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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 Games—an 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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After the Games are over, there will be 9,000 new homes in and around the Olympic Park and nearly 40,000 new homes in the immediate area. These will be built in a hugely disadvantaged part of London. I was grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, for identifying the nature of the problems of the East End and the surrounding boroughs. It seems to me that all too often many decision-takers, and certainly those who comment on the Government’s decisions, know the West End of London, the route of their journey to Parliament, Whitehall and the main railway stations well—except that they tend not to know Liverpool Street so well—but the land beyond Liverpool Street and the City is relatively less well known to them. As the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, emphasised, these boroughs have the highest unemployment rate in the country and deprivation on a level unmatched elsewhere, although we recognise that other parts of the country also need careful attention in that regard.

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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helped by a change in government organisation. The Olympics will be well delivered only if all government departments with responsibility in this area collaborate effectively. That is what we need to ensure. The very fact that we have set as the objectives the range of benefits which were identified in this debate helps greatly in this regard. I am confident that if we need to change government structure, that change will be effected. I think that it will be recognised—the Olympic committee recognises this—that, having won the bid, the government response to the challenge of preparing for the Games is far more advanced than any previous arrangements for such Games.

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 debate—that 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 world’s 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 people’s 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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east London can play their part. We should appeal to them to do so because their influence in east London is so very strong. That strength needs to be built on.

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 recognise—it is why we emphasise it within the school curriculum—the 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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bipartisan support. Today we have had a debate which should encourage him in that bipartisan activity rather than in being too critical.

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.

2.04 pm

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 “p”s, 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.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

2.06 pm

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.

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“With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a Statement about the UK military commitment in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The UK first deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, as part of UNPROFOR, in response to inter-ethnic violence resulting from the collapse of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. We are all sadly familiar with the atrocities committed during the Bosnian War, which resulted in an estimated 100,000 people killed and the forcible displacement of some 1.8 million people.“After three years of conflict and following a NATO air and land campaign, a ceasefire in Bosnia-Herzegovina was agreed in 1995. This was followed by the brokering of the General Framework Agreement for Peace—more commonly known as the Dayton agreement—underpinned by the deployment of NATO forces.“The international community has retained a military presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina since then, initially through NATO and, since 2004, through an EU force. At its peak, the international community presence, under NATO, amounted to some 60,000 troops, including some 12,000 UK personnel. “Today there are approximately 6,000 international troops in EUFOR, of which some 600 are from the UK. This significant reduction over the years is testimony to the continuously improving security situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “With the UK’s involvement in the UN, NATO and now EU forces, we have been operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina for some 15 years, contributing to the maintenance of a safe and secure environment. Indeed, we led EUFOR for its first year of operations and have been the lead nation in Task Force (North West). “Over the years, UK troops have been engaged in large numbers of operations to recover illegally held weapons, ammunition and explosives, as well as assisting the local authorities to combat organised crime. I would like to set out the detail of some of our successes.“There are still dangerously high levels of small arms and light weapons in Bosnia-Herzegovina and, while a number of international organisations are implementing initiatives in this field, they are all dependent on donors. Last November, I had the pleasure of opening an explosive waste incinerator designed to destroy surplus small arms ammunition. The UK funding for that project amounts to some half a million pounds.“In addition, the UK continues to fund the training of junior officers from all of the three main ethnic backgrounds, thereby contributing to the building of the state. In this financial year, UK support for this project is in the region of £1 million. The UK is also assisting in the development of the NATO trust fund mechanism to facilitate the resettlement into civilian life of up to 6,000 personnel made redundant through defence reform processes. The project will aim to provide training and advice to former soldiers who are returning to civilian life.

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“It is clear that Bosnia-Herzegovina is becoming increasingly safe. In recent years, there have been increasing indications of a security situation that is approaching normality. Parliamentary and presidential elections took place last year, and they were judged to be free and fair. Significant steps in defence reform have been made, resulting in the establishment of a single, multi-ethnic military force that is compatible with NATO. That has resulted in Bosnia-Herzegovina being able to contribute a small number of troops to operations in Iraq. “Perhaps most important, the majority of people displaced from their homes during the war have chosen to return, many of them to areas where they do not belong to the majority ethnic group. In recognition of progress in all those areas, Bosnia-Herzegovina was invited to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme last autumn, on the condition that there will continue to be full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. NATO will closely monitor its efforts.“The time is right, therefore, to reassess the role of the international military presence. In December, EU Foreign Ministers agreed in principle to transition EUFOR from a large dispersed force structure to a smaller, centralised one. On Tuesday, at a meeting of the Political and Security Committee, EU member states gave the final approval, in light of the continually improving security situation, to this change. The resulting reduction in force levels, from approximately 6,000 troops to 2,500 troops, will allow Bosnia-Herzegovina to take more control of its own affairs. The EU decision to move to transition is in accordance with clear military advice that the security situation is stable and that the local authorities are able to cope with all but the most serious incidents.“The Welsh Guards, who are currently deployed, will therefore not need to be replaced with any further manoeuvre troops. More than 600 troops, principally from the Welsh Guards, will return to the United Kingdom. That will mean that the UK’s future in-theatre commitment for the next phase of EUFOR will be a small number of staff officers in the Sarajevo HQ, although we will continue to contribute to the pan-Balkans operational reserve force. A small number of troops will be needed to ensure a smooth transition to the new EUFOR structure and to dismantle the base at Banja Luka.“As we come to the end of UK military operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, we can look back and see the contribution that our Armed Forces have made to the rebuilding of a country destroyed by conflict. As with other theatres of operation, they have been central in establishing a secure environment in which political solutions and reconstruction can be pursued.“But while much has been achieved by the UK, our efforts have not been without significant losses. We must remember those UK service men and women who were injured or who laid down their lives trying to protect the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I pay tribute to them. A series of commemorative events, both in Bosnia-Herzegovina

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and in the UK, is being planned to honour the 55 personnel who lost their lives and the many thousands who were deployed. I will provide further detail of these events in due course.“But we must look forward as well as back. There is still progress to be made, particularly in pushing forward key political reforms, ensuring less nationalism in political discourse and developing state-level institutions. The UK must, and will, remain engaged as Bosnia-Herzegovina strengthens her position within Europe and beyond”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

2.15 pm

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 Belgrade’s unwillingness to engage constructively in the final status talks, have cast a shadow over President Ahtisaari’s proposals for supervised independence in Kosovo. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, separatist forces in the entity of Republika Srpska continue to hamper Bosnia’s 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-Herzegovina’s 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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Balkans region and not because the Government need all the troops that they can get in Afghanistan. What provisions have been put in place to allow a future increase in the number of troops in the region if needed?

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?

2.20 pm

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.

I note the report in today’s New York Times of a statement released in Brussels that said that, in doing this,

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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