§ 1. Mr. John Marshall
To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what steps he is taking to encourage competitive sports among young people.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Iain Sproat)
A priority of my current proposals for restructuring the Sports Council is to ensure that sports governing bodies develop and implement structured programmes for young people. My Department and the Department for Education are also looking at a number of other initiatives to ensure that young people take part in competitive sports in schools, and an announcement will be made in due course.
§ Mr. Marshall
Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating the English cricketers on their magnificent victory, and wish the English rugby players every luck on Saturday so that they can show that they are good Europeans by trouncing the French? Does he agree that the message would be even better if in primary schools a greater emphasis was placed on competitive sports instead of on sports such as aerobics?
§ Mr. Sproat
I certainly echo my hon. Friend's congratulations to the England team; it was a magnificent performance. On the question of competitive sports in schools, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education are currently working together to produce what I hope will be some happy proposals.
§ Mr. Maxton
Does the Minister agree that the best place to encourage sport of all sorts—whether competitive or not—is within the schools, and that that can be done only by mobilising the enthusiasm, expertise and time of teachers? Does he agree, however, that the time when teachers could be exploited to take part and do those things in their own time, without being paid, has long gone, and that therefore he must look at a structure that will ensure that they are properly paid for the work that they do?
§ Mr. Sproat
Yes, I certainly agree that the best place for young people to learn is in schools, and I certainly agree that the co-operation and enthusiasm of teachers is extremely important—in fact, it is absolutely 666 essential. As far as payment is concerned, that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education.
§ Mr. David Evans
The Minister knows very well that the lot opposite do not believe in competition in anything, whether it is public utilities or school sports days. Can the Minister assure me that we will not have competition in volleyball and other sports like that, but real competition in football, cricket and rugby, so that we might build on the success that we had in cricket this very day?
§ Mr. Sproat
My hon. Friend makes a very good point. It is quite interesting to consider that, of the schools attended by the England team, in Adelaide this week, half of them no longer play any cricket at all—it may be more; I will have to check that. My hon. Friend is right to emphasise the importance of proper competitive games in schools.