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The Olympic games represent a golden opportunity for us. Fantastic contributions have been made in the debate, and all hon. Members know what the games will mean to their patch. My final thought is this: we won the 2012 games because the Government, sport and the media were united. I hope that we can keep that united front over the next seven years. If we do, London will be a great host city, and the 2012 games will be the best ever.
Justine Greening (Putney) (Con):
I shall begin by thanking the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) for allowing me time to make a brief contribution
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at the end of the debate. I apologise for not being present for the start, but I want to add my congratulations to the bid team, who did a superb job in winning the games for our capital city and our country.
The Paralympics will be coming to this country as well as the Olympics. Hon. Members have said that sport must be made accessible to all, and that is true of both the Olympics and the Paralympics. We must never forget that there will be a second event when the main event is over, and the organising committees that the Bill establishes must kept that clearly in mind.
Moreover, we must ensure that our public transport enables everyone to reach the Olympics. The key tube stations that people will use must be adapted so that disabled people can get to all the Olympic and Paralympic events.
People in Putney are delighted that London will be holding the Olympic gamesespecially if the finances are carefully controlled. Many Putney MPs in the past have had an interest in sport. I want to follow in that tradition, although my predecessors have tended to go for football rather than Olympic sports.
The Lawn Tennis Association in Putney is building its national headquarters in Roehampton, and Southfields station will be the main tube stop that people will use as they head for the Wimbledon tennis events. I therefore make a plea that that station should be rendered accessible for disabled people, and for all those using it in both the Olympic and Paralympic fortnights. I lodge a request with the Minister that he seriously consider having a lift put into Southfields station, so that it will be accessible for everyone who wants to use it when the games are on.
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): The IOC's decision in Singapore to award the 2012 Olympics to London, and today's Second Reading of the Bill, mark the start of a period of remarkable opportunity for this country.
There is the prospect that the games will give our economy a considerable boost. The boost delivered as a result of the Barcelona games was estimated at £11 billion, and the amount is surely likely to be much higher now. For the environment, there is the prospect that we will have the largest new urban park in Europe. For Londoners, there is the prospect of regeneration of the lower Lea valley.
For those still at schoolsuch as Amber and the 30 children from the east end who represented us all so effectively in Singaporethere is the prospect of achieving Olympic success in their own capital city, or of becoming an Olympic volunteer. Most importantly of all for all of us who care about sport, there is the prospect of a sea change in the relationship between sport and Government. In the fortnight since Singapore, I have been struck by just how much this opportunity means to so many different people, but also by how expectations have now been raised in so many different areas, as the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) said only a moment ago.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and delivering on it will not be easy. However, before I turn to that issue I should like to put on the recordas my
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right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) did before memy and my party's appreciation for all the work done by those who brought the games to London. I pay tribute to Lord Coe, Keith Mills and everybody who worked at London 2012 during the bid process. At the celebratory party in Singapore after the vote, I was struck by the many personal and professional sacrifices that so many of their team made to work on the bid. We are all very much in their debt.
I also want to pay tribute to the three main stakeholders. First, I pay tribute to the Government, and particularly to the work done by the Minister for Sport and Tourism and, of course, in her absence, by the Secretary of State, in bringing the games to London. Secondly, I pay tribute to the MayorI never thought I would say that at the Dispatch Boxand thirdly to the British Olympic Association, and to the Princess Royal in particular, who has been somewhat left out. I saw her lobbying and working on the country's behalf day in, day out in Singapore, but she has received very little praise for it. To all of them and to the many others who have worked on the bid, we in this House and all those whom we represent owe a considerable vote of thanks.
The Conservative party has always supported the London 2012 bid. As will be signified at Second Reading tonight and, hopefully, as the Bill continues its passage through the House, that support will continue. It will most certainly continue so long as the cross-party consensus that we have established continues to be a genuine two-wayperhaps I should say three-wayprocess.
I was enormously grateful for the briefing session provided by the Secretary of State's civil servants before this debate. I hope that that process will continue through a regular series of briefings and consultations, particularly on issues such as the Olympic delivery authority board members nominated by the Secretary of State. Perhaps the Minister can confirm that during his winding-up speech.
We also want to ensure that the spirit of the London bid is upheld in two particular ways. First, London 2012 should be a games for athletes and it should empower the youth of this country through sport. Secondly and most importantly, and as I have already mentioned, the Government must deliver on the wider sports agenda. London 2012 provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the structure and funding of sport in this country, and it must not be missed.
As so often with debates on sport, today's has been excellentremarkably so, given the short time between today and publication of the Bill late last Thursday. I congratulate the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mark Hunter) on his maiden speech. It was an extremely confident opening, if I may say so, and his experience of the Manchester games made it very relevant. It was an excellent debut and I welcome him to the House on
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everyone's behalf. He was joined by his colleague the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson), who gave us the Scottish angle. Her points on tourism and training camps were particularly well made.
On the Government side, we heard from the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown), who spoke up in support of her borough, and from the hon. Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn), who talked about legacy issues andrightlyan ethically responsible games. The hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Derek Wyatt), who is always a thought-provoking contributorsadly, he is not in the Chamber at the momentmade a typical contribution. The hon. Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore)he, too, seems to have slipped awaytalked about terrorism and construction. It was good to see him having an outing outside of a Friday.
The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Flello) talked about volunteering, a concept which we will all support. The hon. Member for Crawley (Laura Moffatt) discussed the benefits to her constituents, and very well, too. The hon. Member for Stourbridge (Lynda Waltho)sadly, I have lost her, toospoke about swimming baths. It is difficult to comment on her contribution without knowing the facts of the case; I was going to say that if she wanted to explain them to me, I would see what I could do.
As an east-end MP, the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Harry Cohen) made some extremely sensible points about cost overruna point to which we will return. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. McFadden) talked about the regional aspects of the bid. I wish him well in attracting the benefits to his region. The hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) is another who spoke up well in support of her constituency, and she reminded us of some timely security concerns. My friend the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed), who is something of a House expert on sport, made some excellent points about the levels of expectation, volunteering and elite sports. I can only say that I entirely agree.
On my own side, we heard excellent contributions from my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait), who spoke of the financial and planning aspects of the bid. Her warnings were well made and relevant. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) spoke about the businesses in the lower Lea valley, and I hope that the Government will take note of the issues that he raised, to which we shall return later. My hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs. Miller) voiced well-expressed concerns about ambush marketing, and with her commercial experience she made an informed and valuable contribution. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) spoke of the role of the London Assembly, and he, too, was quite right. Finally, it was nice to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening) talk about the Paralympics, highlighting that area.
Let me turn to my party's position. The detailed provisions of the Bill can be worked on in Committee, but seven key principles govern our approach. The first is accountability to Parliament. The London 2012 Olympic games is a national event, and we want to ensure that the ODA and other Olympic bodies are
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accountable, through the Secretary of State, to Parliament. The Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport will clearly have a role, but I hope that the Government will agree to two more things, in particular. First, there should be an annual debate in Government time, ideally at this time of year, once the accounts have been published. Secondly, the ODA should be subject to scrutiny by the National Audit Office and thus, should it wish to, by the Public Accounts Committee. I hope that the Minister will confirm that those ideas are acceptable.
The second principle is partnership working. The powers available to the Mayor of London in this legislation are extensive and therefore, in some ways, controversial. However, if London is to deliver the games on time and to budget, it is vital that the ODA and the Mayor work in partnership with the boroughs and use their reserve powers only as a last resort, and preferably only with the agreement of the Secretary of State. One way to reassure the London boroughs, which have concerns about that, would be to ensure that they were represented on the ODA board. Furthermore, I hope that as the games draw closer they will be encouraged to second staff to the ODA for a reasonable period before, during and after the games. Perhaps the Minister will also address that point when he winds up.
Thirdly, there is concern about cost overruns, a subject raised by several Members on both sides of the House. The memorandum of understanding signed by the Government in 2003 puts the burden of any overspend firmly on the lottery and on Londoners, but previous games have considerably overrun their budget. It will almost certainly not be the fault of Londoners if the cost of the games overruns. One of the key marketing messages throughout the bid process has been that these games are for the whole United Kingdom. I very much hope that the Government will re-examine the 2003 memorandum now that the games have been secured.
Fourthly, there is the issue of businesses in the lower Lea valley. The Minister is aware of our concerns, and I am grateful for his intervention following the Westminster Hall debate a couple of weeks ago. However, it is clearly wrong if existing businesses end up paying for the privilege of hosting the games, and I hope that effort will be put into resolving that issue over the summer so that the Minister can report in Committee that progress has been made.
Fifthly, there is security, which is, sadly, again much on our minds today. Clearly, it will be a key concern as we count down to 2012, and security issues must be incorporated at every stage in the delivery process. Despite the fact that the London 2012 website details the formation of a new Cabinet-level Olympic security committee, there is no direct mention of security issues in the Bill. Perhaps the Minister would confirm the Government's position.
Sixthly, there is the question of the tax take on the Olympic lottery game, and it will not surprise the Minister at all to hear me raise that once again. It is, in my view, simply indefensible for the Government to profit to the tune of an estimated £320 million from a game designed to finance the London 2012 Olympics, particularly when they were so keen to exempt the Live
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8 concerts. Given the Minister's constant assurances that the games will not run over budget, that money ought to be used to create a lasting legacy from the 2012 games. Personallya purely personal viewI favour giving the money to the British Olympic Association to establish scholarship funds at arm's length from Government to help aspiring young Olympians in future. That is the sort of eye-catching initiative that would give the games a worthwhile legacy. I know that the Minister cannot give me any further assurances on the matter tonight, but he ought to be aware that it is a subject that we intend to pursue. I suspect that that will not surprise him.
On the wider sports agenda there is the issue of the reform of the structure and financing of British sport. There is now wide agreement that there should be one clear funding stream for sport. The performance director of UK Sport said only last week following the meeting of the British Olympic Association:
On the financial side, delivering the Olympics will by any reckoning place the national lottery sports principal funding stream under extreme pressure. I cannot see that there is any chance of delivering the many promises made to sport during the bid process without a step change in Governmentlet us be honest, by that I mean Exchequerfunding. The Government must take action now to cut some of the unnecessary and overlapping bureaucracy and radically to reform the structure of the financing of sport in this country.
I should like to finish where I started. The London 2012 Olympic games are a unique and remarkable opportunity for this country. We should all record our thanks to everyone who has brought them to us, notably tonight the Secretary of State and the Minister. As Conservatives, we will continue to offer the Government our wholehearted support for this fabulous opportunity as long as the process is accountable to Parliament, as long as partnership not compulsion is the key principle of delivery and as long as there is genuine progress on the wider sport agenda.
Delivering the 2012 Olympics on time and to budget will be a hugely testing undertaking. Seven years is not in all honesty a great deal of time. However, I firmly believe that, if we all remain true to the principles that have guided the bid thus far, Britain can stage a great and remarkable Olympic celebration in 2012.
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