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19 Jan 2009 : Column 475

T5. [248285] Paul Flynn (Newport, West) (Lab): As part of a contribution to a slimmed down Olympics, would it not be sensible to look again at the ambitious and very expensive plans for a velopark in London and see what could be done by expanding the magnificent existing velodromes that are available for use now in Newport and Manchester?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics keeps all the Olympic costs under review. Clearly, decisions are taken in line with the bid document that we had to put to the International Olympic Committee. There will be a superb velodrome here in London, which will help British cycling to maintain its position as the best in the world.

T3. [248283] Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): Given that I won fourth place in the private Member’s Bill ballot, the Minister—it is obvious which Minister—will know how disappointed I was that his Department was not prepared to support my proposed Bill to reduce the disproportionate impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on travelling circuses. Given that economic conditions next year are likely to make life very difficult for circuses—at a time when, heaven knows, we will need them more than ever—can the Minister reassure me that his Department remains committed to reform of the Licensing Act and that he will bring forward proposals at the earliest possible date?

Mr. Sutcliffe: I hesitate to mention the Tories and circuses, but the hon. Gentleman has consistently raised this issue and has been at the forefront of attempts to support circuses in respect of the single licence. Although we did not think it appropriate to go through the process suggested in the hon. Gentleman’s private Member’s Bill, we feel that the better regulation simplification proposals might be the quickest way of reaching the position that we want, which is a single licence for circuses.

Mr. Jim Devine (Livingston) (Lab): Various reports suggest that Manchester City intend to spend more than £100 million on a player, and that, quite frankly, is obscene. We are in a position whereby a country effectively owns a premier league football club. Is it not about time that we carried out an investigation into the premier league with a view to capping these transfer fees?

Andy Burnham: My hon. Friend will know of my strong views on footballing matters. He is right to say that there is widespread concern about the financing of football and its effect on the game. It was with that in mind that last year I wrote to the three football authorities, the Football League, the premier league and the Football Association, asking them to take a detailed look at the financial integrity of the game in a number of specific areas, particularly the competitive balance of football. Young supporters will not be brought into the game if they feel that the club in their home town has no chance of getting into the premier league or winning in the long term.

These matters are crucial to the health of the game—not just in England but in Scotland, because one affects the other—and I assure my hon. Friend that my hon.
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Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe) and I continue to pay the closest attention to them. We look forward to receiving a response from the football authorities.

T6. [248286] Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): The Minister is well aware of my concern about the possibility that picking lists on which on-course bookmakers have spent many thousands of pounds will be taken away from them. I thank him for his involvement in what is, in my view, a matter of natural justice. Will he confirm that if a fair deal cannot be delivered for on-course bookmakers to protect their picking lists, he will not rule out legislation to ensure that one is delivered in future?

Mr. Sutcliffe: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising an issue to which he has been very close, as has the all-party parliamentary racing and bloodstock industries group and, indeed, the Select Committee. We have been trying to find a fair solution. We set up a working group, which we hoped would act in good faith, but it appears from a letter from the Racecourse Association to courses that that has not happened. I am not prepared to rule anything out at this stage, because I want to see a fair settlement.

Mrs. Ann Cryer (Keighley) (Lab): How much success has the Department had in encouraging schools to make their sports facilities available to community groups? I am thinking particularly of Oakbank school in my constituency, which is a designated sports college.

Mr. Sutcliffe: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that issue. I visited Oakbank school on Friday, and saw superb facilities, which were in line with what we are trying to achieve with our investment in school sports. We have 432 sports colleges, we have school sports partnerships and local sports partnerships, and we have brought competition back into schools. The terrain looks very good for school sports. We want to ensure that pupils take part in sport for at least two hours a week, increasing to five hours.

T7. [248287] Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): This Saturday, Kettering Town football club will meet Fulham in the fourth round of the FA cup. For the first time in the history of the competition, a meeting between a non-league side and a premier league club is not being shown live on television. As a result, Kettering Town football club stands to lose £160,000 of income, which could make the world of difference to a club the size of Kettering. Given that the FA cup is a David and Goliath competition and that one of its aims is to redistribute income around the game, will the Minister with responsibility for sport—the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe)—speak to the Football Association to get to the bottom of this disgraceful decision?

Andy Burnham: I have the highest regard for Kettering Town as one of the strongest non-league clubs in the country. I am sure that when the hon. Gentleman goes
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to watch the team play, it is just like watching the Brazilian team. However, I think that we must let ITV be the judge of what are the most exciting matches to cover this weekend.

T8. [248288] Mr. Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam) (LD): With 39 pubs closing their doors for ever each week in this country, is it not time for the Government to adopt a smarter approach to both the regulation and the taxation of alcohol, so that we do not see the supermarkets selling beer and other alcohol at pocket-money prices and we do not see pubs closing?

Andy Burnham: The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. It is indeed a matter of concern that pubs are closing in such numbers, and we keep a close watch on that. On the other hand, there is concern about binge drinking and irresponsible marketing of alcohol. Our job is to strike the right balance, ensuring that whatever measures are taken are targeted and proportionate, and at all times recognising the important role played by the pubs in villages, towns and cities throughout the country in giving people a place in which to meet and a good sense of community life.

I am very well seized of the issues that the hon. Gentleman has raised. At all times, particularly in the current climate, we need to help pubs get through difficult times. I assure him that I shall be happy to discuss the issue with him further.

T9. [248289] Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): Given that some 70 per cent. of 11 to 17-year-olds who are foolish enough to smoke buy their cigarettes from vending machines across England, it was rather odd that vending machines were specifically excluded from the recent consultation on the removal of cigarettes from public view in newsagents’ shops. What representations did the Secretary of State have on the subject of cigarette vending machines from labour clubs and working men’s clubs throughout Labour-supporting areas?

Andy Burnham: I think that the constituency I represent has among the highest number of labour clubs of any constituency in the country, and I did not receive any representations on that issue. The marketing of cigarettes is not directly a matter for my Department, but I think we all share the same objective: we need to ensure that young people are not able to buy cigarettes freely. That applies to labour clubs as much as to any other environments.


The Minister for the Olympics was asked—

Private Sector Partners

1. Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): How many private sector partners for the London 2012 Olympics had been secured at the latest date for which figures are available. [248291]

The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games has secured 12 private sector sponsors from each of the three tiers by value for
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London 2012. In addition, there are a further nine worldwide partners secured by the International Olympic Committee. LOCOG has raised about two thirds of the domestic sponsorship that it needs in order to stage the games, and it is worth recording that this is an unprecedented achievement at this stage. In spite of the challenging economic environment and the reported difficulties faced by Nortel, three new sponsors have been announced since last week: Adecco, Boston Consulting Group and Atkins.

Mark Pritchard: I am grateful to the Minister for that response, and everyone wants the Olympics to be a great success, but what price success? What reassurance can the Minister give to the people of London, as well as to my constituents in Shropshire and people nationally, that tax will not rise and they will not have to face yet another tax bombshell because of a lack of planning by this Government—and, dare I say, maladministration—irrespective of whether the Government are using the credit crunch as an excuse?

Tessa Jowell: I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the budget for the Olympics of £9.325 billion—for the construction, security and so forth—is the same now as it was when I announced it back in March 2007. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman’s Front-Bench colleagues will accept, they have unprecedented access to the figures and they are properly briefed—as, indeed, they should be. Delivering this project on budget and on time is a discipline that prevails every single day, which is why all the venues are on time and, apart from some of the current equity difficulties in the private sector, they are also on budget.

Mr. Andrew Pelling (Croydon, Central) (Ind): Further to that answer, can the Minister give more detail on how expenditure is being rescheduled and what that change in scheduling might be if there is any increased spending at this stage to deal with any shortfall in private money?

Tessa Jowell: As the House has been told on many occasions, the baseline budget for constructing the park of £6.1 billion also has access to a contingency of £2 billion. The budget is subject to regular scrutiny not only by the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Olympic Executive, but by the funders’ group, and all the judgments are that the budget is adequate and will come in within contingency. Let me make a final point: we also recognise that this is a £6 billion shot in the arm for the UK economy, and we are making sure that the contractors deliver apprenticeships and provide young people with skills in order that they can not just get jobs in the Olympics, but have jobs for the rest of their lives.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): Can the Minister confirm what led the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor in 2006 to believe that the private sector would want to contribute £100 million towards elite sport? Were any fundraising targets set at the time, and at what point will the Government admit that this money will not, in fact, be raised from the private sector?

Tessa Jowell: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport have set out
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very clearly the programme whereby our elite athletes will, between the Beijing cycle just ended and London 2012 in three and a half years’ time, have access to more money for their training, development and equipment than they have ever had before. That is this Government delivering for the success of our elite athletes and the country.

Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): Last Friday, there was an event at the Olympic park to celebrate the halfway point to London 2012 and the contribution made by many of the private sector partners mentioned by my Conservative colleagues, but, unfortunately, only Labour Members of Parliament were invited. Although I appreciated the call from the Minister on Friday, given the importance placed on cross-party working by the International Olympic Committee and, until this point, herself, why did that situation occur and will she assure us that it will never happen again?

Tessa Jowell: I find the hon. Gentleman’s intervention on this matter, when there are so many other things to raise, very surprising. The Olympics will be a great national occasion, and it is right and proper that the Prime Minister be part of celebrating that. I invite the hon. Gentleman to endorse the announcement that we made last Friday of an increase in the number of apprenticeships in the Olympic park from 100 to 350, making the Olympics work for the people of this country, getting the country out of the downturn and, as I said, providing a shot in the arm to the UK economy, not only in London, but in the rest of the country. [Interruption.] Of course, cross-party working is important—one needs no reminder of that. Let me also make it clear that the Mayor of London was invited and, unfortunately, had to withdraw.

Shooting Events

2. Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): What plans she has to ensure that the shooting events of the London 2012 Olympics leave a lasting legacy. [248292]

Tessa Jowell: First —[Interruption.] We welcome the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) back to rescue a floundering Front-Bench team.

Following last year’s KPMG’s review to evaluate the plans for temporary venues, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the Olympic Delivery Authority are undertaking further work to assess the venue for shooting in 2012. That includes consideration of the deliverability of shooting at Woolwich, the cost and the provision of a legacy, and the final decisions will be made by the Olympic Board. I fully appreciate the scale and extent of interest in this issue on the part of the hon. Gentleman and others.

Mr. Bellingham: Can the Minister confirm that using Woolwich will not leave any lasting legacy and will be very expensive? That might be excusable if there were no alternative, but does she accept that there is a perfectly viable alternative at Bisley? It has world-class facilities, it is quite near London, it would offer far better value for money and a small capital investment there would leave a lasting legacy.

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Tessa Jowell: The hon. Gentleman has fought a very doughty campaign on behalf of Bisley. It was not designated as the venue for the Olympic shooting precisely because the International Olympic Committee asked that we reconsider the original proposal to locate shooting there. The KPMG study, the terms of reference for which I have set out, was set up precisely to give us the assurance that if public money is invested in temporary venues, it will be well spent and will have the prospect of leaving a legacy.

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab): When does my right hon. Friend expect the Government and the Olympic partners to determine a lasting legacy use for the Olympic stadium? When does she expect a statement to be made to that effect?

Tessa Jowell: We are very actively engaged in discussions with a number of organisations, sporting ones in particular, which will be based in the Olympic stadium in the long term. There are those that have already said firmly that they intend to be based there, but there are a substantial number of potential tenants and as soon as the negotiations are concluded, I shall be delighted to inform the House.

Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking) (Con): I very much hope that the Minister for the Olympics can bring a smile to my face this afternoon on the issue of Bisley. As she knows, Bisley is on the edge of my constituency, and the Minister with responsibility for sport had a wonderful visit there recently. Bisley has terrific facilities, it is the home of shooting, it has a history of expertise and it can deliver everything on cost. Everybody in Surrey is keen on this, so can she just give me a bit of encouragement that Bisley, which has a wonderful claim, may be chosen?

Tessa Jowell: At this point in Olympics questions, I think that I am simply the warm-up act for the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, I am sure, will put a smile on the hon. Gentleman’s face.


3. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): What steps she has taken to encourage former British Olympians and Paralympians to become ambassadors for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games; and if she will make a statement. [248293]

Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and I know that he has a specific constituency interest in the subject. Yes, we expect every medal winner from the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic games to act as an ambassador for 2012, inspiring young people not just to take up sport but to compete and to continue to play sport throughout their adult lives. A long and distinguished list of Olympians have been the most fantastic role models for young people up and down the country and we owe them a debt of thanks.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a statement— [ Interruption. ] There is a supplementary question—my apologies.

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David Taylor: The British people are proud of retired Paralympians and Olympians who have cycled, jumped, run, rowed, swum and thrown for this nation in past decades: people such as my constituent Barry Jackson, a teenage 400m relay finalist in the 1960 Rome games. It is all very well for them to be ambassadors—that is fine—but does the Minister not believe that the body of fine sports people from the past years should have
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special consideration when it comes to access to the games and, in particular, should have complimentary entry for their discipline?

Tessa Jowell: I think that that proposal would find a lot of support and I am sure that the organising committee is planning on that basis.

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