Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): As chairman of the all-party London 2012 group, may I add my congratulations to everybody concerned? I want to pay tribute to two people who have not been mentioned so far. A special tribute should be paid to Mike Lee, the communications director, who has done an astonishing job on little money, and whose contribution has been extraordinary. Alan Pascoe, another former Olympic medallist, has also done an extraordinary job. The team of past and present Olympic medallists have done a fantastic job in wearing the Union jack with pride. Today's vote was rather like a general election, and we have been rather good at those of late.
I want to ask three questions. First, could specialist sports schools become specialist Olympics sport schools, so that they can act as the hub for the Olympics in their communities and be used as the spoke from which we can build outwards, as that is what we need?
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Secondly, for those of us who remember the celebration of the millennium, when there were more than 300,000 people in Hyde park and The Mall, would it not be wonderful to have an opening ceremony that set the 21st century alight, not just in the stadium but across Londonand a party too? That would be the spirit in which we could ignite a party, and all Olympic cities could share in the opening night. That would be fantastic.
Finally, will my right hon. Friend bear it in mind that, when de Coubertin set up the Olympics, there were gold medals for music, art and poetry? That is something that we could redefine. If we can have Nobel prizes for literature, we can also bring back the spirit of art, music and poetry to the games for the 21st century.
Mr. Straw: I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Derek Wyatt) for what he said. He is right to pay tribute to Mike Lee and Alan Pascoe. I have seen their work myself. I shall make sure that his first suggestion is actively considered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, and the other two suggestions by Lord Coe's committee.
Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con): As the Member of Parliament for an area that I believe and hope will materially benefit from the successful bid, may I ask the Foreign Secretary to pass my congratulations, and those of my constituents and the borough, to Lord Coe, our noble Friend, of whom we are very proud today? We congratulate him and all his team on their fantastic efforts in turning round what was once perceived as a bid with no hope into a bid that has won the day. I also remind the House that David Beckham was educated in my constituency, so it was clearly Chingford wot done it.
Will the Foreign Secretary ask the Prime Minister, whom we also congratulate, to come to the House immediately next week to make a statement, so that we can discuss fully exactly what happened when he met President Chirac at the G8? It is important to get that on the record. In the meantime, will the right hon. Gentleman pass on our congratulations on a fantastic bid?
Mr. Straw: I know Chingford well, as I was brought up just across Epping Forest, and the right hon. Gentleman and I are probably alone in resenting the slights on the heroes of Chingford, including David Beckham, whose skills are a testament to the education that he received. All the effort helped, including the effort that he put in. May I also say that President Chirac of France was magnanimous in what he said when he arrived at Gleneagles, in congratulation for Britain's and London's success. I hope that, as the Prime Minister has said, we would have been magnanimous had we, as many of us expected, been in the reverse situation.
Jim Dowd (Lewisham, West) (Lab):
I endorse what my right hon. Friend has said and congratulate everybody
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involved in the bid. I ask him to pay particular regard to the role of Ken Livingstone and the Greater London authority. It just shows what happens when we give someone a proper job to do. I also remind him that Transport for London has done much of the work in devising schemes for introducing the infrastructure that will make the games such a success. Although the priority now is to ensure that, between now and 2012, we put everything in place for what I am sure will be the greatest games on earth, during that time, we should also ensure that we maximise the benefits for the rest of the country from the games, and more particularly the benefits for the community and the country as a whole long after the Olympics have gone.
Mr. Straw: I am happy to pay tribute, as I did in my statement, to Ken Livingstone and Transport for London. Another aspect of the bid, which is important to all of us, is the way in which it reaches out beyond London. I mentioned in my opening statement that certain citiesthe Dorset port of Weymouth, for examplewill participate directly in the games, as major activities will be based there. However, we want the whole country to benefit from the running of the games, as in the provision of practice facilities, which do not have to be in London. Indeed, in many cases, it would be better if they were not. We have discussed with the organisers over many months how even some of the physical facilities could be transferred to other parts of the country. A great deal of thought and effort is being devoted to that.
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): May I, on behalf of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, congratulate those who worked so hard to do a difficult but fine job? We are all grateful to them. This is not the time to say other things, but I would like to ask the Foreign Secretary to take a leaf out of the Bible. In paradise there was a river that went into four heads, which together watered the whole earth. He made it clear in his statement that he does not intend to bring any of this good watershould I say holy waterto Northern Ireland. I hope that when we get to the Olympic year, Northern Ireland will be included and not left out, for this kingdom owes a lot to the people of Northern Ireland.
Mr. Straw: It does, indeed, Mr. Speaker, but the hon. Gentleman would be the first to say that we live in the United Kingdom and that we are all part of the whole, even though a small part of the territory is divided by some water from the rest. We won because of the immense enthusiasm of people across the United Kingdom. Let me say that we are very grateful for the enthusiasm that people in Northern Ireland have shown. I will also personally ensure that Lord Coe is made fully aware of the need for direct participation, if it is possible to achieve it, by people in the towns and cities of Northern Ireland.
Mr. Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab):
I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement and wholeheartedly endorse the tributes that he rightly paid to all those responsible for delivering this magnificent result. It is a result that will be welcomed not just in areas such as my own that will host a number
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of Olympic events in 2012, but throughout the whole country. My right hon. Friend rightly focused on the importance of London's bid for regenerating an area in east and south-east London that has suffered disproportionately from unemployment and poverty. It is indeed important to seize those opportunities. I put it to him that it will be essential, in the creation of the many jobs that will result from our success, that every effort is made to secure employment and training opportunities for young people who are currently without a job in those areas. That will maximise the regeneration benefits.
Mr. Straw: I agree with what my right hon. Friend says. Sometimes in the past, infrastructural activities have employed many people, but not many local people. That was one of the criticisms made of early 1980s activity in Docklands, which was later righted. I hope and believe that the new authority as well as the organising committee will pay particular attention to the need to provide opportunities for local people.
Angela Watkinson (Upminster) (Con): As an outer-London MP, I look forward to and hope to see improvements to sporting facilities in some of the schools and clubs in my constituency, which should aid job creation in the construction and leisure industry. ButI am sure that the Foreign Secretary could hear the "but" creeping up on himthe Crossrail route conflicts with the London Olympic site at Pudding Mill lane. Does the successful bid mean that Crossrail is going to hit the buffers?
Mr. Straw: I shall have to invite my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport to comment in detail about that. I do not think so, but a Bill will be published shortly and there will be every opportunity to consider the matter in the House.