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14 Jan 2003 : Column 612—continued

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Tessa Jowell: I am going to draw my remarks to a close.

It is obviously in the interests of the IOC to have as many high-quality bids as possible. Nevertheless, I welcome the encouraging remarks made by Jacques Rogge, its president, and look forward to meeting him

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in Lausanne on Friday. However, as he says, any London bid will face very stiff opposition. We can expect New York, Paris, Moscow, Toronto, a Spanish city, a German city, possibly a city in South America and others to throw their hats into the ring. Paris and Toronto have both made recent bids. Athens and Beijing both failed with bids before they subsequently won. No matter how good the London bid is technically, we must acknowledge that winning will be difficult. Our bid will have to be highly convincing. It will have to be well organised and professionally run, it will need dedication and hard work and it will cost a substantial amount.

The final decision by the IOC will take place in July 2005. In the intervening years, we will have to show that our proposals are sound, fully funded, protected against risk and capable of being delivered on time. We would be up against cities that, in some cases, will have much more of the necessary infrastructure in place. We are also advised that we would have to demonstrate our commitment by beginning key elements of the work well in advance of the 2005 vote. We would have to begin land assembly, as well as construction of at least one key venue and probably a 50 m pool for the aquatic centre. In all, we would expect to have to incur costs of more than #200 million even before the vote took place.

London is a great city, however. It is truly a world city, the match of any likely competition. None of the competitor cities has a unique winning proposition. Although winnability is a tough test, London remains a force to be reckoned with.

In conclusion, affordability, deliverability, legacy and winnability are the key tests. We know that people love the Olympics and that they are stirred by the prospect of people coming to Britain. Our poll of public opinion, the details of which will be released to the Select Committee tomorrow, suggests that 75 per cent. of people in this country are in favour of the games coming to London, and by and large believe that expenditure on health, education and transport are all more important.

Kate Hoey: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Tessa Jowell: We know that it would be wrong to waste money on an expensive bid if we had little chance of winning. We know that a commitment to the Olympics must boost regeneration to the east of London and must not hold it back. We know that a commitment to the Olympics must fit with a broader strategy for sport and not be at the expense of the rest of sport. And we know that a commitment to a London Olympics must not starve the rest of the country of the resources that it needs to develop sport or divert much needed resources from other key priorities.

This is an important decision, and the arguments are finely balanced, which is why before reaching a conclusion the Government are examining with such rigour and such care the extent of the liability that would fall on them. The Government are genuinely open minded, and I look forward to the opportunity to hear the views of right hon. and hon. Members throughout the House.

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4.46 pm

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): I begin by reminding the House of my entry in the Register of Members' Interests.

Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham): What has that got to do with this?

Mr. Greenway: I am not sure that it has anything to do with this, but it is important to remind hon. Members that we have a wider experience than just politics.

This debate is very welcome and also very timely. It really is Xmake your mind up time". I note that the Secretary of State has made it clear that the Government intend to reach a decision by the end of January. We want that decision to be XYes". There is no time left for any further prevarication.

My hon. Friend the Shadow Culture Secretary, the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale), is currently in Standing Committee on the Communications Bill, and so is unable to be here for this important debate.

Mr. Banks: This is the hon. Gentleman's big chance.

Mr. Greenway: I have had other big chances before. I like to think that they have at least maintained my position. I have been doing this job for almost three years, and that speaks for itself. With no disrespect for the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) or the right hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), I am still in my job.

On 6 August, the day after the conclusion of the Commonwealth games, I issued a press release which included the following statement:

We had twice supported an Olympics bid for Manchester and then the Commonwealth games bid, which was a huge success. I will not go into party political semantics as to who was responsible for that success; I make the point simply to say that our support for this bid is not opportunistic. It is part of a pattern of support which we showed when in office.

Since August my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has made it abundantly clear that the Conservative party supports a London bid for the 2012 Olympics. I hope that this debate will equally convince the Government that the prize of a successful bid to stage the 2012 Olympics is so great that they should throw the full weight of the Government behind the bid and work with the British Olympic Association to secure the games for London.

The public have every reason to expect support. I found in my cupboard a copy of Labour's Sporting Nation, the Labour sports policy document published early in 1997, which I think was written by Lord Pendry, for whom I have the greatest respect. It is not what he said that I wish to quote; it is what the Prime Minister said:

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That is my first quote—I shall use more later.

The Arup report concluded that if all levels of government and other agencies are committed to a common proposal, the potential advantages of the 2012 games centred on the lower Lea valley could be developed into a world-beating bid. We see no reason to doubt the wisdom of that conclusion or to challenge the BOA assessment that a UK bid based in any other city would be unlikely to succeed. A London-based bid, however, has an excellent prospect of success if, as seems likely, the International Olympic Committee decides that under rotation the games should return to a European venue in 2012. The Secretary of State is right—it is not an exact science, but that is the current indication.

The Minister for Sport, in an interview in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, said:

The case for sport is indeed overwhelming and has been well documented in both the summary of the Arup report published by Ministers and the BOA briefing for our debate.

I should like to emphasise four points. A successful bid would secure significant benefits for elite sports, with Team GB greatly increasing its medal haul, as other host nations have traditionally done so; create a lasting legacy of coaching and sports infrastructure, with 100 training venues throughout the UK, including refurbished school gyms, leisure centres and community facilities; create a legacy of encouragement and motivation so that more young people will take part in sport—for me, that is one of the most important reasons to support a bid; and secure the right to host the Paralympics, in which we lead the world—a not insignificant opportunity.

Mr. Hawkins: I strongly support what my hon. Friend is saying in my capacity as the deputy chairman of the all-party group on sport and leisure. However, does he agree that in her amazingly downbeat reading of her solemn brief the Secretary of State showed no enthusiasm for this matter and overlooked the clear evidence, starting in Los Angeles, of profitable gains to be made from the games, which The Daily Telegraph has highlighted in its very good campaign for a London bid for 2012. Back in 1984, Peter Uberroth made a profit of #260 million for sport, and $6 billion was generated through long-term advances in the tourism industry. Should we not be talking about that legacy when we look at making a bid?

Mr. Greenway: I am grateful to my hon. Friend and will make three points in response. First, we cannot always repeat the experience of others—we have to make a hard-headed assessment of the position in London. I shall return to that point in a moment. However, my hon. Friend is right that a huge public subsidy is not necessarily needed if the games are organised correctly.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr. Greenway: I want to respond to my hon. Friend and make two further points.

Secondly, The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers have, we hope, run a successful campaign and have

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certainly made the argument for holding the games here. Thirdly, this debate is an occasion on which we ought to try to have as much unity in the House as possible, so I will not overindulge in the opportunities that have presented themselves to me, save to say that at the end of the right hon. Lady's speech, I felt that we had reached half-time with a stalemate nil-nil draw. I hope that we can move on and put some balls in the net.

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