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Mr. Don Foster: The Minister has convinced us all with the way in which he has spoken to his amendments, and I for one have no problem in supporting them, but, as I said in an intervention, he has not convinced me yet in respect of his objection to amendment No. 15, so just to make my life and the life of the RDAs easier, I am going to ask the Minister to intervene on me when I ask him a simple question. Can he give me and the House an absolute assurance that any RDA that is currently, under its existing abilities under the 1998 legislation, using its money and time to co-ordinate or develop Olympic-related volunteering activities, Olympic-related jobs and contract activities, Olympic-related sporting events, Olympic cultural and artistic events and Olympic educational activities, and is giving advice to bodies about how, for instance, they set up training camps for visiting teams and is conducting, or plans to conduct, an audit of the facilities suitable for use during the Olympics, is acting within existing legislation?

Mr. Caborn: Yes, the RDAs can take those actions.

Mr. Foster: With that assurance from the Minister, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 17, in page 25, line 6, at end insert—

'(2A)   In relation to the purchase of land by a regional development agency for the purpose of preparing for the London Olympics (whether or not by virtue of subsection (1) and whether or not the purchase has another purpose also)—

(a)   section 19 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 (c. 67) (open spaces, &c.) shall not apply,

(b)   section 295 of the Housing Act 1985 (c. 68) (extinguishment of rights over land acquired) shall apply (with any necessary modifications) as it applies to a purchase by a local housing authority,

(c)   no enactment regulating the use of commons, open spaces or allotments shall prevent or restrict the use of the land for construction, other works or any other purpose (but this paragraph does not disapply a requirement for planning permission), and

(d)   any enactment permitting compulsory purchase shall be treated as applying to an interest in land whether or not it, or any superior or inferior interest, is held by the Crown.'.—[Mr. Caborn.]

6 Dec 2005 : Column 818

Clause 39

Commencement and Duration

Amendment made: No. 18, in page 27, line 23, after '3,' insert—

'(ea)   section 35(2A)(a) and (d),'.—[Mr. Caborn.]

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move amendment No. 25, in page 27, line 23, leave out second 'and'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 26 and 16.

Mr. Caborn: This group of Government amendments addresses a very constructive point made by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) in Committee and a smaller drafting point that we noticed afterwards. We are very magnanimous this evening, if I may say so.

Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 are necessary to allow the commencement of clause 37 on Royal Assent. Clause 37 applies the provisions of the Bill as appropriate to Northern Ireland. Thus, clause 37 on Northern Ireland will be brought into line with clause 36 on Scotland, which will commence on Royal Assent.

Amendment No. 16 follows the suggestion made by the Liberal Democrats in Committee that the short title should include a specific reference to the Paralympic games. I indicated in Committee that I agreed with that principle, as a central part of our bid was that the London Olympics would be an inclusive games. As many hon. Members know, London staged the first Paralympics in 1948, and we want to ensure that the 2012 Paralympics are the best so far.

I could not accept the amendment tabled by the Liberal Democrats in Committee because it was important to get the IOC's view on the exact wording—[Interruption.] I hear laughter from the hon. Member for Bath. I promised to consider the issue and my officials have been in touch with the IOC. The result is the proposed amendment to make the short title the "London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill".

Hugh Robertson: Government amendments Nos. 25 and 26 are not contentious, and Government amendment No. 16 has the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House. I should like publicly to thank the Minister for fulfilling the promise that he made in Committee to introduce such amendments on Report and, indeed, to join in the general congratulations to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) on proposing them in the first place.

As I said in Committee, I should like to add my strong support to the proposals in amendment No. 16. Paralympic sport has been moving up the sporting agenda considerably in recent years. As hon. Members on both sides of the House will be aware, at the 2004 Athens Paralympic games, the Great British team finished second in the medals table, with 94 medals, including a staggering total of 35 golds. The team achieved medals in 11 sports, and in doing so met the target set by Phil Lane of the British Paralympic Association. It is only right, therefore, that Paralympic sport is recorded as part of the Bill. Once again, I reiterate my full support.
6 Dec 2005 : Column 819

Mr. Don Foster: Earlier, we discussed another amendment, the subject of which had been proposed in Committee by the Liberal Democrats, and the Minister went away to check it and has returned this evening with such an amendment. He was somewhat churlish in his attack on his own civil servants for not returning with a slightly differently worded amendment on that occasion. So I hope that, on this occasion, he will have the good grace to thank his civil servants who have suggested an amendment that is marginally different from the one that I proposed in Committee—the word "games" has been added. I congratulate the Minister and his civil servants on their ingenuity.

I am genuinely delighted that—having consulted the IOC—as the Minister found it necessary to do and clearly did—he is willing to accept such an amendment and to do what no one disputed from the outset: give equal emphasis to the Olympic and Paralympic games. As I said in Committee, it is worth remembering that Seb Coe, who deserves a great deal of praise for his role in achieving our success in getting the games, said on 29 August:

I am delighted that that fact will now be reflected in the Bill's title.

8.15 pm

Accepting such an amendment and placing equal emphasis on the Paralympic and Olympic games emphasises the responsibility on all of us to ensure that the games, London and the UK will be standard bearers for inclusion. We must place huge emphasis on ensuring that both the Olympic and the Paralympic games and all the facilities that relate to their provision are generally accessible to disabled people.

We have not had an opportunity on Report to discuss accessibility for disabled people, but the Minister will be well aware that there are continuing concerns about the need for more action in making transport facilities in London, venues and so on more friendly for disabled users. He shares my concern about that and has given assurances about it, but I hope that proposing amendment No. 16 to give equal emphasis to the Paralympic games will also remind him of the promises and commitments that he has made in respect of ensuring appropriate facilities for disabled people throughout the period of the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Mr. Caborn: I hear what the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) says, and we went over this in Committee. We are very proud that we were the first country to hold the Paralympic games in 1948. Overall, we acknowledge the major contribution made by the Paralympics and disabled sport generally. Broadly speaking, sport across the UK responds to that. I hope that we will be at the forefront in designing stadiums and other facilities for the Olympics with disabled people in mind, and I am sure that we will deliver on that.

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