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14 Jan 2003 : Column 648—continued

Mr. Reed: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Moss: I am afraid that I do not have enough time.

On costings, a number of contributors, including the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), alluded to the underestimates, as they described them, of the Arup report. The question is: why does such a large discrepancy exist between the figures from Ove Arup and those from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport? On the one hand, it is #1.8 billion, while on the other, it is #4.5 billion to #5 billion. It is pertinent to ask the Minister to clarify which model is being used in the calculation, particularly in his Department. Are we comparing like with like in this instance? Why should we give greater credence to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's figures, which are worked up by civil servants with little or no experience in analysis of this kind? Given that only a few weeks remain before a decision is taken, it is imperative that we have figures that are universally accepted as accurate.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale said, it is now time for the Government to make up their mind. It seems inconceivable to the Opposition that the Government could turn down this opportunity, given the case made in this debate alone in relation to regeneration in London, the economy as a whole, future tourism, the country's pride in its sporting achievements, the knock-on effects in terms of sport infrastructure and facilities, and the health and well-being of the nation as a whole. We want the Government's decision to be yes, and we want the full weight of Government, right up to the steps of No. 10 Downing street, to be thrown behind a bid. We believe that we can win, and if we believe that, we will win.

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7.2 pm

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): First, I want to thank the 17 Members who have contributed to the debate this afternoon. It has been an excellent debate, and we can infer from the interventions that have been made that a consensus exists to move forward, which will be taken into account by the Cabinet in making the decision.

Some of the comments made in the House this afternoon have been unfortunate, as we are genuinely trying to make sure that the we engage the House properly in the decision-making process on a serious matter that will have an impact for the next decade. If the Cabinet agree to go forward, and our bid is successful, it will concentrate a lot of minds and involve a lot of expense, and I hope that there will be a degree of unity in the House to support that. I genuinely welcome the contribution of the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), who said that he would be very supportive and called for the whole House, the population outside and the media to get behind the bid, if the decision is taken to make it.

That is why I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). It is about time we changed the way we make these major decisions: not by having a fancy dress parade around the country, but by having serious dialogue and discussion. If we had done that in relation to many major projects in the past, some very expensive mistakes, which have been made by Administrations of both parties, would not have been made. When we say that we are strategy driven, not events driven, it is important that we mean it. What has become clear to my right hon. Friend the Secretary and State and me as we have visited many of the cities that have staged the games is that an exit strategy must be in place. Consequently, when the games are finished—they all finish on a high—the infrastructure can be used in a sustainable way for sport or other activities, thereby providing added value. That is what the debate is all about. It will feed into further discussions, as we said in the PIU report, because the Olympic games are the mega-event.

Let me say at the outset that although people have tried to undermine the Department, it has used its power to engage in a partnership. I want to thank the British Olympic Association and the Mayor's office for coming together to fund the first cost-benefit analysis—the Arup report—which has formed the basis of our debate. Indeed, we have gone further than that. We have again engaged the BOA and the Mayor's office to discuss the differences in the figures. They are with their professionals at the moment working out the differences and ensuring that the terms and costs that go to the Cabinet represent a shared view of the tripartite.

I can go further than that and make an offer: the official Opposition spokesmen can see the Arup report and how we evaluated the figures. If we are to move in partnership and bat for UK Ltd., we all have to understand our approach. Unfortunately, one or two hon. Members made glib remarks. We could all do that, but we are trying to act in a partnership, within the terms of the modernisation of the House, so that we act in unison for UK Ltd.

We have held discussions with the IOC and its new president, Jacques Rogge. He is an extremely honourable man and it is clear that he wants to

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modernise the Olympic movement. As my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) said, he has returned to its fundamental principles. The president wants to remove the tarnished image of the Olympics. I hope that with our support he will be successful. Part of the modernisation is to make the games manageable so that most countries can run them. What Jacques Rogge is doing is right and I hope that his efforts will yield results by 2005, when the bid is made.

As I cannot address all the issues raised, I shall cover the main points. On the cost, no modern Olympics has taken place without a subsidy by the host country except the Los Angeles games, which came on the back of the Montreal games. The Los Angeles games used existing facilities and little capital. However, they received a heavy subsidy from the IOC, which wanted to ensure that the games after Montreal did not go into bankruptcy and again bring the IOC and the movement into disrepute. So every Olympic games except Los Angeles has received a state subsidy.

We are working through the broad figures with the BOA and the Mayor's office in a constructive way. It is Arup's view that the games will cost #3.6 billion and that the revenue will be #2.5 billion. That leaves a subsidy of #1.1 billion. As a result of the uncertainty over the 10 years, we have revisited the figures in a realistic, not a destructive, way. We have gained experience from the dome, Wembley, Picketts Lock and Manchester. We could also put Silverstone into the pot. Hon. Members who said that the civil servants in my Department do not have the necessary skills should retract that allegation. My civil servants are very skilful in such matters. We have taken their advice and revisited the figures to ensure that the Cabinet is given sound information. Our officials have worked out that the games would need a subsidy of #2.5 billion. We are working through that with the BOA, which challenged the figures to some extent, and I hope that we will agree a position that we can present to the Cabinet.

It is not for the BOA or the Government to decide the size of the stadium. That is a matter for the IOC and it is one thing that Jacques Rogge will investigate. There was some discussion at the last bidding process about whether we needed an 80,000 seater stadium. It is debatable, but we will see what happens. We will bid according to criteria laid down by the IOC.

Those who say that Wembley could be used for the Olympics are not taking into consideration the extent of the games. The Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world, and they could not take place at Wembley, even if we wanted them to, simply because the area could not accommodate the athletes. We must remember that these are the finest athletes in the world, so we could not stick them on the tube and tell them to get over to Wembley from accommodation that may be 20 miles away across London.

The aim of the Olympic park is to bring together the facilities so that the best athletes in the world have access to them, with minimum disruption, and can perform at the highest standard. Anyone who thinks that we can build an Olympic village in Wembley is wrong. We have considered that, and I think that it would be extremely difficult even to put a warm-up track around Wembley.

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We must consider the size of the Olympics and what it entails. Apart from the number of athletes, there are 20-odd events, perhaps more.

Mr. Banks: More like 30-odd.

Mr. Caborn: That is right. There were 17 events in the Commonwealth games, which was one of the largest Commonwealth games ever run.

I turn now to the questions asked by the hon. Member for Ryedale about the opinion poll. The results of that have been given to the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, so that the Committee can consider them tomorrow. They show that 73 per cent. of respondents are in favour of the games, and that result is for people who were asked about the costs. In fact, about 81 per cent. of people support the bid, and I hope that people will consider that figure. Regional analysis of the poll results has been undertaken.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton asked about the project costs. I know that the Select Committee has gone through Arup's costings, and I hope that when its report is completed, it will give us a view on Arup's realistic assessment. Tomorrow we will present the Committee with evidence about the development of facilities that is needed, and we will try to answer questions on transportation.

Departments are still in the process of realistically considering the potential problems and cost implications raised by Arup. We will work through those and make sure that the Cabinet has the necessary information when it comes to make a decision. That is the job of the DCMS, as the lead Department for sport, and nobody can say that the Secretary of State has not championed sport in the quest to host the Olympics.

As the lead Department, we also have a wider responsibility to the Government. It is our job to co-ordinate the partnership, outside the Government, with the BOA and the Mayor's department, and to try to convince our colleagues within the Government. Sometimes that takes a little quiet diplomacy and a little persuasion, and sometimes matters are better kept out of the press. I hope that when push comes to shove, the press will be behind us all the way, as I know that the Secretary of State will be behind us, all the way.

I say to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) that I, too, am wearing a tie. Mine is from Sapporo in Japan, where England beat Argentina. We both boast sporting ties this evening, but mine is more successful than his—at least we beat Argentina in Sapporo. I welcomed the hon. Gentleman's remarks, and I hope that the Liberal Democrats, including those in local authorities, will remain consistent.

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