HL Deb 08 December 1965 vol 271 cc296-378

2.54 p.m.

BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRYrose to call attention to Government cooperation in the development of Sport; and to move for Papers. The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in rising to-day to move the Motion that stands in my name on the Order Paper, may I commence by saying that I hope our debate will prove of interest to the many people, inside this House and outside, who are wondering what has been the effect of increased Government co-operation in the development of sport during the first year of operation, a Government co-operation greater than ever before.

I propose to divide my speech into three sections: first, general background; secondly, the work of the Sports Council, and thirdly, legislation. In the world of sport and recreation what I have wanted always was that anyone with potential ability should be able to develop it. It seemed to me that the best way of achieving this was to widen the base℄in modern phraseology, we should look to our catchment area. While I do not like the term "catchment area" I think it fits what I want to say to-day. By widening the base, one would get the champions, certainly; but the base was the more important. I think that your Lordships will agree that if all our young people can have the opportunity to train and develop, or just enjoy themselves, with proper facilities, then ultimately the champions will emerge; but opportunity is the more important aspect.

This was brought home to me at first hand because I never had the money to have the training or coaching I would have wished. My mind goes back a very long way℄some forty years℄to Leeds, when I had just begun to teach in an elementary school. I wanted to enter for the long-distance swimming championship of England, which was held in the River Thames. I certainly had not the money, and there were no facilities for coaching or training for people like myself. I can well remember, after work every day, going right across Leeds to Roundhay Park, where there was an open air swimming pool. I believed that if I could swim up and down that icy cold water for a couple of hours I could at least cope with the rigours of the Thames. This race was always held on a Saturday, so after school one Friday I came up to London and on the Saturday morning found myself, for the first time in my life, in the position of swimming behind a boat. I had had no experience of this, or of the currents in a river. I am not pretending that if I had had the coaching the result of the race would have been affected, but I think that coaching and facilities should have been available.

Coming forward a little from that to perhaps thirty-five years ago, I can remember, at the school where I taught in Leeds, having several girls of near-championship class in athletics. One girl comes to my mind who was so outstanding that I had not the slightest doubt she might even have achieved Olympic status if the facilities had been available. I know that your Lordships may say that that is a long time ago. I grant that, but I am coming to more up-to-date matters.

In 1954, Parliament sent to the Soviet Union a delegation composed, as your Lordships will know, of Members of both Houses. I was fortunate enough to be included. Apart from the general work of the delegation, those of us with any particular interests that we wanted to look into were given facilities. I wanted to look into the whole question of athletics in the Soviet Union. It may be that noble Lords who are particularly interested in sport can recall that in the first four or five years of the 1950s Soviet athletes seemed suddenly with a bound to enter world championship class. They probably had been on the fringe for a long time, but during these four years their names kept coming forward, if I may say so, with monotonous regularity as world champions. I wondered whether it was because the Soviet Union had an enormous population.

While I was there, I was given full facilities, and from inquiries, and from what I was able to see for myself, it was perfectly clear to me that a boy or girl, young man or woman, in the Soviet Union who had any athletic potential ability, was given full facilities for coaching and training. This went right through school, college and university, and through village, town and city.

When I came back to this country, and told people what I had found out, the critics of the régime in the Soviet Union said, "Well, of course, this is an Iron Curtain country. They have no choice. These youngsters have to take the training, and it kills their enjoyment in sport". It did not seem to me that this was a very valid reason. At that time the same opportunities were available in the Scandinavian countries, and they were not behind the Iron Curtain; they were available in the United States of America, and that was not behind the Iron Curtain. Equally, they were available in Australia, and that certainly was not behind the Iron Curtain. Nor did it seem to be a matter of population. If I remember correctly, the population of the Soviet Union in 1954 was around 220 million, and the population of Australia was around 8 million. So we had to rule that out. I want to suggest to the House that it was not a question of the Iron Curtain or of population, but quite simply a question of a different approach.

During the 'fifties, we watched our teams being outclassed in international and Olympic events. Were they outclassed because of lack of ability or lack of development? Primarily, I think it was the latter, although obviously this could always be a question of argument. But many people felt that a serious result came about from our teams being outclassed in this way. In Britain, particularly in the 'fifties, there was a considerable body of feeling, apparently, I think, an inverted supercilious joy, that was made manifest by letters in the Press and comments elsewhere, that we should enjoy℄indeed, that we did enjoy℄sitting on the touchlines and watching others win the gold medals; that winning mattered very little; just competing was everything. Well, fundamentally I would accept that, because any amateur sportsman would. But having said that, I do not think it is enough in the world of sport to-day℄not in the world of international competitive sport, and I should think all international sport is accepted as competitive.

I am sure your Lordships will agree that to-day, rightly or wrongly, success in international sport means prestige, not only for the competitor or team, but for the country. This development may be a good one or a bad one, but what I am suggesting is that it is not in dispute that it is a fact. Hence, even apart from the individual concerned, I suggest that we should not ask teams or individuals to take the field in international sport without adequate preparation and training, even apart from finding them to begin with, and subsequently getting them to the place to compete.

If this basic proposition is acceptable to-day to the progressive House of your Lordships, and to less progressive elements outside, I would only say that it was not so fifteen years ago; and during those fifteen years there have been many obstacles to progress, such as finance and public opinion℄for example, the public opinion represented by many who have given a life-time of service to amateur sport. I think any of us who has been trying to change the climate in this field would rate the latter the more important. Was it possible to change such sincerely held beliefs? Could sport receive financial help from a Government and remain independent? Could sportsmen benefit from such help and remain amateur?

It has been a long-fought engagement, as many of us on both sides of the House know. Apart from having to convert Government opinion, in the first place, we had to convert amateur sports officials to the idea that they would welcome any financial aid. This, of course, was looked at differently by those organisations with plenty of money and those organisations having to scrape along on a shoestring. But it seemed to many of us that those who just could not manage had the right to be heard. In addition, people were coming to realise that athletes at the Olympic Games all took the Olympic oath. This, as I understand it, means that one is an amateur. Yet it was taken by athletes from countries who were completely amateur℄as we understand it; who were part grant-aided; who were in receipt of some part payment for loss of earnings; who were in receipt of considerable compensation. Obviously, I wish to suggest to the House that this definition of the word "amateur" had become a nonsense. This is no objection to such competitors all taking the oath, but I would ask that all of us should have the same interpretation of this oath.

My Lords, generally, and in another place, in the 'fifties small gains were made. I can remember amateur sport being given various concessions during this time. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, helped us in this respect, and amateur sport was grateful to him. That was in another place. In the country, it was realised that to have high divers having to travel to Blackpool from the South of England in their spare time so that they could train for high diving events at the Olympic Games, because there was no adequate diving pool any nearer, was just plain nonsense. I know that this is the second time that I have used that word, but I think it expresses the position. I started some forty years ago; I came some thirty-five years ago with the schools; and this sad story of the swimming pool obtained less than ten years ago.

In the sports organisations many came to believe that financial help was necessary and essential if our teams were to compete on anything like equal terms with other countries. Just as important, this financial help was essential for governing bodies to pay for a secretary and the rudiments of an office. Those organisations with plenty of money came to realise that they need not be tainted with Government help, because they need not apply for any if they did not want it. But having said that, I recognise the difficulty of raising funds voluntarily if the public feel that help is being provided elsewhere. However, at last, by the end of the 'fifties, it was accepted, albeit reluctantly in some places, that if other countries did just this and remained amateur, perhaps we could, too. What I took as the most important step forward was the acceptance of the proposition that perhaps Governments could give such help and not interfere℄and I emphasise the word "could ".

I have spent years trying to convince governing bodies of sport that this was a fact. Because of this, I regret that this Government were unable to set up a Sports Council, independent of any Government Department, and answerable to Parliament through, say, the Lord President of the Council for money spent. I will not weary the House any more on this point at the moment℄my views are well known, and I have not changed them, but I do wish to return to it later.

When I read in the majority of papers about our Minister of Sport, even though we all appreciate the value of a succinct title, I wish that they would call him what he is, which is the Minister with Responsibility for Sport. To most of us in the sporting world, there is a vast difference between the two descriptions. A Ministry of Sport would not be acceptable here, and the Minister concerned is always most punctilious in referring to himself as the Minister "with responsibility for sport".

In 1964, after the last Election, this Government took action, and I can say without fear of contradiction that it has done more for sport in this short time than any previous Administration did, and significant progress has been made. A Sports Council of fifteen members, with the Chairman, Mr. Denis Howell, and a Deputy Chairman, Sir John Lang, was established, and held its first meeting in February this year. Now, having complained, I should like to pay tribute, in particular a tribute to two people and to one organisation. First, I would express appreciation to Mr. Denis Howell for what he has done to make the Sports Council the force I think it is. He has not spared himself he has done a first-class job. Sport and the public, and the Sports Council, are grateful, and I wish to take this opportunity of saying so.

Secondly, I would pay tribute to the organisation, the Central Council of Physical Recreation℄and even the fact that I am connected with the Council in a voluntary capacity is not going to prevent my paying this tribute. The Council were asked to second their General Secretary, Mr. Walter Winter-bottom, so that he could act as Director of the Sports Council. Having this foot in both camps, I think I know probably better than anyone else on the Sports Council what this has cost the Central Council of Physical Recreation, and I think it right that such public spirit should be recognised. This brings me to the second person to whom I would pay tribute℄Mr. Walter Winterbottom, who is doing a superb job.

Before I move on, finally on this list of tributes must be the staff of the Department of Education and Science, who have achieved the impossible. But having said that, I must add that numerically the secretariat is completely inadequate for the work that has to be done, and if this is not put right at once I believe that the whole work of the Sports Council will be in jeopardy. The Council meets every six weeks, and in between the work is done by four main committees set up at the first meeting of the Council in February. I wanted to spare the House, if I could, the mentioning of the terms of reference of these committees, but it did not seem to me that I could summarise them adequately. I thought they should be on the record, and, in addition, I felt they might be of use to speakers who are following me. So perhaps I may ask for the indulgence of the House just for a couple of minutes to say what these actual terms are.

The Sports Development and Coaching Committee advises on matters℄except international matters℄relating to the further development of sport by the national voluntary organisations, and considers general principles of grant-aid for, first, headquarters administration and coaching development, and, second, capital development of facilities for local voluntary organisations and national centres. The Chairman is Mr. Munrow. The Research and Statistics Committee advises on matters of scientific research related to sport. First, it considers the development of medical research in sport, and recommends financial grant for approved schemes of research. Secondly, it considers schemes of a sociological research related to sport and physical recreation, and recommends appropriate grants; and, thirdly, it acquires statistical data and documentation on sport and physical recreation. The Chairman is Dr. Bannister, and one of the problems exercising this Committee at the moment is that posed by the likely effect of altitude on our athletes at the Olympic Games to be held in Mexico City in 1968.

The Facilities Planning Committee advises on matters relating to the provision and improvement of facilities for sport and physical recreation. This Committee examines the powers and responsibilities of Government Departments, local authorities, boards, commissions and other agencies concerned with planning and providing facilities for sport and physical recreation, and recommends ways and means of increasing the provision of new facilities and improving existing facilities. It also consults local authority associations and local education authorities, and various national organisations, to find means of stimulating the pace of development of facilities for sport and recreation. Thirdly, it considers national and regional planning of recreation facilities for open space land, waterways, coastal areas, and for development of large-scale indoor facilities, stadia and swimming pools, and recommends appropriate action. The Chairman is Lord Porchester.

The International Committee recommends and advises on matters relating to the development of amateur international sport at home and overseas, and on principles and working rules by which Government grants are made, and considers applications and makes recommendations for grant in respect of, first, international teams competing overseas, including school, youth and under-23 teams: secondly, world, Commonwealth and international events of outstanding importance at home, including special international competitions for school, youth and under-23 teams; thirdly, international conferences at home and overseas; fourthly, coaching, advisory and lecture visits overseas and, fifthly, Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

I am the Chairman, and there are one or two comments I should like to make here, as I think these may be helpful. This list of what we consider does not mean that every application is successful. We grant aid, where we think this is merited, and for the proportion we think right, if possible. In passing, I would say that if we found ourselves in the position of having to refuse aid because money was not available, the International Committee would raise the matter through the Sports Council with the Treasury. These are early days, and we are seeing how we get on.

Going through all the applications in the necessary detail means a great deal of work both for the International Committee and for the secretariat. Here we are greatly helped by the experience of Sir John Lang, and I should like to pay my tribute to all of them. As an example of what we are trying to do in widening the field from which applications come, is our work on the problem of umpires. The House may remember that during the lifetime of the last Government I raised the matter of four umpires of the Hockey Association who had been invited to umpire at the 1964 Olympic Games. I raised the subject in this House. The travel cost for each would have been about £50, and hockey enthusiasts, at considerable sacrifice, had raised £1,000 out of this total of £1,800. I asked the then Government to make up the difference so that these men could go. But the answer was, "No." We hope those days have gone, and gone for good. I gather that my noble friend the Leader of the House intends to include something in his speech about regional councils of sport℄a subject which we realise is very important℄about finance, and also about professional sport. This, I am sure the House will be relieved to know, enables me to move on to the third and last section of what I want to say.

In conclusion, I should be glad of information on a question of legislation at some convenient date when the matter has been considered. I did not give my noble friend notice that I intended raising this matter to-day, but anyway to me a substantial point of principle is involved. I believe it is fundamentally wrong in principle for a Sports Council to be attached to any Government Department. It is for a Sports Council, not a Government Department, to take responsibility for the granting of financial aid to sport. If the Government or Parliament do not approve of the way the money is spent, then they can either change the Sports Council or stop the grant. For years in another place and here I have been campaigning for such a Sports Council, independent of Government Department but in receipt of Treasury grant and answerable to Parliament for its dispensation through, say, the Lord President of the Council.

Some ten years ago, on January 18, 1956, The Times published a letter from me suggesting that one possible solution might be the establishment of a British Sports Council which would receive a Government grant on the same lines as the Arts Council or the University Grants Committee. My Lords, always, in another place and here, whichever Government has been in power, the same answer has been given to me, and that answer was that this would require legislation. Of course this I accepted, and with it the corollary that pressure of business in this Parliament prevented such legislation when this Government came to power last year; but now I should like to know whether I myself and people much higher up than I (if that is the correct term) have been misinformed on this point. Realising that there was indeed pressure of business in this Parliament and that this was likely to continue, I thought it might be wise to find out exactly how much time was involved in similar legislation in the past, so that I should realise what arguments would have to be faced in returning to the fray in a new Parliament.

The 19th Report from the Select Committee on Estimates for the Session 1948–49 dealt with the Arts Council of Great Britain. It was printed on December 14, 1949, Command 315. Unless I have entirely misread that Report and relevant papers, no legislation, in the time-consuming sense that we are talking about, was necessary. I was so surprised by this that I thought I must be wrong; therefore I sought the best advice available to me. But before coming to the advice itself, may I set out, for the record and, I hope, for the interest of the House, the chapter of events concerning the Arts Council?

The Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts was set up by the President of the Board of Education in January, 1940. On June 12, 1945, the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed the House of the Government's decision to continue the work of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts after the war, to entrust it to a new Council to be incorporated under the title of "The Arts Council of Great Britain".

The Arts Council of Great Britain was incorporated by Royal Charter on August 9, 1946. The Council has full responsibility for policy and for the expenditure of the grant-in-aid granted by Parliament. Treasury control is exercised through a Treasury Assessor to the Arts Council, and it is on his advice that the Chancellor of the Exchequer recommends the amount of the grant-in-aid to Parliament. The Assessor attends meetings of the Council and most of the meetings of the executive committee. The handling of the money voted by Parliament is one of the objects for which the Arts Council was incorporated, and in this respect it is in the same situation as other special bodies, such as the Uni versity Grants Committee, which deals with grants-in-aid.

If I have correctly interpreted the advice given to me, I believe that the grant-in-aid procedure is used quite widely where one would normally expect the usual process of legislation. Your Lordships may say that the Arts Council is an old example, but a much more recent one was the setting up by the Home Secretary of a board which is responsible for compensating victims of violence with money which is received by way of grant-in-aid. No legislation was necessary for setting up this board. As I said before, I did not give notice that I was raising this point to-day, but I should be appreciative if in due course we could be informed of the legal position. It seems to me that a Sports Council could be set up by Royal Charter with a grant-in-aid, and without enabling legislation, if the Government at any time wished to do so; and I hasten to say to the Front Bench that I would much rather wait and have a considered reply in due course than a hasty one at the end of this debate.

In this House some eighteen months ago we talked about the problem of leisure℄the great, intimidating fact of expanding leisure. This I have always seen as an adventure and a challenge. With this Government I believe the challenge has been accepted and the adventure begun. On all sides of your Lordships' House I am sure we should find agreement that leisure, recreation, and the facilities to enjoy them, are the right of every man, woman and child in our community. What we are talking about to-day is part of that right. I beg to move for Papers.

3.26 p.m.


My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to listen to the noble Baroness speaking on the subject of sport. I must confess that for a moment I thought she was getting more interested in traffic conditions in Oxford Street.


My Lords, that is sport!


Yes, another sort of sport. But I am glad the noble Lady has put down this Motion to-day and enabled us to have another look at Government assistance to sport. I think most of your Lordships will remember her when she was harrying my noble friend Lord Bessborough with a spate of questions on grants for teams competing overseas, and she has now proved to be the perfect example of the poacher turned gamekeeper, because she has told us that she is the Chairman of the Sports Council Sub-Committee on this very subject, and I am sure your Lordships will agree that no better choice could have been made. We are all glad to know that she is in that position and helping that side of the work of the Sports Council.

I do not want to follow the noble Baroness in her last remarks about the Sports Development Council, but if I remember rightly my right honourable friend Mr. Quintin Hogg, when we last had a debate initiated by the noble Lady in this House on this subject, adduced a great many reasons why, in his opinion, a sports development council was not the best way of dealing with the problem. It was not only that there was difficulty about introducing legislation; I think he adduced some sound arguments why it was a difficult scheme to put into operation. For instance, so many of the sporting facilities have to be provided by local authorities, and local education authorities, that a Sports Development Council would not be in quite the same position as, for example, the Arts Council.

I think I am right in saying that the Wolfenden Committee themselves envisaged only that a Sports Development Council would make grants to the voluntary bodies, and therefore would not have anything to do with the local government side of sports facilities. However that may be, we now have a Sports Council which is purely advisory, and, as the noble Lady has explained, chaired by the Minister with special responsibility for sport, Mr. Denis Howell, and located in the Department of Education and Science. As she has told us, this Council has started work with great vigour and energy, and I am sure that all of us wish it well. I do not want to seem in the least critical of the work that is being done by the Sports Council, but I should like to put one point before your Lordships on this subject.

If we were to be visited by a man from Mars, assuming that he made a soft landing, he would, I think, surveying the present recreational field, come to the conclusion that in the conventional sports ℄cricket, football, swimming, athletics, and so on℄there was no very great growth to be seen; that public interest was not growing, but that, as a result of some pretty hard efforts over the last few years, there was no particular lack of facilities for them. We have a good many running tracks, swimming pools and football pitches, although with the possible proviso that we need a great many more of these facilities under cover, in order that we can pursue them in the sort of weather to which we are accustomed.

But where such a man from Mars would see a tremendous increase in general recreational activity is in the field of outdoor activities℄such activities as mountaineering, sailing, canoeing and camping. This is where there has been tremendous growth over the last few years, and this is where I think there is likely to be ever more growth in the years to come, and it is here that the problem will be greatest and that pressure on resources will be greatest. Yet this is a field which lies outside the province of the Department of Education and Science, and involves such matters as town and country planning, national parks, inland waterways and similar matters. I wonder, therefore, to what extent the Sports Council is able to take into its purview this kind of activity. I presume that it does cover them; but, if so, I wonder whether it is really rightly located in the Department of Education and Science.

I do not want to give any answer to this problem; I just wish to air it. I wonder whether, for the future, there might be some merit in making the Sports Council, or whatever body it might be, independent of any one Ministry, and therefore able perhaps to take a wider view of these outdoor activities. It might be more closely concerned with, for example, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, which covers much of the subjects of town and country planning, national parks, inland waterways and so forth.

One of the significant steps forward taken by the Sports Council has been the setting up of regional councils, and I am sure that in all parts of the House we welcome this step. I notice that the secretaries of most of these regional councils are to be the regional officers of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, and I only hope that, if this is the case (I think there could be no better selection: I am sure they will make the very best secretaries for these councils), they will be provided with proper staff and facilities to enable them to do this extra job. They are, after all, extremely busy men. They already have a great many responsibilities on their shoulders with the Central Council, and if they are to undertake effectively the secretarial duties of these regional councils they must have additional help in staff and facilities.

There is, I can foresee, a great deal of tremendously useful work which these regional councils can do. In the first place, there is an urgent need for a full survey of facilities which exist already within regions. One such survey was done in Wales, by the Central Council of Physical Recreation in Wales; and a very admirable document it is. But because of the shortage of facilities, the shortage of staff, the survey could do no more than take sample areas. It took, in fact, three sample areas (of which, I am glad to say, Aberdare was one), and produced an excellent and interesting report. But surely the regional councils will want to go into greater detail than that; and if they are to do so, they will require proper staffing and facilities.

The second job I see for a regional council is the co-ordination of action by local education authorities and voluntary bodies in providing new facilities. There was a joint circular from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Department of Education and Science on the need for co-ordinated action locally, which was issued in August last year. I think it would be of great interest if the noble Earl or one of the spokesmen from the Government Benches could tell us whether any action has been taken by the local authorities on that circular.

Thirdly, there is surely a great job for a regional council to do in making sure that there is no waste of facilities that already exist in its particular area. I think it is common knowledge to most of us that there are in some areas swimming pools which are not fully used, school facilities that are not used in the holidays, industrial sports facilities not used as much as they could be; and this would be a task which a regional council in its survey might well undertake.

The present set-up, with the Sports Council, leads me to ask for one definite assurance from the Government℄namely, that there is no intention whatever of Government interference with the voluntary sports bodies. We have at the moment a Minister with special responsibility for sport; we have the Sports Council, national and regional, which is purely advisory. We have a flow of Government money into sport, and there is therefore a danger of Government interference, and I should like to know very certainly from the Government that they have no such intention. If the Central Council of Physical Recreation is to provide the regional councils' secretaries, there is a danger here that the Central Council may be looked upon as some sort of representative of the Ministry in that area. If the British Olympic Association and the Commonwealth Games Council are to get grants, there is a danger that there may be some interference with their operations. The noble Baroness, I think, took some credit to the Sports Council for the medical research expedition to Mexico. As I understand it, that was undertaken entirely on the initiative of the British Olympic Association; the Sports Council has recommended that a grant be made towards it, but there has been no confirmation received by the British Olympic Association that such a grant will be made and they have taken it on on their own.


My Lords, I am sorry if I was not clear. I hope it will be found when Hansard is referred to that I said this was one of the problems exercising the mind of Dr. Roger Bannister's Committee at the present time. I made no reference to finance.


I am sorry if I misunderstood. This is where I feel there might be a danger of some degree of interference where there should be none, and I should be most grateful if it could be made clear that these grants, if made to voluntary bodies, are made without interference.

I do not know whether your Lordships saw a little piece in the Daily Mail, on December 2, about something that goes on in France which we certainly do not want to happen here. A French television soccer commentator was asked in a nationwide peak programme, "Perhaps it would help the feeble play of the big Paris teams if some of the fans came on to the pitch to help them?" Back came the reply," Not possible; there are not enough fans." While millions of viewers were still discussing this big joke in cafés and bars, the French Government threatened to step in if the football authorities did not bring to a halt the steep decline in French soccer standards, especially in Paris. I hope we shall never come to that pass.

I am glad to know that the noble Earl the Leader of the House is going to say something about the financial side of Government assistance to sport. It has always seemed to me a bit of a jungle℄a dense mass of meaningless figures, comprising expenditure by Government Departments, local authorities, local education authorities and voluntary bodies, on everything from swimming pools to flowerpots. It would be most helpful if only we could get the figures sorted out into neat compartments so that we knew what was being spent by various bodies, on both recreation grants and capital grants, year by year, in order to draw some sensible comparisons.

I have been able to make definite sense of only two points on the financial side, both of which arose from statements made in this House in our previous debate in May, 1963, by my right honourable friend Mr. Quintin Hogg, Lord Hailsham as he then was. First of all, he announced at the end of the debate that grants to national voluntary organisations for headquarters administration, including the cost of coaching schemes, would rise from £425,000 in 1963–64, to £525,000 in 1964–65, and to £625,000 in 1965–66. I should like to know whether this programme is still in operation. So far as I can make out from the figures available to me, the figure for 1964–65 was just over £400,000, not the £525,000 that was expected or forecast for that year by my right honourable friend.

In that same debate he also announced that the volume of starts on the construction of sporting facilities by volun- tary bodies with grant aid from the Department of Education and Science was to increase to £1-½1 million in 1965–66. So far as I can make out, the grant figure for last year, 1964–65, was about half a million pounds, implying, no doubt, as this was a 50 per cent. grant, that the total expenditure was about £1 million last year. But I should like to ask what is the projected figure this year. This is a particularly relevant figure, as of course the granting of aid to voluntary bodies for sports facilities has been affected by the Government ban, the six months' moratorium on all capital projects. These are only two quite small items when one considers the whole programme of, I believe, some £35 million spent annually on facilities for sport and physical recreation. It would be useful to know how this figure is running, whether my figure of £35 million is correct, and to what extent it has been affected, in regard both to the Government grant and to local authority grant, by this moratorium imposed on all capital projects.

None of us wants to bring a political point into this debate, but the noble Baroness was claiming that the present Government had done more than any other Administration for sport. I think, therefore, that it is incumbent for me to mention that they have now put a stop to all capital projects for building sports facilities. At the same time, they have granted the sum of half a million pounds to professional football. We all want to see the World Cup held in this country, but it seems to me extraordinary that football clubs that are able to spend enormous sums on transfer fees do not seem able to keep their grounds in sufficiently good condition and require a grant of half a million pounds for this purpose. I shall be grateful if someone from the Government Benches can justify this expenditure because, so far as I know, it is the first time that a grant has been made to professional sport.

I am sure that we have no Party divisions on the question of sport generally. We are delighted to see Government money coming in to help the voluntary associations. We want to see all the help given where it is most needed and we want to see that the best use is made of the money that is available.

3.46 p.m.


My Lords, I think the House is extremely indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, for providing this opportunity for us to discuss the question of sport and the action the Government have taken. I would say at the outset that I think it is a most significant and important action which was taken immediately the Government were returned, to put a Minister, albeit a junior Minister, in charge; or perhaps I had better say to allocate to him special responsibility not only for sport but also for the arts. This was an imaginative and long overdue reform. I am particularly impressed by the way the National Sports Council is tackling the job. I think all members of it, like the noble Baroness and others on the voluntary side, and the professional staff, impress people by the dedication they are bringing to bear on this pioneering work being done by the Sports Council. I should like to echo the words expressed by the noble Baroness on the work of Mr. Winterbottom, who is a most impressive Director.

The establishment of this National Sports Council is probably the best thing that has ever happened for sport in this country, and I should like to begin by taking up the closing words of the noble Baroness's speech. I did not have the opportunity of speaking, eighteen months ago, in the debate on leisure, but I think, with her, that sport is just one aspect, a most important aspect, of the greater problem of recreation and leisure facilities; and I think it is essential to get people thinking, not merely in terms of a few more playing fields or a few more running tracks, but in terms of leisure and of facilities which are required for recreation as a whole. I think the majority of people want to spend their leisure hours in some form of recreation. The form of leisure can, of course, enhance people's lives, and enable them to live a fuller life.

I do not think that the need for planning leisure and recreation requirements into our national life is yet recognised at different levels. There are, fortunately, a number of people℄including many in this House℄who see, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, the need for dealing imaginatively with this wider aspect of things. But the provi- sion of recreational facilities must surely be an integral part of all planning in the future℄of roads, of housing, of industry, of education, of the countryside, of our waterways, and so on. We shall come fairly soon to the point at which, wherever a planning project is started, there must be somebody on the planning team with direct responsibility for looking at that aspect of leisure. This is particularly true when one is thinking in terms of large blocks of flats, motorways, and so on℄somebody ought to have a specific responsibility for sitting back and looking at it from that angle. I believe that this is only just beginning to be appreciated, and we have a long way to go before we can persuade the local, regional and national authorities to recognise the breadth of imagination which must be brought to bear on the optimum use of space in all planning matters.

I am told, and I am sure it is right, that the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources are showing a real awareness of the new wave of demand for more and better recreational facilities. They have a tremendous responsibility for making sure that land is not allocated irrevocably to uses which, in the long run, would prove to be detrimental to recreation and leisure: the right balance must be struck. I am told, however, that they are completely aware of this problem.

I was very impressed by a study which was made by Mr. Michael Dower for the Civic Trust calledThe Fourth Wave.The title refers to the fourth in a series of waves which have struck Britain since 1880. The first was the growth of the dark industrial towns. The second was the thrusting movement along the railways. The third was the sprawl of the car-based suburbs. The fourth is the challenge of leisure in face of an increasing population, higher incomes, greater mobility, better education, probably earlier retirement, longer living, and the increasing amount of free time enjoyed by adults. In America, where they have examined these matters very carefully, a vast study has been undertaken which indicates that their population will double the present figure by 2,000 A.D. but that the demand for outdoor recreation during that period will treble. So that there they recognise the magnitude of the problem which progressively they are going to face. It is estimated that our population in the United Kingdom will increase by 50 per cent. in the same period, but we are well behind the United States in existing facilities, and it is possible that our own needs may well also treble by that time. The demand for recreation increases particularly with education and affluence, and we must plan to meet these demands now. I should like to know from Her Majesty's Government whether they recognise the challenge of this vast problem of leisure, recreation and sport; whether it is appreciated by the Government as a whole, not just by the Department of Education and Science and by the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources. I say this because it has been remarked that there is no mention of this problem in the National Plan. Yet one would have thought that, if in fact it was part of the wider thinking, it would at least have been mentioned by the Department of Economic Affairs.

It is particularly important that the planning for sport and recreation is regarded as part of overall planning at the regional level. It is at that level that the planning of urban and rural facilities together can be brought into being and the necessary co-ordination provided. There are so many aspects of this. For instance, the Lake District is, rightly, attracting more and more people at the weekends, but I am told that in the summer pile-ups and traffic jams occur on the M.6. This is the sort of thing which is going to happen increasingly in the future, and it shows how important it is that when one provides the facilities one must also consider the access from the catchment areas from which people will be attracted. This is why I think that the appointment of somebody with overall responsibility for the wider imagination required would be a very good investment in planning projects. As a corollary to this, I believe that if access to new facilities is properly planned, far more people will use them and the creation of larger and better facilities will be justified. If there is a motorway giving easy access to the facilities, it means that more people will use them and one will be justified in making a higher capital expenditure because the whole project becomes more viable. I am told that already people come 50 miles, with all the hazards of London traffic to cope with, to use the new Crystal Palace recreation centre. It shows one what is possible if there is first-class access to these new complexes.

In local government we must look at out-of-date departmental divisions and try to regroup them so that we can get the best possible use out of the land and money available. There is far too much overlapping℄and this is within the experience of anybody who knows anything about local government. One finds the responsibility for various aspects of sport and recreation divided among education authorities, youth services, parks committees, baths committees, estates committees℄all in different parts of the country dealing differently with various aspects of the whole problem. What is required is an overall community responsiblity, so that the best can be got out of the facilities offered in any new structure.

This is particularly the case when we consider large and expensive facilities such as swimming pools and sports halls. There are still many small halls being put up in different parts of the country, instead of people thinking in terms of a really good new complex. What is required is not only to redesign the machinery at national, regional and local level, but also to make sure that money is not wasted by putting up too many little things all over the place, when by redesign and rethinking there could be provided better complexes which people would wish to use. I think that a depth study of the requirements of leisure℄not just the existing facilities, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, rightly said, but a study of the optimum requirements℄would be well worth undertaking in this country. I believe that a few enterprising boroughs and New Towns are producing attractive complexes of sports halls, all-weather playing surfaces, indoor and outdoor tracks, decent changing rooms, coffee bars, making a centre which attracts people from a wide area.

For this reason I am glad that the Sports Council has recommended the setting up of these regional sports councils, for it is at that level we shall get the imagination really working. I believe that these will be mainly representative of local authorities℄in other words there will be people from city councils, county boroughs, urban districts and so on; but, in addition, I gather there will be the county sports federations on which there will be representatives from the different sports. I believe that co-operation between these two will help tremendously in bringing more imagination to bear on the future requirements of sport.

I should like to say one or two things on the question of financial support. I am not particularly persuaded that it is a good thing for the Government to put up money to move teams from one part of the world to another℄though I am willing to be persuaded, I am all for the Government's putting up money, but where there is a shortage of money I should have thought that the priorities should be first, perhaps, coaching; secondly, the acquisition of land and the provision of training facilities; and thirdly, perhaps (I hope that this may be something the National Sports Council will do, if it is not doing it already), improvement of the organisation of the voluntary bodies. I do not call this interference.

I think that the Sports Council has done a first-class job in examining the future plans with the organisations, in examining their future budgets as to how they are going to spend the money if they get it. This discipline itself has been a good thing in that they should have had the opportunity for full and frank discussion as to how to get the best value out of the money. But I still hope that there is a place in this country for industry and individuals to subscribe to such things as the Olympic Fund to help to send teams overseas. And I should not like to exclude the voluntary appeal to individuals in this country to take a share in our Olympic and other teams.

1 think that one has to recognise, also, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, that certain sports are tending to be static: some, in fact, are declining. One has to be careful how one phrases this, but I understand there is a decline in what are called the single-sex sports℄rugger, cricket, soccer and things of that sort℄in favour of what are now described as the more social, family or boy and girl friend sports℄yachting and water ski-ing and the like. This trend must be recognised. For instance, there is the case of golf, for which I would have expected there would be more demand as people get older and have more leisure.

There is certainly going to be a great deal more demand for hiking, pony-trekking and activities of that kind, and I think that the National Sports Council has a responsibility for saying how these things ought to develop and for helping them to develop. The Lea Valley Scheme, I believe, is going to be a most exciting experiment in how to plan from the Metropolitan Area a complete finger out into the countryside. It is such things as these which, I think, are a challenge and are exciting. The Government have done well to set up the National Sports Council; and I think that the Council has done well, and has made a very good start.

4.1 p.m.


My Lords, we have listened to three distinguished speeches coming from three illustrious athletes. Bearing in mind that we have other famous athletes to follow, including the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal℄perhaps the greatest Rugby Football forward of all times℄I feel like the late Tim Healy, Governor-General of Ireland, who presided over a dinner of famous sportsmen in honour of Prince Ranjitsinhji. He found it impossible to match their achievements with his, and informed them that the only game he had ever played was one of marbles. That is not quite my experience, but in the presence of athletes such as those to whom we have listened I feel very humble.

I hold certain records. I claim to have run round the Christ Church Meadow more often than any man alive ℄maybe more slowly, but I kept moving and was never outdistanced by anybody walking. So that is one record. I estimate, also, that I use up twice as much energy in swimming 100 yards in the Chelsea Baths as any normal swimmer. Finally, I think it was no small act of sacrifice that when I could have been at Twickenham at 2.15 p.m. yesterday with the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, I waited here to speak until 11.30 p.m. So on those grounds I feel entitled to take part in a debate on sport. But I only wish that the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, was going to take part in this debate. I hope that before it closes he will favour us with a few words, because to many of us he stands alone in many ways. We shall be very sorry if the debate finishes without his intervening at all.

The noble Baroness who opened the debate so cogently proved, I think, that the public attitude towards sport has been greatly changed in recent years. I am not paying her a fulsome compliment, because I do not think she would welcome that, but I think we shall all agree that no one has done more℄I do not think anyone has done as much℄to change the public atmosphere as the noble Baroness has done herself, and I have no doubt that she will go on changing it for the better. She was kind enough to excuse me from trying to reply to one of her major points, the one she came to at the end, so, with her permission and, indeed, I think with her good wishes, I will leave that over to-day. But I do not, of course, deny in any way the great importance of the issue she raises.

I will try to reply to two of the large points which, in a sense, she left to me, besides covering a little, but not too much, of the same ground as she herself covered. I will also try to reply to one or two of the main points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who of course was a British Empire Racquets Champion and is still, I believe, chairman of a tennis and racquets association; as well as to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, who ran the hurdles for Oxford. But I will leave some of their points, if I may, particularly the kind of point with which the noble Lord, Lord Byers, was largely concerned, to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, when he winds up.

I will not describe in any detail the work of the Sports Council. It is fairly well-known, certainly to most noble Lords here this afternoon, and the noble Baroness has herself mentioned the committees. I must pay a tribute, much more than a conventional tribute, to my colleague in the Government, Mr. Denis Howell, chairman of the Council, the Minister with a special responsibility for sport. I do not suppose that any Minister before has been a professional referee at the same time as he was a Minister, and I do not suppose there will ever be such a man again. But his energy is quite phenomenal, and I think that everyone feels he has infused a tremendous excitement into the sporting world. I also join the noble Baroness, who paid tribute to Mr. Howell, in her tributes to Sir John Lang, an old friend of mine from Admiralty days, and to Mr. Walter Winterbottom; and, may I add, the Central Council who have released him for the work. But I must not continue these compliments. The noble Baroness has already explained the set-up of the committees, and I would say how fortunate we are in all the chairmen.

I should like, as I was specifically asked, to say something about the regional sports councils. I suppose that in the last year the most far-reaching of the measures decided on by the National Council has been the establishment of nine regional sports councils. They follow closely the boundaries of the Economic Planning Council, and there is the Sports Council for Scotland and the Sports Council for Wales. They will bring together persons appointed by the Government, persons representative of local government, and persons representative of sporting interests. I think all of us here, at any rate, understand the need for these regional councils, which have been welcomed by all speakers.

We are aware that local urban areas themselves cannot be expected to meet all the recreational needs of the masses of people living in urban communities. Those who live in the urban areas℄and this fits in with something which the noble Lord, Lord Byers, was saying℄will increasingly need opportunities for recreation outside the urban boundaries. One of the first tasks facing a regional sports council will be to survey existing facilities within its region, to acquire a thorough knowledge and understanding of the area-wide needs in recreation, and then to relate these to future national policies and regional development programmes for buildings, roads, open country and water. The regional sports councils will work in close co-operation with the proposed Countryside Commission about which the noble Lord, Lord Snow, will be speaking later.

On the subject of the regional councils, about which we have very high hopes, I should just say a word which illustrates the extraordinary activity of the Minister. Within the last three months the Minister has established ten of these eleven councils, the remaining one being in Scotland and which will be established next week. Also, within the last three months the Minister has addressed local authorities throughout the country at these regional conferences, bearing in mind that it is hoped that, where appropriate, there will not only be these regional councils but also local councils who will be, so to speak, combining to assist the regional councils. The Minister℄and here I am reporting him directly℄has been very greatly encouraged by the tremendous enthusiasm of all the local authorities and the sports bodies for the establishment of these councils. That is certainly good news which should be given to the House. I do not want to go into further detail on the structure, but I should perhaps bring out that about 20 per cent. of the representatives on the regional councils will be representatives of sport, and that will, for the first time, give sport a major voice in the whole field of planning for and provision of sport and recreation.

I would, however, say something which is new, although the Minister is, I believe, saying it elsewhere this afternoon. That is that the Minister and the Sports Council regard it as of first importance that the Chairmen of the regional councils should be rather young people, willing to put their drive and initiative at the disposal of sport. I can announce the first three appointments in England. These are: Eastern Region, Mr. Brian Harrison, M.P., Conservative Member for Maldon, who has taken a great interest in the very imaginative conception of the Lea Valley scheme and who is a Cambridge rowing Blue of distinction; London and the South-East, Mr. Jack Dunnett, M.P., who is a member of the Greater London Authority and chairman of the Brentford Football Club; and, West Midland Regional Council, Alderman Frank Price, a former Lord Mayor of Birmingham, who is chairman of the Birmingham Parks Committee and who is responsible for a very imaginative development programme for parks and recreation generally, as well as being a very keen and active sportsman. Each of these threenames represents what I would call a young man℄at any rate, a man in his early forties℄with a considerable experience of government and local government; and certainly it is intended to proceed with this policy of choosing rather young men rather than dear old chaps who have grown grey in the service of sport and with regard to whom the time has perhaps come to hand on to others. At any rate, this is the policy, and I have given your Lordships the announcement.

I was asked by the noble Baroness if I would say something about finance, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, broached that subject. Indeed, he raised it in a fairly difficult way. He asked me to give figures which would compare with other figures given by the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, in this House. I am not sure that I can do that, at any rate without much more notice, but I will try to deal with the financial issue, although I am only embarking on what I think might be called a prolegomenon, or an introduction to the study of statistics of Government aid to sport, because I quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that the figures are highly unsatisfactory. You have to go a long way before you can claim to have sorted them out, which I believe is what he would hope for and what I should hope for eventually. At any rate, some figures are better than none, but I hope nobody will think I am making some extravagant claims for the amount of help which is being given, because unless these figures are studied rather carefully people will assume that more is being spent than is being spent, and I do not want to create a false impression.

If we take the total public expenditure on facilities for sport and physical recreation, we may start with a figure of £45.2 million for 1965. This is only an initial figure, but I give it because it is the figure which is provided in the tables that are placed in front of us. We may start with a figure of £45.2 million for 1965, as compared with £39.8 million for 1964–65. So in 1965–66, in spite of the restraints that had to be imposed last year, as far as we can judge at this stage of the year we can say there will be a considerable increase from just about £40 million to over £45 million. There has, in fact, been a sharp increase over recent years. If you take capital expenditure for the moment, which is easier to calculate here, you will find that this year it will be just about double what it was in 1961–62. So in four years the capital expenditure involved has just about doubled.

But this figure, which is relatively easy to come by, is somewhat dangerous, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, himself implied. He pointed to some of the perils of announcing any figures at all; and therefore I keep issuing these warnings. It is at once too large and too small, if we are trying to seek absolute truth℄supposing absolute truth is even possible in conception. On the one hand, it includes such items as parks and pleasure grounds, which no doubt contain a sporting element but which are certainly not entirely sporting affairs, and I quite agree that if you include in a figure a provision for parks and playgrounds you cannot say that the whole of that is sport in the ordinary sense. I hasten to accept that. On the other hand, this figure of £45 million excludes the current expediture of the local authorities, which is apparently extremely hard to calculate. This has not been previously officially set out, but I gather that, if it were added in, our total of £45 million would be more than double. That would take us over £90 million, but, as I have said, that includes parks and pleasure grounds, which one may well say leaves us very uncertain how much is spent on sport. I am giving the noble Lord the background because without this background I do not think we can get our perspective right; but I should be the first to agree that these figures, which certainly do not raise any Party issue, leave a lot to be desired.


My Lords, when the noble Earl says "current expenditure by local authorities", does he mean current capital expenditure?


No, my Lords, I mean expenditure on upkeep, and so on. The capital expenditure would be the expenditure on new premises in this year, and the current expenditure in this year would be on the upkeep.

But what I should like to emphasise℄and this brings us a little closer to our general discussion℄is that the proportion of direct central Government expenditure within these figures is quite small. Although one can probably calculate that, in the end, the central Government, the taxpayer, would pay about half the local government bill, in one way or another, if you are taking the direct grants from the centre they are a very small proportion of this total that I have been discussing. So if, in the very broad sense I have indicated, we say the local authorities spend £90 million on sport and physical recreation in the year, we should notice that the central Government are spending just under £5 million℄in fact, £4.7 million. That is £2.8 million capital and £1.9 million current expenditure.

These last figures leave out the £400,000 ℄that is, £200,000 this year and next year℄which the Government are giving to the Football Association towards the cost of improving facilities for the 1966 World Cup games. Personally, I am very glad they are giving it, but if the noble Lord is seriously worried about it, my noble friend Lord Snow is anxious to justify that before the end of the debate. At any rate, I am trying to give the House the orders of magnitude, and it will be seen that the amount directly granted to sport by the last Government or this one, even though there has been an increase in recent years, is still quite a small figure if you count the total, on any calculation, which is spent on sport in the country.

Inevitably, in a debate of this kind, we tend to concentrate on direct expenditure by the central Government, but we must not forget that if the Sports Council, the regional councils and the local councils achieve what we hope and believe they will achieve, there will be a steady, well-directed expansion of effort and expenditure at all levels, national and local. So one cannot divorce the work of the Sports Council and of the regional councils, which we are discussing to-day, from the local government expenditure. It is not that they will be making grants, but that this general discussion of and encouragement to sport will no doubt produce an expansion limited only by the energy of the local authorities and the financial situation at the time.

I should insert at this point (because it is difficult to do it elsewhere) a reference to the vital role which is being played by the colleges of education. At the moment they are the almost exclusive source of supply of specialist teachers of physical education for the secondary schools. If we are thinking of the sporting prowess and the sporting enjoyment of this country in the years ahead, then we must look in a very important degree to these colleges. Loughborough is perhaps the best known, for men at any rate; but there are, of course, other colleges doing this specialist work.

Now, my Lords, I will turn to direct Central Government assistance, and more particularly the assistance given to voluntary bodies. This is where I am afraid that I cannot quite link my figures with the question put by the noble Lord: but I will give him my figures, and then perhaps, at some date, he will compare and work them out together. I think he was giving figures for current expenditure alone, but his figures included Scotland. I have figures for capital and current expenditure combined, but for England and Wales. At any rate, they show the kind of rate of growth. I should like to place them before the House.

In 1961℄and this is direct Government assistance to voluntary bodies℄the amount was £305,000. By 1964–65, the figure had more than doubled: it was £678,000. In 1965 we expect, in spite of the restrictions that I have already mentioned last July, that we shall spend over £1,100,000. This is nearly four times what was spent four years ago. So, without wishing to make a Party point, because the process had begun during the time of the last Government, we can say that these sums are being increased quite rapidly. Those are the most crucial figures.


My Lords, has the noble Earl any figures for Scotland?


My Lords, would the noble Lord rather have some figures given without proper reflection or no figures at all?


My Lords, I will wait until later.


I could give him some figures. In fact, I will give him just one figure, which looks a pleasant one and will encourage him; and, if necessary, my noble friend Lord Snow will give more. Capital grants in Scotland to assist with the provision of local sports facilities amounted in 1964–65 to £51,000. The grant this year is expected to be £123,000, which is more than double the previous figure. I am therefore glad that the noble Lord raised that point, since it seems to have been very helpful. Talking of current grants, there has been an increase over 1964–65; but I think that if we want more details, perhaps my noble friend Lord Snow will give them when he replies.

I want to say a few words about the relationship between Government and sport. I hope they will be remarks which will be equally appropriate under any Administration, and certainly in no way connected with a special Party point of view. I assume that we all believe in the widest sense that amateur sport deserves encouragement. But apart from financial limitations, which are always with us, there is this interesting and sometimes delicate issue which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, as to how far this involves any scrutiny, if I may so call it, of sport by the Government which would not otherwise take place. Assuming that none of us wants to mix Party politics and bureaucratic measures with sport, I do not think anyone would go so far as to say that one should grant these sums without seeing whether or not they were wasted; and one of the tasks of the regional councils will be to see that money is properly allocated. The amount of money is quite small but we cannot throw it away; so without in any way suggesting that there should be any interference (which has an unpleasant ring), I feel that some element of scrutiny is not only natural but demanded.

May I quote from the admirable Report of the Central Council of Physical Recreation for 1964–65. It brings us up against this point. The Report says: Although the sporting world warmly welcomes the financial aid that the Government is giving to assist the development of amateur sport and recognises that the provision of physical facilities must depend almost entirely on statutory action, there is universal opposition to any suggestion that sport should be controlled by a Minister or a Ministry of Sport. It is regrettable to note the increasing number of references in national and local newspapers to Mr. Denis Howell as Minister of Sport. It is to be hoped that this practice will be dropped. The expression ' Minister for Sport' is more correct and as brief. Perhaps this is the only point at which I might possibly endanger℄although I do not think I shall℄my friendship with the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry. I cannot see that these words matter. The semantic issue does not interest me. I agree with what has been said by all the speakers, that sport should be the free expression of a man's or woman's personality and, as I have said just now, that neither Party politics nor bureaucracy℄excellent in their own sphere℄should be allowed to interfere with sport or tarnish it.

There is, however, one aspect which continues to trouble me. I think that the noble Baroness, who has done so much more for sport and understands it so much better than I, is not so troubled; but to me there is something of a problem here. At any rate, I am not sure that it is easy to find the perfect solution in practice. I am bound to say that I have met quite a number of other people who share my doubts as to how exactly you strike the balance between interfering too much and not taking, so to speak, enough interest in sport. So perhaps I could raise what may seem to some to be a pedantic point; to others a provocative point; or, to others, both. The C.C.P.R. called their Report, Working for Leisure, and though I am now one ℄like one or two others, perhaps℄who is a good deal better equipped for leisure than for sport, I would submit that one needs to think carefully before using these two words as though they were synonymous. I myself draw a distinction between leisure and sport, although clearly they overlap.

I am going to leave to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, the question of what is called outdoor activities℄although most sports are outdoors, or at any rate activities in the countryside. I would draw a sharp distinction, for the purposes of discussion and clarification, between leisure and sport. I should say that our capacity for leisure develops, or should develop, as we grow older, but our capacity for sport inevitably narrows until nothing much is left except golf, bowls, billiards. Shove-ha'penny has also been suggested ℄and perhaps darts, if we can count that as a sport. I realise that Bernard Shaw went on swimming until he was 90, and King Gustav of Sweden certainly played tennis until he was over 80. But these are exceptional cases. We have to realise that, while joy in various kinds of sport is possible up to an advanced age, certain attainments in sport are the proud prerogative of youth. We must bear that in mind when talking about planning for sport or a policy for sport.

Leisure at its best is comfortable; sports at its best is heroic. Many of us recognised this, not for the first time, as, sitting quietly in our studies, we watched the British team at the Olympic Games on television. We saw our British captain Robbie Brightwell throwing himself across the line to win a silver medal for our relay quarter mile team, or his fiancée, Ann Packer, winning a gold medal in the half mile. I agree very much with what I think was in the mind of the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, when she dealt with this side of the question. I feel that the performances of our country in international sport have a far-reaching influence on the sporting energy and activities, and ultimate enjoyment, of a very large section of our people.

Some of your noble Lordships may have read Mr. Neil Allen's book on the Olympic Games, which stands with Mr. Chris Brasher's similar volume as a permanent memorial to the whole superb British effort at those Games. What Mr. Allen makes clear in his book, Olympic Diary, is that the British achievements were the fruit of a collective team spirit which owed very much to certain individuals. He mentions Mr. Brightwell who, he says, did most to weld his fellows together and to put a twentieth century face on the nineteenth century traditions of British amateur sport. As regards the lady who is now Mrs. Brightwell, he says: I can only hope that thousands of mothers and school mistresses will study closely the photographs of Ann's race. They will see nothing to fear. Only to admire. I am sure that the decorations conferred by the Queen on Robbie Brightwell, Ann Packer and Mary Rand gave widespread pleasure, far beyond sporting circles. They symbolised, I think, not only a newly awakened national interest in sport, but also a new determination among the older generation to pay proper honour to youth and take a pride in the special glory of youth.

Mr. Allen himself in the book recognises the limits of outside assistance and Government assistance. He would not suggest that it is negligible. As he himself says, the spirit of a rare individual will always flourish in spite of handicaps, but do we not accept the proposition that the youth of to-day can be inspired, and indeed even all of us, middle-aged or worse than that can be inspired, in some form or other by the bearing and human quality and capacity for sacrifice of our athletes in athletics, swimming and boxing, and even in such sports as those which are supposed to be individual affairs, and also in team games? If we accept that proposition, surely we cannot repudiate a national and, I would think, some governmental responsibility for making sure that our athletes, not just at Olympic level but at all levels, are given as good a chance as athletes in other countries. And who shall say that that has happened hitherto, although the noble Lady has stuck to her point for so many years?

My Lords, I will draw to an end, leaving other particular questions for the noble Lord, Lord Snow, to deal with. The last Government had already begun to move forward in this field. Without making a Party point, I would suggest, with the noble Lady, that no Government in the history of Britain has ever shown as much interest in sport as the present Administration. We are, I repeat, highly fortunate in our Minister who, wisely, has kept all this so far as possible away from politics and has set a pace which will be maintained, and I am sure accelerated, in years to come whatever Party may be in power. I should like to repeat our gratitude to the noble Baroness for having initiated this debate.

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, I am happy to take part in this debate, sponsored by the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, whose title derives from a city where she is very greatly honoured and respected. Amid this galaxy of athletic stars I cannot claim to be, or to have been, an outstanding athlete. I suppose that I might rather more fittingly describe myself as the ninth man in the boat crew, waiting in the boathouse; or the twelfth man in the cricket team, waiting in the pavilion.

Nevertheless, I share with the noble Lady and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, my deep conviction that we are living at a time of revolutionary changes, and that one of those revolutionary changes is being brought about, as we all know, by automation; which is enabling far more people to have leisure such as a few years ago was available only to the very few. The gnawing question that comes into my mind, and I am sure into the minds of your Lordships, is the question whether the people of to-day have learnt the art of using that leisure creatively: and because sport must, and will, play a very vital part in the use of leisure, I think that this debate is of considerable importance.

A recent visit to Australia convinced me that we in this country are not, if I may use the phrase, "geared in" to the available resources of sport as are the people of Australia. In Australia, children are taught to become sportsmen from a very early age, and much is done to provide sporting facilities of the very highest quality for the vast multitudes who every week-end flock to the beaches, the golf courses and the football grounds. Indeed, my Lords, may I say that even the Church there is more alert to this than we are in this country, by providing assemblies and other facilities and open air services for sportsmen who go in their thousands every week-end to these places.

I should like also to pay my tribute to the Government for all they have done. I welcome wholeheartedly, as other of their Lordships have done, the increased grants and sporting facilities, and the appointment of Mr. Denis Howell. Here I would make only two points. One is that what is known and valued in this House and in another place is not, I feel, always equally known, and therefore not equally valued, outside in the country. I wonder whether what has been done by the Government, and in particular by men like Mr. Howell, is sufficiently known among the rank and file. From what I have heard, I do not think that it is. While one must always be suspicious of over-publicity, nevertheless it is often true that good and valuable things are done of which the country as a whole knows little or nothing.

My second point is this. Mr. Howell has said that these regional councils, of which we have rightly heard a great deal, will have approximately a 20 per cent. membership comprised of representatives of sports bodies. This is very welcome news, but I rather gather that that figure has not been reached. From what I hear, the figure is nearer 10 per cent. I venture to suggest that this figure is not sufficient, if the voice of sport is to be heard above the voice of local authority delegates, who may or may not be sportsmen, and who may or may not speak with first-hand experience of sportsmen's views, wishes or needs.

In this rightful and praiseworthy increase of support by the Government, I plead that the voluntary organisations, with their experience and spirit of service, should be made partners with the State and not merely tolerated, or, perhaps as some people would think, brushed aside. For no praise can ever be too high for the voluntary associations which, week in and week out, provide many thousands of men and women who devote long hours of their spare time to the work of training youngsters. This quite remarkable contribution is sometimes forgotten by the dreary critics of modern Britain who suggest that all is over for this country, bar the funeral.

The Annual Report of that remarkable body, the C.C.P.R., states that at least 600 men and women have given up a week of their holiday (and that is quite a thing when their holiday is only of two weeks) to serving as unpaid instructors at the 200 or more residential courses arranged by the C.C.P.R., while there are, of course, vast numbers of heroic people who teach sport in youth clubs and act as umpires at village games, and so on.

That brings me to the next point I would make. We need to beware lest 'these newly created regional councils cater only for the experts in the realm of sport. This is always the danger in every sphere of life, from the headmaster whose only concern is to "cram" the boys of his sixth form for scholarships, to the town which spends money only on the training of its potentially first-rate athletic performers. This concentration on a few stars breeds in the rest an attitude of mere spectatorism which is so weakening to the morale of any nation. Better by far to spend money training a third-rate performer than a first-rate spectator℄though I hasten to add that spectators at matches are better than lounge lizards propping up walls in the streets. The greatest need in the sphere of sport is to provide places and facilities for the many people who must be encouraged to take part in sport, rather than be just spectators, though they are unlikely even to reach the front rank of star athleticism. What matters to a country is the amount of healthy recreation which ordinary people, old and young, can get.

Here I would plead for a wider use of the many, and sometimes magnificent, sporting facilities of schools. This point has been already touched on by earlier speakers, but I should like to expand it. Frequently, large tracts of first-rate playing fields possessed by schools are not available to the general public, even outside school working hours. School fields, gymnasia, even halls, which could be widely used℄and incidentally provide a steady income for the school℄are too often not available to the general public, or even to a local sports club, for such trivial reasons as, for instance, that the groundsman does not work at week-ends; or the caretaker cannot obtain the extra staff needed for the additional cleaning.

More extensive use of existing sports facilities will entail the co-operation of local education authorities. It would be very helpful if, in future, schools were designed with the use of the general public in mind, so that the facilities most needed were separate from the main body of the school, and thus capable of being used at times when the rest of the school was not in use: to ensure, for instance, that gymnasia, with their changing rooms and showers and canteens where refreshments could be obtained, were all accessible without interfering with the classrooms or the headmaster's quarters.

In conclusion, I would make only one further brief point. Although I speak on the day after a mighty rugger match between two universities has been played, I must own that my absorbing interest these days is in soccer℄and I have the privilege of being President of my own local Coventry City Football Club. My plea is that the two great football organisations℄the Football Association, which deals with all the amateurs who play the game, and the Football League, which deals with the professional leagues ℄should work together more and more closely, with greater co-ordination, so that one committee, built from representatives of both organisations, could create a situation in which there would be no longer a gulf fixed between professionals and amateurs, but instead thinking and planning and working for all players of this great sport.

I would end by once again reiterating that the Government cannot do too much in encouraging sport in every possible way, if we are to move into an era of automation with the confidence that we shall have learned to use our new-found leisure to our own edification and wellbeing, and to the good of all.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, I think that it shows the wonderful sportsmanship of this House that only a short time ago there was heated argument on matters of world importance and now your Lordships are back in the field again discussing a home affairs matter which I am certain is non-political and which I hope is non-controversial. Unfortunately, I have no athletic qualifications at all, but after last night, I think that I shall be ultra-careful and declare an interest. I am Chairman of the Scottish Branch of the National Playing Fields Association.

I am extremely grateful to the noble Lady for introducing this Motion. We all know how keen she is and what a lot the noble Lady has done for sport in this country, and I welcome greatly the fact that she is a member of the Sports Council. On November 18 I listened to the Minister responsible for sport, Mr. Howell, addressing a conference of local authorities, held in London, under the auspices of the National Playing Fields Association. Frankly, this was the best speech on the subject I have heard for a very long time. Possibly I am biased, because I have to admit that I agreed with practically every word the Minister said. To my mind, the Minister's words were full of common sense, and I have little doubt that if he can bring his ideas to fruition he will have done a very great service to this country.

Of course, much will depend on the implementation of his ideas. I think that we should take heed. There is an urgency. There is writing on the wall. To-day there is ample evidence that delinquency is worst in areas where sport and recreational facilities are least. There is also evidence that the four-day week is fast approaching. In regard to the former observation, there is little doubt, I think, that the present young generation is as good as, even better than, any past generation. The reason why some of them go off the rails is, I believe, boredom. Sport and recreation are just not keeping pace with leisure hours. The coming of the four-day week could easily mean excessive boredom, and I believe that excessive boredom would be just as bad as unemployment. Perhaps it would be even worse. With unemployment, people get assistance from the nation. With boredom, there is no assistance from the nation. People are just left to disintegrate, both in body and in mind.

Time is not on our side. Boredom is growing fast, especially among those who lack religious belief and those who have no hobby. The Government have shown their good intentions. They have created a new post of Minister responsible for sport. They have get up a Sports Council and I am glad that regional committees of the Council are being set up. These are all good intentions. But good intentions can be little more than window dressing. It is what follows from these intentions which really matters. The Sports Council must not just correlate the activities of the many and various organisations dealing with sport. It must have teeth to ensure that the necessary sports and recreational facilities are provided at the right place and at the right time.

That it should do so at the right time is of fundamental importance. Recreational facilities must be provided simultaneously with any development. How often does one see a housing scheme going ahead and hears that the local authority hopes to deal with the sports problem as soon as possible. What happens? People arrive; they occupy the houses; there are no recreational facilities, and boredom sets in. That leads to delinquency among certain people. It certainly means that the children are forced to play in the streets and on the roads, where they are a menace not only to themselves but also to the users of the roads. Once people get into bad habits, it is very difficult to change those bad habits. To put the matter right, I believe that the Government must ensure that, before any development begins, the planning authority, by joint agreement with the developer and the acquiring local authority, should fix the sites required for recreation. This must be done, of course, in accordance with the accepted standard, which to-day, in Scotland, is six acres of recreational ground for every 1,000 head of population. If this is done, it will not only ensure that recreational facilities are provided at the same time as the houses, but also save unnecessary labour and expense by eliminating alterations which at present nearly always have to be made at a later date.

There is one Government measure that I welcomed especially, which was a measure brought in by the last Government, by my noble friends who sit on this side of the House. Under the Local Employment (Scotland) Act 1960 there is an 80 per cent. grant obtainable towards the provision of recreational areas on derelict sites. I have seen a great many of these derelict sites in the industrial belt of Scotland, and they are most depressing. The only really good feature about it is that there is a mass of opportunities waiting to come up in those areas. I think it was a wise decision of the Government of the day to include this recreational provision as being grant-aided.

As I am connected with a voluntary organisation, perhaps I should say a word or two about voluntary organisations. In the past, much of the provision of sport and recreational facilities has been due to voluntary organisations. It is supported almost entirely by voluntary contributions. Now that the Government have dressed the window with their intentions, I only hope that people are not going to say, "The Government are responsible for sporting facilities. Why should we bother to support voluntary organisations?" If that happened to any degree it would be a great tragedy, because I have little doubt that in the end it will still be the voluntary organisations which will make it possible for more and more sports and recreational facilities to be provided.

There are two questions which I should like to ask the Government, and the first is a follow-up to what has just been said by the right reverend Prelate. Until such time as there is an abundance of recreational facilities, will the Government ensure that public recreational facilities can be used by a much larger section of the general public than at present? For instance, could the public use school facilities when not in use by the schools?

Can small-bore rifle associations use Territorial Army drill halls when these are not in use? Those are just two examples, but there are many others that could be quoted. My second question is this. Will the Government take note of what the Wolfenden Report said about bad weather facilities? The Wolfenden Report called for more covered swimming pools, all-weather tracks, and facilities that could be used in bad weather. In this country we probably have more bad weather than good; and, anyway, you can always use a bad weather site in good weather, although you cannot do it the other way round.

I believe, as the noble Lord, Lord Byers, said, that sport must not be put into a watertight compartment; it must go hand in glove with leisure. In future, for example, we must not just make a running track miles from anywhere; it must be part of a leisure area, which besides being recreational should also be a social set-up. Why should it not include such things as a dance hall and a restaurant, as well as a football ground, where all ages of both sexes can meet? Surely it would be healthy to integrate sport and leisure to a far greater degree. There has to be constant re-thinking on sport and recreation. We have to recognise that to-day many of the individual sports℄ski-ing, canoeing, climbing and a host of others℄are becoming just as important as the old narrower range of cricket, football and hockey. The more individual sports may not bring out the same team spirit as the older sports, but in all other respects I believe they play just as large a part in building the British character and giving fitness to mind and body.

Finally, I have little doubt that the Minister with responsibility for sport has the right idea. His colleagues must ensure that his ideas bear fruit; that the Sports Council has teeth, and is not just window dressing. All this is necessary, because there is much to be done if boredom, leading to delinquency, is not to overtake us. Doubtless much of the work to be done concerning the provision of recreational facilities will still fall on the shoulders of the voluntary organisations. Here it cannot be stressed too strongly that the voluntary organisations are entirely dependent on good will. I only ask the Government to cherish and foster this good will, and not do anything ham-fisted, like they did over the Territorial Army, to endanger it. There is an abundance of good will and generosity for sport and recreation in this country today. Everyone is kicking towards the same goal. Let us keep it that way, and make the fullest use of this good will.

4.56 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to speak in this debate, I want to pay tribute from this side to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, for introducing the Motion. Whatever has been said already this afternoon, and will be said later, will, I am sure, be read with great interest by people outside your Lordships' House, and particularly those multitudes in this country who are interested in sport.

I am connected in an honorary capacity with several important national athletic and other organisations. Here perhaps I go contrary to what has been said about the Sports Council. Those organisations, unfortunately, have no direct, and thus, possibly, no effective, representation on the Sports Council. I do not blame the Sports Council for its membership, but I hope these organisations will not be overlooked in any decisions to which the Sports Council may come. It was a strange omission in the composition of the Council, and when I speak later of these organisations your Lordships will realise that there is cause for complaint. This omission was regretted at the time the Council was set up. I cannot conceive that it was intentional; it must have been due to an oversight or lack of knowledge or information on the part of those responsible for the formation of the Council.

Noble Lords have made reference to various activities in regard to sport, but, if I may, I should like briefly to say something of my own activities. I have sustained an interest in amateur football and amateur athletics for over sixty years; that is twenty years longer than the noble Baroness. I have grown not only grey (which was the expression of the noble Earl the Leader of the House) but also bald in those years. In the early years of this century I was playing county, old boys' and amateur cup football, was secretary of a well-known amateur football club, and captain of an athletic club. In the present defensive, negative type of professional football, I have no doubt that I could still shoot a goal, but I lack the pace; and the noble Earl the Leader of the House and I would probably be walking Christ Church Meadow instead of running at the present time. My practical knowledge and experience of cricket and other games is on the same level. That makes my background for participation in a sports discussion one of strength, as indeed is that of the noble Lady.

Nowadays I have been drawn into school athletics and other sports. I am concerned with the welfare of boys and girls of school age or leaving age, and it is of them I wish to speak. I address my remarks directly to the Government. I have done so before in your Lordships' House, but now I can make a special appeal through the Sports Council to the Government, or even direct. That new means of approach is a very welcome one, and I hope this innovation will prove its worth.

We have always sought to build in Britain a rising generation which in the future will add its quota to the prestige, honour and dignity of the nation, and thus make its mark on the future pages of national history. We want our young men and women to grow up to become clean, healthy and decent citizens in every respect. At the moment they seem to break into several groups. Some have acquired habits of deplorable irresponsibility and roughness; others of pop singing hero worship and screaming hysteria, and others have long hair and weak, insipid characteristics. But the group which appeals to me, and which I like best of all, is that in which our youth are anxious to succeed in everyday work, in social and helpful activities, and on the field of sport. They are prepared at all times to form part of a team and to play the game. That is a sign of good habit. They are the foundations upon which can be built a great nation of the future. We cannot do so on the others, who often put a strain upon police supervision and protection, with expense to the taxpayer. This Government have great opportunities, and I hope they will grasp them. In some respects they seem to have been dilatory in accepting them.

Let me give your Lordships just two examples; and these are perhaps unknown to the Sports Council. I will give my figures, and they will be certainly very different from the figures which the noble Earl the Leader of the House gave us a few moments ago. In March of this year, an invitation was received by the English Schools Athletic Association to send a team to Canada to compete in the Canadian All-Ages Track and Field Championships on August 27 and 28. This invitation was accepted, and the Government were notified and asked if some financial contribution could be made towards the expenses which would be incurred. Six of our young athletes went to Canada and competed in various events. They won four gold, two silver and five bronze medals, and in so doing established two new Canadian records. One of my Norfolk boys was awarded the trophy for the outstanding performance of the meeting, and since then he has received the national trophy for the best athlete of his year in that age group. These boys made a tremendous impact. They were fit, trained as a team, well behaved, gave no cause for the slightest anxiety, and were a credit to their association and this nation. No finer six young athletes ever left the shores to uphold the interests of their own country.

The Canadians extended hospitality and contributed 2,000 dollars towards air travel, and the English Association and its Secretary paid the balance of the expenses. The Government Department took not the slightest interest in the venture, and up to date the only communication from it has been a printed postcard of acknowledgment of the Athletic Association's letter of May 13, 1965. For nearly seven months that letter has been in some office pigeonhole or official "In" tray. I will make no further comment, except to express the hope that what I have said will be given prominence in the Department concerned. It is not too late for a goodwill contribution of substance to be forwarded to the Association. Redemption is better late than never. I hope I have touched someone's heart and conscience. We have been asked to send another team of young athletes, this time girls as well as boys, to the Canadian Championships in 1967. On that occasion it is expected that young French athletes will also compete. Britain will then be on trial, and we shall again ask for financial help and departmental realisation and encouragement.

Now I will refer to my second complaint of lack of Government appreciation. The English Cross-Country Union, which is the controlling body of cross-country running throughout England, has 422 clubs and associations affiliated to it. During the season, from September 1 to the end of March, it is estimated that 12,500 runners turn out Saturday by Saturday. These figures do not take into account the hundreds of schoolboys who run during the week and on Saturday mornings against other schools. There are no "mods" or "rockers" in cross-country running and athletics. Many invitations are received by the Cross-Country Union to send teams abroad. Two such teams did very well in France this last week-end, and British runners are in great demand. These invitations do not cost the Union or runners any expense. If they did, they could not be accepted. But, by reason of lack of funds, invitations cannot be reciprocated by inviting foreign teams to run in races in this country.

The British senior team competed in this year's international championships at Ostend. The Government made a grant of £100 towards the travel expenses, and the additional cost to the Union was £452. A grant of £100 for an amateur organisation such as this was very small indeed. Next March the international cross-country races will be held at Rabat in Morocco, and a junior and a senior team will compete for England. The cost will be in the region of £1,500, and this amount has to be raised in some way. Neither of the organisations are looking for charity, but as we send large delegations of all sorts overseas at great cost, surely it is not inappropriate that the Government should show some generosity towards those who are serving Britain in this way. The means are there, and I hope the will to be generous is also now present.

The National Cross-Country Championships will be held this coming year at Sheffield, and in 1967 at Norwich. They bring in trade and visitors to these two cities. Cross-country running is an amateur sport. A tremendous amount of voluntary work is put into its arrangement, and if this discussion had been on the Order Paper for another day, I should to-night be attending a meeting at Norwich called to commence organising the championships there in 18 months' time. The arrangements will go on for those many months.

I have spoken about the All-England School Championship Sports. These events are known to several of your Lordships, as year by year the salute at the march past of nearly 2,000 competitors on the Saturday has been taken by Members of this House, including on two recent occasions His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Next July the sports will be held at Blackburn, and an invitation to take the salute has already been extended to a Member of this House whose family has had long connections with that area. It is hoped that the Minister with the responsibility for sport will be there, as he was at Watford. I understand arrangements are being made for the Minister to meet those responsible for sport and other pastimes of young people in February, and I hope that particular meeting will produce decisions which will be of great benefit and encouragement.

There is another phase of our young life to which I feel some attention should be given. We seem to be getting our sense of national values wrong. There is too much easy money finding its way into the pockets of our young folk. We are tending to shut our eyes to the stupidity of over-paying some and underpaying others. I should like to give an example. A few days ago an authentic case of over-payment to a professional footballer was quoted to me. I can assure the right reverend Prelate that it was not one of the Coventry City players℄or perhaps there was one similar to this. This footballer was receiving payments amounting to over £100 a week, during which he usually played one game of football lasting ninety minutes and spent the rest of the week in keeping fit by training and physical exercises, and idleness. He was producing nothing to assist the economy of the country and was being paid about ten times as much as the weekly wage of a skilled man in agriculture who employs his hours in all weathers to produce home grown food. I do not wish to suggest that all professional players are so highly paid, but it may be a significant case, and I think it bears out what I was saying about overpayment.

I have given these various figures to pinpoint the national value and virtue of good, clean amateur sport. Week by week in my own county at least 6,000 boys or young men are playing amateur football, and if we multiply that by the various other counties where the same thing has been going on we shall see what a tremendous figure it amounts to. The right reverend Prelate made reference to the honorary workers in sport. We shall never realise how well we have been served in the past, and also at the present time, by those who have dedicated their lives and talents, without pay or honour but boundless appreciation, in its promotion and application. No question of colour or race enters into national or international amateur athletics and sport, except in one well-known and unnamed country, and it is on record that some of the greatest athletes of all times have been, and are, members of the coloured races. I say to the Government that those who go abroad in our athletic or sporting teams are our best ambassadors, and salesmen of our real and true way of life. Their worth to us as such is tremendous.

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Lord who has just sat down, I am the president or vice-president or patron of a number of clubs and sporting organisations. And the financial interest that I have to declare is that I believe that all my subscriptions are fully paid up. I should like to join with other noble Lords in paying tribute to the noble Baroness for introducing this debate. If I may say so, there is no person better qualified to do so, and I hope she may feel that the debate, in so far as it has gone, has justified her initiative.

In her concluding remarks the noble Baroness referred to the expanding opportunities for leisure. I do not think that people here in the British Isles realise how great has been the British contribution to the wise and beneficial use of leisure, through the medium of sport, in the development of modern civilisation throughout the world. Nor is it properly appreciated what a profound effect British influence has had on that particular development. Recently, when addressing the Institute of Directors in the Royal Albert Hall, Peter Ustinov said: The British have failed to devote to the arts the sheer ingenuity which they invested in games. Practically every game played internationally to-day was invented here, and when foreigners became good enough to match, or even defeat, the British, the British quickly invented something else. There is very little doubt in my mind that if to-morrow the Italians became hot cricketers on the many natural pitches among the Roman ruins, some spritely soul with a sense of national honour would think up something brilliant overnight, with rules so complicated that only the British would be able to win for a decade. My Lords, I will, if I may, supplement what Peter Ustinov said by observing that whether it be an American or a Russian who first may find life on another planet, we may be quite sure that the first British person who lands will at once try to teach the life on that planet how to play a British game, and the spirit in which to play it.

Until quite recently this development, including the financing of it, has been done by voluntary activity. In recent years, more and more financial help, and particularly through educational sources, has been provided by the taxpayer, especially for the provision of grounds and pavilions and games equipment. Recently, when the announcement was made that the Government would give substantial direct financial help towards the furthering of sport in the United Kingdom there was a danger that there would be developed a feeling among people that because of Government assistance there was no longer any need for voluntary work, and in particular, voluntary finance. Happily this natural first reaction has not been allowed to develop, because of the way in which public money is being disbursed, and I would congratulate the Government on the way in which they have been dealing with the provision of financial help to voluntary sporting organisations. The policy as I understand it, and in broad general terms, is to match pound for pound; that is to say, the Government help those who are prepared to help themselves. In fact, Government finance is a priming operation, and money provided is meant to be an encouragement to increase, not to lessen, voluntary efforts.

The noble Earl the Leader of the House gave us some interesting financial information. I do not know whether the Government are in a position to give the House information on the split-up of funds provided to date as between expenditure incurred in administration and running expenses, to meet such things as the cost of travelling of teams, on the one hand, and what might be described as the building-up of capital assets on the other, that is to say, the buying of grounds and equipping them with suitable pavilions, as well as the building of tennis courts, swimming baths, and other similar expenditure of a non-recurring nature.

As has already been said, for this country to compete internationally in various games and sports with advantage, two things are required: first-class teaching, coaching and training, and the provision of the best possible grounds and equipment. Only in this way can top quality be obtained. Equally, however, it is important, in order to get quality, that there should be quantity as well, so that the overall standard of play of any game in the country becomes better; and I agree with the noble Baroness that to achieve this opportunity must be provided. There are some people who say that as the years go by, more and more are watching and fewer and fewer are playing games or taking part in sporting activities. It is important, I think, that this allegation should be shown to be wrong.

I do not have the figures for other national games, but it may interest your Lordships to know that, compared with fifty years ago, for every person playing rugby union football at that date there are about thirty people playing now; and the number tends to increase. This means, of course, that more and more grounds are needed, with the necessary changing accommodation and recreational facilities at the grounds℄and this at a time when building costs are rapidly rising, and when grounds are becoming more and more difficult to obtain close to where they are needed, that is, in places where people live.

To purchase and equip a ground adequately now probably needs anything from £25,000 to £50,000, to which must be added further sums for spectator accommodation if spectator accommodation is needed. This is where Government help is so valuable. I understand that earlier this year grants offered to rugby football clubs under the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937, and grants for which application had been made and which were under consideration, exceeded £400,000. By now the total may well be over the half million mark. I think that, almost without exception, all this money is going into the purchase of land for grounds, the draining of grounds and the building of pavilions or improvement of existing accommodation. I think it is also true to say that for every £1 advanced by the Government at least £2, and perhaps £3 or £4, or even more, is provided by clubs and their supporters, and the Rugby Football Union.

With the large investment in grounds and buildings that has already been made, and is continuing to be made, it is of the utmost importance that the fullest possible utilisation takes place of all grounds. It is a fact, however, that, compared with grounds in countries like New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, the grounds in this country are not used as often. This is due to climatic conditions. The trouble is excess of water, particularly at this time of year, which ruins the playing surface and also prevents the grounds from being used as often as they ought to be. It will be obvious to your Lordships that if ground and accommodation costing, say, £50,000 can have double utilisation, then even if it cost £10,000 to get that double utilisation, it would be well worthwhile.

I raised this question of utilisation of grounds in your Lordships' House earlier this year. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, inconceivable that the human mind, which can land missiles on the moon and invent the most astonishing things, is apparently incapable of inventing something, cheap, light and easily handled, to keep excess water off a playing pitch. What is wanted is some cheap and easily handled equipment to protect not necessarily the whole ground at the same time from heavy rain, but at least those parts of it that are most heavily used. If this could be done, then the covering of part of a ground would surely become a practical proposition; play would become more skilful; water, which freezes in the ground, would not be there to freeze, and, at the same time, a good covering of grass would remain to protect the ground from frost.

When I raised this matter, the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, pointed out that certain professional association clubs had made experiments with polythene sheeting which costs about £1,000 per acre, weighs several tons and requires 24 men to put it down and take it up. Obviously, to operate something like that is quite out of the question. But I still do not see why, with all the scientific knowledge available in these modern days, it has not yet been possible to devise some means which is economic and satisfactory for keeping heavy rain off at least part of a ground. Could not the Government do something more about this than has already been done? If something could be done to give protection to grounds from heavy rain, then without a doubt much greater utilisation of grounds could be obtained than is taking place at the present time. This would save a good deal of money and at the same time provide, particularly for young people, additional playing facilities which are still badly needed.

There is in existence in this country the Sports Turf Research Institute, which has a high international reputation. This Institute is almost entirely supported by voluntary subscriptions, though I believe that a small Government contribution, some £2,000 or £3,000 per annum, is made towards its work. This Institute does quite a big export trade in the providing of know-how to other countries to help them overcome the problems and difficulties that exist in various parts of the world in growing turf on grounds. It also gives expert advice about the proper construction and maintenance of grounds and playing areas, such as golf courses. It is, I think, true to say that many grounds do not get the utilisation they ought to have simply because of wrong construction and poor maintenance. Very few architects know anything at all about the construction of grounds. It is generally left to the contractor to draw up his own specification, which not infrequently is more to the advantage of the contractor than to the advantage of the ground to be constructed.

It seems to me to be very important that, before the Government make grants for the construction of grounds, or for their maintenance, a check is also made on the specification for the construction of the ground. I may be mistaken, but I understand that at present this is not done by the Government. If I am correct in my understanding, could we have an assurance from the Government that in future the services of the Sports Turf Research Institute, or some other really knowledgeable and responsible organisation, such as the National Playing Fields Association, is obtained to ensure that the money raised by voluntary activity, as well as by Government grant, is spent to the best advantage?

I also understand that considerable research has been taking place to try to find some kind of surface which will absorb water in such a way that the ground does not become churned up, so that even after heavy rain grounds can be used without harm to the surface and in this way there can be full utilisation of a ground. Can the Government give your Lordships information on the progress that has been made in this direction? Can we also please be told what continued action on this problem is taking place?

In conclusion, while it is to be hoped that Government assistance to sport may help our young people compete more effectively in the international field, the best results will be obtained only if, through such assistance, voluntary effort is stimulated. People have a great affection for the games they play. The social contacts made in the playing of games are of great value to our national life. Pride in the clubhouse, the display of cups, photographs and mementoes of all kinds create a friendly and happy spirit among the members of the club, their guests and visiting teams.

Five years ago a wonderful jubilee game was played at Twickenham to commemorate the opening of that ground in 1910. England and Wales played against Scotland and Ireland. Long after the game had ended, two retired Cumberland coalminers came to the Rugby Football Union committee room and asked if they could have the ball used during the game for permanent exhibition in their club- house. The honorary treasurer, Mr. Ramsay, agreed, but said that as it was some time since the game had finished he had no idea where the ball was. "Oh," they said with a broad Cumberland accent, "don't worry; it's in the boot of our car." That ball is now enshrined in a glass case at Egremont. If Government assistance to sport can promote the building up of club and team spirit, a greater enjoyment in the playing of games among those who participate, and in general a friendlier and happier spirit of getting together by the players, their families, friends and supporters, both on and off the field, then the taxpayers' money will have been well and wisely spent.

5.33 p.m.


My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord opposite, Lord Forbes, that this House to-day is indeed a much more relaxed place, much less tense than it was at this time yesterday; and perhaps that is entirely due to the remarkable introduction which has been given to our discussion this afternoon by my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry, who needs no congratulations from me for her outstanding accomplishments in the field of sport. I should like to say to her that I am delighted to find that she devotes her continuing years to the promotion of sport in the manner she does. She is chairman of the International Committee of the Sports Council and is giving a most notable contribution still in this field. I feel that her speech this afternoon will be one of the sought-after pieces of literature on modern sport.

While I am paying compliments, may I compliment the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, whom I find I am extremely lucky to follow. It is a remarkable coincidence for me that I should be following him, because he is one of the most notable sportsmen of our generation. I have met him in another field, and I am sure he can tell many more stories than the one he has just regaled us with. One further tribute I should like to pay is to my noble friend on this side of the House, Lord Wise, who has taken us back many years, to the early days when sport was not so much cared for by the Government as it is to-day. But he reminded me of my early days twenty years ago, when I was in another place, and when, most daring and terribly out of touch, I ventured to suggest that there might be a Minister of Sport. I may say that the times were then out of tune, as they appear to be still, and I was quickly shot down. Nevertheless, we have to-day come a long way since those early days. To-day we have a Sports Council. To-day we have regional councils. I find that I am one of those, of whom the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, made mention, who believe that this is still a nation of spectators. I think we still have a long way to go before we make our wide population into a nation of sportsmen.

I do not wish to take a broad view, as so many noble Lords have done this afternoon. I wish to confine myself to several trends in which I take an interest. It almost appears that all noble Lords taking part in the debate this afternoon have had to declare their qualifications as a right to do so. I can say that I am a Blue at hockey and tennis, but I do not want to speak about those games. I wish to speak about something which perhaps covers a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, when he suggested that there were certain what I may call extramural aspects of the Sports Council. He did in fact mention one in which I have found myself taking considerable interest in the last few years, the recreation of camping. This is a recreation which has grown remarkably in this country and in Europe in the last few years I am also associated with the recreation of caravanning.

In keeping with our conventions here, I must declare an interest, because I am vice-chairman of the National Caravan Council, and only last week I had the honour to be appointed chairman of the all-Party group here in Parliament℄the Camping and Caravanning Committee℄and I was once on the Central Committee on Camping Legislation. I must say now that I am chairman also of a caravan company, and I declare that interest. Perhaps I should say that, so remarkable has been the growth of caravanning and camping in the last few years, that there are now something like 100,000 to 150,000 touring caravans taking the road in this country in the summertime, and there are something like two million to three million people in this country who find pleasure in camping. What is this compared with what one finds on the Continent, where in fact there are 20 million people who take an interest in camping? There are 30 million people in the United States who take an interest in camping, and we can assume that the caravanning figures are in ratio.

This is something which I think requires promotion by regional councils as they are set up, and also by municipal authorities. One of the reasons may well be that our camping and caravanning facilities in this country are not up to the standards of those on the Continent. Many of your Lordships may have found, as you have driven through France or other countries, the remarkable evidence of local municipal interest in these recreations. As you enter almost every town in France there are the inevitable signs to " Le camping". These sites are well developed, and in many cases they are provided with all the facilities of modern hotels. In this country, however, although our camping and caravanning accommodation is much improved, I think we still have a long way to go. Not only do we need more sites for this type of recreation, we want better sites.

It is for this reason that I make a special appeal to my noble friend who is going to reply this evening perhaps to say something about encouraging municipal authorities to provide such camps at their own cost. Many of them have done so, and have found them quite profitable. They are much more easily controlled when they are under the ægis of a municipal authority than when under private development. I feel that municipal authorities might well support private developers who are willing to come forward. I can say to your Lordships that the Caravan Club and the Camping Club are only too willing to supply management, operation and know-how to municipal authorities who care to provide funds for this recreation. Municipal authorities and regional councils can do a geat deal more in this regard.

I was speaking only the other day to a friend of mine, a Baronet, who comes from South Wales and who operates a caravan site there. He has found very good co-operation with local societies, clubs, and so on, because on his site he has provided tennis courts and a swimming pool and he allows the local school, which is just a short distance away, to take advantage of these facilities, so that he is in fact saving them considerable expense. I think there could well be grants-in-aid for people who would be willing to put in such amenities, not only for the enjoyment of their own customers, but for the use of schools and other bodies in the district. This would be an excellent way for local authorities to provide facilities "on the cheap".

I would make an appeal for the provision of sites for transient tourists in this country. I have mentioned the facilities which are available on the Continent, but when the movement is in reverse Continental visitors to our country do not enjoy the same kind of facilities on our side of the Channel as we do over there. I believe that the climate of opinion is now right, when we are anxious to promote activities which will bring in foreign currency and which will assist our export drive. As against the 15,000 caravans a year which go from this country over to the Continent, we can only count in hundreds those coming over here from the Continent. This process might be assisted if local authorities were to provide transient arrangements for overnight stops, facilities which, I feel, could be easily provided. They may in some cases find it necessary to provide many more camp direction signs than we see at present in this country; and I would appeal to my honourable friend that there should be provided, presumably through the Ministry of Transport, more of such camping and caravan signs throughout the country.

If we are to provide in this country the kind of country park which was mentioned the other day during the proceedings of the Conference on the Countryside in 1970, it may to some extent be necessary for us to invade the Green Belt, but presumably for only a couple of months of the year. Such sites can be completely screened and need not be an eyesore to anybody. I submit that they will bring dividends in many ways. A considerable contribution has already been made in this field of recreation by the National Parks Commission and also through the activities of the Forestry Commission. Both organisations have contributed handsomely to the provision of sites throughout the country. What they can do I feel certain the regional councils can do, too.

Recently my honourable friend, Mr. Mason, the Minister of State at the Board of Trade, made a special reference to this subject at the annual general meeting of the British Travel Association. He said℄and this was a move in the right direction℄ Might I also commend your efforts"℄ that is, the efforts of the British Travel Association℄ to encourage the establishment of more and better camping and caravan sites in Britain. I am very conscious that this is a sphere where our standards do not yet in general match those of several of our international competitors. As my noble friend said this afternoon, my honourable friend, the so-called Minister of Sport, has also been giving encouragement on this matter, as also has my right honourable friend the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who in a recent speech said: More caravan and camping sites are needed by those in transit in the main holiday areas or wanting a quiet holiday in the countryside. Normally, these can be provided by private persons or clubs. Where this is not the case, new sites for transient use would help to preserve the countryside for general enjoyment, and therefore authorities will be encouraged to provide them. If this kind of provision of sites can be made, we can have an immediate payback in terms of more foreign visitors, and we can then count our foreign campers and foreign caravanners in considerably higher numbers than now. That is all I wish to say on the recreational side of caravanning and camping.

There is another activity in which I am interested, an interest which no doubt many of your Lordships share, and that is the game of golf. I have an interest to declare, in that my handicap is 24. I was interested to attend a golf club annual dinner in the Midlands last Friday evening, and I discovered that the situation in that part of the country is very similar to the situation here in London. All the clubs within a wide radius in the Midlands are completely "jam-packed", as are the clubs in and around London℄there is a waiting list for new members for anything from three to five years. This is the situation throughout the country. We are concerned with the rising generation and providing facilities for our youth, but if our youth want to take to the game of golf℄and why not?℄they cannot join a club because there are no facilities. So one concludes that the municipal authorities must be encouraged to provide their own golf courses in greater numbers than they are now available throughout the country, and in the Green Belt, if necessary.

As a former teacher, I am interested in the teaching of physical recreation. I am most interested to see what is taking place℄my noble friend the Leader of the House mentioned this℄at Loughborough College. There they are doing a magnificent job in training teachers of physical recreation, coaches, and the like. They are most concerned, and rightly concerned, that their contribution has not been recognised by the Council for Sport. They are making a special appeal that a representative of such training colleges should be included on the list of members of the Council℄an appeal which I most heartily endorse, and which I submit to your Lordships as worthy of consideration.

Finally, I have a point on our international participation in games and in training. recognise the work which is done by my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry, but I still disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, in that we in this country do not contribute nearly enough to international participation. We do not compete on equal terms. In my travels in Europe, both on this side and on the other side of the Iron Curtain, I greatly appreciate what is done for sport. I may be wrong, but I should like to know, for example, whether our grant for the last Olympic Games was not the lowest of all the teams competing. In fact, might we be said to be somewhat parsimonious in our contribution to these international competitions?

I know that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has already said that he wants all this support to come voluntarily, but should I be contentious to ask: Then why do we not make a voluntary contribution to education and hospitalisation and so on? Does he regard this—


My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to say so, that was not the point. I made the point that if money were to be provided by the Government, then I thought the first priority was such things as coaching and the acquisition of facilities. Thereafter, by all means you can have some contribution, but I still think there is a responsibility on the part of industry and individuals to contribute to the Olympic Games.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord. I recognise that, in fact, the first contribution must be towards coaching, and so on, but I should like to suggest that our national prestige is to some extent at stake here. There is an attitude of mind which says, "We must not go all out for national prestige through our games. This is not part of our policy". Yet when we lose an international game there is almost a national day of mourning declared in this country. Is it a national characteristic that we do not necessarily play to win? May I finally address a question to my noble friend Lord Snow in this respect? Is "Well run!" an almost better compliment in England than "Well won!"?

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a most useful debate and I should like to pay my tribute, with many others, to the noble Baroness who initiated it. I have listened with considerable interest to what many contributors have had to say. Perhaps I may begin my remarks by saying I hope that, if I mention National Playing Fields from time to time, I may he forgiven for any unintended publicity or for having a vested interest, or whatever the particular phrase is at the moment.

I noticed that twice in her speech the noble Baroness brought in the question of independence. She brought it in first, in the context of Government financial assistance for sport and again on the question of amateurism. I do not know whether she was asking a question, or whether she was stating something; but perhaps she would like to have my views on that. It seems to me that if we regard the professional as making a living by what he does, then the amateur is one who does it for the love of the sport. But surely it is fair, when there are many expenses involved in going to that sport, that the amateurs should not be the losers even though they may be losers on the field of battle. The other occasion on which the noble Baroness used the word "independence" was when she regretted that the Sports Council was attached to a Government Department. I should like to follow her in that view, and I rather agree that if the Council were made more independent, like the Arts Council and the University Grants Committee, it might be better.

Then we had the statement by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, who has just replied on the same matter, on the question of Government support for overseas teams. I agree with him that the priority should be for voluntary contributions towards sending teams overseas. But I think it is important that the Government should help, because sending teams becomes more and more expensive as the years go on; and, of course, we must send good teams, because not only is that good for international relationships, but it is a great encouragement to our youth. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, spoke about Government grants without interference. Perhaps I may answer him to some extent. Over the years, I have had a good deal of experience of Government grants towards playing fields, and I have not noticed very much interference. I hope that that state of affairs will continue.

This whole question of Government co-operation in the development of sport is very important, and its importance has been emphasised this afternoon. I should like to pay my tribute to the Government's act in setting up the central Sports Council. It must be well in train. The eleven regional councils have been set up, and I was glad to hear this afternoon that three of them have prominent people as chairmen. I have knowledge, more locally perhaps. of the local sports councils which are being formed. I took the chair at one not so long ago, and there is a great deal of enthusiasm down the other end, as it were, among these people, representing the various sports in the localities, who are busy seeing who is going to represent them higher up. We have the machinery and we shall watch with great interest what the machinery achieves. I hope that the moratorium will not too greatly prevent the flow into the pipeline. I think that the figures which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, gave us just now are encouraging.

One of the first priorities is this question of the survey. Not so many years ago, we in the National Playing Fields Association tried to do something of this kind, but it was much too big a job for us. I hope that this survey will be pursued, because it is not much good assessing the needs if you do not have a survey of the whole country to see exactly what is required in the smaller and in the larger areas. When everything gets under way, I very much hope that local authorities themselves will make more use of their powers than they did before. Local authorities have had powers for a very long time now, under various Acts of Parliament, but in many cases they have been very slow to use them. In other cases, of course, they are very good; but there has been a sort of imbalance throughout the country in the matter of facilities.

If I may, I should like to say something about representation on sports councils, and perhaps I may be forgiven if I repeat a little of what some others have said. I know that it is important that local authorities should be fully represented. It is well understood that since the Government or the local authorities are going to pay for these facilities, they must therefore have representation. But I would stress that they do not necessarily know as much about the needs of sports as those who actively take part in them. Who are closest to the trends and tastes and changes and needs? The participators themselves, and, I would say, the voluntary bodies who represent those players and who organise the sports. They represent the needs of young people who have no votes on councils℄and I must say that some councils have been remarkably slow in reacting to anything new. Voluntary representation from local sports councils to regional bodies is, I believe, good. I think there is a good percentage there; but from there upwards to the centre the representation is rather thin and this tends to cause a feeling of remoteness.

I was very glad to hear what the right reverend Prelate said about partnership, and I wholly agree with it, because for years the National Playing Fields Association has had a very good partnership with local authorities all over the country. In my view this is the way this job has to be done℄through a partnership. As I mentioned in a speech the other day, we have this great imaginative scheme for the Lea Valley and that area℄a wonderful scheme evolved by the Civic Trust. That will serve a wide area and cater for all sorts of recreations, sports and so forth; yet there is no voluntary representation℄nothing but local authorities. I think this is wrong. Somewhere in there, there should be representation from what I call the users or the consumers of recreation. So I make no bones about making a strong point on that.

In this debate on Government cooperation it is well to remember that cooperation, to be fruitful, must work both ways, and the Government need to assure themselves of co-operation from the other side. Regional sports councils, of course, will concern themselves with larger schemes, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, with co-ordination, but I would also make a plea for the smaller communities℄and here I think I would take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Byers, who said that there must not be too many small facilities. I take a different view. I believe that these small communities must not be forgotten: they must have their say. In fact, at a local sports council that I went to the other day I am afraid that I talked rather a lot about regional facilities—swiming baths, and facilities of a large size—and then somebody piped up with the question, "What about my football ground?" We must not forget the small communities and their needs. In a region which has, say, a large Olympic-standard swimming pool, there should be in some of the other larger towns and communities smaller swimming pools which do not cost a great deal of money and which are closer to the communities they serve.

Then, may I make a plea for plenty of imagination in planning? We have had this point mentioned already, I am glad to say. It was referred to by Lord Byers, Lord Forbes, and many other noble Lords℄and I hope that we shall see this. In fact, we are seeing it: we are seeing it in the sports centre in the New Town of Harlow. I think this is a model, and I have been telling local authorities all over the country to go and see what is being done there, because it is a wonderful centre. There is also the imaginative planning of the sports centre in Basingstoke. I hope that there will be much more of this sort of planning where a really central place is available for all sorts of activities in a social, recreational and sporting centre.

There is already quite a movement towards what I would call unorthodox patterns of recreation. Perhaps "unorthodox" is the wrong word. My noble friend Lord Aberdare did not use that word, but he did say, "Let us bring in mountaineering"; and the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, brought in camping, caravanning, and so forth. This is important, and I hope that the authorities who have the power will pay attention and use their imagination, and will get out of the habit of repeating, "What was good enough for father", and so on.

There is one example that I should like to give. Many of our young people who want to go on their motor bicycles somewhere cause a fair amount of nuisance, with the noise they make. Instead of decrying that, I would encourage it. Give them local racetracks, where they can take off their silencers and make as much noise as they like, taking their machines round and round. I think that is "going with them". I call that "going with one of the trends". Let us have more of that.

We have played our part to a certain extent with our playing fields and our play leadership, and we are trying very hard to interest in sport and recreation those among the young population who are unattached. We know only too well that the sports organisations, the Scouts, the Guides, the clubs and so forth, cater for quite a number of the young people; but there are a number of unattached young people who do not want to join anything. We have, I think, made an impact on these in many of the urban areas with play leadership, by bringing them in and by teaching them, as it were, how to join in. I also hope that there will be plenty of activity on the technical side, with reference to layout, and on the research side. With the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, I hope that new methods will be introduced in construction and maintenance. We might get together on this question of draining his sports field which got flooded. I do not know exactly where it is, but I am sure that we can help, because we nave had a certain amount of experience in these problems.

My Lords, I am sorry to detain the House, but I should like to say just a few words about the full use of existing facilities. I am sure this needs more attention. I know that the Minister has this much in mind, but I would suggest that there should be more co-operation between Government Departments over this. Perhaps I may compare the co-operation that we have between the National Playing Fields Association and the C.C.P.R., which is very close (and this sort of co-operation was emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Byers), and suggest that departments within local authorities should get together. This, again, is something that the National Playing Fields Association have had very much in mind. We have been trying to encourage local authorities to set up recreation committees on which the education, planning and parks committees are all represented, and through which they all know what the others are doing. At present, so much is going on that is departmentalised, and nobody knows what the others are doing.

On the question of dual facilities, I wish there were less of a vested interest in schools. The allowing of grounds to be used out of school hours and in holidays is becoming, I think, an urgent necessity. To my mind, there is too much of the taxpayers' money locked up for it to be used only half the time. I was particularly interested in what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry said about planning schools with adults in mind—I think that is how he put it—and I happen to know that the Minister has this point very much in his mind. If school grounds could be used in this way, it would avoid the terrible sight of empty fields and people who are ready to play but cannot find playing space. If one planned ahead, the recreational facilities of a school could be, to a certain extent, separate and could become public in the holidays and out of school hours.

My Lords, that is all I have to say, and I apologise for keeping your Lordships so long. I should like to thank the noble Baroness once again; to pay my very sincere tribute to the Government for all that they are doing, and to pledge our support to the utmost.


My Lords, the noble Lord referred to motor-cycle scrambles. Would be not agree that these affairs, which make a most infernal noise, always seem to be held on Sundays in the summertime, when other people are trying to have a quiet Sunday afternoon? Would the noble Lord not agree that these motor-cycle scrambles should be confined to Saturday afternoon, which is the accepted time for making a noise, and that they should not take place on Sundays?


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that intervention. I am afraid I did not know when they were taking place. I agree that if they can be kept off Sundays it would be a good idea. Perhaps the right reverend Prelate may say something about that. I am concerned that they should happen, and should happen more often.

6.11 p.m.


My Lords, I hope that noble Lords will forgive me for not joining in the scramble. I should like to add my tribute to the noble Baroness for giving us the opportunity of discussing these important matters. We should not forget that this is not the first time that she has enabled us to have an interesting and useful afternoon's discussion. It seems to me that she is a very appropriate and, if I may say so, charming symbol of the outstanding contribution that our women have been making in international sport over these last few years℄I am referring to the gold medals and awards they have gained℄which gives us tremendous pride. I think some credit is due to the noble Baroness for the great advance which our women have been making in international sport during this time.

I heard my noble fellow-townsman, the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, refer to the "Cummerland" men who ran off with the football and apparently took it to Egremont; and I could not help remembering what Egremont was like in the dreadful period before the war when, in that long mining town, sitting on every doorstep doing nothing there would be two or three men who had been out of work for months and years. West Cumberland is a very different place these days, but it is tragic that the pits from which those miners came look as if they are going to be closed down. A great breed of men, among whom I number the late Lord Lawson, were brought up in those mining areas, and the country will be poorer for these pits no longer working. This is a little off the subject but it must be very much in the minds of many people at the present time.

My Lords, this debate, of course, has been largely centred on competitive sport. I think that this is quite natural and quite right, although it is not an aspect of sport which interests me primarily. An important aspect of this, of course, is international sport in which national prestige is involved. I rather dislike this side of sport personally, but there is no question about its importance in the world and its impingement on international politics. I was interested in what the right reverend Prelate was saying about the reputation which this country has unfortunately, and I think quite unjustly, been earning, of having become rather decadent. There were references to this yesterday in the debate about Rhodesia: that people in Southern Rhodesia had been persuaded that they did not have to worry very much about what would happen here because the people of this country had become decadent. It may be that our comparative failure in international sports over the recent years is an element in this situation.

I am sure our improvement in recent Olympic Games will do a great deal to restore our prestige. It is really astonishing how almost every one of these sports has been invented in this country and how, in regard to many of them, foreign sportsmen are themselves still almost envious of the historical development of these sports in England and still hold this country in tremendous admiration. I think it is the people outside sport℄and very often politicians℄who do not understand what sport means and who form these completely wrong estimates of the position. But undoubtedly it provides a basis on which we can build up again that great reputation which we once had. We should have more facilities. I entirely agree with everything that was said by the noble Baroness on this particular aspect of the subject.

My Lords, I took the trouble to look up what was said in the debate in this Chamber on this subject in May, 1963. I remember this very well because the noble Lord who led for the Government at the time was the then Lord Hailsham who rejected the idea of a Sports Council. With lawyerlike ability, he was able to find all sorts of reasons why we should not have one. As one of those who supported the idea, I am glad to see those reasons for rejection have been overruled and a Sports Council has now been set up and is already hard at work. I find also that in that debate, like the noble Lady to-day, I myself took the analogy of the Arts Council and suggested that a Sports Council might well do great work for sport as the Arts Council has been doing since the end of the war for art℄using "art" in a very general way. It is early days, of course, to be able to estimate the contribution which the new Council is making to the development of sport and the maintenance of sport in this country, but I very much hope that we shall soon have its first annual report and get a better idea of what is going on.

I notice also that in that debate I referred to the possible use of the derelict canals, the inland waterways of which there are hundreds of miles in this country, for boating purposes. I think the situation is a little better than it was, but undoubtedly a very great deal of progress still remains to be made. I hope that the Sports Council will feel that these matters are within its purview. After all, the sport of boating and sailing should be a matter of great prestige in a nautical country like ours. While sailing about in small boats in canals is a far cry from Drake and Hawkins, there is, nevertheless, an element of the same thing there. Undoubtedly the recreation possibilities too are very great. So I hope that the new Sports Council will not regard this sort of sport as outside the realms of its activities.

My Lords, this is very much in line with one important section of the Wolfenden Report. I have not heard the name of Wolfenden very much this afternoon. This is a pity because the Wolfenden Report was an account of a very valuable inquiry into a wide range of sporting activities which in the end, I think, led to the establishment of the Sports Council itself. Of course, the section of the Wolfenden Report which I have in mind is that which is concerned with non-competitive sports. There has not been very much reference to those this afternoon. I did not unfortunately have the opportunity of listening to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who I understand referred to mountaineering. These non-competitive sports are in their own way as valuable as the competitive types℄or, perhaps, more valuable.

The man who has the self-reliance to find its way across the Pennine Chain in thick fog, and to get through without too much difficulty and without injury, is the sort of man this country needs. A man who can sail a small boat up the coast of Scotland in the winter, by himself or with one or two companions, needs to have very great courage and a great adaptability and skill. He possesses many of the qualities on which the fame of this country has depended in the past. I think that these sides of sport were properly stressed in the Wolfenden Report, and I hope that the Sports Council will not regard them as outside the sphere of its activities. I appreciate that such sports cannot get so much assistance as competitive games℄they do not really need so much℄but there are many aspects in which they could be encouraged and even given some financial assistance from time to time.

We discussed this side also during the debate on leisure time, to which the noble Baroness referred. These subjects are closely interwoven with each other. A great deal of help has been given to non-competitive sports by some of the great charitable organisations, but a great deal more could be done.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend, who is a great mountaineer, about the noncompetitive aspect of mountaineering? As one who is ignorant of mountaineering, it seems to me that mountaineers are just as competitive in their recital of their achievements as other types of sportsmen.


I accept that reproof, if reproof it be. Some of the greatest mountaineers have been very competitive indeed. This year we have been celebrating the first ascent of the Matterhorn by Edward Whymper, who was, I agree, an extraordinarily competitive mountaineer. But there is a difference between that sort of competition and the competition when one is playing in a team to win a game against another team. Co-operation which is learned by playing in a team is essential, especially in time of war and crisis, as is the ability of a man to work on his own. That certainly is of great importance, and it may be that among people who possess that ability will be found the leaders on whom we rely in times of crisis and difficulty.

In the debate on leisure time I referred to the tremendously valuable work done by the Duke of Edinburgh's Award in connection with this type of outside activity, of non-competitive sport. Here again it may be said that there is competition, because the awards are made to the boys and girls who can do the best in this way. I think that the work done by Sir John Hunt, one of the ablest of mountaineers, who led the British team first to the top of Everest, deserves the greatest commendation. I am very sorry to see that Sir John Hunt is giving up his position in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, but I hope that the country will not be deprived of his services. He is a personal friend of mine, and I should like to congratulate him on not only the work which he has done for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award but in many other ways in taking teams of British mountaineers abroad, to the Western countries, and also into the Iron Curtain countries. I think that the Iron Curtain may be broken down more effectively by the sort of contacts made by mountaineers and people who sail small boats, and people who camp, than in any other way. It is the way in which you get to know and respect your opposite number, and discover that whether he is a Communist or not does not make a great deal of difference when you are in difficulty on a mountain, or being tossed by the wind in a small boat. That is when human qualities come out, and these, after all, are the most important things in life.

There is obviously a great need for camps and hostels and accommodation of this kind for people who are occupied with this type of recreation in the mountains and on the sea. In the Communist countries these camps are provided and young people are expected, and required, to spend at any rate part of their summer holidays in them. It is possibly rather over-regimented, but I think it exceedingly valuable that these camps should be provided. I find myself much in sympathy with what was said about camping by the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, who knows so much about these things. The word "camping" which is to be found all over France and Italy and even as far away as Turkey, possibly still further away, is one of the words which the English have given to the world. It is very important that these aspects of noncompetitive sport should be taken into account and given due attention by the new Council.

The Outward Bound schools are doing work of inestimable value up and down the country. There are far too few of them, and I am very glad indeed to know that quite a number of industrial and commercial organisations are now setting up similar schools and camps to which they send their apprentices and young workpeople. This is a heartening development which I hope will go on with increasing rapidity. It may be argued that there may be a danger of too much organisation—and there may be a point to be considered in that respect —but I think that we are a long way from that situation, and I am prepared to run that risk for a number of years, if we can get more Outward Bound schools and more camps and holiday resorts established by these industrial and commercial organisations.

I should like to mention one example of the way in which it may be possible for the Sports Council to help. I have not brought this matter to the attention of the Minister, but I hope that he will listen to what I have to say. The tremendous increase in interest in mountain climbing and hill walking among young people—and not only young people but middle-aged people as well—has led to literally thousands of tourists going to Wales and the Lake District, the Pennines and the Highlands of Scotland. This has, of course, resulted in a considerable increase in the number of accidents. It is part of the price which has to be paid for walking in mountain country.

Rescue parties have been established in these mountainous districts, and I have been interested in them from their inception. They do a magnificent job of work about which hardly anyone seems to know anything. Imagine yourself a member of a rescue party called on after the sun has set to go to Helvellyn or Snowdon in a blizzard and in darkness to bring down some man who has broken his leg on a crag—the chances are that you may break your own leg. The people who form these rescue parties are tremendously brave and devoted and this kind of activity goes on pretty well every week-end during the season. The Ministry of Health has been very helpful in respect of what might he called the purely medical side of the requirements for this sort of work. But one of the greatest needs is for walkie-talkie radio sets with which the leaders of rescue groups could make known to those below the situation on the mountain.

I have been on a mountain at 11 o'clock at night with a man whose leg was badly broken, knowing quite well that a doctor was being summoned to the base below, but there was no way of getting into touch with him to tell him how the patient was getting on and what would be required when the patient was brought down to the valley head. But with a radio set it would be possible. It appears that this is not medical enough for the Ministry of Health to provide it. Undoubtedly these wonderful men feel the need for apparatus of this kind. They get practically no recognition. George Medals never come the way of the men who go up into the mountains for this rescue work, because nobody knows what is going on, but it is just as brave and as valuable as rescuing somebody in a mining disaster, for which George Medals are properly awarded. I believe that these men deserve help, and one of the best ways of recognising their work would be to provide them with the tools they need for doing these gallant rescues, on which they are engaged almost every week-end throughout the year.

6.31 p.m.


My Lords, I hope that I shall be excused for dropping in a few words at the end of this debate. I have never had the qualifications of other noble Lords who have spoken. I cannot run a mile in four minutes℄in fact, I cannot run a mile at all. I am asthmatical and the sole distance I can be certain of going at any speed is about fifty yards. That merely means that if I do anything active, I have to do it at a lower pressure though I can continue it for a long time.

This leads up to some thoughts which result from what my noble friend the Leader of the House said about the differences between competitive and noncompetitive sport. I believe that all sport is competitive. In so-called noncompetitive sport, one is not competing with fellow human beings, but with nature, and to some extent also with the weaknesses of one's own body and with one's own mental feelings. The great value of all these sports, competitive or non-competitive, is that every person shall consider the possibilities inherent in his own mind and body and shall set about developing them. Some of us, no doubt, can run a mile very fast; others, no doubt, can do wonders with a golf club. Others can best take part in sport by increasing the capacity of their brains or the skills of their fingers. It is a matter of each man considering what he ought to be developing within his own human possibilities and setting about that in a reasonable manner. And we should see that there are the space and the facilities required for every person to do so.

I was interested in what noble Lords have said about the Lea Valley scheme. This is going to be a splendid thing, when it is complete. I do not know if noble Lords realise that there is an exactly similar area in the West of London, in the Colne Valley, which lies to the North and South of the town of Uxbridge. There also is a large valley, which is falling into dereliction to some extent because of some large gravel workings. The very pleasant River Colne runs through it. The Grand Union Canal runs as a navigation down it. There are good road and rail communications with all parts of London and the surrounding countryside. There is everything that is required to make it a twin, on the other side of London, to the Lea Valley scheme in the East. I hope that some day in future, when we have had more experience of the Lea Valley scheme, we shall turn our attention to the West and consider the Colne Valley at Uxbridge.

The noble Lord, Lord Luke, among other speakers, said that small swimming baths, dotted about the place, were required, rather than major swimming baths in certain limited areas.


My Lords, I suggested small baths more or less as feeders to the big ones. There is a great need for the schools to teach children to swim, first of all, in smaller baths, from which they can graduate to the bigger ones.


I am entirely at one with the noble Lord. Nevertheless, I think there is a further point here. It is important that we spread out these facilities much more, so that people have them much closer to where they live. It it possible for somebody coming from work in an office or factory to get in a lot of exercise, even on a winter's evening, if he does not have to go too far. I know, for example, that many fishermen manage to get a great many hours of enjoyment, just for a few hours of an evening, by going out to neighbouring ponds and waterways, which they can reach by a simple bus ride or by hopping on a bicycle. I believe that it is important, especially in the industrial Midlands and other crowded areas, that we should see that there are plenty of facilities available not too far away from people's homes. That would help to solve some of our traffic problems at week-ends, caused by people trying to get to locations many miles away. We should have these facilities so scattered that they do not cause these enormous conglomerations of cars all trying to move in the same direction at the same time, and parking in the same place.

One of the reasons why I have always supported the amenities movement is because of my interest in inland waterways. I am not going to make an inland waterways speech to-night, I assure your Lordships, but I should like to make one point, because it seems to be original in this debate. Noble Lord after noble Lord, and also the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, has asked for more money for this, that and the other. I must say that I have agreed with all of them. The extraordinary thing about inland waterways is that what they need is rather less money, but money rather better spent.

The fact of the matter is that those trying to run the British Waterways Board waterways have been left entirely without a policy, without any idea of what the Minister intends them to be doing. They have been doing their best, but if there were a fixed policy which they were able to follow, it would be possible very considerably to reduce the present deficit of the Waterways Board. So that actually what we are asking for is not more money from the Government, but less. That is the extraordinary fact. Whereas many facilities are overcrowded and need expanding at vast expense, the waterways are not; and if they were more adequately used and were available for work in quite inexpensive ways, the deficit could be reduced, and less money would be needed. That, I believe, is the most original note that I can add to this debate, and I should like to leave it at that.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord St. Davids has added to his reputation for originality by his truly remarkable contribution to this debate, which has, I think your Lordships will agree, been a very happy one. This House has been a much happier place than it was last night, and for that we owe much to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry. Of course, the reason for this feeling is that we all know what we want. What we want is the same thing. Some of the detailed ways in which we get it we might argue about, but we are all completely committed to the idea that what is called sport is a good thing. Most of us have enjoyed it. I am going to produce my own credentials now and reveal a dark secret not known to all your Lordships. I have spent a quite disproportionate part of my life thinking about cricket, playing cricket, ruminating about cricket and watching cricket. Although I only had a modest low cunning as a slow-medium bowler, this is a part of my life that I feel is slightly insane. Those are my credentials.

I should like to suggest to your Lordships that we have no doubt been talking about two different things, and we have been talking about them partly because the word "sport" now has a different meaning from what it had twenty or thirty years ago. Sport used to mean outdoor activities: what, in fact, in a speech of great imagination, the noble Lord, Lord Byers, called℄I am afraid I forget what he called it, but he meant all the things that are not organised games and are done in the open air. This is what our ancestors would have called sport, and they would have called the games that we are discussing games. It is rather a pity that this semantic difference has disappeared from the language. I always get a slight shudder down the spine when I see "sport" used as something which would have been regarded as pure vulgarism even twenty years ago. However, we are saddled with the word, and we have to use it.

But between these two activities there is a real difference. Games are things that you play to win. If you do not want to win them, then you ought not to be playing games. The noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, said, and quite rightly, that we have invented almost all the games that are played anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, having invented them, we do not play them any too well. There are exactly three international ball games℄that is, ball games played almost universally, except, oddly enough, in the United States of America: one is soccer, another is tennis, and the third is table tennis. At no one of these do we really compete very highly by world standards, except perhaps in women's table tennis, where we are very good.

It is strange that we should be relatively inept by world standards at most ball games. It may be climatic. It is hard to say why Australia should beat us at almost everything she chooses to turn her hands to, or why the West Indians, with a population of 3 million, generally produce more gifted cricketers than we do. Most of us, I think, though this is not a problem of major importance and we shall not suffer too much if there is not one single game at which we are the clear world's best, would feel mildly pleased if we could to some extent adjust the position. But no more than that. So some part of the activities of the Sports Council and of my right honourable friend Mr. Howell (who I think it will be agreed has made a wonderful start at this job), will be spent, and rightly, on coaching and providing facilities so that such talent as we have gets a fair run. The Australians are clearly better at this than we are, and so is the State of California.

But there is another aspect of this—and we do not want to spend too much time on ball games, fascinating though they are—and it is this other side of leisure for which we have no name. Many noble Lords—the noble Lord, Lord Byers, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, and various others—have said that this is going to be, and probably already is, a vital problem for our society. It is something to which we must give thought, because it is true that, even though we are at the moment going through difficult economic times, we shall cope with the technological immediate future; we shall cope with automation. To the best of my judgment, this means that 30 per cent., or perhaps 20 per cent., of the population will have to work much harder, and a large proportion of the population will have to work much less. That is the future. This means that the intelligent use of leisure, of physical activities and mental activities, is going to be most important, unless we are to have a desperately unhappy though wellcared-for population.

Here, both games and outdoor activities become of real consequence. The Sports Council and the Countryside Commission, which roughly deal with these activities, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, will be working in the closest co-operation. I think it would also be fair to say that there is a sharp awareness of this problem right through the Government. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, need not fear that this point is not seriously taken. The fact that there is no mention in the National Plan of this is probably due to the fact that the National Plan was not done with quite as much leisure as it hopes to provide for others.

Then we come to our detailed arrangements. Many points have been raised in the debate. I cannot deal with all of them, but with regard to any that I miss, either I will deal with them in writing, or my right honourable friend Mr. Howell will do so. On detail, there is one quite important point which has been raised by several speakers, and that is the proper use of such facilities as we have. We all agree that we are making an uneconomical use of playing fields, swimming baths, and so on. There are problems, as noble Lords know, if grass is used too often. Until we know more about grass, it can easily be worn out. I was extremely interested in the pleas of the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal. Clearly, what we want, in order to make more efficient use of playing fields, is some genius like Buckminster Fuller, who can produce a movable dome which can be put in and out; and perhaps something of this sort will eventually be produced. But for the moment we have to manage with what we have. We are spending some money at the Turf Research Institute—something like £3,500—and we shall have to do it by bits and pieces.

But when all the difficulties are admitted the picture does not seem to us to be too depressing. There is already a wide use of commonly provided facilities, and there are some, though far too few, projects which have been planned from the start with dual use in mind. One example is a Northern comprehensive school which opened with swimming baths, sports hall and playing fields, all available, in some part, for the community as well as the school. That seems to me to be entirely sensible, and I am sure that noble Lords would like this principle to be extended, so far as possible. Swimming baths, of course, can be an expensive commodity, and the public have the right to use them if we can possibly manage it. There are some simple school pools which are open to the public during week-ends and holidays; there are less simple pools reserved solely for school use. There are just a few which have been planned with a double use in mind.

We must see that this planning now becomes common form. We must not waste these facilities in future. It is difficult enough to find the capital for these projects, and to use a third of them for half their time is sinful. This must not happen. I can assure noble Lords that this point is very close to our own hearts. It will be reinforced by the emphasis which noble Lords have put upon it, and we shall see that sensible steps go into operation.

Another example of this sort of planning is the kind of miscellaneous games stadium, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Luke, mentioned at Harlow, which is one of the few of that kind in the country. The English, always believing in this climate of ours, take the view that open-air games have to be played at all times of the year, quite unlike some countries with more extreme climates which build adequate miscellaneous stadia. We find them, for instance, all over the United States and Russia. I suspect that we probably ought to forget our illusions about the English climate. We could do with more of these large, all-purpose stadia and if there is some evidence—as there is—that the climate is going to get perceptibly colder over the next ten or twenty years, it will be just as well to provide ourselves with some chance of indoor exercise. This point again has been received.

I will now deal, scrappily, as I must, because they are different points, with some other points that have been raised. The noble Lord, Lord Forbes, asked my noble friend the Leader of the House about Scotland. The noble Lord has asked me to apologise to the House for having to take a plane or train to Scotland to-night. In fact my noble friend Lord Longford gave a satisfactory set of figures for Scotland, so I am informed, showing that capital grants for small local sports schemes had risen from £51,000 in 1964–65 to an estimated £123,000 in 1965x2013;66, which I think even Scotsmen will regard as reasonable. For the same two years the figures for actual grants to sports bodies show an increase. The noble Lord also raised two questions with which I have already dealt, about the double or multiple use of facilities and about indoor stadia.

The noble Lord, Lord Wise, had a justified complaint about the adventures of the English Schools' Athletic Association wanting to send boys to Canada. At the time, the policy was under consideration by the Sports Council and there was no decision as to whether or not the scheme could be extended. I am glad to tell the noble Lord, Lord Wise, in his absence, that the Sports Council has now recommended that the scheme should be extended, where the need is justified, to cover special important events for schools, youth, and under-23 international competitions. This recommendation is now being considered by the Government, so there is progress on that point. On the Cross-country Union, which he also mentioned, it is a general principle of grants for overseas teams that they should assist, but not replace, voluntary effort, and the sum of £100 was at the time regarded as proper, though no one would call it a lavish amount. However, the suggestion will be taken further.

My noble friend Lord Haire of White-abbey asked about municipal golf and the use of the Green Belt. I can give an assurance that, in principle, golf courses are a proper use for Green Belt land. Any associated development will have to be looked at on its merits. My noble friend also asked for more support for international competitions and for British athletes competing. In fact, the Government record for financial support is fairly good. In the financial year 1964–65, we gave £30,000 to the British Olympic Association for the Tokyo Games, and £10,000 to 26 other bodies for teams travelling overseas. We have in fact told the British Olympic Association that there will be a Government grant to the research team which is going to Mexico City. It is only because of a curious formal delay, which involved a legal difficulty, that this has only just been communicated to them in final detail. But they knew they were getting the money, and that is happening.

Now I should like to detain your Lordships for a moment longer by going back to the question of the out-of-doors activities which we used to call sport, and which are part of this combined activity, this joyous activity, of man using his body one way or another. This is something which nearly all of us are interested in: I perhaps rather less than most, because, though I like games, I never did particularly like prowling round the countryside. But in that I am odd. The Government want to assure noble Lords that the natural beauty of the countryside is going to be maintained so far as we can make sure. We also believe that by well-planned development the countryside will be able to play an increasingly important part in providing chances to use one's body and one's senses. I do not think we need be worried about well-planned development. It sounds as though we are making the country into a man-made thing, but remember that nearly all the English countryside is manmade, and has been for 1,000 years. Do not let us be romantic about that℄it is one enormous garden.

Affluence is increasing, leisure is increasing, and there will be many people wanting to use this leisure in the countryside, through motor cars, walking, and so on. I suspect that, as our society becomes more urbanised, there will be a much deeper need for this particular kind of refreshment. When we get more efficient at living together—and that is necessary, for we must do it to keep people alive—then people will need to be in touch with a different kind of sensuous life. I strongly suspect that there will be a greatly increased desire for what we call country pursuits. The Government already have proposals in hand to deal with these situations. My right honourable friend the Minister of Land and Natural Resources outlined our proposals at The Countryside in 1970 Conference on November 12. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has also told another place how the Government propose to deal with the distinctive needs of Scotland, which is not quite so man-made. We cannot go into action immediately. I need not weary your Lordships by giving the reasons—we are still short of the money. But the proposals show the way the Government hope to encourage action once the time is ripe, and this will enable all the authorities and organisations to plan ahead.

Apart from organisational changes, the main specific proposal is that local authorities should be encouraged and assisted to provide areas called country parks, placed in the countryside, in the Green Belts, on the coast, and even in National Parks, where people will be able to enjoy unorganised open-air activities, picnicking, strolling and what else your Lordships are pleased to imagine. These parks would be sited with three main objectives in mind. First, they must provide easily accessible outlets for people living in towns, getting them off the roads, where the practice of going for a drive adds to the congestion.

Second, they must provide an opportunity for the gregarious enjoyment of the countryside which many people genuinely seem to like. If I go into a countryside I like to think to myself that I have 3,000 miles around me, but large numbers of people enjoy the countryside better when they go in large crowds. So these country parks are to be provided for that purpose. Third, they are to prevent the general sprawl of motorists and picnickers across the face of the countryside, finding parking and picnicking places—something which always annoys farmers and other country people. So there are three good and sufficient reasons why these Country Parks should be set up.

The Government proposals also cover the National Parks, and their management will be revitalised by the reconstitution of the National Parks Commission as a Countryside Commission with increased powers and by assistance from the Exchequer to National Park authorities towards the administrative costs of park management directly related to the provision of suitable facilities. And, as I said before to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, the Countryside Commission will be in the closest touch with the Sports Council. We are going to encourage local authorities to play their part. We want to secure public access to open country. We should like to see more long-distance routes for walking and riding. We may have to improve our footpath legislation.

We have listened to what my noble friends Lord Chorley and Lord St. Davids have said to-night. We hope that local authorities will provide more camping and caravan sites, exactly as the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, suggested; and we propose to assist local authorities to embark on such work as tree planting and the general improvement and beautifying of the countryside. I think we should also keep in mind the terms of urban and rural interactment. We must ensure that recreational facilities in urban and rural areas are complementary. In urban areas I should like to see more indoor sports halls, and then people who cannot face the countryside in winter will have something to do. Similarly we want to get the people from either rural or urban districts into the countryside quite near their own homes. There is no reason why this should entail an enormous amount of travel.

So, my Lords, I think the outlook for what we call sport in the future is quite good. The last Government started things moving by making more funds available. We have gone a bit further and, under the chairmanship of the Minister with special responsibility for sport, Mr. Denis Howell, we have set up the Sports Council and its regional bodies. These bodies, in which the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, plays an active part, will help to ensure that sport plays a real part in our life in the future and will help to improve the quality of that life.


My Lords, before the noble Lord concludes, I wonder whether he could reply to one question by way of clarification. With regard to what he was saying concerning the encouragement of local authorities to open up the National Parks for tourism and motoring, was it his idea that it should be done by the creation of very substantial car parks to which people would bring their cars and then walk away into the countryside, or the opposite way, for the creation of roads along which people could drive their cars and stop off to picnic and to walk around, leaving their cars all over the National Park?


My Lords, the country parks will be rather small areas; they will be more like large car parks than motor roads, and the suggestion is that people can go there in their cars, they can park there and picnic and then stroll about, and so on, but we want to get them off the roads so far as we can.

7.6 p.m.


My Lords, we have had an excellent debate. I think and hope we have probably given the Government and the Sports Council a great many problems to think about, problems on which all of us who have taken part to-day are completely united. That is one of the joys of the debates we have in this House, and I am sure all those who do not join in these debates on sporting activities must envy us because we have no axe to grind, except the axe of sport, and that does make it very pleasant indeed.

It needs no endorsing to us speakers that we believe very much in the voluntary system in sport. All the work that has been done by voluntary officials and voluntary athletes℄I think we all agree that if we were to lose this voluntary aspect we should lose a great deal. A point which has been made by several speakers is that somehow we must secure the better use of the facilities we have. In particular, I am in complete agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and if we can only find a system of presenting accounts (if that is the right word) by which we can all know what has been spent on what, it will be a very great achievement.

It now remains for me to thank everybody who has taken part in this debate. Particularly after the long and arduous day we had yesterday, it has been very kind of noble Lords, not forgetting the Front Bench, to participate, and I am grateful. I ask your Lordships' permission to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.