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Tory MP suggests trainers for Christmas in bid to encourage girls into sport

Parents should consider buying their daughters gym membership and a pair of trainers for Christmas, a Conservative MP has said.

Nigel Evans insisted mothers and fathers have a "huge responsibility" when it comes to encouraging more women and girls to get involved in sport.

But the MP for Ribble Valley conceded his present suggestion might not make parents the most popular people in the house on Christmas morning.

Sports minister Tracey Crouch said she would not "dictate" what parents should buy for their children, adding they should be as "supportive as possible" when their daughters want to get involved in sport.

The number of women taking part in sporting activities has increased by more than 500,000 since 2005 - when London secured the 2012 Olympics, MPs heard.

Ms Crouch added recent figures show the "beginning of a decline" since the high point in 2012.

Speaking in the Commons, former Conservative Party vice-chairman Mr Evans asked Ms Crouch: "Would you agree with me that parents have a huge responsibility to play here?

"So at this time that parents are thinking what to buy their daughters for Christmas, and it may be that won't make the parents the most popular people in the household on Christmas morning, but that they could perhaps consider buying their daughters gym membership and a pair of trainers for Christmas."

Tory frontbencher Ms Crouch, who is pregnant, replied: "Well, as somebody who is hopefully producing a future sports star herself, I don't think it's really for me to dictate to parents what it is that they buy their children for Christmas.

"But I do think that it is important that parents understand their girls may want to get involved in sport, perhaps not traditional girls' sport, and that they should be as supportive as possible when they do so."

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