Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab):
What her policy is on promoting young people’s participation in boxing.
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Hugh Robertson):
In the recent UK Sport and Sport England funding announcement, our elite boxers receive £13.8 million to help them prepare for Rio 2016, a 44% increase on the amount available at the last Olympics, which reflects their success. Under the whole sport plan, the Amateur Boxing Association of England will receive £5.8 million to drive up participation, an increase of 22% on the previous funding period. Boxing is a part of the school games, and schools are free to provide their pupils with non-contact boxing opportunities should they choose to do so.
As boxing is unique in rewarding participants for landing blows to the head and causing damage to that most vulnerable of human organs, the brain—damage that is serious, cumulative and irreversible—should the Government not encourage sports that measure athleticism without inflicting brain damage?
No is the simple answer to that question. Many sports contain an element of risk—riding and cycling, both of which have much higher injury tallies than boxing, come to mind. At London 2012, the majority of injuries were not from boxing, but from other sports. Most young people like an element of risk, and boxing has a really important role to play in encouraging young people to take up sport, particularly in deprived and inner-city areas. I am keen to encourage them to do so.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab):
As the nations of Britain have waited three centuries for an opportunity to reform the undemocratic anachronism of the choice of Head of State, is it not unseemly to rush the legislation through both Houses in a single day, thereby denying the House the opportunity to give the nations a choice over the next Head of State by referendum, so that they can choose whether they want Charles, William or Citizen A. N. Other?
The Government have no intention of doing what the hon. Gentleman asks. I reiterate that from the business that I have announced, it is clear that we are proposing that the Succession to the Crown Bill should be considered on Second Reading and in Committee of the whole House on the first day. There will therefore be two days of debate in this House, each of which will have proceedings that are amendable
Will the Foreign Secretary give an absolute guarantee that prior to the commitment of any UK troops there will be a debate and a vote in this House on the lines of the precedent of 2003? He has said that he believes in the UK punching above our weight. Does not that often mean spending beyond our interests and dying beyond our responsibilities?
I say no to the second part of the question—I do not believe that it means that. It means many things. It means our country having a presence and an activity in the world of which our 260 diplomatic posts and our huge development programme are good examples. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is in favour of those things, which are aspects of our punching above our weight in the world.
On the commitment of forces, I stress again that I have not said anything today, or in any statement, advocating the commitment of UK forces. In any circumstances, in Syria or elsewhere, we now have a well-established convention in this House of which I personally am a strong advocate and in which the Government as a whole believe very strongly. So yes, the hon. Gentleman can have a broad assurance about that.