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Mr. Field: I thank my hon. Friend. I hope that he is not smoking those fags either in this place or anywhere else; perhaps he is still entitled to do so. That is the nub of the problem. In essence, in London, the risk is that we will find ourselves with an enormous burden for many years to come. Already concerns have been expressed by hon. Friends and, I think, Labour Members about the costs that are likely to be imposed upon London taxpayers. As it is the cost is likely to be £20, £30 or £40 a year over 20 years. It could be considerably worse given the multiplier effect to which I have referred.
I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) is no longer in his place but he rightly referred to the fact that the chairman of the London Development Agency, Mary Reilly, has admitted that the costs of preparing the Olympic site could double from the planned £478 million to £1 billion. If that became a cost overrun, rather than being dealt with by the budgets that have been agreed, that would, once again, penalise council tax payers in London fairly soon. Those are great concerns.
Anyone who has been to the Lower Lea valley site will have seen that it is greatly contaminated. It is difficult to estimate the likely cost of cleaning that land and ensuring that it is fit for purpose. Inevitably, there is always some optimism in putting forward a strategy and I accept that a robust financial case was madeit was not just a lot of cascading figuresbut, very quickly, however robust the financial case, things can go horribly awry. It looks as though the cost of clearing up the site is likely to be significantly more than the £478 million that was mooted at the outset.
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to make this brief contribution. My hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent has made a sensible suggestion and I hope that the House will seriously consider it. I am particularly glad that it has cross-party support; the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) supports it. It is wrong that London taxpayers should suffer from the potentially ruinous multiplier effect to which I have referred. There may be some merit in the comment of the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) that the £625 million should not be the cap if there were to be a massive cost overrun. I am sure that London taxpayers would be happy to pay their share, but the reality is that, with a cost overrun, they will pay 100 per cent. of every pound in excess. That would not be the right way forward.
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Pete Wishart : Curiously, I find myself joining the Minister in opposing the new clause. I find absurd the suggestion that Londoners and London MPs should simply walk away if all this goes financially pear-shaped, which a number of us anticipate, and leave the rest of us in the United Kingdom to pick up the pieces. London has secured the most extraordinary and fantastic regeneration programme for the east end. It is about to receive the most generous, extravagant input of public money through the lottery to pay for the bulk of the games and for that regeneration. Therefore, London cannot simply walk away when those financial shortcomings come home to roost and expect the rest of the nation to pick up the pieces. That would not be fair, right or proper.
Pete Wishart: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for mentioning that. I will refer to the Scottish Parliament in my speech and give him the full figures for the extraordinary increase in its cost. [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman will just be patient, I will come to that.
In this debate, I have heard London Members saying that Londoners will continue to pay for the games through the council tax. Londoners are paying for a sizeable proportion of the London Olympic games and that is right and fair because it is London that stands to gain from all the fantastic regeneration. I suggest that £625 million is a snip to pay for what will be the largest regeneration programme in the next 10 years, anywhere in the world. It is cheap at half the price. I will now answer the question from the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway). The total cost of the Scottish Parliament was £450 million, so now we have compared costs.
I could go on about how the Olympics is part of a general package and general process that always seems, inevitably, to secure large infrastructure projects for London. The rest of the UK continues to pay for that. London is the richest, most prosperous part not just of the UK but of the whole of Europe. I shall spare you from any more of that argument, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I am sure that you have heard it being kicked around before during debates in this House; indeed, it has been discussed for the past 10, 20 or 30 years.
The benefits for London of this regeneration are fantastic. The regeneration of east London alone will create more than 3,000 jobs, and its local economy will benefit by £70 million. It has been concluded that London could make up to £500 million from the tourism legacyan extraordinary, incredible figure. Given these fantastic legacies, London should be embarrassed at the suggestion that it should walk away from its responsibilities if things go pear-shaped. If things do go wrong, it will not be the fault of the taxpayer or the lottery player; nor will taxpayers elsewhere in the United Kingdom, or lottery players outwith the metropolitan area, share in this legacy. London alone will benefit.
Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD):
Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that although the Olympic games will obviously benefit London greatly, his constituency, mine and all other Scottish constituencies will also benefit greatly from the sporting opportunities
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provided for young people? I also hope that the Scottish Executive and Scotland will make the most of the tourism opportunities, and get people to go north of the border once they have been to the London Olympics.
Pete Wishart: Absolutely. There is genuine enthusiasm in Scotland for an Olympic games, and there is massive enthusiasm for a separate Scottish Olympic teaman idea that I hope the hon. Lady supports.
Pete Wishart: Some 78 per cent. of the Scottish people believe that we should have our own Scottish team in the 2012 Olympics. I hope that the hon. Lady will join me in trying to achieve what would be a fantastic addition to the London games. [Interruption.] I am sure that the Minister agrees and that he would love to see a Scotland team competing at the London games.
Chris Bryant: The hon. Gentleman has already decried his Scottish sporting prowess, so there is no point in his trying to rescue his reputation. Lots of people working on the site of the new Wembley stadium come from south Wales, Yorkshire and other places throughout the country. Surely the important point is that the industry that will build the Olympic site will not be just a London one. The whole community will benefit and if the hon. Gentleman cannot see that, he needs to get some better political spectacles. [Interruption.]
Pete Wishart: As the hon. Member for Croydon, South suggests from a sedentary position, Estonia, Lithuania and other parts of eastern Europe will also provide labour for this project; all the best of luck in that regard.
This new clause is about what will happen if there is overspend, and as sure as night follows day, there will be; it is living in cloud cuckoo land to believe otherwise. As we have heard, the Sydney games overran by twice the projected amount, and the Athens gamesthe last to be held in Europeoverran by five times the original figure. It is almost too far-fetched to believe that there will be no overspend for the 2012 games.
We need to look at the UK's record on delivering these large infrastructure projects, and it is utterly appalling. This House decided that the Scottish Parliament should cost £50 million; it came in at 10 times more. The taxpayer is still paying for the absurdity that was the millennium dome, and the Jubilee line extension is another testament to how overspends are becoming a feature of these massive infrastructure projects. I am desperate to find an answer to the question of who should pay for this overspend, should it occur and the new clause and amendment be accepted. Most important, what is the fairest way to finance it, should that prove necessary?
The Government are committed to financing any overspend, and although the Minister made it clear in Committee that they are in charge on this issue, he was very coy about how such overspend should be met. I should like to hear a little more on that. I again appeal to him: please do not touch the lottery any further. Some
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£1.5 billion will come from the lottery in the next 10 years, and our grass-root sports, charities and good causes will experience real pain and suffering. Please leave the lottery out of this one. If a shortfall should occur, it would be unsustainable for London to draw any more money from good causes and charities.
London knew what it was getting into when it bid for these games. It knew of the recent experience of games held in Europe; it knew about the examples of Athens and Sydney; it knew that there had been overspends. It should have read the small print on the tin, saying, "Shares in Olympics can go down, as well as up." All this was overlooked in the general hype and the enthusiasm for bringing the games to London. We all heard about how great the games would be for London and for the rest of the UK. If everything goes well and London benefits from the games, it will be great, but if it all goes pear-shaped, it should not be left to the rest of the United Kingdom to pick up the tab. I oppose the new clause and amendment and I ask all fair-minded hon. Members to do the same.
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