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Jeremy Corbyn: I am indeed aware of that campaign. It is one of the factors that caused me to discuss the matter. I support Oxfam's campaign, and I hope that it is accepted as part of the basic requirements for the games. We can make these games very different from what has gone before. They can be advantageous for London and the country as a whole, but we must work very hard to ensure that they are.
The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) spoke about accessibility, and I agree with him. It is right that the Bill should refer to the race relations legislation, but why on earth does the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 not appear on the face of the Bill? I assume that that is merely an oversight, as the hon. Gentleman said, and that all games facilities will be fully accessible. Obviously, they will have to accommodate the Paralympics, but I want to be sure that every facility will be fully accessible.
The Bill gives various people enormous powersin respect of planning, development, contract letting and so onthat must be exercised with caution, openness and transparency. There has to be some means by which we can prevent a house price and building boom from taking off in north and east London, as that would remove from those areas the very people who have made their homes there, and who have won the bid for London by their poverty and their needs.
Harry Cohen : Does my hon. Friend agree that it is incumbent on the Minister in his winding-up speech to expand on the Secretary of State's earlier comments about "discreet" planning powers for the new Olympic authority. I do not know what "discreet" means in this context. Does it mean that the authority will meet completely in secret, that it will take its decisions secretly and that people will not know who is on it? Does my hon. Friend share my concern about that, and does he agree that the Minister should explain what "discreet" means when he winds up?
I have been mulling over the use of this word. It could mean discretion, being discreet or lots of things, but it is a very odd word to use where planning authorities and planning permission are concerned. As Members, we all get involved in planning matters, and the one thing that we all demand is openness, transparency and accountability for the decisions being taken. So I hope that we will not hear too much more of this word "discreet", and much more about the taking of open planning decisions, so that we can ensure that nothing dubious is going on.
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I hope that the Minister will recognise that the people of London welcome the games and want them to succeed, but that there are issues that we must assiduously address to ensure that the benefits are what we said they would be when the team won the bid in Singapore, and that the real beneficiaries are the people who desperately need the benefits that this regeneration plan can bring.
Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham) (Con): It is a great pleasure to take part in a debate that is so welcomed in all parts of the House. The hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Harry Cohen) asked the Minister to explain what was meant by "discreet", but I rather think that in this instance, it means specific and is spelt slightly differently.
It is a palpable pleasure that the UK has won the bid for the Olympics, and I add my congratulations to those offered to Lord Coe and his team and, indeed, to the Government. As one who participated in the debate to persuade the Secretary of State that perhaps we ought to back the Olympic bid, I am delighted that London and the UK have secured it. There has been a great transformation, in that the Scottish National party also welcomes the successful bid[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), who conceded the point, should know that anybody trained to sail on the Clyde will find it easy to win gold medals on the channel at Weymouth.
I welcome our securing the bid, the boost to sport and the interest that the young are already displaying in the Olympics and in the challenge of getting involved. It is they who will be the medal winners in a few years' time, and we all share their palpable enthusiasmexemplified by what happened in West Ham on the night of the bid. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I chaired a health authority that covered the boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham, so I am well aware of the deprivation in that part of world. Having visited the Lea valley, I can only congratulate those who had the vision to see the opportunity that the east end now hasas, indeed, does the whole of London.
Today is the time not to carp and criticisenone of us wants to do thatbut to ask questions to ensure that we establish the basis for a truly successful games. If the Minister cannot answer my questions today, I hope that he can answer them in Committee. We have talked at length about the Olympic delivery authority that the Bill sets up, which is chaired by the Mayor of London and has a limited membership. I hope that among that limited membership there will be a chief executive of the calibre to deliver such a complex and enormous operation as the Olympics will be. I also hope that there will be a project director used to delivering complex construction projects on time and at cost. One of my particular concerns is potential difficulties in the planning system that might delay construction.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) enunciated the difficulty of working out to whom the ODA will be accountable. The Secretary of State indicated that she would appoint the members. We have expressed a desire that the House should have an annual debate, with the Public Accounts Committee or a Select Committee being able to take evidence on
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progress, but that still would not answer who is ultimately responsible for delivery. Responsibility is diffuse at present. Does the London Assembly have any powers or ability to question the ODA, or to manage its overall criteria? Who will be able to remove under-achieving members of the ODA? Will it be the Secretary of State or the Mayor? How will we judge whether someone is or is not doing a good job?
A complex structure is emerging, as the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) pointed out when he said that he wanted clear lines of responsibility. We need, as soon as possible, to see an organisational structure. The number of organisations already involved could lead to complex relationships. Unless carefully managed with clear lines of responsibility, that could lead to confusion.
Mr. Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con): It is important that the organisation committee includes a member with responsibility for the country beyond London, and its composition should not be purely geographically based. May I ask the Minister to take cognisance of that when considering the organisation of the games? We should also consider the historic significance of this country's role in founding the modern Olympic movement. In particular, I think of Dr. William Penny Brookes who in 1850 founded the Wenlock Olympian Society, which celebrated its 119th running of the Olympic games just a couple of weekends ago. I hope that we will at least be able to send the torch through Much Wenlock on its way to London in 2012.
Mrs. Lait: . I do not represent a Gloucestershire seat, but I think that Gloucestershire can claim to have recreated, at an even earlier date, the original Olympic games on Dover hill, but I take my hon. Friend's point.
Some financial questions are very much at the front of the minds of London council tax payers. Obviously, we want the Olympics to keep to budget, and we recognise that the Treasury has already set aside contingency sums. In the bid document, the Government also accepted responsibility for any cost overrun. That has been divided broadly between the lottery and the Mayor of London. If there is a cost overrunwe all hope that there will not bewe would like to know who is responsible for what percentage share. Council tax payers in London will find it daunting if, according to a current estimate, they are to pay an extra £20 on a band D council tax bill for the next 40 years. We need clarification of whether the 12 per cent. Treasury tax take on the Olympic lottery will be used as a further contingency, or could reduce council tax payers' contribution of £20 a year to half of that.
We must also ensure that council tax payers have an idea of the finite sum of money for which they will be responsible. The Bill should set out the amount of money that London council tax payers will be responsible for at, say, 2005 prices plus inflation.
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