Mr. Andy Reed: I wish briefly to speak in support of amendment No. 2. Whether it is carried is a different matter, but I hope that it is recognised that for all of us who are interested in community sports and how the Olympics can be usednot by commercial organisations; I fully understand the requirement to prevent ambush marketingthere are some fine lines between what is acceptable and what is not, and what can be regarded as community services. Having met some of those involved in brand protection, I fully understand just what needs to be done and the dangers involved. The wording of the amendment may not be perfect, but I hope that the Minister will take on board some of the comments that have been made in the House.
Some Members have suggested that our sports colleges be renamed Olympics sports colleges for 2012. Each of us has individuals in our constituencies who are
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interested in promoting sports development by using the 2012 brand. I recognise that it is important that that brand is protected, but there must be some way in which many voluntary organisations and sporting organisations, including small clubs and individuals who come together to promote the Olympics and the build-up of sport development, are at least allowed to take that forward.
I hope that in his discussions, particularly with the organising committee, the Minister will find a way of ensuring that there is some flexibility so that people are not put off at this early stage. As chair of the county sports partnership in Leicestershire, I have experience of many individuals coming forward with great ideas to brand themselvesfor example, a half marathon that is built on 2012 branding, leading up to the Olympics. There are children and teenagers who would love to have been Olympians but, like me, recognise that they stand no chance of achieving that. At the same time, they wish to play some part in the Olympics.
I have an interest in developing volunteers. For many people, the concept of the Olympics will be what they can contribute to the event, not what they can get out of it. Many people are asking, "What will my town or my constituency get out of the Olympics?" One of the great things about volunteering is that people will be able to put something in and thereby get something out of the event. At the same time, they will be making a major contribution.
As for volunteering, most people do not have access to all the information about regulations. They just know that they have a good idea which they would like to see through. I hope that they do not become fearful of even suggesting using the branding for 2012 because of possible difficulties. I have been told about examples of events that are highly dubiousI heard yesterday of a wet T-shirt competition that used the five rings. I shall not go into detail about how they were used, but that is the sort of thing that London 2012 is dealing with regularly. It stretches the definition of "voluntary" and "community". I do not want such events to be encouraged because there are clearly commercial elements to some of them, but I hope that the Minister and others are cognisant of the difficulties facing genuine sports and voluntary groups that want to make major use of the 2012 Olympics to develop sport. We must ensure that they will not be put off. We may go too far if we do not take on board some of the points that are made in the amendments.
Mrs. Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con): I would like briefly to speak in support of amendments Nos. 2, 4 and 7. The Olympics is a unique opportunity in the history of our country to build not only sporting participation at grass-roots level and sporting excellence, but pride in our people, our country, our achievements and indeed our communities. We should all do a lot more of that.
In Committee, the Minister stated strongly that he felt that the Bill as drafted would not deter communities, sports clubs and voluntary organisations from becoming fully involved in the Olympics in whatever way was felt fit and that the correct balance would be struck. While I of course take him at his word, the Bill does little to back that up and, with the greatest respect to him, it is highly unlikely that he will be in place throughout the life of the Bill. Therefore, I support the
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amendment to ensure that what is currently, according to the Minister, implicit in the Bill becomes a little more explicit and that LOCOG is required to have regard to the involvement of sports clubs and interest groups in what will be, I am sure, a historic event for our country.
This is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world and its value is widely appreciated among those who may be approached to be sponsors. Many worldwide sponsors, including Visa, which is a major employer in my constituency, have been sponsors since 1986, showing that we have quite a lot of repeat purchase in the market. The Government need to ensure that they maximise the benefits for the country in the broadest way, as well as protecting the interests of those sponsors. It is a two-way street. As the Minister agreed in Committee, it is a question of balance. There is an important balance to be struck. That has been reiterated by other third parties, including Arup in the report that it was commissioned to undertake in May 2002.
We raised the issue in Committee. As I said, the Minister stated that sports clubs and other organisations could participate. Indeed, he went a little further and said that they would receive "class exemptions", but I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) that, as a result of discussions with LOCOG, it has become clear subsequently that the blanket exemptions may not be as forthcoming as the Minister originally anticipated. That has served to underpin the growing concern among differing communities and sports groups that their role may be somewhat squeezed.
We have heard from my hon. Friend about community groups such as Soul in the City and the YMCA, which share our concern that the Bill could undermine their good plans to involve youth in our communities, particularly in London, in building sports involvement as part of the Olympics as a whole. I have taken the opportunity to speak to a number of major worldwide sponsors and there is a lot of agreement that the community dimension of the games is vital and something that they will pursue vigorously.
The Minister may want to consider the fact that, just as ambush marketing can undermine the value of sponsorship, so our communities and sporting organisations can feel marginalised by their treatment within this historic event. That is something that is well worth considering. He may wish to pursue that matter, as I have, in conversations directly with some of the sponsors, because it was most enlightening.
Community groups can benefit from involvement in the Olympics in many ways, including through fund-raising events for teams. We must ensure that we involve every resident of our country, not just those living within the M25 or in the vicinity of the locations for the sporting events, in promoting grass-roots sports. The Bill is not explicit in its commitment to non-commercial, voluntary organisations. The amendment makes the Minister's verbal reassurances much more tangible and would provide a hook for those organisations to lobby LOCOG to agree a framework within which they can operate in support of the games. That will help many
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organisations such as the ones we have spoken about and others to plan their contributions to this historic celebration with a little more certainty.
On amendment No. 7, the elements of the Bill that relate to advertising and marketing are highly regulated. As my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent and the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) said, the IOC manuals relating to this aspect of the Bill are not freely available to us. While the Minister was kind enough to enable us to see extracts in Committee, they raised as many questions as they answered. He confirmed that the manuals would be subject to change until a date that has not yet been confirmed. Amendment No. 7 would ensure that, if a change is required in the manuals or in any aspect of the Bill that relates to advertising and marketing, the industry will be consulted. Any unforeseen impact on business could undermine not just the role of businesses and marketing in the Olympics, but the economic benefit of the Olympics for our country.
My objective in speaking today is simple. We need to ensure that the London Olympics benefit as many people as possible and that we strike the right balance, on which we are rather short of the mark at the moment.
Mr. Caborn: This group of amendments relates to the regulations that will be put in place under clause 18 to control advertising in the vicinity of Olympic venues. The provisions are a direct result of the requirements of the IOC and the promises that we have given in signing the host city contract. They are measures that will make an important contribution to the viability and success of the London games.
What I am also clear about, and what I have tried to provide reassurance about in Committee, is that we intend to take a reasonable and proportionate approach to the IOC's requirements. That means adopting a flexible and balanced approach and ensuring the regulations are appropriate for each and every venue.
Amendment No. 2 would require the Secretary of State to have regard to the desirability of promoting the interests of voluntary and community organisations and sports clubs when making advertising regulations under clause 18. I understand the sentiments behind the amendment. I share the desire of the hon. Members for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) and for Bath (Mr. Foster) to ensure that the games in 2012 benefit all sections of society and all parts of the country.
As the IOC made clear in its memorandum to the Bill's Standing Committee, the rationale behind the requirements to control advertising is to maintain clean venues and to prevent the unauthorised commercial exploitation of the games. The memo states that
While that statement does not explicitly refer to advertising by voluntary or community groups, I know that the IOC would not want us to create a situation where its clean venue policy is compromised. However, before I am accused of being unreasonable by inhibiting the good work of voluntary and community groups, I should reassure hon. Members that subsection (7)(b) of clause 18 allows for authorised advertising within the
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vicinity of Olympic venues and that we will consider the case for allowing some forms of advertising by voluntary or community groups.
I can absolutely see the case for allowing some voluntary or sporting organisations to be able to hand out flyers to people leaving Olympic venues in order, for example, to encourage them to become sports volunteers in their community, or to visit their local sports hall to give handball a try for the first time and to gain that experience. However, that sort of activity must be done in a measured and controlled way if we are to maintain the IOC's clean venue policy and ensure the viability and success of both the London and future games. Clause 18(7) is the best way to make that happen, so I ask that the amendment be withdrawn.
Amendment No. 4 would include in the Bill a defined time limit during which the advertising regulations can apply. Clause 18(6) already requires that the regulations establish the period for which they will apply, and that they may apply only for such a period as is necessary to comply with the requirements of the host city contract. As I said earlier, we are determined to ensure that we apply those requirements in a sensible and reasonable way. In Committee, I said that the advertising regulations would not apply for longer than the Olympics period, which the Bill defines as starting four weeks before the opening ceremony.
Having discussed this issue further with the IOC, I can confirm that any advertising restrictions will be in place two weeks before the opening ceremony at the absolute earliest, as the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) said. In reality, I envisage that the restrictions will apply for a much shorter period, especially for venues that host only one or two days of competition. Given the variety of time periods for which the restrictions will apply, I do not think it sensible to specify in the Bill the maximum period for which the regulations can apply. However, I hope that the Bill's existing provisionsparticularly clause 18(6)and the clear assurances that I have given will reassure the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent that we intend to take a reasonable approach, and that he will withdraw his amendment.