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I want, however, to follow the main tenor of the debate and talk about the enormous legacy that can be created by the Gamesan economic and sporting legacy, and a hard legacy in the construction of buildings of dramatic architecture, several of which will continue to provide enormously significant facilities after the Games are over, on brownfield land which is derelict, contaminated and heavily scarred by Victorian industry. The Games will transform an area that has been neglected for so very long.
Another aspect of the hard legacy on which my noble friend Lady Ford enjoined us is that we should ensure that the local community also benefits directly.
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The benefits of the Games must be measured in hard opportunities for the people. They will mean improvements in skills and opportunities. The Olympic Games will create construction and development opportunities. I also bear in mind the point that the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, emphasised about the health of people in deprived areas. There is no doubt at all that the five boroughs reflect their poverty in those terms. I understand his very important point that it is time that we shift even greater emphasis to aspects of mental health, and that poor physical health often derives from the poor state of mind of people who, for all sorts of reasons, feel unable to cope. I think he will recognise that some of these points are being registered very forcefully in other aspects of government activity within the Department of Health, and that there is a growing emphasis on the need for additional resources to be allocated to mental health. We want the Games to give an uplift to the East End and to lift morale, which will itself help to provide extra resources and an optimistic commitment to the Olympics among the people there, and to the circumstances in which they live.
The five boroughs are co-operating extraordinarily well on the Games. There is no doubt at all that they see the opportunities that they offer, and that is why they are positive. Everyone recognises that we must get a balance between benefits and costs, but it is also important to recognise that we have an obligation to provide the highest quality Olympics that have ever been held. We face challenges ahead in that regard. One such challenge is behind us: the Sydney Olympics were spectacularly successful. We have every expectation that those in Beijing will hit new heights. We face a significant challenge if we are to produce the best Games ever and the Government are all too well aware of that.
The usual constructive suggestion was made that these problems will best be solved by having a Cabinet Minister devoted to them as his or her sole occupation. I appreciate the attractions in changing the organisation of government. However, when I replied to a question on that matter two days ago, two former Cabinet Ministers said they did not think that changes of specification and responsibilities at Cabinet level added a great deal. I do not think that the Olympics will be
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As was to be expected, the noble Lord, Lord Lee of Trafford, emphasised the enormous tourist advantages of the Games and the importance that we should attach to the wider tourist benefits to be gained across the whole of the United Kingdom. I link that with the other theme which came across strongly throughout the debatethat the Olympic Games will constitute a showcase for Britain. I hope that one of the aspects of that will be medals won by Britain. However, we can bet even more safely on the fact that we can provide for tourists to Britain an absolutely unparalleled experience in our artistic and cultural legacy, as several noble Lords mentioned. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, emphasised the cultural dimension of the Games, as did the noble Lord, Lord Rowe-Beddoe. We need to recognise across the nation that the Olympic Games will put the United Kingdom as a whole very much in the spotlight, in the same way that we are already seeing an enormous shift in the worlds perspective on China. Its economic development is the most significant factor in that regard but we should not underestimate the showcase that the Olympic Games will provide for China too. The Games constitute a very great opportunity for the United Kingdom given its enormously rich cultural assets. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rowe-Beddoe, for emphasising the contribution that Wales can make in that regard, but it applies to all parts of the United Kingdom.
We want to link cultural and artistic aspects to the cultural Olympiad which will run alongside the Games. Cultural aspects of the Games do not comprise just the opening and closing ceremonies although those provide the most dramatic showcase and appear on worldwide television. The Games are an opportunity to celebrate the values of the Olympics and the cultural dimension attached to those. We are planning to develop that across the nation.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford brought a different dimension to the debate. He referred to the multicultural setting in east London in which the Olympics will take place and to the need to provide a lasting legacy of sound values for young people and communities. I very much appreciated his contribution. The noble Lord, Lord Rowe-Beddoe, said that he was also moved by the speech. The Olympics will take place in a part of east London that needs to be given a sense of hope and to be the subject of good news rather than the bad news with which it is often associated in the media. The Games should lift young peoples idealism. The churches have a great deal to offer in that regard and all faith organisations in the multi-faith community of
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Given her responsibilities and roles outside the House, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, made a very measured, constructive speech in which she emphasised the necessity of maintaining high morale and support for the Games. She pressed upon us the damage to morale if we were unable in due course to produce a proper budget. I assure her that we recognise that factor. These are not easy issues. There is no doubt that certain aspects relating to the development of the Games, not least the nature of the site, are proving challenging with regard to costs. But I assure her that we take her representation seriously. We recognise the advantages that we can derive from being able to make progress in the near future on the budget. I hope that she will recognise that every energy is being devoted towards that objective.
I was grateful for the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Newby. We recognise that the Olympic Games present an enormous opportunity within schools and educational programmes to promote commitment to sport and Olympic ideals. I agree that we need to make progress in that area. We are devoting some £40 million towards a trust to promote sport and the cultural dimensions of the Games. He will recognise that this is a pump-priming activity. However, there is no doubt that one department of government which sees the enormous opportunities of the Olympic Games is the Department for Education and Skills. Several noble Lords emphasised that we need to change the culture of young people. The noble Baroness commented that we must move from being couch potatoes. There are opportunities. In the past year, we have been supporting the Schools Games. They made an enormous impact. We recognise that we have to provide opportunities for competition for young people. We have to move sport up the educational agenda. It will be recognised that in the past things were not read in these terms. We know the costs of the selling-off of playing fields in previous decades. A stop has now been placed on that. But what is more important is that within schools we recogniseit is why we emphasise it within the school curriculumthe great importance of the commitment to physical activity and exercise. Those factors all relate to the stimulus which the Olympics can provide.
It has been an interesting and in many ways an enormously constructive debate. Every noble Lord who participated has recognised the challenge which the Olympics present. Five years from the delivery of the Games, we see the challenges rather than achievements. Of course, the Government are vulnerable to the charges presented by the noble Lord, Lord Howard, in a series of detailed questions to which there are not immediate or easy answers. I make this appeal to him. First, we will meet the issue with regard to costs very shortly. Secondly, of course the role of the Opposition is to challenge the Government, but let us recognise this fact: we shall deliver on behalf of our nation the best Olympic Games ever only if everyone in this country is committed and devoted towards that objective. We need the help of all parties. We need to sustain all
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The Government are pleased that the Motion has been timed for today. It was important that the Olympic Games were brought to the fore at this stage. I congratulate the noble Baroness on having done so.
Baroness Valentine: My Lords, I found the debate stimulating and interesting. I thank all noble Lords who offered insights. I found particularly valuable the comparisons with the Millennium Dome, the Manchester Commonwealth Games and Barcelona, and even failed sporting bids. I referred to turning couch potatoes into runner beans. When the noble Lord, Lord Lee, spoke about the three ps, the debate risked taking a distinctly vegetarian turn. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Davies, for his response on behalf of the Government. I congratulate the Government on the progress to date in preparing for the Games.
In summary, I remind the House of my key points. We need to focus on the benefits which the Olympics will bring. We need to work hard now to achieve them. The legacy of the Olympics and Paralympics needs to be more than medals and venues. There is the opportunity to bring lasting change, both physical and social, to east London. But that requires clarity on which body is in the lead between 2012 and 2020, and that body needs the powers and resources to deliver. It also requires public and private sectors jointly to commit to bringing more of the workless into employment, not through worthy but unsustainable job-creation schemes but by identifying the needs of employers and helping people without jobs to meet those needs through appropriate training and support. We must also learn lessons from our recent past. We know that regeneration will be painfully slow unless the infrastructure to establish true communities and link them to existing workplaces is created too.
Lastly, to deliver a successful legacy as well as the Games needs a clear commitment from government. There are two key roles. The chairmanship of the ODA needs to be resolved and I continue to believe that we need a Cabinet-level Minister whose job is to bang heads together across departments and to champion the legacy. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces. The Statement is as follows:Before starting the Statement proper, I should like to pay tribute to Rifleman Coffey, who was killed in Iraq on Tuesday. Our thoughts go to his family and friends at this time.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and for giving us advance sight of it. I declare an interest as a trustee of the Fund for Refugees in Slovenia, which was founded to provide relief to Bosnian refugees, primarily in Slovenia. The charity has been concentrating on helping Bosnians to return to their pre-war homes, particularly in the Srebrenica region. I join the Minister in paying tribute to Rifleman Coffey, and from these Benches we send our condolences to his family and friends. We also echo the Statement in remembering all those United Kingdom service men and women who died or were injured trying to bring peace to Bosnia-Herzegovina over the past 15 years.
Much progress has been made in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and we welcome those successes referred to in the Statement. However, it would be naive to see this announcement as an end to all the problems there and to expect a smooth transition for Kosovo. On every front, 2007 looks set to be an extremely challenging year for the Balkans region. Serbia remains an unstable country that is led by a radical party whose leader is currently in The Hague facing charges of genocide. The recent unrest in Kosovo, and Belgrades unwillingness to engage constructively in the final status talks, have cast a shadow over President Ahtisaaris proposals for supervised independence in Kosovo. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, separatist forces in the entity of Republika Srpska continue to hamper Bosnias progress. Too many Serbs believe in a greater Serbia and that all Serbs should live together. What message is our pull-out sending them? Will they not be emboldened by the lack of an international military presence that has long served as a deterrent to their aspirations?
High Representative Christian Schwarz-Schilling has just announced an extension of his role until 2008, which is an extra year on top of his original mandate. That reversal of an earlier decision has been taken after a realistic assessment of the obvious uncertainties in the region. At the same time, the decision has been made to reduce the international military presence by cutting EUFOR numbers from 7,500 to 2,500. Will the Minister explain the remarkable discrepancy between those two assessments of Bosnia-Herzegovinas stability?
If the Bosnians are deemed incapable of taking greater control over their own affairs on a political level, why are the Government so confident that they can be self-sufficient on a military level? We hope that the decision has been taken because of a genuine belief that lasting stability can be maintained in the
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The alleged war criminals General Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are still at large. Who will be responsible for trying to bring them to justice? To argue that the region is now stable suggests that a lesser emphasis is now being put on the surrender of those two individuals. How many of our troops, and from what other countries, will remain in the pan-Balkan force, mentioned in the Statement? Finally, how many of our own troops will remain to continue the important task of training the Bosnian forces, particularly in the essential task of mine clearance?
Lord Garden: My Lords, from these Benches we, too, offer our condolences to the family and friends of Rifleman Coffey, who was killed in Iraq earlier in the week. We warmly welcome the Statement as an indication of improvement in the security situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is always difficult to judge the exact moment when one can make a significant drawdown and there are inevitably some risks associated with it.
Other reports talk about such a contingency for the next six months. The Statement does not mention that. Perhaps the Minister could clarify whether there is such a contingency, so that it may be necessary to put some more forces in during the transition period. If so, is the UK committed to such a reserve of force capability?
The Statement reviews the history of our involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina and shows how the progressive move from the military operations under NATO auspices to the civil military under the EU, and progressively towards total civil, has been the right approach. It also shows that we have been at this problem now for 15 years. This is a lesson that we need to learn for our other stability operations worldwide: they take a very long time to achieve what we are seeking.
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