Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240
TUESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2001
MP, RT HON
MP AND PHILIPPA
240. Other witnesses today have said that it
is written in some sort of stone apparently that you have to have
capital cities now for future bids. I am just saying that other
witnesses have said that. If that is the case, and they say they
got this from the president of the IAAF, is there any purpose
in getting more egg on our face by making the Sheffield bid our
(Tessa Jowell) Over the last 12 years certainlyand
I can give you chapter and verse on this
241. This is subsequent to Edmonton, which was
the last one apparently.
(Tessa Jowell) In 1995 the Games were held in Gothenburg,
in 1997 in Athens, which is a capital city, in 1999 in Seville
and in 2001 in Edmonton. So it is not the case, or it has not
been the case, that the Games have always been held in a capital
city. The IAAF have not to my knowledge said to us that they have
changed policy so that they will now always be held in a capital
city, certainly Sheffield has experience of hosting major sporting
events and major sporting events with a degree of success, which
is why we believe that Sheffield is a viable alternative to Picketts
242. On London sites, did you think about any
of the football stadia like Chelsea? Did you consider the Legal
& General site near Northolt or the chalk pits at Dartford?
(Tessa Jowell) The process of examining London sites
was really done in two stages. First of all, there was, I understand,
a pretty exhaustive scan of London site possibilities before Picketts
Lock was finalised as the venue. Yes, Northolt was looked at.
I cannot off the top of my head tell you whether Chelsea was looked
at, but certainly the advice to me was that all the available
possibilities had been looked at. The Carter team, when Picketts
Lock began to look uncertain, also looked at other London venues
and concluded that the risks associated with them were as great
if not greater than the risks associated with Picketts Lock.
243. Secretary of State, Mr Doran spoke of the
Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU), and I am not necessarily
sure I welcome the decision to subject the decision-making process
to the long grass of the PIU but I suppose it is at least an admission
of failure of Government. Why would the PIU insight change the
basic lack of courtesy shown to UK Sport not to be contacted about
the decision to move the Games from Picketts Lock to Sheffield,
which is what Mr Callicott said earlier this morning?
(Tessa Jowell) If UK Sport feel there has been a lack
of courtesy, I would apologise wholeheartedly to them because
no lack of courtesy was intended. I hope I made clear in relation
to my earlier comments the rationale for focussing the discussion
about moving from the reassessment of Picketts Lock and then identifying
Sheffield as a discussion which focussed on Sport England and
the local partners who were responsible for delivering Picketts
Lock. Nor do I accept that to seek the help of the PIU is an admission
of failure. If every time we ask for advice in order we do things
better it was castigated as an admission of failure, we would
be in a pretty sorry and sad position. I want us to be in a position
to proceed with confidence and certainty in a way which does justice
to the ambitions of our sports men and women up and down the country.
The reason that the PIU review in this area is so relevant is
the weaknesses in project management of big projects, and I think
this ambiguous relationship which needs to be sorted out between
Government and these projects applies not only to sporting projects
but a range of other projects as well. I think it is a good thing
that we are willing to learn and apply that good advice.
244. Now that we have lost all credibility for
those major events, what might be the catalyst or driver to put
anything the PIU say into practice?
(Tessa Jowell) I also do not accept that we have lost
all credibility with these major events. We are looking forward
to hosting the Commonwealth Games next year, we are looking forward
to hosting the World Indoor Athletic Championships after that,
and we have a record of a dozen first-class world events which
have been hosted in the last three years. I do not think you should
talk UK Sport or sport in the UK down by saying we have lost confidence.
I do think that the IAAF and UK sporting bodies are disappointed
and frustrated by this decision but I hope what I have made clear
to this Committee is that I believe it is the right and only decision
to be taken. I hope that in the years to come when we look with
Sport England and UK Sport and UK Athletics at the development
of the Legacy programme, in the event the Games do not go to Sheffield,
in time athletics will recognise that they got something out of
this and that to us is very important indeed.
245. Secretary of State, you said a few moments
ago that Britain should not be in the business of building big
stadia, from which I take it to mean that the Government should
not be in the business of building big stadia and I take it you
mean funding. Last week Mr Sheard in his evidence said, and I
quote, "Britain has actually had a long history of not funding
stadiums whereas most other countries have had a long history
of building stadiums." He went on to explain that virtually
all Continental countries and America and Australia all fund their
stadiums using some form of either local, state or national funding.
Does your comment mean that we can look forward to not having
stadia in this country? Do you think that is right?
(Tessa Jowell) No, absolutely not, and I am glad you
have clarified your earlier point about distinguishing between
Government and Britain. I hope Britain will both refurbish, redevelop
and build new sporting facilities on a number of different scales.
What I hope I have also made clear is that these very big projects
do rely on the support of Government in order to deliver them,
because where you have major rail infrastructure, road infrastructure
or planning issues, then Government cannot stand back from that,
Government has to get engaged. Once a decision has been taken
that the project is to proceed and Government is engaged with
it, public money is put into delivering that infrastructure. So
to suggest that I have said that public money should not go into
these big projects is not the case. To some extent we have to
take a case-by-case position. We have to be quite clear that where
these big projects are approved there is a clear legacy, that
they are in the mainstream, of rather than a diversion from, our
bigger strategy for sport, and that they are not going, by over-spending
and under-performing, to derail or discredit that bigger strategy.
But the role of Government is an important one. There will be
an expectation of public resources, whether from local authorities
or from Government or from the Lottery, in order to make these
projects happen, but what I am quite clear about is that we need
to look at the gross costs rather than the net costs and we need
to be clear that the gross costs can be met and that those who
are responsible for providing the money are signed up to deliver
246. Forgive me, Secretary of State, but if
the Government is to effectively stand back and it is others who
are to fund theseand the evidence was that hardly a stadium
has been built without Government moneyyou have effectively
the Government standing out of that and sport coming as a supplicant
to Government saying, "Here is a lovely idea, we would like
to do this", and then Government says, "Maybe we will,
maybe we will not, yes, we will support you", and you actually
have the fundamental root cause of the whole problem we have gone
through. We either need to take a policy decision that Government
does not want to see these things and we do not try, or we take
a policy decision that Government will lead and be at the forefront
of it, and it is one or the other, we cannot have a middle road.
(Tessa Jowell) No, I do not accept that. I think Government
needs to be alongside these projects. The formulation I have described
is a healthy one. It is Government as the enabler of these projects
and, undeniably, in many cases being the only available funder
for the key infrastructure which makes a stadium or a sporting
venue sustainable. But before these projects are signed off at
the planning stage we have to go much further in ensuring their
deliverability and affordability than has sometimes been the case
in the past.
247. As a Black Country MP I have to ask you
is there any reason our second city should not be the location
for the national stadium? The other thing I want to go on to say
is that I was so pleased to hear you say "strategy led"
because from this morning's discussions, strategy seems to be
missing, particularly with the Legacy programme and world events.
We heard this morning plea after plea from almost every person
who spoke to us that they wanted a leader at Cabinet level preferably,
certainly at political level, to drive things through, so once
a decision has been made to drive it through and make it happen.
Would you consider yourself that person given the problem of interdepartmental
decision-making and you have mentioned yourself health, education,
environmental issues, and how you see that working?
(Tessa Jowell) Yes, I do see myself as the champion
in Cabinet for sport and the development of sport. I have also
indicated that we may well want to look at ways of strengthening
the interdepartmental relationships in order to ensure a degree
of seamlessness and momentum and priority that sport should have.
248. Could I ask you about the second city question
as well? Given what you have just said, why is it that every single
speaker has said that that was lacking? Why has someone to drive
through the decisions been lacking, literally the power to drive
them through? Where would you locate that problem?
(Tessa Jowell) I do not know. I did not hear the earlier
speakers and I do not know what evidence they were drawing on.
We are now where we are. I am Secretary of State for Culture,
Media and Sport, I am responsible in Cabinet for securing the
resources and then driving through the delivery against the criteria
for which the money was given. I am determined we are going to
249. I think a lot of people will be very pleased
to hear you say that. Is there any reason why our second city
should not be the location for the national stadium?
(Tessa Jowell) At the risk of being tedious and trying
the Committee's patience, I have nothing further to add beyond
what I have already said.
250. One very simple question, I understand
your caution but you did say in answer to a question in the last
half an hour or so that if the FA decides it does not want a national
stadium, that is the end of it all. That cannot really be the
case, can it? Surely you should be going to the FA saying, "Please
build a national stadium, we are giving you £100 million
towards it through the Lottery"? Because if you do not, athletics
is fatally doomed forever never to have the Olympic Games because
you would have to build a £300 million stadium to use once
every 20 years. Should you be leaving it to the FA to say, "We
are very happy going to Old Trafford or St James's Park or Riverside"?
Should you not be going to them and saying, "This is in the
interests of the UK and athletics and staging international sporting
(Tessa Jowell) What is clear is that for a national
football stadium to succeed it must have the support of and be
wanted by football; it is football's asset. It is for that reason
I have been absolutely clear that the decision about whether or
not there is a national football stadium is first and foremost
a decision for the FA.
251. Should you not encourage them? Otherwise
we will have no national stadium into which we could put a platform
and will never have a major athletics events.
(Tessa Jowell) I have given in the clearest possible
terms my position about this, and particularly in view of the
sensitivity of the discussions which are currently underway with
the FA I have nothing more to add.
252. For what it is worth, in relation to a
national football stadium probably Cardiff is quite happy for
there not to be one. We are quite happy having everybody coming
down to Cardiff, it is a very good place to be and it is quite
a good capital city as well. I wonder whether you would comment,
Secretary of State, on the comment made earlier by UK Athletics
that Australia, following the Montreal Olympics, made the decision
when they got no Olympic medalsI am not sure if that was
no golds or no Olympic medals at allthat the most important
thing was first of all to spend money on getting their athletes
and their grassroots athletics in place before they contemplated
going into the market of trying to stage enormous events.
(Tessa Jowell) I would be quoting the words of a past
member of your Committee who said that perhaps we should look
to increase the number of athletes who win medals in other people's
stadia rather than increasing the opportunities for people to
win medals in our stadia. I think that is a view with which a
lot of our athletes have a lot of sympathy. I do believe that
the most important thing is to invest in the training, coaching
and facilities that enable our athletes, our sports men and women
generally to become world beaters. When you stand at the top of
the winner's podium, you do not particularly mind which city it
is when you are draped in the Union Jack. I intend to have discussions
with our athletes about precisely these choices, how to get the
balance right, and at the end of November we will be addressing
their conference. I think this is a very important dilemma and
let me be clear with the Committee, for me the risk is this, that
every large stadium that over-runs is many millions of pounds
not being spent on making inner-city football pitches good enough
to play on, providing modern tracks for kids who aspire to be
great athletes, building our coaching programme and investing
in our, if you like, human sporting capital for the future.
253. Or indeed on Fearndale Rugby Football Club,
of which I am patron. One other issue: the announcement you made
at the beginning about the review which is to be made, as I understand
it, it is just about big sporting events, is that right?
(Tessa Jowell) No, it is about big projects.
254. So would you include perhaps Welsh Assembly
buildings being built and Scottish Parliament buildings being
(Tessa Jowell) I think those would be regarded as
Rosemary McKenna: Absolutely!
255. Other arts buildings as well?
(Tessa Jowell) Yes.
Chairman: Thank you very much, Secretary
of State. With the benign spirit of John Maxton hovering over
the Thatcher Room, I declare this session closed. Thank you and
Richard for coming.