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6.20 pm

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) and the Select Committee on two or three years of very

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hard, detailed work on what they themselves have rightly called a saga of events. Their detailed scrutiny has been very helpful indeed. I think that anyone who reads the report—even those who, like me, do not agree with all its recommendations—cannot fail to see the truth of its overall conclusion that the way we run sports and major sporting events and build national stadiums is a shambles. Without saying so, the report also expresses my view that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is a dysfunctional Department. That is what it has been from the beginning and that is what it continues to be. It is perhaps fortunate that we have a Select Committee that is not dysfunctional; if it were dysfunctional we would not have received this type of report.

Although I realise that the Select Committee is very busy doing a wide variety of reports, it might be a very useful exercise if it were to use its considerable background knowledge and expertise to consider the overall issue of the way in which we handle sport in this country. We have to examine issues such as the increasing number of quangos, the fact that no one can take decisions, and the fact that the Government immediately handed over all our money for sport to Sport England, which is a huge quango employing 500 people; whereas I think that, when I was Minister for Sport, I had 26 people working on sport.

It is clearly nonsensical when the Minister for Sport and even the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport do not truly have the power to take decisions. So many matters are handled by various quangos that drop the ball whenever difficulties arise.

Michael Fabricant: The hon. Lady has made a very interesting and powerful point by saying that the Department is dysfunctional and inviting the Select Committee to investigate the Department's sports operation. I ask her, a former Minister, to tell us the point of a Select Committee's making recommendations to a Department when, in at least one example, the Secretary of State rejected the report within 30 minutes of its publication. There are many other examples in which Secretaries of State have rejected Select Committee recommendations that, as hindsight has shown, were subsequently proved correct.

Kate Hoey: The Government make their decisions on individual Select Committee reports. Although I do not want to go over old ground, I should make it clear now that I fundamentally disagree with the Select Committee recommendation to which the hon. Gentleman refers—to oppose removing athletics from Wembley. I believe that the original lottery money was provided for a national sports stadium. There is absolutely no doubt that, at some point in the early months of 1999, the national sports stadium project was hijacked by football. The FA and Wembley National Stadium Ltd. hijacked the project and ignored both athletics and the British Olympic Association.

Those bodies were able to do that because at that time we were making a world cup bid. As the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Flook) said, for the first six months to a year in which I was the Minister for Sport, and in the final year of the previous Minister's tenure, the world cup bid hung over everything that was happening in the Department. Absolutely nothing could stop, prevent or

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attack anything to do with our world cup bid. That was the most important sports issue as far as the Government were concerned.

One of my disappointments with the report is that the Select Committee never analysed what went wrong with Wembley. I agree with the Committee that the £120 million should not have been provided so quickly without planning permission. Like all hon. Members, I have sports clubs that have received no lottery grants or only small grants because they have not had planning permission. Nevertheless, Sport England gave £120 million for a plan that had not yet received planning permission. The request succeeded because the plan was about the world cup bid, making it crucial that it succeeded. I would therefore have liked it if the Select Committee had examined the issue.

I know that pressure was put on Sport England to deliver that £120 million, which had to be delivered in time to prepare and submit the bid. It is all very well blaming Sport England and its officials, but it is difficult for anyone when permanent secretaries are ringing up and asking when a lottery bid will go through.

Mr. Banks: May I remind my hon. Friend, who seems occasionally to forget it, that the 2000 World cup bid was dealt with in the Government's 1997 general election manifesto? Carrying out manifesto commitments is a worthwhile objective.

Kate Hoey: I absolutely agree that that was in our manifesto. However, our manifesto also contained many other things. I agree, too, that we want to fulfil our manifesto commitments so far as possible. However, I do not think that we should fulfil one manifesto commitment at the expense of other commitments. We should not override other commitments, take shortcuts or fail to monitor properly. We should not seek to do something very quickly indeed when it is not necessary.

The £120 million was provided for a multi-sports stadium such as the Stade de France, and that is what we should have been building. It then became a football-only stadium, designed to include a platform. We need not go through all the costs of the platform proposal, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) has made it clear that it was nonsense to propose a platform that was a one-off arrangement that would leave no legacy for athletics. It was a sop to athletics and an attempt to get round the fact that WNSL had received £120 million.

We could not go back on that decision because Downing Street did not want it to happen. At that time, no one wanted to go back and say to Sport England, "You have mucked up. This scheme should be returned and you should be redesigning it as a proper national stadium, which is what the lottery grant was for." That could not happen because we could not sacrifice our world cup bid.

Mr. Bryant: I agree with my hon. Friend on her point about athletics being removed from Wembley stadium. However, does she think that the whole £120 million should be returned, or merely the £20 million?

Kate Hoey: I was coming to that. We do not know what the decision on Wembley will be, but the football authorities clearly know that if a national stadium is not built at Wembley they will definitely be legally bound to

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return the £120 million. My view, which I shall continue to proclaim, is that if Wembley ends up being a national football stadium—with some rugby league involvement, although rugby league is enjoying having its games at different places—the whole £120 million must be returned.

Great demands are already being placed on the sports lottery fund. Just recently, Sport England gave £30 million from the sports community lottery fund to ensure the success of the Commonwealth games. We want those games to be a success, but that was an extra £30 million which had not been budgeted for. The decision to give £30 million was split—it was not unanimous. However, £30 million of community funding has now gone to the Commonwealth games. I do not want there to be a football-only stadium without the need to pay back the £120 million. Twickenham was built without public lottery money. Cricket does not get £120 million, so why does football, which is the richest sport? If the stadium is football-only, the entire £120 million must be repaid.

Michael Fabricant: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way to me a second time. I take her point about the £120 million. However, what about the £20 million, which also needs to be repaid? She may be aware from the evidence given to the Select Committee that, on 19 January this year, the former Secretary of State said in a letter that the £20 million might be repaid if Wembley stadium went ahead, and that if the project did not proceed, it would not be repaid. Later, on 5 April, he said that the final payment of the £20 million would be made in December 2004. Later on, the present Secretary of State said that this was being discussed in camera. Can the hon. Lady shed any light on any timetable that might exist for the repayment of the £20 million?

Kate Hoey: I can shed no light on that, other than what is in the formal public documents. I was not involved in any meeting with Ken Bates over the £20 million, thank goodness. That sum should definitely be repaid because that was agreed by the then Secretary of State and Ken Bates, who was supposedly speaking on behalf of football. I am after the rest of the money because I do not see why football should get it.

Our reputation in international sport has been badly damaged by this decision. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury that Picketts Lock had problems, but it could have been made to happen. We gave a commitment, as a country, to host the world athletics championships. We gave that commitment not just at ministerial, Secretary of State or UK athletics level, but as a country, with a letter from the Prime Minister saying that we would provide a wonderful stadium in London for the world athletics championship in 2005. We reneged on that commitment and broke our promise. It has damaged us, because members of the International Amateur Athletics Federation are also involved with the International Olympic Committee.

I sat next to Istvan Gyulai, chief executive of the IAAF, just a few weeks ago at the athletics writers' dinner. I will not repeat the conversation, because it was private, but he told me exactly what had gone on in the meeting with the Minister for Sport and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. I would not repeat in the Chamber the words he used about what happened at that meeting.

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We have let ourselves down badly, although there were problems. We must congratulate the Lee Valley and Enfield council, the local Member of Parliament and all who worked so hard on the basis of commitments and promises. The very least we can do is make sure that the Government reimburse the council for its costs. Despite all their good will, the Government reneged on the commitment.

Our reputation abroad has been badly damaged. It was made even worse by telling this international body that we would be hosting the event in London one minute and then saying the next minute, "No, we would like it to be Sheffield." I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport would not have dreamt of being patronising, but that is how it was taken. There was no understanding of how international sport worked. That has damaged us even more than if we had told the IAAF that we were really sorry but we had messed up and could not do Picketts Lock. In the event, we said that we could not do Picketts Lock, but offered Sheffield instead. Wonderful though Sheffield is, that was nonsense. We have a lot of hard work to do to mend our reputation. I will not go into detail about our bid for the world cup, because that would provoke the wrath of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks).

I have a suggestion for my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton about future Select Committee reports. I am sure that he understands the difficulties regarding the way in which Sport England works. It might be useful to take a strategic look at how the Sports Council works and the lottery spend, taking into account value for money. Even with someone in the Cabinet who is responsible for events, unless we completely change how we run sport in this country, by restructuring and streamlining it, we will never punch at our true weight.

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