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1996 - Mr Major’s Comments on Sport in Schools

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on sport in schools, made during an interview held in London on Friday 14th July 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he was trying to do with sport what Harold Wilson had done with education and the Open University].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think the Open University was a remarkable contribution by Harold Wilson. But no, it isn’t. We are part of a nation of sports lovers. The whole of this initiative is to deal with sport right from the grass roots upwards, to put sport back in schools, to improve it in clubs, and the British Academy of Sport is to deal with excellence. I believe in this country people like to see our sporting stars succeed, they like our team to win. The British Academy of Sport will ensure that we have the best of our sporting stars given the best training and the best facilities at a young age.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about Margaret Thatcher’s sell-off of 5,000 playing fields when she was Prime Minister].

PRIME MINISTER:

There were surplus fields in those days, I don’t think there are many surplus fields now, so we have changed the system. But what we are seeking to do is to create a renaissance in sport, not just, as I emphasised a moment ago, for the elite, not just for those people who are very good at it, but for everybody, youngsters upwards, whether able-bodied or disabled we want to increase the sporting facilities, increase the sporting opportunities and increase the quality and standard of sport in this country.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if standards in British sport were currently quite low].

PRIME MINISTER:

I wouldn’t understate the excellence of British sport, one only has to think of the record of our athletes for example over recent years, or our Rugby 15 for example. So we have a very high quality of sport and some of the greatest individual sportsmen and women in the world. But I think we need to improve that, to give more people opportunities, and in particular improve the quality of team sports.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked how he knew lottery money would be spent on sport when Government had previously pledged not to become involved with the distribution of that money].

PRIME MINISTER:

We have been discussing this with the Sports Council. What we decided when we established the national lottery was that the individual components of it, that is to say sport, arts, heritage, millennium fund and so forth, would be going through intermediary bodies. Now the proposals we have announced this morning have been very carefully discussed with the Sports Councils who give them full backing. So we can work with the Sports Councils and that is what we are seeking to do.