§ 2.22 p.m.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY rose to call attention to the necessity of reaching a decision on the co-operation, financial and otherwise, envisaged by the Government in its future relations with the governing bodies of sport so that sports facilities may be enlarged and used to the utmost; and to move for Papers. The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in rising to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper to-day, I have to declare an interest in this subject. My father was an Olympic runner, and ever since I could walk, never mind run, I well remember him bribing small boys with pennies to run races against me on the sands when I was very small indeed. Moving on from those early days, through participation in various sports to teaching in elementary schools in Leeds, it became obvious to me how much more the children could have achieved if they had had better facilities and better equipment. Certainly, we all did our best; but I remember buying small clothes horses to space out on the school playground for hurdles training. While these helped immensely, I am sure the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, will agree that they fell a long way short of perfection. But I should like here to pay tribute to all those youngsters in the Leeds schools who came my way. The difficulty was not to get them to stay after school for practice, but to get them to go home. They did wonderfully. They achieved what seemed impossible, and I have always felt that with better facilities and better equipment 289 some of them might have reached the very top.
§ To jump from then, the late 'twenties and early 'thirties, I come to 1951, to a period when The Times newspaper was good enough to help in all these matters we are discussing to-day by finding room for various letters from time to time. Though I would hasten to add, of course, that I do not propose to inflict these letters on your Lordships, I would say, going back to November 13, 1951, that I stressed that the success overseas of a British team can be as valuable as a trade mission both from the goodwill and business points of view. May I remind your Lordships that in 1954, when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile, the Foreign Office rushed him off to the U.S.A.? His appearances there did a great deal of good to British interests, and not only to British sporting interests. I know that many of us had criticism of the methods of the Foreign Office on that occasion, but the significant fact was that officials in the Foreign Office had accepted the idea that prestige in the world of sport was important apart from sport itself.
§ I am sure that those of us who have had the good fortune to visit other countries have been told by our representatives there, whether these were trade or consular representatives, that there is no doubt that British victories in the world of sport in the countries in which they are living do make just that bit easier the selling of Britain and British goods. This, I think, has now become accepted as a fact; and accepted by this Government, too, to judge from more than one reply given to me in your Lordships' House over the past twelve months. I then suggested that the Government should authorise the issue of special stamps to enable the general public to give financial support to our Olympic teams in 1952. As your Lordships know, there is nothing new in this. Many countries do it. But, unfortunately, in this country that idea remained on the starting line.
§ To go on from there to 1954, being fortunate enough to be included in an all-Party delegation that was visiting the U.S.S.R., I had the opportunity of finding out just how promising athletes are discovered in that vast country. The system in the Soviet Union offers facilities 290 infinitely better than our own, and I do not believe that champions are trained to the neglect of others. If one takes some hundreds of the best youngsters in every town, one is bound to get a good selection of first-class performers from whom to choose a national team. Right through from the district sporting school the youngsters, boys and girls, have the chance of expert tuition. I want to ask the same question of the Government to-day—and I think it is a fair question—that I asked nine years ago. Is it impossible to ensure that every promising British youngster has that same chance?
§ Noble Lords will know that in the 'fifties, particularly in the mid-'fifties, there existed a fear among people keenly interested in sport that to have any Government aid at all meant regimentation, interference and being run from Whitehall. When I talked of what was being done in the U.S.S.R. this was the reaction I got from many quarters. But the critics never thought that exactly similar training was being given in the U.S.A., in Scandinavia and in Australia. Speaking for myself, I remember saying in January, 1956, that I wanted no Ministry of Sport, nor the extremes of training given to Russian footballers, American athletes or Australian tennis players. But it seems to me in this country that we have the happy knack of striking the middle path. I want to suggest that, if it was true then, it is much more true to-day that we should change our ideas and make it possible for every competitor good enough to be included in our national teams to have the chance. Has the spirit of the Olympics ever meant that those who could not afford to go should be barred from taking part? I do not think it has. And it is disgraceful that it has this effect in Britain to-day. So I may not have got very far, but I have tried.
§ In the Budget debate on April 17, 1956, in another place, I ventured to point out to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer what some of your Lordships will know: that at that time Sweden had 7 million inhabitants and 800 public cinder tracks. With our population of 50 million, we had 61. Finland had a track in every town and nearly every country district, built and maintained by the local councils; and their use was 291 free. But we had no indoor 10-metre diving board south of Blackpool. I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he thought our competitors living in the south of England were able to train for the Games. The answer was that they would have to go to Blackpool—which was ridiculous. As for our gymnasts, it was not a case of whether we had any good enough to compete against the rest of the world; they could not get the equipment necessary for them to train to Olympic standards in this country because they had not the money. So I could have gone on.
§ I hope that there is no one in your Lordships' House to-day who would dissent from the proposition that we want more playing fields, more running tracks and more floodlighting, so that these can be used at night. Also of great importance we want more and better changing accommodation, so that people can go straight from work and have a shower afterwards. We also need more training coaches and instructors.
§ I do not believe that to-day in 1963, these are luxuries. I think that they are as essential for fitness and leisure as for the Olympic Games. But as most of us know, Governments in this country never have helped. The Labour Government did not do so when the Games were held in London in 1948. Conservative Governments have not done so, in 1952, 1956 or 1960. But I would say to the Lord President to-day that we hope that a change might be on the way. I believe that big-time world sport is no longer the privilege of the favoured few. It is the right of every healthy youngster in this and every country. And in saying this, I would emphasise that I am not solely, or even mainly, concerned with the attaining of championship standard in sport; I am thinking of physical training, recreation and the leisure of all young people. I would suggest, what seems an obvious fact, that if the base of the triangle is catered for adequately, then the apex of championship standard will emerge by itself.
§ I come to the Parliamentary background to all this. In September, 1960, the Central Council for Physical Recreation published, under the title, Sport and the Community, the Report of the 292 Wolfenden Committee on Sport, which was set up by the Council in 1957. I think that at this point I should declare a personal interest. I have done all I could to help the Central Council for many years now, and still do; but, having said that, I must emphasise that all I say to-day should be laid at my door and not at theirs. As your Lordships are aware, this Report recommended the establishment of a Sports Development Council, which would distribute annually £5 million in grants to national bodies concerned with the development of sport and other forms of physical recreation. Furthermore, it recommended an increase of £5 million a year in the permitted capital expenditure on sports facilities by local authorities. Other recommendations concerned just about every aspect of sport development—organisation, facilities, coaching, international competition, amateurism, Sunday play and the influence of the Press, television and radio.
I think that it might be advisable to point out what we in Parliament, in both Houses, know, but what the outside public may have forgotten—that the Wolfenden Report was published against a favourable background. Before the General Election of 1959 both major political Parties had issued pamphlets on the subject of sport. Both had pressed for additional Government expenditure, and both had advocated the formation of a Sports Council. We set up a working party in 1958, on which I sat, and in the spring of 1959 we were ready to publish our findings. But because a printing strike intervened, our Report, Leisure for Living, was not published until September. But the main recommendation was incorporated in the Labour Election Manifesto for the General Election and would have been implemented had we won. We said—and I quote:
A Sports Council will be set up with a grant of £5 million.
This was, and remains, Labour policy.
Meanwhile, members of the Conservative Party interested in sport had been pressing for action in their own Party, and in February, 1959, a Committee was set up to study the subject. Their findings were published in August, 1959, under the title, The Challenge of Leisure. No official Party pledge was given,
because this was not an official Committee, and on the front page it was stated:
This pamphlet is a contribution to discussion and not an official Party pronouncement.
But the recommendation was similar to ours—namely, the establishment of a Sports Council for Great Britain, with a grant from the Exchequer growing in size "to something like £5 million a year".
§ The first indication of the Government's likely course of action came in February, 1961, when, replying to a debate in your Lordships' House introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, the noble and learned Viscount the then Lord Chancellor said that, although the Government accepted the case for more State aid, they were doubtful about the need for a Sports Development Council of the kind advocated by the Wolfenden Committee. In April, 1961, the Report was debated, somewhat inconclusively, in another place, and your Lordships will remember that on July 25 of that same year the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it clear, in the debate following his "Little Budget", that action on the main financial recommendations of the Wolfenden Report must wait for some time to come.
I hope that this afternoon, among other things, I may perhaps get over to the Lord President that there is one persistent, nagging quarrel that most people keenly interested in sport have with the Government—that is, that the Government continuously make out that they are doing so much in this field. How much money does sport in fact receive? The statement by Mr. Selwyn Lloyd in another place on May 8, 1962, really was a supreme example of what I am saying. It seemed to me that even the Treasury Press Department itself was unable to untangle it, while The Times gave up any attempt to do so and just published the statement in full. As one columnist said:
The Chancellor threw everything he could find into the pot—village halls, school playgrounds and park flower beds, but it was impossible to find out from all this padding what was actually being spent on sport and physical recreation facilities for anybody over school-leaving age.
My Lords, I hope very much that the Lord President will not be a party to any such padding to-day. At the end of last year, on December 20, to be exact, the noble and learned Viscount told the House that in his capacity as Lord President
of the Council he had been given special responsibility for ensuring the coordination and development of sporting and recreational facilities, so that the best value was obtained. Events moved a little further in January of this year, when The Times leader of January 10 came out against a Sports Development Council, but made one particular comment, which I should like Ito quote. It said:
There is a crying need for more and improved sports grounds, playing fields, and indoor facilities, and the need will not be answered without public provision. But the task is essentially one for local authorities, with a knowledge of local conditions and prodded by local enthusiasts.
On January 31, the noble Viscount told the House that Sir Patrick Renison had accepted his invitation to be his principal adviser in carrying out the Lord President's responsibilities in relation to sport.
§ Leaving the Parliamentary background, I should like to say a word about the position in Western Europe. I think that this must be mentioned, however briefly, because of its relevance to what we are discussing. In November, 1962, a most useful Report was published, which I think is known to most of your Lordships, under the rather long title, Central Government Aid to Sport and Physical Recreation in Countries of Western Europe. It was written by Mr. D. D. Molyneux, a lecturer in physical education at the University of Birmingham. Always wishing to be helpful to the Government, I had some copies sent to them at the time of publication, and I expect that the Lord President has one in his file. Obviously there are many points in this excellent publication which we shall all have found of great interest. I have selected three only, because of their real significance to our discussions to-day, and I hope your Lordships will bear with me if I make these three short quotations which I think have a particular point.
On page 10 it says:
Perhaps most important of all, when comparing what is done in Britain with that which is undertaken in countries of Western Europe, there appears to be no clear understanding and realisation of what can be done by the central government to foster and encourage the drive and initiative of local authorities and to underpin the voluntary efforts of sports organisations from local to national level.
On page 22 it says:
But it would he extremely misleading to dwell on these national and regional centres
alone, important as they are in the pattern of sport in European countries. Undoubtedly the major emphasis in most countries with regard to facilities has been to encourage and stimulate their construction at community level.
Lastly, on page 25 it says:
Next to facilities, the second main recipients of central government aid to sport in Western European countries are the national governing bodies of sport.
§ Leaving those three points to illustrate the background in Western Europe, may I, without disrespect, turn to my next section, which I have called the post-Hailsham era? There has been talk and delay for years, and now all of us want some action. I do not propose to make the case once again for a Sports Development Council, although doubtless many speakers to-day will refer to it. Personally, I am in favour of one; but the Government have refused repeatedly to establish such a Council, and I gather from the Lord President that he has not changed his mind on this point. I see that I cannot draw him into any comment until he comes to speak at the end.
I should like to make one aspect crystal clear (as I keep seeing in some advertisements) before I continue, and it is this. At the end of last year, on December 20, on the matter of a Sports Development Council, the Lord President told us [OFFICIAL REPORT, VOL 245 (No. 27), col. 1252]:
This is not a matter that can be solved, in the Government's view, by creating another agency that would be interposed between the responsible Ministers and local authorities.
I wish that the Government and the noble Viscount would cease to put forward this kind of argument as an excuse for not setting up a Sports Development Council. I can assure him—and I hope they have done so also—that the governing bodies of sport do not look upon a Council as proposed in the Wolfenden Report
as creating another agency that would be interposed between the responsible Ministers and local authorities.
On the contrary, they see it as something which would be able, without in any way impinging on the autonomy of governing bodies of sport or on the work of voluntary bodies assisting sport, to coordinate the efforts for sport in the community on such matters as facilities, general inquiries and scientific and
medical problems related to sport. As I said earlier, it is Labour policy to set up such a Council.
§ Soon after the Lord President's announcement on January 31, he was good enough to see me. I then raised, among others, three main aspects with him, and I should like briefly to return to those to-day. The first aspect concerned existing facilities and local authorities, including local education authorities. Some years ago, I thought the best way of proceeding here was to have a national survey to find out what facilities did exist and how they were being used throughout the country. But during the last eighteen months or two years I have reached the conclusion that, rather more than a national survey, what we need is local and regional action. At present, as many of us know, in far too many areas there appears to be little consultation, let alone co-operation, between local authorities and local education authorities on the provision of facilities and sporting opportunities. This again has led far too frequently to overlapping, to wastage of money and to wastage of manpower.
§ So I should like to suggest to your Lordships that a fundamental prerequisite of any expansion of facilities is a knowledge of what exists at the present time. I am sure that this sounds a very obvious remark, and many people may believe that such knowledge exists. My Lords, it does not. In respect of local facilities, I believe that local authorities should have permanently available up-to-date records of publicly and privately-owned facilities in their areas. I am sure that the governing bodies of sport would agree with me when I say that, when facilities for a particular sport are under consideration, the responsible statutory body should seek the technical views of the governing body of sport concerned.
§ Finally, on this particular aspect, I think that at all levels of sport and recreation we feel a deliberate and concerted attempt must be made right through the country to bring into co-operation the efforts of local authorities, local education authorities and voluntary bodies, to make certain that existing facilities are fully and properly used. Indeed, the Lord President on December 20 last said that this very thing was his 297 responsibility—that is, the co-ordination and development of recreational facilities so that the best value is obtained. Without wishing to commit him in any way whatsoever, it seemed to me, when I saw him in February last, that he was not unsympathetic to this line of thought, and I will not develop it further, in the hope that he will. Still on facilities, but on a slightly different aspect, may I say that I am sure that the governing bodies of sport would welcome developing co-operation, and one developing much more rapidly in the future than in the past, between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. I can assure the Lord President that such a partnership, and obviously an active partnership, would do much to engender confidence and promote efficiency.
The second main aspect that I raised with the noble Viscount concerned his reference on January 31 last to an advisory committee, when he said:
We also have to consider carefully the question of an advisory committee and how it should he formed.
As I have said, I wanted, and still want, a Sports Development Council. But if the Government do not feel able to give us this, then I believe, as I have been saying for a long time, that the Lord President needs a small working committee, composed of men and women well acquainted with the whole field of physical recreation, and not exclusively identified with one particular interest, to advise him on the development of sport and recreation in this country. I would suggest that, quite definitely, such a committee must not be in the hands of any particular Ministry, but must be answerable directly to the Lord President of the Council, whoever he may be.
§ The third aspect concerned the principles governing financial help on a reciprocal basis for international sport. I have been on this for years, as I tried to show earlier to-day. I am sick and tired and ashamed of watching our sports organisations scrape around for money to see whether they can send a team, or how many they can include in a team, to represent this country abroad. Furthermore, I think it is selfish for the odd organisation that can raise the money to say that they do not want financial help, 298 in case voluntary gifts and contributions suffer as a result. I am sure we should all agree that it would be a sad day for this country if the voluntary spirit were extinguished, whether in sport or in anything else, because it is one of our most valuable attributes.
§ I have never suggested that financial aid from the Government should cover everything, but that it should be on a reciprocal basis, pound for pound, for those organisations who care to make application. I am quite convinced that voluntary help needs aid in this connection, and if the Government were able to recognise this fact their action would be a tribute to all those who have done so much out of their own pockets in the past. Quite simply, I am saying that lack of finance should not prevent representation in international sport, either of a team or of an individual qualified to compete. Furthermore, I do not believe that help on, say, a pound for pound basis, is going to ruin either sport or the sporting spirit, or the principle of voluntary contributions in this country.
As your Lordships know, I have tried to get somewhere on this matter during the comparatively brief time that I have been a Member of your Lordships' House. Governing bodies have tried, too, by letters of application. The answer, phrased in a variety of ways, has been the same always: the answer has been, No. I think two of the comments made to me in reply might well be noted. Concerning applications made by sports organisations for financial help in meeting travel expenses in connection with amateur sporting events overseas in 1962, I was told on August 2 that [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 243, col. 404]:
Any such assistance would need to be fully justified by the contribution which the teams would be enabled to make, as a result of it, to the relations between Britain and other countries.
Concerning those applications turned down, we were told that [col. 405]:
…it was not felt that the political dividends which would flow from giving a grant in these cases would outweigh the cost involved.
However, earlier this year there seemed to be a slight softening in this attitude, if that is the right word, and on February 11 [Vol. 246 (No. 37), col. 781], not in any spirit of criticism, I asked the
Government whether they would tell the House
what were the reasons compelling them to make good the deficit incurred between the income from appeals and actual expenditure by the British teams in the recent Empire and Commonwealth Games at Perth.
As your Lordships may remember, we were told that
in view of the high cost of sending the British teams to Perth and in the interest of Britain being represented at this important Commonwealth occasion by a worthy team
this contribution was being made. I think that, at best, these were most unfortunate phrases.
§ It would be a bold man to-day who would be prepared to guarantee political dividends in any part of the world, and certainly opinion on this would differ very considerably. I just cannot imagine anyone interested in sport and young people in Britain at the present time agreeing that opportunity to represent one's country in any sporting activity—if one is good enough, of course—must depend upon political dividends that some pundit thought might be reaped. As to sending a worthy team, I am certain I need not assure the Lord President that we none of us anticipate sending teams anywhere that are not worthy. I thought that was a most unfortunate implication on all those applications that were turned down. However, having recovered from the shock of these implications, I asked the Lord President whether he and his advisers on sport would consider applications on a reciprocal basis for world and European championships this year, 1963, stressing what I think the whole House would accept, that in this country it would seem that the best combination was one of voluntary contributions and official ones. The Lord President will remember that in reply, although he did not commit himself, he said that this would be one of the matters he would have to consider. I hope this will come about—I think it must. Some way of helping individual governing bodies and organisations concerned with competition in amateur international sports events is overdue, and must be worked out where such help is asked for. In this event, I am sure the Lord President would need the assistance of a small committee competent to advise him on applications for any such help.300
I do not wish to delay the House unduly, but having prepared all this, I received one letter which I thought was rather relevant to what I was saying, and which would prove, if necessary, that this background was not a figment of my imagination. A member of the British Hockey Board wrote to me stressing one particular point. It was the cost of participating in international fixtures outside Britain. He said:
Whether we like it or not, the scope of international sport has widened over the past decade and the Governments of most countries abroad have apparently realised this and have accordingly given financial aid to enable amateur sports bodies to carry out a certain number of international fixtures outwith their own countries…".
I was distressed to read the next paragraph, and I think the Lord President will be. I have a copy of the letter which I can give him. The letter went on to say:
The Indian Government two years ago decided to sponsor a men's hockey tournament and to provide free accommodation and travel to sixteen nations (players and officials) for a fortnight in India. I think you can guess that the only country invited which could not afford the fare to go to India was Great Britain—all the other countries, including two from the Commonwealth, New Zealand and Australia, obtained their travelling expenses to India either directly or indirectly from their respective Governments.
Speaking of amateur sports in general, the letter said what I have been trying to say:
There is a limit to raffles, lotteries, affiliation fees et cetera and we are falling behind even to the extent of being unable to finance our officials to conferences abroad concerning the rules and other administrative problems…".
The last sentence spoke of
the frustration felt by those people who devote many unpaid hours to the administration of amateur sport in Great Britain.
Those were the points I raised in February last—and I have almost finished.
May I add something very briefly which concerns the third item selected from Mr. Molyneux's booklet, mentioned earlier to-day:
Next to facilities, the second main recipient of central government aid to sport in Western European countries is the national governing bodies of sport.
I am Chairman of the Games and Sports Committee of the Central Council of Physical Recreation. Membership of this Committee over the years has given me
a wonderful opportunity of assessing the contribution made by the governing bodies of sport to all the matters we are discussing to-day. I believe that contribution to be without price. But, like the rest of us, these governing bodies vary: some are rich, some are poor, some are strong centrally and locally and some are not. Some have efficient staff, some have nothing at all except devotion, a desire to help and a determination to add some fulness to life. I think they must be helped, not only for themselves, but for what they can offer.
§ I want to suggest very firmly that, by strengthening the governing bodies where it is impossible for them to do more themselves, and where they ask for such help, we shall be rendering the greatest service to recreation and leisure in this country. I have a letter here which I received to-day. It comes from an amateur sports body, and it speaks of the struggle they are having to keep going. They say that in 1960 they had a deficit of £147; in 1961 of £498; and in 1962 of £312. Those are infinitesimal amounts in what we are asking for to-day, but they make all the difference to these amateur bodies between being in existence or having to go out of business. I would have thought that there was no argument that, where finance just does not permit even the most humble office accommodation or part-time secretary, help must be given. Again I believe—and I think the House would agree; I hope it would—that any national body concerned with a specific game, sport, outdoor activity or other form of recreative physical activity must come into this category.
§ Finally—and I think the Lord President understands this point of view—I would assure him once more what I told him at the time, that everyone interested in what we are discussing to-day in this House and outside welcomed his appointment from the beginning. We look forward to his reply with interest and hope. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.0 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF EXETER
My Lords, it is only on very rare occasions that I inflict a speech on your Lordships, but it so happens that a strange combination of length of leg and shallowness of joint and a prod from fate took me at a fairly young age into the 302 athletics world, and it is a short step from being an athlete oneself to becoming engaged in the administration of athletics, which I have been for some thirty years now. I should like to preface what I am going to say by paying a tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, not only for her excellent and well-informed speech to which we have just listened, but also because this is no flash in the pan. She has dedicated a lot of her life to trying to help the cause of amateur sport, and not least in that field, for she has continually brought up the problems and responsibilities of the community before both Houses of Parliament.
As many noble Lords will know, there are four main comprehensive bodies engaged in the administration of sport. First of all, there is the National Playing Fields Association, and my noble friend Lord Luke, with the authority that he has in that organisation, will no doubt be telling us about that presently and stating the problems and how he thinks they should be solved. There is the Central Council, for whom the noble Lady plays an active part, which have a very wide sphere of responsibility and cover all the recreational sides of sport and recreation. They are the godfather to a number of the smaller federations as well; and for the larger ones, with their regional organisation, often provide the administration for a course in an area where that particular governing body is not particularly strong. Then there are, too, the various bodies which go to make up what used to be called the Empire Games but are now known as the Commonwealth Games: the Councils for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
Finally, there is the British Olympic Association, which, as you will understand by its name, is essentially engaged in raising the necessary money for transporting, equipping and housing our teams at this greatest international festival which may take place anywhere in the world, every four years, the Olympic Games. But it has another sphere of activity, too. There are some thirty sports governing bodies affiliated to it, and it is, therefore, a very useful forum for discussing such matters which affect competitive sport so far as all the national federations are concerned; and 303 it is rather of this British Olympic side that I should like to speak to your Lordships this afternoon because that is the subject on which I have had most experience. I have been chairman of the Council for some 27 years, and I feel that in this very large canvas which this problem of sport and recreation covers, this afternoon one should pick out one particular part and paint it in with its background, as the noble Baroness has already done in a large field, and has done far better than I could possibly have done. But there is one field in which I have had this special experience, that is, in the field of competitive sport.
I think it would perhaps be easiest if I were to give you what is the organisation in the world because, unbeknown to most people, there is an enormous and gigantic organisation for amateur sport which has grown up almost unnoticed. The days when in one country you could without repercussions change the rules, whether technical or whether of eligibility or of amateurism, have gone. Those days are past for all the great sports. We are part of something very much larger. In every country there is a national governing body in sport and those bodies owe an allegiance to the International Federation. Running parallel to that, we have the International Olympic Committee, to whom the Olympic Games belong; and below that the national Olympic committees, like the British Olympic Association; and on those committees the governing bodies of sport, under the I.O.C. rules, must have a controlling vote. To show the size of these organisations, there are no fewer than 100 national Olympic committees affiliated to the International Olympic Committee. In the sports, if I may take my own federation of which I am President, in the International Amateur Athletic Federation, we have 126 member countries; and there are many other great international federations with almost as many members. So you have here, literally in every country, a State within a State, and although World Government is, in politics, at this stage of history, a pipedream, it is an accomplished fact in the world of amateur sport.
We have our problems in this field, and I propose first to say on what this 304 enormous edifice is built. It is built, in the words of Dr. Zauli of Italy, who has just written a most interesting paper on the basis of amateur sport, on what he calls (and forgive my pronunciation) homo ludens. This is, that in fact from time immemorial, from the very start of man, there has always been a desire and an urge in all men to compete, to pit their strength, their dexterity and their skill against another man or even against their own best performance and thereby put themselves to a lot of discomfort and inconvenience in their training, and to do it for no material reward. That is what homo ludens is and, if I might interperse here, the difference between amateurism and professionalism, of which one hears so much argument, is basically really that. In the one case a man quite honourably decides that sport is going to be the vehicle to earn his livelihood and the material things of life, exactly as another man may go into the assembly line of a motor car factory or may become a bank clerk. But the moment that happens no longer is he in the same category as homo ludens.
In this struggle to maintain and build this great edifice we get attacks from two quarters. The first one is on the commercial side. There is always, in certain countries, an endeavour by those who are selling commercial goods to try to tempt the homo ludens to take money, to advertise some type of goods against some other type of goods. In this country we are most fortunate in that a very large number of newspapers, in fact almost all the national newspapers, have at one time or another backed international athletic meetings, swimming meetings and the like, and if they lose money they pay, and if they make money they hand it over to the governing body. But this is not always so in some other countries. There are leading competitors there whom the newspapers try to tempt to write articles and who thereby endanger their homo ludens position. And why do they do it? Not for the athletes, but so as to sell more newspapers.
So it is, too, that we have another attack in the field of what is called athletics scholarships which are given in the United States to-day; scholarships which are awarded not on mental ability but purely and simply on whether people are good at sport. These scholarships are 305 not given by the great universities, but by the smaller ones to try to increase their athletic prestige and that, incidentally, of the coach. I have spoken to people who have been through these courses and they say that academically it has done them no good at all; they have really been in the nature of gladiators for raising the athletic prestige of the university. In other countries—but not here, I am happy to say—sometimes there are also promoters who will do all they can to get the top athletes in order that the gate may be more satisfactory. I am not going to dwell on this subject any longer, but there is quite a clear field which is professional and another which is amateur, and there is a big no-man's land between. And I have no doubt at all that the argument on that will be going on by the time, as perhaps I may say in this debate, that I have been called to my last Olympic Games.
But there is another attack to which the noble Lady has referred to which I should like to refer as well, and that is the political attack, of which we have had a particularly bad year this year. I have now been for some thirty years a member of the International Olympics Committee and in that time have seen in different parts of the world a number of dictators spring up, a number of Parties with strong ideologies, all of which started by saying that sport and politics were quite indivisible. Your Lordships will note that it is the politicians, and not the athletes, who say that. They do not even dent the great federation. But the curious thing is that, as the years go by, and they become more sure of themselves politically, that cry is muted and finally disappears. The reason for this is that they start to realise there is a great value in having international amateur sport non-political, and that it achieves several things which they want.
It provides, of course, pleasure and recreation for competitors and spectators alike. It develops those characteristics which are needed in all our citizenry, in the training, self-denial; mastery of self; cheerfulness in defeat; modesty in victory; and—perhaps even more important—the gift of developing those characteristics which make people get on with their fellow men. Because there is a fellowship in sport; and in this fellowship, perhaps more than in any other activity, somebody who tries to be "the 306 cat who walks by himself" and takes no interest in anybody else is not going to find any great happiness. With their athletes going abroad too, and visiting other parts of the world, and meeting other athletes, there is an immense amount of good will engendered; and that is not confined to the people who meet each other. The image which goes back to other countries is most important, because it is impossible for everybody to meet everybody, and this image can do a great deal to make friends in other parts of the world. It is for these reasons, in the long run, in practically all cases I can think of, that they settle down and become good members of these international federations.
We have our problems at the moment. One tragic one was when China resigned from most of the international federations and all those which recognised Formosa about a year ago. It was a little difficult to follow, because in my own international federation in Melbourne in 1956, where we are not political, but deal with situations factually, the Peking association was recognised as being China; but equally we were not prepared to disenfranchise a country of 9 million people in Formosa or Taiwan. They remain in, not as China but as the geographical area of Taiwan. I do not think our friends in China fully understood this and so they resigned. I hope they will appreciate in due course the basic theory of homo ludens, that we are not political and that we may welcome them back in the fellowship of world sport once again.
That is not the only trouble we have had in the Far East. In the Asian Games less than a year ago Indonesia was the host country. We gave them a licence from our governing body to hold athletics—and many other governing bodies did the same—only on condition that all members of the geographical area were invited; otherwise there would have been no licence. Not only that: a further condition was that the athletes should have unhindered entry. Invitations were sent, but Israel and Taiwan were excluded from receiving identity cards to get into the country, and they were not guaranteed that if they got to Jakarta they would be allowed in. One international federation cancelled its events completely, and in the athletics we said there could be no athletics in the Games, 307 but as teams were there they could have an ordinary international meeting. That took place, and the Congress laid down that every country whose athletes competed there must accept the ruling of the international federation, that it was not part of the Asian Games but an international meeting. All except one, with whom negotiations are still on, have signed this undertaking.
To give your Lordships some idea of the power that can be wielded in these things, we have no army and no police. The greatest sanction we have is to disallow any country or individual from competing in the world of sport. In the Olympic Games in 1936 in Berlin, Hitler stated that the chairman of their organising committee, a respected member of the international committee because he was half-Jewish, could not remain in that position. The President of the I.O.C. went to Hitler and told him that he insisted there would be no Games in Berlin. Hitler had to climb down. The other day we met political interference in basketball in the Philippines: the Government refused to allow in players from Yugoslavia. The games were cancelled and went to South America We are not exactly in the clear about this in the NATO countries ourselves. In the political troubles which have taken place over the Wall, and the retaliation, the cancellation of visas of East German teams, the people who are suffering from this trouble are the young people whose fault it is not. The East German teams can no longer join in with the other teams of the world if they wish to compete. I hope it will be borne strongly in mind by the Foreign Office and the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary that a great many young people are suffering very much, to the extreme dissatisfaction of the whole of the youth of the sporting world.
We do meet successes, too. It perhaps will be of interest to your Lordships to know that Germany competes as one country in the Olympic Games, that they are affiliated to my Federation as one country and not two. We have just succeeded in bringing North Korea and South Korea together in one team for the Olympic Games at Tokyo. Those are some of the things we can put on the credit side of what we are achieving. 308 I have been telling your Lordships about these things because this is a side of the achievements of amateur sport which is often not appreciated. We have knowledge of the advantages inside our own country, what is done outside should also be known.
May I say a few words about what we hope will be the proposals of the noble Viscount the Lord President. I must say one thing about him: having had one or two private conversations with him, I am astounded that, with all the things he has to do, he has managed to get such a tremendous grasp of this complicated subject in such a short time. And it is complicated. What do we hope for? We hope for news of further facilities. We are lagging behind almost every other country in the world in this respect. When we hear from him, some may say that it does not go far enough; some may say that it does. But the most important thing, to my mind, is that we should get off the ground: because once you are flying you can rapidly increase your rate of climb; and once we are committed on certain lines really to start moving, I am sure that, as the months go by, we shall be able to increase the tempo.
Much has been done with the limited finances available. In the Amateur Athletics Association we have a very strong committee trying to urge upon local authorities their responsibility for providing facilities, and the Association gives advice on the layout of grounds to suit our particular sport. We work very closely with the National Playing Fields Association and the Central Council. What is the machinery to be? It is a difficult problem, because we are all attached, as it were, to different Government Departments. Quite clearly, most of the activities of the Central Council would depend on the Board of Education. So far as playing fields are concerned, I should have thought it would have been the Ministry of Education and the Departments which deal with local government.
With regard to the Commonwealth Games, obviously it is a matter for the Commonwealth Department. On the competitive sports, from that side of their activities so far as coaching is concerned we have these schemes already; and the Department is the Ministry of Education. Most of the coaching schemes are not 309 just to teach champions but to train volunteers how to coach others so that everybody gets the advantage. There is something that needs to be done in international competitive sport—the noble Lady touched on this, and it is very important. The way the bigger governing bodies usually arrange matches is to have a return match, one in one country and one in the other. That means the match in their own country pays for their expenses to visit the other country. But that depends on having an equally strong country to compete with. If you can compete only with a weaker country you cannot attract a big enough gate to meet the team's expenses. Yet it is the weak countries that need help and encouragement more than the others, not only those still joined to this country but those which are now independent and in process of building up; and others less strong in sport. Here we must call on the Government to help, and surely it is to the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office that we must look.
So far as the Olympic Games are concerned, we are on the verge of launching an appeal for Tokyo. We think that we shall be able to send teams by voluntary subscription. I have a splendid committee, mostly busy men in industry, commerce, trade unions and the like, who have come on the committee and are prepared to help us. The sports themselves will raise much of the money. But where we all need help in the governing bodies and the Olympic Association is in grants towards administration. We are poor in amateur sport. It is composed largely of young people who are still only in the lower brackets of salary. Many of them marry young, and therefore have further responsibilities. They can manage to run their clubs and help with their districts. But when it comes to the national field you cannot run great organisations without permanent staff; and that is not an easy thing to raise money for. If the Government will work through the existing channels of the amateur bodies and help them with the costs of administration I am perfectly certain that that would be one of the best ways to help.
One thing I pray that we shall not hear mentioned this afternoon is that there is to be a Minister of Sport. I believe that that would be a disaster, 310 because, after all, the whole make-up of sport is this great amateur edifice that we have built. From the nature of things, a member of any Government in politics has to deliver something good, and over a short period; such is the way that politics seem to work. In the national field this would surely mean that he would have to interfere in the actual administration of sport. If I may give an example of what could easily happen in the international field it is something that faces us at the present moment. The French Government, or their representative, has urged the Council of Europe to hold a meeting of all the amateur sports bodies in their area to discuss such questions as amateur status and the like. That has been turned down flat by the international federations, and by the national ones; because in the first place, this is not within their sphere of activity; and in the second place, the strength of sport is that we do not recognise Europe as two halves but as one whole, whether people are behind the Iron Curtain or are not. We work with our own European Commission, and quite successfully to cover the lot. If we had a Minister of Sport and he had been asked by his counterpart in France whether he would support him in this venture, I think it would have caused some disappointment in France to say, "No"; and if he said "Yes" he would find himself at loggerheads with the amateur bodies.
I think the idea of having a Minister for Sport, if I can put it that way, someone in the position of the Lord President, to whom we can go, who has other responsibilities as well as sport—it could be perhaps for all grant-aided bodies, but, at any rate, some other responsibilities as well—and who has a strong section under him who know all the details of what is going on in the various sporting bodies and can co-ordinate their applications for assistance to the various departments, is not so very different from something the noble Baroness was asking for. This, I think, would probably be the best way of tackling this most difficult problem.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I ask the noble Marquess a question? I hesitate to do so, because he is making an extremely interesting speech. He does not mind, then, having a Minister who has a part-time job as 311 Minister for Sport, with special responsibility for sport, but he insists that this Minister must have something else to do. Is that such a tremendously important distinction?
§ THE MARQUESS OF EXETER
Yes, I think it is, because if a Minister is responsible for only one thing, as I see it, he is going to find that if he is going to produce results politically he must automatically devote much of his time to pushing this one thing—and this would lead almost certainly to interfering with the governing bodies and their management of the sport. What we want is the money to be provided, but as it is provided from public funds, somebody has to assume the responsibility. This is what the Wolfenden Report had in mind in their recommendation: that there must be some body which will accept that responsibility, will ration the money out, but will not interfere with the running of sport itself. Because immediately a Minister gets into the matter of administration, then I think we are going to have great trouble. I have actually seen this happen in other countries where this has taken place—I am referring to democratic countries now and not to the world as a whole.
But, apart from that point, I should like to touch on one other angle, in conclusion. It is one which I hope your Lordships will think about. Within the next ten years everybody in this country is going to have a motor car. We have already seen what is happening across the Atlantic. There a lot of people will not walk even one block now. Should that happen in this country, it will be a sorry position, because if you have a physically soft people how long will it take before the rugged character of the people changes? This is something which no Government can tackle alone, and no sports body can tackle. All the facilities can be provided; you can get in a lot of extra people by supporting the voluntary bodies, but in the long run it is going to be an approach to life.
I would urge that not only those in politics, but also particularly those in communications, the Press, the wireless, all leaders in national life, should not wait until this problem hits us, but even from now should start putting, whenever 312 they can, a slight emphasis on the extreme value to the individual and the community of his being reasonably healthy. I do not mean that everybody should run marathons, or that everybody should play violent games of Rugger quite late in life. I mean that people as they get older should play a game of golf or tennis, or even should walk, because I believe this is extremely important so far as the community is concerned.
If we push on with help to amateur sport, I believe we shall do a great deal for the youth of this country. We shall bring much happiness and pleasure. At the same time, we shall produce the sort of characters that we want to find in our citizens. Not only that, but by taking our active part in this field we shall be able, in the international field, too, to play a part in one of the greatest experiments that has ever taken place, so far successfully, in the integration of the ordinary people of the world. Surely, if we achieve well in this we shall have made a real contribution to the only sure foundation of that building which is the prayer of mankind: "Peace and good will among men".
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I must start with an apology to your Lordships, and also with thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Amulree. I have, unfortunately, a longstanding speaking engagement during the course of the afternoon and must leave at an early stage of this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, has kindly allowed me to speak ahead of him. I am also most grateful to my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry for initiating this debate, which promises to be not only an extremely interesting but an extremely important one; and also, if I may say so, to the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, for a truly magnificent speech. He said, in an exemplary manner, many things which we ought to know but which many of us, I am afraid, did not know and simply felt without realising why. I should like to carry on from the point where he stopped, or where he was just beginning to arrive at the end of his speech; that is, the effect of sport in this country, not in the international sphere.
We are now embarking on an era, and have been now slowly over a good many years, of increasing leisure. We 313 all agree that that is right, and we want people in this country to have more leisure. But as leisure increases, undoubtedly the problems of leisure increase. What should be done with the leisure time? Leisure is not an unmixed blessing. Leisure will be used in an antisocial manner, in a manner which gives rise to many things which all of us deplore. Leisure, wrongly used, can lead to juvenile delinquency, to crime, to unhappiness, to boredom and to many things of that sort. We and the Government in this country must turn our minds to how we should, not in organised leisure, enable people to profit from the leisure which they are now having in increasing quantities, and which we hope they will have in still more increasing quantities in years to come. There are many ways in which leisure can be well used. Education is undoubtedly one; the development of cultural life is another, and sport is yet another. It is in that context that I should like to say a few words on this subject.
In itself, of course, sport is not universally and inevitably good. There are forms of sport which are not so desirable. I remember finding myself on one occasion in Sicily, and I was there invited by the local Member of Parliament to join in a day's shooting, which I did, with considerable enjoyment but not very much success. When I returned to Rome I thought that it would be only civil to write to this Member of Parliament and thank him for my day's entertainment. Because my Italian was not up to it, I wrote in English and asked a kind young lady in the British Embassy if she would translate it for me. But in the course of my letter I thanked him for the fine example of Sicilian sport which he had shown me. A rather bashful young lady came back with the letter duly translated, and said "I am afraid we have had to alter one phrase, because in Italian ' Sicilian sport ' does not mean exactly what you want it to mean." She would never tell me exactly what it was, but I take it that your Lordships are well acquainted with Italian and have a very good idea what was meant. It is not that type of sport that needs a great deal of encouragement. In fact, it may be as a counterblast to that form of sport that we should agree it is a Government 314 responsibility that thought should be given to this matter.
In particular, it seems to me that there is one period in the life of people in this country which is of particular importance, and that is the period between school leaving and becoming fully grown-up. Most people at school have opportunities for sport and have the desire for sport; but when they leave school, no matter what their age at the time, or when they finish their education, and go into a job, it is very easy at that period to lose the habit of sport, never to regain it. We must concentrate on that post-education period in order to ensure that the love of sport, the desire to indulge in it, which young people have gained is given an opportunity of being carried on.
I will deal only with two forms of sport, in both of which I have had some experience and from which I have derived a great deal of enjoyment. One is fencing, a sport which has enormous advantages in the particular context of which I speak, and also in the more general context, because people can practise it and enjoy it without any great preparations; without the need to travel long distances; without having to do it regularly; and, indeed, without having to organise teams of other people to do it with them. Fencing is something which can be done in the odd half-hour or three-quarters of an hour in the evening, after the end of work in the factory or office. It can be done virtually anywhere where there is a relatively large room; it can be done so long as there is one other person; and it can be done at all seasons. Furthermore, it can be done with little equipment, and is therefore relatively cheap.
A great deal of progress has been made in the last few years, thanks to the efforts of a small group of very devoted amateurs of the sport who deserve a great deal of credit for what they have done. In 1945 there were only 51 fencing clubs in this country. The figure has now risen to 450—a considerable increase. What is more, it is a sport that has spread throughout the whole country; it is not concentrated only in London, and is not concentrated in any one class of persons. Before the war there used to be, for young people, only the Public Schools Fencing 315 Competition. That has now been overtaken by what is called the National Schools Fencing Competition, which is run on a regional basis throughout the country and attracts a very large number of entrants from schools of all kinds. The results of this spread of the sport are also shown in the international sense—and I do not think we should blind ourselves to the international aspect of this matter, although one should not elevate it too high, with the national prestige that goes with it. In the last few years British fencers have secured a gold medal at Melbourne; two silver medals at the Rome Olympics; two individual world championships; and four gold medals in the last Commonwealth Games. So that the results of the great growth of fencing are being seen in that way.
Of course, they are facing, as indeed are all who are connected with sport, considerable financial problems which I should like to deal with in a moment, but there are two particular aspects of their financial problem which I should like to mention. One which applies to many other types of sport also is the fact that they have to pay purchase tax on their equipment. That may be fair enough in one way, although it does seem rather ridiculous as so many of the fencing clubs are organised and financed by local authorities. The money for purchase tax comes out of the rates and in many cases there has to be a greater indirect grant from central funds, in order to help out with the deficiency on the rates. So a reduction in purchase tax, if not its entire abolition, would be a small matter, but would provide great encouragement to the people concerned.
Then there is a second matter, a delicate matter, I admit, but I think again there is justice and common sense on its side. This concerns the charging for admission for Sunday sport. With a sport like fencing, where many of the finals have to take place at week-ends in the London area, with the heat winners coming up from the Provinces, Sunday is the only day on which such people who do other jobs can manage to come along; but because admission fees may not be charged on a Sunday, the hiring of the hall and the expense of the finals competition cannot be met, 316 as it normally would in other sports, by charging admission fees. This puts a greater strain on the finances.
I should like to turn to a second and entirely different form of sport. Here I would quote some words from the Report of the Wolfenden Committee, to which my noble friend has already referred. In paragraph 2, Chapter 1, the Committee write:…a society which has the prospect of considerably increased leisure needs to look at this aspect of its corporate life more closely "—as I have already suggested to your Lordships. It goes on:Especially, an industrialised society, in which repetitive processes have largely taken the place of individual creation, needs to examine the contribution which play can make to full living, for the individual and for the society. As more and more people live urban lives, play takes its place—for one man as affording an opportunity for social activities with other town dwellers, for another as affording an opportunity for introducing into his own life a balancing element of the countryside and the open air.It is particularly on that aspect of it I should like to speak for a few minutes.
We are living increasingly, as the Wolfenden Committee so rightly point out, in what is surely an artificial environment. Increasingly people do not know what the elements are, or the risks taken by people who even to-day still have to come into contact with them. The average young person brought up to-day if he is too cold need do no more than put a shilling in the slot, or turn on the gas fire, or, if he is lucky, simply presses a button or turn on a switch. If he is too warm he may, and increasingly as time goes on he will, be able to do the reverse process and turn on his air conditioning. If the rain is coming down too hard he can get into a bus, into a Tube or into a motor car. It is very rare now for any young person to have to face the elements as they really are. And, my Lords, I believe there is something sound and healthy, not in going back to nature, not in living one's life clothed in woad and living in a mud hut, but in sometimes realising that there are elements over which man still at times and in places has no control at all.
If we can give help to those bodies and organisations that fill this need, I believe we shall be going a long way to filling the needs that the noble Marquess started 317 to touch on at the end of his speech. "Outward Bound" is the obvious example of the type of thing that I have in mind, but there are other organisations, too. There is mountaineering—and here, perhaps, the National Parks could help to an even greater extent than they do at the present time. There is camping, sailing—and not necessarily deep sea sailing, though that is one of the finest and most helpful methods of bringing this about. There are even such matters as canoeing. I met some young people the other evening who last year, having formed a canoeing club, went for a 100-mile trip down the Wye in canoes, camping in the evenings on the river banks. Activities of that kind, though not normally coming into the ambit of what most of us regard as sport, are of very great importance to the life of this country, to the enjoyment and development of people, and to the healthy and profitable use of leisure.
Now, what about the cost of all this? I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Marquess that we do not want sport to come into politics. We do not want a Government Department to organise sport and make political or administrative decisions about it. We have a fine body of individuals, groups, amateurs and, to a certain extent, professionals also, engaged in this matter, and it would be very dangerous indeed if they were overridden o: controlled by a Government Department. But we cannot get away from the fact that money is needed to enable them to develop their activities, and that money we are suggesting must come from Exchequer funds. So to that extent we must have some ministerial responsibility and some Minister, who is charged with the job of acquiring the money both from the rest of his colleagues and from the Treasury, and then of ensuring that it is distributed in such a way as will meet with public approval and give the maximum benefit.
I said just now that that money must come from public fluids. I am not sure that in fact it must. That is certainly the simplest and possibly the easiest way of finding it, but let us not forget that a lot of money is made out of sport by people who have no connection with sport. The football pools are an obvious example. Last year, for instance, football 318 pools and general betting on football was estimated to have had a turnover of £150 million, A levy of 2 per cent. on that would bring £3 million, or more than half the total of £5 million that the Wolfenden Committee considered was the correct amount at this stage to devote to the current expenses of sport. So it is possible that money could be obtained from sources such as that. And there is the example of the Betting Control Board, which makes valuable and substantial contributions from the money taken in by betting on racehorses to promote the breeding of bloodstock. Possibly there is a lesson to be learnt from that, and some revenue might be derived from that source.
But whether it comes in part or entirely from those, or from Government, sources, the next question is: how should this money be distributed among the different sports? As I said earlier, and as the noble Marquess made clear in his speech, there must be no detailed control of the bodies who are organising these sports. It must be left to them to do it. But we need one general overriding body to allocate the funds which we hope this Government, and we are confident the next Government, will make available to sport. There the answer seems to be the one that is suggested by the Wolfenden Committee—the logical and administratively simple method of a Sports Development Council. That would have its responsibility to whatever Minister it might be. The Lord President of the Council seems to be the obvious person for it on many grounds—not solely personal ones, but on general grounds of precedents as well as many others. The Council's job would be to decide the rival claims of the different authorities and bodies connected with the different aspects of sport, and to allocate this money accordingly; and, of course, to press the Government to increase—as I am quite certain they would press them to do—the annual amount available, and also the amount for capital improvements.
But however this is done—whether it is done, as I think it should be, through a Sports Development Council, or by some other means, so long as it is not done directly by one Government Department—the overriding need must be for the Government of this country to accept their responsibility in supplying a very 319 modest amount of money for the needs of sport. They must look on this not simply—in fact in no way at all—as giving a bit of money to people who, for some reason or another, like to hit a ball about with a bat, or who like to put on curious clothes and run up and down in the evening time, or even run round St. James's Park as I believe my noble friend Lord Longford used to do at one time—
§ LORD WALSTON
—but as a contribution towards the correct, productive and valuable use of such leisure as society has at the present time, and the increasing leisure which we all hope it will have.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ LORD AMULREE
My Lords, I am very pleased that the noble Baroness put down this Motion upon the Order Paper, and I rise to say one or two words to support her. I have no particular reason to speak about sport, though I think there are two reasons why I am doing so; one is that the noble Baroness came and asked me, and the second is that I think the noble Marquess, who has already spoken, and I were both members of the Olympic Games Committee when these were held in London in 1948.
There are just one or two rather rambling and disjointed remarks which I should like to make on the field of sport. I should like to support the noble Baroness and other speakers, in their claim that some funds should be made available to amateur associations which run sporting activities. One that I know something about is the Hockey Association, which at the present time is trying to raise money to train, coach and send a team to (I think) the Olympic Games, and is having certain difficulty in doing so. I think it probably will succeed, but it is putting a very big strain upon the various clubs whose subscriptions have been greatly increased to provide this money. At the same time, as has already been pointed out, although a large number of these sporting associations were run by voluntary people in the past, that cannot be done now. People have not the money and, therefore, have to find money to 320 provide some kind of staff to keep them going. I do not think they are very demanding in the size of their staff, but there must now be someone there who is paid, whereas in former days people did it voluntarily and were not paid.
I think the noble Baroness raised a very important point as to whether assistance cannot be given to teams going from this country to other countries for sporting events, and, at the same time, to people coming to this country from other countries. There is one case in point which was brought to my notice the other day. There was a team of, I think it was, lawn tennis players which went to Poland, and they were supported entirely by the Polish Government. They had their expenses paid, and everything done for them. It would be very difficult indeed for the lawn tennis people in this country to arrange a similar visit, because the expenses of travel from Poland are quite large; and, although they could probably arrange the hospitality, it is a question of the big capital sums, like the 'plane fares or the train fares, for which it is very difficult for these bodies to find the money. Certain forms of sport—cycling, for example—do, I believe, obtain some money from the manufacturers, but I believe that even that source of money is tending to dry up. So there are difficulties coming all the way along.
There is one particular form of sport to which I should like to refer. It always surprises me the number of people who have never been taught how to swim. One sees in the papers every year the dreadful toll of young people, and middle-aged people, who are drowned—some have been drowned in the sea, some in rivers, some in ponds—merely because they have not been taught to swim and they do not know what water can do. I am sure that if one were taught properly about water, one would regard it as the friendly element that it is. It does not want to kill you. It is a friendly element, but it must be treated with a certain amount of respect. I am sure that, if people could be taught that, there would be far fewer fatalities of this kind, quite often involving young people. Moreover, these eases quite frequently concern young people who have gone to the rescue of some unfortunate person 321 who has got into trouble, which makes it all the more tragic and sad. If we could encourage that particular sport on a national basis, that would be contributing something very important indeed to the field in which we are all interested.
Then, to jump to another point, I have been greatly interested in the amount of sport which is encouraged among prisoners. I am told that in most borstal institutions the facilities are fairly good and that to-day there is not a great deal of improvement to be demanded. But I think that in some of our bigger prisons the facilities are not at all good. A certain proportion, I believe, have a permanent physical education instructor; and they play games, certainly at the week-ends. Some of the teams, I understand, play against teams from outside the prison. Others play a certain number of games at the weekends, although whether against people away from the prison or people inside the prison I am rot quite sure. But in quite a number—and these include a large number of our big local prisons—there are only very limited facilities for sport, partly because these prisons were built in crowded, built-up areas, and it is difficult to find playing field accommodation for them.
One would like to see these sporting activities encouraged, because it is a good way of bringing prisoners hack to normality, making their life something more like normal. One would very much like to find something that could be done to encourage that. I am sure the Prison Commissioners are very interested in that now, and that they want it as much as anybody. One would like to see all prisons given ample facilities for the enjoyment of sport.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, I believe that what he is saying is of tremendous importance. Does he not feel that, even where, in the big London prisons, facilities are not available, the prisoners should be taken out, under escort, so that they can use playing fields that are not otherwise being used?
§ LORD AMULREE
I am sure that could be done, but I did not want to go into too much detail. I entirely agree with the noble Earl that something 322 of that sort could be done, so that these young men could get some kind of physical sport going somewhere.
I should like to finish on a little more melancholy note. It seems to me that one has to be very careful to make sure one is not making a new form of privileged class in society. That may sound a rather curious thing to say, but I should like to refer, for example, to Hyde Park. The noble Marquess, I think it was, or the noble Lord, Lord Walston, referred to the fact that some people, when they are not as young as they were, take up walking as their main exercise. That, I am bound to say, is my main exercise. I live in London, and one of the things I enjoy very much is walking about this town. Until fairly recently it was possible for me to take a nice Sunday morning walk right round the Serpentine. I cannot do that now, because there is a big bathing establishment plumb in the middle of it, and I have got to make a detour to get around that. Even more parts of the park are taken up with golf and with bowls. I do not think there is a running track in Hyde Park, but there is certainly one in Regent's Park.
§ LORD AMULREE
The noble Viscount says, "Only for horses", but that is not a privileged place; because if you cared to walk in Rotten Row, nobody would stop you. I admit that your boots would get very muddy and dusty, and you might get kicked by a passing horse: but you are not allowed to walk round the Serpentine and you are not allowed to walk where the bowling green is. If we are going to encourage facilities for sport, let us not make our public parks too full of enclosures for sport, and let us realise that there are certain people who do like to take normal, ordinary recreation. Those who wish to indulge in sport should have fields supplied where they can, and not interfere with other people. My Lords, Hyde Park is an extremely precious thing. I do not know if your Lordships remember, but when (I think it was) Queen Caroline, who took rather a liking to Hyde Park, asked what it would cost her to buy it, the reply was, "Three crowns, ma'am."
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, it is just over two years since I introduced a Motion in this House drawing attention to the Report of the Wolfenden Committee. At the time, the economic climate was far from good, and my Motion did not extract anything very helpful from the Government. I would congratulate the noble Baroness on having chosen a more opportune time to introduce her Motion, and I wish her better luck. May I also join with other noble Lords who have thanked her for giving us this opportunity to discuss sport, and say how much I admired the way in which she introduced the Motion, with her usual charm and with the vigour which confirmed our knowledge of her as an outstanding athlete herself.
A few months ago we were discussing in this House the Report of the Arts Council, and it seems to me that, in their relationship to the Government, there are certain similarities between the arts and sport. In the first place, there is, I would say, increased popular interest in both, partly due, as the noble Lord, Lord Walston, mentioned, to the increased leisure that people have, and partly, perhaps, to television. In the second place, there is a lack of private benefactors. Certainly this was mentioned by many different speakers at the time we were discussing the Arts Council Report, and I think it is equally true of sport, although in the case of sport, perhaps, this voluntary aid comes more from industry and, as my noble friend Lord Exeter mentioned, from the newspapers. But certainly this sort of sport cannot be expected to go on for ever, and, indeed, may well fall off, because the demands on industry for every type of charitable cause are so tremendous to-day that most big industries have in fact to keep a special department to deal with them.
Certainly this is true in Wales. We are fortunate in being well-developed industrially in South Wales, but there are relatively few large companies, such as the Steel Company of Wales, Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and British Nylon Spinners, to whom we have to appeal for everything that crops up, whether it is sport or the arts or charities. Also, we have a further slight disadvantage in Wales, in that many of these industrial firms are in fact subsidiaries of 324 English firms who may already have given money to the particular cause.
Because of these two similarities of the arts and sport, if they are valid, there is also a third: the increased need for Government support. I would echo what has been said to-day: that certainly none of us would wish that sport should depend entirely on Government support. Indeed, it is vital that it should continue to be supported by voluntary contributions. But there is a need for Government assistance to prime the pump if there is to be provided facilities necessary in modern conditions. This has already been recognised by the fact that there are certain Government grants in existence and by the appointment of my noble friend, the Lord President, to coordinate Government assistance to sport.
In the case of the arts, the organisational problem has, it seems to me, been very satisfactorily solved by the establishment of the Arts Council. The Government are therefore enabled to provide money to the Council which can then make its allocations as it seems fit and in the best priorities. It seems to me that the proposal of the Wolfenden Committee to establish a Sports Development Council would have achieved the same object; it would have given the Government the possibility of providing the money to an independent central authority which would then have been charged with the task of determining priorities.
However, this suggestion has not commended itself to the Government, and we have to face the alternative situation sin which my noble friend, the Lord President, has special responsibilities. Until he has spoken and given us some idea of what is in his mind it is perhaps difficult to speculate on how he sees the future; but I should hope, in whatever plans he has in mind, that there should be some form of regional organisation which would be enabled to decide priorities in the spending of public money, to assist sport in different localities and to make the best use of the money available. I hope, also, that his future plans will include making the best possible use of the various central bodies concerned, such as the Central Council of Physical Recreation, the National Playing Fields Association, the British 325 Olympic Association and the British and Empire Commonwealth Games Council.
I now turn briefly to what I see as the financial needs of sport, with particular reference to those needs in Wales with which I am most familiar. In the first place, I would repeat what has already been said by the noble Baroness of the need for increased grants to governing bodies of various sports to help meet administrative expenses. My noble friend, Lord Exeter, gave us some idea—I must say it was something I had not fully appreciated before—of the very great responsibilities that governing bodies have in the whole world of sport, quite apart from their responsibilities for their own sport in this country. Yet, with the wide responsibilities that they have, many of them do riot even have a paid secretary. I believe that in England soccer, rugby, tennis, badminton, equestrian sports and cricket are the only governing bodies that have paid secretaries. Even the Amateur Athletic Association, with its tremendous responsibilities, exists with an honorary secretary to run it. In Wales, the situation is worse, and only the Welsh Rugby Union and the Football Association of Wales have paid secretaries. I believe it would be of great value and a contribution towards increasing the sporting facilities in this country if the administrative expenses of these national governing bodies were assisted to a greater degree. Like the stone in the pool, ripples would move out through the national governing bodies to the local groups aid would be of help all over the country.
Secondly, as the noble Baroness also mentioned, there comes the need for more assistance for the organisation of international sport. Although at first sight this might seem to be a bottomless well, I would suggest that there are ways and means of limiting and confining it perhaps to world championships, including the Olympic Games, the European Games and the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, either in the form suggested by the noble Baroness of "pound for pound" or perhaps in the form suggested by my noble friend Lord Exeter of taking care of the administrative expenses involved.
I think, also, that there is a case for Government assistance for overseas tours where these may be of prestige value. 326 Just as the British Council organises tours of the arts abroad, and uses public money for doing so, I would suggest there is a case for assisting sports tours on a particular occasion, such as the instance, for example, mentioned by the noble Lady, of the hockey team that might have toured India. I believe there are one or two cases of that sort. There was another case where there were Independence Games to be held in a newly-independent African State and where, for a long time, it looked as if the Mother Country alone was going to be unable to send a team to compete in the Games to celebrate independence. I am happy to say that that problem was finally solved; but there are cases where money should be available, whether it be through the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office or the Colonial Office, to sponsor worthwhile tours of that sort.
I was interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said about fencing. He mentioned that fencers had gained two world championship medals; but I believe I am right in saying that one of those medals was gained by Mr. Billy Hoskins, the only Briton represented at the world championships in America, because he sportingly undertook to pay his own fare to get there. The Fencing Association were unable to pay it; and he had to pay his own expenses in order to gain a world championship and to be the only person competing from this country. This only emphasises what I think necessary: that there should be funds available to meet cases of this kind. Thirdly, there is a need for increased assistance to the national bodies, such as the Central Council of the National Playing Fields Association; but there are many others better qualified than I to speak about these things and I need therefore say no more.
The last need, but not the least important one, is adequate provision of local facilities. In replying to the debate I initiated two years ago, the noble and learned Viscount who then sat on the Woolsack dazzled us with a figure of £18 million annually expended by the Government on facilities for sport in this country. But, of course, first of all he did fairly say that £9 million of this represented expenditure by the education authorities. This is admirable; but where 327 we are really so short is in the provision of facilities for people to continue sports once they have left school. The very fact that schools are so well equipped as many of them are, especially new schools, emphasises this need for the provision of adequate facilities for boys and girls once they have left school. The figures which the noble and learned Viscount gave of that side of the fence were rather more alarming. They were £100,000 in grants under the Physical Training and Recreation Act and £210,000 as a contribution towards the running costs of national voluntary bodies and towards coaching facilities. I think that a great deal more should be done under these headings.
It is true that the noble and learned Viscount also spoke of some £7 million expended by local authorities on providing facilities for sport, but he did not give any great details of how that was made up. But certainly in Wales, and I think unhesitatingly in the rest of the country, there is a grave inadequacy of proper facilities in many areas. In Wales, there is no real shortage of outdoor facilities, except for isolated cases, but there is a chronic shortage of indoor facilities both at club and international level. There is only one squash club of any size in Wales and this has a long waiting list. The southern branch of the Welsh Badminton Union, which plays matches with the English counties and represents the whole of South Wales, was unable to find a hall in South Wales which could provide two courts for their county matches. Various drill halls were available, but the cost of hiring for a match was beyond their resources. There are no indoor tennis courts in Wales, no ice skating rinks and facilities for such sports as judo are almost non-existent.
What we require in Cardiff is something in the shape of a sports centre which would provide indoor and outdoor facilities, to practise competition at all levels, something in the nature of the Crystal Palace national recreation centre though in Cardiff we are fortunate in already possessing a fine swimming pool. The other centres of population in Wales—such as Newport, Swansea, Haverfordwest and North Wales—would require something less elaborate in the form of sports halls, 328 owing to the difficulty and distances involved in travelling to Cardiff.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I should like to obtain some clarification of the noble Lord's ideas. I am sure that all he says is absolutely right, but who ought to take the initiative, in his view, about providing the better facilities in Cardiff, for instance? Should it not be the local authority? And are they failing to get the proper help from the centre?
§ LORD ABERDARE
I think that the initiative should come from the local authority, but I hope that there would be increased possibility of getting grants to assist them with the cost of what would be fairly costly projects. Assuming that more Government help will be made available, the problem is to decide on how it can best be allocated and how priorities can be established. Perhaps sports councils could be set up regionally, consisting of representatives of local councils and voluntary sports bodies. I think that there is a need for some form of local organisation to establish priorities, if money is to be spent to the best advantage.
There are so many examples of where a comparatively small amount of money could accomplish such a lot. I can think of one scheme in South Wales, at a place called Merthyr Mawr, where by local initiative a farmhouse is being converted into a suitable changing room and overnight stopping area for athletes who can train on the sand dunes. So far the local initiative, which has come from the Welsh A.A.A., has done a certain amount of work and with a grant from the A.A.A. and a lot of local labour provided free, the job has been begun, but they are short of the final amount of money which would just make the scheme work. Unfortunately, it looks as if it will fail, unless more money is forthcoming.
I also think that this question of local advice on priorities should include the best use of local facilities. As the noble Baroness said, there is need for a survey of local facilities in every area, especially to make sure that the best use is being made of the facilities that exist. There are a number of sports facilities owned by schools, commercial firms and the Services which are not in full-time use 329 and which often could be brought into full-time use, if there was a little more money available to a local club or sporting association to pay the probably small extra cost involved in keeping them open. It may be a question of overtime for groundsmen, extra electricity or an extra roller, but for a comparatively small amount of money better use could be made of these facilities.
Another example is the use made of swimming pools in schools. I believe that I am right in saying that in many cases swimming pools have been built in newly erected schools which could easily be made available to the adult population in the evenings, but they are closed because the chlorination plant installed is not sufficient to cope with more than a certain amount of people bathing in the pool. I suggest that if there were better co-ordination between the local education authority, the local council and local sports bodies at the time school pools were built, it might be possible, at comparatively little extra cost, to put in larger chlorination plants, if that indeed is the problem, to make the pool available not only to school children during daylight but also to the adult population in the evening.
In brief, what I believe is required is more Government money and some form of regional planning to make the best use of it. We look forward with great anticipation to what my noble friend the Lord President has to say this evening, though I very much regret that I shall be unable to be present at the very end. I hope that he will accept my apologies and believe that no discourtesy is intended.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, I would appeal to the Government on grounds which are entirely different from those which previous speakers have put forward. May I say how delighted I am that my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry has initiated this debate? While listening to her speech, I am sure we all regretted that we have never had an opportunity of seeing her run in some international event. I presume that it is too late now. I am sorry that the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, has gone, because, as a doctor, I was intrigued by his comment that he 330 went into sport because he thought his legs were too short.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I thought that I should go into sport, though I was not terribly good at it, because my legs were so long. But if the noble Marquess said that, that equates us.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I think I can put the noble Lady's mind at rest. My noble friend said that he was too short above the knee and too long below—or it may have been the other way round.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I would not dare to suggest that I should measure them. Perhaps the noble Marquess will toll us privately about that. The very essence of British sport is willingness to adhere to the rules, to show consideration of others and not to be guilty of any unfair practices which might injure an opponent. I believe that all noble Lords who have spoken would agree with that. With this eminently desirable approach to sport, if a man is injured accidentally on the football field, in cricket, in fencing or elsewhere, the crowd has the greatest sympathy for him. His fellow players may feel a little guilty, and particularly the one who is responsible for the injury. The game is stopped until he recovers, or, if he has a serious injury, he is carried from the field. Therefore it is a source of unceasing wonder to me that genuine sports lovers do not collectively denounce a business masquerading as a sport which bears no comparison to sports which are conducted in accordance with these high principles. I am referring, of course, to prize fighting, in which the objective is to injure your opponent so severely that he is rendered insensible. If he has a minor injury, such as a bleeding eyelid, then the instructions are to play on it. If he has been dazed by a blow to the head, according to a classic in the Library in the House of Commons which I have consulted, his opponent should mot wait for him to recover, but should deliver a knock-out blow as soon as possible. That, it is said, is the right sporting attitude to the dazed man.
How long will Britain tolerate this ugly business, which exploits youth in the name of sport and presents a brutal and 331 degrading spectacle on television to people in their very homes? Here, I should have thought, was a great opportunity for the first Minister for Sport (and I understand it is in order to call the noble Viscount the Minister for Sport, and not of Sport) to speak for a rapidly growing section of the public—not a tiny, cranky minority—and to denounce the business of prize fighting without any qualification.
Your Lordships gave me a courteous hearing last year when I introduced a Bill to ban boxing. The result was encouraging. We had quite a full House, and I must confess that I thought all your Lordships would go into the Lobby against me, because, obviously the male and no doubt the female, has a degree of aggressive instinct, even in the Houses of Parliament. But, no: many of your Lordships kindly abstained, and the result was that I lost by only seven votes. I felt that this House was deeply concerned, not only with the harmful effects on boxers themselves, but with the debasing effect on the onlookers. I said then that Parliament in the last century did not ban cock fighting because it was sorry for the cocks; it banned cock fighting because it realised it had a debasing effect upon the population of Britain in the nineteenth century. Since our debate there have been a number of deaths in the ring, and public opinion in many countries has been moved to protest against the business. That is why I come to the Government today and ask the noble Viscount whether he will be the hero of the nicest people in the country and recognise what other countries have done in the last year. I believe that your Lordships, in part, were responsible for this, because that debate was widely reported.
The New York Legislature, to start with (and we should all agree that this mis-called sport is conducted in the United States of America in a manner which is more brutal than it is in this country) set up a committee to examine the procedure, with a view to regulating the conduct of fights. I was very honoured to receive all the reports, and only about a month ago they finally made recommendations. They are making recommendations of such a kind now that I am told the promoters are saying that if these recommendations are carried out nobody 332 will want to go to see the fighting. In Belgium (and the Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament has always been trying to produce legislation on this matter) last year they passed legislation to protect the fighter of such a kind, I am told, that promoters will not find it worth while to promote fights.
The Scandinavian countries are examining the question. And that great director of medical health, Dr. Karl Evang, who is admired by the World Health Organisation and is used by the United Nations to help developing countries to establish their health services, boldly and with the greatest moral courage denounces boxing. Little Iceland last year banned it. Again, in this last year the Pope spoke to the huge Catholic population of the world, and he was not mealy-mouthed on the subject. He denounced it in unqualified terms; and he has done it not only once, but has repeated it many times. In this country, I am pleased to say, the Royal College of Physicians (and noble Lords will recall that it was the Royal College of Physicians who pronounced on smoking; whose recommendations have been greatly respected; and on whose advice the Ministry of Health have advised people in this country not to smoke, following their Report) are setting up a committee to examine the business, as I call it, and to make recommendations. There is going to be a major medical conference on boxing held in London in the autumn. The British Medical Journal has, for the first time, published a detailed analysis of the cases of five boxers who lost their lives.
However, the most important scientific contribution was made three weeks ago by Dr. F. B. Byrom, of the Institute of Psychiatry of London University, who wrote in the New Scientist. Your Lordships have heard my views on the matter, and I have quoted many medical authorities, but what I say now are the views of Dr. Byrom, who is recognised as eminent in his particular field. He is more concerned with the effect on a boxer who has had blows aimed at his head over a period of years. His description of the symptoms include a steady loss of skill, deterioration of habits, a fatuous complacency, slurred speech and a mask like face. He says that this condition is progressive and incurable in severe cases; it turns a normal young 333 man into an unstable wreck, often drifting towards prison or a mental hospital; and it can, in Dr. Byrom's opinion (and I think those who have spoken on amateur sport during this debate to-day should listen to this), apply to both professionals and amateurs, for they both run a grave risk.
The A.B.A. handbook on medical aspects of amateur boxing mentions a boy so confused on the day after a contest that he travelled to the next town instead of going home. Other symptoms are double vision, headaches and changes in personality, which are detectable at first only by the boxer's wife or by his close friends. As I say, this applies to amateurs as well.
Of course, those who have financial interests in boxing—and the financial rewards are colossal, for both promoters and managers—pooh-pooh all this and declare that this condition can be found in only a tiny minority of cases. Unhappily, the fact is that, while brain damage may be obvious immediately after a head injury, it may often remain latent, sometimes far many years—and I am still quoting Dr. Byron. The latent damage to the brain cannot be detected with certainty, and cannot be measured or cured. Therefore, when you read articles which are inspired by the prize-fight business, and which are written in order to reassure the parents of these boys, whom they use, and tell them that the boys are examined before a fight, that they are examined afterwards by a doctor, and that the all-clear has to be given before the boys go into the ring again, remember that the facts are that the latent damage to the brain cannot be detected with certainty, cannot be measured, and cannot be cured. Doctors associated with the boxing business claim that most boxers who are knocked out can walk to their corners afterwards, and this in itself demonstrates their fitness. I wonder sometimes whether this ignorance of the latent damage to the brain in boxers is real or assumed.
In view of the public concern over the injuries deliberately inflicted in the ring, the question is being asked in some boxing circles: Can these be prevented? It is most interesting that, as various Governments have taken action, as I have described to your Lordships, the business itself is now recognising that it 334 may have to show the public that it is time to improve matters. Can these injuries be prevented? Gloves, even the heavily padded gloves of the amateur, protect the fingers rather than the brain. Moreover, lining the floor of the ring with rubber has repeatedly failed to prevent death and serious injury. There are those who advise the wearing of protective headguards, but in one of the recent deaths in the ring the victim was said to be the only member of the team wearing a headguard. Undoubtedly, the promoters of prize fights are now on the defensive. They declare that the aim in boxing is to score points, and not to injure one's opponent. However, I think they are well aware that the screaming betting crowd which surrounds the boxing ring would claim that they had been robbed if knock-outs were eliminated by banning blows to the head. It was Hippocrates who first said that no head injury is ever too trivial to be safely ignored. That opinion emphasises the medical case against boxing.
While I have stressed the medical aspect, I am even more concerned with the sheer immorality of these spectacles. We live in an age of increasing violence, with our prisons and remand homes full, and yet night after night in this country we permit public displays of men fighting each other and this fight being brought by television right into the living rooms of the people, when we know that such a display caters to the basest instincts. I ask noble Lords to be as roused over this as their predecessors were in this House a hundred years ago on cock fighting. Then, as our predecessors said, "We must protect the people". Surely, that is our object and our intention here. I ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, who I believe has a civilised approach to this matter, to use his power now, and to take action, just as the other countries have done.
§ 4.33 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I always enjoy listening to the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, particularly when she is being as single-minded as she was just now, on a subject which we know is dear to her heart. It is always invigorating, but I am sure she will permit me to bring the House back to the Motion on the Order Paper, the 335 Government's future relationship to the governing bodies of sport. I, too, should like to add my congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, for giving us this opportunity to-day to discuss this important subject and, even more, to hear the view of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, with the particular hat he is wearing to-day.
I must declare an interest, inasmuch as I am Chairman of the British University Sports Federation. Therefore, I hope I know a little about this subject, since the Federation covers not just athletics but all forms of sport. While welcoming the appointment of my noble friend the Leader of the House as the Minister responsible for co-ordinating and developing sporting and recreational facilities, I can only say that I, too, was very disappointed that the Government had not thought fit to follow the advice and the recommendation of the Wolfenden Report on Sport, that a Sports Development Council should be set up to co-ordinate sporting and recreational facilities. That is water over the dam, so I will not try to persuade the Government to change their mind on this point. I can only assume (and I hope my noble friend will point out to me if I am wrong) that the Government have refused to set up this Council because the Treasury would not allow detailed control of public money to go out of Civil Service hands. Obviously, the Government must have overall control of the expenditure of public money; but to insist that detailed control of exactly how every grant, large and small, is to be spent, without there being an independent body with some knowledge of the subject to establish necessary priorities, does not make a great deal of sense to me.
However, as I have already said, the Government have made this decision and decided on another approach to the problem. I therefore welcome the appointment of Sir Patrick Renison, who has had a distinguished athletic career. I am sure that his attitude is, and will be, one of sympathy towards sport. This appointment is certainly a step forward, although, as I have said, I am not certain that it is in the right direction.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
One can go slightly sideways as the bishop does on the chess board, and still be going forward. With all due respect to Sir Patrick Renison, I cannot conceive how he and whatever staff the Government choose to give him, can possibly know all the ins and outs of sporting activities all over the country. That is unfortunate, because surely this body will be able to save an enormous amount of money which is at present being wasted, in duplication, in one form or another; and also able to see that what little land we have available is put to the right use.
There are over 100 governing bodies, covering some 33 major sports, in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and there are several hundred local authorities responsible for providing facilities for recreation. In one way or another, most of these will press for their own cases to be considered—and quite naturally. If no expert advice is available to Sir Patrick Renison to decide between these varying claims, surely, the local authority which produces the most persuasive arguments, and probably the most persuasive lawyer, will, naturally, as happens in other walks of life, be the one most successful in its or their pleading. The decision as to what grants for public recreational facilities should go to local authorities, and how much should be given to each of the 100 sports governing bodies can be sensibly decided only after the overall picture of national sporting requirements is clear.
What is more important—and I urge this most strongly—is that, after the overall picture has been properly painted in by those who know the ins and outs of the various sporting problems and requirements, if the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House is not to have a Sports Development Council, he should set up an advisory committee made up from members of the British Olympic Association, the Central Council for Physical Recreation, the National Playing Fields Association, and possibly from the governing bodies of the various sports themselves. My noble friend Lord Exeter has already suggested this; and so, I think, has the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. Only in this way can a logical and balanced picture emerge, instead of one which, to my mind, will depend entirely on the pleading abilities of the 337 authorities or bodies coming forward to put their case.
Perhaps I may go a little further into this aspect. If the Government agree to set up an advisory body for Sir Patrick Renison, then they should go one step further and allow for one local representative of the C.C.P.R. and the N.P.F.A. in each county with an office or a staff, and these representatives should tie in more closely with the local authorities. At present, the Central Council for Physical Recreation's representatives are far too thin on the ground and are not necessarily joint with the National Playing Fields Association. The duties of these representatives will be to make censuses of sports facilities, co-ordinate the work of clubs of all sports in their own areas, and, finally, to help the clubs. Secondly, there should be more national coaches, paid for by the Ministry of Education, for the governing bodies of the various sports, and more grants to governing bodies for sports equipment.
I come now to international sport, which, again, my noble friend Lord Exeter has already touched on far better than I can. But there are one or two points that I should like to make which he did not mention. As foreign countries are now so widely Government-subsidised, and as this question of prestige, whether we like it or not, now rears its ugly head in international sport, the Government ought to give grants towards the European Championships, the World Championships and (an event which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, did not mention) the World Student Games, so that this country can send teams of a reasonable size whenever these Championships or Games happen to take place. Prestige now, unfortunately, is considered of great importance in countries abroad, however much we may decry this development. Even the Foreign Office, as we have heard, have acknowledged the fact. This position of having to go cap-in-hand, every time these championships come up, to all sorts of sources is, to say the least, ignominious—and, in any event, these sources are running out.
At the moment my federation is trying to scrape a team together to send to the World Student Games in Brazil. We cannot even send a representative to the International Universities Federation, because he would take the place of one 338 more athlete. Yet that international body has almost as intricate international problems to solve as (as we have heard my noble friend Lord Exeter mention) the Olympic Council. I have not mentioned the Olympic or Commonwealth Games in this respect because I consider, too, that grants should be given, but only for administration and not to teams themselves.
Finally, my Lords, I would urge the Government to think again on the setting up of an advisory committee, even if they will not implement the suggestions in the Wolfenden Report. This country's sport is complex and widespread, and the problems are not the same in any two parts of the country. If proper facilities are to be provided, and money is not to be wasted—and later on, if he wishes, I can give my noble and learned Leader many examples of waste, both in money and in duplication of effort—then a body with a proper organisation, a body of men who know their sport (civil servants, with all due respect, cannot get to know the intricacies in the short time which will be needed) is needed. I therefore beg my noble and learned Leader seriously to consider this proposal.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, first of all, I wish to thank my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry for moving this motion this afternoon. It has been a long time arriving on the Order Paper, but it has done so at long last, and I think the discussion we have had and will continue to have will have been very fruitful indeed. The noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, ascended the lofty heights of the Olympic organisation and development, but it is my province this afternoon, although he dealt with the completed article, the Olympics, to stay at home on the bottom of the ladder towards greatness.
It is clear from our discussion that there are many branches of sporting activities among all sections of the community. These cater for our personal interests in every way, and I want to deal with only two or three of them which, in the main, are carried out by those at school or about to leave school. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned the difficulties of providing equipment for boys and girls at school and afterwards. I shall 339 not touch upon any activities in which mechanical aids play an all-important or, maybe, overriding part, nor those in which the destruction of bird or animal life is excessively severe. Neither of these have any attraction for me, in spite of my rural environment. Also, in these cases the question of Government aid does not seem to arise, as those who find pleasure in them can generally bear their own costs.
We can all discuss our likes and dislikes and may even be prejudiced one way or another. My plea to-day to the Government and to the Minister will be essentially one for the benefit of school and teenage athletes of both sexes, and I am encouraged to make this plea by reason of certain paragraphs in the Wolfenden Report which no doubt are know to the Government in respect of this particular aspect of sport. I have made this plea before, actually on July 31, 1962, and I do not apologise for repeating it, as I am unaware of any tangible action which the Government have taken in the meantime to give direct or implemented assistance where it is so greatly needed and could show such national benefit. A good case loses nothing by repetition and there is hope now that our discussion may be more satisfying. No doubt a number of requests and suggestions will have reached the ears of the Government this afternoon, and, so far as I can see, we should all stress our own particular wants in regard to money.
The English Schools Sports Associations covering football, rugby union, athletics, amateur boxing, cricket, swimming and basket-ball, are controlled by a National Council, and each constituent section is run on a voluntary basis relying mainly, and sometimes almost solely, for its existence on the goodwill, enthusiasm, loyalty and specialist knowledge of thousands of schoolmasters, teachers and mistresses, all devoted to their work of building-up and improving the mental and physical standard of those young folk who come under their care and supervision. They carry on unostentatiously in each county, and, in the whole, form a great organisation of immense value to the community. I especially ask the Government to bring them into consultation or schemes they may envisage, as voluntary experience and 340 knowledge such as can be found among these associations would be of inestimable value. At the moment, they have not been noted at all this afternoon in regard to suggestions as to who might, or might not, be brought into consultation.
I realise that indirect contributions made by the taxpayer through Government grants to sport in schools are considerable. They are appreciated and valuable. But I want to stress the growing and great need for help to be given for out-of-school activities. The Associations which I have mentioned, catering especially for out-of-school sports and games, are, with one possible exception, suffering year by year from financial strain. I do not believe any direct Government grant is received by any of them. Their annual income is derived from small gate receipts at matches, athletic sports and other events, and from any donations which may be sent to them. The affluent body among them would appear to be the Schools Football Association, which has the advantage of staging international matches at Wembley and elsewhere. About 90,000 schoolboys cheered their heads off at Wembley a month ago at the school international football match between England and Wales, a most inspiring assembly of budding footballers and citizens about to step out into the future of Britain, whatever that future may be.
I should like to turn to another association, the English Schools Athletic Association. This was founded in 1925 and has been carried out on a voluntary basis ever since. This is not in the same financial strata as its counterpart in football. It has to carry on, year by year, on a shoe-string. Here the situation would be precarious but for the generosity of the Schools Football Association and the National Union of Teachers in helping out. The culminating point of a year's hard work is the English Schools Championship athletic sports covering two days towards the end of July each year. Preparations for these sports will have extended over many months in order to make ground arrangements, accommodation provision for nearly 2,000 competitors and officials, and 101 smaller matters which arise before sports on this scale can be staged. The cost each year to the Association before the sports take 341 place is at least £1,000. The counties who have teams competing bear their own costs and in many cases the competitors do the same. The teaching staffs in the area in which the sports are held form voluntary committees, and the result of these are beyond commendation; they are excellent.
A mere £10,000 would satisfy all the associations' annual administration expenses—that is, the whole of the associations covered by the National Council. These schools championship sports are the greatest home national athletic event of the year. It is unequalled. I may not find favour entirely in that statement, but in my view it is correct. Here are not the grown-ups, the past national or foreign Olympic track and field athletes, but the cream of the English boys and girls of school ages, competing in fierce competition for the honour and prestige of their counties and their schools. They have to be first class and extremely fit even to get a place in the final of any event. Records are broken every year, and outstanding competitors find a place in international school events and take one step nearer to inclusion in the British Olympic team.
The figures I can now give your Lordships will impress you. These are the figures of competitors who competed in these annual school sports in years prior to various Olympic and Commonwealth games. In the Olympic Games of 1952 at Helsinki, 8 competitors came from the schools sports; in the Commonwealth Games in 1954, 11 competitors; in the Olympic Games of 1956 at Melbourne, 17 competitors; in the Commonwealth Games of 1958, 32; in the Olympic Games of 1960 at Rome there were 26 British competitors from the English schools sports of recent years, and in the Commonwealth Games of 1962 there were 39. So your Lordships will see from these figures that the number of boys or the young men and young ladies representing Britain increases, meeting by meeting. Recently 1,200 boys competed in three age groups, 400 in each, in the cross-country championships at Coventry. What races these must have been, with 400 competitors in each!The intermediate race was won by one of my Norfolk boys who is the junior mile record holder. His sister won the half-mile race at the last two annual championship sports. I am told this boy 342 is so keen to keen fit and to improve that he trains every day and runs approximately 50 miles each week. That is the stuff our young athletes are made of. They are the only material on which great nations can survive. They need every encouragement and are national assets of great potential.
The associations such as I have described should be considered by the Government and the Minister to be worthy of consideration for inclusion in any scheme or organisation for the future which may be envisaged. The experience and enthusiasm in this branch of school sport is unsurpassed, and what I have said, I am sure, is equally appropriate to the other branches in their spheres. I do not know if any of your Lordships read a newspaper report a fortnight ago concerning a Kent girl student, Linda Harman by name, who won the senior girls' javelin event at last year's championship sports and held the record for her age group. Her aim is to endeavour to become good enough in this event to represent her country in the 1964 Olympics, but she counted up the cost of buying equipment, attending training courses and travelling expenses, and had to give up any idea of becoming more than an ordinary club athlete. Her mother is a widow and has to work to support her two children, as so many widows have to do in our present society. However, the good people of Ashford have launched a local fund which will enable Linda to attend courses, compete with European women athletes, and, it is hoped, become a credit to her sponsors and her country. The people of Ashford are to be commended upon their foresight.
I have mentioned this case—there may be others—to show how stupid we are in our conception of the value to our country of first-class athletes. Can one suppose for one moment that either the United States or the Soviet Union would tolerate a position in which a possible world champion was left to her own devices, or to the good will of her neighbours to perfect her skill and carry out her necessary training under experienced athletes? We may not agree with the Continental or American methods of coaching and training, but in present conditions our own leave much to be desired. Urgency and need cry out aloud for appreciation and understanding. 343 Before I leave this particular part of what I have to say, I wish to pay tribute to the education authority of my own County of Norfolk, which, by direct and indirect assistance, by grants, equipment and the use of playing fields, make things as easy as possible for our internal county sports to be carried on. I expect that the same friendliness prevails in other counties. All this is excellent, in its way, to foster and promote activities in the schools; but the main concern among us at the moment is how out-of-school functions can be maintained.
My next point refers to amateur football in the counties. I have been intimately connected with this subject for well over half a century. Apart from professional clubs, we in Norfolk have 500 clubs affiliated to the county association. Most clubs run second or even third or "A" sides, and on this basis 10,000 young amateurs are playing the game each week, and not standing on the touchline at professional matches. On that basis I estimate that, county by county, there must be half a million young amateur footballers playing every week. That is a large total and most commendable. In addition, we have the oversight of 250 league and cup competitions and over 200 referees. No doubt these figures can be duplicated, county by county, throughout the country. The management of county football revolves around a devoted band of voluntary workers, with small and insufficient honoraria for some senior officials. If it were not for the generosity of members of supporters' clubs, county football would be carried on at poverty level, if, indeed, it was carried on at all. I hope that the Minister will bear this branch of sport in mind, too, because it is important.
May I turn for a moment, from amateur to professional football? I understand that a memorandum from the Football League has probably reached some of your Lordships, as well as the Members of another place, dealing with the question of financial gains made by individuals and other organisations who are not actively engaged in the sport of football. I am not really competent to discuss this memorandum. I mention it because it may possibly have reached the Government. From my reading of the memorandum, all is not well financially 344 in many directions and among many clubs. Certain suggestions are made as to how this could be remedied. In fact, the noble Lord, Lord Walston, made one or two points, although he had not seen this particular memorandum. If something is wrong in any branch of our national life we should be concerned about it.
I have tried to interest your Lordships in that section of our boys and girls who are endeavouring to succeed in sport and athletics, in keeping healthy minds and bodies, and certainly in developing into agreeable and loyal citizens of this country. I trust that voluntary service for the benefit of youth can still survive, and that the Government will recognise the sincerity of our pleas this afternoon, and will act accordingly.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ LORD CORNWALLIS
My Lords, may I first apologise to those noble Lords who have made way for me and have allowed me to speak? I have come down from Scotland as fast as I could get here, and without getting "run in", to try to say a few words in this debate. Therefore, I am grateful for the opportunity that has been given me. I shall try not to cover again the wide area of ground that has already been covered in this debate, both international and national, and in regard to other forms of sport, and even individual organisations. May I tell the noble Lord, Lord Wise, at once that I know the English Schools Athletic Association well. I think I was taking part in it, though not as an athlete, 35 years ago, and I have seen the wonders that this organisation has performed.
Just for a moment (and I feel that perhaps I have a little right to speak, because I was in the National Playing Fields Movement on the very first day it was started) may I go back to the noble Baroness's Motion and look at the words:financial and otherwise "?One knows that finance probably comes into everything. I should like to go back a little, and then to come on to that part of the Motion which says:…the governing bodies of sport so that sports facilities may he enlarged.I may be able to say a word or two about possible enlargement. I have been 45 years in public life, and the one lesson I have learned in all that 345 time is that almost every single action taken is too little and too late.
I remember when I was chairman of an elementary education committee, now about 40 years ago, when the Hadow Report came out, and central schools, as they were then called, were started. As a quite junior county councillor, and as chairman of the elementary education committee, I had to go to the council and ask for £l¼ million. The county council thought I was mad: in those days they had never heard of £1 million. But I had at that county council meeting to promise that I would not spend one penny of it unless it was necessary. All I can say is that all we did with that £1¼million, or most of it, was to buy sites for elementary schools. Some 25 years afterwards those sites were the ones on which schools were placed. I only wish that I had bought everything treble the size that I did at that time. There would be no school playing fields in our part of what I believe is shortly to become Greater London if those sites had not been bought. I remember opening nine schools in Bexleyheath, and they all had playing fields. To-day those playing fields are inadequate in size.
May I draw attention to something else in regard to which I think a little improvement may be brought about? We have just had a considerable commotion about rates. There is an extraordinary differential in the rates assessments on various playing fields, and even on bowling greens. I know some cases in which the assessments have been trebled, while in other cases local authorities have decided not to assess them at all. I bring in bowls only because, although it is considered an old man's game—which of course it is not—the bowling clubs in my own county have been quite splendid in running contests, all of the proceeds of which have been given to the National Playing Fields Association to provide playing fields for other people.
I should like to give the Government one word of warning. I have heard several times to-day that the responsibility for the initiation of these things should be with the local authority. At our Kent Playing Fields Association annual meeting the other day the chairman of the county council came to the meeting to beg us to use what influence 346 we could with the Government to stop Government properties from being sold off to the first and highest bidder. I hope that the Government realise that aerodromes—and incidentally I saw another one advertised in my county yesterday—military, and Royal Air Force centres, and places of that nature, which not only are open spaces but in many cases have playing fields attached to them, are now being sold off owing to the reduction in military strengths. They are going completely. It is not just a question of their not being used but of open spaces and Service playing fields going right out of commission. This is something about which I believe the Government can help, and they can do it without setting up councils of this, that and the other.
I believe that the National Playing Fields Association—and no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Luke, may tell us about this later—are now going from a policy of grants to loans. Without wishing in any way to say "I told you so", the Kent Playing Fields Association did that 35 years ago.
§ LORD CORNWALLIS
At a very small rate of interest, we have not had a single defaulter and that money has been used over and over again. I am wondering whether that principle of helping those who help themselves cannot possibly be brought into some Government arrangement. I know that in my own trade the Government are helping a certain pulp and paper mill company to build, and this sort of thing goes on every day. Could there not be some kind of fund—and I am all for its being a loan at a low rate of interest—from which money could be provided, and then those who receive the benefits would work hard to pay it back?
If I may take one other example, I have been on the M.C.C. Committee for over thirty years and I am now a trustee, and after considerable debate the M.C.C. granted £15,000 to form the Youth Cricket Association. We ail wondered whether we were going to "bust" the concern or what would happen, but that original £15,000 has brought back value one-hundredfold. And there again is an organisation which possibly might receive 347 some assistance, even if the M.C.C. were unable to provide it.
One last plea. I am now chairman of the sponsors of the University of Kent. After an inquiry, 70 acres was taken off the size of the site which we wanted for that University. I am not complaining, because I believe that it was as large a site as has ever been granted and probably we were lucky to be able to get that amount. But what are we told now, but that the University students will need recreation? We are told that that University may open next year with 300 students, at the end of seven or eight years it will have probably 3,000 students, and we are told to be ready for a final 10,000 students—and that figure is not outside the bounds of possibility. When there are 10,000 students there, how sad they will feel that that 70 acres was not included in the site!I beg the Government that they will not once more be too little and too late.
§ 5.16 p.m.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, first I must apologise for inflicting a speech upon your Lordships at all. I am an exceedingly moderate athlete in the few sports which I attempt to play, and so I cannot speak with the expertise of most of the previous speakers, but I want to draw attention to one problem which worries me personally and which I think falls within the orbit of this Motion; and then I should like to say a little about the position in Scotland. To begin with, I am going to confine my remarks entirely to the sports which people play in their leisure time for pleasure, and I am also assuming that it is universally considered desirable that people should play these sports in their leisure time. I think it is exceedingly depressing that so few young people in fact do so. A report published by an organisation called Market Investigations showed that in 1962 less than 20 per cent. of the boys between the ages of 15 and 24—that is, for the first ten years after they have left school—took part in active sport, and the number of girls taking part was considerably below that of the boys.
This presumably is due to one of four reasons, of which probably the first accounts for the vast majority of cases. First, lack of inclination; second, lack of opportunity; third, lack of aptitude; 348 and, fourth, lack of means. I should like to take these four causes and to suggest quite briefly what might be done about them. I will take them in the reverse order to which I have enumerated them, because I consider that lack of inclination is by far and away the most important of these.
Lack of means, in my opinion, applies only in a limited number of cases. The same survey to which I have referred already showed that the average spending money of young people between 15 and 24 was £3 14s. 6d. a week, that is, after they had paid for their keep, their taxes, but before they had bought their clothes. If you take the figure for boys only it was £4 6s. These are average figures and do hide hard cases where finance is the limiting factor, especially where the more expensive specialist sports are concerned—in which category I am afraid that, so far as England is concerned, I must include golf, although I think it is considerably cheaper in Scotland. I must also include such games as polo, show jumping—which has grown very greatly in popularity—and real tennis. I would therefore ask my noble and learned friend the Lord President to consider giving grants, not only to the more major organisations, but also to the bodies that control these lesser-known sports but which, none the less, can afford great amusement and enjoyment to certain people.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, could I ask about polo? That is one of the few games I have never even dared to attempt. I realise this might provide a lot of fun for spectators, but surely as a playing game it is at present confined to the rich. Is there any way of overcoming that? Could promising young horsemen from the working classes be financed with State-subsidised ponies, or what is the noble Duke's proposition?
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
I think the polo clubs have already done a lot towards this so far as they can, in that they now have club ponies, which of course saves people buying their own ponies; and one pays at most polo clubs so much a chukka. The figure is 12s. 6d., which I agree is very expensive, but I am sure all noble Lords would agree that keeping a string of polo ponies is very expensive for the club concerned. 349 Obviously, this is financed to a certain extent by the spectators. But if the Government would consider giving grants to such sports, the cost could be brought down to within the means of everyone, and I think this would be desirable. After all, there are many lads working at racing stables who, I think, would very much like to be able to afford to play polo, but who cannot possibly afford to do so at the moment. I would point out that polo is an extreme example, and I was mentioning it only for some time in the future.
Secondly, there is lack of aptitude. The average person has a horror of making a fool of himself, and because he shows no talent for either cricket or football he is terrified that if he starts on some other sport he will be equally bad and will make a fool of himself. He therefore takes part in no sport at all, which I think is a pity. I would ask, therefore, that schools should stop regarding any sport with the exception of football and cricket as a crime, and should positively encourage boys and girls to play other forms of games which are available in the immediate vicinity, as I hope that most games are. Is there any reason why one should be frowned on because one wishes to practise archery at school, or canoeing, or even golf, all of which sports were almost impossible in my school days? I think schools are getting a little more broadminded about this, but they have a long way to go in this direction. I would also point out that a team game is considered to be character forming. But if you dislike both the game and the hearty people with whom you have to play, I think it has a bad effect on your character; or, to put it in racing parlance, it "sours you up" for ever afterwards towards any form of sport or game at all.
Thirdly, there is lack of opportunity. This, so far as many sports and pastimes are concerned, has been overcome by the excellent work of the National Playing Fields Association. For others it probably never will be. It is hard to visualise easy opportunities for ski-ing in Southend, potholing in Penzance or even pony trekking in Pimlico. But we have a long way to go with many other sports which could be far more universally available. Unless you are comparatively well off, it is, as I have said before, difficult to play golf or tennis in many places. 350 Also golf courses are peculiarly vulnerable to both private and municipal building, and I hope that the Government have sufficient powers to stop this. Ice rinks are another example of a sport that would be far more popular were the facilities available. I suggest that the Government might agree to lend or grant money for such sporting studiums—if that is the right word—in exchange for an undertaking on the part of the promoters of these schemes that there would be heavily subsidised entrance foes for the under 25s, and also—which is even more important—equally heavily subsidised coaching.
Lastly, I come to lack of inclination. This, of course, is partly the side effect of the other causes. It is also due to bad salesmanship, or the complete lack of it. Commercial organisations both manufacture and sell the goods. They spend vast sums in providing the facilities and opportunities for people to sample their goods, arguing that once customers are "hooked" they will go on spending money. Sport is the same. Once people are "bitten", they will go on playing. But they have to have the initial step made easy for them, and in far too many cases the initial step towards taking up any sport is much too difficult. These are just a few reasons why I think such a deplorably low percentage of the population of young people takes part in active sports. There are of course other considerations, such as the contrast between the comfort and cheapness of a heavily subsidised youth club—by which I hope no one thinks I am in any way saying anything against them; but they are very comfortable and very cheap—and the tattiness of the surroundings of the run of the mill average specialised sports club. The fact that many clubs, especially golf clubs, positively discourage teenagers, and the resentment shown by present members towards new members in many of these clubs, are also factors militating against the young taking an active part in these sports.
I should now just like to say a few words about sport in Scotland. The Scottish Council for Physical Recreation have affiliated to them 118 organisations, including the governing bodies of all the Scottish sports. They are therefore in a unique position to act as a sort of Sports Development Council in an unofficial 351 way, and to advise the appropriate authority—which I think would be the education Department—on how to distribute what is necessarily a limited amount of money. They consider that a sum of £200,000 for Scottish sports development in 1963–64, rising in future years as the schemes get under way, would act as a great spur to the many bodies which are held back only by lack of capital for expanding sports facilities, on which Scotland's economy depends probably to a greater extent than in any other part of the country. May I say here, in passing, what a bitter blow it was that the Board of Trade Advisory Committee turned down the Cairngorms Development Board's request for a loan of £50,000. I would point out that this was a request for a loan and not a grant, and they were perfectly prepared to pay interest on it.
Now just a very few words about some individual sports of Scotland. First, fishing. This is of vital importance to Scotland and I hope that the Government will act quickly on the recommendations of the Hunter Committee when they come out. The present situation with regard to trout fishing is getting quite impossible, and unless something is done very quickly nearly all the rivers and lochs will be fished completely out of trout. Secondly, sea angling. I should like to think that the Lord President would go to the Republic of Ireland and have a look at the feature they make of their sea angling there. I think he would agree that much the same thing could be done in Scotland, given a bit of initial encouragement and outlay.
Thirdly, water ski-ing. I must congratulate the Scottish Office on their circular on development, but I hope that they have powers to confine water ski-ing to certain specified lochs because if it is allowed everywhere it will completely spoil the peace of the countryside. While I am all in favour of people being allowed to indulge in whatever sport they like, I think that water ski-ing raises special problems, and probably should be confined to certain areas.
Finally, a word about access. So many Scottish sports, such as pony-trekking, rock climbing, ski-ing and what is now called orienteering (which is a form of map-reading) depend on good co-operation between the landowner and the 352 persons who are undertaking this sport. Most of the governing bodies of these sports go to enormous lengths to get the permission and approval of landowners, but I regret to say that some individuals who take part in these sports do not go to the same lengths. I should like them all—in fact, anyone who is going on an outdoor holiday in Scotland—to read a pamphlet published by the Scottish Landowners Federation called, Access Without Tears. This, I think, will show that not all landlords are determined to keep people out at all costs, but that all we, as landlords, want is that people should behave reasonably when they get on our land. For instance, because the litter laws apply only when you throw litter on to a public place, there is no reason, in my opinion, for chucking your bit of paper over a hedge, even if thereby you avoid a fine of £10. I could develop this theme much further, but I do not think it is really entirely suitable for this debate. So, having made that appeal, I will merely say that I hope it will be heard by those concerned.
My Lords, I do not think we can feel particularly complacent so far as sport in this country is concerned, but it seems to me that the present Government are more aware of the value of sport than almost any previous one, and that they are full of the right intentions. I only hope that their actions will match what I believe are their intentions.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I am sure that each one of the unfortunately rather small number of your Lordships who have been here this afternoon will agree with me when I say that we have had a most interesting discussion. I was particularly delighted with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, who made a flashlike appearance, and I am sorry that he is not still in his place. His was a good, Socialist speech. If he were still here, I should invite him to come over and sit with us. The speech of the noble Baroness who opened the debate was, of course, as we all expected, admirable. When she told us about her racing on the sands, I had for the moment a vision of Atalanta a long time ago.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I thought for a moment, too, that the noble Baroness, 353 Lady Summerskill, was going to challenge her to a race. It would be rather nice to have a race for Life Peeresses, perhaps around Parliament Square, with a small trophy put up. After all, it is within my recollection that a Lord Chancellor raced a running Blue around Tom Quad at Oxford. So these sporting events are not unheard of.
However, to put aside the frivolous part of this speech, I feel that, considering how important a part sport plays in the lives of most English people—and, indeed, nowadays, in the lives of the citizens of most countries in the world—it is rather surprising that we do not discuss these matters more often; and it is a pity that, when we do, the attendance in your Lordships' House is not rather better. I certainly feel that we are indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, for giving us this chance this afternoon.
I would also add my own gratitude to Sir John Wolfenden and his colleagues, who put a great deal of work into this Report. It seems that all of us, apart from the Government, pretty well accept the gospel according to Sir John; that is, of course, this orthodox gospel. There is another gospel, which is not so orthodox and not so generally accepted, although I personally accept it. However, on this occasion, it has met, and very properly met, I think, with general acceptance. It seems to me that Sir John and his colleagues have pointed out the way, the direction, in which our society is likely to move in regard to these matters, and I certainly hope that the Government will spend a few of their dying hours in paying attention to this doctrine, and accepting the recommendations in the Report.
It is not too late for them to accept the most important of these recommendations. They are, after all, entirely non-Party recommendations, and the Government would not be losing any face if they changed their mind on this particular matter. Now that the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House is in charge of these matters, perhaps there is a better chance of their doing so. Of course, nothing would give us in the Labour Party greater pleasure than to do this ourselves when, not very far in the future, we are sitting over there. But, in the nature of things this will take up some time, and it is important, in the 354 interests of sport in this country that we should get on with this job quickly and not wait any longer. Therefore, I would add to that of the noble Baroness my plea to the Government that they should get on with this job.
It seems to me that much the most important recommendation of the Wolfenden Report is the proposal for the Sports Development Council, which has been talked about a good deal this afternoon. In my view, this is absolutely essential if we are to give the green light to the British sportsmen. As I said a moment ago, I only hope that the noble Viscount, the Minister for Science, with a little interest in sport, too, will also take that view. I do not want to go over all these rather old and rather threadbare arguments which we hear so much, particularly in the newspapers, as to why this country, which was either the inventor of so many of our modern sports or developed them, should have fallen so far behind in recent times in international competition. Something has already been said about that aspect, and I think it is very important. Nor do I want to go over the detailed arguments in favour of this Sports Council, which have been effectively brought out by several speakers. I was particularly interested that the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, underwrote that so effectively.
I should like to refer to two points. The first is to express my personal opinion that the proposed Sports Council is very much the best way of encouraging, building up and taking a forward line in British sports. But it can operate effectively only if it is provided with a good war-chest. I think that is quite essential. If the Government cannot see their way to providing the sinews—and sinews on pretty much the basis proposed by the Wolfenden Committee—then I agree that there is not very much point in setting it up. Certainly a Council must have teeth—and for this purpose "teeth" are undoubtedly pounds, shillings and pence.
My second point, my Lords, is that I think all our recent experience proves that this sort of body is very much the best way of fostering any particular sphere of activity. It is not very long since we in this House—and I saw the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, here only a few minutes ago—had a discussion of the work of the Arts Council. And from 355 that debate it emerged very clearly that the Arts Council has had a tremendous effect in encouraging and building up the arts in this country in the comparatively short space of time during which it has been in existence. I have not myself the slightest doubt that a Sports Council would meet with similar success. This really meets the point which the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, was making. There is no difficulty about entrusting an organisation of this kind with a sum of money. That is what has been done with the Arts Council; and that could be done here equally well.
There is one aspect of this Report which I personally found particularly interesting. I refer to the part which deals with the non-competitive sports, such as mountaineering, hill walking, sailing small boats, camping, and so on, which have been referred to already by several speakers this afternoon. I have myself been particularly interested during the whole of my adult life with that sort of activity, particularly mountaineering, and I know that the noble and learned Viscount also is interested in it. I had the pleasure of sitting on the Committee of the Alpine Club with him for quite a long time. We share the same enthusiasm in regard to these matters. Here again we have a sport in which the British were undoubtedly pioneers. The Alpine Club is the Alpine Club: it was the first to be founded, and it is recognised as such by all the other Alpine clubs, the French, the German and the Swiss, whose clubs are, of course, the German Alpine Club, the French Alpine Club and so on. There is only one Alpine Club. There is nothing which a foreign mountaineer esteems more highly than to be elected an honorary member of the Alpine Club.
We still have cause to congratulate ourselves, at any rate, in mountain exploration. Here we are still in the van. I hope to see the noble and learned Lord next week when the 10th Anniversary of the ascent of Mount Everest will be celebrated in London. This was a tremendous achievement. Many young mountaineers on that expedition were trained in the small mountaineering clubs which, as the Wolfenden Report points out, have considerable difficulty in providing huts for their members to stay in and teachers 356 for training the young men and so on; because this is the sort of activity which does not bring in gate money. It is an activity which requires a very considerable amount of money if there is to be effective training, which is very important because these sports involve some element of danger. We are all accustomed nowadays to reading in the Press of some young fellow or young woman getting lost or killed. In nine out of ten of these cases it is because they went into the mountains without proper advice and training. This is the sort of thing which has been taken up by voluntary bodies like the Mountaineering Association (which was complimented by the Wolfenden Committee), and by some of the bodies which exist for the purpose of providing accommodation, such as the Holiday Fellowship, which also initiates training schemes. But it needs a very much bigger effort than they have been able to put into it if the hills and crags are to be made safe for these young people.
The Report brings out, as the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, said, the fact that further access is essential to these people. This is a particularly sore matter because the National Parks Commission was set up under the National Parks Act and given the job of seeing that proper facilities are provided in the National Park areas. I see the Chairman of the Commission in the House now. I am sure he would be only too pleased to tell us how much the Commission could do if it had the funds that it was indicated it should have. Then much of this difficulty of access, of providing camping sites and of enabling the people of this country to enjoy the National Parks would be obviated. Again the difficulty is lack of finance. The National Parks Commission has been starved from the day it was set up. I think that when my Party were the Government we ought to have done rather better by them than we did.
Another aspect of the matter that has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years has been the use of the canal system for boating. We all know that we have a canal system which has rather gone out of use; and recently we were debating two important Bills in your Lordships' House: the Water Resources Bill and the Transport Bill. The Transport Bill had some connection with the 357 canals; the Water Resources Bill some connection with reservoirs. It was with considerable difficulty that we persuaded the Government to make even a gesture in the direction of supporting sports in this particular line.
We have here a magnificent opportunity for small boat sailing on these canals. At Stratford the National Trust now owns a section of disused canal and is rapidly getting it into order for boating and fishing. That could be done elsewhere if the Government would make available the resources which are at their disposal. It is significant that at Birmingham University a survey is now being made of what is available for this sort of sport in this country at the present time. It is also significant, in regard to the Wolfenden Report, that recently the Institute of Water Engineers (who had always set their face against the use of reservoirs for recreation) have swung round and are now prepared to agree that there is no danger to health, at any rate in most cases, if the reservoirs are used for recreational purposes. That is a very significant and important move. I could say a great deal more about this but I will refrain.
There is one other matter, however, about which I should like to say something. If we had a Sports Council it would be able to speak on behalf of the sportsmen of this country; it would be able to speak to the Government and ask them to change their policy in regard to the ban on the entrance of some East Germans in connection with international sports competitions to be held in this country. In my view this ban is a very sorry business; and I know that in saying that I speak for a very large number, if not the majority, of sportsmen in this country. So far as I know, this is the first intrusion of politics into British sport. It is certainly the first ban placed on the entry of foreign sportsmen into this country because we do not like their politics. It is contrary to the traditions of British sport. It is a policy quite unintelligible to the average British citizen. Teams of foreign representatives, brilliant youngsters, are constantly coming into this country, and our crowds have the delight of watching the brilliant football and athletics that they provide.
I realise that this ban on entrants from East Germany is not peculiar to sport, 358 but has been applied by this Government to scientists also; but that only makes the matter worse. At a time when the Government are continually talking about the importance of encouraging scientists, they go out of their way to provoke resentment among scientists—because our scientists undoubtedly resent this ban being imposed. I do not believe that the noble and learned Viscount, in his heart of hearts, approves of this policy. We know that he has recently been in rather hot water with scientists at Cambridge. I, for one, was very glad that he got out without being scalded and received an honorary degree, which we all know he deserves. He should bear in mind that it is particularly unfortunate that the Government should impose this sports ban, because it is a betrayal of what has always been a specifically British contribution to international sport. It is undoubtedly the fact that the British have always taken the view that politics should be taken out of sport. We have always stood for freedom in international sport. In the past, it has been very largely British influence that has kept politics out of international sport. Therefore it is a very serious and reactionary move on the part of the Government to reverse a tradition of great importance in the sporting history of this country. How are British sportsmen going to stand to their guns on this matter in future when their own Government have let them down in this disgraceful way?
There are two narrower arguments which powerfully support the case that I have just been making. These restrictions prevent the holding of most of these sports championships in this country, and also in NATO countries, because the statutes of the International Sports Federations almost all require that sports shall be quite free to all members and, therefore, that access shall be equally free to all members. The importance of this principle is shown by the fact that the International Olympic Committee itself has adopted it and recommended it to all its members. The Government's action might thus have the actual result of transferring these international sports championships from London to Moscow, which I am sure is exactly the opposite of what all of us would wish to take place.
Moreover, the Government's action in attempting to found this ban on a sort 359 of narrow patriotism might well cause political conflicts to commence inside this country in respect of political matters which have never previously divided Englishmen from each other in the field of sport. The action may be equally vicious in its results in connection with international sport, because in international sport there is always a tendency to fragmentation, and if the British, who have always stood out against this sort of thing, are now found to be going in for it, then the chance of fragmentation abroad is obviously seriously increased. It is a very sorry and tiresome business. I know that the noble and learned Viscount, in a speech he made not long ago, indicated in a rather guarded way that there was a possibility of this unfortunate policy being changed. I would close my remarks by appealing to him to bring his powerful advocacy to bear at the Foreign Office to see that this decision is reversed, so that we can welcome to our shores foreign sportsmen from all countries in the world, whether they are Communist countries or any other sort of country, in order that they may compete with our sportsmen on the playing fields here, whether in London or elsewhere.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ LORD LUKE
My Lords, I should like to begin my remarks by joining with other noble Lords in paying tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, for having introduced this debate and in congratulating her on the pertinacity which she has always shown in this matter. I think that I am right in saying that she has had pretty well all-round support in to-day's debate. I think, in addition, that we are all grateful for this oasis in the middle of our consideration of the London Government Bill. It is always a pleasure to talk about leisure and recreation, even if we do not get very much of it ourselves. People outside may think that we are rather busy about this. I myself seem to have earned the title of being busy about leisure. When I was in Canada and trying to find out what they were doing there, one Canadian newspaper had the headline one morning, "British Lord busy with other people's leisure." Ever since then, I imagine that I am regarded as rather a busybody in these things. However, I do not mind, 360 because I think that this is a subject which needs airing and which needs action.
There was one point in the noble Baroness's speech of which I took a note. She said, "The lack of a survey leads to overlapping and waste". I agree with that, but I would also suggest that it is lack of a survey which has led to too little being done, through ignorance of where the deficiencies are. I would add that to the noble Baroness's point. I am glad to note that most of the noble Lords who have spoken have thought that either a Sports Development Council or, as the noble Baroness suggested, a small working committee under the Lord President of the Council should be established.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, for the record, I said that it was lack of co-operation between local authorities and local education authorities which led to this overlapping, not the lack of a survey.
§ LORD LUKE
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, but my point still stands, that it also leads to lack of information about deficiencies. So often we hear of what is being done, and from the Government from time to time, as though there were no need for anything more to be done. The need for some sort of change has been emphasised, not only in the Wolfenden Report but also in speeches in this House and elsewhere for some considerable time. The situation we are now in is that the provision of facilities has got quite beyond the capacity of voluntary effort.
In the National Playing Fields Association we have been carrying out to the best of our ability for the last thirty or forty years the task of giving assistance for the provision of facilities where the State is not doing just that. But we are coming to the point now where the State should be contributing more, though no one is suggesting that they should be contributing all or anything like it. To my mind, the voluntary principle in recreation and sport is very important, not least in encouraging people to work for their own recreation. The watchwords for the future, whatever organisations may be set us, must be freedom, flexibility and responsibility. What the mainly administrative organisations catering in the widest sense for national recreation have achieved over the years with voluntary money has been quite remarkable.
361 We all know that now the struggle for open spaces is fierce, and unless local authorities are prepared to protect and preserve land for recreation, high prices of land are going to force the surrender of land used for recreational purposes for building purposes. And it has happened. This is where local planning authorities must take more decisive action in keeping open spaces open. There is too little forethought, and too little afterthought even, in planning open spaces to-day. There is too much reliance on the "sloap", which stands for "Space left over after planning". I hope that noble Lords will remember this newly created word.
If I may, I would give an example of the trouble we are having over the provision of open spaces. In dealing with an application for planning permission, the local planning authority are required, in the words of Section 14 of the Town Planning Act, 1947:to have regard to the provisions of their development plan and any other material considerations.Under this, or any other Town and Country Planning Act, the Minister should be bound by the same requirement. The provision of open spaces for playing fields and playing grounds in places where they are needed, whether or not they are found on a development plan, is a most material consideration. Where the local authority can show to the Minister's satisfaction that a particular piece of land ought to be kept open for this purpose, no alternative use should be allowed or contemplated. If through this the owner of the land suffers financial loss because 1947 prices no longer reflect the loss of development value, the basis of compensation payable from the Central Fund should be adjusted. This would ensure that many clubs threatened with the loss of their ground would be able to continue, because the owners would not lose financially by letting them stay.
I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Exeter when he says that a Minister of Sport should be avoided. I am glad my noble friend is in his place, because I can say that I think he made a magnificent speech and proved that he is one of our best ambassadors in sport. I am sure he told the Members a your Lordships' House many things that were perhaps 362 not known. As I am also a humble member of the same international organisation, I see what he is up to, and I know what a wonderful job he does.
If I may break off for one moment, I am glad to see the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, in his place, because he was particularly worried about two things. The first was the lack of swimming facilities, which is very deplorable. My answer to that is that swimming facilities are among the most expensive, and we have to wait on Ministries to finance them. Then the noble Lord was worried about his walk around the Serpentine because of the many people swimming. I do not think he can have his cake and eat it.
As I say, I entirely agree that we do not want a Minister of Sport. To my mind, we have had too many Ministers over this matter already: benevolent up to a point, when it has suited them, blowing hot and cold, but keeping control all the time over our difficulties in the sphere of recreation. I think the same might be true of a Minister of Sport; he might also blow hot and cold. But a Minister for the Co-ordination of Sport and Recreation is, I think, different, and I hope will be kept different: and I hope it is the Lord President of the Council. This Minister must be responsible for seeing that resources are wisely spent, and should advise, after due consideration of suggestions put to him, as to what he thinks would be for the benefit of the community at large. He must take note of and pay particular attention to the needs of all sections of the community, and not just those of school age. This was a point made by the noble Baroness. He must be a Minister who can be sympathetic to research and to pioneer projects that voluntary organisations are working on; and also he must have grant-aiding powers for sporting and recreational purposes. I suppose this paragon father figure is probably unknown in our body politic to-day, but I do not see any reason why we should not try and invent one. I think we have made a good start with the present Lord President, and Sir Patrick Renison, who is ably assisting him.
As has already been stressed, one of the greatest needs of the present situation is co-ordination of all the various elements dealing with the provision of space for playing. These include local authorities, 363 private sports clubs, industry, education authorities, voluntary organisations, services et cetera. I would suggest (and I am not going to be left out of making suggestions) that the formation of joint local sports development committees could well help in this situation. This has already been attempted in Hertfordshire from the playing fields side. This would give all those concerned with recreation the opportunity for consultation, for the circulation of information and the formation of properly planned programmes of development. With proper development of this sort, deficiencies will be revealed, and should be remedied, and areas which have been lagging behind must be brought up to scratch.
This sort of set-up would enable progress to be made through Government stimulus for new facilities, for a sports building programme, for the planning and building of indoor sports centres—I am sure that we need more of these—facilities for community use, programmes with play leadership, and so on and so forth. Co-ordination at these lower levels could well work through regionalisation to the higher level. These, again, must include the bringing together of the interests of whole sections of the community—those of school age, youth and seniors. At the present moment, I think there are far too many watertight compartments.
Perhaps I might give another quotation here. I understand that £500,000 was set aside in 1962–63 especially for sports facilities in the youth building programme for England and Wales, and this sum has increased to £1 million in the current year; and included in the facilities were two swimming pools, six playing fields and so on. The point is that surely these facilities must be made available to all members of the public and not just to those under 21 years of age. I think a good example has been set in this respect by the coming into existence of these tenpin bowling alleys. They are tremendously popular, and all sections of the community use them. Even tiny tots can go with their parents, and the parents can play as well. This has been a great influence in bringing families together in this way.
One problem that has to be tackled is the maximum use of present playing 364 space, and especially school grounds. This involves the question of empty and unused fields, and this whole problem is a demonstration of the lack of vision on the part of the Ministry of Education and local education authorities. What the public see today is fine school fields in holiday times, when no one is allowed near them. I have had it said to me many times by those who ought to know better, "There does not seem to be any need for more playing fields, because existing ones are not being used." They are quite correct in one way because they are not allowed to be used by local authorities in holiday times, or in term time by any but school children. I would ask: which is less expensive to the community—to have school fields used to the utmost and perhaps suffering a little from wear or tear, or to duplicate the space for another part of the community, doubling the expense of capital cost and maintenance?
This preservation of beautiful open fields is just another instance of the "Keep off the Grass" policy in parks. You may look at it, but you will be prosecuted if you go on it. There seems to be something rather precious about this. The Ministry of Education fold their arms and piously announce that this matter is not in their hands; that the autonomy is in the local education authorities. The local education authorities, equally piously, say that they have to preserve it for schoolchildren. In other words, they do not mind what happens to the children after they have left school. In all fairness, some enlightened educational authorities do permit dual use. We have prepared a booklet on this subject, but your Lordships will be glad to hear that I do not propose to read it to you at this late hour. I feel very strongly about this and it is a pity, when some of us are struggling, and when we know the deficiencies, that these beautiful fields are just empty.
I have not much more to say, except that I may take the opportunity—it has not arisen before—of hoping that the Lord President, when he replies, may perhaps correct an impression that he gave when he answered earlier a Question from the noble Baroness. He said that £366,000 is already contributed by the Government to voluntary bodies such as the C.C.P.A. and the N.P.F.A. I 365 should like to point out that, out of that £366,000, only £5,000, representing a little over 1 per cent. of the total, goes to the N.P.F.A. Immediately after this announcement was made, we had people saying, "You will not want any more money now because you are so rich. This is what you get from the Government." So I hope the noble Viscount will make the position clear. It may interest noble Lords to know that during the past ten years the N.P.F.A. has paid out over £750,000 from these various funds, all raised voluntarily for the provision of fields.
In conclusion, I would say that there seems to be a good deal of unanimity over the Sports Development Council, or some such body, and in this I think we have a big subject which affects all of us. I hope that the Lord President has something worthwhile to tell us, because if we are to go on more or less as before, with a few minor changes, I think the disappointment will be very widespread. I feel that a new and vigorous chapter in the history of sport and recreation needs to be written here and now.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I feel quite unworthy to follow the noble Lord, Lord Luke. His good works reach out into all fields of sport, particularly the humble ones where I occasionally find myself. I was asking a cricket team only last week-end whether they received any assistance from anybody outside the village, and they said that the only people who had given them anything were the N.P.F.A., who had recently given them £280 to build a new pavilion. I do not think you can build a pavilion, even a small one, for £280; but it was £280 more than nothing, and was enormously appreciated.
As did the noble Duke, in the very attractive speech (and I may have something more to say about it if there is time, but I do not want to speak too long and stand between us and the Minister), I should like to say a little more about his scheme for popular polo and other ideas. Like the noble Duke, I do not come forward as one of the great sportsmen in this House. I feel rather like the late Tim Healey, when he was Governor-General of the Irish Free State, as it then was, who was asked to address a gathering of 366 Irish sportsmen in honour of Prince Ranjitsinghi. He said, "Gentlemen, the only game I ever played was one of marbles". That may have been a slight exaggeration: and I played other games than marbles. But I did not compete, like the noble Baroness and others. The noble Baroness was the British Women's Sprint Champion. She may still be, for all I know—or she could be still if she could spare time from other duties. It is shocking to think that only a few years ago there were not any women's Olympics; for otherwise I have no doubt that, like the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, she would come before us as an Olympic champion. She has made a splendid speech and been finely supported, by my colleagues from this side and by other speakers.
The noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, made us all regret that he does not come here more often. I do not think anybody, even the finest speakers in this House, like the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, could speak better, technically shall we say, than the noble Marquess spoke this afternoon. I remember so well when I used to go to Stamford Bridge or one of the other great grounds where he was running. The hurdlers would reach the finish, and the cry of "Burghley!, Burghley!" would go up from the thousands of people, and they knew there was something more than the long legs and joints which he modestly claimed for himself. There was another physical quality, which is also a moral one, called guts, which was recognised throughout this country and the world; and he will never be forgotten as a sportsman.
As I have said, my claims are not considerable. I captained the under-14½ team in my house, of which the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, was a distinguished member. We were beaten in the final. I will not say which let the other down. I suppose there are no bad teams, only bad captains, and I was the captain. But we shared in that defeat. Some years later, I captained the winning house team, and I should gain great satisfaction from that, except that a friend of mine, later a Member of this House, Lord Duffrin, always insisted that I was hissed, as I led in the winning team because of the rough, or even foul, standard of play. Be that true or not, and whether or not that constitutes a 367 qualification to speak in this atmosphere of cleanly sport, I have always been fond of games. I spent more time—I claim this without fear of contradiction—running around Christchurch Meadow than anybody in this House, or out of it. But though I have run around it more often, I have run around more slowly, probably, so that the total time expended must have been very much more than that of anyone else. When we were boasting of our distant pasts, there was a reference made to a Lord Chancellor, the late Lord Birkenhead, who with the help of a handicap, won that great race around the Christchurch Meadow against the Oxford Althletics President. I am surprised that no reference has been made to that greatest of all races around the Christchurch Meadow, in which the noble Viscount won a race by inches from Sir Roy Harrod, now the famous economist. But perhaps we shall hear more of that tonight. It qualifies him (he has other qualifications, too) to preside over our sporting affairs.
The noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, told us a good deal about homo ludens. I suppose that was part of the man's life—it has been part of the noble Viscount's life. It is still, taking fun and games in the broadest sense. I think that homo ludens describes him now. But he is also a working man, homo laborans; or a man of prayer, homo orans; and a man of speech homo loquens, homo loquaciten, if that is permissible Latin. On the other hand, the noble Viscount is an all-round man fully equipped to cope with these problems.
I have little guidance to give the House and a few comments of a semi-political nature to make near the end. But I am glad that one or two speakers have touched on the problems of the middle-aged sportsman and here, in later middle age, I would offer one or two thoughts. I would lay down three laws: first of all, choose a physiotherapist (I do not say a psycho-therapist) who has plenty of un-athletic patience. The fatal thing is to adopt exercises which are recommended by someone on the ground that they are what Mr. Dexter has been trained on in the last few months. I found a distinguished abdominal masseur some years ago who made a great success of the health of Mr. Arnold Bennett. 368 When I heard that I was reassured, because I never saw a less athletic-looking man than Arnold Bennett; and I thought that anything he could do I could do. I am stuck with those exercises, and I must say that they have served me in very good stead.
Then I think that every few years one should take up in real life some new sport which one has not practised hitherto. The depressing thing about advancing years is that while your brain, wisdom and character may all improve, there is inevitably some physical deterioration; and if you have played some game keenly and fairly well, as the years pass, unless you have devoted an altogether disproportionate amount of time to the activity, you are going to get worse at it. It is hard to see any other outcome. But if you take up a game which you have never played before you are bound to get better. That is my advice.
Last year, for example, I took up swimming. I even swam in the pool of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and I have swum many times in the Chelsea baths, where you pay only a shilling a round, if that is the expression. If you take up something you cannot do and you begin to do it, you cannot but improve. Last year I did the breast stroke. This year it could be the crawl, and so on. This, I suggest, is the secret: because I found that so many people get increasingly bad-tempered and increasingly less pleasant to play games with as they get old simply because they get worse and they will not admit that their handicap has become unreal. So my advice is: take up something you cannot do and you are bound to get better. Finally I would say, take up golf seriously about the same time that you take up whisky seriously; that is, in the later fifties. Many people, I think wisely, leave whisky to later life. If you take up golf and whisky at about the same time, I think you will benefit both ways. Those are my three rules for the middle-aged sportsman.
Now I must come to the great issues that have been raised in this debate, and I should like to say just a word or two—at the risk of offending my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry, of whom I stand in awe, as I do the other Baroness, Lady Summerskill—about professional sport. I myself look back with some 369 regret on some remarks I made in the course of the last debate when our dear friend the late Lord Windlesham began to argue that the distinction between professional and amateur sport was much overdone and might as well be obliterated. I took an opposite view. Since then we have the distinction completely obliterated in cricket. I do not know whether everyone is aware of this, but if some great cricketer like Mr. Dexter or Mr. Cowdrey plays for a county he is now offered a fee. Whether he takes it or not is for him to say; but, in fact, there is no distinction. There is no question of the amateur being "Mr. somebody" on the card and the other person being "Bloggs"; or of leaving the pavilion by a different door. The amateurs are what used to be called professionals: they are offered money and it does not count against them if they take it. It is really a big change and rather a sensational development; and it refutes certain things that I argued against the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, in the last debate.
But if we have reached this stage I think that in a debate of this sort we must ask ourselves the question: is the position of Britain in the world affected by her standing in professional sport at least as much as by her standing in amateur sport? I think one is bound to say that it is; and certainly I think it is with international sport. The Olympic Games rank very high, but they do not come very often. Our performance in the World Cup and the European Cup, or in the various professional football competitions makes, I suppose mere impact on the world as a whole than anything else does. I do not know whether the great amateur athletes facing me will accept this view. But if it is so, what is the conclusion? I am certainly not saying that the Government should use up £1 million or £5 million in paying it out to these professional football bodies. There is plenty of money there if you know where to find it. But what is shocking about professional football—and I have no doubt that a great coach like Mr. Winterbottom, who is now carrying even heavier responsibility, would be the first to agree—is this: At the present time what really prevents us from achieving the biggest things in international sport is that football clubs are so selfish, so commercially-minded, 370 that they will not release their people for these international competitions; they will not release them so that we can build up first-class teams.
Only the other day a young man was offered his first cap for England, and his club insisted on retaining him. It was Everton, who have just won the League championship. They insisted on keeping this young man, Mr. Kay, and would not let him have this cap because they wanted to win this championship. I think that is absolutely wrong. Your Lordships may well ask: what can the Government do about it? They certainly must not bribe these people into doing anything about it; but they must bring their influence to bear. But if we are going to have a Minister with special responsibility for sport or, as I should hope, a Sports Advisory Council—anyway, a great national approach to sport—this question of our prestige in international sport is so much linked up with our achievements in professional football that we must bring some gentle persuasion to bear on all these clubs who are acting in an utterly selfish and most unpatriotic way, if you take them all round. This is an aspect of the matter which must come into any debate on sport.
I should like to raise one or two questions with the noble and learned Viscount. I have not given him notice of them and he will have very many to answer, but I imagine that they will fall within his general reply. If they do not fall into his reply to-day, perhaps he will answer them on some other occasion. Incidentally, everyone else except myself seems to know exactly what the noble Viscount is going to say. I have not the slightest idea, but we have been told by speakers that this or that is what the noble Viscount is going to say. However, it seems a general and reasonable assumption that he is going to promise increased assistance to sport, and it seems to be assumed that he will offer or announce that increased assistance will be available to the larger national bodies; that he will offer help to those who are trying to organise our rôle in international sport. That is all very good and I certainly hope he will do that.
But, assuming that that at any rate will be part of his message, I should like to put in one or two questions which arise. How will the new kind of sport 371 or the smaller kind of sport be assisted to develop, and how will they obtain headquarters' assistance? Will anything called a national body get help, or will it be offered only to those who are large and well established? Can he tell us what steps may be taken or what pressure may be brought to bear on sporting bodies to co-operate more instead of wasting our limited space? I am told that there are not enough cases—I do not know how many cases—for example where you find running tracks around football fields. Of course, Oxford, where so many of us were educated—although not the noble Marquess, but I do not know how it was at Cambridge—had a running track and football ground combined. Would that be so at Cambridge?
§ THE MARQUESS OF EXETER
There is some difficulty about the angles of the corners of the track if you have a football ground in the middle. We did play football in the final of the Olympic Games at Wembley when the track was there, but it had to be covered at the corners before we could play on it. You can have a track for training, but not one of international standards, for the corners would have to be too sharp or over the 440 yards to the circle.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
At Oxford there were three laps to the mile in the old days, because I remember what a very long way it seemed round the track. At any rate, I hope this point of the full use of the space will be looked at. Is the noble Viscount contemplating any national survey of facilities? This has been pressed on a number of occasions. It does not seem as if we know what is required, and a survey would obviously be of the utmost value. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount will be able to say something about that. A number of detailed points have already been put, and I am in support of those and in particular of those arguments brought forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry. I will not argue with my noble friend Lady Summerskill.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I have in mind that very reason. I feel I must find out what the Pope has said before 372 I myself make a pronouncement. Until that comes through the noble Baroness will understand that I am not at true liberty to get involved. But I believe that those who organise professional boxing should stop those very unsporting demonstrations of the crowds. I would go as far as that. We read an account of a boxing match recently when a professional champion had retained his championship and he was booed to the echo because he had not knocked the other man out. When I read that my mood is that of the noble Baroness, so that I have not closed my mind altogether.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am not in hourly contact. At any rate, I come finally to the question of the Sports Development Council. The last speaker, Lord Luke, said there seemed almost unanimous support for that in the House. That is my impression, and, if so, and if it is a fair impression of this debate, which is a non-Party or cross-Party debate, I am sure the noble Viscount will give it due attention. I would even hope, if he has not yet made up his mind about the appointment of a Sports Development Council, that he will not at any rate close his mind to it and will not announce that the door is shut.
I felt that an answer which I was impertinent enough to elicit from the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, in the course of his speech when I interrupted, was very relevant to this discussion. He was saying we did not want a Minister of Sport whose sole job was to be responsible for sport, for the reason that such a Minister, earnest and dutiful as we assume he would be, would interfere too much, would feel it his task to do something every day and interfere far more than was desirable. I think, on the other hand, he did want a Minister of roughly the present kind who had responsibility for sport and would do all in his power to assist. I would accept that argument. I felt the way he put that on the spur of the moment, but no doubt after a great deal of reflection, was right, and I accept it totally. But surely that kind of answer 373 is not inconsistent in any way with the establishment of a Sports Development Council. Indeed I would say it required a Sports Development Council to give effect to the philosophy explained in that answer.
I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, is not here; he spoke as always with much thoughtfulness. He implied that you either had a Sports Development Council or a Minister with that kind of responsibility. If he meant that—perhaps he did not—I am sure he was mistaken. It seems to me that the Sports Development Council is a logical corollary, a necessary supplement, of the idea represented by the Minister, because if the Minister himself—as seems to be the view of most people in the House, and I think probably would be the view of the Minister—does not see it as his daily function to play an active part in allocating funds and giving leadership to sport as a whole, then some other body, it seems to roe, must undertake that task. Surely we do not suppose that a civil servant, even the most enlightened civil servant, could do so. You would either have a vacuum or you must have something like the Sports Development Council—the name does not matter, but something like that to undertake this task of allocating funds and providing an inspiring leadership.
It seems to me that there is no question of criticising the appointment of a Minister, least of all this particular Minister, but what is necessary to round that off and give effect to the ideas of the House is a Sports Development Council. The Labour Party if returned to power will certainly set up a Sports Development Council. But I do not want to suggest that Party or personalities come into this. By the time the Labour Party come into power, no doubt the situation will be ripe for the appointment of the best man who is available as chairman of the Sports Development Council, and who better at that time, liberated from his duties, than the noble Viscount?
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether he would visualise the Sports Development Council as handing out money to the various bodies, or purely advising on how to obtain this money and the money being handed out by the Education 374 Department in Scotland? I am not sure about the position in England.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
The Labour Party must not be taken to have expressed precise policy as to how this body would function. I am sorry I did not find more time to speak about popular polo. I think popular golf should come first and polo next. If the noble Duke puts that question to me as an individual supporter of the Labour Party and of this idea, I would say that I do not see this body as itself making the allocations, but it would be concerned in the major decisions about allocation.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I am afraid there is no possibility of my answering all the speeches of all the noble Lords and Ladies who have taken part in this debate, but there is one thing I can do without difficulty, and that is to begin by congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, and to say that I was very glad that she put this Motion upon the Order Paper to-day and very grateful for the opportunity for discussion she has thereby afforded. She has herself a large reputation as a champion of sport and indeed as a practitioner of sport, and I think she lived up to it this afternoon. There have been other very notable speeches. I do not think it is invidious to single out those of my noble friend Lord Exeter, which was certainly one of the best speeches we have heard, and my noble friend Lord Luke, who speaks with such authority for the National Playing Fields Association.
I will not follow the noble Lord, Lord Charley, into the question of sportsmen from East Germany to-day. It is not, I think, within the terms of the Motion, although that would not necessarily stop me, but it really is a much wider question, as I think he pointed out. It is a question of foreign policy rather than of sporting policy, and it applies equally to bodies like the Berliner Ensemble and various scientific bodies. I think he should have said, in raising the issue, that it is not the sole responsibility of the British Government. This is a NATO decision and obviously could only be rescinded by the NATO Powers.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I did say it covered NATO as well. I said 375 it meant that these international competitions could be held neither in England nor in the NATO countries.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
It is true the noble Lord said it in this connection, but I detected from time to time an acidulous note of criticism of the Government which I think ought not to have been present if he had constantly in his mind that this was a collective decision which could only be collectively rescinded. Although there is much to be said for the point of view he put forward, perhaps he should have reminded the House that this was a protest against the particularly brutal treatment of the inhabitants of Berlin by the erection of the Wall.
I also do not propose to answer in any detail the noble Baroness, Lady Summer-skill. She made an excellent speech on her favourite theme of the brutality of prize fighting. Again it would not particularly stop me that this is outside the terms of the Motion, but I do not think to-day is the day to pursue the matter again from the Government Bench. I have always had a certain sneaking sympathy with the noble Baroness about this issue. Having tried boxing myself at an early age, I decided it was not the sport for me, and I have never encouraged my children to participate in it.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, may I tell the noble Viscount he has said enough? He having said that, I hope the whole country will read it.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
That is most unlikely. I shall probably be refused an honorary degree in boxing in some American university. But having at last "got in good" with the noble Baroness, I think I had better not say anything more about that.
I think there has been a general feeling that we, as a nation, and speaking from a Parliamentary point of view, need to make a new approach to this question of sport. I think I accept this as true and desirable. I am not particularly concerned about national prestige as such. I think that a nation gets prestige from doing the right things and not from seeking prestige; and if this is the right thing to do, well, let us do it because it is the right thing to do, and the prestige will follow in due 376 course, because a nation the quality of whose life is generally recognised as good should get the prestige from doing it.
I start, therefore, as much from the same point as the noble Lord, Lord Walston, as from the Report of Sir John Wolfenden—from the point of view of recreation, and from the point of view of the need of leisure. And I think I accept, up to a point and with one reservation, the analogy which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, drew, between the relationship between Government and sport and that between Government and the arts. I will come back to that point if I may. By "recreation" I do not, of course, mean what is generally called "sport"; but sport, even in the most narrow sense, is an important and, I should say, a serious part of recreation. I think that in this age of specialisation, to which more than one noble Lord has referred, this artificial environment, to which I think the noble Lord, Lord Walston, referred, we should adhere to the Greek ideal of the whole man. It is not that we can afford to despise depth, or specialised knowledge or specialised skills. On the contrary, these things are essential to the full enjoyment of life and to the full development of the human personality. But, surely, the specialised man—and we are all specialised men and women—should not be a deformed one; no part of his nature should be mutilated, frustrated or denied, and there should be a generalised culture available to us of which each man and woman is at once a member and the guardian and the heir.
Among these things, fresh air and bodily exercise is surely a matter of vast importance. We live such an unnatural life in our cities, in our offices, in our factories and our mines, and in our little square brick boxes in the suburbs, recumbent in Parliament on our red and green seats, sitting in the pilot's seat in an aircraft, or the driver's cabin of a locomotive or a bus. Yet for 999,000 of the million or so years that the human race has been on the planet we have not lived like that at all. Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short, the natural life of man may have been as Hobbes said; but, for all that, his nature, his instinct, his body, have been formed by that period so much longer that his life 377 in cities and our industrial civilisation has had all too insignificant duration to have altered his character fundamentally. The strange and irrational things that we do, our addiction to alcohol and tobacco, to betting and gambling, our extraordinary ability to seek compensation in romance and fiction, and even our more dangerous sexual aberrations, our neuroses and, as Lord Walston reminded us, our actual crimes, are surely to some extent due to this frustration of our nature, the denial of our physical life, the unnatural canalisation of our activity implicit in the very being of modern industrial civilisation.
Is it not right, therefore, that the State should take an interest in all this? We used at one time to limit our political activities and our thought to war and law, encouraging aggressive national instincts for external security and curbing the same inclinations for the protection of life at home. Later, economics became the preoccupation of the statesmen, and social organisations of all kinds, good and less good, have come within the power of the State. In one sense we are all Socialists now; in another, perhaps, we are all Conservatives. But happily, there is still enough difference between us to provide food for argument.
I hope that we are all Liberals, too. In one sense we have to be, otherwise there would be nobody left. But, if I have been right in my argument, while the State cannot manage a man's recreation for him, it equally cannot—and I agree here with Lord Walston—laugh off its responsibility for seeing that our curious population has a means of seeking compensation, not merely in innocent and harmless, but in active and beneficial and satisfying ways. I think it was considerations of this kind which led me to welcome the Wolfenden Report when it was published three years ago. Even the proposal for a Sports Development Council which the Government have rejected had, at least for me, considerable attractions.
As Lord President and Minister for Science I have had rather considerable experience of operating what I might call semi-detached grant-aided bodies, or wholly supported bodies, like the Research Councils, and I have seen others, like 378 the Arts Council, to which my noble friend Lord Aberdare referred, the British Museum, and the University Grants Committee, at fairly close quarters. I am frankly attracted by this administrative pattern and I think it could be extended and consolidated more than has been the case. But I think the rejection of the particular Wolfenden proposal in the form in which it was put forward, was a foregone conclusion.
Much of the work which is done for sport is, of necessity, already aided by the Government or supported by local government funds. Even the grant for single purpose sporting bodies, to which much reference has been made this afternoon, is within the statutory authority of the Ministry of Education, and it is administered through that Ministry. There is no real field, I think, for taking it away from the present machinery, and, to do them justice, I do not understand the Wolfenden Committee to have suggested that. Whatever we do, education departments, housing and local government and local authorities represent a triangle of activity on which most Government support for recreation must be based—and a Sports Development Council which aided the already aided, or supported the already supported, could not, I think, in that form have a useful part to play.
Nevertheless, having regretfully agreed that what I thought to be the imaginative and attractive proposal at the end of the Wolfenden Report had to be rejected, I thought that there was a great deal in the Report which ought be welcomed and implemented. Indeed, if there had not been, the proposal itself would have been nugatory, for, taken by itself, it was a merely administrative and organisational suggestion and not a proposal for policy. I think it was for this reason that I received from my right honourable friend the Prime Minister my present responsibility. My first act on receipt of it was to create a small working party of officials from departments, to consider both the Wolfenden Report and what I might describe as the present state of play on the internal Government front, to suggest improvements and to set about creating the same kind of change of atmosphere which has, I think, infected the Youth Service since the publication and implementation of the Albemarle Report on that Service.
379 At first I looked for the working party to be chaired by a member of the Civil Service. This was the natural course, and it seemed to me to be the proper one. Unfortunately, or rather, perhaps I should say, fortunately, no immediately suitable choice presented itself, with the result that I was lucky enough to secure the part-time professional services of Sir Patrick Renison. I think that this has been extremely happy, for, apart from his personal qualities, Sir Patrick has brought to his work both familiarity with Whitehall and detachment from it—a working knowledge of politics without political alignment. I am sure that if this adventure is to be successful it will be due very largely to him.
I should now like to analyse the problem with which I was faced and to outline the general limitations within which I have had to work. In the first place, I wanted to inaugurate some new breath of fresh air within the shortest possible time. This meant that I would so far as possible have to do without legislation, and it meant, in turn, that I would have to work, if I could, within the existing framework—that is to say, the Scottish Office, the Education Ministry, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and the local authorities which provide the main framework for contact with the composite national sporting bodies and the particular sporting interests. As it happens, the working party decided that, with trifling qualification, amending legislation was not in fact desirable. So we were all happy, if for slightly different reasons.
My next task was to make up my mind whether I was to argue myself into a job or out of one. This is never an easy question for a man to decide. My original conception had been, rather similar to that of the Wolfenden Report, for some sort of advisory council roughly dependent on the Lord President, and—on the lines suggested by my noble friend Lord Luke—rather as the research councils are roughly dependent on the office of the Minister for Science. Once, however, you have decided to go on with the existing structure for the time being, there is less obviously a case for a separate sponsoring Minister; and in so far as there is a job of co-ordination to be done—and I am absolutely satisfied that there 380 is—it could easily have been done by one of the existing Ministries.
Here my embarrassment was happily removed. It became apparent that the officials both of the working party and, I think, of all the composite national bodies—the Central Council of Physical Recreation, the National Playing Fields Association and the British Olympics Association, as well as the Scottish bodies whom we consulted—strongly favoured the continuance of the responsibility I had undertaken: a senior Minister with a responsibility for sport, co-ordinating the efforts of other Ministries and with direct access to members and organisations of the sporting world, untrammelled by the need to approach them through other Departments. I, too, favoured this arrangement. I was, and am, interested in my special responsibilities in this task, and I should have laid them down with regret. A useful by-product of the arrangement is that it brings Scotland—and, should it desire it, Northern Ireland—within the general picture without constitutional impropriety—which, oddly enough, would have been quite difficult in any other way. I have this afternoon been greatly fortified by the fairly general support for a Minister with the kind of responsibility for co-ordination that I am outlining, a Minister who should not be one of the Departmental Ministers primarily concerned.
The next problem to be solved was the crucial issue of advice. As I have just said, I originally favoured a national advisory council, like that supported by the noble Baroness, and certainly by my noble friend Lord Luke and by Lord Gosford in his very interesting speech. Such a council might have representatives of the Ministries, the composite sporting bodies, and independent figures forming a sort of national sporting cabinet advising the co-ordinating Minister. I am bound to say to the House that this attractive idea, an idea which attracted me very greatly, has been firmly rejected on further consideration. This rejection has not only been by officials, but by all the sporting bodies.
I think, on the whole, their advice is sound, at least in the first instance. I think that it is true that a national advisory council would impose a barrier between the Minister and the bodies 381 with whom he simply must work closely if he is to carry conviction: that is to say, the Central Council of Physical Recreation, the National Playing Fields Association, the British Olympics Association, and the Scottish bodies, and perhaps one or two others. Moreover, it is, I am satisfied on reflection—and I am bound to say that the discussion this afternoon has strengthened this conviction—difficult, or perhaps impossible, to conceive a body whose independent representatives would be considered satisfactory by all the interested parties, if it is true, as my noble friend Lord Gosford said, that there are at least 300 national bodies of independent status. For, in a sense, in this field there is no such thing as sport, but only sports. All of these various sports and pastimes might have a right to direct access to the Ministers concerned.
Instead, at any rate in the first instance, I propose to work closely and continuously through the existing national composite bodies, and through a network of ad hoc committees where necessary on which appropriate interests will serve as needed. I think that this will serve the needs to which my noble friend the Duke of Atholl referred of the lesser known sports, some of which, in their way, are just as much entitled to direct access to the Government, because they have their special requirements and interests, as are the larger activities. Should experience of this indicate some further development as necessary, I think I can rely on the consensus of sporting opinion advising me to this effect through the bodies concerned. Indeed, I would heartily endorse the remarks of my noble friend Lord Luke who said that when this "contact" organisation had developed properly the idea would naturally grow and would come into effect.
Before I come to more solid issues of policy, there is the other organisational question with which I think I ought to deal. In England there is no focal point of regional planning between the local authorities and the State. In Scotland to some extent the Scottish Office and St. Andrew's House supply a pattern of need which is not met here. I think that the gap in the English arrangement is to be regretted, and I hope that when we are discussing the 382 structure of Government in this country at some time in the future I shall deal a little more fully with this issue. In the meantime we must live with our system with all its defects and advantages. However, in the sporting field I think that we can do something to remedy the defects. This is important. When I come on to policy I will point out that there may well be certain large facilities which ought to be planned—and the noble Baroness adverted to this—on a national basis and which are not adequately catered for at present.
At this stage it is worth pointing out that in addition to, and as part of, the facilities provided locally there is need for facilities conceived regionally. For example, a local swimming bath can be turned into a competition bath, or even an Olympic bath, by alterations in dimension, and not necessarily very great ones: and facilities which may be regionally justifiable may not be locally required. As a matter of fact, the sporting bodies are, like the political Parties, and many other voluntary associations, very largely regionally organised already. It only remains for local authorities and sporting bodies to consult with their regional neighbours and with one another to produce a pattern of regional planning throughout the country. They are in fact already beginning to do this.
My noble friend Lord Luke referred to an experiment in Hertfordshire, which I understood to be of this nature. In the South-West periodic conferences are held between the local authorities, the C.C.P.R. and the Inspectorate of Schools. These conferences are valuable for good communications and for pooling experience, but also they enable local bodies to plan regional coaching and training schemes, and I should like to see them using regional meetings to plan the provision of facilities. In the North East, I am particularly glad to hear that a regional conference on sport and recreation is planned for this autumn, on the initiative of the North East Development Council and other local and voluntary bodies. Nonetheless, we are still short of a coherent pattern for regional planning, and I am sure that this will happen in practice only as and when Government gives the lead—but this I believe my colleagues will now do.
383 My Lords, this brings me to the main issues of policy. It is fair to the Government, I think, to insist that a good deal has been done since the publication of the Wolfenden Report. It was, of course, a pity—and, perhaps as the noble Baroness reminded us, with hindsight, even a mistake—that the original consideration by the Government of the Report more or less coincided with, or perhaps was overtaken by, the financial measures of 1961. In spite of this handicap, the scale of Government support for sport has been steadily mounting, both in the facilities made available in schools and other educational institutions, in the amount invested by Government and local authorities in capital expenditure and in increased grant by the Ministry of Education and Scottish Departments to voluntary bodies. I should like to give figures of some of these increases, but I may say, by way of trying to placate the noble Lady, that one of the recommendations of the Working Party was that it should be possible more easily to identify in the public accounts those items which are properly referable to sport—because I happen to agree with her that to combine sport with flower beds, although philosophically justifiable, is not necessarily very informative from this point of view.
My Lords, by way of public capital expenditure on sport and general amenities, not including schools and other educational institutes, in the year 1960–61, which I think was the year of Wolfenden, we were spending £5.6 million; in 1961–62, it was £10 million; and 1962–63, £14.2 million. That is more than twice and nearly three times as much in three years. To turn now to the capital expenditure by public bodies exclusively for sporting activities, in 1960–61 it was £2.6 million; in 1961–62, £5.8 million; in 1962–63, £8.8 million; and the estimate for the current year, 1963–64, is £11.3 million—in three years more than four times, and in four years nearly five times as much.
To take the annual grants to voluntary bodies, they received during 1961–62, £178,000; in 1962–63, £288,000; and in the current year, 1963–64, an estimated £373,000: again more than twice, although less than three times as much, in three years. I do not know of many other fields where the rate of expansion 384 is comparable to this. The total expenditure from public funds on sport rose from about £21 million in 1960–61 to about £32 million in 1962–63.
On the other hand, there seems to me, botch organisationally and quantitatively, room for considerable advance, and I will enumerate some of the points upon which the advance will take place. In the first place, I do not think that the present organisation allows for the fact that some very large facilities are probably best planned on a national scale. It is difficult to enumerate these in advance, or to indicate the extent to which national funds, as distinct from local or voluntary funds, should be made available in any particular case. But one of the advantages of the kind of relationship I envisage between the national bodies and my own office is that it will enable us for the first time to examine these possibilities. Until this has been done, it is difficult to say exactly what or how many of these projects there might be, or what chance there might be of getting the Government to support them.
In answer, in passing, to a question put to me by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, I have been into this question with some care. I do not think that a total national survey would be either helpful or practical. There are fields in which the facilities for sport are so numerous and sometimes so small that this would, I feel, clog up the administrative machinery for many years to come. But there are fields in which one can pick out the kind of thing to which the noble Baroness referred in her opening—for instance, the particular height or dimension of a diving board. I think Mr. "Jumbo" Edwards wrote to me (if I may use his name in vain) about an Olympic rowing facility. These are things which one must examine in conjunction with the national sporting bodies, and see what is there and what more can reasonably be required. Until that is done, I cannot offer any greater precision of the kind of thing that I there have in mind.
Secondly, on a more pedestrian level, the Government have decided that the volume of starts on the construction of sporting facilities by voluntary bodies with grant-aid from the Education Department should increase from the present level of about £500,000 by steps to about 385 £1½ million in 1965–66, in addition to the element for sporting facilities in the Youth Service building programme. Thirdly, we have decided that grant-aid in England and Wales to voluntary bodies under the Physical Training and Recreation Act should be increased from its present English level of 33⅓ per cent. to the present Scottish figure of 50 per cent., and that both in England and Wales and in Scotland the upper limits (which are £4,000 in England and £6,600 in Scotland) should be removed, although £10,000 would be regarded as a normal limit.
Fourthly, we have decided that the present restriction which is imposed by the two Education Departments by which grants are refused to single activity sports clubs should be removed, and that grant should now be available to such clubs. My Lords, of course, it is difficult to estimate either the volume of applications under these heads or what allowance should be made for them; but additional Government funds will be made available under the Physical Training and Recreation Act to allow capital projects to go forward on this improved basis of Government support. In addition, we expect to provide a further £150,000 in a full year to enable grants to voluntary bodies for general recreational projects, such as community centres and village halls, to be made on a similarly improved basis.
Next, my Lords, and perhaps more important, we are increasing the grants to the national voluntary organisations for headquarters administration (a point which has been referral to in more than one of your Lordships' speeches), including the cost of coaching schemes, from £375,000 to £425,000 in the current year; to £525,000 in the following year and to £625,00 in 1965–66. My Lords, I think it is also highly desirable that investment in sport and physical recreation should be separately identified and shown in the annual Public Investment White Paper—his for the reason, or one of the reasons, to which the noble Baroness referred. On the advice of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, I have already asked the Medical Research Council to advise me, after consultation with them, on all medical matters associated with sport, 386 and I hope that informal contacts will be kept up between the two bodies.
As regards assistance for international sport, I have discussed this matter with the Overseas Departments. There is, I think, the genuine difficulty, which was referred to by my noble friend Lord Exeter, that action by Government should not be taken in such a way as to discourage voluntary contributions, for instance, to the expenses of teams overseas. But we may be able to find a solution. One suggestion which is under consideration and which we are examining is that which has been made, I think, by the noble Marquess—through assistance with headquarters administration; but I shall also look again at the particular suggestion which the noble Baroness made, and see what we can get from that.
My Lords, I now turn to some slightly more technical matters. The first of these, of course, is rating relief. The Rating and Valuation Act, 1961, enables local rating authorities to reduce or to remit payment of rates on premises occupied by clubs or similar bodies used for the purpose of recreation which are not conducted for profit. It is for the rating authority to decide whether they can make this concession, and no doubt they must have regard to the effect of any concessions on householders and other ratepayers. But my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has asked rating authorities to look sympathetically on bodies, such as amateur sports clubs, who are eligible for this discretionary relief.
I do not think I could answer off-hand this afternoon the question about purchase tax which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, or the payment for admission to Sunday sports. The tax on sports equipment which is at the 25 per cent. rate is something which would have to be looked at in relation to other items also having to bear the rate. This is something which would have to be discussed through a Finance Bill in the ordinary way. I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that there are ways of getting round the requirements of the Lord's Day Observance Act, or whatever it is, for the payment of admission to Sunday entertainment, which he might care to explore with his legal advisers.
387 I now turn to the machinery for achieving better co-ordination and consultation at the national level. The Committee of Officials under the Chairmanship of Sir Patrick Renison which has been advising me will remain in being, to help me put into effect the new Government approach to sport. Its presence will help to co-ordinate the work of the Ministries which are represented on it. Its members, and particularly its Chairman, will maintain the closest possible liaison with the national voluntary sports organisations. There will be much for the members of the Committee to do as Government support develops for all the healthy leisure interests of the community. The first new task will be, in conjunction with some of the national sporting organisations, to produce as soon as possible—and I think this may help the noble Earl, Lord Longford—an authoritative pamphlet giving clear instructions to voluntary sports organisations, down to the single activity clubs throughout the country, how to qualify and apply for the increased aid which Government is now making available. Its further immediate task, also in conjunction with the voluntary sports organisations concerned, will be to prepare and arrange expert examination of the priorities of a list of large national sporting facilities which this country needs and does not yet have.
None of this means that I shall be taking over any of the functions of my colleagues, the Education and Housing Ministers. Apart from anything else this would not be welcome by the national sporting bodies, who would, I am sure, not wish to see any weakening of the relationship which they have with individual Government Departments. But I think that we shall improve our methods of consultation and co-ordination on general questions affecting national and international sport if Sir Patrick Renison's Committee could act as a focal point under my general supervision. It is my intention that his Committee should hold meetings from time to time with the main national and international sporting organisations to survey the situation and to advise me in my co-ordinating capacity.
I would sum up by saying that a way of life is developing in this country which gives, the whole community an opportunity 388 for healthy leisure which has never before existed. This is something which no Government can afford to ignore, and indeed the figures I have quoted show that there has been a very large and encouraging increase in expenditure on sport and physical recreation for the whole community, as well as that for schools and youth groups, since the Wolfenden Report was published. Nevertheless, we believe there is scope for greater help than has been given in the past, and in particular for Government assistance to be better directed to meet specific needs. My aim since my appointment has been to see, in the first place, what improvements we could make quickly through the existing machinery rather than to hold things up by organisational changes and large scale surveys.
I have from the outset held the view that significant help could be given at comparatively little cost. The measures I have announced in my speech, and in particular the decisions to make grants available to single activity clubs and to increase Government support for headquarters administration of national voluntary organisations, will, I believe, help to achieve this. I regard these measures as a modest but well-considered start in improving the method of Government support for sport activities and recreation. I hope that the improved arrangements for consultation and co-ordination which I have mentioned will demonstrate the Government's intention that the needs of sport and recreation will be fairly and sympathetically considered, and that the Government will have at their disposal the best possible advice for future action. I should like in conclusion to thank the noble Baroness for giving me the opportunity of taking part in this debate.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, we have had an excellent debate, and I am sure we are all agreed that the Lord President really wants to help on these particular matters. I personally regret that there is to be no Sports Development Council, but we are all very glad that there is to be no Minister for Sport. No voice was raised asking for that. We all are glad that there is to be a senior Minister to co-ordinate this work, and it was felt by everyone that this should be so. Speaking personally, 389 I am very glad that the Lord President shares the point of view that it would be helpful if these figures could be broken down, so that we all know exactly what help is received for sport. I should like to leave the Lord President with the feeling that help is needed now in the matter of people and teams taking part in amateur international sport. We have waited a long time for that. I see that the noble Marquess agrees with me. I realise that the Lord President appreciates that we all want to bring this about, and if he could expedite that, then we should be very grateful. I am appreciative of everyone who took part in the debate, and I ask your Lordships' permission to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.