§ Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government: When was the last discussion between the Minister for Sport and the Sports Council of a strategy for expanding community sports facilities.
§ Lord Reay
My Lords, one of the Sports Council's key aims is to expand participation through a variety of means, including the provision of community sports facilities. My honourable friend the Minister for Sport met the chairman of the Sports Council in December to discuss a range of issues of relevance to this overall objective. He will be meeting him again the day after tomorrow.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I am grateful for what the Minister has told us about the way in which the Minister for Sport keeps in touch with the Sports Council. However, can he tell us whether an item either on the last agenda or the next relates to the sale of playing fields and sports facilities by schools and local authorities? Is the Minister aware that there is a steady rise in the number of sports fields that are being disposed of, very often in order to bring in income to help hard-pressed local authorities? Bearing in mind that one of the ultimate aims of a good community sports programme is that this country will do well at the next Olympics, can the Minister tell us how energetic the Government have been in helping Manchester to get the slot for the next Olympic Games?
§ Lord Reay
My Lords, I am afraid I have no information as to what is on the agenda for the next meeting between the Minister for Sport and the 2 chairman of the Sports Council. However, with regard to the question about the selling off of playing fields, there is no firm evidence that there is a decline in the provision of playing fields. In fact, some local studies suggest that in a number of areas either the position has remained static or gains in provision have outweighed losses.
The Minister for Sport has written to the Sports Council asking it to consider setting up a central register so that the provision of playing fields can be monitored accurately. We understand that the council has since formed a working party with the Central Council of Physical Recreation and the National Playing Fields Association which will consider the matter.
§ Lord Mellish
My Lords, everyone in the House will be glad to know that some progress is being made in the matter. The Minister will doubtless know that last Thursday his noble friend, speaking on behalf of the Department of the Environment, referred to the club in which I am interested and said how pleased they were with what was being done there. I refer to Millwall. In view of that fact— and this is a line on the strategy for the future— cannot something be done to adopt that policy with regard to sports generally; that is, if the noble Lord knows what I am talking about?
§ Lord Reay
My Lords, I recollect the parliamentary event to which the noble Lord refers. The Sports Council has developed a strategy of sport— and I think that this may be along the lines suggested by the noble Lord— covering the period from 1988 to 1993 the aim of which is to bring together the public, private and voluntary sectors sports providers in order to increase by some 2 million the number of people participating in sport.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, when the Sports Minister for Scotland comes to hold discussions with the Sports Council for Scotland— the Minister is one of the Ministers in the Scottish Office— will my noble friend ensure that he conveys the commendations of several Members of this House on the current quality of rugby football in Scotland?
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the School Sports Forum reported jointly to the Department of Education and Science and the Department of the Environment last year on certain adverse consequences of the Education Reform Act on sport and recreation? Is he also aware of the constraints imposed on teachers' time and training, both of which are essential to enable pupils to experience outdoor education in outdoor pursuit and field study centres? As this fact has a very definite bearing not only upon schools but also upon the community, can he assure the House that the adverse consequences reported by the forum are duly monitored with a view to amending the Education Reform Act?