Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Thursday, 3 November 2011

Schools urged to claim Olympics tickets

The government has been urged to encourage more schools to take up the offer of free tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Some 100,000 free tickets are being offered to schools and colleges across the UK that have signed up to the Get Set programme, created by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog).

London Mayor Boris Johnson has purchased 75,000 tickets for young Londoners on the network.

But Labour MP Nick Smith said during culture, media and sport questions on 3 November that, after 14 months, 75% of tickets had still not been taken up, which was "very disappointing".

He wanted assurances from Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson that every effort was being made for young people "across the whole of the country, as well as the Home Counties" to have this "once in a lifetime opportunity".

Mr Robertson thanked him for his question which had provided a "good opportunity" to tell all MPs to get out in their constituencies and encourage young people to go to the Games.

He added that Locog chair Lord Coe had written to schools and colleges encouraging them to sign to the Get Set programme.

Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell welcomed the minister's comments, but warned that cuts to the school sports budget threatened to undermine the "excitement stimulated by the prospect of young people going to the Games".

She asked Mr Robertson: "Will he agree with me that we should at least establish the levels of continuing participation and the chance that still remains to meet our legacy promise of transforming a generation of young people through sport on the strength of London 2012?"

Mr Robertson acknowledged it was difficult to deliver that commitment against the public expenditure background but "we should do everything possible to bring that about".

The final fifteen minutes of this hour-long session was dedicated to questions to Commons Leader Sir George Young, his Liberal Democrat deputy David Heath, and representatives from the House of Commons Commission.

Issues raised included supporting the parliament week initiative and establishing a regular Commons slot for backbench business.

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