Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Walker: Are not hospitality packages another touting problem? A ticket with a face value of £50 can be sold on with a rather grotty lunch attached for £750. Is that not a form of touting for which we need to watch out?

Mr. Foster: There are many examples. Hon. Members know of people paying large sums for a towel and getting a free ticket to an event thrown in. I know that the Government have been considering ticket touting seriously, but I hope that the time will soon come when we debate ways in which to prevent not only ticket touting for the Olympic games but all other forms of touting.

Mrs. May: Given the outlawing of ticket touting, does the hon. Gentleman agree that there should be suitable arrangements for the resale back to the Olympic authorities of tickets that people are, for practical reasons, unable to use? People need to be able to sell those tickets on, so that other people who wish to visit the games have a genuine opportunity to do so.

Mr. Foster: The right hon. Lady is absolutely right. I should like to reflect, in passing, that if some of the events organisers who complain about ticket touting were to establish more effective operations to enable the official resale of tickets for people who, perhaps through illness, are unable to use them, some of these problems could be resolved. Stopping ticket touting, especially in this internet age, requires far more than that, however. I am delighted that there are tough measures in the Bill, but I hope that they will go wider and address the issue raised by the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr. Walker), for example.

I have already mentioned the fact that the role of the RDAs appears to be somewhat restricted, and I hope that we shall have the opportunity to address that. I would like the Minister to answer at least one of the questions put by the right hon. Member for Maidenhead. Yes, the Olympic development authority is to produce an annual report and give it to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State will ensure
21 Jul 2005 : Column 1456
that it is available to Parliament. That is welcome, and I hope that the same will apply to the annual report of the Comptroller and Auditor General into those accounts. However, I entirely support the right hon. Lady's call not only for the report to be made available to Parliament but for an annual debate to be held in Government time on the subject.

Given this country's proud record of being almost the founders of the Paralympic games, I hope that we shall always ensure that whenever we talk about the Olympic games, the Paralympics will be given equal importance. In that respect, is it not somewhat strange that while the Bill refers explicitly to the need to comply with the Race Relations Act 1976, there is no similarly explicit requirement to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995? I hope that that omission will be remedied.

In the run-up to the bid, huge numbers of people across the country gave their support. Now we have succeeded, and we celebrate that. We praise all those involved in ensuring that success. We recognise, however, that we have but seven short years in which to deliver the commitment that we made to provide the best games ever. The Bill forms part of the necessary procedures that will ensure that we do that. I can assure the Minister, his Secretary of State and the House that we will give our full support to the Bill, notwithstanding that there are areas in which we believe that it could be improved. We will continue to provide our support over the next seven years to those working on every aspect of the preparations for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, and, as a starter for 10, we will certainly support the Bill.

2.38 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): I am pleased to take part in this debate on what will obviously be a massive event for London and for the whole country. I strongly endorse the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown), in which she pointed out that this will be a great event that is to be celebrated and welcomed, and that, above all, the basis of the bid was the regeneration of an impoverished part of north and east London. We must ensure that the games provide that regeneration, which will help the poorest people in that community, and that that assistance carries on after the games. We do not want to see the removal of the poor people of London to make way for the Olympic sites and all that goes with them, as has happened in other cities. The example of Barcelona is interesting, because that city managed to ensure that there was a huge social development spin-off from its games.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham mentioned employment opportunities. My borough borders the City of London, hers borders Canary Wharf, and Hackney borders both, as does Tower Hamlets. We have not seen an enormous number of jobs in the City or in Canary Wharf being made available to people in the surrounding boroughs. Instead, large numbers of people come in to fulfil those functions in both those places. I hope that the Olympic experience will not simply be the shipping of more people from further and further away and more commuter jobs, but that the chronic unemployment in that part of north and east London will be tackled.
21 Jul 2005 : Column 1457

As a proud London MP, I hope that those things will come to pass, that London as a whole will benefit from the games, and particularly that the terrible housing crisis that faces the poor people of London, with more than 250,000 on waiting lists, will in some sense be alleviated by the construction of the Olympic village, and that it will be housing for affordable rent.

Meg Hillier : Does my hon. Friend agree that it is great news that the London Development Agency is setting up a business support and job brokerage unit, with people appointed by Christmas, to make sure that the concerns that he, I and other Members share are fully addressed?

Jeremy Corbyn: I agree with my hon. Friend on that point. The London Development Agency, the Mayor and the Minister will have to be assiduous not just in ensuring that all the Olympic facilities are developed, which is crucial, but that all the spin-offs go where they are intended to go. We told the world that our bid was on behalf of a multi-cultural city of London, and that it was about regeneration of a poor part of our city. We must deliver not just on the glittering stadium but on all the other things, too.

As a London MP, I also have a lot of sympathy with points made by colleagues from other parts of the country. While the games will obviously be held in London, and the major construction work will take place in London, we must ensure that the construction materials, prefabrication of buildings and so on are sourced from British-based companies operating in areas of high unemployment and problems, so that there is a real spin-off all around the country. As someone who grew up outside London, in the midlands, I can imagine people feeling, "Here we go again. London is getting everything and the rest of the country is not benefiting." I am sure that the Minister is well aware of that, and it is up to Members of Parliament to ensure that their areas do benefit.

I want to raise some specific items, and I hope that the Minister will reply to them. London's transport infrastructure was a problem area for the bid, particularly in comparison with that of Paris. The Mayor is well aware, as is the Secretary of State, of the need for huge improvements in the underground and bus networks and such tram networks as will have been developed by that time. Crossrail will not have been completed by that time, so it will not have much effect.

North and east London have a considerable network of railway lines. I am glad that they are no longer under threat of closure, as they were in the dark days when the Conservative party was in government, but rather have benefited from increased investment and increased usage, which is very welcome. I want the Minister to address the issue of the East London line, however. At the moment, the East London line extension, which has been approved, goes only as far as Dalston, whereas if it could be included in the Olympic development plan it could go through to Clapham junction, which would link up with facilities in south London that are to be used as part of the Olympic games. If it could be extended from Dalston junction to Highbury and Islington, it would link up with the Victoria line, and the
21 Jul 2005 : Column 1458
spur off to Finsbury Park would link it up to the east coast main line. A direct tube network would therefore link east coast main line trains either at King's Cross or stopping at Finsbury Park to go straight into the Olympic area. Such a short extension of the line would not be horrendously expensive, but it would be a valuable link within the rest of the London network. I have pressed that case on the Mayor and the Secretary of State, and such an approach seems highly logical at this stage.

My other points relate to the creation of facilities around London that can be used to assist the Olympic games development. There is a shortage of swimming pools across London. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) will know that there is a splendid baths facility in Hornsey road in Islington, which was used as a training centre for the 1948 Olympics. Sadly, the baths have been closed, and a succession of developers has failed to develop the site. However, the building is still there, and more discussions are being held about it. The Hornsey road facility is the only 50 m pool in north London. We will need pools of that size for training purposes, and I urge the Minister to join me on a 91 bus trip to have a look at the baths together. I am sure that he will be bowled over and open his cheque book immediately to ensure the development of Hornsey road baths as a sports facility once again.

Earlier, I asked the Secretary of State about local communities. A considerable artistic and creative community exists around Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets and the Olympic area in general. That is partly due to economic factors, as the rent for artists' studios and creative space there has always been relatively cheap, compared with the rest of London. I suppose that that is reminiscent of Hampstead in the 1940s and 1950s, since when the many artists who used to live there have been priced out.

Artists, sculptors and people of a creative bent make up an important part of London life. It would not be a good Olympic legacy if they were all to be expelled from their low-cost facilities to make way for the games. I hope that the relevant authorities and the Mayor will remember that part of London's creativity stems from all the art and artists that areas such as north-east London supply. I hope that real efforts are made to protect the conditions for artists and ensure that buildings removed to make way for Olympic sports facilities are replaced with equally cheap and accessible places for such people. In that way, we can maintain the wonderful ethnic and artistic diversity that is London. Most artists subsist on less than £8,000 a year, and so obviously have little chance of renting a studio in an expensive venue.

My final general point is more global than local. It has to do with the conditions under which much sports equipment, such as shirts and clothing, is manufactured around the world. The sweatshop mentality behind the production of high street brand names can be traced back to child labour and sweated labour in south Asia, Indonesia and many other countries. There are serious campaigns demanding that the equipment and clothing that will be bought and used are manufactured on an ethical basis. I hope that the Secretary of State and the Olympic authorities will take those campaigns seriously. These games are about diversity, equality, fairness and
21 Jul 2005 : Column 1459
accessibility, and the Government must ensure that all the clothing that is licensed and used comes from ethically sustainable sources. The equipment and clothing that is available should be manufactured in places that do not use sweated labour or employ workers in dangerous working conditions. Such items should be put together in places that have good employment practices and where unions are recognised and workers have rights—all the things that we want for ourselves.

Next Section IndexHome Page