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Mr. Straw: I accept what my hon. Friend says. Many hon. Members have sports specialist colleges in our constituencies, and those institutions have raised sports standards and educational standards as a whole. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills will be looking at further ways in which we can make use of the Olympic opportunity to raise sporting standards across the country.
Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): I welcome the Foreign Secretary's comment that the games are not just for London, but what plans do the Government have for Shropshire? Lilleshall national sports centre is in my constituency, and the right hon. Gentleman will know that it is accredited by the British Olympic Association. I know that he listed Birmingham in his statement, but I encourage him to re-examine what he said, as I think that he overlooked Shropshire.
Mr. Straw: I am sure that I overlooked Shropshire. The centre will be used, but I am sorry that I cannot give specific details. I said earlier that all sorts of facilitiesnot only those that I mentionedwill be used as practice facilities at the time of the games and beyond.
Mr. Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab):
May I join my right hon. Friend in thanking all those who have worked so hard to ensure that we were successful in our bid for the games, especially my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport? I also thank my right hon. Friend for mentioning that other cities would be involved in the bid and may I offer him the city of Birmingham, especially my constituency of Perry Barr where we have the Alexander stadium, the high
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performance centre, the Beeches pool and the Perry Beeches school, four lots of playing fields, and Great Barr and Handsworth leisure centres, to ensure that the bid is a truly national bid?
Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex) (Con): In the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May), I am inspired to jump higher and leap further by this news. May I ask the Foreign Secretary to pass my warmest congratulations to Lord Coe? I am not in the least surprised, because he was my Parliamentary Private Secretary for two years. May I press on the Foreign Secretary the extensive equestrian arrangements in Mid-Sussex? As everybody else has asked for the Olympics to come to their constituency, I had better ensure that they come to mine.
Mr. Straw: I thought for one moment that the hon. Gentleman was about to offer to participate in one of the sports, without the use of a horse. I will of course ensure that his proposal is passed on to his former PPS.
Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his luck in being in the right place at the right time to make probably the easiest statement that any Minister has ever had to make? Some people may still harbour doubts about the bid. Some doubted whether we would win, but those who doubted that we should bid have been proven wrong. I was with 500 children from schools in Greenwich to hear the result announced and anyone who harboured doubts needed only to look at the expressions on their faces when the result came through to know what winning meant to them.
May I put down a marker? Up and down the country a community of people are involved in voluntary and not-for-profit organisations delivering sport to young people. They could become an army of ambassadors on behalf of the 2012 Olympics by encouraging participation in sport for all ages. When we put together our strategy for 2012, let us not forget those people.
Mr. Straw: My hon. Friend is right. As I said in my statement, one of many reasons why our bid won was the way in which it sought to reach out to young people beyond those who aspire to take part formally in the games, to encourage participation in sporting activity and exercise by many more young people and, for those not taking part in physical activity, to encourage volunteering and a sense of giving to other people in society. These games should make a big difference to that.
Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD):
Does the Foreign Secretary accept that the real enthusiasm of many of my constituentsI represent another sporting mecca in south-west Londonis tempered by some anxiety about costs escalating completely out of control as they did in Athens and at earlier games? When he said that the games would be delivered on time and within
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budget, was he confirming that the Government were planning that the costs would not rise above the £4.9 billion agreed?
Mr. Straw: I do not wish to disparage what Athens did, because the games were run successfully, but there are many differences between the offer that the Athens Olympics committee made and the offer that London made and in the basic infrastructure that each city started with. We have had experience of running if not games of this size, events such as the Commonwealth games. I was directly involved in much of that, as I have been in some of the planning for this bid. I cannot say for absolute certain whether the works will be completed on budget. They have to be completed on timelet us be clear about that; it is an absolute imperativebut the financial systems that are being put in place will be robust, as has been the planning that has already been done. I say again that I hope that the House, in its euphoria and enthusiasm for the bid, does not fall down on its responsibility properly to scrutinise the Bill, and that both sides of the House ensure that while there is no interference in the work of the organising committee and the authority, there is effective accountability of both those bodies.
Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): The Rhondda is a long way from the east end of London, but many youngsters swimming with the Rhondda swimming team at Ystrad baths and in Bronwydd will be excited at the prospect that they may be competing in the east end of London in 2012. In particular, the grandson of Alec Jones, one of my predecessors, hopes to take part as a triathlete, so there is a sense of excitement. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that one of the most important elements of the bid, which has not yet been mentioned much, was the Paralympic bid, and that Britain brought something important to the Olympic movement when it brought the Paralympics on board? Will he ensure that it remains important all the way through our success?
Kali Mountford (Colne Valley) (Lab): Just as the joy and pride extends from London to the rest of the country, so the benefits should flow equally. My right hon. Friend has pointed out the training benefits and other Members have looked at how contracts can be won to benefit their constituencies. Will my right hon. Friend also look across Government at ways in which we can promote all the great British talents? I can indicate some in Yorkshire, especially in technology, science, design, textiles and the marvellous Yorkshire food that could be promoted by this opportunity.
Yes. We could put in a bid for only one place and that was London, although earlier bids went in from Manchester. We all had to get behind London. I had a direct Government interest in the Manchester Commonwealth games four years ago as well as an interest as a constituency Member of Parliament representing Blackburn, just 30 miles away. Among many other things, what was great about the
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Commonwealth games in Manchester was the support we received from the rest of the country. Specific and tangible benefits will flow elsewhere, but we should be joyous about the fact that the games will come to the capital of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the UK has produced a number of world champions in the sport of gliding and that were the British Olympic organising committee to decide on gliding as the new sport rather than golf, as has been suggested, South Norfolk, which contains the largest glider airfield in the country would be a very good place to do it?
Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe) (Lab): I give a total welcome to our successful bid, but may I ask my right hon. Friend to give two assurances? The first is that the resources and finance for the games will not be found at the expense of community sporting facilities and activities up and down the country, but rather that the games will be used as a basis to enhance community sport and the fight against obesity. The second is that resources will not be diverted from sporting facilities and activities in the regions. As my right hon. Friend has already said, the regions will benefit from the games, not least my city of Sheffield, with its magnificent sporting facilities, which, although they will not stage any of the events, stand ready to host one of the major training camps that will be held before the games.
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