Golf, gliding, disability sport and the Mental Health Charter - a busy few days for sport and politics

Parliamentary Officer, Emma Wade, takes a look back at the previous week in the House of Commons and House of Lords, and the implications for the sport and recreation sector.

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Tuesday saw a busy day for Westminster Hall , with well-attended debates on a number of interesting topics.

The first, led by Jim Shannon MP, was a debate on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. During his opening speech, Jim Shannon raised awareness of the good work that Alliance members are undertaking as signatories of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation, highlighting in particular the dementia-friendly swimming initiative run by the Amateur Swimming Association.

The importance of physical activity for improving quality of life for those people living with dementia was further emphasised during the Minister for Public Health’s reply to the debate.

The second debate, introduced by the MP for Worcester, Robin Walker, focused on supporting disabled people into work through sport. Central to this debate was the important role that the local Worcester University Arena has for the community in providing purpose-built accessible facilities for disability sport, including basketball “where not only the viewing facilities and playing facilities but the changing rooms, accommodation and media facilities are entirely accessible to wheelchair users”. This debate showcased the benefits of sport for employment, including an improved sense of confidence and a recognition that “being in a wheelchair need be no impediment to achievement”.

In his response to Mr Walker, the Minister for Disabled People highlighted that “by listening to and engaging with them [users of the arena] at the concept, we got a facility that would always be a success”, and called for the upskilling of existing PE teachers to ensure that PE staff had the confidence to offer more accessible sporting opportunities.

The Minister concluded by outlining the proactive work his department is undertaking to encourage and facilitate disability sport, which included hosting a recent roundtable with the Alliance, EFDS and others, with the aim of looking at how the sector and government can further shape the new sport strategy to give all members of society the opportunity to participate in sport and recreation.

Wednesday morning kicked off with another Westminster Hall debate, this time on the future of gliding and the Air Cadet Organisation, which was introduced by Dame Angela Watkinson MP in response to proposed cuts to funding for local programmes.

Proceedings in the Commons concluded on Wednesday with an adjournment debate led by Karl McCartney MP, Chair of the APPG for Golf, which highlighted the economic value of golf to the UK economy. Members of Parliament participating in the debate made their argument clear: “with nearly 4 million people playing golf once a year and 1.5 million people playing golf every four weeks … the total economic activity of golf exceeds a staggering £10 billion per annum”.

In response to Mr McCartney, the acting Minister for Sport, David Evennett MP, praised the efforts of England Golf, and the launch of its strategic plan in 2014, Raising our Game, “built around the key priorities of more players, stronger clubs, developing talent and putting on outstanding championships, thereby improving the image of the game and ensuring excellent governance”.

If you would like to know more about these debates, or for further information about the Alliance’s parliamentary monitoring services, please contact Emma at