent to all: it is tremendous. But it cannot be effectively undertaken by private individuals, industrial organisations, or local authorities, however willing they may be, without Government backing. May we, who search for that particular help, not look in vain.
§ 3.55 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat has very nearly made my speech for me, and there really would be no object in my repeating everything he has said, and said so well. I should like to say at the start that I agree with everything he has said, and I also join him in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for moving the Motion to-day. The Wolfenden Committee Report struck me as a wonderful piece of work. I have read it from end to end and I was most impressed by it. But I felt that the terms of reference which were given to Sir John Wolfenden were so wide that it was rather difficult for him to reconcile certain activities, which are purely personal forms of recreation, such as mountain climbing, with a game like association football, which is virtually a national industry. Some of the conditions of certain sports are quite irreconcilable, and therefore it seemed to me that possibly there should have been two Reports, one referring to sports and the other to games, in which case it would have been a little easier to discuss the Reports later in a little more detail.
Although it might be said that athletics, for instance, is not a game, nevertheless we speak of the Olympic Games and of the Empire Games. Therefore I think we could say that athletic sports are in fact games, as compared with those I have already mentioned—mountain climbing, ski-ing, and sports like that—which are purely individual 828 sports in which commerce, so far as I know, has not yet got a foot. The importance of facilities to fill up the longer leisure hours increasingly enjoyed by ever-growing numbers of the population is a very important matter indeed, and as your Lordships have already been reminded to-day, this question was debated in this House not so long ago when, unfortunately, I was not able to be present. I hope it is a question of which the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chester, will make some mention when he addresses us in the maiden speech to which we are looking forward with the keenest anticipation.
The idea of a Sports Development Council seems to me to be sound in principle, and I should have thought that the cost was not really high in comparison to the percentage of the population which would benefit from it. Admittedly, one percentage of the population is a little young and another percentage a little old to benefit from it. Nevertheless between the age brackets of 10 to 15 years of age up to 60 or 70 years of age (at least, those who can still happily hit a golf ball), a lot of people would benefit from such a Council. A total sum of £10 million is not an amount which strikes me as out of proportion when one considers the huge sums spent on the most extraordinary projects which I am sure hardly anyone is able to understand. They certainly seem to be of doubtful value in some cases.
But if a Sports Development Council is to come about, aided by a grant of the type which the Report recommends. I think it leads us on to the very important point of the control of existing governing bodies. Such a Council is bound to have an increasing amount of control on those governing bodies and to have more say in their activities. Some governing bodies might welcome this and others might not. But where would you draw the line? Would you withdraw help and grants from those who may seem difficult, and increase grants to those who seem more co-operative?
That leads me to another point, which is that very often the members of the governing bodies of some sports are not ideally suited to be on those bodies. It seems there is a tendency for the retired sportsman who has a great name to be 829 put on the staff of such bodies just because he was an exceptional performer at that sport or game. Although, admittedly, you must have a fair percentage of people who have taken part in that sport and really know what they are talking about represented, I think that to have people who excelled at it is not, perhaps, quite necessary. Often, such people are not good at administration and do not understand very much about it because of the fact that they spent a lot of their early years in hitting a ball about, or kicking it, or whatever it may be. So perhaps at organisational and staff duties, as it were, they are not so good. Also, they are inclined to develop a closed mind where other sports and games are concerned. They see their own interests and are not always very open-minded. So I think that a Committee of a Sports Development Council would have to be strong-minded indeed and composed of people with not only a good knowledge of games and sports in general but also high administrative ability.
One of the most difficult points in the Report is the age-old pro.—amateur controversy. Sir John Wolfenden says that he was not able to obtain unanimity on this point. A minority suggested that the division between the two should be done away with, once and for all, but they were overruled. It seems to me that in some sports and games it would be virtually impossible to make a division, while in others it is almost done away with now. For instance, when we send a cricket side to the West Indies or Australia, we send the best players available, regardless of whether they are professional or amateur. It has always been so and it has always worked extremely well. But there are other sports in which there is no question that the better player attracts high remuneration and has to put his whole time to it, and he duly becomes a professional.
This is a difficulty which, I think, is not very easy to solve, but I consider that the day has come when amateur status will have to go. I believe that in most games most of us will remain amateurs, whether we like it or not, because we shall never become sufficiently proficient to make a shilling. Younger ones who take up sports, however, may excel in them, and someone will want to hire them, and there is no 830 reason why they should not make it their profession. But so many people try to keep the differentiation by giving travel allowances and free hotels, and so produce what is known as the "shamateur". These people are taken on by big commercial firms and they are known to be executives of the firms concerned, who derive some commercial publicity value by having a well-known sportsman on their books, though he never actually does a hand's turn for the firm. While still ranking as amateur, he gets his travelling paid and free hotel bills. In many cases, the professionals resent this, and I am not surprised.
In regard to other countries, can we honestly say that teams from the other side of the Iron Curtain who come to the Olympic Games are all what we call amateurs—people who run at week-ends and go down on evenings in the summer to do a bit of practice? I think that that is highly improbable. We find ourselves competing with teams of people playing off a different basis. There are some people who would rather have it like this, who would rather lose and at the end still be able to say, "We are amateurs"; but I think that the difference is becoming rather absurd and I admit that I am in the other category.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that this is a very difficult question. I also want to abolish the differences that now exist. But would the noble Lord make a distinction if his local rugby team were to be faced by another which arrived with three professionals? If so, this would gradually drive out the amateurs
I suggest that if a rugby team was sufficiently well off to be able to pay some of the players, it would be a mistake to play against them at all.
Another part of the Report deals with the Press. It says that sports writers have considerable responsibilities. I should like to quote three or four lines which put it rather well:If the sports editor prefers a story with an interesting 'slant' to a true story, or is happy to accent entertaining accounts based on untruths or half-truths, secure in the knowledge that the public's interest will usually have passed to something else by the time, if ever, that it becomes necessary to correct them, then his reporters will be more concerned with creating an effect than with recording an event possibly harming sport to promote circulation.831 I think there is a lot in that. Most of us have been horrified at different times at the sensationalism in some parts of the Press in connection with this or that player or sport. The Report says that sport would not flourish without the support of the Press. I am a little doubtful about that statement. I think that sports will continue even without the Press, although it is very good to read the sports pages. I find it hard to put down the Daily Telegraph until I have read the sports pages from end to end. It is a question of the responsible attitude of the sports editors and of the proprietors of our great newspapers, who can set the tone if they want to.
Then we come to the question of "ghost" writers. The Report is very sceptical about them. In recent years, we have seen distressing instances. We had Compton, who was encouraged to criticise his captain, Hutton, in the Test Match. Whether or not it helped circulation and helped Compton's finances—I imagine it did—it was a pity, and everybody thought so. There was the even more flagrant case of Laker, of Surrey, who not only signed an extraordinary article written by a "ghost" but even had his pass to the Oval taken away from him, which could not have been very nice for a man who played cricket for his country with great distinction. In passing, I would give three cheers for Mr. Danny Blanchflower, who frankly declined to reveal his private life on television.
Then the newspapers tell us about quarrels between players, and these are built up. They say that such-and-such a player is not speaking to another, and all that kind of thing, which is probably not true anyway. Your Lordships will remember the body-line bowling controversy, when we were told that, if something was not done about it, Australia would leave the Commonwealth. This was stated quite seriously. All I can say is that the bowler most concerned went out to Australia after the Test Matches and is still living there, so he could not have been much affected by it. It all boils down to a ridiculous point.
Also we have all the reports from the Olympic Games, about everybody squabbling with everybody else. Whenever a reporter has an idle moment, his 832 editor says, "Boy, let's have something goodª" So he goes down to the Olympic Village and finds someone who has six out of six in the high jump and says, "You've had bad luck." The jumper says, "Yes, I did." It appears in the paper as "So-and-so dissatisfied with conditions." And so it goes on. Your Lordships have all read this kind of thing. It shows a grave lack of responsibility and it is quite out of keeping with what does happen at the Olympic Games.
When the Games were held at Wembley in 1948 I was asked to look after the opening ceremony. The opening day was an extremely hot one —the hottest day that I can remember—and Wembley Stadium was like an oven. We had 6,000 athletes from 60 countries all over the world to herd into some kind of order and get them into the arena, with their national flags and so on. Your Lordships can imagine that there might have been a very nasty atmosphere. But I have never heard so much goodwill expressed on a really hot day: everybody got on well with everybody else, and all were showing each other the way. There was no question of any unpleasantness that I was able to see. But I doubt very much if that is the impression which would have been gained from reading the irresponsible sections of the sensational Press.
Before I resume my seat, I should like to say this, since it refers to a name inseparable from any question of Olympic Games or, indeed, sport at all. Many years ago, in the early 'twenties, a young officer with a reputation for being able to run, came to the battalion in which I was serving. I used to run a bit myself, but so badly that I was never able to keep in sight of him. After a little time he asked for a few days' leave to go to Amsterdam to take part in the Olympic Games, where he duly won the hurdles. I refer, of course, to the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter (Lord Burghley, as he then was) whom we are all so glad to see back with us to-day, partly, at least, restored to his pristine health. I can only say that he returned to us a great hero, which mantle he wore with becoming modesty. But even in those days in my company I detected, I thought, signs of Bolshevism in him, and I see from my newspaper yesterday 833 that this was not entirely ill-founded. I am told—by that newspaper—that an American gentleman has seen fit to institute investigations into the politics of the noble Marquess, and if that American gentleman is proved to be right, it seems that we shall have our first, and probably last, Communist Member of the House of Lordsª
§ 4.12 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHESTER
My Lords, as a member of the Wolfenden Committee on Sport, I must first declare my interest in the subject under debate, and express my gratitude to the noble Lord who has moved in this matter. I am quite sure, also, that the members of the Committee, when they come to read the Report of this debate, will be most grateful for the extremely kind and generous things that have been said about our work. Such confidence, however, as I might have brought to myself by the inside information that I have as a member of the Committee has been completely dissipated by the situation in which I find myself of addressing your Lordships' House for the first time. But most of your Lordships have yourselves passed through this ordeal, and I am sure, therefore, that I may appeal to your sympathy, and also to the generosity which you normally extend to anyone in such a situation, in the shortcomings which no doubt you will observe in what I have to say. What small meed of comfort I can cull from the situation is to be found in the fact that I am addressing your Lordships on Ash Wednesday, a day which is properly devoted to exercises of a penitential nature.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has told your Lordships the circumstances in which the Wolfenden Committee was set up and, therefore, it is unnecessary for me to go into those; nor would I ask your Lordships to bear with me in going through a number of the details of our Report. But I would ask leave to speak of the general impressions which I, as one who had no experience of the wide range of sporting activities in this country, carried away from our long and careful investigation of the evidence laid before us.
The first impression was that of the wide variety of the organisations of various sports in this country. There are, first, the great composite bodies— 834 the British Olympic Association, the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the National Playing Fields Association—each of which, in its particular way, is doing a magnificent piece of work for the sporting activities of this country, often under conditions of great financial stringency. Then there is this proliferation of governing bodies, ranging from the great bodies, like the M.C.C., the Rugby Union and the Football Association, down to quite small organisations which are responsible for very minor and apparently unimportant games.
This, of course, is not a very tidy situation, and it inevitably leads to anomalies. The noble Lord has, for instance, referred to the extremely difficult problem of defining the status of the amateur. At least something could be done if the governing bodies of sport were to come together and discuss this matter and try to find some way out of the impasse. But though this is an untidy situation, it yet represents something which is extremely valuable and important: for it represents this volume of voluntary activity upon which the sporting activities of this country rest. Up and down the country there are thousands of people who are giving of their time and energy in order to organise sport, to make the conditions available and to coach and teach. It is important that in any discussion on this matter we should recognise the fundamentally amateur nature of the great majority of sports in this country. We should not wish to disturb that in any way; and, indeed, the recommendations of the Committee are directed only towards making available the facilities whereby this volume of amateur activity may be given full range.
The next matter of interest to note is, I think, the relationship between the pattern of society in which we live and the nature of the sporting activities in which we take a part. It is not so very long ago since the higher activities in sport were largely confined to those who had the money and the leisure to play games, or to the professional; and the professional was generally regarded as holding rather a menial position. Now all that has changed. There are few people who can afford the time and leisure to play games in such a way that 835 they can reach the higher flights; and the professional is an honoured person in our society. One of the most notable and excellent features of all this is that many sports which in the old days were regarded as the perquisite only of the affluent are now available to anyone who wants to play them. Thus, for instance there are activities arranged by the Outward Bound Trust: there is yachting; there are ski-ing and climbing activities—all things which in the old days were open only to those who could afford to do them, but which almost anyone who wants to can now enjoy. Certainly these facilities should be made available to all who want them.
The third feature to which I would draw attention is the quite extraordinary raising of the standards of performance. World records which have stood for many years have in a most dramatic way been broken in recent years. This is largely due to the fact of international competition, and that is something, I think, of which we must take note. I know, of course, that many people, I think rightly, would be suspicious of thinking of the Olympic Games as merely an occasion for national prestige, especially when it is given a political twist. But we cannot avoid the consequences of international competition if we are going to take part in it, and I think that most of us are uplifted when we know that one of our competitors has won a gold medal at the Olympic Games, and we are equally depressed when our teams do badly in international competition.
We ought, therefore, to provide the facilities whereby those who are extremely skilful are given the opportunity to develop their skill to the highest degree. This is not only a matter merely of producing stars. It is also something which reflects itself the whole way down the system, for the star performers can be produced only when there is a steady and wholesome system of coaching and opportunity the whole way down the scale. Therefore, when we are producing people of the highest class, it means that the system itself is good.
The fourth feature to which I would draw attention is the woeful lack of facilities in this country, at almost every level, for sporting activities. This is to 836 be seen at the top level in, for instance, the fact that there are only two swimming pools of Olympic standards available in this country, those at Blackpool and Cardiff. Therefore, if our athletes want to train under Olympic conditions, they have to go to one or other of those places. Let me give your Lordships another illustration. At the Olympic Games in Rome there were 33 countries competing in the rowing events. Only two of those countries do not have a course which conforms to Olympic standards—Greece and this country. That is something which some of us feel is highly regrettable. All down the scale there is this lack of facilities. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Luke, will speak from the point of view of the National Playing Fields Association, of which he has such great knowledge. They have set as an ideal that there should be six acres of playing fields for every 1,000 of the population. We are very far from that ideal, but we are even further from the requirements that are necessary in providing facilities under cover—places where people can play games in the evenings, under floodlight, in bad weather, and so on. There is a great need for research into this matter, and for a proper provision of the facilities.
This matter is fundamentally one of finance, because in many cases the local authorities are only too ready to provide some of the necessary facilities, but they are not given permission to raise the necessary capital. There are, of course, ways in which the matter can be ameliorated. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has spoken of the requirement of tax remissions. Again, if I may speak from my own experience, the stewards of Henley Royal Regatta have had to pay in income tax since the war a figure of between £11,000 and £12,000—money which could well have been expended in the better provision of facilities for those who take part and those who come to watch. But the matter cannot be dealt with merely by remission of income tax, or by rate relief. The sums involved are too great for that; this must be a matter of call upon the National Exchequer.
There, then, my Lords, is the sort of pattern with which we are faced; a great variety of organisation; a large number of people who want to take part; an 837 increasing standard and facilities which do not give full opportunity. It was to that situation that the Wolfenden Committee had to address itself and to decide how it could best advise that it should be met. Obviously, the easiest solution, and in many ways the most attractive, was to ask that the Ministry of Education should exercise in fuller measure the powers which it already possesses by Statute. We did not feel, after very careful consideration, that this was the right solution, although we recognised that those bodies which are grant-aided by the Ministry have the very happiest relationships with it. But in the first place this matter concerns more than just the Ministry of Education. It is as much the concern of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Moreover, our concern was not only for young people, but for the whole of society: the provision of bowling greens for old gentlemen as much as cricket pitches and football pitches for the younger ones.
Thirdly, we were most anxious that there should be provision for international competition, and we understand that it is not statutorily possible for either of the Ministries to give that kind of help. But our main reason for suggesting some other way of implementing our suggestions was because we believe that sport in this country needs encouragement of an imaginative kind, and we did not feel that the stimulus would be provided merely by attaching this to the Ministry of Education, fearing, as we did, that it might take a very low place in priority. It was for that reason that we felt that the situation could be met only by the setting up of a Sports Development Council. I do not think we had in mind that there would be many exhausted gladiators on that body. There might be some, but we certainly wanted men of wisdom, experience and administrative ability, men who would build up a feeling of confidence that would finally be of the greatest possible value to sport in general.
We hoped that it might be possible for the Government to make available a sum of £5 million which could be given in grant-aid to the governing bodies of sport and to other activities which needed help in this way. We further hoped that the Sports Development Council would be accepted by the Ministries concerned as an advisory body, and so be able to 838 direct where capital investment would be put to the best possible use. We further hoped that, in the course of time, this body would build up for itself such a reputation that it would be able to guide and help sporting activities generally. I disagree with only one point in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in which he spoke of this body as being a kind of gadfly stimulating sporting activities where they were not doing their work. I do not think we had that in mind for the Sports Development Council. We thought of it rather as analogous to the Arts Council—as a body which, by its experience, would gain the confidence of sporting activities and be able to do much to help them forward.
I am aware that there are some who would feel that to-day we are dealing with trivialities, that there are matters far more important upon which funds should be expended, and that we ought to concern ourselves with matters of greater importance. I suppose that to some extent we shall all have a measure of sympathy for that point of view. We know that there are matters of greater importance than sporting activities. We know that those people whose sole concern is sporting activities can be very tiresome; we know the bore, the person who has no subject of conversation but his own athletic prowess. But I suggest, my Lords, that in thinking of the happiness and the stability of the society in which we live we should be wise to start with people where they are, rather than where we think they ought to be. If that is our criterion, then there can be no doubt that the matters which we are discussing this afternoon touch very closely the interest of every man. For, whether we think it right or not, the great majority of people are deeply concerned in sporting activities. They find a great deal of their enjoyment and their health in playing game; they find great interest in watching games and studying games, and they find much stability in the loyalties which sporting activities call forth from them. And in a society which, as the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, reminded us, is going to have more and more leisure in the future, how important it is that we should give every encouragement to young and old to find their happiness and their satisfaction in these healthy pursuitsª
839 So, my Lords, I would make an earnest plea to Her Majesty's Government, that they may be prepared to implement the suggestions made in the Report of the Wolfenden Committee on Sport: that they should be prepared to set up a Sports Development Council and to provide for it those funds which will be necessary, in order that it can do its work properly and so make, as I believe, a great contribution to the happiness and the stability of the society in which we live.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF EXETER
My Lords, it falls to my very happy lot to congratulate the right reverend Prelate on the wonderful speech to which we have just listened. This is a subject on which I am not entirely ignorant, but after having heard him I feel there is little I can contribute which he has not already said. We know him, of course, not only as a member of the Wolfenden Committee—he sat through all their deliberations—but also as himself, in his younger day, a great man in sport. He rowed for a University which, as a Cambridge man, I prefer to call "another place", and after that so great was the confidence in him and affection for him that he has been referee on many times of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. f understand, too, that when he was Suffragan Bishop near Wembley on Cup Final days there was always a special seat which he invariably filled. I hope we may on many future occasions hear words of such interest and wisdom as we have heard from him to-day.
My Lords, I hope you will forgive me, after what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has said, if I do not speak in the rôle which I understand, from reading the newspapers, I am considered to fill with such distinction on the other side of the Atlantic. At any rate, it is a strange thing that this subject of sport has not been discussed more often. We spend many hours, and quite rightly, in discussing the question of health; we spend may hours discussing the question of delinquency, and we talk of all sorts of measures for getting over some of the difficulties. Surely everything contained in this Committee's Report if it is implemented is going to lead to a healthier youth, which means that health is going to be better in the country: 840 and I believe a tremendous lot can be done in reducing delinquency if only these proposals are carried out. There is, as you have read in the Report, a distinct gap between the time children leave school and their going into some healthy form of recreation, sport or the many things which are covered by this Report.
The Report really deals with three separate factors, three separate spheres. The first one is facilities, and on that we are presently going to hear from the greatest expert in the country, the noble Lord, Lord Luke, who is Chairman of the National Playing Fields Association. That body is a repository for all the knowledge we have in this country on how to make the best possible use of playing facilities in a given area. In addition, that Association has been responsible for raising very large sums of money, and there are many groups of young people who are indeed grateful for the activities of the National Playing Fields Association in providing those facilities.
The next group we have is the one covered by the Central Council. It has a very wide range of activities, as you have heard, from mountaineering to hiking, and every one of the noncompetitive recreations and some of the smaller competitive ones, too. The Central Council play an active part, and on occasions are a great help to some of the larger competitive bodies, as well. The third sphere is the one I should like to talk about, because it is the one on which I am most qualified to speak, and that is the sphere of competitive sport. In this group we have one body, which is a comprehensive body, like the other two, and which covers something like 25 different sports. That is the British Olympic Association. We are primarily bound to that by our interest in the Olympic Games, but we are also bound to it because another of its activities is to act as a forum for discussing such problems as amateurism and other questions which affect the various members.
The British Olympic Association, under its laws and rules, has to be controlled by the governing bodies. It might interest your Lordships if, for one moment, I were to give a pen picture of the set-up of sport in the world. In almost every country the unit on which competitive sport is based is the club.
841 There are district committees; there is a national governing body, whether it is the Amateur Swimming Association or the A.A.A. for the runners, or whatever it is; that national governing body is also affiliated to an international one, and there are many of those with enormous ramifications in the world now.
My own body, of which I have been President for about sixteen years, includes 106 member countries. It is that body which lays down rules and laws for international competition, on which are based the rules and regulations for the member countries. That is why, although people talk lightheartedly about changing amateur rules and the like, they cannot do it, because it has to be by decision of the international body. If you want to compete in international sport you must undertake, when you affiliate, that you will keep to the rules as laid down by the Congress of the body as a whole.
I had not intended to speak about amateurism but I cannot resist it, in order to refute what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said. There is no chance whatever of any considerable change in the amateur rules in the world. The International Federation have discussed this subject; it is continuously before them. There are representatives from this country and from the other 100 countries. The last time a change was put up to my Federation it was defeated by an overwhelming majority, because my members believe, as I believe, that the whole basis of this great edifice is that it is an amateur body. It is built on a large number of men and women who have become dedicated, who have given up practically the whole of their spare time in their lives to try to do something for the sport out of which they have had such fun themselves, in order that the young people coming along may have the same fun and enjoyment.
That is the basis of our sport. How many of those dedicated men do you think would be prepared to do this if all they were doing it for was that, when people got to the top, they could enjoy material rewards for so doing? There is nothing wrong in, in fact there is everything to be said for, professional sport. It is wholly admirable, but it is entertainment business. Our sport is 842 based on recreation. And let us not forget that there is not a single young man or young woman who goes into amateur sport who has gone in with the thought in their minds: "What am I going to get out of it at the top?" They go in for good recreational reasons, and they want to get that much out of it. They do not think, "I am going to be able to make some money at the end".
My Lords, will the noble Marquess forgive me for interrupting? He would not say that that referred to the Lawn Tennis Association, who found after a time that the situation was becoming quite absurd—that the winner at Wimbledon becomes a professional the same afternoon. The noble Marquess has just said that few people take up any form of game thinking that they are going to get some financial reward at the end. But there are many games in regard to which they think just that. Tennis is one; golf is another. It is not so with all games, but with some.
§ THE MARQUESS OF EXETER
My Lords, if that is the only reason why they go in, I say that they are not true amateurs. I believe that they are a very small minority. May I tell you what has happened in the most widely practised sport in the world—athletics? We have a rule that nobody can go abroad for more than twenty-eight days in the year at the instance of am invitation from another country, because we feel that they ought to have another job in life and not be dependent on sport for their livelihood. We generally give no more than two permits a year for people to stay longer than that, except in cases where those concerned are coming from a long way away, like Australia, and they may need more time—say two extra Saturdays—to compete. That is the view still held. You make your promise to the Olympic Games that you are an amateur. To do that when you are not is, to my mind, cheating. Because one person may do it, that does not mean that the whole of the rules so far as the rest of the community is concerned must be changed.
We must think in terms of the masses, for they are more important than the few who get to the top. It is the masses we have to think of—the little football, 843 cricket and athletic clubs in the country. It is they we wish to strenghten. That is why this wonderful Report which Sir John Wolfenden has produced is going to help enormously. Take the administrative and controlling bodies of the various sports. One sport in this country had as its only office "staff" the goodwill of the honorary secretary, who was successful in business and gave up his time, he paying his clerks to stay on and do the work for him after hours. Is that how you can organise a great sport for the young people of this country? It is in the unromantic ways, where a contribution could be given to an organisation, which would make an enormous difference as far as the sport is concerned.
The right reverend Prelate has spoken to us of other Departments, as well as the Ministry of Education being affected. I would add to the two that he mentioned the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Colonial Office, the Exchequer itself and the Board of Trade. There are frequent occasions when teams are asked to go abroad and when it would be an excellent thing for goodwill between our country and the other country that the team should go, but there just is not the money to send it. The next Empire Games are going to be held in Perth, in Australia. I do not know whether the money will be easily forthcoming or not. But suppose it were not: would it not be a terrible thing if this country were not fully represented at those Games in Perth? Would it not be a terrible thing if some small country with whom we were on good terms were to send an athletic team and we could not, because enough money could not be raised from the matches we hold to send a team? In this way something can be done in regard to helping teams to go abroad.
I was most interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said about the Olympic Games. He is perfectly right. I have been present at seven, sometimes more active than at other times. The results on every occasion that I have been there, except for one or two (not the last one or two occasions), have done nothing but bring the people of the world closer together, because all these young people are heroes and heroines in their own countries, and when they go back to those countries they are listened 844 to. What they say can have a great influence on people in those countries. I believe that that has as much force behind the Iron Curtain as on this side —incidentally, in sport we have no Iron Curtain.
I will not keep your Lordships any longer, except to make one final point —namely, that if this help is forthcoming, which I hope it will be, it will be only a partial help. Nothing is worse for anybody than to have everything given to him on a plate. We should still have to work hard to raise more money. But, equally, it would help us to spread our wings, to be ready to receive these young people into our sports and to bridge that gap between the school and sport. But I do not believe that this goes far enough. I believe that you can provide all the facilities and you can have the organisation ready, but it is going to need a great propaganda action right through the community, not only by politicians but by parents in the home, by teachers in the schools, and by all of us, to get these young people to realise that they are going to get fun and enjoyment by going into sport; that they will find in it a great deal of pleasant recreation; and that they will be much better citizens thereby.
I thank your Lordships for bearing with me for so long on this most complicated subject. I would conclude by saying how deeply we in competitive sport appreciate the immense work of Sir John Wolfenden and his Committee. We hope that the Government will now see that this is something which can be implemented—I am certain it will be—to the advantage of the youth, not only of to-day but, even more important, of to-morrow.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD LUKE
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships would wish me to pay a tribute, not to a maiden speech but to the speech to which we have just listened from my noble friend Lord Exeter, and to say how glad we are to see him back in his full health again. These days we talk of the "wind of change," but I should like to refer to his magnificent whirlwind that I hope has got down on the Record. Who better to speak on these subjects than he who has done so much, in this country and in the international sphere, for athletics? 845 May I add my tribute, too, to the right reverend Prelate for Iris maiden speech and for his contribution, not only to the debate but to the Report itself.
I am sure that we all welcome the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in moving this Motion. What he said was, I think, a very good exposition of what this Report contains. I am glad to see that a sprinkling of noble Lords have a copy of the Report. I do not know whether all your Lordships have read it. I am not going to take your Lordships through it paragraph by paragraph. I am quite sure that some of my noble friends have already expected me to give a lecture on the National Playing Fields Association. I shall not do that, but, in passing, I shall have some comments to make on it.
My Lords, I believe that this Report conies at a most opportune moment. It applies itself to the needs of the community both in sport and in recreation, I think it is probably true that this is the first time that it has all been written down in black and white. It points out not only what those needs are, but also the efforts that have been made by, and indeed the achievements of, both the State and voluntary bodies up to date. There is emphasis in the Report on greater co-ordination, and I believe that that is immensely important: and co-ordination between those statutory bodies that are trying to provide these facilities and all the voluntary bodies who are giving effort to that. I think there is always room for co-ordination between the two, although I have always found relations extremely good. The relations of the National Playing Fields Association with the Ministry of Education, in particular, and other Ministries, are extremely cordial. We have a very good working arrangement, not only at that level but right the way down through our own local associations, with local authorities and local education authorities. It is possible that in this co-ordination and between the two sets of bodies (speaking still of voluntary and statutory bodies) there may be a case for greater all-round appreciation of the efforts and work of each component part. Perhaps we do not now get close enough together on that. All these composite bodies (I will not name them all, for I hope that at this 846 stage in the debate we now know them) have contributed in their turn to cohesion in all these matters, through their affiliations, both on the sports side and the voluntary side, and on what. I would call the statutory side. I believe we shall all agree that expansion in activities and facilities is most desirable and imperative if a move forward is to be made in the whole process, not only of making available adequate facilities for a wide range of sport and recreation but, even more important, the introduction, and guidance and training of young people into making the best and utmost use of what is offered to them.
Perhaps I might say just a word here about the facilities situation. All I can say is that the demand never ceases. We are getting applications from all over the United Kingdom every day of the year, and we simply have to pare down what we can do. We never like to refuse a grant, but if, for example, the application is for an indoor swimming pool which would take the whole of our resources for one year on that one object, obviously we have to say that we are very sorry but we cannot do it. By and large, we try to make some kind of grant to any scheme that comes along and seems to be one which should have a grant but too often it means that every grant has to be scaled down, and obviously we could do so much more if we had more money—as we ought to have
One important point has been made in the Report in the comparison between the facilities in this country and those in other parts of the world. It is quite obvious that those in some countries, Scandinavia and others, are very much better, which does not do us any credit. But I am very glad to note that the Report emphasises that the comparison is not wholly unfavourable to us. We in this country are still a long way behind in recognising what effect social changes have had in shaping the new pattern of life to-day. The right reverend Prelate mentioned this. The pressure is there. We have all been feeling it. Many organisations have been trying to relieve that pressure, and I believe that this Report, and the Albemarle Report which preceded it, have cleared our minds and shown us the way to that path we should be treading if we are to remedy the situation before it is too late.
847 As I see it, there is a good deal of frustration on both sides of the fence: on the part of young people as a whole, in that they do not seem to be fitting into the framework of things—or it may be that the framework is wrong and out of date; and on the other side, the frustration of willing people up and down the country who are trying, through statutory and voluntary means, to provide what the young people want. Or perhaps we have all made the mistake of trying to do too much on what is thought suitable for them to have. I do not know, but I think that is our big problem to-day.
As to the proposed Sports Development Council, I understand that opinion among sports bodies is not entirely unanimous but there is overwhelming approval among sports organisations for the proposal. I took note of what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, about people of "administrative ability" and "not retired gladiators". I do not know where the noble Lord is looking when he says that—but I will leave that. The right reverend Prelate said that it was rather an untidy situation, with all these various sports bodies all over the place. I feel, however, that it is important to ensure that there should be no over-all or "take-over" body to take authority away from individual organisations, because I think all of them are doing great work as autonomous bodies and should be encouraged to continue. With a great number of them we have possibilities for flexibility, which is very important for research and pioneering and which we might lose if one over-all body were to take them over. But it is a fact that many are prevented, by financial problems, from doing all they would wish and what we should all like to see them achieve.
Finance is, of course, the nub of the whole matter. If a case has been made out—and I think it has—for a great step forward, then it is incumbent on the State to lend what I would call a greater hand than is being given at the moment. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, gave us impressive figures—they appear in the Report, and I will not take your Lordships through them. We are all appreciative of what the State does at the moment through the Ministry of Education 848 and other agencies. The voluntary bodies, supported by the good will and voluntary contributions of millions of people, and of industry, carry on and have done wonders over the years. It may interest your Lordships to know that through the generosity of countless people, the National Playing Fields Association have ploughed back into fields and playgrounds over £500,000 in the last ten years; and the Ministry of Education in the last six years have given £317,500 for the same purpose.
I believe it is of concern to everyone that the voluntary spirit in supporting and contributing should not be stemmed. But is is equally important that expansion should not be delayed any longer; and therefore the sum of £10 million suggested in the Report is not unreasonable, and I hope that this suggestion will be given most serious consideration by Her Majesty's Government. We all know the answer may be that these suggestions are highly desirable—"But not just now; the time is not propitious." I have never discovered a propitious moment, and I do not think your Lordships will have done, either. We may decide that sport must be content to go along at the same pace, no faster; that it must continue its marathon alone, walking not running. So here we are again, suppliants—cap in hand—hoping to get back some of the money which originally belonged to us and which the State bath taken away in great abundance. We are not just begging for ourselves but for those whom we seek to serve, the great and growing new generations for whom we all have a care and who we think are not getting their fair share in terms of all that the Wolfenden Report has so strongly recommended.
§ 4.59 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I follow two really "big guns", two whom I would call—I dare not say "professional", but technical experts. I am the merest amateur, but as a member of the Council of the British Olympic Association I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to add my few words of appreciation of the Wolfenden Report. I should like, first, if I may, to add my congratulations to those of your Lordships who have already congratulated the right reverend Prelate on his powerful speech and for the part which 849 he took on the Wolfenden Committee. I should also like to say how glad I am to see my noble and old friend Lord Burghley, the Marquess of Exeter, back in his seat in this Chamber after the very severe operation he has undergone. I hope that we shall see him back again in future, perhaps not actually hopping hurdles, but at least walking around with us as he used to do. I saw him winning a gold medal in Los Angeles and he was very much a hero in those days, as he always has been and will be, I hope, with the crowd in America. I only hope that the odd publicity he has recently received will not tarnish his reputation in arty way.
My Lords, I welcome the Wolfenden Report. This country used to be world leader in sport, but we have come to the position now where we consider ourselves lucky if we get six medals. How, indeed, have the mighty fallenª Our athletes have done their best, and, in fact, in most cases have run faster and jumped higher than they have ever run or jumped before. But the fact remains that the world has surpassed us. Not only is this serious. There is the mere fact that so few of our athletes have been able to reach qualifying Olympic standards. What is the reason for this? There is only one, and that is lack of training facilities. And what is the reason for that but the lack of money?
The lack of training facilities cannot be good for the physical well-being of the youth of to-day and of future generations. If this state of affairs continues we shall become, as we are rapidly becoming now, mere watchers of professionals playing games, which is no doubt very good for the lungs of the spectators but is certainly not good, or very little good, for those who watch sport on T.V. If future generations are to be healthy and active, the money must be found to provide facilities for sport, both indoor and outdoor.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? I have no means of knowing whether the Wolfenden Committee are correct in what they say on the point, but I should think that they have taken very great trouble to try to get at the facts. They say that there are more people, and especially more young people, now participating in physical recreation of one 850 kind and another than ever before. That is their view, and I put it forward deferentially against the view of the noble Earl that we are becoming a lot of viewers.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, the noble Earl is quite right. There are far more young people taking part in sport to-day than there were when he and I were young. But the fact remains that nowadays we are leading far more sedentary lives in our occupations, with the arrival of the motor car, the motor cycle and the lift. We do not walk upstairs any more; we do not walk along the street but catch a bus or go on our motor bicycle. It is exactly for this reason that more facilities must be found to persuade more and more: people to take their exercise through the medium of games and sports, 'whether indoor or outdoor. This is necessary for that very reason: they do not take exercise in the normal way in their lives as we used to do when young.
There is no doubt that the governing bodies do their best, as the noble Marquess has already told your Lordships. They do their best with what little money they have; and the officials give generously of their time—their free time—in extensor. But the facilities at present available for sport of all kinds—for cricket, hockey, tennis, golf, et cetera—provide exercise for only a fairly small minority, in spite of the fact that there are more young people taking part in sport; and, in a way, they are the well-to-do minority at that. Furthermore, these sports can be played only in day time. If such activities are to be extended they must not be confined to day time and week-ends only. And what does this mean? It means floodlighting and indoor facilities.
Moreover, our climate being what it is, facilities for indoor sports and training must be provided in all towns and centres of population. Wherever possible, these facilities should be of Olympic standard. It is a disgrace to this country that Brian Phelps, our high diving medallist at Rome, whenever he wanted to go and practise high diving, had to go from London where he lived (as the right reverend Prelate has said) to Blackpool or Cardiff. This great city of London cannot even provide one high-diving board at Olympic standard. To me, that is one of the worst disgraces 851 There are many other examples—the noble Prelate gave one more—but I will not weary your Lordships with them.
I am not suggesting that all the facilities throughout the country should be of Olympic standard, but there should be sufficient of them scattered throughout the country so that people like Brian Phelps can go to them without enormous expense, waste of time and difficulty. The Government at the moment take upwards of £50 million a year out of sport in one form and another. Surely it should follow the example which it has already set itself, in that it is to plough back moneys taken out of horse racing into improving race tracks and improving horse breeding. It must take this example still further and plough some of this £50 million back into sport of all kinds. The Wolfenden Report has mentioned a figure of £10 million, and said that this should be distributed in one form or another in outdoor and indoor facilities. My Lords, this the Government ought to do. It should set up a Sports Development Council, as suggested in the Wolfenden Report, which must operate with the minimum of red tape and with the minimum of State control, if, indeed, any State control at all.
At the moment it is the few who take part in active sport. What is needed is that the many should be encouraged to do it if we are to remain a healthy community in this age of the motor car, the motor cycle, lifts and other labour-saving devices. I would end by congratulating Sir John Wolfenden and his Committee on their fine Report, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for bringing this Motion to your Lordships' House.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, I should like first of all to congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his excellent maiden speech. The Report itself is an outstandingly fine document. I admit that when I started reading it I found it extremely difficult to put it down, because it is so full of sound and practical sense. I declare no interest in this particular matter. The only form of physical recreation in which I indulge now is a rather poor game of tennis, and running. Indeed, I occasionally go for a run before breakfast, and I find it 852 a most exhilarating pastime. I feel that if more young people, particularly, did the same, there would be far fewer colds than there are now. However, that is a matter, perhaps, for the medical profession.
I should like to say a word about running tracks. Of course, finance is the problem surrounding all forms of sport, but running, surely, arouses very few financial problems. A track suit and a pair of shoes are just about all the clothing that is needed, apart of course, from the provision of a running track. If I may quote the example of London, we still see enormous bombed sites, particularly in the City and in various areas in South-East London—sites that are still overgrown with weeds, and for which, so far as I know, no particular purpose has yet been allocated. Surely there must be some use in the field of sport to which these could be put—indoor running tracks, cinder tracks, where youngsters, in their lunch-hour, if necessary, could have the opportunity of taking exercise.
My Lords, we spend a great deal of money in this country on trying to reform delinquents, juvenile and otherwise, and a great deal of the problem of juvenile delinquency, as my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will doubtless agree, is brought about by the fact that they are bored and have no way in which to run off or get rid of their surplus energy. The provision of more running tracks, indoor and outdoor, would surely help a great deal there. The money spent on facilities of this kind would, I feel convinced, offset much of the money which is being spent at present in combating juvenile crime. This is borne out in the Albemarle Report on the Youth Service in England and Wales, paragraphs 235 and 236. I will not quote these paragraphs, but they emphasise the need for more indoor tennis courts and more all-weather, hard pitches and cinder tracks. I could not agree more with those recommendations.
The problem of financial support is, of course, a very big one, and obviously Her Majesty's Government must, understandably, go carefully here, when we already have a very large bill to pay (and rightly so) for social services, transport, defence and other things. But I do feel that perhaps local authorities could help more here, and that ld. or 2d. on 853 the local rates would not impose a very serious hardship. A great deal of the "local boy" aspect of sport is now disappearing. Take, for example, some of the county cricket clubs. Take, for example, the Somerset County Cricket Club. How many Somerset players are, in fact, playing for that county? What is the reason for the present situation? It is, very probably, that it is not sufficiently remunerative for them to do so; and I feel that that is a great pity. This is not confined to cricket: it applies to other sports as well. I feel that, with Government encouragement, local authorities could give far more of a lead to local youngsters, particularly, to indulge in these various forms of sport.
So far as the Olympic Games are concerned, I would say only this as to the few incidents in them that I saw on television. The atmosphere seemed to me to be quite excellent, and the performances of our own teams most praiseworthy. As the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, rightly said, some of the Press reports were in the worst taste. Some incidents probably have occurred during the history of the Olympic Games, but both our men and our women have put up some remarkably good performances. My Lords, medals are not everything. Prestige counts a great deal; and much of what has been ac accomplished in the field of sport has done a very great deal on the international scene. Summit Conferences are a very good thing, but to bring a team of footballers, or another team of sportsmen, over from Iron Curtain countries, or for these teams to go to those countries to play a return match, can do a wealth of good in the field of international relations. As has been rightly said by the noble Lords far more qualified to speak on this subject than myself, the field of politics knows no barriers in sport.
I should like to say a word about the reference in the Report to television. I believe that television coverage of sport has done a wealth of good. Of course, 'there is the argument that it keeps people away from football matches, rugger matches, cricket matches and so on. Personally, I believe the converse to be true. At a Cup Final, one still has a record gate. I am prepared, rashly or otherwise, to predict that when the Australians come over next summer 854 to play us at cricket, there will be very few seats available for those who want to watch unless they book or arrive early. I believe that putting sport on to television has introduced a number of people to these sports, and those who want really to capture the atmosphere of a cricket match or a rugger match will still go to the match. They will not rely always on television. So I remain quite unconvinced by the argument which is sometimes put forward, that television is ruining the watching of sport where it is played.
There is one column in the Report which has not been referred to to-day: it concerns the somewhat controversial question of Sunday sport. I would say just this. I have umpired cricket matches on a Sunday and I have played cricket on a Sunday; and I shall continue to do so. I agree with the recommendations in the Report, to the effect that professional cricket on a Sunday is undesirable. But, equally, I believe that club cricket, played outside church hours, not only is a very healthy way of spending a Sunday but keeps youngsters (and here I come back to my main point) from hanging about the streets or other undesirable spots; and, of course, it enables them to work off their energies.
My Lords, this has been a very healthy debate, and I hope that the Government will take what has been said very seriously, and, particularly, will encourage the setting up of running tracks and playing fields where they are needed. Where I live, which is only fifteen miles from London, there is an appalling shortage of playing fields and sporting facilities generally, and it is a part of the country which has developed enormously in population over the past twenty years. I would add a plea particularly for the new towns—Stevenage, Crawley, Hemel Hempstead—where there is a young population growing up as compared with other parts of the country, where there is a really pressing need for sporting facilities. For I feel convinced, my Lords, that our present talent for the Olympic Games and for other sporting occasions is going to spring very largely from these new towns and communities where young people are now emerging.
As my final word I would congratulate my noble friend Lord Aberdare for raising this debate to-day, and particu- 855 larly the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, for a really well-informed and important speech. I hope that the Government will take serious note of all that has been said.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I should like to touch upon a subject which the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, discussed in the course of his speech, and that is the position of spectators at sports and games, people who often come in for unfavourable comment, and I thought they got rather a bad Press in your Lordships' House this afternoon as well. Very early in the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Wise, said:Watching and not playing has a bad streak in it.Of course, I entirely agree with the noble Lord that if young people (I think the noble Lord was discussing the young people here) continually watch games when they could well be playing themselves, that is a matter to be deprecated. But when it comes to the older people—of course, I do not mean the very old—and particularly the city dwellers, there is surely no better form of recreation for them than watching, if they feel so inclined, a game in the open air which they do enjoy watching.
Now, one would suppose that these older people would choose to do their watching of outdoor games in the summer time, and it is rather a curious thing that one finds that there is no single summer game in this country having strong local interest which would in any way compare with association football and its capacity to draw the crowds. One wonders why that should be. Association football has to put up with the handicap of bad weather for a large part of its season, and yet, in the summer time, there is no game which can draw crowds in the same way. The game that one supposes would fill the bill is first-class cricket, unless, of course, one had association football the whole year round. I see that in one of the papers this morning there is a proposal to that effect—that the professional football season should last from March to November. Whether that would be a good thing or not, I do not know. I should have thought that the people in this country would prefer to have an 856 alternative sport to association football to watch in the summer months. First-class cricket does not, for some reason, appear to fill this bill. It does not have the same magnetism as professional football.
Before going further into this matter in order to find the reason, one should, I think, pause to consider whether this is really a matter for Parliamentary discussion at all. One should consider whether the running of first-class cricket is not purely a matter for the body governing first-class cricket. It is only upon the basis that it is in the national interest that these older city dwellers, of whom I am speaking, should be lured into the open regularly to watch outdoor games in the summer time, that I think it is relevant and useful for Parliament to delve a little into this question, without, of course, going into the minutest detail.
I think the powers that be in first-class cricket have recognised that there is ceasing to be a demand for first-class cricket all day long, six days a week. It is well known that a Saturday afternoon always has been, and always will be, the popular time for watching first-class cricket, if you compare the lot of the football fan on a Saturday afternoon in the winter with that of the cricket supporter on a summer Saturday afternoon, the situation is something like this. The football fan arrives at the ground to see the match begin. He sees all the stars on both sides performing the whole time he is there. He sees a fast, exciting game. He sees the end of the game. And he is able to go home and tell his wife which side won a full five minutes before she could have discovered it for herself on the Light Programme.
But the cricket supporter arrives at the cricket ground at half past two in the afternoon. He hopes, no doubt, to see the stars of the batting side in action. If he is lucky, he will see them. But the game will have been going on since half past eleven that morning. The opening batsmen and the No. 3 may have acquitted themselves well and scored 50 runs apiece; but by half past two they may be out, and what the Saturday afternoon crowd will very likely see are the lesser lights of the batting side building the total up to a strong position. The match will continue on the Monday before a 857 much smaller crowd, and I suppose that the thrilling climax will probably be reached some time around lunch time on the Tuesday before a mere handful of spectators; and those who went home on the previous Saturday afternoon would have had, of course, but the faintest inkling of what the outcome of the match was likely to be.
I do not believe that first-class cricket needs to be organised in this way. The village sports clubs and league clubs know how to put on entertaining cricket matches upon a single afternoon and I believe that the big cricket grounds in our principal cities could take a leaf out of their book and put on Sunday afternoon cricket with the best performers. If the spectators knew that they would be there that evening to see the winning shot made, I believe that they would turn out in their thousands and be happy as kings, and first-class cricket would come into its own and find a new era of much greater prosperity than it is going through at the present time.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I feel much sympathy with what has just fallen from the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. I am sure that there is a great deal in what he said about the need for brighter cricket. But he will have seen that the attendances at the Test Match finished yesterday in Australia, between Australia and West Indies, have broken all records; and I think that there is a lesson to be learned there. If cricketers tried to emulate the West Indians in brightening cricket, they would find that their opponents would be more or less forced by public opinion to follow them, and many of cricket's problems would be solved. Perhaps the noble Lord will turn that over in his mind.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, may I say that. Test Matches are very special cases? We might perhaps have Saturday afternoon county matches and three-day Test matches.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, without following up the noble Lord in detail, I would say that the point is that in Australia there was a declining interest in cricket even among young people, who were turning over to tennis. As the result of the methods introduced 858 by the West Indians, there has been a complete change of attitude to cricket in Australia, which no doubt will spread far and wide and may help matters when our Australian friends come here.
It has been, as the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, said, a healthy debate. The noble Lord said he kept healthy by this constant running. I was looking him up in the records just now, and I should say that at the age of 34 he has another six years to run. I myself did a good deal of running at that time of life and have run round Christ Church Meadows more times than any man alive, so I suppose. But at 40 I believe the noble Lord will find that he wants to turn over to other pursuits, and I think that they might have been mentioned this afternoon.
We are all greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for introducing this debate in such a delightful and efficient way on what I would call the second Wolfenden Report. I had the privilege of introducing the debate in your Lordships' House on the first Wolfenden Report, on a subject more "up my street", as this is much more "up the street" of the noble Lord—I say it in terms of compliment. He is much more at home in these fields, just as I understand better how to find my way about in those pastures on which we roamed on the earlier occasion. I entirely agree with him in saying that Sir John Wolfenden and his colleagues, including the right reverend Prelate who has made such a tremendously impressive speech this afternoon, have performed a signal service. It is sometimes supposed that there is a sort of conflict between sport and philosophy, but here they are both in the same booklet and handled in the same penetrating way. It is a memorable Report, not only because of the fundamental analysis at the beginning but also for its practical conclusions. I was just a little surprised to hear the noble Lord include dancing in the list of sports.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, so long as it is confined to Morris dancing. I do not think that the noble Lord made himself absolutely plain on that point. Are we going to introduce "blues" for dancing into the universities. The noble Lord is a "Blue" more than once. I should not like to see them introduced into my old University, or even into Cambridge, represented so gloriously by the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter.
I would congratulate my colleague Lord Wise for the way he dealt with some of the main points from this side of the House. He told us, and I think that we were all much impressed, that he kept up his playing of football and cricket until over 50. That, I think, contains a lesson possibly to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, who seems to have reconciled himself to the r ôle of spectator during recent years, though I may have misunderstood him. At any rate, my noble friend has done a great deal for sport in his own area and elsewhere. I would suggest that old people would benefit from much wider facilities for playing golf, though everybody knows that it is agony to take up golf after 50; so if you take it up at all, take it up young. The Scots are a nation of golfers. It was supposed to have been promoted by the late Lord Balfour, though I do not know when he found the time to do so. The Irish, may I add, are also a nation of golfers. Golf has been passed over during this debate—unfortunately so.
The noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, has returned and I should like to say that many of us feel honoured at having taken part in a debate adorned by the noble Marquess because, in the eyes of many of us, British sport is linked inseparably with the past achievements of the noble Marquess and the present work he is doing for the country in the field of international sport.
The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, wanted to abolish either the professional or the amateur, I am not sure which. Art any rate, he wished to abolish the division between the two. He said that any club should be allowed to include professionals in their team, and if anybody did not like to play against professionals, he had better go elsewhere. I would suggest to the noble Lord that 860 that would be going too far in a direction for which I have quite a lot of sympathy. Most of us cannot reach professional standards, but I feel that the result of allowing teams to include some professionals would be that amateurs would be driven out of sport.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I think that if village teams began to arrive with professionals, though I know that occasionally they do so, it would be dangerous, and in soccer it would be really impossible to allow professionals to play without driving people out.
There is an amateur playing for Manchester United, in goal, at present, but I would say that, by and large, the amateurs would be driven out of soccer if professionals were allowed in.
My Lords, as the noble Earl says, golf has not been mentioned very much, but golfers, professional and amateur, all play together in the Open Championships. Nowadays a great number of the young men who turn to golf, and are perhaps of limited means, become professionals. I can see no harm in it whatsoever.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I have played golf with many men, young and old, and the number who have become professionals has escaped my recollection. I do not want to abolish open competitions, of course, but I understand that the noble Lord wants to abolish all restrictions and allow professionals to compete in amateur games. When I asked him whether he would allow professionals to play in amateur teams, he said that he would allow them in. But if there are no restrictions at all, it would drive amateurs out. I am not at all against professionals playing with amateurs in big championships. On the whole, I am all in favour of allowing professionals to play at Wimbledon and so treating that as an open championship. But that is a different question from there being no restriction whatever on professionals participating in amateur sport.
I thought that the noble Lord was rather hard, as, indeed, is the Report of 861 the Wolfenden Committee, on the sporting Press. He said that, like myself, he reads the Daily Telegraph. I do not know what life would be like if Mr. Swanton ceased to write any more. He writes the whole year round, mercifully, and in most parts of the world. We should be greatly diminished if we lacked his guidance, as, indeed, we should be if we lacked the inspiration of Mr. Brasher in Observer, or, for those who like to read the Daily Express, Mr. Hackett. I do not know Mr. Hackett, although I gather that he has a brown bowler which every now and again he sits on in moments of crisis; but there is no doubt that he is a vivid reporter. By and large, the reporting of sport in this country is magnificent, and I feel that there are few literary people who would not gain something by reading the reports on sport. I cannot understand why the Wolfenden Committee bothered to devote so many of its pages to discussing this, as if there were certain sinister evils in the sports reporting of this country which they hardly dared to touch. As I say, I think our sports reporting is of a very high standard, and I should hope that most of your Lordships would agree with me.
There is one particularly odd passage where the Committee suggested that one of the reasons for the sensational reporting is that many popular papers pay more attention to the women's angle on sport, and try to write accounts that will be entertaining to women, who are not particularly interested in or conversant with the sport, as such. That seems to me quite meaningless. I do not suppose that Mr. Swanton (but probably he does not come under their lash) or Mr. Hackett would feel that they are writing for women. The report goes on to say:If this is necessary, we are surprised that more coverage is not given to women's sport, as this seems to us to be on the whole inadequately reported.I do not know whether that is true. It may be true of women's cricket, but few of us, I think, take women's cricket seriously. We always assume that women cannot throw. But that may be an advantage these days, when men find it only too easy to throw instead of bowl.
I am sure that, so far as women's sports are concerned, the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, will agree that the achievements of our women in the 862 Olympic Games, which were better than those of our men, were very well covered. I think I know all the explanations of why Mary Bignall failed to win the long jump. There were at least half a dozen, and they were all dealt with carefully and sympathetically in the Press. So it seems to me that this talk about the Press in connection with sport is totally misguided.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will join with my noble friend Lord Windlesham in deprecating this "ghost" writing, about which the Committee had a good deal to say and which seems to be rather a mischievous nuisance these days.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
But is it confined to sport? Why it should be dragged into a Report on sport, I cannot imagine. It has been known that even practitioners in our own glorious profession, politicians, have been "ghosted", as well as all sorts of other social figures.
It is one aspect of sport which the Committee could hardly ignore, and, therefore, they were quite right to devote some part of the Report to it. But now that the noble Lord has been taken up by my noble friend, I thought rather aptly, he is saying that it applies to anything else and why, therefore, should it be included in the Report. The answer to that is: why should it not be?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am afraid that I am totally unconvinced by that intervention. If you are going to have a Report on Parliamentary life in this country I do not think you would have an important section of it devoted to "ghost" writing of political memoirs. That is my reply to the noble Lord, and I repeat my feeling that there was no need to drag in "ghost" writing in this particular connection. However it is a free country, and the noble Lord differs from me there.
I should like now to come to the general issues before us. We in the Labour Party, as is known, just before the Election published an important booklet callLeisure for Living in which a considerable section was devoted to sport. There is no disposition this afternoon to make this any sort of Party debate, but, speaking last from this side of the House, I think I should remind 863 your Lordships of one or two sentences (I will not quote more than that) in that report. I am well aware that the Conservative Political Centre published their document, but I think I am right in saying that that hardly represents the same commitment as a Party statement. If it does represent the same commitment, well and good, but I am under the impression (the Lord Chancellor will correct me if I am wrong) that a report from the Political Centre is not a pledge from the Conservative Party in the same sense that our own Election Manifesto on this point was a pledge from us.
In our Election Manifesto, based on the booklet I have mentioned and from which I will quote in a moment, we said:We shall make much better provision for the enjoyment of sport, the arts and the countryside. A Sports Council will be set up with a grant of £5 million.In the booklet we amplify that a little and say:Our main proposal is that there should be a Sports Council of Great Britain, analogous to the Arts Council. This will be appointed by the Minister of Education and will be accountable to Parliament through him; it will include representatives of various forms of sport and physical recreation and also interested 'laymen' not identified with particular forms of sport.I do not at this moment want to dwell on the question (though I shall say a word about it in a moment) of whether this Sports Council would come best under the authority of the Minister of Education or some other Minister. But, at any rate, we pledged ourselves in our Election Address to set up a Sports Council of Great Britain and to provide it, in the first instance, with £5 million. To amplify that a little further, I should say that in the booklet we explain that the Labour Government would make available to the Sports Council an initial sum of not less than £5 million for capital expenditure and administrative expenses, and thereafter such yearly sums as would enable it to do its job adequately. So there would be £5 million in the first place, and more—or may be less; but I should think more—as required later on. That was the pledge that emerged from our booklet and our Election Address. I bring in the Conservative report, not to try to show that we are going to do more or 864 less, but simply to remind the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack of what he has certainly not forgotten: that the Conservative Party, through their Centre, showed great sympathy for the same kind of proposal; and I am sure he will agree that there was strongly expressed Conservative support at the Election for this kind of idea.
We are, it seems to me, faced at this moment and later (and, of course, the Government are most directly faced with this; and knowing the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, and his great desire to weigh every factor, I am sure he is unlikely to have come down here this afternoon with a closed mind) with the question of whether something of the kind suggested by the Labour Party, and I think it is fair to say by the Conservative Centre and by the Wolfenden Report, should be embarked upon or not. Few of us who have spoken—one might almost say that none who has spoken—have disagreed in pointing to the need. All the Reports which have come out—there are those I have just referred to, but, in addition, there are earlier Reports, like the Albemarle Committee Report, the Crowther Committee Report and other reports of the Labour Party—are unanimous in saying that more weight should be given to sport.
There is nothing magical about the £5 million grant in cash. There is nothing magical—though it seems a sensible idea—about the power of this Council, as suggested by the Wolfenden Report, to recommend that the local authorities be allowed to spend £5 million beyond what would otherwise be spent. To be honest, I am not quite clear on this. I do not know whether the right reverend Prelate would explain—perhaps not now—how that £5 million would be worked out. At any rate, I think that a sum of that order, in addition to the £5 million cash grant, would, in the eyes of most of us, not be too much.
The question may arise: can the country afford it? I do not want to turn this into an economic debate, but having listened to a number of speakers of different Parties this afternoon I do not feel that there is any general sense of difficulty in this country at the present time about finding sums of this sort if they are as badly needed as we all here believe they are. We come to a greater 865 difficulty when we try to decide how this Council should be organised and how the money should be distributed. Those cannot be easy questions. I am sure that the Lord Chancellor will not wish for a moment to hide behind what you might call that technical difficulty, because obviously if some great scheme of this kind is worth launching, and the sums of money can be found (as we believe they can be) the Lord Chancellor is the last one to say that, owing to some administrative problem, most unfortunately the matter cannot be proceeded with.
I realise that there is at least one important question of administrative principle in regard to this Sports Development Council which we all here to-day seem to favour: that is, in the first place, whether it should come under the Ministry of Education or whether it should come, for example, under the Lord President. In the Labour Party's booklet, though not in our Election Address, where we were not so definite, we suggested that it should conic under the Minister of Education. Those Members of the House who remember that I was anxious to see that the Minister of Education assumed responsibility for the universities, will expect me to agree with that.
I do not myself, however, think that it is a matter upon which it is easy, or even necessary, to dogmatise. If we can get this Council, then any personal view about the particular authority to whom it shall be responsible is subsidiary. It is an important point. It is something on which the Government of the day would clearly have to pronounce. But if we are asking ourselves whether we should or should not have a Council with these powers, I do not think we should allow ourselves to be tripped up, or that the Government would allow themselves to be tripped up, because there might be an even balance of opinion as to whether we did it through the Ministry of Education or otherwise. While, on the whole, I am sympathetic to the proposals, I do not think my Party would wish to be dogmatic or make any sort of protest against the Government if they adopted the precise proposal in the Wolfenden Report.
I see the difficulties—and I am sure the Lord Chancellor will feel it his duty to remind us of them—in working out these sums and deciding who is to receive them.
866 Obviously, "sport" is a very comprehensive term. We have had a. little argument about whether dancing is to be included. To give another example, the question whether public parks come under sport is not a matter which can be settled off the cuff. I agree that any Government might find a certain difficulty in committing itself to an exact figure before knowing what was, and what was not, going to count as sport. I can see that difficulty arising more in the case of the increased grant for the local authorities. I do not see any great difficulty in allowing the cash grant of £5 million for the composite bodies and headquarters of the associations. That is fairly plain sailing—we know that we are dealing with sport. But I can see that, with regard to the other £5 million, there are a good many complicated questions, and no doubt the Lord Chancellor will be helpful in setting them out before us.
I feel it is right to make plain the convictions of the Labour half of the country, as represented by those of us on these Benches. We are passionately convinced that we in this country, without any reference to Party blame or praise, have neglected the young—indeed, people of all ages—through not assisting them to obtain the necessary sporting facilities. We are absolutely solid in pressing for the Sports Council and for other reforms on the general lines recommended in the Wolfenden Report.
This has been in many ways a memorable debate. I have already alluded to the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, and we all feel that we have a great new acquisition in the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chester. As he was speaking, it occurred to me to wonder whether he was going to allow women on his Council, because he seemed to be speaking from so masculine a point of view. But any great oarsman tends to be more virile than most of us. I hope that on other occasions the right reverend Prelate will allow the ladies their share of his thoughts. He made an excellent speech, on which we all wish to congratulate him. We are most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for introducing this debate, and we are most grateful to Sir John Wolfenden and his colleagues. We hope that their labours will not have proved in vain.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, may I re-echo the real gratitude that is felt by everyone in the House to my noble friend Lord Aberdare for initiating a debate on this subject? It gives me more pleasure, if he will allow me to say so, because some years ago, when I was Minister for Welsh Affairs, I spoke at a dinner in Cardiff, presided over by his father and arranged to raise funds for the Welsh team in the Commonwealth Games. That was the last personal experience I had of the services to sport of C. N. Bruce, whose name was an indelible part of the hero worship of my generation. It is a particular pleasure that his son should now be carrying on the services to sport for which his father was so distinguished.
The other personal pleasure of this debate has been, as has been so often expressed, listening to the maiden speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chester. It had many excellencies, but I think the point that will always remain in my mind was his appreciation of the position that sport occupies in the mind of the ordinary man, and how important it was that we should, in turn, recognise the existence of that feeling in our own approach. If he will allow me to say so, I think it is an excellent thing that, in your Lordships' House, that approach should be adumbrated by the right reverend Prelate, and that my noble friend Lord Exeter should have stressed the other side—the importance of sport as a background for dealing with delinquency, and the positive help it can give in the maintenance of moral standards and also in a matter to which I have always attached importance, if he will allow me to say so; that is, the functional approach to international understanding. I wholeheartedly agree with him that it is just as possible to procure that understanding on the lines of sport as on the lines of the various professional activities that are always mentioned.
After the speeches we have heard, I am very conscious of my own inadequacy to wind up a debate about sport. I have only one claim which I hope your Lordships will allow me to inflict upon you. All the holders of my office, all the 190—the three saints, the 186 who were not 868 saints and one lady who have held my office—have subscribed to the rule that every Lord Chancellor should do something which no previous Lord Chancellor had ever done. Sometimes it is active, as when St. Swithin bedevilled the weather in this country for 1,000 years; sometimes it is more passive, as in the case of St. Thomas à Becket, who was murdered in a cathedral. All I can say is that, so far as records indicate, I am the only Lord Chancellor who when in office has hit an England bowler for four. That is the sole ground on which I am entitled to ask your Lordships to listen to me tonight.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I think we should leave it as a glorious memory of five years ago. I hoped that my noble friend Lord Tenby would still be here, because he saw it happen. So if the noble Earl, Lord Longford, wants further and better particulars, as we say in the law, he can get them from Lord Tenby.
Again, I join in the thanks that have been expressed to Sir John Wolfenden and his colleagues. As the person who set Sir John Wolfenden the task which resulted in the first Wolfenden Report, I am particularly glad to be able to congratulate him on this piece of work: I find it most readable. I also found, as has been indicated in this debate—and I am very glad that it was stated, I think by my noble friend Lord Luke—that the Report is not afraid to say that in some matters the British approach and British performance is better than any other; that is a stalwart aspect of the Report which I welcome and am glad to note.
The Report, as all your Lordships know, was commissioned by the Central Council of Physical Recreation, and, as Lord Aberdare anticipated, the Government are considering the recommendations of the Report in the light of the comments of the Central Council; they were received only just before Christmas, and therefore there are certain matters which are still open—and I shall come to them. But I want to say at once that it will be most valuable to us, in 869 considering the matters on which our opinion is still open, to have the views of your Lordships to-day.
I think that one ought to begin by looking at the present contribution of public authorities, because it would be wrong to let it go out from this House that we are not making efforts in this direction. These fall into some fairly well-defined classes, and the first is the contribution made by education authorities. Local education authorities in Great Britain are expected to spend about £9 million in the current year, under their Education Act powers, for playing fields, tennis courts, gymnasia and swimming baths for schools and other educational establishments, including technical colleges. I think that is important, because that deals with a matter to which the Wolfenden Committee devoted a considerable amount of attention. My noble friend Lord Exeter mentioned this afternoon "the gap". Schools are one side of "the gap", but technical colleges are something that can, I think, help in that; because, as Lord Exeter knows, they include people who get a certain period off from their work to go there. I think that is a point which is of some importance from this aspect.
The next point is one that was considered and mentioned, I think by my noble friend Lord Aberdare and by the noble Lord, Lord Wise, and that is the effect of the Government's decision on the Albemarle Report; because that is going to involve some £3 million in 1961–62 and £4 million in 1962–63, and an expenditure in Scotland of £1½ million over these periods. I do not want to put that too high; I say merely that that will include an element of physical recreation as part of the general club facilities. In addition to that, the two Education Departments provide, under their Physical Training and Recreation Act powers, grants towards the cost of capital projects undertaken by local voluntary bodies. These grants will total more than £100,000 this year. The Departments also contribute towards the running costs of national voluntary bodies concerned with sport and recreation, and towards coaching schemes; and such expenditure this year is likely to be of the order of £210,000.
870 We come to an entirely different form of expenditure which we have to remember. Local authorities have long been empowered to provide facilities for sport as part of their general environmental services; and that is quite apart from the services in the Education Act. The borrowing for such expenditure is subject in England and Wales to the sanction of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. And the figures quoted by the Wolfenden Committee show that in 1956–57 the total expenditure was £1.2 million and that it increased by 1959–60 to a figure of £5.8 million. The right reverend Prelate will realise that that is a summation of the three sets of figures in paragraph 43 of the Report. This is important in judging the general approach of the Government. The amount spent in the current year—that is the year following those I have mentioned—will rise to £7 million; and a still higher expenditure is expected for 1961–62. So that if your Lordships will have in mind that the figures are: in 1956–57, £1.2 million; in 1959–60 (the last year in the Report), £5.8 million; this year £7 million; and next year something greater than £7 million, your Lordships will see that we are in a period of acceleration. I will deal with the amount of acceleration in one moment.
The figures that I have mentioned take no account of the London County Council's new project of a sports centre at the Crystal Palace for which they will be spending some £2 million. In addition, there is a corresponding figure for Scotland of something like £600,000. So that gives a total annual expenditure on facilities for sport in this country of about £18 million. That is quite a considerable figure. I do not want your Lordships even to harbour the thought that I think it will stay there—I do not. But it is a considerable figure. If your Lordships make two comparisons—the figure of university building or the figure of hospitals up to the increase in the last two or three years—it is a considerable figure. It is not quite the figure in the Report, because I have included the current year, which was not open to the compilers of the Report. It shows an increase over the figure in the Report, but it indicates what is going on at the moment.
871 The next question which one ought to consider is whether the expenditure on which we are now embarking and which is going to increase, is directed to the right objects. The Wolfenden Committee and the Central Council of Physical Recreation alike emphasise the need for more swimming baths, athletic tracks and multi-sports centres. That has been echoed in your Lordships' House to-day. Local authorities' expenditure has, in fact, been to a considerable extent concentrated on these items. Your Lordships are aware that swimming baths, particularly indoor swimming baths, are expensive to build, so that naturally a large part of the capital investment by local authorities is devoted to them. In the current year the amount for England and Wales is some £2½ million. I am glad to say that among the projects under way are new indoor baths for Birmingham, Crosby (which is near Liverpool, on Merseyside), and one being jointly provided by Kingswood and Mangotsfield, near Bristol. New swimming baths are also being started at Grimsby and Cambridge, and we know of one case where two urban district councils are buying disused cinemas for conversion into swimming baths.
The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chester said that we ought also to get on with research, so that we should deal best with the problems. I am glad to be able to tell him that, because swimming baths are so expensive (the Committee recognised that just as I do), the architects and engineers of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government are at an advanced stage of a special study about swimming baths. The study covers such matters as site selection, pool construction, the comparative merits of building enclosed pools, alternative uses of baths, pool sizes, layout, spectators' accommodation and engineering services. It is hoped that the results of this study will be to get the best value for the money, and thus get more swimming baths within the ceiling which is permitted. The Ministry of Education intend to include in their next major development project an investigation of the way in which new secondary schools could include provision for a wide range of activities, including sport for young people and adults, as well as for the 872 children. That is the first of our sections in expenditure, and the use to which they are put will have some public benefit, as well as benefit for the children.
The noble Lord, Lord Wise, made a special plea, if I understood him aright, for athletics. I should like to tell him something about running tracks. Loan sanction was given in respect of four projects for running tracks in 1960; to local authorities at Solihull, Chelmsford, Blackpool and Easthampstead Rural District Council. I should like to pick up the views expressed by my noble friend Lord Auckland on this aspect, because, in the course of his most interesting speech, he mentioned the position of the new towns and of the youth in those new towns. I am glad to say that multi-sports centres have either been built or are envisaged in four new towns. The Easthampstead scheme that I have mentioned is merely the first stage of a larger one for providing a sports centre in Bracknell new town. Other new towns are taking active steps. A sports stadium has been built at Harlow, and at Welwyn a running track with a football pitch in the middle; and this will be further developed into something like a multi-sports stadium. Then at Basildon discussions are in hand with the local authority about providing a sports stadium; and there is, of course, the London County Council project at Crystal Palace which I have already mentioned. So I am glad to be able to assure my noble friend that that aspect of the matter is receiving not only attention but practical action.
My Lords, we must not forget—certainly we shall not, because it was referred to in most moving terms by the right reverend Prelate—that sport in its widest sense is not confined to activities which require heavy capital expenditure. The Report reminds us of the opportunities which the seas, the rivers, the mountains and the moors of these islands provide for outdoor activities and adventure of various kinds such as climbing, sailing, canoeing and pony-trekking. Here, there is great scope for exercise and recreation, both for the individual and for the group. It is in this field, as well as in those of organised games, that much has been done, by local education authorities, by various voluntary bodies, 873 and particularly by the Central Council itself, to stimulate enterprise and encourage standards of skill. I agree with the right reverend Prelate—and I think we all do—that these activities, just as much as competitive sport, develop those qualities of courage, endurance, self-discipline, determination and self-reliance, which are so valuable and to which we want to see sport contribute.
Perhaps I might just summarise the picture, as I have attempted to give it absolutely fairly; and I hope that I have done so. On the present state of things, the total authorised expenditure by public authorities is about £18 million. I am not stopping to follow up the question put by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, about how the various grants interplay, but if he would like details of that I should be glad to give those to him at another time. The overall picture is that expenditure from public funds is rising fairly steeply. If your Lordships remember the figure I gave you for local authority capital expenditure, the rise in the last year (that is, the year after that dealt with by the Report) of £1.2 million is equal to the whole figure of that grant of five years ago, 1956–57. So I think it is fair to say that it is rising steeply.
The Committee say that they found local authorities were very willing to incur expenditure of this kind, but that they were held up by the central consent in relation to borrowing and spending money; and the Committee did not find it was due to a lack of enthusiasm locally. I believe that that is broadly right. The steep rise in expenditure which I have mentioned reflects the fact that, as prosperity has grown, it has been possible to allow more money to be spent in providing for sport and physical recreation. And without denigrating the Report at all—and that is the last thing I want to do—it is fair to say that the acceleration had started before the Report was published and is still continuing. I think that is a fair statement, from the figures I have given. Far from denigrating the Report, which is a most interesting and useful one, I would say that it comes at a most appropriate moment, at a time when there ought to be a Government reappraisal of the provision that is being made and the direction in which it should be developed and is leading.
874 We now come to the suggestion of machinery, and I will deal with that first. The proposal for a Sports Development Council has attracted a great deal of attention. That body would be responsible to the Lord President of the Council or to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and would disburse or advise on the allocation of available funds. If the noble Earl, Lord Longford, would like the reference to what is suggested, to compare that with the documents to which he referred, he will find it in paragraph 279. The suggestion is that:£5 million may well be something like the amount which in any one year"—and this is not once-for-all,—might be distributed in cash, either by way of non-recurrent grant or in assistance towards the recurrent expenditure of the composite bodies. … But we would add also a similar amount of £5 million as the annual sum to be sanctioned for capital expenditure by the statutory bodies in the ways we have suggested.So it is a £5 million income grant to the various bodies and £5 million as an extension of the capital grant.
I pause only to say that we are on an accelerating figure. In fact, in the current year the capital grant is already £1.2 million more than that at the time with which the Report is dealing. I want to tell your Lordships what we intend to do with regard to that. The Council would have two jobs (if I may put it colloquially): one, that of distributing Government money among the various athletic bodies; and the other, that of "prodding" local authorities to spend more in capital grants, and advising them on how to spend it. That is a problem of machinery, and we are bearing this proposal in mind. We have not come to a final decision, but we are doubtful whether such a radical innovation is needed. Your Lordships will see from their comments that the constituent bodies of the Central Council for Physical Recreation were divided about the recommendation; and my noble friend Lord Aberdare began by saying that it had caused much discussion and considerable argument.
While some oiling of the machinery may be necessary, we think that the problem in the past—and as I have shown, the position in regard to that is changing rapidly—has essentially been 875 one of limitations on the resources which it was possible to make available, rather than the absence of some special machinery. There would, moreover, be difficulties from the point of view of Government in working out an appropriate relationship between a new central body, such as the proposed Council, and local authorities who have been accustomed to dealing directly with Education Departments and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, raised some further difficulties on that aspect, which I assure him will be carefully considered.
That point brings me to a general observation which I am sure will find ready acceptance—indeed, it has already been foreshadowed in the speech of the noble Lords, Lord Exeter and Lord Auckland. While the national organisations assisted by the Central Government have an important rôle to play, the provision of facilities for sport and physical recreation is something which, in the last resort, has to be handled mainly at the local level; and at that level local authorities and voluntary bodies alike have a part to play. My noble friend Lord Exeter put it more starkly by saying that at the end of the day the mass is more important than the individual, and it is on the local level that the mass is created. The national need is essentially an aggregate of local needs, and it is through local interest and enthusiasm that the best results will be achieved.
While I have indicated some of the difficulties, my Lords, I do not want to wrap up the answers by indicating real difficulties of machinery; because I believe that what is more fundamental than the specific suggestion of a Sports Development Council is the contention of the Wolfenden Committee that in the general pattern of our sports organisation:greater co-operation and integration are needed.We have first to ask ourselves whether the best use is being made of existing facilities and whether we are getting the best value for the money, public or private, which is being spent. Most of your Lordships will know of playing fields or other facilities which are probably not being used to the fullest extent. No doubt there is scope for more co- 876 operation in all areas between the different bodies who control football pitches, tennis courts, running tracks, swimming baths and so on.
We need to ensure, too, that the increasing sums which are being spent, whether for capital or other purposes, are being handled with a sufficient regard to priorities; in particular, whether sufficient account is being taken of current needs in relation to existing facilities, not only in each locality but in any adjacent localities. Therefore, my Lords, so far as the machinery is concerned, the Government want to consider whether these issues are susceptible to resolutions for improving the present machinery. We are examining four points: one, whether the arrangements for co-ordination between the three Government Departments concerned (the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Scottish Education Department) in dealing with local authority investment in sporting and similar facilities can be improved. I say this although in my thirteen years as a Minister of the Crown I cannot remember any debate I have had anything to do with where there has been less criticism of Government Departments for their bureaucratic outlook than there has been this afternoon. However, we must look at our own eye, and we shall look at that first.
The second point is whether local authorities take sufficient account in their planning of what voluntary bodies are doing in their areas. The third is whether there is sufficient co-operation and consultation between different local authorities and, in particular, between education authorities and local authorities who are using the Physical Training and Recreation Acts. The fourth, is whether co-operation between public authorities and voluntary organisations can be improved.
Your Lordships, especially my noble friend Lord Luke, will be glad to know that the Government are not limiting themselves to considering whether the machinery for planning, execution and co-ordination can be improved. The Wolfenden Report recommended that the permitted level of capital investment could be up to £5 million per annum more than at present. I have shown that 877 the present figure is more than it was at the time with which the Report deals; and your Lordships will not expect me to-day, when we have not concluded our consideration, to commit the Government to a precise figure. But I do accept (I think this is what my noble friend Lord Luke was hoping for) the case for some increase in the level of capital investment in facilities for sport and physical recreation. As I say, it has been increased: I accept the case for a further increase, and we shall have to consider what the figure will be. But I accept the case for a further increase.
To show that this is not simply a matter of words, let me take swimming baths. I am told that in the next financial year, 1961–62, the expenditure on swimming baths by local authorities in England and Wales will approach twice the current level, the 1960–61 level. I think that that adds a footnote of practical realism to the suggestion.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble and learned Viscount on this point? In the comments of the Central Council for Physical Recreation on the Wolfenden Report on this question of swimming baths, they recommend not only that more swimming baths should be built. which the noble and learned Viscount has told us is being done, but also that certain baths should be of Olympic standard. Would it be possible to bring this particular point to the attention of the authorities concerned, because if they are not built we shall not have people of Olympic standard to send to the Olympic Games?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am obliged to my noble friend Lord Gosford: he may rest assured that the point can be specifically brought forward. As I said earlier on, there is an inquiry going on into the construction of swimming baths at the moment, and I will see that his point is specifically brought once again to its attention. I am most grateful for his interruption.
My Lords, that is the capital investment side. That is one half of the £10 million, one £5 million amount. There, it is increasing and we are going to increase it again. We have noted that the Wolfenden Committee envisaged that their proposed Sports Development 878 Council should receive the other £5 million for distribution among the voluntary bodies. There, my Lords, we are considering what further needs to be done to assist the voluntary bodies. But it is only fair to comment—and I think that the right reverend Prelate would accept this—that the Report is not at all specific as to how the £5 million could be used. That is a matter which requires further consideration. I think the Report suggests that we should get in touch with the various bodies and that, before we arrive at a conclusion, we should hear what they say.
Again, as a start, provision has been included in the Department's Estimates for the year 1961–62 which, among other things, will enable it to provide grant towards the maintenance of the three national recreation centres of the Central Council of Physical Recreation at Marlow, Lillieshall and Plas-y-Brenin. Those were the ones mentioned by my noble friend Lord Aberdare, and so it is an answer to that request. We are to expand some of these grants to the other national voluntary bodies, including grants for coaching schemes. Again, before one comes to a conclusion I should like to consider carefully what Lord Aberdare has said today and what has been said on that point.
There will be comparable grants in Scotland to raise the ceiling for capital grants to district councils under the Physical Training and Recreation Act, to grant-aid the maintenance of Inverclyde National Recreation Centre at Largs, which is a Scottish centre which has not hitherto been grant-aided, and to expand some of its grants to other national voluntary bodies. Provision for these grants has been included in the Department's Estimates for the next year.
Before specific decisions are announced we shall wish to complete our current examination both of how existing machinery cart be improved and of what financial provision is appropriate. As we have had the Council's comments since only just before Christmas, I submit that the picture shows that we are taking the problem seriously and that we are getting on with the job. I hope that my noble friend Lord Aberdare will feel that not only have we considered the problem but that I have 879 been able to present a picture of real, live action, for all the reasons which have been stated this afternoon, on what I consider is a vitally important problem for the future of the country.
§ THE MARQUESS OF EXETER
My Lords, would the noble and learned Viscount clear up one point in my mind? I gather that it is not ruled out that assistance should be given to national governing bodies and for the assistance of sending teams overseas. Is that still under consideration?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, that is still under consideration. I think that my noble friend said himself (certainly somebody said it) that that would require statutory powers, because, as is said in the Report, there is some difficulty under the relevant Act. But nothing is ruled out and I shall certainly convey to our ministerial colleagues what my noble friend has said this afternoon. We shall have to consider the whole picture before I can deal with that fully, but I wanted to mention the fields in which, at the moment, we are not prevented and in which we are going forward with some increases, even although we have not considered the matter in full.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHESTER
My Lords, may I be allowed to make one small intervention? The noble and learned Viscount, in the course of his speech, said that there was disagreement between the constituent bodies of the Central Council about a Sports Development Council. I think it ought to be made clear that there is an overwhelming vote in favour of one, and only a comparatively small group of people who have objected to the proposal.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The right reverend Prelate is absolutely correct. The comments of the Central Council on the Report show that the overwhelming majority support the establishment of a Sports Development Council. But they go on to point out that others advocate two steps: one, an increase in grant from the Ministry of Education and then an advisory committee—and some of those who doubt the need for the creation of a new piece of machinery have 880 suggested that the Central Council should do it themselves. The Central Council have answered that with an emphatic, clear and immediate negative; and that is the position. I am sorry not to have made that clear, but it is difficult in such a speech to go into every detail. I am very grateful to the right reverend Prelate.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, before asking your Lordships' permission to withdraw the Motion, I should like to thank all those who have taken part. By a coincidence, we were eleven in number, and I hope that we played a useful innings. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wise, for opening so well; and the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham coming in No. 3, played a most attractive innings, although he was nearly bowled, I thought, by a professional ball. Then, the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chester scored a century in his first test. I should like to congratulate him on a most attractive and excellent maiden speech. There followed a very strong stand between two great experts, the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, and my noble friend Lord Luke. They played as excellently as one would have expected. Our batting went right on down to No. 11. I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Longford, for his contribution. We have come to look on him as always making a significant contribution to all topics on social questions: and to-day he was no disappointment.
My Lords, my analogy falls to the ground. I am afraid, when we come to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. It would be an insult to put him in No. 11 after he has hit an England bowler for four, but I should like to thank him most sincerely for what he has said. I should particularly like to welcome the news that he supports the case for an increase in capital expenditure by local authorities, and also the very cheering news that there will be a contribution to the three national recreation centres of the Central Council. It is also good to know that the Government still have an open mind on all the other recommendations. My Lords, I now beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.