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House of Lords

Thursday, 18th September 2003.

The House met at eleven of the clock: The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

Olympic Games 2012: London Bid

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide a progress report on London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, London 2012 was incorporated on 19th August and will now take the bid forward. The chairman of London 2012, Barbara Cassani, has announced the appointment of an impressive board, including the noble Lord, Lord Coe. Key executives have also been appointed, including a chief operating officer and a director of marketing. London 2012 is also making good progress on developing the technical bid for submission to the IOC next year.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his answer and echo his remarks about my noble friend Lord Coe, with whom I leave tomorrow for Havana to review its 2012 bid and seek support for London 2012 if Havana does not succeed.

In commending the work of our bid committee in exceptionally difficult circumstances, does the Minister recognise that, despite the 1997 Labour manifesto commitment to back a British bid, it is directly because of government prevarication until May this year that there is now widespread concern about progress with our bid? We have a part-time chairman, no chief executive, no website, no logo, no discussions with the individual Olympic and paralympic governing bodies of sport and a delay in Crossrail until 2013. Does he recognise that we face a deadline of 15th January to hand the IOC details of plans for venues, transport and security?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I wish the noble Lord well in Havana and hope that he goes in a rather more cheerful spirit than he is attending here today. Of course we are aware that we have to hit the 15th January target date, and we intend to do so. As the noble Lord knows, the chairman made very clear to the Select Committee in another place earlier this week her confidence in the way in which matters were coming along.

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I emphasise that arrangements have been made for financial support of the bid. It is quite clear that we now have a very strong board to promote it and I have not the slightest doubt that, with the kind of support that I know we will offer, we will make rapid progress.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, on the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, as vice-chairman of the bid, perhaps it will now run a bit faster than it would otherwise have done.

I wish to impress on my noble friend the importance of improving transport links to the east of London. Mrs Cassani has rightly said that we are starting from behind, especially Paris. One thing that Paris will be able to demonstrate is excellent transport links to its Olympic village. I hope that the Government will be able to do something to accelerate the Crossrail proposal so that it does not finish the year after the games are over.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I think that the House will recognise that Paris was bound to start ahead. After all, it submitted a prior bid, so has had practice in this art form. It is true that we are starting some way behind, but we intend to catch up.

On the transport links, my noble friend will know that proposals with regard to the siting of the games in east London greatly depend on the transport infrastructure for the area, and that certain features are already in place, not least the Eurostar extension and the development of Stratford as a major hub for international rail travel. The bid will not be dependent upon Crossrail for the success of transport arrangements. However, he is right: Crossrail would be an advantage.

Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, is the Minister considering whether the derelict Dome might be a venue for the Olympic bid?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the Dome is on the wrong side of the Thames in relation to the proposed bid for east London, so I do not think that it enters into the equation. The other aspect that the noble Lord will recognise is that the strength of the bid will lie in the fact that we have the resources promised and allocated for the development of an Olympic village with new state of the art stadiums. We will not be dependent upon any structure except those in construction.

Lord Addington: My Lords, the Minister may be interested to know that the Dome is part of the plan. Will the Government guarantee that the utmost support will continue until the end of the bidding process in July 2005? Will they also ensure that our general sporting infrastructure in the wake of a successful bid will be integrated with that process of

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construction and will not simply mean a few stadiums in east London that may not have a long-term future? Improvement in the whole of Britain's sporting structure should be part of the games, should we win the bid.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I thought that the purport of his question was to suggest that the Dome should be the centrepiece of the development of the bid, which it clearly is not. We intend to develop the Olympic village in east London. As he rightly says, it has to relate to the development of sporting facilities across the range. The great advantage of the bid and, when we are successful, the great advantage of the development, is that an area that has sadly and badly needed it for a long time will get the investment to which the noble Lord referred—across a whole range of sporting opportunities.

Lord Waddington: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it would be a sad day if my noble friend Lord Moynihan, who brings such expertise and knowledge to this House, were excluded from this place as a result of the machinations of government?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I have not the slightest doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, will find a way to contribute to the venture, to which I know he is committed, irrespective of any position that he holds.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, given the new transport link between Stratford and Paris, which will open in 2008, and to which my noble friend referred, have the Government considered making a joint bid with the French authorities to demonstrate cross-channel co-operation once more?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, every opportunity to co-operate with the French is seized eagerly, save in one obvious respect: my noble friend may have noticed that Paris is one of our chief competitors.

Lord Elton: My Lords, it was reported in the press that, if successful, the bid will cost council tax payers in Greater London 25 a year for 20 years. Is that speculation, rumour, spin or fact?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the projected figure for London council tax payers, to which I can attest with accuracy, is 37 pence a week over that period. The mayor has promised that those funds will be supplementary to government investment in the games. The figure reflects the fact that, although the whole country will benefit from a successful bid, it is primarily London and Londoners who will receive the direct benefits of the huge investment necessary.

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Iraq: Water and Electricity Supplies

11.15 a.m.

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect full electricity and water supplies to be available in Baghdad and Basra.

The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the Coalition Provisional Authority aims to bring electricity generation up to pre-conflict levels by the end of this month. Water supply is improving with the repair of facilities and installation of emergency generators at pumping stations. The provision of full electricity and water supplies will require significant additional investment in the medium to long term. The coalition is also improving security to prevent sabotage and theft of public utility infrastructure.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for her Answer. Does she agree that it is essential that the quality of life for the people of Iraq should quickly represent an improvement on what it was under Saddam Hussein?

Perhaps she will say more about the sewerage system, given that it is affected by electricity supplies. Will she comment on the latest information that I have been able to find to the effect that, fairly recently, the sewerage system in Baghdad was operating at 17 per cent of its normal capacity? When can we expect a significant improvement for the people of Iraq in those essential services?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I agree fully with my noble friend that it is important that we improve the quality of life for the people of Iraq, particularly in the south, where people were robbed over many years of investment in essential infrastructure.

I cannot endorse the percentage given by my noble friend with respect to the sewerage system. I shall write to him on that point. Emergency work is in hand to repair the Baghdad sewerage system. The CPA and the UN have each allocated 10 million dollars for the clean-up. My noble friend will know that water supplies more generally have been disrupted by sabotage and looting.

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