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Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) not only on gaining a well-placed position in the ballot for private Member's Bills but on the subject that he selected as his Bill. It is important, as I will explain, both for positive and negative reasons.
The House will be familiar with the magnificent equestrian figure of my hon. Friend, who tried to tempt me into the sporting field on a visit to the west Falklands some years ago, where we set out one morning to try to improve our equestrian skills--he sitting magnificently on a horse, and me clinging to it in a way I had never done for a quarter of a century previously.
Mr. Fabricant: The same horse?
Mr. Arnold: I assure my hon. Friend that it was a different horse. Perhaps if it had been the same horse, I would not have suffered the fall I did--my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield knew how to check a horse's girth and to ensure that the horse was not puffed up. I did not make that check and in due course took quite a tumble for my lack of sporting experience. I know that my hon. Friend is highly qualified to speak on sporting measures.
The Bill is welcome for negative as well as positive reasons. I believe that it will improve the quality of the goods to which the Olympic symbol is attached. We all know that, at great international events, great sporting events and events of varying descriptions, for example, relating to the royal family, a vast array of some pretty tacky goods are circulated for the tourists, visitors and the public to purchase.
As the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche), the Opposition spokesman, said in her usual elegant way, they are produced by spivs. Be they produced by spivs or wide boys, it is a diversion of the
Column 1372resources of the sportsgoing public that profits made from the sale of such hallmarked items goes to spivs and wide- boys rather than to the sporting endeavours. For that reason, I think that the Bill will be a valuable addition to the statute book, when it reaches it. On the positive side, the Bill is of great value to formalise and to protect the symbol properly in its uses. If in the process it raises money for the development of sporting activities, it is only too valuable. In the past, I have been involved in the organising of contingents to international scout jamborees. That does not compare in expertise and skills to the preparation of contingents to the Olympics. They are immensely expensive, particularly if one thinks about the vast costs involved in sending not only the teams but the supporting teams, which are ever-more complex in this modern day and age. The equipment that needs to be sent must be kept to a very high standard and be at the point of absolute perfection when our sportsmen and women take part. It costs a vast amount.
One of the principal advantages of the Bill is that that money can be properly applied to support a good British team to go to the Olympics. If it can additionally cause funds to be gained and filtered down to the training of our young people in sports, across the wide range of sports involved in the Olympics, it must be an advantage, because I think that we do not do better in international sports because we do not catch our young at an early enough age to get them skilled in the various sports involved in the Olympics. The Bill is particularly relevant to Britain. My hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) referred to other countries in Europe and to the international scene. We are not discussing legislation that goes beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. We are discussing what happens here. When we send teams abroad to the Olympics, as we have since 1948, we deal with goods produced in this country to commemorate the Olympics being held far from these shores.
London, this great capital city of ours, hosted the Olympics in the early days of 1908 and came to the Olympic movement's rescue in 1948 in staging the revival Olympics. We are all too familiar with the agonies of the bid to bring the next Olympics to Manchester. I hope that Manchester, London and other cities will work towards bringing the Olympics here in the future. So doing will require vast sums of money, which is why the Bill is highly relevant in gathering together the money necessary to present an Olympic games of the standard required by the Olympics movement and expected by the House. The Bill is particularly relevant to the House because a small, select band of hon. Members have played a great part in previous Olympics. Between 1931 and 1943, the hon. Member for Peterborough was Lord Burghley, who won a gold medal in the 400 metre hurdles at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. After 1943, he moved up the Corridor, where he succeeded as the sixth Marquess of Exeter. Also along the Corridor is another Olympic participant, in rifle shooting--Lord Swansea. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may recall from your early days in the House the then hon. Member for Chichester, Chris Chataway, who had an excellent record in the 5,000 metre race many years ago. We are honoured to have with us the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe), who has many Olympic records to his credit.
Column 1373I hope that we shall shortly consider the Bill's detailed clauses and requirements. My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) raised a valid concern. The names mentioned in the Bill, such as "Olympics" and "Olympian", are, by their nature, not exclusive to that magnificent sporting contest but are used by many organisations, including, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) said, a pizza parlour and the Greek airline.
In reading through the Bill, I was interested to note that clause 15 provides a remedy for groundless threats of infringement proceedings. If the House gives organisations certain rights and responsibilities to control the use of the Olympic symbol, it is incumbent on the House to ensure that such rights are not abused. I strongly support the Bill because it will be of immense value in adding further fire power to this country's sporting excellence. Let us hope that, in future years, as a result of resources brought forth by the Bill, British teams will give even better performances at the Olympics than they have in the past.
Mr. Bermingham rose --
Mr. Piers Merchant (Beckenham): I shall be brief, because I have no motive other than to strongly support the Bill. Before the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) has apoplexy, I assure him that I, too, want the House to put an end to the live export of animals, which I strongly deprecate. Nevertheless, we are now here to discuss the important Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Bill, which has been presented not before time.
Few ideals have enthused the whole world so consistently throughout this century as that of the Olympics. The Olympics sum up some of the highest human ideals and deserve special protection. Those ideals are of excellence, competition, team spirit, brotherhood of man and international co-operation on a peaceful and positive basis. That is why it is so important that we should, to the best of our ability, protect the Olympic games and the Olympic movement from commercial exploitation in a world where the pressures are increasingly intense.
Therefore, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on introducing the Bill and, I hope, on enabling measures to be passed that will protect the games from commercial exploitation and take us back to the original spirit of the games alluded to earlier. It was not mentioned that, apart from the commercial pressures, another major difference between the games then and now was that all the competitors were naked and only one female was allowed to participate--the high priestess Demeter, who seems to have been absent from more recent Olympic games. The United Kingdom is rare in not already giving proper protection to Olympic trademarks. The Bill puts right a long-standing anomaly and provides protection, not just to the symbols, but to other elements associated with the Olympic movement. The Bill has a positive as well as a negative-- protective--side. It will enable sponsorship for athletes to be collected by the British Olympic Committee by the licensing and use of symbols related to the Olympic games. That is particularly
Column 1374important in this country, where there is no Government support, which is, in itself, quite unusual in the international context. Trademarks are an important part of commerce; they are an important symbol of human activity in the modern world. They are more than just symbols, they represent ideals and, in the popular imagination, they are linked to whatever they represent. I can give no better example than that of Cartier. People often buy a product exclusively because it bears the symbol and trademark of a specific manufacturer or trader equated with high quality.
I mentioned the name of Cartier because, throughout the world, many people attempt to copy the symbol illicitly in order to sell the product at more than its value would otherwise be. That will apply to the Olympics if the symbol remains unprotected. I do not want that to happen--I want the Olympic games to be properly protected in this country as they are elsewhere. I want the British Olympic Committee to use the facility to raise sponsorship to support our athletes and our contributions to future Olympics. For those reasons, I strongly support and welcome the Bill, and hope that it passes through the House swiftly.
Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South): I shall be brief, as was the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Merchant), unlike his colleagues, who made extremely lengthy, verbose and pointless speeches.
I do not mean to be unkind--I can easily read the Bill. We do not pass retrospective legislation, so anyone called Olympic or Olympia is protected and will not be hurt by the legislation. If clauses 17 and 18 mean what they say, a person who makes a frivolous objection because someone has chosen to use Olympic or Olympia as his or her name will be caught by the law. Therefore, anyone with such a name does not need to worry.
As for the history lesson from the Government, a parliamentary private secretary, the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, North (Mr. Heald), gave us some wonderful information which was totally useless and pointless. I should be grateful if he would give me the briefing document so that I can read it to see what bits were missed out. The Bill is long overdue and I congratulate the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on introducing it. The Bill will do a lot of good and it will help many people in the future. It may even create jobs; indeed, if we move on to the next Bill, we may create still more jobs. I welcome the Bill.
Mr. Michael Stephen (Shoreham): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on his good fortune in winning the ballot and introducing the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Bill. Like the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham), I wish to move on to the next Bill on the Order Paper, the Protection of Calves (Export) Bill, on which I shall speak in support. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will not view it as a discourtesy to him or to his Bill if my contribution to this debate is shorter than I would have liked it to be.
I put on record my support for sport. It is immensely important not just for our young people but for all of us--particularly parliamentarians, who have so little
Column 1375opportunity for physical exercise. It is important that our young people should be taught from the very earliest age how to look after their physical as well as their mental health. Those who are at the pinnacle of sporting achievement--our Olympic sportsmen and sportswomen--set a fine example in that regard.
I pay tribute to the work of the Sports Council and I am very grateful that, even in times of financial stringency, the Government have been able to support it with public funds. However, the level of funding is not enough. As the economy continues to improve, I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor will find more money for the Sports Council.
In the interim, I see no reason why additional funds should not be found for the British Olympic Association from commercial sources. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield on his ingenuity in discovering a source from which the British Olympic Association may derive funding--the commercial use of the Olympic symbol and name.
Sport is important not only in terms of our physical health and well-being but as a source of national pride. We are justifiably proud of the achievements of our Olympic sportsmen and women. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins)--whose constituency my own surrounds--who was a very distinguished Olympic athlete.
I conclude by illustrating to the House the importance of sport as a source of national pride. That fact was summed up only a few days ago by the headline in one of our newspapers which read, "Strewth! We beat the Aussies."
Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West): Like the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) and my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Stephen), I shall be brief. I support the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Bill totally, and I wish to raise two points to which reference has not been made in the debate so far. First, the Bill is very welcome, but I fear that it may also be too late. The British Olympic Association has pressed for legislation of this nature for some years. When it first requested such legislation, there was a reasonable chance that the action it sought--a trademark infringement action in order to protect its use and exploitation of the Olympic symbol--would work.
In the past few years, however, there have been some attacks on that legal principle. I believe that the American organisers of the soccer World cup had great difficulty protecting the World cup symbol and sponsorships from deliberate, and often massive, infringements by international companies. Although this legislation is welcome, I hope that its promoter, my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), will review with the Minister, the Government's Law Officers and the British Olympic Association the extent to which it can be made watertight. I fear that there are very strong and highly lucrative reasons for people to try to upset the Bill as soon as it passes into law.
Secondly, the Bill is one leg of a two-legged animal. As my hon. Friend said in introducing it, the Bill parallels powers that are already available in many other countries.
Column 1376Equally, many other countries have the power to claim tax relief for expenditure by sponsors and by Olympic associations in raising money for their teams. Such a power is not available in the United Kingdom.
For years, in Finance Bill and other debates, the Government have been pressed to give the tax relief that other countries find essential. Together with the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), on an all-party basis I sought a meeting with a Treasury Minister on that concession. In view of what I am about to say, I shall not name him because he might immediately be sacked from the Cabinet, of which he is now a member. He said, "I am in favour in principle, but what chance do I have when the entire Cabinet pays obeisance to only one sport--cricket?"
We did not manage to secure that tax relief, but I hope that the interest generated by my hon. Friend's Bill will provide another chance. My hon. Friend, whose reputation for not entirely toeing the Government line is well known, may consider pursuing the issue in debates on future Finance Bills, as many others and I have done in the past. I wish the Bill well. I just wish that it had come earlier.
Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough): My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) mentioned that his Bill has all-party support. The signatories to it range from senior parliamentarians, such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins), to the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms Hoey)--who is my Member of Parliament in London, and who, until not long ago, was shadow junior Minister for sport. The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) competed in the Olympics, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe).
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield on his good fortune in winning a high place in the ballot. He presented his Bill well, and it has the support of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. The article in The House Magazine dated 23 January succinctly describes the purposes of his Bill, so I shall not detain the House by repeating his words.
My hon. Friend's Bill is supported by not only Back Benchers but the Government. On 12 December 1994, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage welcomed the announcement by my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield of his intention to introduce a Bill to protect the commercial use of Olympic symbols. The Department acknowledged that it would allow the British Olympic Association exclusive rights to market the use of the Olympic rings and emblem, the motto "Citius, altius, fortius" and the words "Olympic", "Olympian" and "Olympiad".
My hon. Friend the Minister said:
"I fully support these measures to be introduced by Nicholas Winterton to protect the Olympic symbols. They will be of significant benefit to British athletes, and have been widely backed by sporting organisations and commercial businesses.
The proposed legislation will give the British Olympic Association exclusive rights to market the Olympic symbols. This will enable them to raise extra money through commercial royalties, which will be used to help elite sport. Athletes hoping to attend the next Olympic Games in Atlanta will be among the first to benefit." The Bill has been given the overwhelming support of the House, and I am happy to count myself among those who have risen to speak in support of my hon. Friend the
Column 1377Member for Macclesfield. I should like to allay some of the fears raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) and for Hertfordshire, North (Mr. Heald).
My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham was worried about shops and businesses that used the words "Olympic" or "Olympiad" in their logos. I hope that I an not trespassing here on territory that my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield intends to cover. Clause 4(4) states:
"In the case of a representation of a protected word, the Olympics association right is not infringed by use which is not such as ordinarily to create an association with--
(a) the Olympic games or the Olympic movement, or
(b) a quality ordinarily associated with the Olympic games or the Olympic movement."
I can fully appreciate that, on first reading that clause, members of the public might be confused, but careful study of the Bill puts it beyond doubt that pizza shops, butchers shops and even Olympic Airways would not be caught by it--so I draw that to their attention. I hope that my hon. Friend's Bill will be given a fair wind and will soon pass into law.
Mr. David Chidgey (Eastleigh): I shall try to be brief, so that we can get on. I congratulate the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on his Bill. My party is delighted to have among its members a well-known Olympian, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), who, in his day, led the British Olympic team to some effect.
Perhaps many hon. Members share my view that sport has generally been rather poorly treated, so any attempts, such as the one in the Bill, to improve its status and to give it a leg up are most welcome. It needs investment particularly. The Bill is likely to benefit sport in that respect.
I understand that we are trying to protect the Olympic symbol and words from unauthorised commercial exploitation, and that the Bill gives the Secretary of State the right to grant the British Olympic Association the exclusive licence to exploit the symbols in question--an important step forward.
The United Kingdom is one of the few nations not to give statutory protection to the Olympic symbols. The BOA is one of the few Olympic committees not to receive Government funds. On both these fronts, I believe that the Bill will prove beneficial.
I agree with the hon. Member for Macclesfield that the Bill will give British sportsmen and women great encouragement, in the knowledge that Parliament wants them to go out and compete successfully on behalf of their country.
We must remove anything that disadvantages our Olympic movement, and that is why I welcome the Bill. The BOA does not benefit from Government funds; its ability to sustain the service that it gives to competitors depends chiefly on private sponsorship. It is, therefore, very important that we give the association the chance to use these protected symbols to generate sponsorship funds that will enable it to continue its important role. That role is to promote sport in our country.
On behalf of the Liberal Democrat party, I welcome the Bill, and wish it every success in its remaining stages.
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Mr. Michael Fabricant (Mid-Staffordshire): I shall briefly speak in support of the Bill, which was so ably and robustly introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton). I shall not speak for long, primarily because it is important that we debate the Protection of Calves (Export) Bill. I look forward to hearing what the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) has to say. My second reason for not speaking at length is that I am suffering from a pretty bad cold. I would not be able to speak for very long, even if I wanted to do so.
I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield has, among his supporters, five members of the Select Committee on the National Heritage. Although my name does not appear in the list of supporters, as a member of that Select Committee I wish very much to give my support to the Bill, which on the whole is an excellent measure. My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Merchant) talked about the Olympic spirit. I agree that that spirit or ideal is to be admired. It would be fallacious, however, if we were to say that it has always been achieved. I remind hon. Members of the nadir that it reached in 1936, with the racist Berlin Olympics. We spoke earlier of the use of the Olympic symbol in films. What could have been more perverse than the Leni Riefenstahl film, "Triumph of the Will", which purported to suggest that the Olympic games somehow supported the Nazi idea of racism? I remind hon. Members of the various boycotts, including of the Los Angeles and Moscow games. We all remember, of course, the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich games. Last Friday, I attended a Cambridge Union debate. It had nothing to do with sport, but I met an historian from Cambridge university who proposed an interesting thesis. He suggested that, in 100, 200 or 300 years' time, Britain would be remembered for two great achievements. He discounted the British empire and scientific achievements, but thought that Britain would be remembered for the spread of the English language and the creation of so many sports that are played throughout the world.
Although we have invented international games such as football and tennis, we have not shown an ability to win them. It is primarily for that reason that I support the Bill. I am aware that in my constituency there are inadequate sums available for the training and travel of athletes who could reach international status.
An athlete called Spencer Duval recently won the British cross-country championships. I hope that he will be taking part in the Olympic games in 1996. I know his family well because, apart from any other reason, his father, Derrick Duval, is the chairman of my local Conservative association. Spencer has had to train in the United States and the United Kingdom. He needs sponsorship, which he is given to some extent. It is clear that the difficulties that he faces are shared by other athletes in the United Kingdom. Relatively small countries such as the former East Germany experienced success in capturing Olympic awards. That tells us that it is possible, when money is available and there is sufficient will, to become a world leader in international sports. At present, apart perhaps from athletics, Britain is far from a world leader in sports,
Column 1379despite the fact that many sports that are played at the Olympic games were first developed in the United Kingdom.
I support the Bill. I believe that it will help to create additional moneys for the training of British athletes. I hope that the moneys will be used wisely and I should be interested to know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield has had any information from the British Olympic Association as to how they will be used. Are we going to set up training camps--if that is the correct term--for British athletes to enable them to start winning the gold, silver and bronze medals that Britain deserves to win at the Olympic games? I wish the Bill well and commend it to the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Iain Sproat): I begin by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on his tremendous hard work, diligence and persistence. The impressive list of right hon. and hon. Members who are supporting him is a tribute to his hard work and the contents of this important Bill.
I shall first give a few background details of the Bill, with which the House should be familiar and which it is important to place on the record, and then deal with some of the points that have been made.
Parliament will be aware of the historic significance and resonance of the Olympic symbols, the five interlocking Olympic rings, the motto of the Olympic movement, citius, altius, fortius, and the terms "Olympic", "Olympian" and "Olympiad" in world sport. No property exists in the Olympic symbol and its associated terms which, used on their own, are in the public domain and no persons have any copyright or other tangible or intangible commercial property in the symbols per se, although they may have property in an original work, design or trade mark incorporating the symbols.
It is thus possible for anyone to use the unadorned symbols on their own. Applications to register a trademark or design containing the symbols are accepted if they are part of a wider design and not passed off as goods or services that might be used in or associated with the Olympic games.
The British Olympic Association is responsible for promoting the Olympic movement in the United Kingdom. It is a company limited by guarantee, established in accordance with the principles of the Olympic charter and its constitution is approved by the International Olympic Committee. The BOA owns and licenses trademarks that incorporate the Olympic rings together with the representation of the Union Jack. Companies sponsoring the British Olympic team, for example, are given the right to use the trademark for marketing purposes. None of the marks, however, has the same impact or marketability as the instantly recognisable five-ring symbol and associated terms.
The properties associated with the five-ring symbol and associated terms derive entirely from their association with the Olympic movement. The Government support the Bill, which would ensure that the benefit of the
Column 1380commercial use of the properties should be restricted to businesses responsible for supporting the Olympic movement and the British Olympic team.
The extra funding derived from the marketing rights to the Olympic symbols in the United Kingdom will enable the BOA, which depends entirely on the private sector for funding, to develop further sporting excellence in Britain and help ensure the continuing success of British participants in the Olympic games.
The debate about protecting the Olympic symbols in the United Kingdom dates back to 1981 when the Nairobi treaty, under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation--a United Nations agency--vested the rights of the Olympic symbols in the International Olympic Committee. The Government have not signed the treaty and are reluctant to do so, as they consider it more appropriate for United Kingdom legislation to vest the rights in a United Kingdom body.
That is accepted by the International Olympic Committee and, in addition to conferring the benefits already described, the proposed legislation would honour a commitment made by the Government to the international Olympic Committee in the course of the unsuccessful Manchester Olympic bid to regulate the use of Olympic symbols in the United Kingdom. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield, because, if the Bill is passed, he will have enabled the British Government to fulfil their pledge.
I am sure that we would all agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield that the British Olympic team should be as well prepared as possible. He also said, quite accurately, that the British Olympic Association does not receive any Government funding. Indeed, it does not even receive resources such as free accommodation. Other bodies associated with elite athletes, such as the Sports Aid Foundation, receive accommodation free from the Sports Council.
It is worth reminding the House that although, as I think the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) said, it is not possible for the BOA to claim lottery funding for individual athletes, which would breach the revenue regulations of the lottery, the BOA is perfectly able to apply for lottery funding for a project, which could be mainly capital in nature, but have a revenue tail that may, in some way, be used to help our athletes. Therefore, although the form of words used my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield was entirely accurate, it is perhaps useful to remind the BOA and other organisations interested in the Olympics that, in certain circumstances, they may gain access to lottery funds.
The main point of the Bill, as my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield explained so well, is that the BOA will receive funds for the licensing of the Olympic symbols and associated words, which it will be able to use to support our athletes. It is absolutely vital to support, protect and guarantee the protection of the symbols to enable the BOA to help athletes.
I am sure that, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will be interested to hear that the British Amateur Rugby League Association had not been asked whether it would support the Bill. I am also sure, as my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield said, that it would have supported the Bill had it been asked. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may also like to know that last night I was told that rugby league may figure in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. If it
Column 1381were true, I am sure that both of us would look to forward rugby league, the most popular form of football in Sydney, being played there.
My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield said in his able speech that the Bill had the strong support of the Department of National Heritage, which is true. We very much hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading.
My hon. Friend was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) whether the Bill applied to Northern Ireland. As my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield said, it does indeed apply to Northern Ireland. Incidentally, the Government are about to set up a United Kingdom Sports Council that covers the whole of the United Kingdom and, for the first time, Northern Ireland will be part of such a body.
Rather curiously--I know not for what reason--Northern Ireland is not part of the current Sports Council in Great Britain. Northern Ireland will not only be covered by my hon. Friend's Bill, but will be part of what I hope will be an extremely important body for the promotion of sport in this country.
The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green paid a generous tribute, which we would all wish to join, to the late Fred Perry. I believe that Mr. Perry's father was a Labour Member of Parliament, which the hon. Lady refrained from mentioning. Fred Perry was a great British sportsman and it is fitting that the House of Commons should pay tribute to him. The hon. Lady asked whether the British Olympic Association could claim lottery funding for individual athletes, and no doubt she will read Hansard for the answer.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, North (Mr. Heald) gave an extremely interesting history of the Olympic movement, which I will read later to catch up on any of the historical details that I might have missed. He said that some might claim--although he would not--that the Bill might be regarded as censorship because it stopped others from using the Olympic symbol. However, as my hon. Friend said, it is important to emphasise that it should not be regarded as censorship. It involves the protection of a legitimate symbol and it is akin to trade marks. No one would suggest that trade marks legislation was censorship. It is important to understand that the strong purpose of the Bill is to provide funds for our athletes.
Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East): Like everyone, I am in favour of the Bill. I have just returned to the Chamber having checked the definition of infringement. The Minister will be aware that there is often great controversy about the Olympics. For example, I seem to recall that campaigners against the Moscow Olympics wore printed tee-shirts that carried the Olympic symbol and the words, "Don't go to Moscow." Would such a genuine expression of political opinion or the use of the Olympic symbol in a controversial cartoon leave people open to prosecution?
Mr. Sproat: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. No doubt it is a matter that lawyers would like to consider. However, as neither the hon. Gentleman nor I am a lawyer, I share the expression on his face. That point can be answered in more detail in Committee. I would
Column 1382have thought that there would be a case to answer although frivolous cases, as the hon. Gentleman will be aware from his study of the Bill, have a remedy.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: I want to intervene quickly to help the House, and the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) in particular. The legislation seeks to stop commercial exploitation. As the promoter of the Bill, I believe that where people produce something for a specific campaign, they would continue to have the right to do so, but if they sought to make lots of money, that would be a complication. Knowing the hon. Member for Brent, East as I do, I suspect that he is involved more in campaigns than in commercial exploitation.
Mr. Sproat: I dare say that that is roughly right. However, we have all known good campaigns that have fallen into the hands of people who wanted to make money out of them. In those circumstances, the use of tee- shirts referred to by the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) could fall foul of the Bill. However, we can pursue that matter at greater length on another occasion.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern), in another scholarly intervention on the already scholarly speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield, referred to the Spartans using drugs at one of the early Olympics. I was not aware of that. I would be very interested to learn--although not now--exactly what drugs were used in those days.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West raised an extremely important point about drugs, and to few sports are they more important than to the Olympic games. Government agencies, through the Sports Council and the sports councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, spend more than £900,000 a year on combating drugs. The British Government are absolutely determined to stamp out cheating through the use of drugs in international sport. The methods we use are respected around the world. When I was in Australia last week, I visited the Australian sports drugs agency, where people told me how much they admired our attempt to stamp out drugs in the Olympics and other sports.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) made a point that exercised several hon. Members. He asked whether the use of the words "Olympic" and "Olympian" or the use of the symbol in matters of general trade is banned by the Bill? He referred very fairly to several businesses, including pizza parlours, butchers, garages and restaurants which have called themselves "Olympic". It is not the intention of the Bill to ban such genuine commercial use of the word "Olympic". Those who have been using the word "Olympic" or the symbol for years past will not be banned by the Bill. It is important that the point that my hon. Friend rightly made is answered
My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) made the important point that one consequence of the Bill will be not only to raise money for the British Olympic Association that can be used to fund British athletes at the Olympic Games--that is clearly the main point of the Bill, and hon. Members have supported it--but, as a by-blow, to help to guarantee that goods associated with the Olympics and that have the Olympic symbol on them will be of reasonably high quality.
Column 1383The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green used the word "spivs". We do not want the Olympic games to be associated with such a trade, nor do we want tacky goods. The BOA will have to license the use of symbols to those who wish to use them to promote their goods. The BOA will ensure that its goods or services are of a suitably high standard. That is another extremely important benefit of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Merchant) referred to Cartier watches and having the name "Cartier" put on other watches, and how that defrauded Cartier of money. I am sure that that is correct. The Bill would prevent exactly such cheating.
My hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Stephen), in his brief intervention, talked about the great importance of support for sport in general for young people. He will know that we have recently restructured sports councils. As I mentioned in passing, we are about to set up a United Kingdom Sports Council, and we are about to set up an English sports council. It is an oddity--we have never before had an English or United Kingdom sports council.
The particularly relevant point is that we have specifically said that a place will be specifically reserved on the United Kingdom and English sports councils for somebody representing Olympic sport. We will obviously reserve places for non-Olympic amateur sport--for professional sport. I hope that the House will agree that that shows the importance that we place on Olympic sport and that it supports and complements the debate.
My hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham also said that he approved any method by which a legitimate increase in funding by commercial methods could be brought about. The Bill is clearly such a method. The national lottery allows us to add further support to our Olympic challenges--if we can find ways to obtain lottery funds for capital projects to help our Olympic athletes, I am sure that it will be possible to do just that.
Such lottery funding will be able to work hand in hand with the money that will arise from use of the Olympic symbols. My hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham rightly pointed to the tremendous surge in national pride when our athletes do well, whether at cricket, as my hon. Friend mentioned, or in the Olympic Games. To achieve those victories, of course, we must ensure that our athletes are properly supported, and the Bill certainly makes an important start in providing that support.