Baroness Grey-Thompson, a Crossbench member, has significant expertise and experience on Olympic and sporting issues. A winner of 11 Paralympic gold medals during her athletic career, Baroness Grey-Thompson is also a Non-Executive Director of UK Athletics.
The debate, tabled by Lord Shutt of Greetland, Government spokesman for the Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport in the House of Lords, discussed the progress being made in delivering the 2012 Games, which take place in London.
Baroness Grey-Thompson said that London had led the way in organising a Paralympic Games that would raise the bar for sponsorship, sustainability, transport and inclusion. She spoke about how the growth of the Games and the number of nations taking part had increased social provision for people with disabilities.
Baroness Grey-Thompson also talked about the need to work hard to maximise the ‘spike in participation rates in physical activity’ that the Games will bring. ‘Involvement in physical fitness can help lead to improved learning, greater confidence and general wellness: all the things that we want for our young people,’ she said.
Baroness Ford, Chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, responded on behalf of the Government in the place of Lord Mawson who could not attend. Lord Moynihan, Chairman British Olympic Association and Lord Hall of Birkenhead, Chairman British Olympic Association were among the Members who contributed to the debate.
Other topics covered included security planning, improving the transport infrastructure, and the economic regeneration of East London through the sustainable development of open spaces, new homes, waterways and world-class sporting venues.
Members also looked to the legacy of hosting the Games in the UK including the opportunity to tackle rates of obesity, particularly among young people; to provide the facilities that will encourage young people to participate in sports; to sustain the increased participation in sport; and to inspire young people from the local communities – ‘five of the poorest boroughs in the capital’ – to take part on local volunteering, cultural and physical activities.
The maiden speech marks the first time a new Member of the Lords has spoken in the House. Usually, a maiden speech takes place during a general debate and is uncontroversial.
• Glossary: Maiden speech
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