Community Sports: Impact on Young People - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 3:37 pm ar 16 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Hannett of Everton Lord Hannett of Everton Llafur 3:37, 16 Mai 2024

My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Wood of Anfield, and thank him for securing this important debate. It would be inappropriate for me to refer to the last derby game, when Everton beat Liverpool, so I will not mention it.

Sport is well proven to be good for both physical and mental health. It makes a major contribution to the economy, employing thousands of workers. Given our respective allegiances, I also look forward to further discussions with the noble Lord, Lord Wood, beyond this Chamber, on the fortunes of our respective clubs.

I place on record my thanks to my noble friends Lady Smith of Basildon and Lord Kennedy of Southwark. I have known them both for some time, and in recent months they have guided me on how this place works. I also thank Black Rod and her staff for their support and patience as I navigate my way around this building, getting lost numerous times. The welcome I have received from Members on all sides of this House has been wonderful.

I was also perhaps fortunate to join at a time of intense debate on the Rwanda Bill. I was impressed by the quality of the contributions, from all sides; it was an invaluable lesson in the processes of the House.

It is with great pride that I make this speech. Born into a working-class family in Liverpool, one of six children, I learnt from an early age that getting on in life involves hard work. But it also involves the support of those closest to you, and for that, I offer loving thanks to my wife Linda, who is in the Chamber, and, of course, to my family.

I also owe a great debt to those I have worked with through both the Labour Party and the TUC—but especially my own union, USDAW, which has played a significant role in my development. Elected general secretary in 2004, I held that post for 14 years, during which I was determined for us to modernise as a union and face the many challenges of the workplace going forward. We introduced a bespoke model based on union values and then put in place the strategy and resources to represent our members effectively. We grew our membership by over 100,000, up 25%, just when unions were in apparent decline—and even more so in the private sector, where we negotiated.

USDAW also organised successful campaigns. As well as the Christmas Day training campaign, which included discussions in this House, there have been campaigns to delay cuts to working tax credits, to deliver an extension and improvements to maternity leave, and to amend the law to introduce a distinct criminal offence for assaulting shop workers. The latter has been running for 20 years and has been adopted by many unions in many other countries.

Another body that I served on with great pleasure, for 11 years, was the Low Pay Commission. It celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and is an important example of different stakeholders reaching a consensus. Commission recommendations have been accepted by all Governments, raising the living standards of some of the poorest paid.

I was also on the Women and Work Commission, tackling the gender pay gap, and the Future of Work Commission, addressing the policy challenges of new technologies. As a keen champion of disability rights, I was more than pleased to see British Sign Language introduced as a GCSE option. All of that illustrates, I hope, how my interest in representing working people includes not just concerns about workplace rights, important though they are; I also very much believe in improving people’s broader quality of life. That means anticipating the inevitable impact of change, and requires partnerships between unions, government and business.

I alluded to my support for my club—the clue is in my title, because I am a true, life-long supporter. One positive aspect of how Everton FC is run is the work of its charitable arm, Everton in the Community. It does so much to support people across the Merseyside area. It is particularly adept at working with those communities often thought of as hard to reach or hard to help. Notable successes include: the “Starting Well” programme, which supports new and expectant parents; a wide range of mental health initiatives, including one focused on suicide prevention and another that specifically targets girls and young women; ongoing efforts to tackle the scourge of social isolation; and the “Pass on the Memories” dementia support programme. It supports much more than just the football itself. Working with a wide network of experts while engaging current and former players, Everton in the Community is a best practice example of a sporting club trying to connect positively with all aspects of people’s lives and make a real difference.

I end by thanking again those who have made me feel so welcome in this House. I also make it clear that, just as my club ensures that the vehicle of sport helps change lives, I intend to play my part in the House to show how politics itself can do much more.