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3.2 pm

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale). The fact that so many Members still wish to speak and we have such a short time left shows that this issue should be regularly debated in Parliament, instead of us having to wait for the Opposition to call a debate on it. The public want to know what is going on. Our constituents are asking us about Olympic legacy and it is important that we have these opportunities. It is also important that when people make certain criticisms or raise points, it is not seen as opposition to the Olympic legacy and the Olympic ideals.

I worked with Colin Moynihan before he was chairman of the British Olympic Association to produce, on an all-party basis, a very good document called “Raising the Bar”, many of whose recommendations I am delighted that the Government are gradually introducing. Many of the matters we are discussing this afternoon can be addressed on an all-party basis, which is why it is not particularly sensible for us to be dividing on this subject this afternoon, as the votes and the wordings of motions and amendments never fully reflect the full scale of the debate.

I want to draw a distinction in terms of the legacy of the Olympic venues, to which my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) referred clearly in her very good speech. A part of the Olympic legacy is the park and what will happen to it. Some of the legacy planning was not done early enough, and as the economic situation gets worse, we will be in an increasingly difficult situation. We clearly won the Olympic bid before the Beijing games on the basis of the legacy. Some people now probably wish that word had never been mentioned, because it is being used all the time. For me, the “legacy” does not mean just a fantastic Olympic games for the participating athletes; we take that for granted. I also
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think we should not even be thinking of trying to model ourselves on Beijing. We should, as far as possible, get back to the ideals of sport for its own sake. Of course, the athletes will make lots of money—the very successful ones will make huge sums. The broadcasters will also make money, and the International Olympic Committee will make a fortune out of the London games, but, ultimately, it is about delivering a good sports programme in good conditions. I am confident that LOCOG will do that very well, and that the Olympic Delivery Authority will make sure that the buildings are completed in time—even if it costs huge sums of extra money and that money comes from the contingency fund. The necessary amount will be found. The Olympic games will take place in 2012 no matter what happens to the economy.

I agreed to take on the advisory job on the sporting legacy for London for the new Mayor of London because I believe that the legacy, in terms of the participation of Londoners—I am speaking here as a London MP—is what has been sorely missed out. There has been no planning and there has been no joined-up working on it. Some very good things are happening in all our boroughs that Members could talk about. Excellent partnerships are taking place, and there is a huge opportunity to work with the governing bodies. I particularly welcome Sport England’s emphasis on “all sport plans”, because, if they are carried through properly, they will address the problem in areas of London, such as my constituency, where substantial numbers of young people from black and ethnic minorities have not been participating for a variety of reasons. That will have to be built into the all-sport plan, which is where local communities will increasingly have to look to get their funding. This ambition can be achieved.

Londoners are paying a little bit extra, although I know that Scotland has its problems with what it will get out of this, as does Northern Ireland. On Northern Ireland, I ask the Minister for the Olympics, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe), the Secretary of State and the shadow Secretary of State to stop referring to “Great Britain”, as that term excludes a substantial part of the United Kingdom. The name of the team should be Team UK. I have made that point to the BOA since my time as Sports Minister. I understand that Team GB might sound better, but it would not take much effort to start talking about Team UK, and we must stop referring to Great Britain. This is a games for the whole of the United Kingdom. Londoners are, however, paying a little bit extra.

Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): I have recently corresponded on the issue of the Team GB name with the Minister for the Olympics. It is an issue that has caused concern in Northern Ireland, and she has written to me, explaining that it is, indeed, the Olympic Committee of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—and, indeed, the other parts as well. I hope that this point is listened to carefully, and that we do not repeat the errors of the past.

Kate Hoey: I want my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) to have a chance to speak, but let me comment briefly on the siting issue. I know
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that what I have to say will upset my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford). I agree that it is unimaginable—other than that it looked nicer, perhaps—for shooting to be being held at the venue in question. It should be taking place at Bisley, or in a new purpose-built Dartford centre. However—

Mr. Raynsford: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Kate Hoey: No, I will not allow my right hon. Friend to intervene as I know what he will say, and we disagree on this. We can agree to disagree.

Mr. Raynsford: Will my hon. Friend give way, as she raised an issue about my constituency?

Kate Hoey: No, I will not give way, as the issue has been raised already. Many Members have raised issues about other constituencies.

I have not seen the result of the KPMG report, and I am not sure what the task was, but I think it is important that we see the detail—

Mr. Raynsford: Will my hon. Friend give way? She raised a point affecting my constituency and refuses to give way.

Kate Hoey: I wish my right hon. Friend would grow up, but I shall give way.

Mr. Raynsford: My hon. Friend talked about the legacy for London and for Londoners. Will she tell the House how she, as a London MP, is helping the legacy for London and Londoners by moving that Olympic site out of London to somewhere far away when I have described the inspirational benefit of knowing that the Olympic games will take place in that area?

Kate Hoey: I am interested in the legacy benefits for the sport of shooting. The legacy benefits of having it at Woolwich would be absolutely nil.

I would also like to draw the attention of the Minister for the Olympics to the concern about equestrianism. As I understand it, the modern pentathlon does not need to use either of the equestrian venues, which has been the reason given. It is not too late to reconsider that—I think that we should.

I am obviously going to upset a few Members today, but I have particular responsibility for the grass-roots legacy of the Olympics. None of it is rocket science. We all know what is needed: more and better coaching and joined-up working involving groups such as school clubs and community clubs. Before the previous sports Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn), stands up and shouts too, I should say that he has done a great deal to work towards that.

Most of us in the Chamber are concerned about the same things. We want young people to have opportunities to participate, and we want those who have a talent to be picked up, helped and supported so that they can aspire to be an Olympian with a gold medal. However, there is still a huge gap in London that nobody is really thinking about: the facilities gap. Facilities are not funded in any joined-up way. Swimming pool after swimming pool has closed, including two just the other
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week in Redbridge. There is no plan to create new swimming pools, and if we do not show that we will get money for pools in the long term, we will lose a great deal of the inspiration that the Olympics will bring to many young people.

The challenge is that we sometimes have to say that sport cannot deliver everything. Because we have the Olympics and everyone is so excited about it, there is a tendency to think that sport can change everything in our society. Of course it can have an enormously positive effect on people’s lives. It can be fun, and people playing sport can achieve personal development and health benefits, but there is an awful lot to be done by other people and through other interventions. Sport is not a magic solution to the world’s problems, or even to the problems of our society. It can play a vital role in education, tackling crime, social cohesion and the other things that we see every day in our constituencies, but we need other interventions such as those by physical education and specialist teachers, of whom we are seeing more. We need people with knowledge and experience of working with families and with young people at risk to use sport, perhaps along with other measures, to deal with crime and help social cohesion initiatives.

As I said earlier, this is not rocket science. Everyone says the same thing, but it is interesting that people’s views about how it should be done, and who should be responsible for delivering and paying for the work, often differ once we get into the details. That is part of the problem, because the detail is not very sexy and exciting. It is about the hard work that goes in, with small groups doing good things. With just a little extra money, those groups can expand what they do and we can put things right across London.

The legacy document will be practical and have one simple target: to increase participation in sport and physical activity in London. That will not be easy. As others have said, no other Olympics have increased participation in sport. If we want a different Olympics, we have to do that. The plan that will be launched in the new year will not be a wish list for sport. It will be ambitious but realistic, costed and, most importantly, achievable.

The matters that we will cover in the plan are no secret to anybody: facilities, access, people and structures. They always need readdressing all over the country, but they require investment. There will be investment through the Mayor’s fund and the London Development Agency, but all the local authorities in London need to work together and work closely with the Government. I am happy to meet the sports Minister, as I already have, because we can make a lot of things happen in London. However, London cannot always be treated like the rest of the country. There are 33 London boroughs that all have different ways of working. If we are to get co-operation between them, it must be led and directed by the Mayor with the support of the Government.

I am confident that, despite all the financial difficulties, we can get the private sector involved. We have done that very well, although I am still worried that we do not have the money for elite athletes to which my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough referred. We have to get that, and I do not want to see a plan, for example, for the men’s Paralympic basketball team to be funded but not the women’s because they did not get a medal. That would be wrong.

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I ask the Minister for the Olympics to please ensure that we have an opportunity for another debate soon. May I also ask her about an advert that suggests that we might be able to save £50,000? I see that on 20 October, the Government advertised for an Olympic speechwriter at the cost of £50,000 a year. I presume that that was some kind of spoof, because I cannot believe that we are spending £50,000 a year on that.

We will have a wonderful Olympic games, but we have three and a half years to show that we can really make a difference to participation.

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. I inform Members that there are approximately 25 minutes left for Back-Bench contributions. If they can do the maths, everybody might get in.

3.16 pm

Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): I shall be as brief as I hope I am naturally. I have some brief points to make as a London Member. I, too, congratulate my hon. Friends on the Front Bench on securing this important debate. A lot of valuable contributions have been made, and I take on board what has been said by other London Members. However, I have a particular perspective on legacy as an outer-London MP.

We will not get the direct benefits that some other boroughs will. My concern, since my council tax payers in Bromley are contributing along with other Londoners, and are willing to do so, is that they get a fair share of such legacy as there is. That applies in two ways, the first of which is the sporting legacy, about which we are concerned on a number of fronts. First, there is real concern that, for reasons that have already been mentioned, the need to move money away from lottery funding of local and community sport to bail out some elements of the Olympic budget will have a bad impact on many small sports clubs in constituencies such as mine.

Secondly, there is the disappointment that the hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) alluded to: Crystal Palace, an iconic sporting venue in south London, does not seem likely to figure in the Olympic plans. We genuinely believe that that is a missed opportunity to regenerate what has always been south London’s great sporting sub-regional centre. I hope that even today, even if it is a training facility, something can be done to give some legacy to people in south London, who are contributing to the Olympic effort and want it to succeed as much as anyone.

The third concern that many in my constituency have is economic. Often, the large contractors come with their own established supply chains. Many businesses in south-east London are small and medium-sized enterprises. When I talk to local business men at the chambers of commerce and so on, they express concern that they are finding it difficult to get into the supply chains, much of which are predetermined by large principal contractors. I hope that the Government will ensure that that is borne carefully in mind. Those people want a fair crack of the whip and to see some of the action both in economic terms and in direct sporting paybacks. Otherwise,
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given that many of them will not be able to get to the games physically, there will be sadness that less sporting opportunity, not more, is available in places such as Bromley.

My second point is on free swimming, which I make no apology for returning to. I wrote to the Secretary of State about nine days ago, and I am sure that the Minister will gently remind the Department that we would like a reply. Because of the demographics of Bromley, where some 17 per cent. of the population are over 60, the shortfall that Bromley council tax payers would face is £120,000. That is an awful lot of money and a significant disincentive. Ironically, about 30,000 over-60s from my borough and the surrounding ones already swim in pools in Bromley. Not only is there the disincentive of a funding shortfall, but the scheme is not flexible enough to allow Bromley to concentrate such resources as might be made available on those who do not swim, instead of having to give a blanket subsidy, including to those who are happy to swim and do so at the moment. Perhaps the Minister could examine the operation of that scheme, because it seems to involve an unintended and perverse consequence.

My third point is about sport in schools. Bromley has very good school sport, and I accept that work is being done in this area, but more remains to be done. For example, we know that about 2.1 million children across the country are still not involved in competitive sport. I therefore welcome the Mayor of London’s statement that he intends, in his revisions of the London plan, to place a particular premium on protecting school sports fields. I generally welcome the approach that Mayor Johnson has adopted towards working constructively with LOCOG—the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games—and the other Olympic agencies to ensure that we deliver an imaginative and festive Olympics, within a budget capable of being constrained and met by us all. I say that because, as the Minister will know, Londoners still have a potential contingent liability if we do not get things right. I am sure that we all want to work together to ensure that we do get them right.

Finally, I wish to discuss an overlap between the sporting legacy and the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale) about the tourism feature. I do so at the risk of incurring the wrath of the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford). Many people in south-east London are concerned that although the equestrian events in Greenwich park will obviously bring a sporting interest—I do not seek to diminish that—there might be a risk of damage to the park, which is a world heritage site. I put this as mildly and gently as I can, because it has been flagged up in a number of well-researched publications. People are concerned about a potential perverse consequence. There may be a sporting advantage in holding those events at Greenwich, but without cast-iron guarantees that the park will not be done lasting harm, the tourist legacy, which is so important, might be damaged in the longer term. I hope that the Government will make absolutely sure that nothing happens to damage that, because Greenwich park is of huge value to the right hon. Gentleman’s constituents and to people from surrounding areas who come to enjoy it. Nothing should happen to prejudice that key open-air space for people in our part of south-east London.

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With those deliberately short remarks, I, like all in the Chamber, again commend the Olympic project to hon. Members. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) for securing the debate. I hope that those issues that affect outer London as well as the Olympic boroughs will not be overlooked.

3.23 pm

Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): I am sure that you will appreciate, Madam Deputy Speaker, the frustration felt by hon. Members on both sides of the House about the lack of time remaining in this debate. So, in conclusion— [Laughter.] I wanted to raise a number of issues, but I shall boil them down to just a couple.

I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) was in the Chamber just a few moments ago. I was interested in Olympics before we even bid, and my hon. Friend and I toured around visiting Ministers and others to try to convince them to bid in the first place. The Olympics are a great pleasure, and I declare an interest as somebody who has been involved right from the start.

The only reason why I ever wanted to see the Olympics come to the UK was the soft legacy, both for elite and community sport. Probably, 2012 will be the point at which I finally stop playing rugby—my wife will be delighted to learn that I have set a deadline at last—and so I will be one of the casualties of 2012, but it is true to say that the only reason why we need the games to succeed is to ensure that that soft legacy is provided in 2012. The most important measurement will be done in 2016; it will not be where we come in the medals table in 2012. Of course, I want us to come fourth and to do better, as well as to increase our participation rates, but the real measurement will be in 2016, and it will assess whether we have sustained that growth and interest that comes after 2012.

The first of the issues from my original list on which I want to concentrate is the £100 million—it will now probably be about £79 million, if we genuinely do have the additional money from the lottery. The problem remains that by December, UK Sport will have to start to allocate the funding for the remaining four years. Everybody knows that the reason why we did so well in the Beijing Olympics was that no compromise was made. The athletes did their bit, but so did all the support staff—the people who surround the athletes. It is only when no compromise is made in every part of the preparation for an Olympic games that those involved make the difference that ensures that they get a gold, sliver or bronze, or even come fourth. We got lots of people into finals. Our athletics team did okay, because many more of our athletes got into finals than it was thought would get there, but the difference between winning and losing at that level is tenths or even hundredths of a second. A no-compromise approach for 2012 means that for the next four years we must get the same level of commitment from the Government and from all those other people. The reality is that a shortfall remains. The medal hopes scheme, which has been explained to me, does not plug that gap as far as I can see. We need the necessary level of certainty to be provided as quickly as possible.

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