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Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): The debate that the hon. Lady mentioned in her opening remarks and to which she has now returned is hardly new. It began in 1964 when Denis Howell was appointed the first Minister responsible for Sport. The question aroseit has never properly been resolvedas to whether the Minister for Sport should exercise executive responsibilities. If the hon. Lady is saying that, she will find a great deal of support for that view, not just in the House of Commons but throughout the sporting world in the United Kingdom.
Kate Hoey: I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The people involved in sport will say that there is no real understanding of how sport works. There is no strategic authority and nobody to carry things through from the top. Sue Mott in The Daily Telegraph wrote eloquently about it recently. She talked about everyone holding a package, passing it to someone who takes a little out of it and passes it on to someone else who does the same; and when the going gets tough, everyone wants to drop it. That is how we run sport. We can never aspire to be an international power in sport or be in touch with the grass roots if we do not look at what we are doing.
In conclusion, the Select Committee has done sport a service by producing this detailed report, although it does not make very appetising reading. Indeed, it makes very sad reading, and we have many lessons to learn.
My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) said something that a number of people have mentioned in the debate. She referred to the rich sport of football. Well, that is true of one part of footballessentially, the premier league, where a lot of money is sloshing around, as we know. However, when we are talking about the development of the national football stadium, we are talking about the Football Association. Although richer than probably any other national sporting body, the FA should not be confused with the premier league. Let us not forget that the FA is responsible for something like 42,000 affiliated clubs, so there is not a vast amount of money sloshing around in the new building at Soho square. We need to differentiate between the FA and the premier league, even though it has a significant say in the FA.
Mr. Banks: No. Nothing that I say in the next few minutes is said with the benefit of hindsight. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) on the Select Committee report. He is right to say that the Select Committee has been consistently right. I have given evidence to the Select Committee on several occasions, and it has been consistently right. We all want to put our own spin or interpretation on those events. When the national stadium was proposed for football, rugby league and athletics, it was clear that the British Olympics Association and UK Athletics would very much have liked a permanent running track there, visible all the time, but that simply was not on.
I sympathise with those who say, "Unless the Government put money in, the Government should stay out of it." That goes as much for Ministers now as when others were sitting in their places. I have enormous regard for my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), and I was always totally loyal to him when he was Secretary of State, but when the deck solution for the national stadium was launched in July 1999, he described it as a stunning design.
Mr. Chris Smith: In fact, at the time of the press conference at which I described the overall scheme as a stunning design, the deck solution was in no sense part of that scheme. The details of the deck solution became evident only subsequently, and I began to have serious doubts about it.
Mr. Banks: My right hon. Friend mentions the detail, but the overall proposal was there. There was no retractible seating or permanent running track, so what did he think we were talking about? What does he think the rest of the world thought when he called it a stunning design?
Mr. Banks: No, hang on a second. I happen to think that the proposal was acceptable, simply because rugby was contributing nothing and athletics, which was also contributing nothing, would want to use the stadium only for the world athletics championships or for the Olympic games, and there was no guarantee that we could get either. So it seemed to me to be perfectly appropriate to bring in something on a temporary basis. There is an argument about how long that proposal would disable the stadium, but it was perfectly acceptable to football. I thought that it was acceptable to my right hon. Friend, and it seemed that that was the way forward, given that we would not have a permanent track or retractible seating there. I shall not keep going over why things have now changed, but we got into all sort of problems as soon as it was decided that the July 1999 design was not acceptable.
There is some confusion about the world athletics championships. I remember when the late Primo Nebioloone of the great barons of world sportwas offered the championships to London. When we were sitting in the Cabinet room in Downing Street, we described the construction of the new Wembley stadium, and he said, "Well, the first event that you can have in it will be the 2003 world athletics championships." I said, "Well, Mr. President, we'll discuss that later." When I discussed it with him later, I found out that he had made exactly the same offer to the French Minister for Sport, Madame Buffet, with the result that she and I had to reach a conclusion, and we decided that London would bid for 2005, rather than 2003 because two cities were going for the 2003 championships.
Mr. Banks: No, I have got to sit downI am very sorry. All I would say is that, if we are to learn something from what has happened, we need Governments to be involved, but Government involvement does not just mean interfering to tell sport what it should be doing. It means getting in there, paying for it and doing it ourselves, and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall. As a Minister, the thing that frustrated meclearly, it frustrated her, toowas the way that we were continually handing over decisions to fractured bodies all over the place, using the so-called arm's-length principle.
I stood at the Dispatch Box and said that I did not agree with the arm's-length principle. If we are to get involved in organising events or in reorganising sport, we have got to do it ourselves, in an executive fashion. In that way, I am more of a Stalinist than a socialist, and stand firmly by that view. If the Government are going to get involved, which they should, and the Select Committee has made several recommendations, the Government must pay. If the Government are not prepared to pay, as the Australian, French, Spanish, Japanese and South Korean Governments have done, they should stay out of it, because all they do is confuse sports.